Date Published: Jan 10th, 2019
Publisher: Fitzrovia Press (Imprint: Shimran)
DIANA – THE VOICE OF CHANGE ……isn’t just another biographical account of Diana’s life, but rather it is a deeper exploration of the unique idiosyncrasies, extraordinary events, and changes of destiny that created a flow of force by which Diana evolved, transmuting from being the Peoples Princess into the Queen of Everybody’s Heart, and so to beyond her death………
It is written by the legendary Voice Coach: Stewart Pearce, who confidentially coached Diana during the last two years of her life, adding both a physical and metaphysical support to Diana’s vast transformation. This we palpably saw, as she moved from the demure and pained young woman, seen in the Martin Bashir interview, to the assured, powerful humanitarian leader witnessed in July 1997. For Diana’s voice revolutionized both the African Landmine issue, and the face of the Global Aids epidemic, and irrespective of her HRH title being removed, Diana acquired such public support that her voice of freedom almost toppled Queen Elizabeth, and exposed the anachronisms of the Windsor Household!
The book answers volatile questions such as:
Why was the marriage of a century known as a Fairy Tale?
Why was Diana the most photographed woman in recorded history?
Was Diana murdered?
Why did her incandescent love affect so many, and where did it come from?
What was the extraordinary energy that affected 5.9 billion people during August 31st and September 6th, 1997?
What has happened to Diana’s voice post-death, the resonance of which appears to have precipitated significant social movements, such as the #METOOCAMPAIGN?
The book is packed with Vocal Exercises, Sound Meditations, and Presence Techniques, which allowed Diana to become the spell-binding, radiant being that she became – about which Henry Kissinger said: “ I remember, Diana was a beautiful young woman whose blue eyes melted grown men’s bones!”
The content of this book is seen as a developing work, which will eventually evolve to become a series of workshops known as THE DIANA HEART PATH
About the Author
Stewart Pearce is a Master of Voice and Corporate Presentation Coach who finds and liberates the authentic power and presence in the world’s most extraordinary people.
As a Master of Voice, Stewart has a reputation for his holistic training of the Actor, within renowned Actor Training Centers throughout the World, – Stewart was Head of Voice at the Webber Douglas Academy between 1980-1997, assisting the pioneering of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre between 1997-2010, as well as consulting on Broadway and in the West End. Stewart has coached world-acclaimed actors such as Oscar-winning Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance, Matthew Goode, Hugh Bonneville of “Downton Abbey”, Simon Callow CBE, Vanessa Redgrave, Michelle Williams, Minnie Driver, Gwendoline Christie. Stewart also develops iconic presence for luminaries such as Marianne Williamson, Dame Anita Roddick, Margaret Thatcher, Mo Mowlem, and Diana, Princess of Wales.
In the corporate sphere, he is the “go-to” Mentor for Presentation Coaching with senior iconic business people and organizations. Corporations, where he has developed leaders and chief executives, include Giorgio Armani, L`Oreal, BT, BBC, ITN, Qatar Holdings, World News, McKinsey & Co, Merrill Lynch, WPP, UBS, Nat West, Vidal Sassoon, Redken, and McKenzie Boston and The British Government and the LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC Bid.
Stewart Pearce is the author of several acclaimed books about the human voice and its power for personal development and healing. In addition, he has recorded six award-winning sonic meditation albums. Stewart’s work is regularly featured in the global press, and he is sought after for private Mentorship, and Master Classes throughout the world.
Stewart Pearce’s great passion is to assist extraordinarily talented individuals to change the world, whilst finding and embodying their soul’s note and signature style, which brings a magnetic presence to the work. In this work, Stewart helps people find great joy, authenticity, and clarity of purpose in their work and personal lives.
Stewart Pearce is based in London and New York and leads Master Classes around the World.
Date Published: 1/3/2020
Luz, a Peruvian girl, is enjoying her life in Lima with her father. But what she does not know is that something is about to go very, very wrong, because she lives in a future that has been strangely altered by the magic of an overzealous alchemist from the past. Soon her world will collide with other times and places, putting Luz in terrible danger and linking her fate to a motley assortment of characters.
Will they find their way through unimaginable danger, together? Or will the challenges of this strange new world prevail and take them out, one by one?
The tip of the alchemist’s nose hovered perilously close to the surface of the bubbling, frothing liquid that filled the large black cauldron hanging on the hook over the fire in the enormous hearth. His apprentice flinched, fearing that the boiling fluid might bubble up and burn his master’s nose, or that such close proximity to the terrible stench that suffused the steam coming off of it might make him faint.
Neither of these things would be good for the apprentice because the alchemist was known for his extreme fits of melancholy. Any setback could send the master into a depression that could last for weeks, and to have something go wrong at this late stage, with this particular experiment…
The apprentice shuddered to think of the depression such a thing would cause the alchemist, which would then mean weeks, perhaps months of inactivity, delaying his own promotion to journeyman and thus, eventually, to master alchemist in his own right.
Today, however, was different, because the alchemist was close to success. His mood was almost ebullient as he inhaled deeply of the noxious stuff, closing his eyes as though savoring the terrible stench.
“Ah, that’s it,” sighed the alchemist. He looked up from the cauldron. “Or, nearly so. A bit more hellebore, I think, and a pinch of nightshade.” He held out his hand impatiently. “Hurry, Marcello, hurry,” he said as the apprentice scurried to fetch the necessary items. “Timing is everything with such things.”
Marcello gathered the hellebore and the nightshade and placed the requisite amounts in his master’s outstretched hand. The master immediately tossed the stuff into the cauldron and pushed his nose close to sniff the concoction once more.
“This is it, it is perfect!” he exclaimed. He turned bright eyes to his apprentice. “Do you realize, Marcello, what this means for us? In just a few moments, we can be anywhere in the world. Anywhere at all! The very stuff of time and place will be ours for the manipulating!”
About the author:
Columbkill Noonan is the author of the best-selling Barnabas Tew series of mythological mysteries, as well as a number of fantastical short stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy teaching aerial yoga or having adventures with her elderly rescue horse, Mittens.
Derek Hyde Series, Book 1
Date Published: 12-21-2019
Publisher: INtense Publications LLC
Twelve-year-old Derek Hyde isn’t thrilled that the spookiest old mansion in town is about to become the Hyde Funeral Home & Used Coffin Outlet. Especially since he has to live there with his mortician parents, Jack and Formalda.
Of course, being driven in the family hearse to his first day at middle school doesn’t exactly add whipped cream to his broccoli.
As if things couldn’t get more horrific, an evil classmate named Nussbaum attacks him in the cafeteria with a plate of beef stroganoff. Seems this kid used to love living in the old mansion himself, but got yanked out after accidentally blowing up his own mom and dad. With his chemistry set. Now his dead parents are stuck as ghosts and Nussbaum is a foster kid stuck on revenge, vowing to get even with Derek’s family for taking over his haunted home.
Derek desperately craves a nice place to live, but a couple of minor details stand in his way—just some blood-curdling apparitions that scare the pants off him and a classmate bent on landing him in his parents’ embalming room. As a client.
About the Author
E. Michael Lunsford is the author of an award-winning play, Scary, Scary Night, and a book of wacky kid’s poems, Sometimes I Get My Shoes on Backwards, winner of the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award. His debut novel is the first of the funny Derek Hyde series of spooky middle grade books published by INtense Publications. Michael is also a musician, composer, inventor, entrepreneur and chief cook & bottle washer who works and lives with his wife and love of his life in San Carlos, California.
Date to be Published: 11/22/19
But there in the forest…that’s where it all began…
Max Tyler, single father and former SWAT team leader, and Beth Collins, brilliant infectious disease specialist, rush headlong into an accelerating vortex of intrigue and danger to rescue Max’s kidnapped daughter, Megan, from the final steps of a horrific genetic manipulation experiment.
VIRAL DREAMS rockets in pace and intensity, captivating and propelling the reader on a kaleidoscopic journey of mystery, suspense, and wonder.
“Run your fastest, Megan…we’ve gotta hurry!” The man had a tight grip on the hand of his nine-year-old daughter and was pulling her through the forest, weaving between the tall Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine trees that towered above them. It was late in the afternoon, and they were far from the hiking path that circled Crystal Lake, one of the popular camping areas five miles north of Mammoth Lakes, California. Sunlight filtered down through the trees, scattered into subdued beams by the dense pine branches that formed the high arboreal canopy. It would be dusk in less than an hour. But it wasn’t the dark Max Tyler was afraid of.
“Daddy, you’re bleeding!” Megan said in a scared, breathless voice. She was sprinting at top speed and gasping for air.
Max glanced back at her and the blood streaming down his left arm. It was coming from a knife slash that had left a three-inch long gash through his tee shirt and left shoulder. His shirtsleeve was soaked bright red, and the rivulets of blood had almost reached his wrist.
“It’s nothing, Megs…just a little cut. C’mon. We’ve gotta get out of here.”
He pulled her along as he scrambled through the thick forest of trees, trying his best to lead them in the direction of their campsite. His mind was racing. Adrenaline rushed through his bloodstream and fueled the powerful, rapid thundering of his heart.
He mentally replayed the events the last ten minutes. What they had just witnessed seemed impossible, surreal…
Megan was gathering a small posy of tiny white flowers while he leaned against a fallen tree, watching her. They had decided to take a short hike before dinner. They’d found a trail that wrapped around the north end of the lake and strolled along the dirt path through the trees for fifteen minutes before coming across a glade blanketed with spring flowers.
It was early summer. The mountainous terrain boasted one of the best ski resorts in California during the winter. But this time of year, the days were mild. He and Megan were on a weekend camping trip, the first of several he’d planned for the summer and fall, and he was enjoying every minute of it.
It felt good to get away and bring her up here into the pristine sanctuary and quiet serenity of this towering primeval forest. The redolent sights and smells filled his senses, refreshing and renewing him as only the mountains could.
He looked away from her for a second to take in the tranquility of the glassy mountain lake a hundred yards to his left. He heard a small, muffled yelp. It was so soft it barely registered in his mind. Glancing back toward Megan, he caught a fleeting glimpse of her disappearing behind a copse of young pine trees, feet kicking in the air and arms flailing. Her mouth was covered by the hand of the burly man carrying her.
“Hey…Stop!” Max shouted in a booming voice. He sprang forward, covering the distance to where Megan disappeared in a matter of seconds, and raced behind the copse.
The man ran over a ridge and disappeared from sight.
“Stop!” Max roared, doubling his pace. He reached the ridge, ran down the slope, and leaped at the man, sweeping his feet out from under him and grabbing Megan before she could hit the ground.
The man sprung to his feet, pulled a hunting knife from a sheath on his belt, and rushed toward Max, who set Megan down and turned to face him. The man slashed with the knife, slicing Max’s left shoulder as Max pivoted and launched a powerful, right thrusting kick at the man’s knee. There was a sickening crunch, and the man, who easily outweighed Max by thirty pounds, cried out and crumpled to the ground. His knife clattered against an outcropping of rocks and skittered out of sight.
“Come on, Megs!” Max picked her up and ran at full speed through the trees, avoiding the path but heading in the direction of their campsite. The attacker’s moans faded as Max put distance between them. He bolted at top speed through the trees until his arms began burning. Then he set Megan down, grabbed her hand, and ran towards their campsite, towards safety, less than a quarter of a mile away.
The man was sweating profusely when he reached the Jeep parked on a narrow dirt fire road used by the forest service. The knee of his left leg had swollen to more than twice its normal size, and he was exhausted from hopping half a mile on his good leg through rugged, uneven terrain.
He opened the door of his Jeep and pulled himself up onto the front seat. He couldn’t touch his left knee without piercing jolts of pain shooting up his leg. He unlocked the glove compartment, pulled out a cell phone with push-to-talk, and switched it on.
“Nick, you there? Come in!” he barked.
“I’m here,” a voice responded. “Didja’ get her?”
“No, damn it. I had her. Then her father came out of nowhere and attacked. I sliced up his shoulder, but he broke my knee and took the girl. Go to plan B.”
“Got it. Plan B. Leave your unit on. I’ll contact you. Out.”
The man tossed the cell phone on the seat beside him and winced as he shifted his weight to pull the keys out of his pocket. He was outraged that Max had gotten the better of him. How was it that a guy half his size and nowhere near his muscular prowess had managed to take him down and snatch the girl? He didn’t lose fights. Ever.
He fumbled with his keys for a moment before slipping the correct key into the Jeep’s ignition and placing his hand on the black knob of the stick shift. Only then did reality slap him hard as he looked down and stared at the clutch pedal under his broken left leg.
This was not going to be easy.
About the Author
John has worked in the medical field of Oncology Therapeutics for several years, and is currently an Immuno-Oncology Team Lead in US Oncology Medical Affairs for a major pharmaceutical company located in North Wales, Pennsylvania. Writing is a major passion of his life.
Date Published: 10/15/19
Seven stories with different world-religion settings and characters of various corresponding faiths provide an “interfaith” context and partial overlap for AND EVE SAID YES. The story centers on Jason Hunter, a young well-read single man with no living relatives. Ex-sailor and retail stockroom supervisor, Jason is on a quest to resolve three life questions: absolution from guilt related to the accidental death of a coworker, attaining a renewed spiritual grounding and connectedness, and the rediscovery of his lost soul mate whom he encountered briefly during a horrific dark storm.
He immerses himself in Catholic classes for a time. He solicits advice from his Jewish landlady as well as an old college chum involved in the Self-Realization Fellowship church with its Hindu influence and also engages in friendly repartee with an earthy atheistic night-watchman buddy. Jason seeks the counsel of fellow workers at the outlet store including a Hebrew teacher, explores doctrinal details with Muslim students who are customers at the store and finally reestablishes an acquaintance with an old professor of religious studies, all colorful characters in their own right.
His path involves dangerous, unexpected twists, such as risking his life in a flood to save an elderly stranger and the confrontation with a knife-wielding thief when making rounds with his night-watchman friend. Jason’s search ultimately takes him back to the college town where his life had first taken a turn and culminates in a séance setting where a surprising and amazing resolution to his quest is revealed.
My four years in the Navy were spent reading books, a compensation I’m sure for the loss of my family and a derailed college education. But returning to civilian life, I found that I’d amassed pitifully few answers, only more sophisticated questions—questions that cut to the very quick and marrow of my being. And those questions persisted, snapping viciously at my heels like a recalcitrant cur, as I resolved to keep opening new doors one after the other, a pilgrim among pilgrims seeking and searching, until the grace of resolution and direction presented itself. And, finally, it did. But, of course, how all that came about is my story.
At sea one Sunday morning, not far off Luzon, I was below deck, off duty, and reading Jack Kerouac when I came across that famous remark made in an interview. He was asked what the Beat Generation writers wanted and what he was trying to do in On the Road and he responded, “I was waiting for God to show his face.” I was contemplating what he meant exactly when a disconcerted mate called me topside to have a look at something strange on the water. I scurried up the ladder and onto the deck, pausing at the starboard rail. What met my eyes was a seascape from another world, one I’d never witnessed prior and would never see again.
Our craft had entered into an absolute dead calm, the water flat and placid as a pane of glass mirroring flawlessly and indistinguishably the somber copper sky. The horizon line was but a draftsman’s faint illusion, heaven and sea as one with all sound and motion void, the rhythmic breath of nature extinguished in toto, a vast and engulfing entropy disturbed only by the beating heart in my own tiny locus. It felt as though we were about to be swallowed up in the gargantuan maw of eternity. And at that moment I reflected again upon what Kerouac had said, about his quest to experience the face of God, and, standing at the rail looking into forever, I realized I myself was in no way desirous of or prepared for such a rendezvous. The mere anticipation froze my soul because, since that Friday night in Columbia, Missouri, when I had encountered Eve, I’d never fully sorted out the question of good and evil—or, more precisely, the constitution of “sin” and its ultimate consequence. I wasn’t equipped to face any “Maker.” I wasn’t ready for a Judgment Day. That recognition, with all its attendant trepidation, descended upon me without amelioration or mercy . . . and I remembered my mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, and my father, an agnostic, and their untimely passing from this world . . . and I thought again of Eve.
About the Author
Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. Prior to writing full time he served overseas in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany, and England with the American Red Cross, taught in the English department at Emporia State University, was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and served on the editorial boards of Potpourri Publications and Kansas City Voices magazine. His short stories, poems, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals, and he was co-author of the book Of Youth and the River: The Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr.
His 1997 book, A Backward View: Stories and Poems, received the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award from the Kansas Authors Club. When not writing, he enjoys listening to talk radio, traveling with his wife, Dee, lending support to the FairTax movement and participating in interfaith activities. His blog series appears on The Grant Journal and Scriggler, and in 2015 sixty of the entries were collected in the book The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.
Book two in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series
Mystery (with elements of the paranormal and whispers of romance)
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, distributed by Penguin Random House
Date Published: November 12, 2019
A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.
“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.”
“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.”
On the short walk to my car, a sparkle caught my eye on the ground near a temporary dumpster behind La Table, the new location of my old flame Billy Hughes’s catering business.
Later, I reflected on how different things would have been had I not been so curious.
What if I hadn’t had the dress fitting today? What if I hadn’t parked in Archie’s space? What if I hadn’t gone out the back door of his shop? What if I hadn’t gone over to examine what was glittering next to the dumpster?
“The what ifs and should haves will eat your brain.” It was a quote of John O’Callaghan’s, from his book of poetry entitled, Sincerely, John the Ghost—ironically, a gift from Zoe, who’d always eschewed the notion of Percy’s and Celeste’s spirits.
The point is, if I hadn’t done all those things, then I wouldn’t have seen that glint on the ground and gone over to check out what it was. Most crucially, I would never have noticed a hand through the rusted-out hole in the dumpster.
A very dead hand.
About the author:
A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion’s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.
When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.
Date Published: 09/30/2019
Publisher: WordFire Press
Wes Rockville, a disgraced law-enforcement agent, gets one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232-year-old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program. His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company’s diabolical plan to use witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in witches… and believe in himself. Filled with adventure and suspense, Michael Okon creates a rousing, tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern-day New York City.
The narrator filled in more information. “It wasn’t until this land became my land that the government decided to create an organization to protect women at risk. The Davina Doctrine went against everything that the Willas stood for. Even though they ran the risk of persecution, the Davinas chose to work with law enforcement to expose the evil deeds of the rival sisterhood. President George Washington established secret legislation under Title VI of the Control Act of 1792. The law was enacted to protect the good witches that exposed the evil deeds of their sisterhood.”
The screen went dark. There was only a chair in the center of a dimly lit stage. A single spotlight focused on the top of the blond actress’s head. Wes was right; it was the actress he’d suspected. She had a hit sitcom and two Emmys, and there was some recent Oscar talk about her last movie.
“Yes. There are witches. Living among us. They are women who believe in using their power to protect love and life. And then there are some who use their powers for all the wrong reasons.”
The camera came to rest on her beautiful face. She winked saucily as she placed a triangular witch’s hat on her head. “Welcome to the Witches Protection Program.”
Alastair smiled broadly. “I love that part.”
“That was Jennifer Anis—”
About the Author
Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.
Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.
(The Mix-Blood: Book One)
Young Adult, Coming of Age, Fantasy
Date Published: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Breezy Pages Publishing
Defiance is paid in blood.
Their time is up. The crimsons are coming, marching on Hammerstone to crush the rebellious grays who renounce their rule. The graybacks have defied the ban that forbids trade or alliances with other races.
Frafnar understands intolerance better than most. Every season the grayback settlements send tribute to their oppressive orc cousins, and Hammerstone is no exception. After Frafnar is denied the opportunity to join the tribute guard because of his mixed heritage, he leaps at the chance to prove himself when his father’s signal horn is left behind.
Smoke rises in the distance. Frafnar must warn Hammerstone of the threat and comes to realize that his people are struggling with what he’s faced all his life. Now he must fight alongside those he loves—and hates—to protect his home.
Can Hammerstone withstand the siege, or will it become the final gravesite in a failed rebellion?
When the crimsons strike, always remember… strength in blood.
If you’re a fan of the epic or high fantasy genres, coming of age stories, or action-packed tales with haughty orcs and mysterious magic, then you’ll want to pick up Blood Branded.
“I have to win.”
The words pierced the chatter among the gathering, reaching Frafnar and echoing his own thoughts.
“I want to see a crimson!” another hollered.
“Better hope you’re not against me!” someone else shouted.
Then the energy of the group stilled as if everyone held their breath. Frafnar stood on the tips of his toes, but he still couldn’t see past the bobbing heads and shoulders of the other runts.
“Frafnar, son of Armastus.”
His elation was cut short by the groans of the group. The outbursts ceased when Trainer Groth roared for silence.
“His opponent will be…”
The gathering leaned forward.
“Bromh, son of—”
“No!” Bromh yelled from within the crowd. “I won’t be paired against the mix-blood.”
“Then you forfeit,” Groth said, already searching for the next contender.
“I never said—”
“Get over here,” Groth snapped. “Where’s Frafnar? Let him through.”
The circle of bodies parted enough that Frafnar squeezed between them, ignoring the sharp stares from the others. He kept his chin high and broke eye contact only as he passed the runts towering over him.
Trainer Groth and Bromh waited in the center of the ring.
“What’s the matter?” Frafnar taunted when he broke through the crowd. “Afraid you’ll lose?”
Bromh scoffed. “I’ll crush you in an instant, twig.”
Groth’s scowl deepened. Veins popped out of the tight flesh on his arms and neck.
“Fine,” Bromh stammered. “But everyone knows I should’ve had a real challenge,” he dared to add.
“Get into position.”
Frafnar met Bromh in the middle of the circle, a solid wood construction between them.
“Winner moves on to the finals,” Groth reiterated with a huff.
Frafnar mirrored Bromh by grasping the iron bar on the side of the wood platform with one hand and placing his elbow on the leather pad. Bromh glared over their clasped hands and squeezed so hard his knuckles paled. Maybe when he was younger, Frafnar might have cried out because of the pain. Today, Bromh would have to break his hand before he’d let go. When he won, they’d have no choice but to acknowledge him as an orc.
Trainer Groth balanced two thin strips of kindling on each side of their hands to ensure they started at his command. “Prepare,” he said. Then, after a suspense-filled moment, “Go.”
The audience erupted with noise, hollering as the strips fell over. Frafnar met Bromh’s strength with his own. He inched his opponent’s arm halfway down to the wood surface. The notion of a quick triumph crumbled when he heard Bromh snicker.
“That all you got, twig?”
About the Author
J.A. Alexsoo lives in Ontario, Canada, and has forever been a fan of fantasy and science fiction. When not working on writing or imagining new adventures, she tours the lands with her two trusty canine companions. She’s the author of THE KNIGHT’S ORDER and her new book BLOOD BRANDED is scheduled to be released October 1st.
Book 9: A Bulwark Anthology
Date Published: September 30, 2019
Publisher: Chelshire, Inc.
Reporter Dayna Dalton’s reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother’s footsteps; never given a chance to prove she’s different. Dayna’s been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty. He’s happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening. Dayna is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character. Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?
*Contains Sexual Content*
“The devil is in the details.”
It was a steady beep that woke her. Dayna struggled to open her eyes. Her lids were heavy, as if they had been glued shut. She panicked for a minute, thinking she might have died and they had sealed her eyes. She lifted a hand to rub her face and felt the tug of something tethering her. She pulled, then moaned from the sharp pain near her elbow.
Brisk hands tucked her arm under a sheet next to her side. She turned to find Jenna Finnes adjusting an IV line.
Their eyes met, and Jenna said in a flat tone, “Don’t yank the IV out.” She walked over to a whiteboard, erased someone’s name, and printed her own, her face grim.
Dayna cleared her throat. Before she got any words out, Jenna spoke without turning around. “They brought you in last night. Minor abrasions. Sprained ankle, nothing serious.” She turned around, and her face held no warmth. “Whoever you were rolling around in the woods with left you there.”
“I wasn’t…” Dayna coughed. Her throat hurt when she spoke. Jenna poured her a cup of water.
“Whatever.” Clay’s wife shrugged. “You were out for a long time. There’s a bump on your head, but the CAT scan was negative.”
Dayna took the water with one hand. The other cautiously touched a tender bump on the side of her skull.
“When can I get out of here?” Dayna asked.
“They’re not going to let you drive home, not that your car is here anyway. The doctor will give you more information when he stops by.” Jenna walked toward the door.
“Jenna,” Dayna called after her, “who brought me in?”
“Sherry and Terence found you.” Jenna answered without looking at her.
Dayna could feel hatred emanating from the rigid stance of the nurse’s body and closed face. She could not stop herself from calling her name again. “Jenna?” Jenna turned, her eyes unfriendly. “How’s Clay doing?”
Jenna pulled open the door and left without another word.
Dayna let her head fall back on the pillows. For all that Jenna had a sterling reputation, she was no Florence Nightingale. The pillows were flat and water had spilled, making the coarse sheet both damp and uncomfortable. Jenna hadn’t even asked if she could bring Dayna something for her aching head.
Tears filled Dayna’s eyes and slid down the sides of her face. “Stop that damn self-pity,” she admonished herself.
Outside, the overcast sky cast a dark shadow over Bulwark. Wind whipped the branches of the trees. It didn’t take a forecaster to know a storm was brewing.
Dayna’s stomach rumbled noisily. The bedside table was just out of her reach. While her clothes and purse were nowhere to be seen, her phone lay on the surface of the table. It buzzed, the noise making Dayna jump, reminding her of every ache and bruise. She stretched, her sore muscles protesting. Her fingers spun the phone in a circle, the momentum forcing it to fall onto the side of the bed.
It was the editor of the paper, Howard Bresen.
“Yes?” Dayna picked up the phone.
“What happened to you?” Howard’s brusque voice demanded.
“Nothing. I saw a wolf and followed—”
“You tie one on again? No wolves in this part of Georgia. Everybody knows that, babe.”
Dayna hated when he called her that. She took a steadying breath and tried to keep the resentment from her voice. “I know what I saw.” Did she? She shivered, thinking of those strange pupils. Dayna opened her mouth to say something, then snapped it shut. She touched the tender spot on her head. She banged her head. That explained it, didn’t it?
“Yeah, you and half the population of Bulwark must be on LSD or something.”
“I don’t use drugs, Howard.”
“No matter, Dayna. I need an obit on JB Straton by tonight. It’s going on the front page. But if you’d rather argue with me, I can find someone else to do it.”
Dayna sat up, her head pounding, but she ignored it. The front page. “No, I want to write it. Can you send someone to pick me up? I have to get home.”
Howard growled that he didn’t have a staff of chauffeurs at his disposal. Then the phone grew quiet.
“Listen, babe, you didn’t see a wolf.”
“Howard, I know what I saw.” She paused, then finished, “I want to write a story about it.”
“I said you didn’t see a wolf. Got it?” Howard’s voice was stern.
If he was this way about the wolf, he’d go nuts if she mentioned the man with the blood-red eyes. For sure, that made no sense. It had to be a hallucination.
Dayna sat mute for a minute. When she opened her mouth, her boss added, “You want that front page or not? I won’t offer it to you again. No wolf. I want a nice tribute to a stand-up guy.” He mumbled something to someone in his office and said loudly, “Okay, I’m sending Lemuel. He’ll pick you up in an hour.”
“I have to get the doctor to release me,” she replied, her mind already forming the opening paragraph about JB Straton.
“You’ve got one hour!” He hung up the phone.
Dr. Kent entered the room as the phone went dead.
“I have a deadline,” she told him, her palm outstretched in an appeal.
Dr. Kent had kind eyes. He was new to the town and had a reputation for being both warm and friendly to everyone he met. He sat on the edge of the bed and patted her hand. “How do you feel?”
“I’d feel better in my own home,” Dayna said with an edge of impatience.
“Uh-huh,” he said, shining a light into her eyes. He rotated her head, asking if anything hurt.
“Just a little sore,” she assured him.
He lifted the covers, then picked up her ankle. He had gentle hands with long, elegant fingers. His touch was cool and efficient. It calmed her.
“It’s not broken. Stay off it for the rest of the day,” Dr. Kent said while he wrote notes on a chart. She noticed he was left-handed and watched his hand curl unnaturally with the pen as he wrote.
“You’re releasing me?” Dayna asked hopefully.
“Are you asking or demanding, Miss Dalton?” He smiled.
Dayna grinned back, and the room was decidedly toastier than when Nurse Jenna Finnes was there.
“I have to write an article about JB Straton.”
Dr. Kent’s face darkened. “He was a nice guy. Helped me out just a few days ago. I ran into some trouble when I was jogging.” Dr. Kent caught himself and changed the subject quickly. “Well, no matter. It’s not exactly a tragedy. He was old.”
“Isn’t all death a tragedy?” Dayna asked.
“No.” He shook his head. “Not really. When a person is old or infirm, sometimes it’s a blessing.”
“I can understand the age part, but the infirm?”
“When a person can’t be healed or they are incurable, it may be for the best. Sometimes they want to go, as if they’ve finished their use here.”
“I thought your job was about saving lives,” Dayna said.
Dr. Kent looked up, his blue eyes piercing. “I assure you, Miss Dalton, I do everything within my power to save lives. It’s not always up to me.”
“Then who is it up to?” Dayna asked, her chin tilted.
He looked at her as if weighing how to answer. “That’s something I wrestle with all the time. I think that when it’s someone’s time, it’s their time to go.”
The reporter came to life in Dayna’s head. “Where do you think they go?”
“Who knows? The Elysian Fields, Heaven…”
“Hell?” Dayna asked.
“I don’t believe in Hell,” he said, then added, “Sometimes I think hell is here.”
“Well, that’s profound.” Dayna reached for her bag to get a pen, realizing she had neither. She stopped moving and looked up at him. “What makes you say that?”
Dr. Kent looked out the window, his face distant. “Sometimes life is torment. I equate torment with hell.”
“Are you tormented?” Dayna asked softly, not wanting the moment to end.
Dr. Kent stood completely still, as if he was thinking of a way to answer. He shook his head as he looked at her. “No, I never said that.”
Dayna opened her mouth to ask another question, but he silenced her with a response.
“Stay off your foot for a few days.” He resumed writing notes on her chart. “You should be much better by tomorrow. If you have any vision issues or headaches”—he paused and added—” or strange thoughts, come back to the hospital immediately.”
He glanced out the window again, his eyes far away. Dayna looked in the direction of his gaze. He was staring, lost in thought, at the new diner that had opened recently. There was something going on here. She’d give her new Louis Vuitton bag to get to the bottom of that story. Now wasn’t the time, though. She needed that front page and to gain her boss’s trust to give her more leeway.
The blood-red eyes flashed in her mind, and she crushed the thoughts ruthlessly. She needed to get moving.
“Dr. Kent?” she prodded. “Can I leave now?”
He nodded absently. “Weather’s picking up. You know, I moved here because I hated the climate in New England.”
Well, that was strange, she thought. Neat change of subject. He was well skilled at diverting attention from things he didn’t want to discuss.
“Yes,” Dayna agreed, watching him. “We hardly had a summer last year.”
They both muttered, “Global warming,” at the same time. Dayna laughed. The doctor shrugged and moved to the door.
He turned around.
“Has anyone said anything about seeing any wolves around town lately?”
“Wolves?” He shook his head.
“They’re extinct here. Why? Are you seeing wolves?” He looked at her closely.
“No, of course not. It’s just that there have been reports from several locals.”
“Bulwark has its share of crazies. I wouldn’t believe everything you hear,” Dr. Kent said as he left the room.
A different nurse arrived to unhook her IV. She handed Dayna a plastic bag containing her clothing and purse. Dayna dressed as quickly as her bruised body allowed. She opened the door to her room and walked into the hall.
Dayna walked furtively to the intensive care section at the end of the corridor. She waited until an orderly flashed his identification card to open the old wooden swinging doors. Trout Parker turned around and smiled at her when he let her follow him through the entrance.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” he told her, his voice low, his eyes raking her body. “Heard you went out with Skippy Benson.” He leered at her. “Maybe you want to go for a drink with me?”
Dayna shook her head. “Sorry, I’m kind of busy right now. I’m visiting an old friend,” Dayna finished with an edge of defensiveness in her reply.
Trout laughed and said slyly, “Sheriff Finnes is in the last room on the left.”
He pointed down the corridor and didn’t move. “You know he’s back with his wife, Dayna, but like I said”—he held his arms open wide, a wolfish grin on his face— “I’m available.”
“Yes, um…thanks, Trout. I’ll remember that.”
She felt his eyes follow her to the end of the corridor. That guy gave her a healthy dose of the creeps.
Dayna walked close to the wall. There was a window outside the room, and she could see Clay in the hospital bed. He was hooked up to machines, a bandage around his head. The bed was elevated, and Dayna could see he was awake. She touched the glass separating them.
The curtain that surrounded the bed twitched. Jenna walked in holding a cup of applesauce in one hand, a spoon in the other. Her cold eyes locked on Dayna, and with a sneer, she pulled the curtains across the window.
About the author:
Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology. Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.
Date Published: 10/01/2019
IPG Top Shelf Title
Cookie & Milk are nothing alike but are their best when together. Follow through this dynamic duo skateboard stunts and tubular-tastic surfs to discover what lies beneath true friendship. Cookie is a genius, Milk a daredevil. Cookie loves math & science. Milk loves adventure & adrenaline. What could two little girls who are nothing alike possibly have in common? Follow this dynamic duo through skateboard stunts and tubular-tastic surfs to discover what lies beneath true friendship. You may be surprised at what you find. Michele McAvoy has created a genuine story that breaks stereotypes sure to entertain, excite, and endear young readers and parents alike.
About the Author
Michele is a mother of two young children, an attorney and a writer. She began writing creatively again as an adult after the tragic loss of her father in 2001. This loss coupled with the joys and craziness of being a mother has allowed her to tap into a wonderful well of inspiration. Her picture book entitled “The Gorilla Picked Me!” was released Spring 2018 with Native Ink Press. Her picture book entitled “Cookie & Milk” is slated to release in 2019 with Cardinal Rule Press and is listed as a top shelf title with IPG. A personal piece she wrote entitled, “Writing for Children from Tragedy,” was published on September 8, 2017, by The Children’s Writer’s Guild (http://www.childrenswritersguild.com/writing-for-children-from-tragedy/). She’s a member of SCBWI (active in NY & NJ), The Author’s Guild (https://www.authorsguild.net/services/members/2412).