The Ivory Staff: A Dark Fairy Tale of Kings and War by M Lachi — book excerpt



Book Synopsis-

Samiyah, a young peasant girl on a quest to find love and honor, wins a chance to attend the royal ball. Beyond her wildest dreams, she finds herself dancing in the arms of Prince Chad, heir to the throne. Yet because there brews a violent struggle between the brutal ruling-class and the oppressed peasantry, Chad and Samiyah’s growing, talk-of-the-town love spawns whispers of bloody uprisings and plots of swift usurpation.

Book Excerpt-

As I made my way to my master’s chambers, I paused from a top outer hallway and peered down to the open space of the main greeting hall. Never had the palace been under such duress. Men with slings and arrows hanging from chandeliers; men fighting with degas, boughs, bloody axes, stones and large branches, using dead bodies as shields; men with severed limbs using whips and chains; men with torches on horseback in the dining rooms; men fighting with wheelbarrows, baby carriers and kitchen cutleries; everyone fighting desperately until they fell upon their ill-fated destination: death.

One of the sling-shooting chandelier dwellers, a young Moudera boy, struck every guard or defenseman he targeted. He couldn’t have been any more than eight years old. He’d been taught Davidian shooting tactics, for he targeted big men and struck them directly between the eyes. Like finger-snapping, the boy decimated ten to twelve unsuspecting victims in a row, using bits of chandelier glass, killing his victims upon impact. He easily claimed more lives than anyone else in the palace, and he could have attained legendary numbers if the young assassin hadn’t died by his own tactics. As blood dripped from his eyes, he pulled out a gory piercing arrow from his back before falling from the ceiling to the floor.

M. Lachi is an author, songwriter and composer. She lives in New York City and enjoys reading, composing and catching live performances.

Excerpt: Stop the Diet; I Want to Get Off! by Lisa Tillinger Johansen


Health, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss
Date Published: July 15, 2015

The Paleo.  The Zone.  The Gluten-free.  Another day, another diet.  We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry.  But do these diets really work?  And how healthy are they?

Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype.  And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts.  With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.


The idea for this book began at a wedding.

Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The clothes, the flowers, the romance, the food…

Ah, the food. As we moved into the banquet hall for the reception, the culinary feast was on everyone’s minds. It was all anyone seemed talk about. But for some reason, guests weren’t conversing about the dishes being served; they were swapping stories of diets they had heard about from friends, magazine articles, even celebrities on talk shows.

I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science and years of clinical and health education experience. I’ve counseled thousands of patients and clients on all of these diets. But hearing the guests only momentarily distracted me from my horrible faux pas of wearing white (gasp!) to a friend’s wedding.

“I’m on the Blood Type Diet,” said a woman with an impossibly high bouffant hairdo. “You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? It’s the one where you choose your foods based on your blood type. I’m an AB, so I’ll be having the fish.”

“Really?” her friend replied. “I swear by the gluten-free diet. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it, and my granddaughter’s on it.” I happened to know her granddaughter was six and didn’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Then there was the stocky guy who was trying to impress one of the bridesmaids. “I’m a paleo man myself,” he said, piling his plate high with beef kebabs. “It gives me more stamina, know what I mean? It puts me in touch with my inner caveman. There’s a restaurant near my apartment that’s paleo friendly. Maybe we can grab a bite there sometime, or… Hey wait, where are you going?”

And there were three Weight Watchers sisters who typed furiously on their phones and argued over their meals’ point values. Apparently there was some discrepancy between their various apps, and the sisters’ discussion was becoming more heated by the moment.

I’m past the point of being surprised by the wide range of weight-loss strategies—some worthless, some crazy, some quite reasonable—being tossed around. In the last few years, there has been a tidal wave of diets washing up on the shores of our nutritional consciousness. Celebrities prance across our screens, promoting a variety of weight-loss schemes on talk shows and infomercials. Medical doctors star in their own syndicated television programs, exposing millions to weight-management techniques, often unsupported by medical research. Other diets get traction on the Internet, racing all over the globe in social media posts, YouTube videos, and often unwanted spam e-mails. And it’s hard to walk past a shopping center vitamin store without being approached by salespeople trying to pitch the latest weight-loss supplements. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie; the American diet industry tops $60 billion annually.

It’s classic information overload. You can’t blame people for being confused by all the diets out there, even as crazy as some of them may sound. I didn’t speak up to my fellow wedding guests that day, but it occurred to me they would benefit from science-based facts about the diets they so ardently follow.

So during the toasts, I thought to myself, I should write a book.

I counsel clients on these matters each week, giving them information they need to make the best choices for their health and waistlines. I find that all too often there are issues with the diets presented to me in my counseling sessions and classes. They just plain don’t work, particularly over the long term. And some of them are harmful, even potentially lethal. But it’s also unhealthy to carry extra weight on our frames. So how do we separate good diets from the bad?

In the chapters to come, we’ll take a good, hard look at the various weight-loss plans out there. I’ll pull no punches in my professional evaluation of some of the most wildly popular diets, both bad and good, of the past few years. And along the way, I’ll explore tried-and-true strategies for losing weight, based on my years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars, and community outreach efforts. More often than not, the best answer is not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but instead a few easy-to-follow guidelines that I’ve seen work in literally thousands of cases.

Enough is enough. It’s time for the madness—and the diets—to stop.

LISA TILLINGER JOHANSEN is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients on a wide range of health issues. Her debut nutrition book, Fast Food Vindication, received the Discovery Award (sponsored by USA Today, Kirkus and The Huffington Post).  She johansenlisa_author_piclives in Southern California.


Contact Information



Twitter: @LisaTJohansen


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Guest Post: Does profit the freelance writer? by Chris DeBrie

A calculating examination of Examiners' pay.
A calculating examination of Examiners’ pay.

Sometimes we have an idea and don’t act, because we figure someone else much be working on it. We didn’t want this to be one of those times. No one is currently asking the question, so let’s do it here.

The issue is that of freelance, part-time and casual writers working for websites like Avenue Books is ‘bumping’ this conversation thread on the Inter-Web.

Does writing for content sites profit the writer?

Apparently, there was a time leading up to 2007-08 when online writers enjoyed a bubble. These writers could farm out their talents to sites like Examiner, pick a topic, and plug away, actually seeing some fruit of this effort.

I missed the bubble, writing fiction and blogging on my own, never considering content writing until 2009, when flesh-and-blood jobs in town were drying up and we were in search of supplemental (residual?) income. I signed up for every farm I could find: Associated Content, Examiner, Suite101, Constant Content, even a place where site owners supposedly bid on your content called Ghostbloggers. There were others that blurred past. I never tried, nor any similar “how-to” sites.

I remember a lot of excitement from these sites’ communities. Some of these people were making profits that rustled, not jingled; or they were getting exposure, or a combination. I pulled in $3,000 last month, you would see in the threads. My first month was maybe $250. Like listening to a trucker’s story, it’s best to be prepared for exaggeration. But there was an optimism and a sharing of ideas on platforms like Suite.

Like most writers, I didn’t understand how much it took (if you actually want to make cold profit)

One former top earner at Examiner estimated that
One former top earner at Examiner estimated that “it takes about 1,000 short articles” before you start to make real money. He said it took about seven months for him.

to really build an audience around those sites. I didn’t see results quickly enough, so I tagged out of the grind early, having other means to pay the rent. Examiner and the like require you to write a lot for other people, knowing that a payoff is distant at best. There needs to be a foundation of your stuff, a continuity that people might put into their routine. Meanwhile, you keep on churning and building your own web within the Web. Same as the Space Shuttle, which uses up so much energy just escaping the atmosphere. But maybe it wouldn’t have mattered what I knew, because things were changing in the online freelancer world that I had barely put a toe into.

The freelance community excitement turned into griping at unseen computer geeks who had done us writers wrong. At some point, Google and other search engines began adjusting their algorithms in ways that denied these writers the same earnings. [I know very little of the technical or monetary reasons; feel free to expound.] Added to that was the fact that many of these ‘content mills’, as some term them, seemed to be taking a larger chunk from the advertisers. The writers were at the bottom, knowing that pay had been lowered but never able to get straight answers about rates.

By 2010, writing for ‘pennies a click’ didn’t seem worth the time. Why spend hours a day writing articles that can’t be used as professional clips? when I could concentrate on ONE article, query it, sell it, and get paid for what it takes the girl 100 articles to reach? There was a memorable response  to that reasoning in one site; someone asked, Aren’t you basically writing for free and uncertain when you are querying, shopping from editor to editor?

Many in the publishing industry have said that the pros doesn’t respect any of this online writing; in fact, at least one headhunter claimed if she saw Examiner writing samples in a resume, she would trash the applicant.

Arguments that are pro-writing for these sites include the very real benefit of name exposure. An independent or self-published writer who likes working outside of the editor-publishing-media machine sees a lot of good in Examiner. She can get her ‘brand’ out there, find an audience that will recognize her name in the future… if, of course, she knows what she’s doing in terms of topic, writing style and quality, SEO knowledge, and that good stuff.

“The key is to write topical articles and SEO them very well,” wrote a successful Examiner from the Cleveland area.

Exposure doesn’t matter to some. They are just trying to pay the bills. A swift, motivated writer can finish an Examiner article in a few hours. To them, it is definitely worth it to spend the equivalent of a part time job’s hours, in trade for months of potential monies that will collect while they aren’t even writing. Then again, both AC and Suite famously shut down…

That seems to be what bothers some freelance and professional writers—the, blogger-type who puts out his own ebooks seems some kind of threat. Not a threat to the pro’s livelihood, necessarily, but to his very worldview. To the old school, the online writer who zips out popular pieces on Rihanna and the Jenners is an abomination. Such a writer has lowered the bar and lowered rates, according to the professionals. They have dodged the gate and entered by some other way. This is why many writers for those sites use pseudonyms, one commenter wrote.

This is the same horror that the music industry showed. The big labels went ballistic once digital sharing became an actual thing—‘ripping’, or stealing music is wrong, but it’s not the true issue. The underlying theme of the little guy doing his thing without a cosign from The Man… that shakes the gatekeeper. You can apply it to any industry…

Haven’t seen many updates on those comment sections in months or years. Obviously a lot has changed since those days. So we bring the issue here, to you.

All of this is just musing. Correct us where we’re wrong. Write your experience and opinion.

This is an open call to all you ‘writers-for-hire’… tell me a story.

Chris DeBrie is the author of many novels, comic books, and short stories, including the acclaimed mystery “Cap’n Random.” He earned a B.A. in Communications/Journalism, and has hundreds of writing credits both online and off since 1986.

Links to past discussions on this topic:

Cover Reveal: Hidden Scars #1 by Amanda Bryne

Hidden Scars by Amanda Byrne


Hidden Scars by Amanda K. Byrne
(Hidden Scars, #1)
Publication date: September 22nd 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary.

Sometimes the past won’t stay where it belongs.

Sara’s number one rule of dating: closed off, secretive men need not apply. Years of therapy helped her move past the damage done by her emotionally abusive boyfriend, and she’s ready to date again. Someone funny, laid back, and easy to talk to. All things her coworker Taylor isn’t.

Taylor’s quiet. Too quiet. He operates in permanent stealth mode, and he hides his secrets as well as Sara does. She doesn’t want to be attracted to him, but after a night spent in a hotel room together, trapped by a blizzard, she can’t deny there’s a fire-hot connection between them, waiting to ignite. Their working relationship inches closer and closer to friendship, until one day she gathers her courage and kisses him.

It’s the match Taylor was waiting for.

What starts as a sweet, fumbling friendship quickly becomes a passionate and intense affair. Just when Sara’s starting to feel safe in Taylor’s arms, his secrets come out, and she wonders if she’ll ever be able to stop looking over her shoulder.


When she’s not plotting ways to sneak her latest shoe purchase past her partner, Amanda writes sexy, snarky romance and urban fantasy. She likes her heroines smart and unafraid to make mistakes, and her heroes strong enough to take them on.Amanda

If she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking hot chocolate, and trying not to destroy her house with her newest DIY project. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and no, it really doesn’t rain that much.

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YES, NO, MAYBE SO: OR, Congratulations, Your Book Is Coming Out Again, But Written By Someone Else!


A little story about strangely full circle writing careers and saying yes for you.

In the summer of 2004, I was 27 years old, and at the Breadloaf Writer’s conference, where I was boring an editor to tears by talking about my short story collection. No editor wants to hear those words, particularly not out of the mouth of a mostly-unpublished writer. In some desperation, I decided that maybe I could save the meeting by making him laugh, and so I started to tell stories about my “Year of Yes,” a year in which I’d accepted every invitation to go on a date – or random experience, as it turned out – in New York City. I did a lot of things that year, including swimming at Coney Island in February with a subway conductor, because hey, NYC. It was, in fact, how I met my then-husband. The editor perked…

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