Inkling

Science Fiction
Published: 2013

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Follow the characters Gyro and Skoots as they set out on their adventure across the galaxy. What could possibly go wrong when they sign up to be miners on a far away planet?
“Inkling” is the science fiction story of a man named Gyro, a down-on-his-luck veteran of Planetary Defense, who also happens to be an amateur computer programmer. Desperate for a job, he signs a five-year contract when the Virtue Mining Corporation offers him a career on Joules, a far-distant mining planet. He goes through basic training with Skoots, a former high school sports star who has a major obsession with women. Despite their differing personalities and outlooks on life, the two men become fast friends.    During transport to the mining planet, a distorted hyperspace jump throws their spacecraft into an uncharted sector of the galaxy, thus placing the welfare of the crew and passengers in jeopardy.  Hopelessly lost in space, Gyro has an idea, an inkling about how to use his programming experience to rescue the ship, but a mutiny erupts on board, making survival a race against time as their food supply runs out.
Read this book to: Learn why Gyro would want to sign up for an off-planet mining job. See how he develops ideas for programming his computer. Find out how to properly prepare for a hyperspace jump. Travel across the galaxy with a tough crowd of miners. Marvel at Skoots’ obsession with women. Learn a little about mining silver. And more .
EXCERPT
Gyro was not the type of man who would normally participate in a riot. He had recently completed his hitch with Planetary Defense, where he had served honorably during the Bobbs Rebellion on the planet Artoban. But now he had returned Zeno, his home planet, where he had been unable to find work. He was also not the sort to pay attention to the news, so he was not aware of the growing number of discontented people living in his city. All he really wanted was to find a job. He had already filled out the forms to apply at the Virtue Mining Company, which was holding a job fair downtown. Several of the listed opportunities included transportation to off-planet facilities.
He left his apartment early in the morning to catch the first bus into the city. As he walked the four blocks to the bus stop, he worried about being harassed by homeless people, but the street around him was empty. Nevertheless, he clutched his envelope of paperwork tightly under his arm.
When the city bus wheezed to a stop and the door opened, he stepped aboard and scanned his welfare card over the fare box. The bus driver gave him a contemptuous glance, no doubt because the driver disapproved of unemployed people on the dole. Gyro ignored the dirty look, thinking the attitude was the driver’s problem, not his own.
Only four other passengers were already on the bus, so Gyro selected a seat halfway back, and sat next to the window. He placed his envelope flat on his lap. Though nervous about his interview, he wanted to relax during the half-hour bus ride.
As the bus moved south into the city, traffic picked up and more passengers boarded at every stop. Gyro was glad nobody sat next to him until the bus was nearly full. He noted how the passengers were keeping to themselves and avoiding eye contact. The only conversation was between a group of high school students boasting loudly about their stickerball game.
At the next stop a young man got on board and made his way down the aisle. He was tall, lanky, and dressed in ill-fitting clothes that had worn-out knees and threadbare edges. But the newcomer stood straight and walked with an air of athletic confidence. He slid into the seat next to Gyro.
“Are you going to the demonstration?” he asked Gyro as if they were old friends.
“Who wants to know?” Gyro replied with a mildly irritated voice, since he didn’t have the slightest idea who this stranger was.
“Oh, I see. You are going, but don’t want anybody to know. That’s OK. Don’t worry, I can keep a secret.”
Gyro was momentarily taken aback. “Now wait a minute. I don’t know anything about a demonstration. And I don’t know you either, so how can you decide I’m going somewhere I don’t know anything about?”
“Oh, sorry. I’m always doing that. My mom gets irritated with me for talking up folks I don’t know. I just saw that stuff on your lap and thought it was a protest sign.
Gyro placed both hands on top of his paperwork.
“My name’s Skoots,” he said, sticking out his hand.
Gyro reflexively shook hands with him, returning the youngster’s powerful grip. “Gyro,” he said, “So what’s the deal about a demonstration?”
“The news says a bunch of demonstrators are going to picket the mining company that’s having a job fair downtown. I thought maybe you were going to it.”
“Damn!” Gyro said through clenched teeth.
It was Skoots’ turn to be taken aback. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m going to the job fair,” Gyro said, “and I don’t need a bunch of idiots marching around and getting in the way.”
“Well, ain’t it a small world.” Gyro wrinkled his brow and looked Skoots in the face.
“I’m looking for a mining job, too. And I just happened to sit next to you on this bus,” Skoots said, giving his new friend a nudge with his elbow. “Plus, I was thinking maybe it would be a good place to meet chicks.”
“I don’t think many women are going to be looking for mining jobs.”
“No, no, man. I mean the demonstration. Lots of girls who like to go picketing can be easy picking, if you know what I mean.”
“Well, good luck, but I think it’s more likely the picketers will make it harder for us to get in for our interviews.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. The place is going to be crawling with cops, and they’ll keep the mob in line.”
“I hope you’re right, Skoots. I really need a job, and I don’t want a bunch of community agitators getting in the way.”
“Hey, I got your back, buddy.”
When the bus pulled to a stop a block away from the recruitment center, Gyro and Skoots disembarked into a large group of people who were milling around without seeming to want to go anywhere in particular. When the bus tried to move on it had to push its way slowly through the crowd, as the people moved reluctantly out of the way.
 
About the Author

John D. Waterman survived a thirty-year career as an electrical engineer in the aerospace industry, working on a wide variety of projects including Space Shuttle star trackers, electronic guidance for heavy-lift launch vehicles, and failure analysis of electronic components. As a lifelong fan of Science Fiction, he felt compelled to try his hand at a story of his own. “Inkling” is his first published novel-length effort.
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Approaching Twi-Night

Literary Fiction / Sports Fiction
Date Published: February 2015

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An aging baseball player is given one final chance at professional and personal redemption in small town America as he struggles to come to grips with his past, his sense of self, and his career.
Journeyman relief pitcher Jonathan “Ditch” Klein was all set to be a replacement player during the 1994-1995 baseball strike…until the strike ended. Offered a contract in the minor leagues, playing at the same Upstate NY ballpark he once found success in high school, Ditch has one last chance to prove his worth. But to whom? A manager with an axe to grind, a father second-guessing his pitching decisions, a local sportswriter hailing him as a hometown hero, a decade older than his teammates and trying to resurrect an injury-ridden career…Ditch thinks he may have a possible back-up plan: become a sportswriter himself. The only question is whether he is a pitcher who aspires to be a writer, or the other way around…
EXCERPT
From his perch on the mound, Ditch shaded his eyes and watched the foul ball gently curve over the grandstand toward the parking lot. As he held his glove out for the new ball, he could hear his father’s voice from a high school game: “Straighten that out, Johnny, just straighten it out!” And he could remember himself at the plate, thinking, “I can’t, Dad. I can’t hit it.”
He gripped the dull white leather in his pitching hand, tucked the glove under his left arm and slowly circled the mound. Ditch’s hands worked the leather, trying to deftly massage life into the ball. His fingernails found the seams and began to pull them up from the leather; Ditch had always wondered as a kid why pitchers on TV wasted so much time walking the infield grass, if “raised seams” actually did anything to curves like his father claimed, if pitchers who stared out at the crowd were actually looking for someone. He stopped on the first base side of the mound and glanced at the runners on first and second, not really to check on them, just let them know he knew they were there. The runners strayed a step or two from their bags, sauntering back and forth with hands on hips, kicking the bags a couple times impatiently. They knew Ditch wouldn’t throw, he knew they wouldn’t run, not on Holforth’s arm.
Ditch tugged at his cap and deliberately ignored the anxious hometown crowd on “Opening Day Two.” Absently he wondered if his family was in the stands somewhere, his father holding little Jennifer up on his shoulders, pointing, “There’s John, there he is.” He climbed back up to the pitching rubber, haphazardly pulling his short sleeves up and shrugging them down again. The murmurs changed to a soft buzz of rushing air in his ears as he dug in with his right foot and stared in at Holforth behind the plate. He squinted on purpose at the flashing fingers, set for the third pitch, and threw.
The batter fouled it off again, this time straight into the visiting team dugout, nearly hitting the coaches at the top of the steps. Ditch received the next new ball and began his ritual anew. The batter fidgeted, stepping out of the box with one foot and nervously swinging his bat a few times and changing his grip as if he were uncomfortable using wood instead of aluminum. Ditch looked at the wispy clouds overhead, the one-two count in the back of his mind, and decided to waste a pitch.
Holforth almost failed to block the errant pitch, but he managed to smother the forty-foot curve, hurriedly flipping his mask off and alertly checking the runners back to their bags. The catcher turned to ask for time, and Ditch turned his back on the plate. Holforth was bound to be angry. He knew Holforth hated it when his calls weren’t taken seriously. He tugged his cap and kicked at his trench.
The catcher pulled the ball out of his mitt and placed it in Ditch’s. Holforth darted a look at the vacant right field foul line bullpen, then back at Ditch. “You can let go now,” Ditch said. “I’ve got it.”
Holforth withdrew his hand from the glove. “Inside and high,” he stated. “This guy’s never used a wooden bat before.” He turned back to the plate and pulled his face mask on over his hard hat. Neither have you, Ditch thought, already pacing at the back of the mound, massaging the ball. He found the soft spot, brown from the last pitch. The Majors spoiled their pitchers, he thought. They want a new ball, they get one. Even now, he knew, a batboy was rounding up the foul balls in the dugouts and along the foul line, ready to hand them over to the plate ump between half-innings. He randomly glanced at the rust-green electronic scoreboard with the Pepsi label slapped on it in left-center field. A two-run lead he was supposed to protect, for the last two innings. Collins had made that clear; Ditch was on his own. He felt the urge to spit, then changed his mind, then did it anyway. What the hell, he thought, pushing his sleeves up again.
He stepped up again and caught the signs. High and inside. At the hands. He checked the runners, reared, and threw at the batter’s head. The kid ducked as the ball flew at the backstop. He could hear Holforth’s muffled curse as the catcher futilely flung his glove hand back and followed it with his body. Ditch loped to the plate to cover, but the runners stopped at third and second as Holforth got the ball back in play. Someone in the crowd behind third base booed, but his neighbors quickly hushed him. Ditch cleared the dirt around the plate with the tip of his shoe and tugged again at the hat. He headed back to his incantations. The infielders hesitantly moved back to their positions, pounding their gloves and muttering nearly inaudible words of encouragement. A hit would tie the game. Ditch let his sleeves fall down as he mounted.
Holforth was standing right in front of him. Ditch betrayed no surprise. “You’re making me look bad, man,” the catcher said tersely. He rubbed the sweat dripping down his chin onto a sleeve. “We can’t do that again, so I want you to throw the pitch.”
He shook his head and dug at the trench. Holforth called it “the pitch,” as if it were a secret weapon of some kind; he wanted the awkward slider he made Ditch work on in the bullpen, the one he could throw with the bent finger underneath. He hated it. He hated using a trick pitch.
“I’m telling you, do it,” Holforth repeated. “Cut the crap and get this guy.” He turned abruptly and trotted back to the plate. Ditch placed his right foot behind the rubber and looked up. The other ump had moved to behind third base. Only two umpires in this league, Ditch remembered with a chagrin. He looked in at the plate and jerked his head back to third as he faked a throw. The runner froze, then looked embarrassed, realizing that the third baseman wasn’t anywhere near the bag for a pick-off throw. Ditch smiled to himself and tugged at his cap with his ball hand. The third baseman edged towards the bag, pulling the runner closer. Ditch paid the two no mind.
He looked back in. Holforth signaled for the pitch. Ditch shook his head. Holforth signed for it again. Again, Ditch shook it off. Exasperated, Holforth audibly slapped his thigh. He angrily flipped down a single finger. Ditch laughed out loud. The batter called time. Ditch stepped off and put his head down. He could hear the plate ump say, “Let’s go gentlemen.” Gentlemen, he thought. Yeah. He watched the batter take a few more swings, adjust his helmet without adjusting it at all, and then step back in. The crowd noise briefly interrupted then seemed to recede.
He looked in and he saw Holforth stand up and adjust his cup before squatting again. Ditch turned his head to peer at the runners momentarily, then turned back and got the expected signal. He didn’t respond. The signal came again, insistent. He lowered his head, and stood, hands ready at his belt. He could sense Holforth settling back, the ump crouching behind with a hand on Holforth’s shoulder. The bent third underneath and two forefingers on the seams, he withdrew his hand from the glove. His wrist snapped out and down, and the ball spun towards the batter’s waist. It seemed to rise and curve left, directly into the batter’s wheelhouse, but suddenly it dropped to the right at knee-level. The batter swung.
Ditch looked over his shoulder as the second baseman scooped up the ball and lazily tossed it to first for the third out. He was out of it. He tugged his cap, maybe to acknowledge the smattering of applause, and walked to the dugout. He was vaguely aware of the fielders passing him, some smacking him on the back, some not, as Holforth appeared at his left elbow. “Told you,” was all he said, then found his place on the bench. He passed his manager on the steps. Collins pretended to be absorbed in pitching charts. Whatever, Ditch thought. He found his jacket and shoved his right arm into the sleeve. The end of eight. Maybe he would get through this after all.
One of the starting pitchers approached from the left side of his peripheral vision: the tallish Hansen, the deposed starter of the day. Hansen looked tired, but not beat. He held a cup of water, and nodded towards the bench. “Mind if I sit down?” he asked. Ditch shrugged, watching a Wildcat batter, the first baseman Reynalds, take a hefty cut at an eye-level pitch. After Reynalds would come a second-string outfielder, Williams or something, batting as designated hitter in the pitcher’s place. He was glad he didn’t have to bat, the only good thing about the minors.
The kid sat down with a contented sigh and took a sip from his Gatorade cup. “Hey, you want any water?” he asked.
Ditch shook his head. “Nah.”
 “Lemme get you one.” The teenager was up and at the cooler before he could say anything else. He opened his mouth and shut it after a moment. Why not, he thought. Doesn’t really matter. Reynalds swung mightily at a pathetic curve and topped it back to the pitcher. Just one more run, he thought, no, make that two, or three. He moved forward, resting his elbows on his thighs as he pulled his cap off and worked the rim.
Hansen walked over and handed him a paper cup with rosin-stained fingers. The chalk clung to the green cup as Ditch mumbled a thanks and took a small sip. Hansen sat down again with a thump and said nothing for a moment. The DH was at the plate, wildly swinging at anything near the strike zone. Ditch sighed, thinking that maybe he should be allowed to bat for himself.
Hansen finally spoke. “Thanks for getting me out of that jam.”
Ditch was silent. What jam? Oh, yeah, he remembered, he had inherited the first runner. He turned to Hansen. “Sure thing. I didn’t help myself with that walk, but…yeah, sure.”
“Hey, you’re saving my game for me, right?” Hansen paused to finish his water and toss the cup aside. “I owe you one.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” Ditch mumbled. “It’s my job.”
Hansen was quiet. The DH finally connected — luck, Ditch thought — and hit a worm-burner past the shortstop for a hit. Now one of the outfielders was up, somebody, he didn’t know his name. All he hoped for now was that the batters took a few pitches and gave him a little more time to sit. The next batter swung at the first pitch and popped it straight up to the catcher. Ditch hung his head and spit at his feet as the third baseman Corrales took his turn batting.
Hansen coughed into a fist and shifted on the bench. The batter was taking his time. Ditch hoped so. Corrales was their “star player,” according to friend Grant. In the on deck circle, Holforth was taking his practice swings with his chest protector and shin-guards on. Ditch sat back and pulled his glove on, half-heartedly to head back to the mound. “Hey, Ditch,” Hansen began. Ditch didn’t take his eyes off the field. “Uh…some of the guys were thinking of, you know, hanging out after the game,” Hansen continued. He shoved his hands into his pitching jacket and banged his cleated feet against the concrete floor of the dugout. He had knocked the dirt from his cleats the previous inning, Ditch noted. Hansen cleared his throat. “You know, like go out to a movie or something. You wanna, I mean, if you want to come with…”
Hansen let a breath out slowly and stopped kicking. Ditch finally looked over at him. Jesus, he thought, the kid was actually nervous just talking to him. “Yeah, okay, sure,” he said. Hansen looked at him, then lowered his head and resumed banging his shoes. “Maybe we could hit a bar or something first, you guys don’t mind.
The sharp crack of the bat cut off Hansen’s reply. They both looked up to see the ball soaring straight up, a routine infield fly. The opposing team’s shortstop didn’t have to move as he gloved it.
“Well,” Ditch said, dropping his jacket behind him, “back to work.” He heard Hansen’s voice say “…one, two, three…” as he bounded out of the dugout. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Hansen get to his feet and show signs of pacing. Ditch reached the mound and, stooping to pick up the ball, immediately dug at the seams with dirty fingernails. He mopped off a sudden downpour of forehead sweat and looked back to the dugout. Hansen was sitting again, his face buried in a hand towel.
Ditch waited until the first batter of the ninth slowly stepped in and paused to dramatically spit and flutter his bat menacingly. The crowd murmur rose and fell in waves as he readied for the signs. He wanted this game, he realized suddenly. A fine time to get sentimental, but he wanted to win.
Well, then, he thought, rearing back for the pitch. Here goes nothing.
About the Author

Originally from Troy, New York, M. Thomas Apple spent part of his childhood in the hamlet of Berne, in the Helderberg escarpment, and his teenage years in the village of Warrensburg, in the Adirondack Mountains. He studied languages and literature as an undergraduate student at Bard College, creative writing in the University of Notre Dame Creative Writing MFA Program, and language education in a Temple University interdisciplinary doctoral program. He now teaches global issues and English as a second language at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. Approaching Twi-Night is his first novel. A non-fiction book of essays about parenting and childcare (Taking Leave: An American on Paternity Leave in Japan, Perceptia Press), is scheduled for publication in late 2015, followed by a collection of short fiction and poetry (Notes from the Nineties) in early 2016. The lead editor of the bestselling Language Learning Motivation in Japan (Multilingual Matters, 2013), he is currently co-editing a non-fiction educational research book, writing a science fiction novel, and outlining a baseball story set in the Japanese corporate leagues.

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Casting Lots

Historical Fiction
Date Published: January 14

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Casting Lots is the tale of how a Greek slave, Lucinius, becomes an influential religious leader and literary figure in the First Century A.D.  His spiritual awakening is prompted by an unlikely mentor, a Centurion, who was at the crucifixion. 
Lucinius is ordered by his master to assemble the stories told by eye-witnesses to the life and death of Jesus Christ.  Cornelius was the Centurion at the Crucifixion. Cornelius is hated by the Jews and the Romans.  He is haunted by the Crucifixion because he won the shroud worn by Christ in a game of dice.  He takes Lucinius on a journey throughout the Empire and tells him what seem to be fantastic stories about famous Romans during the era of the Republic, some 100 years ago.  These stories contain elements which Cornelius could not possibly know, unless he is making them up or unless there is some other explanation.
The book answers the question of who wrote the Gospel of Luke and why he wrote it.  The book answers the question of who is Cornelius and why he said Jesus was an innocent man at his Crucifixion.   Thus, it is a tale of the two men’s spiritual journeys.
Excerpt
I walked to his home again. The streets were crowded and the world’s smells washed over me: the sweat of the men, the perfumes of the women, the urine of the animals, bread baking, cloth just cut, fruit drying on the stands, gutters of the streets, leather being tanned. Sweet, pungent, acrid, acidic, salty, bitter, biting smells grabbed my nostrils as if I smelled these for the first time. The smells were counterpoint to the sounds of the city. The hammer of the artist cracking tiles, rocks, and glass to make mosaics, bleating of sheep and lowing of cows as they awaited slaughter, the rumble of wagons carrying bolts of cloth, or carcasses of meat and exotic goods along the cobblestone streets, the tramp of soldiers’ caligae, their hob-nails clicking on stone, as they marched, crying babies needing to be nursed, yelling mothers trying to find lost children, heralds blaring out the whereabouts of some legion killing some barbarians somewhere on some frontier, tax collectors demanding payment of tax, while the taxpayer screamed insults or begged for mercy, and the sound of my heart pounding so hard that it might burst, blended together in a discordant cacophony of life. If the smells did not grab your attention, or if the sounds did not demand your notice, then the play of light would surely command your consideration. The light side-by-side with the dark was sharp, stark, defined, and distinct, as where the land ends and the seas begin. You walked most of the time in the shadow of the tall insulae, the apartment buildings, fearing that from the darkness above would flow that most unsavory of liquids. Then the sunlight blaring from a blue crystal-clear sky dazzled your eyes, when you walked across some broad street. The brilliant sun radiated off the temples’ gold-leaf veneers. You were in the presence of the Gods. All the while, I thought about how I could approach him. An offer of money, I thought, would only insult and repel him. The quest of my master disgusted and dismayed him. Before I had decided what to do and how to do it, I was there at his door. “Damno ad averno!” (“Damn it to hell!”) Cornelius spat as spoke these words as if the spitting added to the curse. “I will wait until you tell me.” I stood resolutely. “What?” “I will wait until you tell me.” I sat down and smiled slightly. “Get underfoot, eh?” “If necessary.” “All day and all night?” he asked. “If necessary.” He turned into the darkness of his home. I waited. Time passed. Then I saw him coming back, his vitis rudis, that is his vine hand. No true centurion was ever without the symbol of his authority, his vitis rudis, gnarled and worn. “Do you think a man who has wielded this,” he gestured with his vitis rudis, “will ever break?” “Do you think that a slave who has been beaten all of his life will fear one more beating?” “Well, that is the first thing you have said that makes any sense at all!” He smiled.
About the Author

William D. McEachern is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor of arts in religion and psychology. His focus at Duke was on early Christianity. His fascination with Rome grew out of his Latin and Greek classes at St. Paul’s School in New York in the early 1960s. Reading Caesar fueled his love of Rome and ancient history, which he has studied for half a century. A practicing tax attorney for more than thirty-five years, he has written numerous articles and several law treatises about estate planning, estate and gift taxation, and the use of trusts. In this his first novel, Mr. McEachern’s unique voice blends law, religion, and history.
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The Tempest

 
Thriller / Suspense
Date Published: 7/28/2015
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
 
 

James Lilliefors’s unlikely detective duo, Pastor Luke Bowers and homicide investigator Amy Hunter, return in a new murder mystery set in Maryland’s picturesque Tidewater County

Tourists like Susan Champlain pass through the Chesapeake Bay region every year. But when Susan pays Pastor Luke Bowers a visit, he’s disturbed by what she shares with him. Her husband has a short temper, she says, and recently threatened to make her “disappear” because of a photo Susan took on her phone.

Luke is concerned enough to tip off Tidewater County’s chief homicide investigator, Amy Hunter. That night, Susan’s body is found at the foot of the Widow’s Point bluff. Hunter soon discovers Susan left behind clues that may connect her fate to a series of killings in the Northeast, a powerful criminal enterprise, and to a missing Rembrandt masterpiece,The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Whoever is behind the killings has created a storm of deception and betrayal, a deliberate “tempest” designed to obscure the truth. Now Hunter and Bowers must join forces to trace the dangerous secret glimpsed in Susan’s photo. But will they be the next targets on a killer’s deadly agenda . . . ?

Excerpt

Prologue

Spring

“Miracles. What can I tell you? In a skeptical world, if a real miracle occurred, it wouldn’t even make the evening news. Who would believe it? This one, though, will be different. This one, the skeptics won’t be able to explain. People will want to see for themselves; they’ll line up around the block to have a look. That’s what we need to talk about.”

Walter Kepler watched his attorney’s own skepticism harden slightly as he waited on the details of Kepler’s plan. Jacob Weber was used to this, to Kepler’s Barnum-like enthusiasms as he introduced a new idea. Weber had precise, dark eyes, a narrow face, bristly white hair cut close to the scalp. Seen from behind, he could appear as small and fragile as a child. But he also possessed that rarest of human qualities—consistent good judgment; unerringly good, in Kepler’s estimation.

As presented, Kepler’s plan consisted of three parts: A sells a painting to B; B sells the painting to C; and C (who was Kepler) uses the painting to bring about a “miracle.” The first two parts of the plan he would handle himself, with the assistance of Nicholas Champlain and, of course, Belasco. It was for third part that he needed Jacob Weber’s help—needed his judgment, and, ultimately, his skills as a negotiator.

Kepler had been formulating versions of this plan in his head since he was a boy, trailing his father through the great art museums of the Northeast and Europe, stopping to stare at some painting or sculpture that, his father insisted, was not only an important work but also a masterpiece. With time, Kepler had learned to tell the difference, to understand why certain paintings—like certain people, and ideas—held greater intrinsic value than others. He had spent much of his adult life refining that understanding, through the storms of sudden wealth, divorce and the more mundane trials of daily living.

When he finished telling Weber his plan, Kepler turned the conversation to the painting. He watched Weber’s face flush with a new interest as he described the masterpiece that had dominated his thoughts for the past three weeks, ever since he’d ascertained that it was the real thing. The tempest. Fourteen men trapped on a boat. Each responds differently to a life-threatening storm: one trying valiantly to fix the main sail, another cowering in terror from the waves, one calmly steering the rudder. Fourteen men, fourteen reactions. Kepler imagined how his attorney would react once the waters began to churn in another several months.

Then Kepler sat back and let Jacob Weber voice his concerns. They were much as he had expected—candid, well-reasoned, occasionally surprising. Kepler managed to fend off most; those he couldn’t, he stored away.

“So what are we looking at?” his attorney asked. “When would it need to happen?”

Kepler glanced at Weber’s right hand, absently tracing the stem of the coffee cup. It was a pleasant April morning, the bay shivering with whitecaps.

“Late summer,” he said. “August, I’m thinking.”

His attorney thought about that, showing no expression. Calculating how the plan would interrupt and impact his own life, no doubt. Jacob Weber finally closed and opened his eyes. He nodded. “It’s do-able,” he said. After a thoughtful pause, he added, “Actually, I kind of like it.”

Weber’s response would have sounded lukewarm to an outsider. To Kepler, it was a hearty endorsement. In fact, he had never known Jacob Weber to be quite so enthusiastic about one of his ideas. All in all, it was a very good start.

About the Author

James Lilliefors is the author of the geopolitical thriller novels The Leviathan Effect and Viral. A journalist and novelist who grew up near Washington, D.C., Lilliefors is also the author of three nonfiction books. The Psalmist and The Tempest are the first two books in the Luke Bowers and Amy Hunter series

 

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To Be Honest

Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Date Published: July 21, 2015

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T.C. Booth’s latest novel, To Be Honest, is a heart-warming young adult contemporary romance that focuses on cyberbullying, diversity and the struggles of living with a handicap, from the point of view of a teenage girl.
The book features Starla Emerson, a girl whose self-esteem vanished almost overnight when a freak accident left her with a deformed hand. When her family moves and she can no longer rely on her best friend and boyfriend for moral support, she finds herself all alone one hundred and twenty miles away home.
Starla tries not to stand out at her new school, but when a stranger posts pictures of her on the internet, this puts her in the spotlight against her wishes. And when the cyberbullying threatens to destroy her relationship, things take a turn for the worse.
To Be Honest has received glowing reviews on Amazon.
 EXCERPT
 I left one shelf bare for my memory boxes. I stacked the shoe-sized cardboard boxes so their labels showed. Freshman Year, Sophomore Year, Junior Year. The first two boxes were filled with memories that I collected to keep safe. My Junior Year box felt empty. I removed its lid and took out the orchard ticket stub, the pictures of the guys wrestling in the dark, and a dried purple rose. Jared handed me the rose at school the morning of Sweetest Day. I could only guess what might fill my box the rest of the year. Will I even make any new friends? How would people react when they saw my hand? They’d probably think I’m the creepy new girl and be grossed out by my claw. I took a deep breath and put the box back.
A piece of paper stuck out from between the pages of one of my books. I tugged it free and unfolded it. It was a note Jared wrote to me about two months after we started going out.
Star,
Please don’t be mad at me for the whole TBH thing. I just didn’t know what to say to Jan. I shouldn’t have said anything. I like you a lot! You are my girl. I don’t want anyone else.
Love, Jared
A sigh escaped me. I never got the whole TBH—to be honest—thing. You opened yourself up for drama if you posted a picture with the letters TBH online. A girl named Jan did that and Jared took the bait. He had to honestly say something about her, so he commented under the picture that she was cute. My phone blew up with text messages telling me about it. I cried and sent Jared a text telling him I wanted to break up. I felt so stupid. The entire student body of Cedar High knew Jared told another girl she was cute. He slipped me the note during Algebra class the next day. I forgave him.
About the Author

TC Booth was born and raised in a small town in Northeast Ohio where she currently teaches. She lives with her husband and four children ranging in ages from 13-23. Her pets include one dog named Sammy, and two cats- Sheldon and Sasha.
TC Booth views books as the best form of entertainment and her escape for life’s stresses. She prefers reading a book over watching a movie, and writing over almost any other way to spend her time.
When not attending her children’s sporting events and running them around, you’ll see her writing on her laptop, iPad, and even jotting ideas down on her phone apps.
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Twitter:@BoothTammi
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Caviar Living on Fish Stick Money

 
Non Fiction
Date Published: April 29, 2015
 
 

“Life must be a mixture of frugality and luxury.” — Marilyn Whelan

 

Caviar Living is a hand guide of home-spun lessons from a life well lived. Marilyn Whelan shares her wisdom from how to connect with your community to how to play your mortgage like a game.

 

With short snappy chapters Whelan gives us tips and tidbits on:

 

·         Fun ways to teach your kids and grandkids about money

·         How to keep a clutter-free house – and why!

·         Creative ways to get a tax break

·         How to stretch a dollar on everything from real estate to creative vacations

 

Part budget guide, part spiritual manual, and a whole lotta charm, Caviar Living is a lifetime of lessons wrapped up in this 98-pages of fun.

 
 
 

Marilyn Whelan has worked as a reporter, a district supervisor in a first time youthful offenders program, and President of Shoppers Critique International.  Her want is to die with something remaining on her bucket list, because when something is crossed off, something else is added.

Marilyn currently lives in Clearwater, Florida, where she is Granny to seven, and Great Granny to three. She loves to travel and plays Mah Jongg twice a week.

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Inside A String

Poetry / Short Stories / Essays
Date Published: June 2014

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Inside a String is a collection of Poems, Essays, and Lyrics of one man’s take on the human element of America from the Beat movement of the 50’s to the Counter Culture of the 60’s thru the ‘X’ and ‘I’ generations, “Delivered in Spoken Word, Prose and Transcendental and Spiritual Abstract.”
MacLear, along with his singing partner, Heather Waters won Best Country Song 2014 by the Hollywood Music In Media Awards for last summer’s U.S. Country Radio Favorite: ‘SOMEDAY.’




EXCERPT

Mediterranean Calls
Yellow_ teasing_
broken_ alabaster_
Basted blue in a closed pewter pot
Cut the hands of the blade
pour slow the anger
And mind the pages when they’re hot
Slow_ are the mindless minutes after the
‘sorrow’s flight’
…The light’s fine in here, so’s the beer
Yesterday is just a melted muse of lectures_
leering at the multitudes_
_draped ‘long side an overcoat
she wore in another time
About the Author

Award winning songwriter, producer, entertainer and poet Tom MacLear has captured a span of life from the east to the west in his new book, Inside a String. Those familiar with Hemingway, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Dylan and Ginsberg will enjoy the “Beat” flavor of the poetry in this book as well as some of the more simple, straightforward attacks on our hearts and our senses. These poems speak to the reader and take us on that wonderful journey from the depths of city life in NYC to the beautiful coastlines of California and everywhere in between, wherever our minds choose to travel as we take a magical ride with poet, Tom MacLear.
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The Color of Life

Women’s Fiction / Coming of Age
Date Published: June 21, 2015

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When 23-year-old Claire Soublet arrives in New York City to begin her new life, she has no idea that after only four days a situation will arise forcing her to return to New Orleans. Growing up mired in years of hardship and being abandoned by family through death and disinterest, she manages to scratch and claw her way out of that life. And in the process, get a college education. Back in New Orleans and not ready to succumb to her old life, she enlists the help of her high school friend. They devise a plan to, once again, get Claire out of her hometown. With their new-found relationship, they return to New York together.
EXCERPT
Chapter One
The 1878 yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans claimed my mother Cecile when she was
only twenty-five leaving behind four children – my older sister Aurelia was nine, I was five, Philomene was three, and my brother Augustin wasn’t yet two – and if the two babies born between Aurelia and I had lived, there would have been six of us left motherless.
Sanité, my father’s mother, took care of us until she died three years later. My grandmother was a very kind and gentle person. She was a Choctaw Indian who never sat in a chair or slept in a bed. She spent most of her time sitting, squatting, or sleeping on the floor. The only time I saw her standing was when she was cooking, cleaning, or leaving the house to go to the market.
Even after the “Tignon Law” was abolished in 1843, Sanité still wore the madras kerchief to cover her head. She taught our mother how to wrap it to cover her hair and told her how the law came about as Aurelia and I watched and listened. The law was passed in 1786, she told us, and it forced free women of color to cover their heads with the same type of kerchiefs the slave women wore. The Governor was determined to tighten control over the non-Whites in the city to please the White women who felt threatened by the beautiful, free women of color who had relationships with White men.
Before the undertaker came to pick up my grandmother’s body, my father removed the tignon; her waist-length, coal black hair came tumbling out. He wept as he tied a shoestring at the top of her long thick plait. He cut it off, touched it to his lips, then wrapped it with the kerchief in a pillowcase and tucked it away in a drawer. “There,” he said as he pulled her now shoulder-length hair from behind her ears and gently combed through it with his fingers, “you will not be buried with your head covered.” My father threw his body across his mother’s and sobbed without shame. Aurelia, Philomene and I fell on top of him and cried just as hard.
I could not fully understand why my father showed how much he cared about his mother in death when he’d never treated her kindly when she was alive; I was left confused. I’d heard him tell her how ashamed he was of her – of her being Choctaw. He hated having inherited her tan skin and shiny black hair. His blue eyes came from his French father, Etienne Menard.
I think only Aurelia was old enough to appreciate that our grandmother was finally free from the hardship and prejudice she’d had to endure. She told me even though my father was crying because his mother was dead, he was also happy she was finally at peace. I, too, came to understand this many years later when I looked back on it.
My grandfather, a hunter and a trapper, spent most of his time in the swamps and the bayous. He often traded with the Indian tribes who lived where he hunted. He found Sanité among the Choctaw and brought her to New Orleans to live with him. She was already twenty-four and none of the men of her tribe wanted her for a wife. She was shunned and considered taboo by the men and the women because she had been born with a dime-size black mole in the center of her forehead. Only the children and the very old treated her with kindness.
New Orleans laws forbade Etienne to legally marry Sanité, but Father Guillard secretly heard their vows in the rectory at St. Louis Cathedral.
Etienne bought a small house in the Tremé section and had two children with Sanité. When Pauline was thirteen and my father Christophe ten, Etienne disappeared. Sanité and her children didn’t know if he’d been killed or if he’d returned to France without telling them. Without a legal marriage, who could Sanité go to for help? For years they waited for him to come home, but they never heard from him again.
Etienne Menard did two decent things before he vanished. He legally left the house to his children and he taught them, as well as Sanité, to sew. He was a tailor in France before coming to America. He taught them how to make a man’s suit from the collar to the hem of the pant legs. And this skill was their saving grace.
Pauline, who was blond and blue-eyed, became a passablanc. She was tall for her age and looked much older than her fifteen years. It took several weeks of walking around uptown in the business section of the city to find a place that was willing to trust her with piecework she could do at home. Stern Brothers, a men’s store on Dryades Street, though reluctant, gave her a few trial pieces. When she returned the half dozen sets of coat sleeves, Mr. Stern was so impressed with the quality of the sewing that he gave her steady work. Pauline brought the pieces home and Sanité and Christophe helped her sew them together. At first they worked on only suit coats, then suit trousers, and eventually they were making whole suits. They survived more than four years on what they made from the piecework and from what Sanité made at the French Market selling the herbs she grew in her garden.
About the Author

Claudette Carrida Jeffrey, a native New Orleanian, is a retired teacher who lives in Northern California. The Color of Life is her second book of four in the Claire Soublet Series. A Brown Paper Bag and A Fine Tooth Comb (2012) begins the coming of age story of Claire Soublet, a young Creole of Color, growing up in 1940s and 50s New Orleans.
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Whispers From the East

Historical Fiction / Literary Fiction
Date Published: 7/1/2015
 

Ammi, a pregnant 24-year-old, flees New Delhi with millions of Muslim migrants in the early hours of the 1947 Partition of India, clawing her way through a controversial caste system and into the heart of Lahori society.

A family broken by betrayal.
Two of Ammi’s beloved sons immigrate to the United States and secretly marry dazzling, contemporary American brides. One bride converts to Islam. The other commits apostasy, the sin of all sins.

Three women who stand to lose everything.
The collision of two belief systems—two worlds—come to a head as Ammi, Carolyn, and Ivy fight to keep their own marriages, families, and futures secure. 

 

 

Review
Dive into a powerful novel that highlights 3 separate women and their very different marriages and husbands. This was a novel that really sits with you and shows the way everyone’s situation and views are not the same. I truly enjoyed the journeys these women and their husbands were on and am very glad I took the time to read this.
 

Amie Ali’s stories focus on the lives of Western women who find love among the cultural breadth of Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian countries. Weaving western expectations of love and family with extensive cultural and religious differences, she enjoys writing stories that bridge divides and offer a peek into these diverse, often controversial relationships.

 

 

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Twitter: @amietheauthor

 

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I, Kidney

Literary Fiction / Family Saga
Date Published: December 2014

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Joe Zizzi’s childhood in the 1950s had everything a kid could want–pro athlete dad, wonderful mom, cool big bro. When the ’60s kick in, this ideal life is violently shaken: a car crash claims his mother’s life and his father’s career, and brother Matt becomes distant and disturbed. Over the years, Joe learns to cope and carves out a niche for himself as a college sports star, and later as a coach and writer, but he can’t quite shake the family legacy. Diagnosed with kidney failure, the semi-pro husband and devoted dad has life-and-death decisions to make–and life wins, though perhaps only by a slim margin.
EXCERPT
It can’t be possible. I can’t possibly have PKD. Dad wasn’t symptomatic until he was about seventy or so. Here I am, I’m not much past fifty and here I am. I know with the spring term being on, I had to start coming out with it. I told the players about my condition. I’d done this in the fall also, telling them I wasn’t well, but this term I told the kids the first meeting, complete with the official name for the thing. I told Sr. Frances about my condition. I told Father Arsenio about my condition. The word gets around, and the parents are all talking to me. My colleagues are beginning to avoid me. I sense distance once I let them know what was happening and the word starts getting out.
        I’m on a low-protein diet, and I’m fatigued, having trouble sleeping. Between the low-protein and the little sleeping, I’m in a lot of trouble. An opposing coach catches me looking like I’m nodding out at the game. The opposing team is snickering. The kids win it for me; I’m the human interest story. They’ve probably never seen classic movies in their lives, but they’re winning for me—the coach needs an operation! The kids are of course involved in normal real-time culture. They’ve named me J-Ziz and I accept it as the awesome name that it is. They worry about me. They want to know about the food restrictions. Sometimes I’m busted when they catch me eating the bad stuff in my office, which I do on a regular semi-regular basis. My standard speech is, “I’m not going to be one of these ‘do as I say, not as I do’ types with you. I’m on the straight and narrow a lot. But it’s taking some getting used to. I gotta fall off the wagon sometimes or else (a) I’m not going to be human, and (b) I’m not gonna be happy.” I’m entitled to this dog or murder-burger or whatever.
About the Author

Chris Six is a New York-based writer and the recipient of somebody else’s kidney.
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