Saturday, June 29, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - £6.19 per Witching Hour by Joanna Mazurkiewicz

£6.19 per Witching Hour - Joanna Mazurkiewicz

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Paranormal Romance

Rating - PG13

4.4 (7 reviews)

Free until 30 June 2013

Julia Taylor works as a recruitment consultant for Paranormal Personnel in London. Her days at work seem normal. She sees clients that regularly are looking for work; she searches for new vacancies, updates CVs and visits employers.
Everything is pretty ordinary for her, apart from the fact that Julia is half elf and Paranormal Personnel is not an ordinary recruitment agency at all because all jobless supernatural creatures come to the agency to look for work. Fairies, vampires, witches, hags, wizards, mermaids, elves, giants and trolls, they all need to find employment, and during this economic climate, this seems pretty challenging.
Julia doesn’t want her life to be complicated, but when her day is interrupted by the shapeshifter with the chain saw, she just has to deal with him as she always does. She is normally calm, confident and is not afraid to stand up for herself, but when the meeting with Nathaniel’s Corporation goes not as well as she had hoped, she wants to bury herself under the ground and die.
Then, to make matters worse, Mr. La Caz gets under her skin, lighting up a fire inside her. She accidentally reads his thoughts and learns that he craves her; he wants to suck her dry, but she is convinced that he is not even a vampire.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – 100 Powerful & Proven Money Making Ideas by Craig Randall

Over 100 Money Making Ideas!

Want To Make Extra Money? Work For Yourself? Get Control Of Your Financial Life?

It all starts with one idea. That is all you need to get started today with changing the rest of your life.

In “Powerful and Proven Money Making Ideas” you will learn what Craig Randall took months to learn when he set out on this same quest of his own.

Change Your Finances Forever and for the Better

Being able to work for yourself, being an entrepreneur, or just needing to earn some extra part-time income can be a life changer for many people. But where do you begin?

The simple truth is that you need to start somewhere. Take that first step. And for most, the first step is discovering what are the opportunities available.

This book is a compilation of over 100 different ideas that can help you find the path for changing your financial future.

Real Ideas for Real People That Require Little to No Money

This is an idea book and as you read it, you will see that the author tried to get as many ideas out to you as possible. In fact, most of these do not require any money to start with, often they do not require any special knowledge or skill, and every one of them is a proven concept. That is, real people actually make a living out of each of them. Most importantly, they are occupations where you can be your own boss, if that is what you want. The author does not promise the world, and does not tell you how to start or run a business, but he does deliver over 100 ideas for less than a cup of coffee.

With over 100 ideas this book is for:
- Stay-at-home parents looking for part-time extra income
- Someone who is unemployed and needs quick income
- Anyone who wants to be in business for themselves
- People with big dreams but have little to no money
- Do-it-yourselfers who do not want to be held back
- Anyone unhappy in their current job
- Someone who wants control over their income and future

…And basically anyone who wants to have financial security in the current economy.

Discover Over 100 Ideas for Making Money

Inside this guide you’ll discover:

- Unique ideas for making money such as being an “Hauntrepreneur” or a “Marriage Officiant”

- Self-employed occupations that can pay a lot more than you think such as gardeners who make more than $60,000 a year

- Ways to make money by working outside, working in the kitchen, working with animals, using your phone, using your car, helping others, writing, and dozens of other ideas

- Examples of real people who had creative ideas and made a fortune out of them such as the candle maker who started in his garage and ended up selling his candle making business for $500 million!

- Ideas that normal people can do without requiring special education, degrees, skills, or money. These are income ideas that anyone can take advantage of!

Tips to get started
Brainstorming ideas about how one idea leads to another
The author also provides thought provoking ideas as to how to get started for some of the proven concepts.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – NonFiction / Business

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Orangeberry Free Alert - Artful Dodger - Nageeba Davis

Artful Dodger - Nageeba Davis

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Romantic Suspense

Rating - PG13

4.8 (14 reviews)

Free until 30 June 2013

Romantic Suspense trilogy with the irrepressible, irreverent Maggie Kean!

Take one funny, wise-cracking artist, one gorgeous, sexy detective, throw in a grizzly murder, a little amateur sleuthing, and you have the makings of a wild, romantic, mis-adventure.

Art teacher and sculptor, Maggie Kean, thought she was having a rotten day--burning her toast, stubbing her toe, all before eight in the morning. Things just couldn't get any worse. At least, not until she discovers her neighbor's dead body in her front yard. And it didn't stop there. Before she can claim her innocence, Maggie becomes the primes suspect in the investigation. Now all she has to do is evade the police, clear her name, trap a killer...and deal with one mouth-watering, hunky detective who drives her crazy while making her hormones do the happy dance!

Living Backwards by Tracy Sweeney (Excerpt 2)

CHAPTER 2 - Jillian

I heard them entering my bedroom attempting to be quiet as soon as the door creaked open. It was a weak attempt because there wasn’t much that was subtle about Megan or Danielle. I wanted to open my eyes and kick their asses for waking me up so early on a Saturday, but it felt as if someone had inserted a skewer right into my eye socket and stabbed my brain. The pain radiating from my eye throughout my entire skull was excruciating. My mouth was dry and my stomach was lurching. I quickly tried to remember what had taken place the night before and why someone would try to murder me in my sleep. Then I remembered the bottle of wine I opened to drown my Facebook sorrows. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Jillian, you little tramp,” Megan, master of subtlety, shrieked. “You were cyber-stalking on Facebook last night!”

I slowly pried my eyes open and felt around my head searching for the skewer because I was still not convinced that something so yummy could inflict so much pain. It wasn’t until I saw the empty bottle next to the computer screen that I finally could admit that I had the hangover of the century…or of the week. Whichever.

As if they weren’t already loud enough, I heard Danielle squeal.

“Luke Chambers, Jillian? You were cyber-stalking Luke?” she asked incredulously. “Where the heck did that come from?”

I blanched. Where did that come from? I barely knew Luke Chambers. Definitely not a circle I ran in. In high school, Luke was all leather jackets and motorcycles—the embodiment of a modern day James Dean. He certainly wasn’t known for hanging out in the library with quiet coeds and their elderly librarian buddies.

“I was not,” I countered, sounding more like a guilty toddler than I’d like. “You’re out of your mind. I probably saw his profile and got curious.”

“I don’t know, Jill,” Megan added cautiously. “Looks like you sent him a Friend Request. I guess you weren’t stalking. You were definitely fishing.”

Immediately, I was pissed. I had been physically assaulted by a yummy yet dangerous bottle of chardonnay, woken up ridiculously early on my day off and then accused of some imaginary crush.

“Too bad Luke can’t make it to the reunion tonight,” Danielle offered. “He emailed me last week. He owns that bar downtown that his cousin used to run. His cousin moved back to Canada and Luke bought it. I guess it’s busy and he can’t take a night off. I’m glad he’s doing well, though. He always seemed kind of lost in high school.”

“Sorry, Jilly,” Megan cooed. “Looks like you’re going to have to set your sights elsewhere. Unless Luke has a talking flask, too. Maybe we can get your flask to convince his flask to come to the reunion.”

“Okay, okay, you’ve had your fun,” I finally shouted. “Now kindly remove your asses from my room.”

“See. I told you she needs a boyfriend,” Megan muttered under her breath. “So cranky.”

“Actually, we just wanted to tell you we were running to the mall to get a few things for our outfits tonight,” Danielle explained. “I’m not going to drag you along, but I’m going to ask that you wear what I buy you.”

Danielle had also decided that it would be fun to dress like it was 1999. Seriously. I knew she wanted to get me into one of those ridiculously tight t-shirts and some low-rise jeans, but in reality, I wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing something like that in 1999. But reality never stopped Danielle. She’d win, so why fight her? As long as I was spared from her version of retail therapy and could stay in bed, I was happy.

“Fine. I will comply with your wardrobe suggestions. But now, Posh,” I motioned to Megan, “please take Scary over here and leave me and my hangover alone.”

Unfortunately, though, after my roommates left the apartment in search of outdated attire for the reunion, I wished that they were back distracting me. Instead, I was left alone with a splitting headache and the certainty of my impending doom.

Once it was clear that my plan to sleep in late was ruined, I tried putting the reunion out of my head for a bit. I checked email, took like five Tylenol, cleaned the kitchen, called my only other high school friend Suzanne, and did my laundry. But after each task my eyes would automatically dart over to the computer. A glance wouldn’t hurt anyone, right? Logging onto Facebook, I checked the timeline.

Sarah sent a virtual teddy bear to Tyler. Who comes up with this stuff?

Suzanne sent me a round of drinks. Now that is thoughtful. Cheers, Suzanne.

Luke Chambers accepted my Friend Request. Well hello, Luke.

I clicked on his profile. The tiny picture appeared larger and…beautiful. The shot was black and white. Luke wasn’t looking directly at the camera. He was laughing, his cheeks pulled into a tight, open mouthed grin with deep creases in the corners of his eyes. He was stunning. It looked like he was behind the bar—his bar, I guessed. I didn’t remember him looking like that in high school at all. I decided that I needed to make a trip to his bar soon, and if Luke looked anything like his picture in person, I might just request his assistance getting home.

Hearing the door to our apartment open, I quickly closed out of the page and logged off. I didn’t need to give Danielle any more ammunition. I opened the door of my bedroom to find her in the living room with at least a dozen bags.

“Wow, Danielle! How long are we staying in 1999? This is just for the evening, right?”

“Your complaining is as bad as Megan’s! I had to drop her off at Nate’s because I couldn’t stand it anymore. She can’t concentrate on anything when he’s back in town anyway. Can you both please try to enjoy yourselves tonight?”

Nate Barrett went to high school with us, as well. He was a starting linebacker for the Reynolds Rockets and an all-around good guy. After attending Florida State on a football scholarship, Nate was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round. During their third preseason game, he tore his ACL and damaged his knee so severely that he was told that he’d never be one hundred percent again. When the Chiefs released him, Nate came home and got a position scouting for U-Dub.

No one knew at the time, but all throughout high school, Megan pined for Nate. After a few failed attempts at getting his attention, she opted to admire him from afar, although it was more like sulking about it from afar. While every boy in our class dreamed about dating Megan Dunn, Megan only dreamed of Nate. Unfortunately, Nate’s first and only love was football. It wasn’t until we ran into him at a football game a year ago that she worked up the courage to ask him out for coffee. They spent hours and hours talking, finally closing down the place and have been together ever since. She told me she was going to marry him after that first date at the coffee shop. Some people were lucky that way.

Naturally, his traveling put a strain on their relationship. He obviously couldn’t scout from campus so she’s on her own a lot. It worked well for me, though because I had a partner in crime. But I knew how much she missed him and how much he missed her, too. The money was good, though, and he enjoyed the work, but I knew that if something stable—something without travel—came up, he’d take it in a second. But those types of jobs weren’t always easy to find. So, they made it work.

“How long is he home for?” I asked, rifling through the bags cluttering the couch.

“Two weeks,” she replied. “It wouldn’t be such a big deal if she had grown a pair and told him years ago how she felt. He wouldn’t have accepted the job in the first place. He could’ve coached.”

“This from the girl who found her soul mate at thirteen.”

Danielle started dating Josh Fletcher in junior high. They never fought, they finished each other’s sentences, and seemed to have a language of their own. I’d never admit this to Danielle, but seeing the two of them together made me a little jealous. Their relationship was perfect. Where he was laid back and calming, Danielle was vivacious and energetic—the perfect complement to each other. I knew that wasn’t something everyone had.

I was still poking through the bags when Danielle’s cell phone rang.

“This is Danielle…. Hey, Val.”

I watched Danielle wince as she spoke to her obnoxious business partner. On prom night, Danielle and Josh found themselves sharing a limo with Valerie Cooper and my new Facebook buddy, Luke Chambers. On the way to the prom when the booze was flowing freely, Danielle shared with Val her dreams of running her own interior design firm. Val told Danielle how she’d be nearby at Columbia and suggested they team up to run the business together. She swore that it sounded like a good idea at the time and it was for a while. They spent the time early on researching and writing their business plan so that they could hit the ground running right after graduation. The business flourished teaming Danielle’s flair for colors and patterns with Val’s take-no-prisoners approach at running the company. Val was a fantastic salesperson and had wooed some high profile clients away from some of the larger design houses. The partnership was not without some major issues though.

“Yes…but Val…Val, we talked about this! No, I don’t think you know what you’re doing. He’s a client! But tonight’s the reunion…I swear…Val? Val?” Danielle turned to me with murderous look. “She hung up on me.”

“I truly do not know how you can stand her,” I replied while inspecting the t-shirts she bought.

I didn’t know how dire the situation was until I heard her begin to sniffle. Danielle never cried—not even when I made her shop for knock-off pocketbooks.

“That’s the point,” she whimpered slumping onto the couch. “I can’t do this anymore. I just want to walk away.”

“That is not an option. I agree that Val is unbearable, but this company is all yours. It’s your talent, your ideas, your blood, sweat and tears. You don’t need her.”

“You don’t understand. I know I could run it myself. Maybe I didn’t at first. It’s just too late. Val’s invested just as much money into the business as I have so she’s just as much of an owner. She’s just making really, really stupid decisions. Do you know where she is tonight?” I grimaced just imagining what was coming. I knew about Val’s dinner meetings.

“She’s visiting one of our largest clients at home tonight—a client whose wife happened to be lounging by a pool in Long Beach when I spoke to her this morning. Suddenly Val claims that Frederick needs to discuss a new project. New project, my ass.”

“You need to talk to her,” I reasoned, “before this gets out of hand.”

“It’s too late,” she added. “We lost a huge client last week—right in the middle of the remodel.”

“What!” I gasped.

“The client came home to Val and her husband finding creative uses for the antique dining room table I bought.”

I was stunned. Sure, Val was inappropriate. She had no problem discussing her conquests in detail with anyone within earshot. I didn’t shock easily, but Val had quite a resume. Even though Danielle had complained about Val’s secret meetings with clients and buyers, none of us thought she would be stupid enough to risk the business.

“I obviously can’t afford to buy her out,” she continued. “And if I don’t walk away now, I’m risking my reputation.”

She looked so defeated that all I could think about was how much I wanted to strangle Val for making her feel this way.

“God, I’m so mad! We’re supposed to be going out tonight and seeing all of these people we haven’t talked to in ages, and I’m here crying over someone who’s probably bent over the beautiful 18th century writing desk I found last week.”

“Yeah…I didn’t need that visual. You so owe me a drink tonight.”

“Sorry. It really is beautiful, though. Mahogany.”

“Danielle, my friend, I hereby swear on my beloved flask that I will not complain tonight. I will wear whatever ridiculous 1999 getup you’d like and I will dance until dawn with you,” I replied slipping into best friend mode. “We will not let Val ruin our night, but tomorrow we put our heads together and figure a way out of this mess. Deal?” I asked extending my hand.

“Deal!” she exclaimed grabbing one of the bags on the couch and throwing it at me. “Now go and try this on. I wanna go live La Vida Loca or whatever it was we did back then. And let me know if the jeans fit. I think they’ll make your butt look great.”

That was my Danielle. Worrying about my ass when it was hers that needed saving.

I grabbed the bag and pulled out a number of tight shirts in different colors and settled on one that didn’t show off too much. Pulling out the jeans Danielle bought, I held them up against me in front of the mirror. With a hand on my desk, I bent over and attempted to pull the super-skinny jeans over my calves, but they just wouldn’t budge. I tried again, jumping up and down to get the jeans up and over my rear end. Noticing I left my best buddy Joan on the desk, I leaned over and grabbed the flask, stuffing it into the back pocket. I bounced up one last time to secure them around my waist, but as I came back down, I clipped the edge of the desk and felt myself falling over.

It was one of those moments that happen in slow motion. I knew I was falling. I knew I couldn’t stop it, and I just needed to brace myself for the impact. As my head hit the floor, I felt a sharp pain and then nothing but darkness.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Chick Lit

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Tracy Sweeney on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.tracysweeney.net/

Ethan McKenzie – Why Social Networks Are the Keys to Good Networking

Why Social Networks Are the Keys to Good Networking

by Ethan McKenzie

Social networking is a great way to directly communicate with your readers. Do consider that automatically generated email messages and newsletters that were meant for everybody and their brothers will not have the same effect as personalized messages do. Automatic newsletters are often discarded, unread, people do not even have the patience to open them. You need a more personal, more effective way.

It takes little time and effort to reach people through social network sites. Such websites are very popular these days. Half of American adults (47 per cent of them) use some social network sites, and this number will rapidly grow in the future. Social media is not restricted to young people any longer. The older generation has already recognized the potentials of social networking, and many people over 50 years do use these sites.

Register on some of the social media sites, so that to reach a wide audience. All you need to do is to sign up for free on the most renowned sites. Through these sites, you can target those persons who are already interested specifically in the kind of product or service you offer. You may seek for clubs, groups, and fans of your niche. If you write horror stories, make sure that you register on a social network site and join some groups of horror book fans. Probably some groups for horror movie fans will also do, but your first target is, of course, the typical horror novel fan. Be specific. Once you have joined these groups, you comment on posts written by others, you share your thoughts on your own profile, and soon you are going to have numerous online friends who love the kind of books you write.

You post some quotes from your works, some of your thoughts, and your new friends and readers will follow you. You may post comments about your future plans, your forthcoming books, your plots, new ideas, and book releases, so that to keep your future readers intrigued. If your friends share your posts on their profile or comment on them, the friends of your friends can also see them. Probably some of them become interested in your stories. They do not even have to open them with a click of the mouse like they do with emails. They can see it right on their profiles or walls or timelines as soon as you post them.

Readers are more likely to buy your books if they know you from social networking sites. They will consider you more authentic, more real. Make sure that you respond to their comments or messages, it takes very little effort and it does not cost money for you. It is just an excellent way to advertise your stories.

There is another important, useful side of social network media. On these sites, you may find people who are willing to give you some critique or advice. You can learn a lot from them.

Keep these tips in mind when you join a social media site. It has wonderful potentials for you, especially in case you self-publish your e-books. Social networking is an inexpensive and powerful tool to make your books popular.

#1 AMAZON KINDLE BESTSELLER IN “MEDICAL THRILLERS”

“SECRETS AND LIES”
is book #1 of The Jason’s Heart Novel series. This novel will ignite your emotions and thrill your thirst of thrills as you read from page 1 to the last page. Enjoy!

After a long love affair Jason and Sharona finally tie the knot and ends up spending their honeymoon in Costa Rica. They have everything going for them love, money, careers and a bright future. But Sharona’s world comes crashing down when Jason is killed in a freak accident.

Devastated by the loss of the love of her life, she returns to the US and tries to pick up the pieces with the help of her best friend Felicia and Jason’s father Edward. In her attempts to move on she meets a handsome stranger, who just happens to work at the same pharmaceutical company Jason used to work.

Is it a coincidence or is there more to this man called Dr. Diego Cruz who desperately tries to sweep her off her feet?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Medical Suspense Thriller

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Ethan McKenzie on Facebook & Twitter

Friday, June 28, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – For Love or Legacy (Book 2) (Legacy Collection) by Ruth Cardello

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author!

Book 2: For Love or Legacy (Legacy Collection)

Nicole Corisi will lose her inheritance if she doesn’t find a way around the terms of her father’s will, but she will have to partner up with her estranged brother’s rival to do it. As pretense becomes painfully real, Nicole will have to choose between Stephan and the family he is driven to destroy.

Stephan Andrade has been planning his revenge ever since Dominic Corisi unscrupulously took over his father’s company. With Corisi Enterprises gambling its reputation on the success of a new software network for China, Stephan finally has his chance to take back his legacy. Dominic’s younger sister, Nicole, asks Stephan for his help and provides him with an opportunity to exact his revenge on a personal level.

It all goes smoothly until he falls in love.

Book 1: Maid for the Billionaire (Free Download)
Book 2: For Love or Legacy
Book 3: Bedding the Billionaire
Book 4: Saving the Sheikh
Book 5: Rise of the Billionaire

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Ruth Cardello on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.ruthcardello.com/

Orangeberry Free Alert - The King's Witch: A Short Story Introducing The World of Pangaea by Sondra Allan Carr

The King’s Witch - Sondra Allan Carr

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Paranormal Fantasy

Rating - R

Release Date 20 June 2013

Free until 30 June 2013

Welcome to The World of Pangaea
Sondra Allan Carr introduces her new fantasy romance series, The World of Pangaea, with a 17,000-word short story, The King's Witch. It is followed by the full-length novel, The Beast. All stories and novels in the series may be read as stand-alones. This is a series and not a serialization.
The King's Witch
The Knowledge. It shows her what has been, what will be, and--even more fearful--what may be. Some call it a gift, but Koreen knows better. The Knowledge is a curse.
Her story is a tragic one; The Knowledge has revealed as much. Though she cannot save herself, she may yet save others. Then her sacrifices were not in vain.
An unspeakable evil is about to overrun the earth, while the only man able to defeat the demon hordes remains ignorant of his destiny. The future depends on her ability to convince him of the truth. But will the young king listen? Especially since he has sworn death or exile to all who practice the black arts.
King Armander finds it difficult to believe the vile creature standing before him was the dead king's consort. She seems more demented than evil, and unaware her life hangs in the balance. His sense of justice demands he allow her to plead for herself.
"Can you tell me, Witch, any reason why I should spare your life?"
As soon as she speaks, he regrets his question. She reveals his past, and the dark deed no one else could know he committed. Her knowledge of his secret adds weight to her dire prophecy: that with her execution, he will lose his only ally in defeating the dark forces loosed on his kingdom. His own life, in fact, will be forfeit.
Does he dare defy his own edict to save himself and his people? Can he trust the woman known to all simply as The King's Witch?
Reader's caveat: This story contains a single sex scene that is fairly graphic and may be disturbing to some. Those who prefer to avoid such content and those under 18 please be advised, this story may be inappropriate for you.
Armander's story continues in The Beast.
As he strives to restore his kingdom to its former glory, the witch's prophecies come true in ways Armander never imagined. The years of abuse under the old king have taken their toll on his people--even more so on Armander. His barely contained rage, unleashed at the slightest provocation, has earned him a name whispered behind his back: The Beast.
When Armander learns a neighboring king has plotted his assassination, he demands the king's daughter as reparation. Immediately captivated by the beautiful princess, Armander discovers it is he, in fact, who has become hostage to her charms. As his love for her grows increasingly apparent to those around him, Armander fails to realize Princess E'laiahna has powerful enemies within the palace, men who will stop at nothing to keep her from becoming Queen. Yet only one man can drive her away forever--the one people call The Beast.

Orangeberry Free Alert - Free Alert - For Love And Vengeance by Johnny Ray

for Love and Vengeance – Johnny Ray

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre – Romantic Thriller

Rating – PG13

4.0 (25 reviews)

Free until 2 July 2013

An International romantic thriller that you will never forget.

FOR LOVE AND VENGEANCE

When everyone lies to you—trust your gut instinct

If that fails—start over

For your love deserves the best

And murderous terrorist your vengeance

May God have mercy on their soul

Both the Americans and the Russians think Victoria works for them exclusively. In truth; the Pack, an International Crime Syndicate, brutally controls her while they launder money in America by buying distressed houses for terrorist sleepers. While she executes the perfect escape, staging her death during a shark attack, she makes one mistake—she meets Royce, who worked as a special operative several years earlier, the night before disappearing.

Royce, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with any American led special operations after he had been lied to in order to keep him focus on his prior mission. His girlfriend had been abducted and brutally murdered earlier while they had kept him in the dark. The last thing he had ever expected was another woman in his life, especially a Russian spy. Furthermore, he never would have believed that she would be the one thing that would encourage him to finish a mission that he should have taken care of the first time.

Royce is well trained on how to discover the truth, so although Victoria’s apparent shark attack was well conceived he knows better. He had used the life of a surfer bum for years as his cover. The more lies he uncovers, the more suspicious he becomes until finally he feels like he has little choice. His prior operation was so top secret even the CIA were told nothing He didn’t need them then, and he sure the hell didn’t need them this time either. The last time it was for country—this time it was going to be personal.

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Evergreen by David Jester

1

Sheila Haynes woke that morning to a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, the place where butterflies and insecurities wander. She hadn’t drunk the night before, hadn’t eaten anything that might have given her a suspect stomach.

She walked to the bathroom on high alert, tried to recollect her dreams as she showered -- hoping for a memory of something that could have put her in such a state of anxiety. It didn’t occur to her until later, after she’d dried, dressed and prepared for breakfast, that the root of her unease was her daughter, Siobhan.

She usually woke to the sound of the fifteen year olds music, or the chatter of her teenage prattle on her phone as she kept her friends up to date on how little each of them were doing. The bass of the music or the sound of her voice penetrated through the two-bedroom mobile home like rain on a tin roof. Sheila was often forced to listen to the latest trending tune or to her daughter’s newest celebrity crush. That morning she hadn’t heard a whimper.

She made herself some toast, trying to enjoy a breakfast in silence but feeling incredibly uneasy about it. Her daughter was a pain, most teenagers were, but she loved her. She was a loving child, showing more compassion, empathy and respect than many girls her age. Yes, they had their rows and yes they had their fall outs, but they loved each other. They’d been each other’s rock ever since her father, the bastard with the unfaithful eyes and wandering penis, walked out six years ago.

She made Siobhan a slice of toast and a cup of tea, took it to her bedroom with a smile on her face.

Siobhan wasn’t there and their home was small, there was nowhere else for her to be.

The bedsheets were ruffled, disturbed, but it wouldn’t be the first time she hadn’t made her bed. Her clothes from the previous day were still strewn across the floor.

She put the plate and the cup down, held a hand to her uneasy stomach. She checked for Siobhan’s mobile phone, she would never leave home without it -- she would feel like she’d lost an arm if she didn’t have it stuffed in her back pocket or clasped firmly in her hand.

The phone was under the bed, dropped to the floor and kicked underneath. Sheila took it out, checked the messages for a clue, a sign. There was nothing of note.

She began to feel worried. Her heart was thumped in her chest, she could feel her pulse in her neck as her blood threatened to leave her body. She mumbled a small prayer, made the sign of the rosary and left the house, deciding to quiz the neighbours.

She stopped on the doorstep, her heart caught in her throat.

Siobhan was on the ground, twisted like a discarded doll at the foot of the steps. Sheila made a noise, a half-scream, half-shout. She toppled forward, her legs giving way. She bounced and rolled down the three metal stairs that led to her door, stopped on the dewy grass beneath, managed to remain upright on wobbly legs.

Neighbours heard the noise and began to filter out from the surrounding caravans, swarming out of the densely populated park where everyone’s garden was everyone else's. They stopped when they saw the body, some shuffled forward, others moved back. Some beckoned people to the scene; others wanted, tried and failed to make it to Sheila to comfort her.

Sheila screamed until her throat ripped raw; until her lungs expelled their last, exhausted breath; until the blood of those watching ran cold. The noise would be her last, torn by grief she would never utter another word, wouldn’t be able to summon the emotion, the enthusiasm, to offer anything more for anyone else. Her screams would live on in the nightmares of those that had heard.

She dropped to her knees. The pale flesh on her pointed kneecaps dug into the soft mud, the sucking sound of the impact audible in the aftermath of the faded torment. She reached for her daughter’s head, held it in the crook of her arm like she had done so many times before.

She was cold, colder than she’d ever been. Her face was hers -- the same face that had grinned many a cheeky grin; smiled many loving smiles and kept her proud mother happy -- but it was colder, whiter, emptier. A small trickle of blood seeped out of her blue lips; Sheila wiped it away with a thumb, kissed her cold lips and then dragged her head close, burying her silent sobs into the withering, blood-stained locks.

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Genre – Horror

Rating – PG13

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The Granite Key by NS Wikarski

THE ARKANA SERIES: Archaeological Thrillers That Defy History
Volume One – The Granite Key

“Think ‘MEDIUM meets THE LOST SYMBOL’ and it only begins to describe the pleasures of THE GRANITE KEY – 5 Stars.” (Kindle Nation)

A Wake-Up Call
In a nightmare, nineteen year old Cassie Forsythe sees her sister attacked by a man in a cowboy hat who demands something called “the key.” Her nightmare mutates into reality before the night is over. Cassie is called to identify her sister’s body–murdered exactly as her dream foretold. Cassie dismisses her vision as a fluke and fights to get on with her life. Disconnected and aimless now that her only family is gone, she drifts until the evening when she catches the man in the cowboy hat ransacking her sister’s apartment. He bolts with an odd-looking stone cylinder–the granite key. From that moment, Cassie’s normal world evaporates.

A Secret Society
She learns that her sister led a double life–retrieving artifacts for a secret organization called the Arkana. The Arkana’s leader, an elder named Faye, explains that her group performs a controversial kind of archaeology. They scour the globe for evidence of ancient pre-patriarchal civilizations in hopes of salvaging the lost history of the world. Their network of troves safeguards artifacts from highly sophisticated goddess-worshipping cultures on every continent. Cassie’s sister had the psychic ability to touch an artifact and relive its past. Cassie has now inherited this gift. Faye wants the girl to take over her sister’s role in the organization. Cassie doubts her powers but agrees. Now an insider, she is transported to the Arkana’s mysterious underground vault in the countryside outside Chicago where the group tackles the mystery of her sister’s murder.

A Dangerous Cult
The Arkana learns that the man in the cowboy hat is a hired mercenary named Leroy Hunt and that he is working for a fundamentalist religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. He takes his orders directly from the cult’s domineering prophet–Abraham Metcalf. The granite key which Leroy stole is inscribed with hieroglyphics revealing the location of a mythological artifact reputed to have mystical powers–the Sage Stone. Although skeptical of its legendary capabilities, the Arkana is still afraid to allow the relic to fall into the cult’s hands. Abraham’s fanatical belief in the power of the Sage Stone could be the catalyst to start a war of religious genocide.

Unlocking The Key
Before she died, Cassie’s sister took photos of the strange markings on the granite key. The Arkana decodes the hieroglyphics which point to the ancient ruins of Minoan Crete as the hiding place of the Sage Stone. Faye hastily assembles a retrieval team including Cassie, her newly-appointed bodyguard Erik, and a British researcher named Griffin. The band of treasure hunters is mismatched and wildly dysfunctional from the start. Griffin has never gone on a field mission, Erik treats his inexperienced colleagues with contempt, and Cassie second-guesses her psychic hunches. She battles to prove herself to Erik at every turn. Their internal clashes rival the bigger crisis of what to do when they come face to face with their enemies.

A Matter Of Life Or Death
Even as they rake through megalithic tombs and Minoan palaces for clues, Abraham dispatches his son Daniel and hired gun Leroy Hunt to recover the Sage Stone. The Nephilim operatives won’t hesitate to kill anyone standing in their way. Will Cassie and her teammates avert global disaster or find themselves casualties of Abraham’s mania to exterminate the world of unbelievers? The Granite Key holds the answer.

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Genre – Archaeology / Thriller

Rating – PG

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Killer Work from Home Websites by Lee Evans

What’s in This Book?
Killer Work from Home Websites: Blogging, Website Design, Website Business, Website Building with SBI! Site Build It! Make Money Online details my journey, and the journey of everyday SBI!ers, who have found a way to build a successful website, and sustainable business, that allows us to fulfill our dream of working from home.
SBI! is a phenomenal online website builder, and worldwide community of users, who have discovered the business and site building capabilities of this awesome technology. For those who follow me through my Killer Work from Home Jobs series of books, this book details the path I took, and the web building technology I chose, in my effort to accomplish my goal of making money online – for life! Thousands of people have chosen SBI! Site Build It! website builder to host their blogs, websites, ecommerce sites, info sites, travel sites and more.
What is This Book About?
Killer Work from Home Websites: Blogging, Website Design, Website Business, Website Building with SBI! Site Build It! documents the specific research I conducted, and the astoundingly simple SBIer stories that influenced my decision, to become part of this global community of business owners, who have chosen SBI! to host and build their blogs, websites, and their dreams.
Do you want to work from home?
Do you want to make money online?

Do you want a website designed according to your terms?

Do you want to build a business that could finance your life?
Killer Work from Home Websites can help you build a website and a business that can change your life.  It changed mine.
Who Needs to Read this Book?
Killer Work from Home Websites: Blogging, Website Design, Website Business, Website Building with SBI! Site Build It! is for people who are passionate about working from home. SBI! is a website design and website building technology that can just about support anyone’s dreams. Looking for a get rich quick scheme? This is not for you.
SBI! is for everyday people, who have everyday goals. Like administrative assistants, typists, travel lovers, realtors, accountants, or others, who want to offer their services online. It’s for creative crafters, artists, jewelry makers, and more, who want to sell their wares. It’s for writers, app developers, and others who create digital e-products. Have a band to promote? Are you a salesman, a doctor, a lawyer? SBI! is the technology for you.
Site Build It! is for entrepreneurs, moms, retirees or students. My months of research can help your life look the way you imagined.
You can contact me at Free-Job-Search-Websites.com to get notice of new Killer Work from Home books on Amazon.
You’re not just buying a book, you’re buying my promise I’ll tirelessly provide you with the most up to date info at my disposal. I want to help you make your dream come true!
Learn how to create Killer Work from Home Websites
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Genre –  NonFiction / Business
Rating – G
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Orangeberry Book of the Day - Semmant by Vadim Babenko

Chapter 1

I’m writing this in dark-blue ink, sitting by the wall where my shadow moves. It crawls like the hand on a numberless sundial, keeping track of time that only I can follow. My days are scheduled right down to the hour, to the very minute, and yet I’m not in a hurry. The shadow changes ever so slowly, gradually blurring and fading toward the fringes.

The treatments have just been completed, and Sara has left my room. That’s not her real name; she borrowed it from some porn star. All our nurses have such names by choice, taken from forgotten DVDs left behind in patients’ chambers. This is their favorite game; there’s also Esther, Laura, Veronica. None of them has had sex with me yet.

Sara is usually cheerful and giggly. Just today I told her a joke about a parrot, and she laughed so hard she almost cried. She has olive skin, full lips, and a pink tongue. And she has breast implants that she’s really proud of. They are large and hard – at least that’s how they seem. Her body probably promises more than it can give.

Nevertheless, I like Sara, though not as much as Veronica. Veronica was born in Rio; her narrow hips remind me of samba; her gaze pierces deep inside. She has knees that emanate immodesty. And she has long, thin, strong fingers… I imagine them to be very skillful. I like to fix my eyes on her with a squint, but her look is omniscient – it is impossible to confuse Veronica. I think she is overly cold toward me.

She doesn’t use perfume, and sometimes I can detect her natural scent. It is very faint, almost imperceptible, but it penetrates as deeply as her gaze. Then it seems all the objects in the room smell of her – and the sheets, and even my clothing. And I regret I’m no longer that young – I could spend hours in dreamy masturbation, scanning the air with my sensitive nostrils. But to do that now would be somewhat awkward.

Anyway, Esther arouses me even more than Veronica, perhaps because she is “bi,” as Sara once confided to me. Esther moves like a panther and looks like an expensive whore. Her nipples burn like hot coals, even through her starched white blouse. Her hair shimmers purple black, and her skin is tender like silk, though it looks more like velvet. The moment she comes close I seethe with the desire to touch her. I’ve done so a few times and even apparently got somewhere – she once slapped me in response. Surely it was a game, but I doubt we’ll go much further. Here’s why: now I like Laura from Santo Domingo best of all.

Yesterday, on her evening rounds, she was really hot. Yes, her legs are not so slender and her butt looks too large and heavy, but her whole body radiates passion, a natural lust too difficult to conceal. Cats scatter when they hear her walking, and gawkers turn their heads to stare. Even paralytics and defunct oldsters get horny when they feel her vibes – and I’m no paralytic or by any means too old. She leaned over me as if to arrange the sheet, flashed her huge brown eyes, licked her lips – and I knew I would have her now or very soon. I ran the palm of my hand up her thigh to the narrow moist strip of her thong. And I’m not even sure she was wearing a thong!

Then she teased me with her slim bare foot, gazing at my face with a come-hither look. Too bad she had to leave so quickly – but this is just the beginning, no doubt!

I whispered after her, “Where are you going?” when she reached the door.

“Wait,” I murmured. “Now I won’t be able to fall asleep.”

“Yes, you will,” Laura assured me. “I gave you a good sedative.” Then she added, “Think of me!” And these words held a lot of promise.

I did think about her, and then, in my dream I copulated wildly with a busty mulata. She smelled like Laura – the rainforest, the sea, the sweetest of sour smokes. Likely, from now on I’ll need this mix like a junkie.

It’s two days until Laura’s next shift. Two long days of eager anticipation. I now have another goal for myself.

Thinking about this, I face the window and view the distant mountains. The sun has moved down to the side. Turning my head, I see my shadow again; it’s the only thing marring the perfectly white wall. Soon the sun will shift farther to the south, and the wall will regain pure whiteness, announcing lunchtime.

Then the mountains will change as their colors fade, the contours sharpen and stand out against the sky. The peaks will loom jagged; indifferent and cold. A guard will bring me the newspapers, and I will leaf through them vacantly, scanning the pictures and trying not to get newsprint on my fingers.

Then I’ll do the usual set: some hatha poses, stretching my back and leg muscles; a tantra workout, keeping my balance with my eyes closed; and finally, bandha yama drills so my erection would be harder than a steel spring. I’ll think about Laura – already calling her “Lora” in the northern style. She’ll like that; it may bring us closer. Or, perhaps, we’ll even choose a new name for her.

The peaks will finally grow indistinct in the twilight. Everything will fall silent as dusk turns to night. I’ll draw the curtains, leaving only a crack so the fresh air from the mountains filters into the room. Then I’ll have dinner, drink a half bottle of wine, and begin to compose another letter to Semmant…

Listen! My confinement might last years and years, but I’ll give it to you straight: I am not afraid and have nothing to hide. Let them think I’ve lost my mind, but I know, if anyone has – it’s not me! I’ll tell them something else too: don’t count on it. I’ll say, “Semmant!” It will be like a shout, and yet the softest, the most quiet of words. Only the quietest words work for confessions – confessions of hatred, and even more so, of love.

The white walls surround me for a reason, but I will not crack up here, and he – he is my protector, my healer. Yes, at times I may lose control, and it would seem I’ve exhausted my strength, but I won’t succumb – as I can’t betray him, cannot leave him alone. Neither Esther nor Laura can help me in this – and not Sara, not Veronica. Their minds are somewhere else, I’m on my own, and I’m not that mighty. Take these notes – they reveal my weakness. But it’s still no excuse to abandon them.

I don’t look for excuses – even here, behind these walls, despite the treatments and the constant spying. Oh, I know, very attentive eyes are keeping watch over my writing. I feel them with my back, my skin, and even with my shadow on the wall. But I don’t care; I pay them no heed. I am not posturing or putting on an act. I could simply discard the paper – ball it up, chuck it aside. Even burn it – or I could keep quiet and just stare out at the mountains, which are impervious to any words. But I can’t do it; I have to write, even though it’s so unbearably difficult to get through. It’s so hard to be heard by others who are lost in broad daylight, who are blinded by their inability to see, who suffocate in their own waste. They are all arrogant and infinitely naïve. And me – I’m not so different. I, too, am blind and naïve, and arrogant in my own way. That’s why we speak the same language, saying almost the same thing.

So, day in and day out, watchful eyes see a familiar picture. The papers are scattered across my table; it’s night, darkness, dead silence. I write to him; then I get distracted and write to all of you. My fingers grow numb; at times I shiver with cold. Then the opposite: I’m drenched in sweat – and compose with delirious haste, or sometimes a mere word per hour.

It takes enormous effort, though the story is flawless, its plot coherent and logical. I drew it up myself, right up to the final scene; I started with nothing and ended up with more than I could possibly handle. It’s a great experience, no matter what; it would be foolish to keep it to myself. You may object and laugh behind my back, but I have an answer: I’ll say, “Semmant!” This may raise anger, provoke envy. But time will pass, and you’ll see that I’m right.

He will not become anybody’s hero – he’s not a hero at all. He is not a conqueror, though he knows no fear. You may be tempted to laugh at him as well – yes, his naivety surpasses mine, and yet oddly enough he is wise and discreet. No one’s mockery can change that.

It’s not easy to become his friend. And who would dream of competing with him, feeling overconfident for no reason? Who would dare to take his place? That would be reckless and dangerous. His armor shines with a genuine gleam and yet it cannot save him from any arrow. Yes, one should not expect too much from his shield. And then, I realize, it’s more important for everyone to know: what lies beneath that shield?

I could give a concise answer, but I’ll put it differently: shed your own layers one by one. Shed your clothing, your masks. Wash off the makeup. Take a long, hard look at what you see – can you make sense of it? Do this alone, since it’s embarrassing, indeed. The covers have been thrown on the floor, and the labels have even been cut out of them. All that remains is to look deeper inside, brushing away small details, with or without regret. The trick is to get down to what’s most vital, even if it’s concealed and hidden, locked away. One may grow tired and miserable along the way; and once there, may be left speechless. The unexpected may be found – some strange, unfamiliar things. Who will be able to name them properly? I guess no one, as is always the case. Everybody will be looking around: where is the hint, the subtlest of signs? And then again I’ll say, “Semmant.”

Listen – I admit my idea was different. I had a less ambitious plan. Everything was supposed to turn out simpler. Some may even blame me: I was following the footsteps of evil. And yes, I relied on the blindness of the crowd. I indulged others’ greed, but my intentions were pure; they were good. At least I was unselfish; perhaps that vindicates me somehow, though I seek no vindication whatsoever.

I don’t seek it because I feel no guilt; I’m even proud of myself, pleased. I might have done many things wrong, but now I know where I erred. I recognize the most horrible delusion, which could confound anybody.

Others can learn it too, if they have the patience to hear me out. Which is not likely. But I continue.

Because the only thing that matters is to keep moving forward.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – NC17

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book of the Day – Books Aren’t Just for Reading by Laina Turner

Trixie and her friends, Berklie and Sophie, are excited about the opening of Read/Wine their new business venture of a bookstore/wine bar. All is going well until they happen to find a dead body in the shop and that wasn’t part of the business plan. All signs pointed to Berklie since it was her ex-husbands lover who was murdered. Trixie knew Berklie hadn’t murdered Sylvia so who did?

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Genre –  Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.lainaturner.com/

Book of the Day - The Orange Moon Affair by AFN Clarke

ONE


Mojave Desert – October 2012

Flying a helicopter requires a clear mind, concentration, balance and a delicate touch.

Flying a helicopter you are unfamiliar with, in the dark, with two nasty bullet wounds in a body that has not slept in thirty hours, is an exercise in surreal survival. I had ten hours flight time in this model MD 902 Explorer, so it wasn't total guesswork.

I made sure Julie was strapped in tightly and flipped on the switches. There wouldn’t be enough time to sit and let the engines warm up completely. We needed to get airborne before the local police showed up. In the distance beyond the factory building, where the car exploded in the arroyo, a pall of smoke billowed into the moon lit night sky.

Once I got the machine off the ground, stabilised and then flying on the heading Danny had given me, I asked Julie to call him and write down the co-ordinates of the destination, then talked her through entering the figures into the GPS navigation system while I concentrated on the instruments. All I had to do was make sure I didn't hit anything flying at an altitude of fifty feet across the desert, following the route on the EFIS from Mojave to Desert Rock airstrip, wherever the hell that was in the vast expanse of the Nevada desert.

As we flew, the rising sun glimmered just below the horizon to our left. Dark sky turning light blue just before the sun appeared as an orange-white ball throwing shadows across the desert. The distant terrain rose in craggy rock mountains, rising ever higher to about five thousand feet, and I had to fly the aircraft through the narrow gorges maintaining the pretence of a special operations training flight at ultra-low level.

“Can you see if there are any sunglasses in the side pocket,” I asked Julie, feeling my left arm begin to stiffen.

“Here you go.” Her voice sounded strangely distorted in my headphones. Or perhaps it was just my mind beginning to shut down as my body leaked valuable blood onto the seat from the wound in my side.

“Thanks.” I tightened the lock on the collective and flexed my left arm, ignoring the pain, just trying to get some feeling back into it. Estimated flight time was just under an hour and a half, and I wasn't confident of being able to last that long.

“I'm sorry I got you into this,” I said stupidly, as if what I said would make any difference.

“I could have said no.”

“But you didn't.”

“Nope. Don't ask me why, but I didn't.”

“Did you get the bug into the computer before they ambushed us?”

“I did.”

“Well at least one of us accomplished something today. How's your head?”

“Hurts like hell. How's your...?” she paused looking across at me. “Everything?” She laughed. A desperate sound hurled against a bleak outlook.

We hurt more than either of us could describe.

We didn't know what the future held for us, but we laughed anyway as the sun rose across the desert, and I banked the helicopter into the first of the rising mountain ravines.

After an hour throwing the helicopter through the narrow canyons and rocky gorges, I could feel my strength and concentration ebbing slowly away. But that seemed inconsequential in the surreal experience that was the excuse for reality.

Julie massaged her temples, and when she spoke her speech was slow and slurred. I knew she was concussed and slipping into shock.

By 'red-lining' the helicopters engines I could force more speed, but as the sun came up the temperature would rise, and everything could go very wrong very quickly.

But there was no choice.

I inched up the collective, dropped the nose and advanced the throttle a touch, watching the gauges creep toward the danger zone.

Waves of nausea blurred my vision, so I used the only tool I had to sharpen my mind.

Pain.

By wriggling in the seat I could press against the wound in my lower abdomen, not too much, but enough pain to sting my sagging consciousness into wakeful concentration. Now was not the time to sink into peaceful, blissful oblivion. I had a precious cargo to deliver, a woman I loved more than my own life.

At any other time, flying low level through the desert canyons as the sun rose above the horizon, would have been an extraordinary experience. One of those almost vivid adventures that stays in the memory forever. But I wanted this experience to be over as soon as possible.

Every part of my body and soul willed the airstrip into view.

Flying is a slow inevitability.

You know you're going to get there, and yet the more desperate you are to arrive, the more time drags.

Another rising ridge after fifteen minutes of undulating desert, and the sweat dripped down my face, arms and back, seeping into the wounds and causing more pain as my body salts stung raw flesh. I glanced quickly at Julie who sagged forward against the seat harness, semi-conscious, head flopping as the helicopter rose, fell, and banked through the ravines. I just wanted to take her in my arms, hold her and tell her everything was going to be fine, but now was not the time to drift into sentimentality, there was still the task of getting this machine on the ground.

The gauges swam in front of my eyes as I struggled to pick out the speed dial. That and the vertical speed indicator were my guides as we crested the ridge and Desert Rock airstrip lay in front of us just beyond a dry lake bed.

Was it a lakebed or a mirage?

I dropped the collective and pulled back slowly on the cyclic, slowing the aircraft down, establishing an approach to the runway. The speed bled off and I nosed down a little to keep the aircraft's forward speed at forty knots, but my eyes refused to focus properly, and darkness appeared at the corners of my vision as if I was looking through a telescope at an image that kept getting smaller. No matter what my mind was telling my body it wasn't responding, running out of blood and slowly shutting down.

But not before I got this machine on the ground.

Only a few more feet.

Maybe twenty-five, maybe thirty-five, maybe....

I didn't know anymore.

Then I saw the FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missile spearing up toward us from a far ridge.

My reactions were slow and for a fatal moment I watched the white smoky trail from the rocket motor arc its way through the sky. I pulled on the collective and kicked the anti-torque pedals to port, almost escaping the oncoming death, but the rocket slammed into the tail boom.

The earth spun in a lazy arc as the helicopter arched over backwards at fifty feet above the rocky desert as I lost control, spiralling to the ground, pieces flying in all directions, the only section remaining relatively intact being the forward cockpit, saved because the main rotor head deflected the impact.

There was no pain, just a smashing, grinding, splintering sound. I felt a violent lurch as my head slammed into the side door, then silence. Almost lying on top of me, held by her seat harness, Julie stared into my eyes, blood dripping from her nose and ears, trying to speak.

“Julie,” I gasped trying to reach up and touch her face, but my arm wouldn't move.

Car engine noises.

Voices.

I was struggling with consciousness.

With reality.

Where was I? What had happened? I didn't know.

Images from the past flashed through my mind.

My father's dead face.

Julie naked on the catamaran.

Julie. My Julie.

Then nothing.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.afnclarke.com/

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Study in Sin by August Wainwright

 

 

A wildly intriguing, intimately suspenseful story about the human capacity for good and evil – and what pushes us to inevitably, and often tragically, turn to our darker emotions for comfort.

Jacob Watts broke his neck in Afghanistan. Now he’s in D.C. with no job, a therapist, an uncontrollable tick in his arm, and PTSD. And he can’t pay his rent.

His new, and monetarily necessary roommate, Remy Moreau, isn’t helping either. Cold and detached, she might be a savant – but she’s also socially inept, has absolutely no boundaries, and is possibly dealing drugs out of their apartment. When the two come in contact with a stiff and blood-covered body in Capitol Row, the ambiguous Remy Moreau will lead him on an obsessive-compulsive hunt in pursuit of a tormented killer.

Can Remy, with Watts in tow, catch a murderer before he strikes again? And what are Remy’s real intentions with Watts? Is she even capable of anything resembling real human emotion?

A Study in Sin is a fast-paced modern update of a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery.

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Genre – Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Website http://augustwainwright.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Family Magic by Patti Larsen

Chapter One

I batted at the curl of smoke drifting off the tip of my candle and tried not to sneeze. My heavy velvet cloak fell in oppressive, suffocating folds in the closed space of the ceremony chamber, the cowl trapping the annoying bits of puff I missed. I hated the way my eyes burned and teared, an almost constant distraction. Not that I didn’t welcome the distraction, to be honest. Anything to take my mind from what went on around me.

Being part of a demon raising is way less exciting than it sounds.

The bodies of the gathered coven pressed close, shrouded in the same black velvet, the physical weight of their presence making it hard to breathe. I struggled to censor my clichéd thoughts and focus on the task at hand. The glow of other candle flames floated around me, barely lighting faces, enough for a serious case of the creepies. A low hum sounded from every throat, filling the room with an almost physical presence.  I participated half-heartedly, wishing I was anywhere but here, knowing despite my personal preferences I had no choice whatsoever.

The group swayed as one as the hum grew in volume. The first hint of power made its way around the half-circle. I felt my own power being drawn away, connected and shared despite my reflexive attempt to pull free. As much as I suppressed my magic from day to day and refused to use it at all, the draw of the coven and my attachment to it made it impossible to deny.

Totally crappy. Especially since anything to do with magic always made me feel slightly nauseated and off balance.

I wiped a smoke-laced tear from the corner of my eye and blinked at the pentagram etched in the stone at my feet. The lines of the star began to glow faintly blue, the candles at each point flaring as though with the heartbeat of the whole, the breath and life of each and every soul in the room. I wondered if anyone ever checked to see if our hearts really did beat in sync. Wouldn’t that be special?

I stifled a sigh as a tall, elegant form flowed forward from the circle to the center of the pentagram. She swept back the hood of her cloak, her long, thick and perfect black hair a flawless halo around her gorgeous face. Her eyes glowed with joy, cheeks flushed from the rush of energy coming from the coven, her coven. Miriam Hayle was everything every woman wanted to be. Beautiful, graceful, commanding, the perfect witch, the perfect leader, the perfect everything.

My luck? She was my mother.

I blew on the smoke from my candle as subtly as possible while barely managing to still the jiggle starting in my left knee. Somehow I always ended up in exactly the spot where a tiny little breeze pushed the white vapor the wrong way. A part of me was sure it was somehow contrived that way as an extra level of punishment piled on to my particular little corner of hell. And forget the sacrilege of blowing the candle out.  It’s not a whole lot of fun being the center of the displeasure of fifty-odd witches of varying power, so I suffered.

Oh believe me, I suffered. Every day, every moment, every breath. I, Sydlynn Hayle, sixteen-year-old all-American girl, was a witch. My mom was a witch. My grandmother was a witch, if a crazy one. My sister, my mom’s best friend and every single other person in my life, much to my disappointment, fell in that category, with a couple of exceptions. Lucky me. Except I spent my entire life wanting nothing more than to be normal, average, ordinary and just like everyone else.

Hard to do in a family like mine.

So there I was, another Saturday night, no friends, no social life, just the stupid coven and another stupid coven ritual. Could one girl’s life really suck that much?

I glanced down at my little sister as she stared at our Mom, rapt in attention, beaming a smile. Meira glanced up at me, red-tinted skin and amber gaze aglow as the power in the room built, triggering her demon blood. In the ‘real world,’ Meira had to disguise her unusual coloring, her overlarge eyes and cute little horns peeking out of her silky black curls. Within the safety of the family she was free to be herself and I know she loved it.

I always envied my eight-year-old sister her eagerness to embrace her birthright while I simply did everything I could to ignore it. Easier for me, I suppose, with my plain, dark brown hair and ordinary blue eyes, my white skin and handful of freckles. I did what I could not to look the part, to forget our dad was a demon.

Meira grinned at me, her candle’s trail curling perfectly upward toward the ceiling in an endless swirl. I waved at my smoke again, the tickle in the back of my throat and nose getting worse. Meira watched me struggle like she always did. With laughter wrinkling her upturned nose, she waggled her fingers at my candle. I felt her power reach out, the thin film of it forming a delicate tube around the wick. My smoke immediately behaved. She winked before turning back to Mom.

I felt stupid. So that’s how they did it…! Sixteen years of this crap, and it took my little sister taking pity on me to finally get the joke. Of course, if I ever paid attention or agreed to do magic, maybe I’d have known about it a long time ago. But the fact my suspicions were so dead on, that Mom obviously instructed the others to let me figure it out on my own or continue to suffer, made me grind my teeth in frustration. She would do anything to get me to use my talent, short of putting me in danger, and I even wondered about that.

I tried to focus on the stupid ceremony and not my urge to throw the dumb candle in her flawless face.

Yeah, that would go over well.

Mom, either unaware or not caring about my present state of mind, raised her arms, robe falling into a perfect puddle at her feet, revealing her model’s figure in a black satin gown, polished silver jewelry at wrists and throat. She positively glowed with power, vivid blue eyes in rapture. How pathetically stereotypical. I wanted to throw up.

I felt the strength flow out of me in a rush and struggled as I always did to control the weakness in my knees and the slow roll in my stomach. I tried to catch my breath as secretly as possible, furious this always left me on the verge of passing out. Of course, no one else showed any discomfort, just little old me. I guess knowing how to use your magic and being willing to share made the whole transfer easier. That’s me, fight tooth and nail, even to the point of pain.

Sometimes I wondered why I was even invited.

At least I had the diversion of being responsible for my grandmother. She stood next to me, as usual, about as into the whole thing as me, but for different reasons. She hummed softly under her breath, her watery blue eyes crossing and recrossing as she studied the tip of her protruding tongue. She turned to me, wisps of white hair escaping from the edges of her black cloak, fanning back and forth with a life of their own. Her powder white skin fell in crumpled folds, but her expression was pure childishness. She cackled, winning me a silent warning from my mother. I rolled my eyes at Mom before sneaking a caramel out of my pocket and slipping it to Gram. She made a face. Chocolate was her favorite, but I hadn’t time to track some down. Okay, honestly, I forgot and raided the candy dish on the way. I prayed the offering would be sufficient.

Ethpeal Hayle had once been an influential witch. When I was just a baby, an evil coven challenged our family. She stood against them alone, cutting herself off to protect the rest of us. The Purity coven fell thanks to her, but the fight scrambled her sanity. So, I waited for the old woman to make up her mind about the candy and tried to be patient. It wasn’t her fault she was nuts.

I saw the flicker of rejection as her wrinkled old mouth puckered and knew if I didn’t act right then the scene she could create would probably level the house. The fight with the Purities may have left her one fortune cookie short of a combo plate but it did nothing to reduce her power. Knowing I only had one chance, I curled my fingers and started to pull away.

Her hand shot out, dagger-like nails brushing my palm as she snatched the sweet and stuffed it into her face. She grinned at me, nose wrinkling, eyes full of mischief. I tried not to react, knowing yet again we were saved by careful manipulation of my crazy grandmother.

I returned my attention to Mom with some relief as, oblivious to the disaster I averted, she turned slowly, pivoting on manicured toes. I made a face at her fuchsia piggies, just in time to catch her disapproving frown. I could practically hear her whole body screaming at me to pay attention, the little hairs on my arms vibrating from it. I flashed her a half-grimace, half-smile so she would stop. Her expression softened. She turned away. Thankfully. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep up the whole fake happy thing without bursting into flames.

She faced the altar at the back of the room and the life-sized stone effigy of an impossibly perfect and handsome man with large muscles and tiny horns on his smooth forehead. She pushed magical force toward it.

“Haralthazar,” she glided closer to the statue, “we summon you this third night of Power, nine days and nine nights from Samhain Eve, to tighten our bond with you and your realm.” She knelt at the foot of the altar, the picture of the submissive handmaiden. Could she be any more ridiculous? Seriously. “My love, come and be welcome.”

The blinding flash leaping from her to the statue continued to pour out of her in a deep blue rush of light. I turned my head slightly to the side, squinting against the glare, grateful for the edge of the cowl and the shadow it made. The whole room started to thrum, the floor vibrating with condensed magic as Mom used the energy we gave her to make the doorway permitting my father through to this plane.

When it happened we all felt it rather than seeing it. The power swirled around us, drawing us all closer, forming us into one entity, one spirit, a seamless conduit to the other dimension. I always hated this part, the total and utter lack of self that came with the opening of the door. Every time I went through it I tried to pull back, but my own demon blood wouldn’t allow it. Even more so than the other witches in the room, my being was tied completely and without choice to what was happening at the altar. I was always helpless, tapped into, taken, and ended up on my knees behind my mother, Meira at my side, as the effigy of my father came to life.

The blue flared to gold and Haralthazar, Demon Lord of the Seventh Plane of Demonicon, flushed and filled out. Still with the properties of stone but the appearance of flesh, he materialized from a burst of light as the gateway to his plane slammed open. For a heartbeat he stood there, haloed in the back glow of his dimension before the power propelled him the rest of the way forward and he stepped through and into his statue.

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Genre – YA Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Characters In Search of a Novel by Molly D. Campbell

Dottie Mulcher

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Her children adore her. As a matter of fact, all children adore her. My Lord, she’s an Earth Mother! You know those fertility idols that are imported from Africa that they sell in posh gift catalogs? That is what Dottie looks like: big breasts, wide, childbearing hips, and low slung—just right for dropping the babies in the field and continuing to toil.

Dottie sets an example for the rest of us that we simply can’t live up to. For instance, she makes these delicious molasses cookies with raisins in them that are to die for, and even though she has given all of us the recipe, none of us can make them to our children’s satisfaction, so they just bring fistfuls home from Dottie’s house.

Oh yes. Speaking of perfection: Dottie sews. Who does this, nowadays? She runs up Halloween costumes that are the wonder of the neighborhood. Last year, her twins were Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and I swear, they looked just like the ones in the Tim Burton movie! While I struggle filling garbage sacks with leaves and attaching a string and a label, praying my children will love the “teabag” idea, Dottie makes her daughter a “Big Bird” costume, complete with real yellow feathers.

Dottie’s husband is really good looking. I know; it’s catty of me, but really—how does a woman with big hips and peasant thighs attract a man with a six pack and silver hair? Is it those cookies, for Pete’s sake? Ron Mulcher, despite his name, looks at home in a bomber jacket and moccasins with no socks. Dottie wears her nightgown to drive the kids to school, and I don’t think she knows what mascara is. This is not fair.

I asked my husband if he thinks Dottie is attractive. And guess what? He said, “Well, she looks kind of edible.” Good God. I go to Pilates three times a week, shave virtually every hair that isn’t on my head, I dye my roots regularly, and look pretty good in jeggings, but Dottie is edible? I give up.

If I could, I would hate her. But here’s another thing: Dottie is wonderful to everyone. She makes delish casseroles and brings them over whenever one of the kids gets strep, because “I know no one is getting much sleep over here.” She grows beautiful roses, and distributes little bouquets around the neighborhood. For Christmas, we all get little bags of rosemary-roasted cashews. She buys full size Hershey bars and saves them to hand out to the kids in the neighborhood, rather than the “fun sized” ones she gives to all the other children. She never gossips.

I really don’t know how she manages this. And did I mention that she has buck teeth?

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Genre - Fiction / Short Stories

Rating – PG13

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