Conclusion to Elle Klass’ “Zombie Girl” Series coming soon!

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I’m excited the final book in this series will be out soon so I can read it. When you read the following guest post, particularly the excerpt, from fellow author, Elle Klass, you’ll probably be able to figure out why. I’m really not a big vampire or zombie fan, but Elle creates vivid and endearing characters along with clever plots with new twists on what are often worn-out themes. This one has a fair share of humor, which will draw me in every time since I can use all the laughs I can get. Check it out! –MF



Maddie is my kinda girl. She’s tough, feminine and even when afraid does what needs to be done. It’s always tough saying goodbye to characters, probably why I have such difficulty in ending a series.

If you’ve been reading you know she started out as a 14 year old girl who hated science and everything related to it until one day when the unthinkable happened.

With the whole apocalypse thing and zombies trying to eat her and the group she’s with they’ve traveled over seas and lived through some extremely treacherous times.

No matter what, the humor was always there and it gives the entire series a light heartedness that makes it memorable. It’s more like Zombieland than The Walking Dead.

zombiegirlbooksI had a ton of laughs writing the story and learned a lot developing a story in a genre I wasn’t real familiar with. Writing horror for kids is different than for adults. I had to watch my words and their words. That’s where the humor comes in. I’d also never dabbled in sci-fi or post apocalyptic fiction. It was a first and I’m proud with how it turned out.

No spoilers here! Read the series. Try the game and see which character you are, share your results on social media and feel free to comment below. Click here to play.

Book 1 Premonition is now free!  (Read my review)

Amazon

Nook, Apple, Kobo and other retailers

Book 2 Infection is at .99 through August 1st. (Read my review)

Amazon

Nook, Apple, Kobo and other retailers

Book 3 Retribution is on pre-order for .99! That will only last through release day August 1st!

Amazon

Nook, Apple, Kobo and other retailers

Excerpt: (one of my favorite parts. Hehe!)

Two dead zombie eyes stared at me. I knew that was more a reflex. It couldn’t see me. Its long gray hair hung limp on its shoulders as it clicked its tongue, blood dribbling from its mouth on its way towards me. Its drip drag stagger-walk was impressively quick. A flowered sundress covered in sprays of blood, chunks of human skin clung to the fabric.

On the floor behind her was a man in a black robe. His mouth was in an O as he screamed, “No!”

I swung the blade of the katana towards her dirty, slimy neck when she came within a few feet of me. It nearly connected then something I’d never seen, nor imagined, happened. The zombie blew apart from the inside out. I was glad my teeth were gritted as I’d have had a mouth full of deader if I hadn’t. Chunks and blood sprayed the walls. It was a definite ten on my disgusting scale.

Chunks of her blew into the man’s mouth. He gagged and spat to rid his body of the nasty zombie meal. His face met mine and he scooted backwards on the floor. His eyes barely visible through the zombie mess covering it. I moved closer to him. He was living. “Are you hurt?”

“You killed her!” he growled. “You are a murderer!”

What? I hadn’t expected that one and I hadn’t killed her; she blew up like one of Deavers’ grenades. “I didn’t kill her. She was infected and there’s no cure. Did she bite you?”

“You killed my wife.” He continued sliding backwards.

That’s when I noticed it. The beam from my flashlight caught the silver barrel of a gun, only a couple feet from him. I moved towards him. “Don’t think about or you’ll be dead like your wife.”

He scooted again and I moved quicker now and jabbed the end of the katana’s blade into his chest. Keeping it centered on him, I side-stepped and kicked the gun. It flew across the floor.

“Get up!” I ordered with a sneer.

He pushed his back against the wall and slid up it. His short, dark hair was coated in zombie film. I jabbed the blade lightly into his chest so he knew I meant business. When I did, it slid through a hole in the dark robe hanging around his shoulders. “Did she bite you, Professor?” I didn’t know what else to call him and it looked similar to a graduate’s robe.

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “That makes no difference. Go. Go now!”

Well, this wasn’t going well. The patter of rain stopped, meaning the worst of the storm was over. I glanced over the hallway. A collar of sorts clung to the wall in the muck. I grabbed it. “You’ve been keeping her alive, treating her like a pet?” That was sick. Really sick and morbid.

He narrowed his eyes into tiny slits. A chunk of deader flesh dropped from his forehead. “She was my wife.”

The memory of my father turning seemed like a million years ago but it was still fresh in my head. I knew he was turning and that I should kill him, but I didn’t. Instead we tied him up. This guy did the same thing. He put a collar around her neck. I brought the katana to my side. “I don’t want to kill you and I didn’t kill her. She exploded. I’ve never seen that before. When did she turn?”

“In the beginning. The very beginning.”

That begged a lot of questions like how did you get her past the military? What has she been eating? Was that why her drip-drag was so quick?

The rain stopped and I was on a mission. “We have to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

I rolled my eyes. I needed some answers and he would provide them. “Yes, you are. Remember I have the weapon and you don’t. I also have your wife’s collar and I bet it’s a shock collar. The kind used for training dogs.” I smirked.

“Fine,” he seethed.

I lifted the katana towards his chest again and spread the cloth of his robe. What I saw didn’t surprise me. A set of round, fresh, human-deader teeth marks. I lifted the collar towards him with my free hand. “Put this on just in case.”

Reluctantly he grabbed the collar and wrapped it around his neck. The motion caused a chunk of flesh to fall from his robe, revealing a name tag.

“You first, Mitchem.” I read the tag.

For the next hour we steadily walked towards the marina and I pried all sorts of information from him. He was a Duval County judge. That explained the black robe. He and his wife were visiting family in Gainesville when the end of the world went down. She was exposed immediately but didn’t turn until a couple days later. Dumb luck saved them from the military. They’d spent the night in their RV deep in the woods. When he woke up the next morning his wife, Gloria, was eating their Pomeranian. I imagined large puffs of fur stuck between her teeth and chuckled.

“It’s not funny!” he growled.

He was wrong. It was funny. In this new world I had to find humor where I could and that was hilarious. However, I stopped laughing out of respect and let him continue his story.

“I tied her up with bungee cords and glanced a peek out of the window. I would have waved my hands and let them take me, but they’d have killed Gloria. I couldn’t have that. A soldier approached the RV, I stood inside with my gun loaded and waited. A radio voice came through, “Need help now! Surrounded by them.” That was it. They never returned and I got us out of there.”

Copyright Elle Klass 2018 Retribution

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NEW YA FANTASY RELEASE from Annie Douglass Lima!

Nameless Soldier KINDLE cover

The Nameless Soldier is book 4 in the Annals of Alasia young adult fantasy series. Haven’t read all (or any) of the others? That’s okay! The books can be read in any order, and each one can stand on its own.

Description:

What do you do when you’re the only survivor?

Nineteen-year-old Tarvic bears the name of a mighty hero from Alasia’s past. However, the young soldier feels anything but heroic when he regains consciousness to find himself the lone survivor of a brutal attack by invaders from the neighboring kingdom.

Forced to leave his identity behind, Tarvic is thrust into civilian life in the role of protector to three war orphans. When the four of them encounter a mysterious stranger, he must choose between keeping the young girls safe and taking on a mission that could help free his kingdom. Can Tarvic live up to his noble name and find a way to balance his duty and his dreams?

Where to Get a Copy:

Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. (The ebook is $2.99 just $0.99 through June 6th!)

Not sure if you’ll like the story or not? Take a look at the first chapter and see!

The Nameless Soldier

Chapter One

Tarvic woke to the sound of a distant yell, abruptly silenced. He pushed his blankets aside and sat up, puzzled, but heard only the light patter of rain on the canvas. “What was that?”

Drevel, his roommate in the barracks and tentmate out on campaigns like this, stirred and rolled over. “What?”

“I heard something. Someone shouting.”

“It’s probably just another drill.” But Drevel sat up too, shoving his own blankets away, as Tarvic crawled over and untied the tent flap.

A blast of wintry air and raindrops greeted him as he leaned out, peering across the tent-studded hillside. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and on every side the thick dark of the forest leaned in from the edges of the large clearing. But the telltale flickering light of distant torches sent shadows leaping over tents and across the open spaces between them. Why would someone be using torches out here? Any soldier in camp had easy access to lanterns among the supplies.

Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tarvic pulled back into the tent and yanked on his breeches and jacket.

They both heard the next yell, closer this time, and then the unmistakable clash of swords. Both men snatched up their own swords, jamming their feet into their boots and fumbling for shields. From all around them, shouts of alarm erupted as men in their company woke up.

And then the enemy was upon them. Horses exploded through the camp, trampling tents and the soldiers just crawling out of them. Riders leaned low off their mounts’ backs, swinging swords and waving torches.

Halfway out of his tent, Tarvic threw himself flat on his face to avoid a slash that would probably have decapitated him. He scrambled to his feet, only to be knocked off them again by a blow that he barely caught on his shield.

Light, shadows, horses, blades, rain. Chaos raged through the clearing to the sound of crashing metal, pounding hooves, shouts of challenge and desperation. Tarvic regained his feet and fought as best he could from the ground while enemy riders thundered around him. Dodging and ducking, he aimed for the men’s legs and tried to keep out from under their horses’ hooves. With no idea who he was fighting or why, his only goal to stay alive for the next heartbeat, he dodged and darted through the tumult looking for spots where horses and enemy swords weren’t. All around him, men fought and ran and crumpled to lie as limply as the trampled tents.

Slipping and stumbling in the mud, Tarvic felt a surge of satisfaction as his sword met flesh and an enemy yelled in pain. And then the man wheeled his horse and charged back toward him, and Tarvic turned to flee.

He tripped on something soft that groaned. Pain shot through Tarvic’s wrist as he caught his fall, and only a quick roll saved him from being trampled as the man’s horse cantered over him.

Its rider wheeled again, and Tarvic rose to his knees, barely raising his shield in time to protect his face. The force of the blow threw him backward, jarring his already sore wrist.

Another horse leaped over him, and Tarvic cried out in pain as a hoof struck him on the shoulder. He stumbled to his feet, ducking low to present as small a target as possible, and ran through the melee.

map of Alasia & MalornHe saw fewer people on foot now, more obstacles in the mud. Was it cowardly to flee from a battle you couldn’t win? Nothing in Tarvic’s eight months in the military had prepared him for this. Not counting occasional minor border skirmishes, the kingdom of Alasia hadn’t seen an actual war in six generations. Besides routine patrols, city peacekeeping, and the frequent drills and training, the military’s primary duties involved escorting merchant wagons through robber-frequented stretches of rural highway and keeping an eye on the sections of coastline where seafaring raiders were known to attack. Tarvic had never fought in a battle that involved more than a handful of opponents at a time, and none of those opponents had been anywhere near this organized — or this deadly.

If we escape, we can regroup somewhere safer and — A hard blow to the back knocked him to the ground again as another horse pounded over him. Giving up all pretense of courage, Tarvic scrambled to his feet once more and fled for the edge of the clearing and the relative safety of the trees beyond. I can’t do anything here. They’re going to slaughter us all!

He was practically there when another rider appeared in front of him, leaning low with sword outstretched. Tarvic almost impaled himself on the blade, raising his shield just in time. He fought back frantically as the man slashed, swinging his weapon again and again. I need my horse! Military training had included nothing about how to fight a mounted enemy from the ground. But Lightning was tethered in the row of makeshift stalls on the far side of the camp, probably prancing restlessly under his blanket and wondering why his rider didn’t come to spur him into battle.

Tarvic didn’t even see the blow that almost killed him. His ears barely registered the thudding of more galloping hooves from behind, nearly drowned out by the rain and the sounds of battle. But the world exploded in light and pain as something struck the back of his head harder than anything had ever hit him before.

He lurched forward, feeling his sword drop from limp fingers. Managing two steps before his legs buckled, he was just conscious enough to recognize the urgent need to crawl. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Or they’ll kill you out here. That was the only thought left in his mind as he pulled himself toward the concealing shadows behind the line of tree trunks. And then even that faded, giving way to darkness.


Want to know what happens to Tarvic? Click here to purchase the book and find out!

 Annie Douglass LimaAbout the Author:

 Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with Annie:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Google+: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

 

It’s Easier Than You Think to Do Two Things At Once!

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If you’re anything like me, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Things either take longer than expected or something pops up and devours the hours. Parallel processing helps somewhat. For example, if my computer is taking forever to download or update, I get up and do something else, rather than sit there and call it unsavory names. I’ve foolishly spent an amazing amount of time waiting for my computer when I could have been doing something else. Like cleaning out the cat’s litter box, for example.

spaghetti-787048_1280The same goes for cooking. It doesn’t take long to figure out you can cut down your preparation time by not doing everything in a serial, one thing at a time, manner. Rather, you brown the meat for spaghetti while you’re waiting for the water to boil, and so forth. It’s not rocket science.

With such busy days, it’s easy to see how learning to parallel process, or better yet, multiplex, is essential, not only to get everything done, but to find time for yourself. It’s pretty pathetic when you have to schedule time for fun or to enjoy something, but that’s often the case. Another way to slip in something you enjoy while doing something you don’t, such as your daily commute amidst the worst drivers on the planet, getting in those steps to keep your FitBit happy, or weeding the garden, is via audio books!  walk-2635038_1280Recordings of motivational talks, college courses, and even novels, have been around for a while. But now they’re as easy to access as your smart phone, which is most likely within reach.

If you love to read, but can’t find the time, this is a great solution. Make those mindless tasks more pleasant by listening to something you enjoy. If you don’t like to read, it’s even better, because someone is reading to you! Just like those tender memories of being read to as a kid!

Such an indulgence used to be expensive in the old days when you had to purchase tapes or CDs. Now you can get a subscription for Audible for just under $15 a month, which includes one book. You can even get a free trial for a month when you sign up! Do it through Amazon and they’ll give you two books free, that you get to keep, even if you decide not to subscribe. Buy the ebook and you get a huge discount on the audio book!TheTerraDebacleAudioRGBflatsmall+ copy

If you like science fiction, may I suggest you check out my story “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51?” It’s gotten some great reviews and the narration by Hollywood actor, T.W. Ashworth is awesome!

Listen to a sample!

Happy listening!

 

Meet Maretha Botha — RRBC Spotlight Author

MarethaBothaPic1

Maretha Botha is an Italian National, born in South Africa in a small Western Province town called Montague and grew up in nearby Worcester – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among the snow-capped mountains in winter. Worcester had a small library. At the time, the librarian limited young Maretha’s visits to three times a week, because “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.”

Maretha Botha has remained a confirmed bookworm and constantly strives to raise more bookworms who will enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up. The area around her birthplace and hometown is often a source of inspiration. She had this landscape in mind when describing the Molodi valley “as an out-of-the-way place, somewhere in the grasslands of Southern Africa.”

flameandhopecvrExcerpt from “Flame and Hope: An African Adventure – Fauna Park Tales” 1, Chapter 1 – “Friends”.

MY FRIENDS LIVE ON A free-range cattle farm in Molodi, an out-the-way place, somewhere in the grasslands of Southern Africa.  Should you visit there and search carefully, you may well notice many of us.  Some are slippery and slithery; others are striped, snub-nosed, long-eared and short-tailed, long-horned and round- eyed, furry or feathery.  I think you’ll fall in love with us, no matter what we look like! On a frosty morning in May, Flame stormed through the doggy trapdoor with a loud bang.  He jumped up against my tree and yapped, ‘Are you still sleeping, Hope?’

Flame had startled me, but I whistled, ‘Not any more! I’m awake now, but you’re very early. Naka[i] is still hanging on the horizon.’ He woofed, ‘I have a brilliant idea which I want to bark to our furry and feathered friends, but for them to accept my plan, they must hear about my life as a puppy in the Kalughari, first.  It’s tough for me to bark about certain events, so would you mind telling my story? Besides, you’re very wise; knowing Faunalang and whistling to the birds in their own songs.  You even know some Humanlang too.  So, you’re just the one for such a story-telling job!  Perhaps you might even enjoy telling us more about yourself?’

I fluttered my pink eyelids and whistled, ‘Thank you for asking.  I suppose I can try.  After

dog

Flame – aka Jack Old Boy – has a promise to keep and a quest to complete.

all, not only humans like stories.  I’ve heard that animals and birds also enjoy them, whether they are eyewitness reports or hearsay.  Just like you, I find it difficult to talk about my life before coming to the farm, but when the time’s right, I’ll whistle all about it.’

[1] Naka = a bright early morning star which appears before dawn towards the end of May in southern parts of Africa.  It’s a sign of the onset of the coldest time of the year and signals the time for the goats to breed.

Maretha Botha has written a series of four books in the series, “Fauna Park Tales”. Featured here is Book 1, “Flame and Hope: An African Adventure”.

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Connect with Maretha via Social Media:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Maretha-Botha/e/B00MOORJAO/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarethMBotha

Fauna Park Tales Twitter: https://twitter.com/FaunaParkTales

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarethMB

Flame and Hope Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flameandhope.co.uk/

Maretha’s Blog: https://marethmbotha.wordpress.com/

Maretha’s Child-Friendly Blog: https://marethabotha2013.com/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/marethabotha/pins/

Linked-In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maretha-botha-976191b8/

How to Make an Animated gif Using Photoshop

BTHS2-DWOGiving promotional graphics a bit of “zing” helps them stand out and draw attention, which is always a challenge in today’s glutted market. If you have Photoshop, it’s a cinch to create automated gif files. I created the ones you see here when I purchased ADOED2-DWOadvertising on a site that had dozens of other ads, most in the postage stamp size you’re looking at. (Making them in a larger size is no problem–the final product is based on the size you start with. The dimensions of these are 225 x 150 pixels with 300 dpi resolution.) I wanted mine to stand out, videos weren’t allowed, so I decided to put together gif files.

I have an older version of Photoshop, not the new and improved version that now requires a subscription. That’s a bit rich for my current author income, so I make do just fine with my old-faithful version. The directions for creating a gif that I originally found were apparently for that newer version, but it was similar enough it didn’t take me long to accomplish it on mine. Rumor has it that you APPB2-DWOcan achieve the same thing with Power Point, but I haven’t tried that. I suspect the process would be much the same.

You can include as many frames as you like. The only limit will be the file size of your final product. Each of these is around 450K, but they are quite small.

Here’s how it’s done:ROFT-DWO

  1. Open all the jpg files you want to use and make them the correct size and resolution. It should be intuitively obvious that they all need to be the same size.
  2. Open a new file and add each jpg as a separate layer. This is best done via a simple cut and paste.
  3. Make sure the pictures are in the order you want; rearrange if necessary. If you put them in order first, it’s easier later. The one on the bottom of the layer window will be first, so you’re stacking them, bottom to top.TDPA51a-DWO
  4. Open the Animate window from the pull-down menu at the top of the screen. This places a long, skinny window on the bottom of the screen. The “Animate” window has its own menu, which opens when you click on the tiny arrow on the top right.
  5. From that menu, choose “Make frames for all layers”. Ka-boom! All of your pictures will now show up as frames in the Animate window. If they’re not in the order you want, fix it now using drag and drop.
  6. Now you’re going to add transitions between each frame using the tween command. You can use the Animation window’s drop-down menu, or the glyph that looks like little dots under the frames to the left.
  7. The next step is to adjust the timing for each frame. You do this by clicking on the time at the bottom of each picture. It’s easier if you do this when you’re done. If you do it before “tweening”, all the added transition frames will have the same time as the previous frame, which you may have to adjust by hand. I gave the pictures between 2 – 5 seconds, and the transition frames generated by tweening 0.2 seconds. Do as you like to achieve the effect you want.
  8. Use the arrow in the Animate box to play the result, which will show up where your picture is on the screen. When you’re happy with it, use the option “Save to Web” in the main menu to save it as gif file. You must use this save feature for the animation to work! Using the normal “save” doesn’t capture it.

These are a natural for cover reveals and new releases to grab a little extra attention for your Facebook and Twitter posts. It also works well for highlighting reviews or excerpts, special deals, or upcoming events.

Indie authors on a budget like myself get to use their creativity in their marketing efforts as well. This is one way to do just that. Have fun!

 

“The Student and the Slave”– An New Adventure Novel with a Giveaway!

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Take a look at this exciting new young adult action and adventure novel, The Student and the Slave, now available for purchase! This is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, after The Collar and the Cavvarach and The Gladiator and the Guard.

The series is set in an alternate world that is very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

cavvarach

Cavvarach

First, a Little Information about Books 1 and 2: 

The Collar and the Cavvarach

Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

Click here to read chapter 1 of The Collar and the Cavvarach.
Click here to read about life in the Krillonian Empire, where the series is set.

Book 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

The Gladiator and the GuardBensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to read about life in the arena where Bensin and other gladiators are forced to live and train.

StudentSlaveAnd now, The Student and the Slave, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

Book 3: The Student and the Slave

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through November 31st!


Read an Excerpt:

In this excerpt, Bensin meets a character he encountered earlier in less than favorable circumstances.

 In the parking lot, Bensin noticed a man who seemed to be watching him. Choosing not to make eye contact, he quickened his steps as he crossed toward the buildings. 

He bought his envelopes, addressed one of them at the counter, slid the folded letter inside, and stuck it in the mail slot. Now we just have to wait for Officer Shigo to reply. Then he and Ellie could contact Coach and start to figure out a plan for freeing him.

When he stepped out of the post office, the man was standing just outside the door. “Hey.”

Instinctively, Bensin jumped back to gain room for self-defense. There was something about the man’s burly build and the way he was sizing Bensin up with his eyes. And the silver threads spiraling their way through his dreadlocks. 

Bensin brought his arms up, ready for action. “What do you want?”

“Take it easy.” The man backed away a step or two, hands raised to show he wasn’t a threat. He grinned. “You’re a good fighter. Where’d you learn those skills?”

“In the arena. I was a gladiator back in Jarreon.” It wasn’t something Bensin would normally boast about, but if his violent past discouraged a gang member from attacking him, so much the better.


About the Author:

Annie Douglass LimaAnnie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

Google+: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!

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Reveal Blast: “The King’s Ransom” by Cheryl Carpinello

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The King’s Ransom, book 1 of Young Knights of the Round Table

12Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions

In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith’s apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder. Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all.



Prince Gavin
Gavin’s gaze was drawn back to the castle’s battle-scarred walls and the heavily armed guards. The evil Q.5.1emanating from the structure surrounded and held him captive, like a lone deer surrounded by hungry wolves in the dead of winter, unable to move, its eyes glassy with fear, its limbs frozen by the hypnotic gleam of the wolves’ yellow eyes. Even knowing its life was ending, the deer wouldn’t break and run. So Gavin sat frozen in front of the castle.
The enormity of his quest enveloped Gavin and he sighed. Continuing on meant he might save the Wild Man, but he might put himself in danger as well. King Edward was his father’s enemy and possibly responsible for Aldred’s murder. If Gavin were caught, Edward wouldn’t treat him kindly. The young prince summoned his courage and focused on the Wild Man. It had seemed so simple last night in the company of Bryan and Philip.

Bryan
Q2The air inside the blacksmith shop lay dense and heavy, making it difficult to breathe for any who ventured inside. The fire from the forge still burned red hot, even though the bellows hadn’t fanned the embers in some time. Sixteen-year-old Bryan submersed the newly formed sword into a cold bucket of water. Steam enveloped him, adding to the sweat already streaming down his face. With his free arm, he wiped his forehead and pushed back his soaked red hair.
The blacksmith, James, watched intently as Bryan Balyard lifted the sword out of the water, its blade cooler but still hot to the touch. Holding the sword in front of him, Bryan sighted down the blade’s edge as he’d been taught. Straight and flat, just as it should be. He made a few short cuts to check its balance. It responded well to his moves. Bryan handed the sword to James for approval. After checking its weight and doing a closer inspection of the craftsmanship, James nodded.
“You’re getting better. This weapon is good enough for a knight of the Round Table.”
Bryan beamed, his eyes reddened and watering from the smoke.
“I haven’t an order from any of Arthur’s knights, so make this your own.”
Bryan’s lower jaw dropped.
“Mine?” he forced out.

Philip
The late afternoon sun still held the day’s heat. Philip set the ax down and wiped his brow before getting a drink of water. Looking at the stack of chopped wood, he smiled sadly. Two years ago he would never have dreamed he’d be here, chopping wood for food and a dry place to sleep. He shook his head at his thoughts, his shaggy, ill-cut black hair falling unevenly across his forehead. Two years. It seemed like forever.
Two years earlier, he had lived with his parents and baby brother on their small farm up north. His parents worked hard to put food on the table and to pay off the farm. Philip’s main job was to watch baby Benjamin while his mother helped his father in their small field. When Benjamin fell sick, Philip helped his father clear the old stalks and rocks from the soil while his mother nursed the baby. He helped his father carefully plant the winter wheat and barley for harvest in the spring.
As autumn slipped into winter, Benjamin hadn’t gotten better. His tiny body burned with fever. Those last few days when Philip held him, the heat coming from Benjamin threatened to slowly engulf him like the embers of a dying fire.
Then one day, the heat drained from Benjamin’s body, and cold took its place. Philip didn’t understand at first why his mother and father cried. For days they’d waited for the fever to leave, and finally it had. Then he noticed the stillness of Benjamin’s body. His small chest didn’t rise and fall; he wasn’t breathing. Along with the heat, life had also left the tiny body.

Book Sound Track for Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, book 2 and The King’s Ransom, book 1 of Young Knights of the Round Table.



AUTHOR BIO

Original_Author_PhotoI am a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Tales & Legends for Reluctant Readers set in these worlds.

 

Book Blast: “Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend” (Book 1)

On the Eve of Legend

At the dawn of Camelot, one young girl is about to take her place beside the greatest king inQuote 7 England’s history…. She is a mere child of twelve. But in these medieval days, this is the age when childish things must be put away and greater responsibilities accepted—all in preparation for a betrothal of marriage. For young Lady Guinevere, on the advent of her thirteenth Birth Day, the whole idea is quite unbearable. After all, what could be better than spending her youth playing with her best friend Cedwyn, roaming the grounds around the castle looking for mythical creatures or hunting rabbits? However, the wizard Merlyn—her teacher and friend—knows that destiny has a way of catching up with a person. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that will lead Guinevere to her destiny whether she is ready for it or not.

See Book on Amazon

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, book 1

Excerpt

Hard to believe that last night she had been so happy. Now, her world had fallen apart. It’s not that I don’t expect to get married. I know I must. But not now, not so soon. And to spring it on her and not give her the opportunity to participate in the decision stung like the bee that had bitten her last summer. Suddenly, the magic of the unicorn seemed so far away. Her eyes started to water. She blinked and tried to wipe the tears away before Cedwyn saw them, but she couldn’t.

“What’s the matter? Why are you crying again? Is it because of that decision your father made?”

Guinevere nodded in reply.

Guinevere–On The Eve of Legend“What do you have to do? Is that what the king and Merlyn were talkin’ about last night in the hall after everyone left?”

“It must be,” she said, wondering if Merlyn had known even in the forest. “When did you see them?”

“I sneaked back into the hall after everyone had gone to bed to see if there was any more circlette left. I saw them with their heads together, but they didn’t see me. They were discussin’ some secret.”

Shaking her head, Guinevere said, “That’s why Father waited for Merlyn before he said anything to me. They came up with this idea between themselves.” She felt so betrayed.

“So, what is it that you have to do? Why have we run away from home?”

“My Father the King and apparently Merlyn have decided that I am to marry King Arthur in two years and become his Queen. I’ll have to leave the castle, my home, you, and everything I’ve grown up with,” she added, not realizing that Cedwyn was staring at her with his mouth wide open.

“He even promised Grandfather’s round table to King Arthur. All without asking!” She finished, sure that she had stated her point clearly. Her eyes strayed to the hand that Arthur had kissed. Quickly she averted them.Quote 6

“Are you sure they said King Arthur?” Cedwyn asked, his amazement showing in his voice.

“Oh yes! I’m sure.”

“That’s fantastic! He’s gonna be a great king! He’s gonna bring all of England together. I heard some of the knights talking about him last night. They said that he is the bravest and best warrior they have ever seen. And the smartest!” He looked at Guinevere and shook his head. “And you are gonna be his Queen!” Disbelief washed over him. “I wish someone would make a decision like that for me!”

“Really? Then you can marry King Arthur!” she said, standing up and stamping her foot.

Then she turned and stomped up the rise.


The Legend Within

by Cheryl Carpinello

            Arthurian stories are steeped in legend. While perceived as fiction, legends often contain elements of factual happenings. It is left up to readers to decide if they believe or not.

In the Arthurian tales I write, I always add one or two of my own legends. Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend contains one of my favorites: The Legend of the Red Deer and the Unicorn. I’ve recited this story at readings and at Medieval Festivals where I have been the storyteller. Here it is:

The Legend of the Red Deer and the Unicorn

A long, long time ago when the forests were young, the unicorns roamed the land of what is now called England. They numbered in the thousands. One day a red deer washed up on a sandy shore during a violent storm. Not knowing the land, the red deer soon became lost, unable to find fresh water and enough grasses to eat. The unicorns found the deer near death from thirst and starvation. These kind creatures nudged and pushed the deer to fresh water and later showed it the best grazing grounds and the Quote 5safest places in the forest to bed down.

Before long the unicorns adopted the deer, which, in turn, promised that all future generations of red deer would protect the unicorns. A few years later, another red deer washed up on the shore, was discovered and saved by the red deer and the unicorns. The two deer later mated and left the unicorn herds.

Hundreds of years passed and in those years, the red deer herds grew in number until there wasn’t a forest without the deer across the land. Sadly, the same could not be said for the unicorns. As men populated the island, a myth arose about the unicorn. It was believed that a unicorn’s horn held strong magic for man, and some even thought it could cure all of men’s ills. To that end, unicorns were hunted ruthlessly for the magical horn, their bodies left to rot once the horn was harvested.

The numbers of unicorns across the land dwindled to just a handful when the unicorns and the red deer met once more. The unicorns asked if the red deer remembered when the unicorns had saved them. The red deer remembered because the memories of the first red deer were passed on to each new deer. Filled with dismay at how few unicorns remained, the red deer kept their promise to protect the unicorns.

Today if you are lucky enough to come across a herd of red deer in England, you must be very quiet and patient. If you wait long enough and look hard enough, between the legs of the red deer, you may catch a glimpse of white. At the middle of each herd, the unicorns thrive and play.


About the Author

Original Author Photo

I am a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Tales & Legends for Reluctant Readers set in these worlds.

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“Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour” — Day 27

RWISA TOUR (1)

ON THE AIR

By Joni Parker

Good afternoon, this is Mike Evans at iFantasy talk radio in Tucson, Arizona where we love to talk about science fiction and fantasy. Thanks for joining me today. We have a very special guest lined up for you, an iFantasy talk radio exclusive. World-famous journalist, Olivia Richards, is expected to join us via satellite telephone. As you may know, Olivia and her husband, John, were reported missing at sea several years ago, but she’s made contact and will be here in a few minutes. But first, we must hear from our sponsors at Cactus Thumb Nurseries. (run commercial)

Mike: Welcome back. We’ve just made contact with world-famous journalist, Olivia Richards. Hello, Olivia, this is Mike Evans. Can you hear me? (static) Olivia, are you there? (static)

joni-parker-photo

Joni Parker

Olivia: Yes, I can hear you, but just barely, please speak up.

Mike: I will. Thank you for joining me on iFantasy talk radio. I’m Mike Evans in Tucson, Arizona. Let me begin by asking, how are you and where are you?

Olivia: My husband and I are fine, but for the last few years, we’ve been stranded on this island called Seaward Isle. In 2011, we rented a sailboat in southern France and were sailing to Italy when we were caught in a ferocious storm. It came out of nowhere. We hid in the cabin below deck for hours until our boat crashed on the shores of this island. We survived the crash just fine, but we haven’t been able to find a way off. We’ve met hundreds of people here just like us. That’s how I met Takura. He’s a friend of yours, I understand. He talked me into coming on this program because he was concerned people wouldn’t understand his English.

Mike: Yes, I’ve met him and I thought his English was fine. He went to Harvard for his doctorate.

Olivia: Yes, I know, but he feels very self-conscious.

Mike: How is he?

Olivia: He’s doing well. As you know, he’s a geologist and has gathered a group of Japanese scientists to figure out our situation. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough computers or the right equipment to do the job, but at least, he’s discovered that we’re not on Earth and he’s discussed this problem with the Elves.

Mike: Say what? You’re not on Earth? Did you say something about Elves? Are you kidding? Say, have you met Legolas by any chance? (Laughs)

Olivia: No, but yes, I’m serious. They’re real Elves. This island belongs to them and even they can’t figure out how we got here.

Mike: So where are you, if you’re not on Earth?

Olivia: We believe that this island is at the end of a wormhole somewhere in space. We don’t know how or where, but here we are. Takura believes the opening is located about six hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface somewhere near the moon. We ask all astronomers to use their equipment to locate the opening and ask NASA for a rescue mission. That seems to be our only hope.

Mike: Attention all astronomers and scientists at NASA! Olivia needs your help. Contact this station immediately if you can provide any assistance. (chuckles) How are you able to talk to us?

Olivia: My friend, Ebony Shorter, had a satellite telephone when she crashed on the island. She was in a yacht race that went around the world, but she was caught in a storm and ended up here. Takura and his friends repaired an old generator to make electricity to recharge the phone. He’s also set up a computer network with bits and pieces he’s found.

Mike: What do you use for fuel?

Olivia: The scientists use alcohol made of old potato skins and grain.

Mike: You mean moonshine. Right. Anything else we can help you with today, Olivia?

Olivia: No, just please get the word out. We’d really like to get home and see our families. Thank you so much for your help. (static) Our connection is fading…(static)…only a few (static)…Please help…(static)

Mike: Apparently, we’ve just lost our connection to Olivia. Once again, let me reiterate her desperate situation. She’s located on an island called Seaward Isle, somewhere at the end of a wormhole and needs the help of astronomers and NASA scientists to locate this opening and rescue them. Hey, maybe we can bring the Shuttle program back to life. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you for joining me on iFantasy talk radio and join me tomorrow for another adventure into science fiction and fantasy. And don’t forget to send your comments and ideas to our Facebook page. Many thanks to our sponsor, Cactus Thumb Nurseries.

* * *

Mike leaned back in his chair and listened to the program again. Then he pulled out his cell phone. This had to be a joke. But he shook his head when he recalled that his old buddy, Takura, could never tell a joke. He was so serious. They’d met in college nearly twenty years ago when they were freshmen at the University of Arizona with majors in geology. Tak, as he wanted to be called, was a foreign student from Japan and understood more English than he spoke. He also loved the geological formations in the local area, but knew nothing about hiking in the desert. Mike was an experienced hiker and took him under his wing.

They’d remained good friends, but lost contact when Tak transferred to Harvard to finish his doctorate in geology and later returned to join the faculty at the university. Mike speed-dialed the geology department and it rang and rang. Finally, a young woman answered the phone.

“Geology Department, University of Arizona. Bear down, Wildcats!”

“I’d like to speak to Professor Takura, please.”

“I’m sorry, there’s no one here by that name.”

“What? Where is he?” Mike furrowed his brow.

“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know.”

“Is Professor Lopez there?”

“Hold on.”

“Professor Lopez. Who’s calling?”

“Julio, this is Mike Evans.”

“Mike! What’s up, man?”

“Hey, I was trying to get in touch with Tak, but I understand he’s not there anymore. Where’d he go?”

“Don’t know, man. A few years ago, he went on a sabbatical and never came back. His parents told us the ship he was on disappeared in a bad storm.”

“You mean it sank.”

“No, man. It vanished. No debris, no oil slick, no survivors. Nothing.”

“Weird. I got an email from him at the radio station last week asking for an interview so I agreed. He sent Olivia Richards to speak to me. She’s a famous journalist who went missing a few years ago. She was on a ship in a storm, too. Anyway, she told me that they were stranded on an island called Seaward Isle, somewhere in space at the end of a wormhole with Elves. I didn’t believe her.”

“Elves? Was she high?” Lopez paused. “You don’t think it’s real, do you?”

“I don’t know, man. They were both lost at sea.” Mike sighed, leaning back. “Thanks, man or should I say Professor?” He laughed and disconnected the call. After a few moments, he scrolled through his list of contacts and called one of them.

The receptionist said, “You have reached the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. How may I direct your call?”

“Doctor Rachel Goodwin, geology division.”

“Hold on while I connect you.”

“Doctor Goodwin speaking.”

“Hey, Rachel. It’s me, Mike Evans from Tucson.”

“Seriously? After all these years?”

“Hey, I come in peace. I apologize for whatever I did.”

“You don’t remember?”

“Not exactly. Hey, have you been in contact with Tak from college? The Japanese guy?”

“You mean the nice guy who asked me for a date and you told him he was nuts?”

“Um, yeah, him. I think he’s in trouble and needs help. Julio told me that he was on a ship that disappeared in a storm, a few years ago, but he just emailed me for an interview on my radio program. He sent a friend, Olivia Richards, the famous journalist. She was lost at sea, too.”

“So you don’t have a regular job yet?”

“Not fair. I want you to listen to it, okay? Just listen and tell me what you think.”

“Okay.” She sighed.

Mike played the program. “Well, what do you think?”

Silence.

“Rachel? Are you there?”

“Yes. Is this a joke?”

“That’s what I thought, too, but Tak couldn’t tell a joke if his life depended on it.”

She paused. “You’re right. Send me a link to your program.”

“Thanks, Rachel.” Mike sighed deeply when Rachel hung up. She hadn’t changed much and still resented that prank, but he’d always found her attractive. Maybe he should try again, someday. Mike shivered when the air conditioning kicked on; he’d been sweating heavily. He emailed her the link and leaned back. What if it’s real? Nah! Can’t be, can it?

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Joni Parker’s RWISA Author Page

“Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour” — Day 21

RWISA TOUR (1)

[NOTE:–OMG, it’s my turn in the Blog Tour! My offering is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Dark Circles, a slightly dark, hard sci-fi love story. No release date has been set. You know how I am with release dates. LOL! Those of you who have read “A Dark of Endless Days” may recognize what is going on in this scene. As an author, I have a really hard time letting good characters ride off into the sunset (or fly off into the stars, as the case may be). This novel will wrap it all up and tie everything together.]

Your Wildest Dreams

by Marcha Fox

I inhaled sharply when I recognized the introductory riff wafting from my favorite 80s station as Your Wildest Dreams by the Moody Blues. Even though I had the original 45 RPM record, the album on cassette tape, and more recently, the CD, I kept them safely locked away so I wouldn’t binge on it. Nonetheless, when KPLV, 93.1 FM in Vegas, got around to playing it every few weeks or so, I’d indulge in a break, a delicious reminder of why I was here.

Consumed by ethereal and intimately familiar sound waves, I got up, closed the blinds, and even though it was unlikely the song’s strains would penetrate my office’s cinder block walls, plugged in my headset so I could crank it up—I mean really up. I melted back into my chair, eyes closed, with what was probably an idiotic smile on my face, savoring each note as the song segued into its lively, 142 BPM tempo. The next three minutes and forty-one seconds, I’d be in heaven.

Even though this song came out eight years after she left, the first time I heard it, back when I was still in college in ’86, I knew two things: One, it would always be “our song”; and Two, I had to find her.

My heart leapt with visions of galaxies beyond, of what might be out there, where she might be. I plunged headlong through space and time, besieged by memories burned into my heart as permanently and painfully as branding was to a newborn calf. Did she remember? Feel the same thing I did? Sense the enchantment of fate-entangled lives?

I memorize pretty easily, which comes in handy, especially with things like the Periodic Table or Maxwell’s equations. And of course, favorite songs. These particular lyrics struck me, hard and personal, from day one, certain it’d been written exclusively for me.

As my eyes teared up, logic intervened and yanked me back to planet Earth.

Grow up, Benson! What are you, a total schmaltz or what?

We were kids, for heaven sakes. A teenage crush. I should’ve gotten over it, but never did. No wonder. Girls like her are rare. One of a kind. She’d already experienced things I never would. Things that were part of my wildest dreams.

The admonition failed, pushed aside by that part of me that felt alive again, jammin’ like a total jerk, mouthing the words as I sang along in my head. It’s not like I’m a teenager anymore, though at the moment I felt like one. No, memories of the heart never die—can’t die, evereven if you try to kill them.

I’d give anything to talk to her. Which of course I have, numerous times over the years, if only in my head. Okay, aloud more often than I care to admit. I could swear it even felt as if she answered a time or two. I suppose that’s how it is with your first love. Or your first kiss, even if it was only a peck on the cheek. It penetrates your soul and stays there forever.

That mid-summer day in ’78 hauling hay was as vivid as yesterday in my mind’s eye. The cloudless sky, sun hot on my neck, the aroma of first-crop alfalfa sweetening the mountain air. I scratched my shoulder, a reflex memory of itchy, stray leaves sticking through my T-shirt. My chest ached as I remembered tear tracks streaking her dust-covered face at something I’d said. Then, days later, that withering look when we lied about her ship.

The one we still have. What’s left of it quietly abandoned beneath a tarp in Building 15, here at Area 51.

How she knew we weren’t telling the truth, I’ll never know. Pretty funny it’s still sitting there. And I’m sure she’d think so, too. I can just hear her saying, “Stupid snurks, I knew they’d never figure it out.” Though actually they did, just didn’t find technology worth pursuing. Even contractors didn’t want it.

I had to admit it was pretty crazy, but she was my motivation to get where I was today: just short of a decade of college linked with serendipity that put me in the right place at the right time, hoping someday I’d find her. My life had changed a lot since then. How much had hers changed? Did she make it home? Was she still alive? With the effects of relativistic travel, which I understood only too well, she could still be a teenager, while I was easing into the infamous dirty thirties.

Not good. If I ever did find her, she’d probably think I was some lecherous old fart. Either that, or, with my luck, she’d be married with a bunch of kids. I winced with the thought.

My sentimental reverie vanished when my office door slammed open and Hector Buckhorn rolled in. Literally. Hec’s been stuck in a wheelchair ever since he crashed his hang glider into a New Mexico mountainside during spring break his last semester of college. He ridge soared a lot, particularly around Dulce, over restricted areas where he wasn’t supposed to be. Got caught a couple times, but being Native American, never got in trouble, even though it wasn’t his home reservation. He’s amazingly good at playing dumb, in spite of—or possibly because of—his 150ish IQ. He never talked about his accident, said he couldn’t remember. Makes sense, actually, given he suffered a massive concussion. The only time I ever saw him pissed him off was when he woke up in the hospital and discovered they’d shaved off his hair, since grown back beyond shoulder length.

I dropped the headset around my neck and faked a frown. “Don’t you ever knock, butthead?”

“Hey, man, wazzup?” he said, giving me a funny look. “You okay?”

I laughed. “Of course. Just thinking. Remembering. You know.”

Ahhh. They played that song again, didn’t they?”

“Can’t hide anything from you, can I, Chief?”

“Nope. I figured you were up to somethin’ with your blinds closed.”

He wheeled over to the grey metal, government-issue table on the other side of the room and helped himself to a handful of peanut M&Ms. Once I’d realized during my PhD days at Cal Tech that, in a pinch, they made a pretty decent meal, I’d kept that old, wide-mouth canning jar full. He dumped them in his mouth, perusing me with knowing, dark eyes.

“You were sure enjoyin’ that song of yours,” he said, not even trying to stifle his crooked grin as he munched away.

“Yeah,” I replied, uncomfortable with the conversation’s direction.

“We’ve known each other a long time, Allen,” he said. “Don’t you think it’s time you told me about her?”

“Not much to tell.”

He let fly with a popular expletive related to bovine excrement. “C’mon! What’s her name?” he persisted.

I blew out my cheeks and sighed, knowing resistance was futile. “Creena,” I answered, surprising myself when, again, I got a little choked up. I avoided his eyes by likewise heading for the M&Ms.

“So find her,” he said.

“It’s not that simple,” I replied, pouring myself a handful. “I don’t know where she is.” A statement that was truer than he could possibly imagine.

“I have some resources who could help,” he offered with a conspiratorial wink.

I shook my head, then stalled by popping a few colorful orbs in my mouth.

“Why not? If she’s anywhere on this planet, these guys’ll find her.”

I swallowed hard and paused; met his gaze. “She’s not.”

He scowled, making him look a lot like those old pictures of Cochise. “Say again?”

“She’s. Not.”

“Oh! I’m sorry.”

“Why?”

He shrugged. “I assumed she’s dead. She must’ve been quite a girl.”

“She was. Is. She’s not dead. At least as far as I know.”

His jaw dropped, shocked expression broadcasting the fact he’d caught the implications. “You’re not kidding, are you?”

“Nope.”

“Abductee?” he whispered.

“Nope,” I answered, raiding the candy jar again. “Immigrant.”

His eyes widened as he spewed an expletive that elevated excrement to sanctified status. “Don’t tell me she’s an EBE!”

I nearly spewed partially chewed M&Ms across the room. Extraterrestrial biological entity, indeed! Yet by definition, actually, she was.

I chuckled at his expression and shook my head. “No. Quite human. At least as far as I know.”

“Are you?” he added, chocolate-colored irises rimmed with white. His reaction surprised me—UFOs, even aliens, were no big deal in his culture, just business as usual with the Star People.

“C’mon, Chief! You’ve known me since tenth grade, running high school track!”

He leaned back, searching my face with more solemnity than I’d seen since I told him how Dad died. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, bro,” he said finally, shaking his head.

“You have no idea,” I said, throat constricting as scratchy lyrics from the headset, audible only to me, issued another reminder of why I was here.

* * *

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Marcha Fox’s RWISA Author Page