Friday, July 7, 2017

The Story Behind Rebel Song by Amanda J. Clay

One of the questions all writer’s undoubtedly receive is “where do you get your inspiration?” Sometimes there is a great lightbulb moment—a tragedy, a blessing, a unique childhood—that breathes life into an idea. For Rebel Song, I attribute it to a childhood obsession with tragic love stories, with fantasy tales of kings and queens, with gallant heroes sacrificing all.
When I describe the plot of Rebel Song to people, but tell them it’s contemporary, they often say, “Wait, it’s about a princess and a rebellion and star-crossed love? Sounds a little Medieval.” And it does sound like a plot of old. But it’s also a reality of today…Let me explain a bit of history about its inspiration.

The very first incarnation of Rebel Song came about 22 years ago—no joke! When I was 12—possibly suffering some unrequited love of my own—I actually wrote this short book about a princess who falls in love with a spy from another country and she betrays her kingdom for him. In the end she jumps off a cliff and kills herself so in retrospect it wasn’t a very uplifting story (I was a strange 12 year old, I admit). But I never forgot that tale and I’ve maintained this affinity for the star-crossed lovers since.

So fast forward a couple decades. I’m in Madrid, Spain, reading about the turmoil of Spain’s 20th century—from a monarchy to a dictator to back to a monarchy. And I realized that, while it’s strange to the Americans, royalty is alive and well in much of Europe. Additionally, many countries in Europe have undergone rebellions, dictators, civil war and more in the last fifty years alone. Sometimes there’s even a juicy love story thrown in there. I was fascinated by the history there and I suddenly knew I had to bring Rogan and Elyra’s story to life in a fresh new way.

And while the story is set in “modern-day,” I admit, the specific time period for the story is purposefully a little vague because I’m trying to avoid talking about real world events—it’s hard to talk about 20th century Europe and not discuss post WWII Communism, for example. I want the Rogan and Elyra’s story to just exist within itself and for the reader to not have to think about the outside world.

So once you have this great novel that you love more than your own mortal soul, what do you do with it?

After I’d finished and perfected Rebel Song to the best of my ability, I had to learn how to publish it! Writers today are living in the best of times. There are more ways than ever to reach millions of hungry readers. But with more choices, it can be daunting to decide the best way to go. I opted to Independently publish and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. It’s a lot of work—no denying that. As an Indie author, you’re responsible for every aspect of the process—from finding the cover design, getting a professional editor, finding beta readers and then doing the marketing. It was a long process, I stumbled a lot, made some mistakes, learned a TON and was excited to do it all again.
The second installment, Rebel Rising, is due out this September and I’m so excited to continue the saga with my readers.

About the Author

Amanda J. Clay is a writing YA and Adult fiction from Dallas, TX. A Northern California native, she had a fantastic time studying English and Journalism at Chico State University and then a very serious time slaving away for a Master’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she spends most of her spare time on some new fitness addiction and plotting world adventures.

Her latest book is the young adult novel, Rebel Song.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Story Behind Scribble & Author by Miri Leshem-Pelly

What would it be like if I, as an author, could talk with one of my characters? This was the thought that popped up in my head once. I started to think about it and realized an interesting conflict. Authors usually love their characters, right? They care about them and even identify with them in a way. But on the other hand, authors make their characters suffer… Authors know that if they want their story to be interesting and engaging, they need to make their protagonist face some problems and challenges, sometimes even real danger. Therefore it is very likely that characters would have a lot to say to their authors, who are responsible to all of their misery.

That thought sparked the idea for my new picture book for children. I decided to create a story which would be based on a dialogue between the author and his character. I’m also the illustrator, so I had an interesting visual concept to go along with such a story. I decided not to illustrate the author, even though he is a character in this book (I know, it’s a bit confusing…) but instead, to show the author’s tools, such as pencil, eraser etc., as if they are on the page.

The protagonist is a little Scribble, made of a watercolor spot with some pencil lines, and that’s her name – Scribble. Scribble and Author talk, while the author is creating the story. But Scribble doesn’t always like the story. Can she change the plot? Can the author make her do something she doesn’t want? Who really gets to tell the tale? If you ever wrote a fiction story, maybe you know the feeling yourself. You create the character, but once you did, it has a life of its own, and the story is not totally in your control anymore.

So if you’re curious to find out what happens when an author meets and interacts with his character – Scribble & Author is the book for you!

About the Author

Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.
Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.
Her latest book is Scribble & Author.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Story Behind Human Origins And The Bible by Marvin Heavin




On Why I Wrote Human Origins and the Bible

When I heard my first sermon in 2nd grade; it seemed right, I could not imagine anyone not believing what seemed obvious, and I have walked with God ever since.  My grandparents gave me a King James Bible when I was in 3rd grade, and I started from Genesis 1:1.  While the creation days made perfect sense to a young future engineer, I had lots of questions about Adam and Eve.
High School, then Purdue University, and 50 years of sermons and Sunday school classes were very helpful in further understanding more about God, Scripture, and science. Typically, my earlier pastors questioned if engineering personalities made good Bible teachers or pastors. 
Later a new pastor asked me to start teaching classes in my local church and God blessed this with good attendance.   This included various trips to Palomar, to Griffith Observatory; Jet Propulsion Laboratory etc. to help them better integrate religion and science.
Later I felt a calling from God to attend Talbot Theological Seminary, where so many of my fellow Boeing engineers also had felt a calling later in life.  Talbot Seminary led to a more literal understanding and increased scholarship of Scripture.  Also one realizes different people understand scripture thru their worldviews shaped by their various talents and life experiences.  Doctors better understand the healing side of Jesus, teachers better see Jesus as the greatest teacher, more doctrinal people better understand the theological side, and caregivers better see His compassion for others.  But many of the finest pastors and Bible commentators lacked a scientific bent in an increasing technological culture.  Most of the greatest commentators/authors “could not see” chiastic structures or truly understand the scientific orientations God wrote into Scripture.
After retirement from Boeing after 50 years, I took a class in Human Origins from Biola as part of a MA level Christian Apologetics program.  None of the Human Origins textbooks written by religious leaders used scripture, except for the Theistic Evolution leaders who had a low opinion of Scripture.  I was very dissatisfied that no one had deeply understood Adam and Eve from both a Biblical and a scientific perspective. After the class, I spent a year poring over the scriptures, trying to first be true to both scripture and then science, and came to the following conclusion:
1.            The story of Adam and Eve was literally true and occurred perhaps 8000 years ago as the Bible describes,
2.            Modern humans migrated out of Africa about 50,000 years ago, just as archeologists say they did, and
3.             God formed Eve, the first woman, about 135,000 years ago, just as DNA findings conclude.

The “Human Origins and the Bible” book provides a rational explanation for this, based on being totally true to scripture, and thus provides a theology of sorts for the modern age.   This book speaks to our youth and younger generation, who want to see both God’s Word and His creation as consistent, for He wrote the Bible and He spoke creation into being.  Rejection of God’s Word as literally true and rejection of God’s creation go hand in hand, for both are rejections of God.
The first half is Bible Study on relevant scriptures, while the second half describes the latest advances in both archeology and DNA research to help us better interpret scripture.  This approach is totally unique in this field.  It has shorter chapters ideal for small groups or individual study with questions at the end of each chapter.

Myron Heavin

Ps.  More detailed Power Point slides are available for teachers / students by requesting them from mgheavin@mac.com.

About The Book


For More Information:

Human Origins And The Bible is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreadsRedemption Press

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads


About the Author




Myron G. Heavin graduated from Purdue University with a BS in aeronautical engineering, and has a BA in biblical and theological studies from Talbot Theological Seminary, and is currently enrolled in Christian Apologetics MA studies at Biola University. After fifty years as an engineer for the Boeing Company, Heavin retired and continues teaching and leading seven different Bible studies. Heavin and his wife Sharyl, who have been married over fifty years, have three grown children, and make their home in Lompoc, CA.


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Friday, June 3, 2016

The Story Behind The Day Of The Dragonking by Edward B. Irivng

The strange truth—which I wouldn’t believe if I read it in a blog—was that it came to me in a dream. Sadly, that is the truth.

I knew I wanted to write an urban fantasy series that would center on Washington DC and have some of the flavor of a Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, of Ilona Andrews thriller. I was working on cleaning up another book at the time so it was just kicking around in my head. I used to do this while I went running but since I got enormously fat and my knees no longer work, I have to do this sort of thing in the mornings before I get interested in anything else. To add to this problem, I’m a depressive so most mornings are spent convincing myself that I haven’t murdered anyone, slept with my brother-in-law, gone and pushed an old lady under a subway train or any of the other things that generally come to mind before I take my meds. (The problem is when you feel that bad, your rational mind looks for a reason—you must have done something horrible, but what?)

On this particular morning, I actually woke up with the framework of a book in my mind: a 9/11 type terrorist attack but by mystic fanatics instead of religious fanatics, a woman who is assigned to discover the new spells and magical creatures in her phone (which effectively becomes a grimoire,) but the phone comes to life in the wave of magic and begins to get snotty about lesser phones. OK, where does she live? Out in the Maryland suburbs in a house remarkably like mine. Who protects her? A Navy SEAL.

So, what I ended up with was the mystical attack, a woman who USED to be a Navy SEAL, a man who doesn’t believe in magic as the lead character, and a cellphone haunted by the ghost of a Chinese factory worker who died exactly when it was completed. No grimoire, no spells, and the guy lives in Bowie.

The fact is that I am the ultimate “pantser” and most of the ideas about this book came from a map. As the characters would have to get out of someplace because, oh say they’d murdered a lieutenant colonel who had become a rakasha demo, I’d see where they would go next and look around to see what was around.

Do you realize that you can find Google Maps that have the locations and identities of drug gangs listed on them? Blew me away but that’s where the MS 13 gang with the enormous hoofed dog came from.

Then it was time for lunch and there is this great place in Greenbelt; Ace got injured so they had to get her to a magical creature who would cure her and there is Grief (which was actually designed after a Hindu goddess of healing.) And so it goes. The Hanged Man shows up at the best time to make my hero smack his head on the doorframe, I wondered where X Street went and off we go to Meridian Hill Park, I need a satisfactory eidelon to threaten the city and… no, I’m going to let you discover that one.

Some things in the book actually happened to me. I did have an interview with Frank Joyce who reported on the UP wire that aliens had crashed in Roswell. This was well before everyone went crazy about it and he showed me the original wire copy and talked about how people from the government would show up once in a while for 40 years and make sure he was keeping his mouth shut.  I might not buy a story on aliens but I’m totally prepared to run a story about a government cover-up. In Washington, those are as common as leaves in the fall.

Other things just happened as I went along. I was completely blown away when I looked at a photo of the Tune Inn and saw the “Not on the Corner but on the Square” neon sign which is totally a Masonic phrase.  I used to live up on Capitol Hill and probably walked past the Tune a thousand times. Never noticed it.

Actually, the thing that surprised me the most wasn’t that there were so many Masonic images, it was that there were so few Masons. What happened in 1946 that made everyone stop being a Mason, Red Man, Elk, Shriner, whatever? If you go back, they are all over the place in American history—they run the damn place. Why did they quit?

So, one thing led to another and, in many ways, characters simply did what they were inevitably going to do and I went from there. I had NO idea that Send Money was going to be so important—I just wanted to give Ace a reason to pull a gun on Steve.

See how it works?

As for finding a publisher, it was easy. I said to myself, “Self, would you like to publish this book?”

Sigh.

After I got the Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly, I thought that agents would flock to my door. Or at least my email.

Wrong.

I used QueryTracker.com and wrote an email sucking up to some agent every morning for four months.

 In an incredibly clever move, I even changed the name of the author in case the word “Terry” just didn’t sound like a guy who writes funny books. (Tell that to Sir Terry Pratchett.)

So, in the end, I published it under my Ronin Robot Press imprint and kicked it out the door.

I had a publisher once. It was a little one and I cherished it but a big, mean publisher named Osprey Books came in and stomped it to death in a death race to become part of Random House (like Random House needs to get any bigger.) I hope that their “Polish Aces of World War 2” and “Uniforms of the Boer War” books do horribly.

So There!

However, Ronin Robot Press goes on and might actually go into the black this year if I can write some more books. I know I can write the books so it’s just a question of putting my head down, getting serious, and making stuff up.



Inside the Book:


The Day of the Dragonking


Inside The Book
Title: The Day of the Dragonking
Book 1: The Last American Wizard Series
Author: Edward B. Irving
Publisher: Ronin Robot Press
Publication Date: Paperback - February 2, 2106 / eBook - May 17, 2016
Pages: 316 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Satire

Book Description:

A “mystical terrorist group” sacrifices an airplane full of innocents to a dragon and uses the deaths to power an event that wreaks magical havoc on Washington, D.C. All the wizards in the U.S. government’s employ abruptly lose access to magic, and the world’s computers and gadgets become sentient.

Second-string journalist Steven Rowan embodies the tarot's Fool and is forced to figure out the card's magic on the fly. Bombshell soldier Ace Morningstar, who used her magic to disguise herself as a man so she could become a SEAL, drafts Steve and his cell phone, which contains the ghost of a Chinese factory worker who now communicates through screen animations and bad autotranslations, to help fix the mess. Gathering allies, including NSA supercomputer Barnaby and Ace's BMW, Hans, the team fights off newly transformed demons, dog monsters, and ogres while trying to find out who is controlling the Illuminati before the villains embark on the next step of their world-domination strategy.


Book Excerpt:

The airplane crash woke Steven Rowan. To be entirely accurate, it wasn’t a crash.
It was the insane screaming of four of the world’s largest jet engines being pushed twenty percent past their factory- recommended maximum thrust only thirty feet over his head.
 In addition, awake wasn’t really the correct term for his state of consciousness at that point.
 Steve was standing stark naked in the center of the room, jerking back and forth in the classic fight-or-flight reflex–his mind frantically spinning between possibilities, developing and rejecting dozens of possible threats every second, and running throughas many options for escape. A small part of his mind was simultaneously working on the less-important questions of who he was, where he was, and what he’d done to himself the night before.
 The pulsating howl of the jet began to diminish, but the screaming only grew louder and more intense. Suddenly, Steve fell to his knees, slamming clenched fists into his temples over and over, and screaming at the top of his lungs.
 Tears flew from his eyes as he crawled forward and began to pound his head against the glass door to the balcony. A small rational part of his mind wondered that he could be driven to such desperation that he would fill his mind with self-inflicted pain in the vain hope that it would expel the shocking sound, the sheer terror, and the infinite grief.
He felt a sharp spark of agony as the glass cracked.
 Suddenly, as blood began to stream down his face, the terrible pain diminished. The confusion and terror, the immense waves of emotions, all of that continued to pour through him, but the anguish had ceased. The massive assault of sound began to break down into hundreds of what he could only think of as voices.
Men and women were screaming, a mother was kissing the top of a tiny head and whispering soothing sounds, a man on a cell phone was frantically dialing and redialing–desperate to leave a message. In contrast, two men were running through a checklist with professional calm, but curses tickled at their throats, fighting to get out.
In the center, he heard a steady sound. A quiet chanting– young voices tinged with success and anticipation.
 The glass door exploded.
****
It was going to be a lousy morning, his head hurt even worse than usual, and his head usually hurt like someone dying from alcoholpoisoning.
 Steve opened his eyes at the sound of someone singing about hiding in Honduras and needing “lawyers, guns, and money.”
 OK, that was Warren Zevon, so it was probably his phone ringing. On Mondays, he set it to Afroman’s Because I Got High just to irritate any senior editorial staff he might run into, but this song pretty well summed up his mood every other day.
 He waited patiently until the late Mr. Zevon finished singing about how “the shit has hit the fan” and then listened for the Asian gong that would indicate a phone message.
 Instead, Max Weinberg’s driving drumbeat pounded out the syncopated SOS that began Bruce Springsteen’s We Take Care of Our Own. Since every journalist knew (but would never report) that this song raised the dead whenever the Boss played within a mile of a graveyard, Steve figured someone was truly serious about talking to him.
 In addition, he was curious because he’d deleted it from his phone over a month ago, exhausted by its contrast between the American ideal of “help your neighbor” and the reality of greed and selfishness that was currently sweeping the nation.
 “Hello?"
There was a series of clicks and several of those odd changes in the quality of silence that indicate a call is being bounced from machine to machine or area code to area code. Of course, these were also the sounds that you heard when a telemarketer’s robot war dialer realized it had a fish on the line and switched in the human voice to make the sale.
 “Is this a freaking robot?” he said, sharply.
 There was a short pause without any clicks. For some reason, Steve thought the caller was thinking.
“Mr. Rowan?” It was a man–the deep and authoritative voice of someone used to giving commands.
“Who the hell wants to know?” Steve hated people with that kind of voice.
Another pause.
“Mr. Stephen Rowan of 14500 Windermere Drive, Apartment D2?” The voice had changed, just slightly. It wasn’t quite as abrasive and superior. Steve thought he could have a conversation with this guy.
“Yes.” Steve’s state of awareness was beginning to recover sufficiently so that it wasn’t taking all of his concentration to talk on the phone. Unfortunately, that allowed him to begin to look around the room. If he hadn’t just received his ten-year chip from Narcotics Anonymous, he would have instantly identified this as a drug dream—and not a pleasant one.
The smashed sliding door. Glass shards covering the carpet. The dozens of framed photographs he’d hung to remind himself of the good times when he’d worked in cool places were gone. They were in a heap of wood, glass, and photo paper on the other side of his bed. Only one remained. A picture of a Lebanese militiaman with an AK-47 wearing a T-shirt decorated with a picture of an AK-47 and the words “Lebanon War.” He reached over and straightened it.
 “Mr. Rowan.” The voice on the phone had changed again. Now it sounded like a person cowering with fear. Hell, this guy was afraid to speak to him. “Umm. Are you busy at the moment?”
 Steve looked around the wreckage of his apartment. His cheek tickled and he touched it with a finger. He stared at the blood on his fingertip. “Busy? No, not really.”
 “Would you be so kind as to consider possibly doing me a favor?”
 Now the voice had gone all the way to obsequious.
 “Not until you tell me who the hell you are and what the hell you want.” Steve licked his finger, tasting the blood as if it might tell him something about what had just happened. “And stop sucking up.”
 “‘Sucking up’?” There was another series of clicks and silences, and the caller continued in its previous, more confident tone. “Mr. Rowan. Let me ask you a question. Could you use a job?”
 Steve reached into his back pocket to check his wallet for his current financial position. Suddenly, he felt a hand stroke his butt. He jumped. When he looked down, he realized it was his own hand because he was still naked. Then, a sudden stab of pain proved that the silvery dust all over him was tiny bits of glass from his broken door and he’d just shoved a shard into his ass. He pulled his hand away sharply and held it out in front of him–carefully examining both sides.
 “Mr. Rowan?”]
 “Oh. Sorry, I was distracted for a second. What...Oh, yeah. I have plenty of money.”
“From your increasingly occasional work as a freelance reporter?”
Steve didn’t say anything. The caller continued. “How’s that working out for you?”
Steve surveyed his ruined stereo and television and stopped as he saw his metal-cased laptop. It was rolled into a cylinder. He wonderedwhat in hell could do that to an expensive computer. Or at least one that had been expensive when he’d bought it.
 “Don’t worry about the laptop. I think you’ll find your telephone will be sufficient."
Steve’s eyes widened and he slowly pulled the cell phone away from his ear and regarded it carefully–again, front and back. When he turned back to the main screen, a cartoon of a hand making a “thumbs up” sign had replaced his usual home screen picture of the Lebanese militiaman.
Steve just stood there and looked at the hand. He knew it was a cartoon because it only had three fingers and a thumb. Somehow, the artist had made it look happy and confident. That worried Steve.
He heard a faint squawking from the phone. He held the phone with only two fingers and raised it gingerly until it was an inch from his ear.
“Mr. Rowan? Can you hear me?”
 Steve cleared his throat and answered carefully. “Yes.” “Good, we can continue.”
 “Not until you tell me how you knew about my computer, we can’t.”
 “Your computer? Oh, you mean that you were looking at it?” “Yes. How did you know that I was looking at it?”
The voice sounded more confident, almost comradely. “That’s easy. Look straight out your window. See the apartment building with the exterior stairs?”
 “They all have exterior stairs.”
 “Well, the one with stairs and exceptionally ugly pink paint.” “Got it.”
“OK. Look at the left edge of the building and then run your eye straight up.”
 Steve saw the gleaming black cube of a building on the other side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. There were dozens of round white satellite dishes on the roof.
 “OK, I see the building across the highway. The NSA or Fort Meade or whatever.”
 “Just keep watching.”
 Slowly, almost ceremonially, all the dishes on the roof turned, swiveled, swung, or tipped so that they were all pointed straight at him. Without thinking, Steve’s left hand moved to cover his crotch.
 He made a noise, but it wasn’t a word. Something between a cough and the beginning of a scream, but definitely not a word. On the top of the black building, all the dishes nodded up and down in what he could only describe as a friendly fashion, and then moved back to their original positions.
  “Mr. Rowan?”
 Steve cleared his throat again. “I guess you just made that happen.”
"Yes.”
 “That was better than anything I ever saw in college, even on mushrooms, but it still doesn’t tell me who you are.”
“No.”
 “But it does answer the question of how you could see me.” “Yes.”\\
“And demonstrates a certain amount of power over things.” “Things and quite a few people as well.”
“I would have to say that that remains to be proven, but I can agree that you’ve gone a long way in that direction.”
“Why don’t we leave the rest of your questions for a later time and let me ask you one?”\
Steve’s eyes wandered from the roof of the building across the highway. “What am I looking for?” he wondered.
Then he remembered.
 “Give me just one more question first.” Steve walked out on the balcony and scanned the horizon as far as he could. “Where is thesmoke?”
“Smoke?”
“Smoke. From the crash of the plane that just flew over me.”
“Mr. Rowan. Can I suggest you step back inside? Good. You were frightening several of your neighbors. No, there is no smoke and, as a matter of fact, no airplane. Since there is no airplane, there wasn’t a crash and, ergo, no smoke. That’s one of the things I’d like to hire you to investigate.”
 Steve thought for a second. “I don’t like it when people say ergo. But we can deal with that later. Right now, I’d like to know why–no wait, let’s begin with how I would investigate the nonexistent crash of an airplane that wasn’t there.”
 “You’re getting a bit redundant.”
“You’ll have to live with it. It’s a side effect of the unease I’m feeling due to the stress of this uncommon and aberrant situation.” Steve’s voice rose to a shout. “Stop fucking around and tell me what the hell is going on!”
 “Well.” The voice on the phone paused as if choosing the next words carefully. “The jetliner did crash. At the same time, it did notcrash.”
 “OK, I’m relieved that you made that clear. Now that I understand, I’m hanging up.”
“Mr. Rowan! Wait! Just one more minute.”
Steve didn’t say anything, but he didn’t punch the END symbol, either. He really wasn’t sure why.
“There has been a Change.”
Steve blinked and looked at the phone. He put it back to his ear. “Did you just capitalize the word change?”
“Hmm? Oh, yes, I suppose I did. This particular change is a pretty big deal and certainly deserves to be capitalized.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. What do you want me to do about this capitalized concept?”
 “Would you work for me? Investigate this Change?”
 Steve’s answer was quick and automatic. “I’m an experienced freelancer. I don’t work for just anyone.”
 “Really? Not even if it was for the Good of the Nation?”
“Stop talking in capitals and, if you mean working for the government, the answer isn’t ‘no.’ The answer is ‘Hell, No.’”
"I believe those last two words were capitalized.” Steve’s head felt like it was about to explode. 
“Possibly.”
“Would it make you feel better if I hired you on a temporary freelance basis?”
Once again, the answer was swift and automatic. “What are you paying?”
 “Well, I think I have unlimited funds...”
 “Then you’re full of crap. I’m hanging up now.”
The phone began to vibrate in his hand and the voice became agitated. “Mr. Rowan. Don’t do that! It has to be you. No one else observed the airplane!”
 Steve’s eyes closed and whatever it was that had woken him up came back with the feeling of a knockout punch. His face twisted up in anguish at the memory of all the people...their terror...their helpless panic. He groaned.
 “Mr. Rowan! Are you all right?”
“Not one of my better mornings.”
 “I am actually glad to hear that.” 
“Why?”
Because I’d hate to think of what it might take to cause a worse morning. What’s your daily rate?”
 “Five hundred dollars. Double over ten hours.” Steve always held out hope even though he hadn’t made over $350 a day for the pastdecade.
 “You’ve got it.”
 Steve opened his eyes. “Plus expenses?” “Expenses and the use of a car and driver."
“A car?” Steve walked over and looked out to the space in the parking lot where he’d parked his light-blue Prius. He thought it was still there, but it was difficult to tell because an enormous jet engine was smoking sullenly on top of the entire row of parked cars.
 He could make out some twisted pieces of light-blue plastic in his usual parking space.
 “I guess I will need a car.”
 “Good. Then we are in business, right?” “I guess so."
“Good. I’ve got some things to do right now, but I’d appreciate it if you could begin immediately.”
Steve slowly turned around and looked at his apartment. His clothes looked as though a knife-wielding fashion critic had attacked them. He touched his laptop and it rolled away, revealing fluttering bits of paper that he deduced must be his stack of notebooks. One of his shoes was lying by his right foot. He picked it up and slowly poured broken glass out onto the floor. “I’m going to need to be paid up front, I think.”
 “Not a problem. Just answer the door.” 
There was the synthetic clicking sound that cell phones made to indicate the end of a call.
 “Answer the–”
 There was a firm knock on his door.


For More Information:
The Day of the Dragonking is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreadsNetGalley
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads


Meet the Author


Terry - Edward Irving


Edward Irving was a respectable television journalist for 40 years in Washington D.C. Any shred of respectability has been destroyed by "The Day of the Dragonking." He is waiting for the committee to call and demand his 4 Emmys back at any time.

He has worked for just about every TV channel: Nightline, Wolf Blitzer, Don Imus, and Fox News Sunday - talk about culture clash! He has written 4 documentaries - mostly on Moral Courage - and the last one was particularly fun since it was about rescuing Jews to the Philippines, a decision made over poker and cigars by Manuel Quezon, Dwight Eisenhower, a private detective named Angel Zervoulakos, and brothers from a family that was the biggest importer of cigars to the USA.

Mr. Irving enjoys many things he can't do anymore: motorcycles, racing cars, hang-gliding, scuba-diving, and long vacations. The good thing is that he can put them into books. He has a very forgiving wife, two kids, two grandkids, and a LOT of old books.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

The Story Behind Journey To The Cross by Shane Cloonan

I am 14 years old. I am currently a freshman at Saint Viator High School.  I have always loved writing.  I was in the 6th grade and our assignment was to tell the story of the birth of Christ through another perspective.  I chose to write the story through the eyes of a donkey, because that was what carried Mary to Bethlehem.  After the paper was turned in, my parents encouraged me to take the story all the way to crucifixion because everyone loved it.  At the time we had 2 Sicilian donkeys, also known as the Jesus donkeys.  They had a distinctive cross on their backs that went from shoulder to shoulder and all the way down their spine. The legend of the donkey is that after Calgary the shadow of the cross shone on the donkey’s back and forever left its mark. A lot of people I know didn’t realize there is a cross on the donkeys back, so while telling my story of birth through crucifixion I incorporated the legend of the “Jesus donkey”.


Inside the Book:





Title: Journey to the Cross
Author: Shane Cloonan
Publisher: State Street Publishing
Publication Date: September 11, 2015
Pages: 35
Genre: Children's Christian Fiction


Book Description: 

This is the story of the Jesus donkey, a fictional tale that takes readers on a journey from our Lord's birth to his ultimate crucifixion. Though written and illustrated for young readers, this book is perfect for people of all ages who want a fresh, youthful perspective on the life of Jesus. The book's message is imbued in the strength and simplicity of hearts that are linked to other hearts by Jesus. Journey to the Cross follows the light of hope that first appeared on that special night in Bethlehem.


For More Information:
Journey to the Cross is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble


Meet the Author




Shane Cloonan is a resident of Elgin, Illinois and a high school freshman. This book, his first, started out as a grade school writing project. Shane is an avid outdoorsman. He also is an accomplished woodcarver. Shane took third place in his age group and category two years ago at the Ward World Championships Wildfowl Carving Competition in Maryland, then followed that up with a first-place finish in the International Woodcarvers Congress competition in Iowa.

You can visit Shane’s website at www.shanecloonan.com


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Story Behind The Beams of Our House by Trey Dunham

I never intended to write a love story. I am not particularly fond of the genre, to be honest. Unless you count Braveheart. That’s the kind of love story I like, the kind with swords and knights and men trying to kill each other.

But, as fate would have it, I took a job as a campus pastor and for ten years I listened to idiotic college students make boneheaded decisions about relationships, marriage, etc. (Full disclosure: I was an idiotic college student at one point in my life and I definitely made more than my fair share of boneheaded decisions.) I did my best to direct these poor souls in the right direction. In my thinking this meant studying the Bible, in particular the Song of Solomon. The problem is that the Song of Solomon is a poem, and therefore nearly impossible for anyone to understand. This is especially true for anyone whose normal intelligence is clouded by something as nefarious as love. But I did my best to give them some advice from the book anyway.

Eventually, I left that job to plant a church a become a writer. I had just finished a book and was talking with a friend—who happened to be a woman—about what I should write next. She suggested a novel; something people would want to read. I don’t think she was insulting my previous work, but at the time it sounded like a helpful suggestion. Relationships being the hot topic they are, I put two and two together and decided on a novel based on Song of Solomon.

I started to write, but there was something missing: the story was too thin. It had to be about more than just a man and woman falling in love. It had to have some depth, gravitas.

After setting aside the first attempt, I discovered an interesting tidbit about marriage: fewer people than ever are getting married. The reasons are complex, but most sociologist seem to think that it is related to the inconvenience, pain,, cost, etc. of divorce. Why risk all that when cohabitation affords a relatively strings-free option? Honestly, it made sense to me and it wasn’t a far leap to wonder what would happen if marriage disappeared altogether. What would that kind of society look like? There would be unintended consequences, to be sure, but maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. It was an interesting question. But more interesting to me was the question: Would it matter?

Does marriage matter? That was the deeper question I was looking for and it eventually set me on the path for the book. Is there meaning to the rite of marriage? And if so, what is it? And that question is what inspired me to write The Beams of Our House, because I think it matters. Infinitely.





Inside the Book:




Title: The Beams of Our House: A Novel Based on the Song of Solomon 
Book 1: The Banner Series Author: Trey Dunham 
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing 
Pages: 394 pages 
Genre: Christian Dystopian / Furturistic Fiction 


Book Description: 

Sol 203119 hates Coupling—the forced dating and mating technique initiated across the United Cities as populations consolidated, gender tensions mounted, human reproduction plummeted, and marriage fell out of style—but he doesn’t know why. But when a fourth classmate at the Academy commits suicide, he follows the prompting of a mysterious voice and goes in search of a way out of the City for him and his classmates at the Academy. 

Thousands of miles away, Lill, an orphan Wild, raised by strict and overprotective brothers, discovers she is part of an ancient prophecy that will bring to an end the longstanding battle between the Spirits of the City and Wilderness. Em, a mysterious, spiritual recluse, mentors Lill in her preparation: caring for refugees who have fled the City in search of a better life. 

Able to escape the City, Sol slowly adapts to life in the difficult and dangerous Wilderness. He discovers a community of healthy, loving, committed families, but when a special ops team from the City nearly captures him, community leaders decide the time has come to unite and resurrect an ancient rite of the Spirit of the Wilderness: marriage. 

Waiting anxiously for his return, a small contingent of Sol’s classmates from the Academy form an underground community in the heart of the City, which they call ‘the Banner.’ Meanwhile, Sol and Lill travel separately to witness the first wedding in centuries; the City counters with a deadly attack. In spite of massive casualties, a small remnant survives. And in a narrow underground cavern, the bruised and battered Sol and Lill meet for the first time.

Book Excerpt:

Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) announced today recommendations made to federal and state legislatures to suspend all laws and regulations related to the issuing of marriage licenses, effectively ending a practice which had been in steep decline over the previous two decades. DHHR Executive Director David Berkeley said, “The psychological, economic, and legal weight of marriage places a significant burden upon the health and well-being of individuals and society as whole.
            In light of these health concerns and declining participation by the general populace, the DHHR is recommending that federal and state lawmakers suspend all policies related to marriage. Additionally, we ask that any binding legal restrictions to those currently married, especially as pertains to divorce and separation, be waived.”
            Lawmakers at the federal and state levels, which enter sessions next month, plan to review the measure. Several states already have resolutions on the docket in support of the DHHR recommendation.



1
(Many years later)


Sol 203119 looked at himself in the mirror and grimaced. After a full minute, he dropped his eyes then pulled off his shirt, bending, contorting, folding and unfolding his arms and elbows like a giant insect; standing as tall as his thin, slight frame would allow. He stopped, then let his arms fall and dangle at his side. He closed his eyes and then looked again, hoping that perhaps things would appear more to his liking. They did not. He rubbed his chest, the part over his heart, with his right hand. It felt warm to the touch.
He twisted his lips and puffed out his chest. He was only partially successful. The left side laid flat, unflinching in spite of his effort. His ears started to turn red with effort. He held his breath and hoped that might inflate the muscle. He started to get dizzy and so he let go; his lips broke their seal and released an enormous, blubbering gust of wind and disappointment.
Sol pulled the shirt over his head and then slouched, paused for a moment, his eyes moved up and down his body. He rubbed his chest again. The scar was still there, only it seemed to have grown larger, like a knotty rope of flesh and scar-tissue. He first noticed it the week he moved into the Academy. It was small then, a string at best. Now thicker, harder, like a heavy rope, it extended from just under his shoulder down at an angle and ended near his sternum. He felt it tighten and pull as he moved and lifted his arm over his head. He grimaced, put his shirt back on and yanked down on the sleeve. A knock sounded at the door.
“Hey, Sol. You ready?”
“Yeah,” he paused. “Just a minute. I’m getting dressed.”
“Well, hurry up. They’re coming and from the sounds of it they’re in a bad mood.”
“Ok.”
“And don’t worry. You can’t see it.”
“Sure.”
Sol opened the door with a click and stepped into the common room. Adon stood in front of a full-length mirror, adjusting the collar of his Academy jacket. He was tall, taller than Sol and bigger. His chest and arms pushed menacingly against the fabric
“Still self-conscious about that pec, I see.” Adon grinned. Sol reddened. “Don’t worry about it,” Adon continued, “the women they put us with don’t care about that kind of stuff. At least that’s what they tell us.” He smiled as if he didn’t really believe himself what he had just said. He ran his fingers through his black, coarse hair and, somewhat satisfied with what he saw, turned to his roommate.
“Where’s Pietr?”
“In his room, I think. The door’s closed.”
“We better get him. They’ll be here any second. And I don’t want to end up in the Tank because of that idiot.”
Outside, they heard the sound of shouting and boots running. Heavy fists landed against doors at the far end of the hall. They needed to be quick. Pietr’s door was closed, so Adon knocked, “Hey, it’s time to go. You ready?” He spoke loudly and with conviction. No answer. Sol reached down and pulled on the handle. It clicked. Unlocked. They pushed the door and stepped inside. It was dark.
At first the room appeared empty, except for the unmade bed along the near wall. A small desk was at the far end of the room facing a large window that looked out into the City. It was night, but the glow from the lights in the facing buildings was sufficient to illuminate the room. The room smelled dank; a stale cheese sandwich lay in the corner, covered in mold.
“You in here?” Sol asked.
Silence.
The boys crept deeper into the room, the air acrid, unmoving. It smelled of sweat. “Ow!” Adon yelled and crumpled to the floor. Sol heard a weight bar roll and crash into the wall. Adon cursed and murmured as Sol moved deeper into the room.
Adon moaned, but Sol wasn’t listening. Two white lights appeared in the in the corner, next to the desk. They blinked off, then on, then off again.
“Pietr, I see you. Turn off the game. You have to come out,” Sol said. “We’ll get in a lot of trouble if we’re not ready. None of us want the Tank again.” Pietr’s eyes reappeared for a moment, and looked at Sol. Then, they clicked off a second time.
“Turn the game off,” Sol said with some force.
Adon stopped moaning just long enough to shout, “You can’t stay holed up in here all day. You know that. We have to go, so get dressed or I am going to beat you like the useless piece of trash you are.” Adon was suddenly angry and could feel the blood rushing up his back along his spine to the back of his neck, the tiny hairs standing erect. His hand pulled tight into a fist. Pietr was strong, and easily as big as Adon, but he was soft. He did not have the malice of his roommate. Adon stood up slowly and repeated his threat. “Get dressed or I’ll beat you bloody. Be out in two minutes. I’ll get some Meds ready for you. That’ll help.”
Suddenly, they could hear shouting in the hall. “Something’s going on,” Sol said to Adon, stepping over him and making his way to the door. “Hurry, Pietr. Please!” He yelled over his shoulder as he left the room.
Sol flung open the door to the hallway just as four black-clad officers ran past. They were carrying weapons: long, black lightweight batons. Sol watched them run down the hall, but did not see the group behind them. An extended hand at the end of a locked arm slammed into the small of his back and sent him hurtling, face first into the doorframe. He fell back immediately and crack, the back of his head rang with a second impact. He heard Adon grunt loudly. Sol felt the blood almost immediately begin to trickle down his face. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand. It was red. He could feel a lump start to grow on the back of his head.
Adon bent over holding his chin. “Oh, man,” he moaned. He rubbed his face then stood up, “What’s going on out there?” Another four officers ran past the open door, followed closely by two medics dressed in white. Sol looked at Adon, his fingers pinching his bloody nose and slowly shook his head. An officer, face shield covering her eyes, stopped and stepped halfway into the room. “Keep your doors closed,” she barked “All rooms on lockdown until further notice!” She slammed the door and was gone.
“That’s the fourth one here this week. Who knows what’s going on everywhere else,” said Adon. “I heard that most Academies average one a day.”
Sol didn’t answer. He stood looking out the window into the night. The lights in the yard below seemed distant, the weight of the moonless sky holding them down. He took a deep breath and looked out towards the City. Buildings and lights rose from the earth as far as he could see. He looked at his hands, small and pale. He tried to remember a time he had not been at the Academy. He had lived out in the City once, when he was a child, but that was before his father had left and his mother died. I’ve never known anything else, he thought. They brought me here when they needed me and they will send me where they please when they’re done. What choice do I have? He stepped away from the window and turned to look at his roommate. Adon sat still on the couch, rubbing his chin.
With more than fifty thousand boys, the Academy was among the largest in the United Cities. Built in concentric circles, it consisted of twenty-four identical towers housing two thousand one hundred residents each: seven hundred rooms on thirty-five floors; twenty rooms per floors. Three boys per room. Sol stood looking out of Room 3415, House 22.
“See if you can pick up any chatter.” Adon stretched himself out on the couch, gingerly; his chin that had taken on a slightly purple hue.
“They never talk about this kind of stuff publicly.”
“Yeah, but maybe someone can get through on a high-wire.” He paused, thinking aloud, “I wonder who it was.”
Sol walked to the desk and opened the drawer. He pulled out a small earpiece and awkwardly jammed it into his ear. A small red light turned on, went yellow, then green. He closed his eyes and listened, then looked up to see Adon watching him from the couch.
“You know they don’t like you taking that out.” He gestured with his eyes to Sol’s ear.
“I know. Sometimes I need the quiet.”
“Still hearing it?”
“Yeah.”
Sol closed his eyes again and tried to concentrate. Sounds began to fill his ear, distant and garbled, as if he were underwater, the muffled tones drifted in and out, softer, then louder. He tried to focus, concentrating on an especially high frequency. Brain waves from an adolescent, from other boys, resonated at a higher frequency than adults, much like their speech, and at times, when the situation dictated, high frequencies, what they called “high-wires” could be accessed out of reach of anyone who might be listening. Sol closed his eyes tighter, trying to understand what was being said. It wouldn’t be long before the System detected the network anomaly and disrupted the pattern.
“It was Salo,” he said finally.
“Salo?” Adon and Sol turned to see Pietr standing in the doorway to his room. He was undressed, out of uniform, wearing shorts and a white tank top, a large white blanket wrapped around his shoulders. It hung three feet from the floor off his huge frame. It was covered, like his shirt, with grey grease stains. He had on one sock, a huge toe poking out, the nail yellowing.
Pietr shuffled into the room and fell into a chair opposite Adon. Sol sat down and pushed the earpiece deeper into his ear. He closed his eyes again. Pietr and Adon watched, waiting.
“He hanged himself,” he said finally. “Hadn’t been out of his room in days. They’d put him in the Tank to try to shake him out of it, but it didn’t work.” He pulled the piece from his ear and tossed it roughly on the table. “Obviously.”
There was a noise in the hall, and then the sound of doors opening. They heard a loud voice, someone yelling. Sol ran to the door and cracked it open. He felt Adon behind him; his breath smelled like mint. Halfway down the hall, he saw a group of officers, their backs to him, huddled, working vigorously close to the ground.
Suddenly, they stood up lifting a gurney that clicked firmly into place. They turned and pushed the bed towards Sol and the elevators that would take them to the roof and a waiting transport. As they moved, they tapped open doors with the ends of their batons, yelling at the curious to get back inside. “Coupling will be delayed by thirty minutes only,” an officer yelled, “and anyone not ready will get the Tank.”
Sol watched, staring as the gurney and officers approached. The thump of heavy boots and harsh click of batons against doors sent chills through his spine: he looked at the black bag as it passed, zipped down the middle, resting silently on the cart. Who will it be tomorrow? he wondered. Suddenly, he felt a sharp crack across his hands, the sting of a baton on his knuckles.
“Thirty minutes,” she snarled.
He closed the door and fell back as it clicked shut. He leaned against it, facing into the room. (There is another way.) Sol closed his eyes again, listening.
(All you have known is the City, but there is another way.) He opened his eyes.
“Why do you think he did it?” Pietr asked quietly pulling his blanket up around his shoulders.
Adon and Sol didn’t answer; both looked instead at the floor.
“You know why.” Adon sat back down on the couch.
“The same reason we imagine doing it. We’re afraid,” Sol said. “We hide in our rooms, but they root us out, drug us up, set us up, push us out. And if that isn’t enough, if that doesn’t work, if it all gets to be too much, then you just crack and you find another way out. Salo found the only way out I know of.”
Adon looked at Sol. He knew he was right. Pietr’s eyes fell to the floor, then he pulled the blanket up again around his huge shoulders. He looked like a child, even though he was larger than any man Sol had ever seen. The blanket struggled to hide him, but beneath it Pietr huddled, afraid, shaking. He pulled the cloth over his head and then he started to sob, quietly, his shoulders rolling.
“I wish it could be different,” Adon said. “The Academy is trying to help us, to bring us back, all of us, the thousands of us that live here and in the other Cities. But sometimes guys like Salo fall through the cracks. They don’t make it.”
“Shai and Topher should have done something. They should have told someone so they could have helped him. He needed help, but they didn’t do anything. No one did anything.” Deep, violent sobs rolled out from under the blanket. Pietr pulled himself tight into a ball, trying to make himself small.
“Yeah, maybe someone could have done something,” Adon said. “But the reality is there are fifty thousand guys just like him in this place. And tomorrow someone else will move in right down the hall. And in a week, everything will be back to normal. The whole City can’t just stop for one person. You’d better get used to that. He’s gone, but there are a thousand more just like him. And we’re still here. We have to keep on or we’ll end up just like him.”
Sol walked behind Pietr and placed a hand on his back: “Take this,” he said holding a glass filled with creamy white liquid in front of his friend. “It’ll make you feel better.” He felt Pietr’s labored, uneven breath.
“No, you’re wrong,” Pietr yelled, suddenly standing up. He knocked the glass from Sol’s hand and it shattered as it hit the floor, white cream exploding everywhere. “There was only one Salo,” Pietr said angrily. He looked up, red eyes glaring at Adon, face streaked with dirt and tears. He walked quickly to his room and slammed the door behind him.
Adon shook his head, “Some guys just don’t get it.” Sol bent down and picked up a piece of broken glass. “Leave that for the maids,” Adon said. “We’d better get ready. They’ll be here soon.” He turned and walked into his room.



For More Information:
The Beams of Our House is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads


Meet the Author




A writer, teacher, and church planter, Trey Dunham has been blogging on spiritual, family and personal topics since 2009.

He lives in Morgantown, WV.


For More Information:


Virtual Book Tour