Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Story Behind: Derek The Dragon by Leela Hope

Derek the Dragon learns about the meaning of happiness in this tale. Come and meet an adventurous dormouse who decides that he can change his lot in life and through caring about others he ends up saving his village. The story is told through rhyming verse and vivid illustration. Derek the Dragon contains a great message about caring and friendship for parents to share with their children.


About The Children's Book Collection:


Derek The Dragon (Book 1)


TitleDerek The Dragon 
Author: Leela Hope
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Pages: 22
ASIN:  B00SSFWFEI
Genre: Childrens Books
Format: eBook (.mobi - Kindle) / PDF

Purchase The Book - Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Books-Illustrated-Picture-collection-ebook/dp/B00SSFWFEI/ref=la_B00ERYI2A0_1_28_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422744409&sr=1-28


Derek The Dragon

Do your kids ever feel sad?

Do they have trouble making friends?

An amazing story for all ages to enjoy, aimed at children 0-5 years of age. Watch as Derek the Dragon learns about the meaning of happiness in this tale. Come and meet an adventurous dormouse who decides that he can change his lot in life and through caring about others he ends up saving his village. The story is told through rhyming verse and vivid illustration. Derek the Dragon contains a great message about caring and friendship for parents to share with their children.  



Derek The Dragon (Book 2)


TitleDerek The Dragon And The Missing Socks 
Author: Leela Hope
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 25, 2015
Pages: 22
ASIN: B00SRWHITY
Genre: Childrens Books
Format: eBook (.mobi - Kindle) / PDF

Purchase The Book - Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Book-Missing-Illustrated-collection-ebook/dp/B00SRWHITY/ref=la_B00ERYI2A0_1_17?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422744676&sr=1-17

Derek The Dragon And The Missing Socks

Do your kids forget to clean up their rooms?

Have they ever asked you to find things for them?

This story is pure family entertainment. It is great for kids 2-82 but it is aimed at the 0-5 age group. The book covers a very important life skill, cleaning. Derek the dragon does not like to clean, but he learns that he needs to get his house clean if he is ever going to find his lucky socks. Devin the dormouse comes to help his friend and shows him the way to get his house clean. The friends clean the cave and find the lucky socks. The story is brought to life through vivid illustrations and is told in rhyming verse.


     Derek The Dragon (Book 3)   


TitleDerek The Dragon and Princess Dayna 
Author: Leela Hope 
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing 
Publication Date: January 25, 2015 
Pages: 22 
ASIN: B00SRVFCI4 
Genre: Childrens Books 
Format: eBook (.mobi - Kindle) / PDF 


Derek The Dragon and Princess Dayna 

Do you or your kids have trouble with people who are different? 

Do your kids have trouble making friends? 

This is a terrific story aimed at kids 0-5, and yet, it is fun for the whole family to read and enjoy. Derek the Dragon, the dormouse, Devin and Princess Dayna all learn a lot about friendship. The book deals with misunderstandings and stereotypes, but in a way that is very palatable for little children to understand. The villagers are worried about a dragon flying around their village. They send their princess off to deal with the situation. The story is told in rhyming verse and featuring dynamic illustrations. It is a story for the whole family to enjoy.   

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE



About The Author

Leela Hope is a writer with over 22 years of experience in writing endearing children's fiction. Her lively characters have entranced and captivated her audience, and she has taken great joy in writing the three series of books, each beautifully illustrated with love and care. Her stories concentrate on the adventures of floppy eared bunnies and wide-eyed children learning lessons in life, before returning home wiser and eager for sleep. leela hope writes her stories to entertain the very young, but also to educate. Her vision is always of a parent sitting on a child's bed, reciting the stories each night, while the young one drifts off to sleep, lulled into a dream world full of fun and adventure. 

From her very earliest years of childhood, Leela made up stories in her head, telling them to her younger brother and sister. The stories flowed easily from her mind, and it wasn't long before she realized she had a gift for writing. By the age of 14, she had already written a small book of short stories for her own entertainment, and by the age of 22, she had published her first full-fledged children's fiction in several magazines. Leela hope was destined to be an author and she knew exactly what genre of fiction she wanted to dedicate her life too.

Born in San Diego, California, and still residing in the area, Leela studied English Literature at Berkeley, earning a degree in 1989. Her writing covers a span of several genres, but she always returns to her first love, children's fiction. She enjoys scuba diving and visiting wildlife parks, seeking new inspiration for cuddly characters for her stories. leela hope lives in an urban area of San Diego and is presently at work on a new book.


Connect with Leela:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Leela-hope/e/B00ERYI2A0/ref=la_B00ERYI2A0_pg_2?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB00ERYI2A0&page=2&ie=UTF8&qid=1422744644

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008346312646

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/leelahopee

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9848538.Leela_hope  




Derek The Dragon Banner


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Story Behind: I Just Wanted Love by D.J. Burr

I have been writing since I was in second grade. Life was quite complicated growing up in the South as a gay, black male. Writing was the safest place I could seek comfort. It has been a tremendous source of esteem building for me. I would be lost without a writing utensil of some kind. I am grateful that I have been able to write my memoir, I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict. It is my pride and joy.

I Just Wanted Love is the story of my life as a codependent, sex and love addict. The environment I was raised in was chaotic, dysfunctional, and scary at times. For most of my life, I believed I was born to be the caretaker of others. No one ever had to tell me that – I lived it each and every day. I lived to please and take care of others, and that is where I received my value. If I did something wrong or someone was not pleased – I had no value. I learned that my worth was tied to someone else’s perception, and that catapulted me into a life of addiction.

Addiction thrives on low self-worth. My core beliefs were that I was a piece of crap, if you truly knew me, you would not love me, and sex was my most important need. With this belief system, I had no choice but to become an addict.

Now, I am grateful for change and recovery. I was inspired to write this memoir because I have spent the last two years working diligently on recovery. I believe that by telling my story I will be able to help others in a much healthier way. I entered recovery under a shame cloud that nearly cost me my life. If it were not for others in my twelve-step fellowships telling me their stories of experience, strength and hope, I most likely would have taken my life – I came close. I was desperate to know that I was not alone in the fight against the disease of addiction.

It was important that I was able to tell my story, my way. For this reason, I went the self-publishing route. I hired a brilliant editor, who had a recovery background of her own. She and I put together my memoir in a way that captures what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now on my journey.

My full-time career is a psychotherapist and problematic sexual behavior specialist in private practice. I used my personal and community resources to establish a firm foundation for my book. I took a “healthy risk” to get my message across to colleagues, fans, and brothers and sisters in recovery.

My story is not for the faint of hearts. I am rigorously honest about my childhood molestation at the hands of a former family friend, my out of control sexual behaviors, compulsive and toxic relationship patterns, and the triumphant pursuit and discovery of sobriety. I am no longer ashamed.

Thank you for joining me on my journey.

You can follow me at ijustwantedlove.blogspot.com, @DJBURR1022 on Twitter and Facebook.com/djburrseattle


Title: I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent , Sex and Love Addict
Author: D.J. Burr
Publisher: ABLE Counseling Services, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Pages: 232 pages
ISBN: 978-0692299128
Genre: Memoir


Buy The Book:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692299122

Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-just-wanted-love-d-j-burr/1120948429?ean=9780692299128

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23783783-i-just-wanted-love?ac=1


Book Synopsis:

D.J. Burr is a man on a mission; successful business owner, highly respected psychotherapist and survivor of a dysfunctional life. At a young age, all he wanted was to be loved, but instead found himself targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. slipped into a life of addiction and clawed his way through broken relationships and seedy sex clubs - looking for love in all the wrong places. D.J. will take the readers on a roller coaster of emotions as he details his search for grace and love.


About The Author:


Darrett "D.J." Burr is a licensed mental health counselor in Washington State; national certified counselor and a specialist in problematic sexual behavior. He has been in private practice in Seattle, Washington for five years. D.J. is the co-founder, owner, and Executive Director of A.B.L.E. Counseling Services, LLC.

D.J. is the creator of ABLE Affirmations, ABLE Life Recovery, and the ABLE Care Clinic. D.J. published Unfinished: A GLBT Domestic Violence Workbook while completing his Masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University - Atlanta in 2009.

Born and raised in Marietta, Georgia, D.J. has been known to many as a survivor. His childhood was less-than-nurturing. D.J. spent the majority of his early years tending to other's needs and wants; not knowing what his were. He kept fighting for more - more understanding of himself.

Unfortunately, D.J. lost focus after being targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. lapsed into addiction to numb the pain of molestation, broken relationships, dysfunctional family of origin, and loss of his childhood. However, the addiction did not stop him.

Over 15 years later, D.J. has learned to live life instead of surviving life. D.J. found answers to his long unanswered questions, primarily, who loves me? Twelve step recovery and rigorous honesty saved D.J. from a life of addiction. He can now say, "I love myself." Loving himself allowed D.J. to stop chasing unavailable people, places, and things. He now focuses on his recovery, which impacts every facet of his life.

D.J. enjoys writing, watching movies, especially horror/suspense. His favorite band is Nickelback. His favorite R&B group is Destiny's Child. D.J. is also a huge fan of old 80s-90s cartoons like Transformers.

Connect with D.J:

Author Website: www.ijustwantedlove.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/djburrseattle
Twitter: https://twitter.com/djburr1022
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/djable



Book Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

I AM ONLY AS SICK AS MY SECRETS


Someone actually said they were addicted to me, and that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I could no longer hold in all the pain and shame. I cried out in grief as I had this man inside of me and said, “Take the condom off. I need you. I am addicted to you too.” Every ounce of who I was washed out of me as I climaxed multiple times with this man who was not wearing a condom. When it got right down to it, I just didn’t believe I was worth anything. I wish I could say that I learned from my mistake that day, but I didn’t. I took that risk again and again with him and others.
At this point, I was utterly spent thinking about all the emotional baggage I had in my life. I just wanted to be wanted for me and who I was, but I didn’t know how to get there. Somehow, I thought I would find the answers to my questions at the bathhouse. The bathhouse I frequented was a place where men could freely have sex out in the open or in private rooms. There was porn, a steam room, and showers. The facility even provided vending machines that were stocked with lubricant, condoms, and candy.
I found a sense of false confidence when I visited the bathhouse. For example, when someone approached me and wanted to have sex, I felt empowered. After all, I could say, “yes” or “no.” I hardly ever said no. But, the joy of being needed by others was only temporary, and the power I felt was an inauthentic. It never lasted more than 10 minutes after I left. Always, I worried someone would see me walking out. Often, feared I might see a client there, and then what would I do?
With everything going on in my life at the time, I thought my business was the only thing worth salvaging, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that through my obsessive sexual behavior, I was abandoning my own business too. I spent so much time worrying about my next sexual fix that often my focus and attention was not on my therapy practice and its growing clientele. Also, I was doing things that were actually illegal, such as videotaping men in restrooms or locker rooms. But what can I say? I got high from that kind of thing which temporarily relieved the pain and chaos swirling around inside me. The fact that I wasn’t getting caught was exhilarating. I actually thought this was normal behavior. In fact, I thought it was so normal that I never hesitated to send copies of my illegal videos and pictures to friends. They sent me their photos too.
I needed serious help. I started seeing a forensic psychologist who has been in the business for over 30 years. Every week I told him about my struggles, and every week he said the same thing, “Go to a meeting.”
But, I didn’t want to hear about going to meetings. However, my therapist was insistent; he wanted me to see how 12-Step meetings could work for me. During our sessions, he often pulled out the AA Big Book, having me read through “The 12 Steps.”
He encouraged me to go to Codependents Anonymous, but at the time, I didn’t get it. Along with “not getting it,” I didn’t want anyone to tell me about how I was “codependent.” Frankly, I didn’t have a real sense of what the word even meant. Most weeks, after therapy, I continued to walk down to the bathhouse to have sex for a few hours. Was I codependent on the sex?
Looking back at the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I now recognize this is when my codependence and sex and love addiction fully emerged. I wish someone would have told me that I was being targeted by a sick, child molester. While hanging out at my great-grandmother, Mama Sara’s house, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. It was Kenny. I had always known him as one of my dad’s closest friends. While growing up, I had gone over to his home many times to play with his nephew. Kenny had always been friendly to me. He lived right across the street from Mama Sara.
After catching Kenny’s glance out of the corner of my eye, he walked over and asked if he could sit down next to me. I said, “Sure.” I had noticed that his wife and two boys were hanging out on his front porch…I didn’t really know them all that well. Kenny and I started talking, and he asked what was going on with me. Like always, he asked when was the last time I had spoken to my dad. Honestly, I couldn’t remember. Kenny always insisted that I call my dad and try to work things out. He was pretty much a broken record when it came to that subject.
After getting all the formalities out of the way, the conversation slowly turned to an awkward topic. In short, Kenny said he knew what was going on with my family and me. At first, I was puzzled. What he was talking about. But as he continued, it was like he had been a fly on the wall inside my house; he knew I was gay. I was baffled.
At first, I was angry and upset with Kenny. Then he told me he was interested in talking with me about it. He had genuine empathy for my situation, and he made an effort to understand what I must have been going through. Finally, I said to myself, here is someone who is finally willing to listen to me and possibly be objective about the whole thing. At that moment, I felt a ton of weight lifted from my shoulders. But the weightlessness didn’t last long.
After a while, the conversation between Kenny and I turned a little dark. It was like he was too supportive. It was like he was trying to coax me into saying something he wanted to hear, but I had no clue what that was. Throughout our conversation, I kept glancing at him, and he was just staring at me really intensely. His was a look I had never seen before in my life, and I started to get nervous. I felt shaky, and my hands got very clammy. Then, he popped the question I will never forget for as long as I live. He straightforwardly asked me to kiss him. I couldn’t believe my ears. This man was no less than two feet from my face, and he was asking me to kiss him. My heart started to race. At first I thought his gesture was some kind of joke, especially since his family was sitting on his front porch, directly across the street from us, probably wondering why he was even talking to me in the first place. And now, he was asking for a kiss?
I was now beyond nervous. I mustered up the courage to ask him what the hell he was talking about and why he was asking for such a thing, especially since his wife was right across the way. I asked if he was gay. He said he didn’t like “labels.” I thought this was kind of funny because I assumed his label as husband and father, should stand for a lot. But, I guess not. That’s when he told me he was interested in me. That was all I needed to hear to get totally freaked out. I had no earthly idea what to do next. I wondered, what interest could a 40-something have in a 16-year old? I told him I had to go inside, and he looked at me as if I were Juliet and him, Romeo. There was so much intensity in that look, and I was actually scared.
Now, I am aware the interaction I had with Kenny that weekend was his initial step in him “grooming” me for a secret, sexual relationship. It was a gradual, calculated process. Step 1: Targeting the victim Kenny sized my vulnerabilities up that day. He was empathic to my situation at home and assured me he was not going to be just one more adult interested in judging me for being gay. Kenny wanted to “protect” me.
I hurried into the house and went straight to my room. Once there, I began to cry. I was so confused. There were a billion questions rolling around in my head. I didn’t understand what had just happened. This grown man—my dad’s friend, a married man, a father—had just told me of his interest in me. He had asked for a kiss while his wife sat only 50 feet away. I was in total shock. Since I had no one to talk to, I had to deal with it all on my own. I definitely didn’t want to risk my family finding out. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Several days passed, and I hadn’t seen or heard from Kenny. I just kept thinking that the whole thing had to be some kind of joke. I tried my best to banish the incident from my mind. Well, no sooner did I try to do that, and I saw him again. Getting off the bus for my job at the mall, there he was.
We engaged in small talk. He told me he now worked a taxi route that included the mall.  When I heard this, I let out a scream in the back of my mind—this was all too much for me. If he was now working at the mall where I worked, this increased my chances of seeing him on a regular basis. Which really scared me. It occurred to me that maybe he was some sick man who lusted after young boys. If only I had decided to trust my own instincts. But eventually, I decided to throw that idea out the window because, if that were the case, why didn’t he do anything or say something before now?
One afternoon after working the morning shift, I walked across the street from the mall to catch the bus home. Kenny’s car was parked near the bus stop.  He had also been working that day, so we engaged in casual conversation at the bus stop for a few minutes. Our small talk wasn’t anything really dramatic, but I noticed more and more that I had these crazy feelings whenever I was around him. I found myself growing awkwardly attracted to this man who was old enough to be my father. After all, Kenny was 45 at the time, which was way older than my own dad.
Our conversation ended when the bus arrived. A few days later, I worked the evening shift and once again, rode the bus home. By the time I made it back to my neighborhood, it was dark. I got off the bus and headed down the hill to Mama Sara’s house. Everything was fine until I heard a car pull up behind me. I knew it was Kenny because his car made this awful sound. He stopped the car, and I turned around to see what he wanted. He asked if I wanted a lift to my place. Stage two: Gaining a victim’s trust I thought about it for a minute, and then I got into the car with him. That’s when he said he needed to make a quick detour to the local drugstore to pick up some ice cream for his wife.
We ended up talking all the way to the drugstore, and it was really interesting having such a lengthy discussion with him. I didn’t feel like a child when I talked to him. I felt as though he valued my opinions. I felt a connection with him. We walked into the store together to get what he needed and then headed back toward home.
On the ride back, the conversation took a turn to the topic of him and me. I still thought he was crazy. Why would he want me? I still hadn’t figured this man out. All I knew was that I was growing really attracted to him, and this became evident because I was so aroused around him. I couldn’t tell him whether or not anything could actually develop between us. I couldn’t think that far in advance at that moment.
The car finally reached his house and we got out and stood around on the sidewalk for a few minutes. Since Mama Sara’s house was right there, I was scared that someone would see me with him. As I started to leave to walk home, he pulled me back and held me. I froze. I liked it. I liked the feeling of his hands on me. But then, I quickly snapped out of it, pulled away from him, and hurried home. I knew right then I was in trouble. I actually liked this man, and he liked me. What was I to do? Kenny gained my trust, and I was on my way to “needing” him.
Stage three: filling a need A few days later I got a page on my pager. It was Kenny. I had totally forgotten I had given him my pager number. I called him back, and he wanted to know what I was doing and when I had to work. I told him I had to work that morning, and apparently, so did he. He gave me a ride to work, and it was so strange being in his car this time. I felt like a fugitive on the run. I rendezvoused with him further down my street so my family wouldn’t see me getting into his car. As he drove me to work, I kept an eye out for other family members’ cars. I just knew I would be dead if they knew I was with Kenny.
I finally made it to work undetected, and, afterwards, we planned to go to lunch. So after our shifts ended, we hooked back up in the mall parking lot and went to lunch at this little diner down the street. I felt so strange being with him. I was worried about what people might say. Maybe, they thought I was his son or brother? Maybe, they thought we were lovers? Hell, I didn’t even know what we were.
All I really knew was that someone was paying attention to me and thought I was valuable. He was interested in what I had to say and how I felt. I didn’t feel lonely when he was around. I didn’t feel scared anymore.
After lunch, we got in the car and headed back home. On the way there, he reached over and touched my leg. It felt good. I got this warm sensation. It was unreal. I liked his affection. I believe, on some unconscious level, I forgot this man had a wife and kids. Was I wrong for doing this? I didn’t know then. I was enjoying myself. After all the hell I had been through, I thought I needed to enjoy my surroundings, and he just happened to be a part of those surroundings. That’s what I told myself. I was a scared kid looking for safety.
We finally made it back to our street, and he pulled into his driveway. I looked back, and I could only make out part of Mama Sara’s house, so I doubted anyone could see me. He hopped out of the car and told me to come in. My heart sank. I couldn’t move. I told him there was no way in hell I was going into his house, but he kept begging me. He even came over to my door and playfully tried to drag me out. But still, I didn’t budge. Truth be told; I was terrified because of a serious look on his face, and I knew what was going on in his mind—he wanted to mess around. But, I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew I had to get my ass out of that car. He finally backed off, and I went home. I was relieved to be home, my heart pounding. I was all worked up.
The following days and weeks were filled with him trying to pursue me, and me not knowing what to do. He called me constantly. It didn’t matter where I was; he just kept calling. Having my pager going off so much was sort of nerve–racking, but I secretly enjoyed sneaking off to use the phone to see what Kenny wanted. Kenny called me from his home, work, anywhere—and this made me feel good. I felt like I was the only person in his life whenever I was around him. He paid so much attention to me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Eventually, the fact that he had a wife didn’t seem to bother me at all, because soon he and I finally had sex.
It all went down one afternoon after he gave me a ride home from work. This time when he pulled into his driveway and asked me to come in, I didn’t hesitate. He took me to the back bedroom in his house.  There was a bathroom, mini-kitchenette, futon bed, and phone—it was like his own studio apartment. He showed me around the other parts of the house, and I saw his family portraits—he had a great-looking family. Step four: Isolation He closed and locked the bedroom door, and my heart jumped out of my chest.
At first, I tried to play it calm, walking around the room, hoping he wouldn’t try to do anything—but in the back of my mind, I wanted him just as badly as he wanted me. I had never been in a situation like this before. I had never even been interested in older men.
Step five: Sexualizing the relationship Then, it finally happened. He came up to me turned me around, and we kissed. I couldn’t feel my feet…I was floating on air. His lips tasted so good (smoker’s breath, but still good). The next thing I knew our clothes were coming off and we were having wild, passionate, uncontrolled sex. I had never had it like that before, so I just let myself go.
Kenny was so gentle with me. I felt so wanted, so loved at that moment. It was like nothing I had ever imagined or experienced. After we both had climaxed, he ran some bath water, and we both got in. I was in heaven. He washed my throbbing body, and it felt so, so good. We kissed some more and fondled each other in the bath.
I didn’t know what to think about the whole scenario that day. I was partially relieved because I didn’t have to keep telling him “no.” I was feeling very anxious because I worried that my family would find out. I became trapped in a web of lies and became even more isolated from my family and dependent on Kenny.
Step six: Maintaining control In the following weeks, we met secretly at his home, at work, around the block, in the shrubs near the mall—anywhere we could kiss and makeout. We would even sit out in broad daylight kissing in his car in the mall parking lot. It felt like a real relationship. I bought him sweet little cards from Hallmark, wrote him poetry, and did anything else I could do to show him how much he meant to me. He took me out to lunch occasionally. One time he even went to help me shop for school clothes. We bought matching “K-Swiss” t-shirts! Sometimes I looked out my window, and I could see him wearing his t-shirt, and I just knew it was some kind of sign that he was thinking about me.
Late at night, he came down to my house and talked to me while I sat on my screened-in front porch. He usually stood out in the street while we talked. One night, all hell broke loose. Mama Sara had apparently started noticing how Kenny was always coming over to talk to me (it was usually around 11 or midnight, but she noticed). Kenny and I were standing there talking about random things when my cousin, Samantha, came storming out of the house, demanding that Kenny leave me alone. She started ranting and raving about how he had no business talking to me. It was such a mess. I was pissed beyond belief. Kenny left, and I went inside demanding to know why in the hell she had decided I couldn’t talk to him.
I walked into the living room all fired up. I couldn’t believe Samantha had embarrassed me like that. I demanded an answer as to why I couldn’t talk to Kenny. That’s when Mama Sara said that she knew all about Kenny, and she knew he was trying to mess with me.
I told her that she had no right to tell me whom I could talk to or see. Then, she played the AIDS card. She went on and on about our neighbor whose son died of AIDS because he was gay. I had no clue why she couldn’t understand that anybody can contract AIDS, not just gay people. She got all emotional and started saying that she didn’t want me to be like all the other gays and die.
She then took it further by claiming that I was the cause of some fight Kenny and his wife supposedly had out on the street a few days back. I hadn’t heard about any fight. I asked how she knew about it. Just like I figured, she heard about it from all the neighborhood gossip. I was appalled. I wanted to get out of that fucking house so bad at that moment. I called Kenny and told him what went down. He claimed he had no idea what Mama Sara was talking about concerning a fight. From that day forward, everything at my great-grandmother’s house got worse.
Finally, it got to the point where I started lying about going to the library, so I could see Kenny. I thought my family was trying to take me away from the one that I loved so much. I had fallen hard for this man in just a month’s time. I wrote countless poems that expressed my undying love for Kenny. Here is a sample of one of the poems I wrote to him:
Piece of My Heart

Like a ray of light, you shined into my life.
You took my hand and held it tight.
I looked at you, very sweet, indeed.
You touched my soul and, like a thief in the night, you stole my heart.
I wasn’t willing to, give at first, but with your honesty and trust, I must.
Forever in a day, every second of every hour, every day of every month, I will always
Know you have a piece of my heart.
You cherish me, as I do you.
I may not be yours in the fullest extent, but in our hearts we’ll always be.
I love you with every inch of my heart, but remember only one piece is given when
We part.

I became even more isolated from my family that summer. Kenny had come into my life and became everything I thought I was missing. Every chance I could take to see him, I did. He told me he needed me. He told me he loved me. I was convinced that I was in love too. It wasn’t clear at the time, but I now know that my child molester had the ultimate grip on my reality.
It was as if I were under a spell. Never had I disobeyed my family like this and lied to so many people. I was different now; I was not myself. I became obsessed with Kenny. But, he knew I was only staying with Mama Sara for the summer, so he slowly tried to push me away. He finally succeeded when he asked me if I thought he would ever leave his family for me. I said I hoped that he would. He said there was no way he would.
And so, there it was. In a single instant, Kenny went from this caring, loving friend and lover to this evil user. But, I still couldn’t hate him. Before I left, he said he would always love me and cherish everything I had ever given to him. All of these moments ignited my addictions, but the stage was set much earlier in my childhood.




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Story Behind Terror Never Sleeps by Richard Blomberg

I write military thrillers to honor Navy SEALs and their left-behind families. In Terror Never Sleeps, I try to unearth why Jack Gunn risks his life fighting terrorism? What motivates Jack to leave his family for months at a time, knowing he may never see them again? What does it feel like to lose the trail of the terrorists who kidnapped his wife? What drives Jack to greatness and reduces him to tears?

I write military thrillers to honor Native Americans. My protagonist, Jack Gunn, possesses unique skills that were ingrained in him as a boy by a secret sect of Native American elders, after his parents died in a car fire. Jack is a one-of-a-kind stalker of terrorists. Jack is a warrior, the likes of which the world may never see again. His specialty—hunt, track, and kill terrorists.

Terror Never Sleeps was born on the mistaken assumption of every deployed soldier; terrorists would never attack their families back home. Right? Wrong! To take it up another notch, Jack has killed many terrorists and made many enemies in the past. In Terror Never Sleeps, revenge-seeking terrorists kidnap Jack’s family and vanish without a trace. Jack is wracked with fear and guilt for not protecting the ones he loves. Nina Gunn, Jack’s wife, faces torment and torture as she fights to survive each day at the hands of the terrorists. But, Jack and Nina have secret weapons. They grew up on the same Sioux reservation. They draw on the power of their ancestor’s spirits to face the biggest challenges of their lives.

I self-published Warpath, my first Jack Gunn thriller, and I am self-publishing Terror Never Sleeps too. I switched to a local Minnesota publisher, Beaver’s Pond Press, for Terror Never Sleeps, to become more involved in the process, which has turned out to be a great move. I lean heavily on my developmental and copy editors, and trust their instincts and guidance. Since my college days are long gone, they have been my instructors in the intricacies of writing and publishing. I could not have done it without them.

I appreciate feedback of all sorts. My email address is Richard@richardblomberg.com and my website is www.RichardBlomberg.com. I invite your readers and followers to let me know what you think. Reviews and opinions of the readers are paramount in writing. I’d love you to read my stories. I’d love to hear yours.


About The Book: 

Title: Terror Never Sleeps
Book 2: Jack Gunn Thriller Series
Author: Richard Blomberg
Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press
Publication Date: February 15, 2015
Pages: 337
ISBN: 978-1592988952
Genre: Military Thriller / Suspense


Buy The Book:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Never-Sleeps-Richard-Blomberg/dp/1592988954/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1422645524&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Terror+Never+Sleeps
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/terror-never-sleeps-richard-blomberg/1121130312?ean=9781592988952&itm=1&usri=terror+never+sleeps

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24018697-terror-never-sleeps?ac=1


Book Synopsis:

Naval SEAL Jack Gunn's life turned upside down when terrorists kidnap his family and disappear without a trace. While Jack and his team search frantically for clues in Virginia, half-way around the world, his wife, Nina struggles to survive the terrorist's daily persecutions as his hostage.

Terror Never Sleeps is an action-packed tale of Nina's transformation into a warrior who is fighting for her life, and Jack's relentless pursuit of the terrorists from Mali to Diego Garcia to Pakistan. A Military coup, propaganda, dirty bombs, and the launch of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal with one target - Israel - is all part of the terrorist's master plan, who are hellbent on blowing the world back to the eighth century. The non-stop action keeps the reader constantly off balance with the bizarre and unexpected.


Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Dawley Corners, VA

“I’m scared, Mommy.” Barett sat back up in bed, clutching his dinosaur pillow under one arm and his frayed security blanket under the other.
“Don’t cry, honey. Daddy will be home tomorrow.” Nina brushed her son’s tears aside with her fingers, cupped his tender face in her hands, and gave him a kiss on the forehead. She inhaled the scent of baby shampoo from his tangled wet hair and snuggled him to her chest. Barett’s Mickey Mouse night-light cast a buttery glow across the carpet. A constellation of
fluorescent stars and planets were already glued to the ceiling of his brand-new bedroom and floating like luminous jellyfish in the dark above.
“But what if the bad guys kill Daddy?” Barett chewed on the fringe of his blanket.
“Nobody’s going to kill Daddy,” Nina quickly answered for the umpteenth time as she stroked his black hair. Barett nodded, locked on Nina’s eyes. She closed the bedtime storybook and put it back on the nightstand.
Barett’s lower lip quivered. “What if you die, Mommy? I heard you and Daddy talking.” He started crying again.
Nina gasped. “You don’t need to worry anymore, sweetie. Mommy’s cancer is all gone.” She crossed her hands across her chest and threw them up into the air. “Poof! And Daddy is a brave Sioux, just like you.” She poked Barett in the chest. “If the president of the United States trusts Daddy to protect his country, I don’t think we need to worry.”
Sorrow instantly overwhelmed Nina, sad that Barett’s last thoughts before falling asleep were to fear for his mommy’s and daddy’s lives—even though Nina frequently cried herself to sleep with those same fears. Barett, Nina’s angel throughout her chemotherapy, reached up and brushed her tears away with his baby-soft fingers as he had done so many times before.
If Jack was Nina’s soul mate, Barett was her heart mate. Nina’s first pregnancy ended horribly with a devastating and unexpected miscarrage. Her second ended the same way. So after nine months of living on the jittery edge of sanity, wondering what would go wrong the third time around, Barett was her gift from God who miraculously joined the world on Nina’s twentysixth
birthday. She loved her little bear more than anything. She loved Barett more than Jack.
Trying to stay strong and keep up a good front for Barett while Jack was away, Nina snatched the dreamcatcher hanging from a tack in the wall above Barett’s pillow and fanned his face with its eagle feathers as if she were trying to start a fire.
“Remember, Uncle Travis had a very special medicine man make this to protect you from bad dreams.” She tickled his chest until he giggled.
“He’s funny.”
“Now go to sleep, honey. Daddy will be home tomorrow.” She leaned over and gave him one last kiss.
Nina left his door half open, just how Barett liked, and went downstairs to lock up for the night. Everything in their condominium smelled fresh and new. The paint on the walls, the polish on the floors, and the carpet on the stairs. It was their first home and their first mortgage. Nina smiled, thinking of her husband, Jack, and how he had gone over the top to buy the most
expensive door and window locks.
Being a Navy SEAL and the head of the Counterterrorism Task Force (CTF) made it nearly impossible for Jack Gunn to trust anyone. The only people he trusted were the other SEALs on his Ghost Team and Native Americans, like Nina and him.
“I’m not going to be a prisoner in my own home, Jack. Spend all the money on locks and guns and whatever else you think we need, but take a look around. We’re not living in Afghanistan.” Nina had opened the blind so Jack could look out and see their front yard of new sod, their one-inch elm sapling held vertical by three posts and gardening wire, and the empty lots across the street staked out for new construction. No one else had even moved into their
building yet. They had first pick in the new ocean-view community in Dawley Corners, south of Virginia Beach.
“This is what I’ve always wanted, Jack,” Nina had told him. “I know it’s not Montana, but there’s no place I’d rather be.”
“The perimeter is secure,” she could almost hear Jack saying.
Her smile vanished as she pulled back a corner of the curtain and watched a windowless panel van slowly cruise past their condo. It was the type of hammer-and-nail-laden van construction crews drove through their neighborhood on a daily basis, but not after dark at nine thirty on a Saturday night.
There was something about the van that sent a shiver up her spine as it crawled around the cul-de-sac and came back. She let the sheer curtain fall back into place and watched the headlights. They stopped at the end of Nina’s driveway. With a growl of the engine, smoke puffed from the tail pipe into the chilled air. Now hiding behind the front door, she began to hyperventilate as she fought off the suffocating feeling of panic.
Nina felt guilty for cowering like a scared little girl. She knew if Jack were home, he would have put one of his patented kill looks on his face, stomped out the front door, and challenged the guys in the truck. He did stuff like that all the time. Most of the time, the other guys took off before he got close enough to do any harm; he looked that intimidating. Far from being politically correct, Jack was the man who backed down to nobody. Who feared nobody. Who suspected everybody.
Nina swallowed hard, checked the lock, and glanced up the stairs to make sure Barett was still in bed. Fingers trembling, she fumbled to get her cell phone out of her pocket to call Jack, but dropped it. Pieces of plastic and glass blasted in every direction, like a grenade exploding in the dark, when it hit the porcelain tile.
“Oh my God!” she gasped. That was her only phone. The van still rumbled in the street, not moving. She made out the silhouette of a stocking-capped, bearded man in the passenger seat. Her brain swelled like an expanding water balloon between her ears.
“Think, dammit. Think.” She heard Jack’s words reverberating in her head. It was late Saturday night, her phone was trashed, their home Internet was not scheduled to be activated until Monday, which had not been a big deal because her smartphone functioned as a mobile hot spot for her laptop. All that had changed the instant her phone crashed.
Her feet felt as if they were stuck in cement, nailing her to the floor behind the door.
“The gun. I’ve got to get the gun.”
She looked through the curtain at the van one last time, then stumbled up the stairs, went into their bedroom closet, and turned on the light. The gun safe still had the manufacturer’s stickers on the anodized steel door.
She dialed three numbers stuck in her head. Nothing. She tried again. Nothing. The combination to the safe lay splayed across the entryway floor downstairs in a worthless cell phone microchip.
A noise outside spooked her. Her fingers trembled on the dial.
She tried the lock one last time and prayed. “Hallelujah!” The door opened. She grabbed the loaded shotgun. Jack always said it was the best gun for home protection. Point the scattergun in the general direction of your target and pull the trigger. It would blow a hole in the door the size of a basketball.
Nina had pulled the trigger on a shotgun once before. She blasted tin cans and beer bottles with her brothers back at the reservation garbage dump in Montana when she was a kid. The gun kicked like a mule and knocked her on her butt. It seemed funny at the time.
She flipped the safety off, racked a shell into the chamber, turned off the light, and tiptoed back out of the closet. The gun went first, with Nina’s slippery finger on the trigger. Her eyes dilated to adjust back to the dark.
The condo was too new. Nothing looked familiar. Every shadow, every noise made her jump. The furnace kicked in. The bedroom curtain fluttered over the heat duct. She heard a noise in the hallway. Nina opened the door with the gun barrel.
“Mommy.”
“Barett. Oh my God. I almost . . .” She covered her mouth, overcome by a sudden wave of nausea. Nina swallowed hard to push the bile back down as she propped the gun up against the wall behind the door, out of Barett’s sight. She grabbed Barett, hugged him hard, and carried him back to his room. “Stay in bed, honey. Mommy will be right back.”
Nina snatched the gun with her shaking, sweaty hands and quickly crept back down the carpeted stairs, trying her best to keep quiet.
The front door was still locked. The van was gone. She held the shotgun against her chest and fixed her eyes on the doorknob, dreading movement of any kind. Her heart raced as she waited in the dark.
The wind blew. The furnace kicked off. The doorknob did nothing.
She turned on the entryway light and scraped together all the pieces of her phone.
I can’t call the police. The phone lines are down till Monday. I can’t call or text Jack. He’ll be pissed. It was probably nothing. No need to get all worked up. Just go to bed. Get a new cell phone in the morning before Jack gets home. And put that stupid gun away before you shoot someone.


About The Author:


Dr. Richard Blomberg has practiced anesthesia in the land of 10,000 lakes for twenty years. He grew up in an Iowa farm town, the oldest of ten, before serving as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War. For generations, Richard's family has proudly served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and currently lives in the Twin Cities with is wife and family, where is working on his next Jack Gunn thriller.


To learn more about the author, sign up for his newsletter, read his blog, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



Connect with Richard:

Author Website: http://www.richardblomberg.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rblombergauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7142641.Richard_Blomberg



Terror Never Sleeps - Updated




Monday, March 16, 2015

The Story Behind Electricity by Christopher P. Ring

The book is a collection of short stories so there isn’t any one idea that inspired Electricity. If anything, it is the result of taking a unique path into adulthood after I graduated from college. I did everything I could to avoid a common life and there are some pitfalls that likely occur with such a choice. Every one of the stories is a coming-of-age tale, but each story has a different source of inspiration. With many stories I want to answer a question. Sometimes I want to challenge an idea. Whatever the inspiration, every story is part exploration. That’s how I think of writing in general; it’s an exercise in discovery.

Two of the stories in Electricity are YA stories that reflect the challenges young people face in their journey to adulthood when, in fact, the adult lives they witness seem so thoroughly demented. Because it’s true isn’t it? For all that we can say about growing up and maturing, our adult peers are often the worst role models. And I’m not just talking about the bad parents. I look at my middle aged peers (self included) and see habitual behavior, heavy reliance on stability over the joy of discovery, and grouping behaviors that lead to division and loneliness rather than shared enlightenment. The other three stories focus on the new adult years of life, that time when we put our ideals and philosophies into the game, so to speak, and see how they really play out. What an exciting time. What a hard time, too. All that freedom, all that maturing and intellectual development (or lack of) can make every moment so vivid it’s hard not to be excited. These were times in my life that served up great opportunities for storytelling. So new to the world, our personal characters are going to be challenged at every turn.



About The Book:


TitleElectricity 
Author: Christopher P. Ring
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: December 5, 2014
Pages: 73
ASIN: B00QOBEIX4
Genre: Literary / New Adult / Short Stories Collection
Format: eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF



Buy The Book:








Book Synopsis:

A teenager wrestles with the meaning of love when his parent’s high-voltage marriage turns deadly.   School boys playing chicken with a commuter train, search for answers about life and death.  An American teacher working in Peru struggles to reconcile the gap between her idealism and the reality of poverty when an act of kindness leads to a frightening episode.  Covert baptisms, duels of love and highway robberies:  the coming-of-age stories in Electricity share a vision of America marked by tainted innocence and misguided idealism.


Book Excerpt:


But Licho remains tall.  Scanning the horizon of the classroom, his hand blocks out an imagined sun.  Micah follows his vision across the walls.  They are tacked with pictures she has torn from history books and language books.  There are pictures of Quechua farmers from the hills re-enacting ancient Inca dances for Inti-Ramin, and next to those, pictures of Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn dancing on the Seine in Paris.  On the back wall there are pictures of conquistadors and ancient emperors, Pizarro paired with Atahualpa, Cortez paired with Pachacutec.  And then Licho’s face expresses the consternation of a soldier under attack.
            “Look, Injuns,” Licho calls, pointing over Micah’s head.  “Man the fart.”
            She laughs.  “It’s fort.” 
            “Fort!” he says.  “Man the fort!”
            He leaps off the desk and runs for the far wall.  Then he comes back slowly, touching the ground and smelling his hand, like an Indian tracking an animal.  This, from a man who kills pigs and tars roads.  Nothing seems to phase him.  Yet, she knows she would starve if she had to do these same things to feed herself.
            “I thought you worked nights only?” Micah asks.  “What happened to work tonight?”
            Licho leaps to her desk and scurries across it like a crab.
            “Stop it Licho.  What happened?”
            “No work,” he says, falling backwards into her desk chair.  It groans as he slides backwards.  Suddenly he seems sullen.  “How do you say in Amer-eeca.  Fried?”
            “You got fired!”
            “Now you.”
            Licho springs to his feet and nudges Micah towards the stack of chairs.  “Now you.  Tell what you see.”  He slides the desk closer and jerks his head in an upward motion. 
            “No,” she says, listlessly.
            “Vengas.  I will hold chairs.”
            She feels silly doing this, but thinks she owes it to him.  After all, he has given up the afternoon, reading to one group while she read with another.  And she has seen a world he has not seen, a world he wants to see, and she feels sorry.  Yet, this is what scares her.  She is afraid of what he might expect; with her, he could escape it all.  She climbs on to the desk and feels his hands pushing and holding her waist at the same time.  The stack of chairs is a teetering ladder and for a moment, looking down on him, Licho seems small.
            “What do you see?” he yells out to her excitedly.
            Shhh!  Micah puts a finger to her lips.  The principal is in his office a few rooms down the line from hers.  Micah should be gone already.  With a free hand she grabs at the tiled windowsill.  The moon is streaking down across the courtyard, the dirt pale and white like dried bones.
            “I see the moonlight,” she says.  “And dirt.  And a pencil in the moonlight.”
            “Si, si.  More.  What else?”
            “Nothing.”  The game feels silly.  She is thirty, not twenty-one.  What she has seen in Peru has made it hard to pretend.   If she really wants to look, she already knows what she will see - the things she has not been able to look beyond.  Alcoholics littering the streets with empty bottles of rubbing alcohol, stray dogs, piles of garbage clogging the river, four year old children selling candy, dirty children, poverty.  A city still recovering from an earthquake twenty years earlier.  Decay.  “Nothing,” she retorts.
            “Liar.  Let me look.  I will show.  I can see.”
            From her perch the emptiness of her classroom seems out of tune with the life her students bring.  Licho reaches up for her hand and pulls her down.  His hand goes up the back of her shirt and it pinches her.  She stiffens.
            “That hurt,” she says. 
            “Sorry.”  He puts one hand to his lips, reaches out with the other.  His finger tips are coated in tar, small pebbles dried into them.  “No com off.”
            Micah relaxes.  It is his right to imagine, to hope for something better.  He has dreams, damn it.  They, too, must pinch.  She can still feel where his hand touched her, perhaps as much as he had hoped for, but she gives him a shoulder and helps him up.  He rises against the glow of the window.
            There is silence.
            “Hmm,” he says.  “Oh yes.  I see.”
            Licho talks about getting a job as a handyman in an apartment building in Denver.  He paints dreams of ten hour work days and coming home to sit on a balcony that overlooks the freeway, and sipping Pisco Sour’s.  A movie theater is a block away and there are three markets on the corner.  Nothing changes in his America but the numbers.  There are more jobs, more cars, twice as many food stands, trains and buses going to more places, elections every week.  Micah stands by the door and looks out.
            “Maybe you have apartamento on other side of road.  We sit on balcony and wave to each other after work.  Maybe you com over. We have ceviche or MeecDonald’s.   Yes, I see.”  He looks at Micah in the doorway and squints.  “You see, yes?”
            He climbs down and turns her towards the stack of chairs.  “I show you,” he says.  She can feel his hands against her ribs as he urges her to climb again, but she doesn’t want to.  This is unrealistic.  It is a fantasy she knows not to encourage, yet she does not want to break it.  She grabs the edge of a chair and resists.  With her legs she pushes back against Licho.  She feels the back of her head knock into his teeth. 
            “Puta!” he says, pinning her with his rough hands.  The stack slides up against the window sill.  Down the hill there are people working and walking the streets, but they are miles away at this point.
            “Mentirosa!” he spits.  Liar.  Micah is gated between his arms and the chairs and she can feel his breath on her neck.  Its sweet smell of cola mixes with the dried tar on his shirt.   Twisting her by the arms he wrenches her loose as the chairs topple over in a big crash.  The small room is split in half by the meager courtyard light.  Where they stand by the desk the light is soft and dusty, but the far end by the doorway is darkness.  She winds her way through the fallen desks, stepping on markers and crayons that she had to purchase with her own money.  Holding close to the back wall Micah finds herself crossing out of the light, but away from the doorway.   She remembers the old woman squatting on the corner a few days earlier whom he had scolded, swatted at the woman’s head with a rag he was carrying.  “Puerco,” he’d said.  Pig.  She’d gotten mad at him for that, though at the time it seemed innocent.  A woman should not have to see that, he’d said.
            “Puta,” he calls over softly, leaning into the desk.  The single drawer is open.  In his hand he is waving something, her passport.  For a moment her breath is paralyzed.



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About The Author:

Christopher Ring 2
Christopher P. Ring writes fiction, poetry, children’s stories, travel essays, social commentaries, humor and screen plays.  His writing has appeared in numerous regional magazine and small literary journals such as Caldera and The Broken Bridge Review.  He received his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire and taught High School English for several years in the U.S. and abroad.   He continues to teach the art storytelling to Elementary school students in Southern Maine, where he resides with his wife (a teacher too) and two children.

Much of his fiction draws on the experiences and discoveries of his life as a “rambler”.  Growing up in Long Island, New York, he developed an insatiable thirst to escape the confines of conventional living, spending his twenties and early thirties travelling the globe to off the beaten path places in search of adventure.  He has called many regions of the U.S. his home and has also lived in Ireland, the Andes of Colombia, and Vienna, Austria.  As with the cultures and places he has visited, the settings in his story shape the events and characters profoundly.

You can learn more about Christopher P. Ring and check out other writing of his at www.mortalsandfools.com.

His next book, The Glow, a collection of speculative fiction short stories, will be available in April, 2015.


Connect with Christopher:

Author Website: www.mortalsandfools.com 
Author Blog: www.mortalsandfools.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/untermarmot   Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13084642.Christopher_P_Ring



Electricity