THE HEATSTROKE LINE
Author: Edward L. Rubin
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Genre: Scifi/Cli-Fi (Climate Change Science Fiction)
source of the invasion. The bizarre and brutal people he encounters, and the disasters that they trigger, reveal the real horror climate change has inflicted on America.
Amazon | Sunbury Press | Walmart | B&N
They were in some sort of garage, with several other vehicles and various pieces of equipment scattered around. The two men who stood beside them, watching, were the ones who had taken him out of the auto-car, one white, one black, both very big. Three people approached from a doorway to Dan’s right. In front was an attractive woman with blond hair, wearing an elegant leopard print dress and the long, pointed shoes that were the latest fashion. Behind her stood a man and a woman, both much bigger, and dressed in work clothes like the two men who were guarding them.
The woman in the leopard dress looked at her wristlink, then at Dan and Stuart, and smiled at them in self-satisfied manner. She motioned to the woman beside her and then to one of the two guards, and they led Stuart, still complaining about his arm, through the doorway they had come from. Then she turned toward Dan and motioned to the man beside her and the other guard, who grabbed Dan’s arms and started to lead him toward the same doorway.
“Who the hell are you?” he said, trying to turn toward the woman. “Are you aware that we’re part of a diplomatic mission from Mountain America to Jacksonia authorized by President Peter Simonson? I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but if you – – – “
One of the men let go of Dan’s arm, grabbed his cheeks to force his mouth open, and plunged a plastic gag into it. Dan felt himself choke and struggled for breath. The gag had a slightly sour, greasy taste. Then both men grabbed his arms again and led him through the doorway. Dan suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of dread, stronger even than he had felt when the men first pulled him out of the car.
Beyond the doorway was a narrow corridor with dirty green walls covered with beads of water. Clearly, they were underground. The men lead Dan through the first opening along the corridor and into a small, dimly-lit room with three chairs facing a transparent plastic window. Through the window was another room, painted grey and brightly lit. Dan was forced into the chair at the back of the room, his handcuffs were removed and his arms were strapped to the armrests, and then, to his increasing dread, some sort of metal device was placed over his head and tightened so that he was forced to look straight ahead into the room beyond the window. He felt saliva dripping down his chin. The woman in the leopard dress came in, sat down in the chair placed to his left and closer to the window, looked at him up and down, then crossed her legs and turned to the window.
A moment later, Stuart was led into the brightly lit grey room by his two guards. All his clothes except his undershorts had been stripped off. He had always been slender, but now he looked emaciated and pathetic. He was obviously in pain. Dan felt tears coming to his eyes despite his own discomfort. The woman turned to him, smiled, and then turned back to the window. By now, one of Stuart’s handcuffs had been removed and re-attached to a metal loop that was built into the wall. The two guards left and Stuart was alone in the room, one arm fastened to the wall, the other hanging limply at his side.
With a sense of horror, but not, for some reason, of surprise, Dan saw a dark shape fly through the air and attach itself to Stuart’s thigh. It was a biter bug, shiny black and nearly three inches long. Stuart jumped and writhed, turning one way and the other, but Dan didn’t need to see clearly to know what was happening. The bug’s six legs had plunged immediately into Stuart’s skin; now its two sharp mandibles, each half an inch in length, were folded under its body, tearing his flesh. Blood welled up from under the bug, and as it moved down his leg, it left a trail of raw, bleeding flesh behind. Stuart clawed weakly at the bug with his other arm, which was obviously disabled. That didn’t matter because Dan knew that tearing a biter bug off your body was virtually impossible. As soon as you started, its legs dug deeper, and you would wind up tearing out a chunk of your own flesh, which was just as painful, and somehow more awful, than letting the bug continue for the half minute or so until it was satisfied and flew away.
Dan wanted to yell. He heard the words “Why are you doing this” form in his throat, but he couldn’t speak. He tried to lift the chair to get out of the room, to smash the window, to kill the woman sitting calmly next to him, but the chair was bolted to the floor. He couldn’t move — he couldn’t even look away. The first bug was gone, leaving an oozing wound behind, but two more bugs had been released and attached themselves to Stuart’s body, one to his chest and one to his arm. Helpless and in agony, he was trying to pull away from the wall and he was screaming. No sound came through the window and the silence, compounded by Dan’s own inability to speak, made the scene somehow more horrible.
Dan closed his eyes. If there was nothing else that he could do, he could at least deny this woman the satisfaction of making him watch his friend be tortured. Beneath his sorrow, fury and horror, he sensed another feeling, some indefinable nausea that lay deep inside him. After a few minutes, he felt compelled to look again. Stuart had collapsed and was lying against the wall. There were four or five bugs on his body now, and one was on his cheek, moving toward his eye. He was still writhing, but had also begun to shake compulsively. Blood was oozing from bug tracks on his arms, legs and stomach, covering his body and dripping onto the floor. He was going into shock; they were killing him. Dan had never felt so angry or so powerless. It was hard to believe that this was real, that Stuart was really dying, that in a few more minutes he would cease to exist. The bugs flew away, one leaving a pool of blood in his eye socket, and then three more, five more, came flying in. Dan closed his eyes again. They were wet with tears; he felt himself sobbing and gasping for breath through the greasy gag.
Suddenly, there were people around him, three or four. They released his head, unstrapped his arms, stood him up, handcuffed his arms behind him again, turned him around and dragged him out into the corridor. In the process, he caught a glimpse of Stuart’s prostrate, motionless body through the window, covered in blood, with bugs still crawling over it. Once in the corridor, he was dragged a short distance, through an opening, and into an even narrower corridor. One of his captors opened a door and he was pushed into a brightly lit grey room. The steady sense of dread that Dan was feeling congealed into panic. They were going to set the bugs on him the way they did to Stuart. They were going to kill him. He was going to die.
His gag was removed, his handcuffs were opened, and then one arm, still cuffed, was attached to a metal loop in the wall, just the way that they had done to Stuart. Then all the guards left the room and closed the door behind him. He was alone. In front of him was a large plastic window, dark and blank. The woman was sitting behind it, he was certain, and she was going to watch as the biter bugs killed him.
How could this be happening? He felt a roaring in his head, he couldn’t think. There was something he had to figure out, something he had to make sense out of, but he didn’t know what it was. Would he really die, would he really stop existing? What about his children and Garenika? “If I die now, I’ll never see them again” he realized. “No, there will be no ‘I’ not to see them. The world will come to an end. It can’t be, it can’t be.”
He heard the unmistakable, high pitched buzz of a biter bug flying toward him through the air. Instinctively, he knew what to do—he had been trained in Mark Granowski’s department before he went to central Texas for a research project. The bugs flew in straight lines when they were attacking. He waited until it almost reached him, then slapped it with his free hand. It fell to the ground with a sickeningly solid thud, but right side up. Black and huge, it crawled a few inches, its long mandibles opening and closing. Even though he had his shoes on – he realized that they hadn’t taken off his clothes – he knew there was no point trying to crush the bug; its carapace was much too hard. After a few moments, the bug’s wings started vibrating, it rose up in the air, and flew toward him once more. Again, he slapped it and it fell down right side up. The hideous thing crawled a few inches and rose up again. Once again he slapped it and it thudded to the ground, right side up again. Its wings vibrated, it rose up and flew toward him, he slapped it hard and it fell down again, this time on its back. Immediately, he stamped his foot on it and felt the satisfying crunch as its body cracked beneath his shoe.
But what was the point, he asked himself a moment later. They could release another bug, five more, fifty more. The pain would become worse and worse and he would die, just like Stuart. No, not just die — the world would end, there would be nothing. The roaring in his head returned, the sense of dread and disbelief. It couldn’t be. He heard himself bellowing “No, No, No, No.” There was a high pitched buzz behind him, and as he spun around, the biter bug slammed into his upper arm. He felt its feet dig in, and then the burning, searing pain as its huge mandibles, now tucked under its carapace, began to tear his flesh. He could only stare at it in horror. Blood rose up under it and turned his light blue shirt sleeve sickly purple. The bug moved slowly down his arm, leaving a track of bloody, torn up flesh, visible inside the inch-wide tear in his shirtsleeve. The pain was unbearable. He couldn’t believe that the twenty five or thirty seconds that they bug was on him seemed so long, and he felt a moment of relief when it finally flew away, dripping blood behind it.
He had to organize his thoughts, there was something that he had to do, but what was it? How could he stop existing? Would he live somehow, because of his research? Would he live in the memories of Josh, Senly, Michael and Garenika? But he wouldn’t be here, there would be no world for him. An image, a memory, suddenly came into his mind. He was walking across the University of Utah campus with Garenika. They had just met, he had said something to her and she laughed, in a soft, silvery tone, and he wondered if they would end up having children together. Now he saw his home in Arches Park City. His father was reading to him, his mother came into the room with the poster of the Milky Way, the one he had wanted and that hung in his room when he was growing up.
After a few minutes, he realized that no more bugs had come. A sudden surge of hope passed through him. He was afraid to even form the thought, afraid that it would somehow preclude the actuality. But the door opened, one of the guards came into the room with a suppressed smile on his face, removed the handcuff from his wrist, removed the other part from the loop on the wall and walked out with it. The lights in the room suddenly dimmed. Dan sank down onto the floor. He took the bottom of his shirt and pressed it against the wound on his arm, as much to relieve the burning pain as to staunch the flow of blood. He became aware that he was sobbing, but whether it was with relief or anguish was impossible for him to say.
Several hours later, the door opened, and before Dan could react, a tray with clothing, a plate of food and an inflatable mattress was pushed into the room. The door closed again. The clothing was an ordinary, open collar white shirt, a pair of dark brown trousers and dark green undershorts. Dan became aware that the front of his own pants was wet and realized he had pissed himself when the bug attacked him. Next to the clothes was a large blue, disinfectant bandage. Slowly and deliberately, Dan stripped off his clothes, wrapped the bandage around his arm, which immediately felt a bit better, and put on the clothes he’d been given. Looking around, he saw an open hole in the opposite corner of the room, walked over and peed down the hole.
He went back to the tray, took a bite of one roll. All at once, he felt nauseated, ran to the hole and vomited. He couldn’t stop; he vomited repeatedly and convulsively, long after there was anything left in his stomach. The roaring in his head returned, he felt intensely chilled and his body began shaking uncontrollably. After what seemed like a long time, the shakes and chills subsided, but they were followed by a slowly intensifying fear. Suppose they turned off the lights and began to fill the room with water. He could feel himself being forced to the top of the room, feel his head pressed against the ceiling when only a few inches of air remained, feel the water filling his nose and mouth as he gasped helplessly for breath. Suppose the walls of the room began to close from both directions, pressing against his body until he was trapped tiny, pitch black space. Suppose they raised the temperature until searing air burned his lungs with every breath as he began to suffocate.
Dan tried to calm himself. He wondered if he should use Jiangtan –why hadn’t he thought of it when he was watching Stuart die — but somehow didn’t think that it would help. Had the bread been poisoned? That wouldn’t make any sense. Clearly, they meant to keep him alive. Were they holding him for ransom or as a hostage for some political purpose? In any case, once the Mountain American government found out about it, they would arrange for his return, he reassured himself. He decided he should try to sleep; he was obviously exhausted. He inflated the mattress, lay down, and closed his eyes. The biter bug wound on his arm was still throbbing and his head ached. He tried to think his college days, of his evenings with friends, of nineteenth century novels, of Garenika, but it all seemed thin and pointless. Finally, his thoughts returned to his early fascination with astronomy, and he pictured himself touring the moons and planets of the solar system and then venturing out among the undiscovered worlds that orbited the distant stars.
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Edward Rubin is University Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in administrative law, constitutional law and legal theory. He is the author of Soul, Self and Society: The New Morality and the Modern State (Oxford, 2015); Beyond Camelot: Rethinking Politics and Law for the Modern State (Princeton, 2005) and two books with Malcolm Feeley, Federalism: Political Identity and Tragic Compromise (Michigan, 2011) and Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America’s Prisons (Cambridge, 1998). In addition, he is the author of two casebooks, The Regulatory State (with Lisa Bressman and Kevin Stack) (2nd ed., 2013); The Payments System (with Robert Cooter) (West, 1990), three edited volumes (one forthcoming) and The Heatstroke Line (Sunbury, 2015) a science fiction novel about the fate of the United States if climate change is not brought under control. Professor Rubin joined Vanderbilt Law School as Dean and the first John Wade–Kent Syverud Professor of Law in July 2005, serving a four-year term that ended in June 2009. Previously, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1998 to 2005, and at the Berkeley School of Law from 1982 to 1998, where he served as an associate dean. Professor Rubin has been chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ sections on Administrative Law and Socioeconomics and of its Committee on the Curriculum. He has served as a consultant to the People’s Republic of China on administrative law and to the Russian Federation on payments law. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale.
He has published four books, three edited volumes, two casebooks, and more than one hundred articles about various aspects of law and political theory. The Heatstroke Line is his first novel.
Website & Social Links:
Author: Jeff Gunhus
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
murdered in her Georgetown home, investigators find two cameras hidden in the walls
of her bedroom. One has its memory erased, presumably by the murderer. The
second is connected to the Internet through an encrypted connection…and
no-one knows who’s on the other end.
asked by beleaguered FBI Director Clarence Mason to run an off-the-record
investigation of the murder because of the murder’s similarity to a case she
worked a year earlier. Allison knows the most direct path to apprehending the
killer is to find the videos, but the rumors that the victim’s client list may
have included Mason’s political enemies has her worried about the director’s
motives. As she starts her investigation, she quickly discovers that she’s not
the only one pursuing the videos. In fact, the most aggressive person racing
against her might be the murderer himself.
Pursuit is available at Amazon.
this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
McNeil tensed when she spotted the first shadow dart through the mist and take
cover behind a tree. In the early-morning light it took her a while to pick out
all six members of the Hostage Rescue Team approaching the cabin, but within a
minute she could clearly see the tactical team converging on their target.
flood-prone land around it. Wood-slated walls tilted precariously inward,
twisting the windows into deformed rectangles. Moss and dead leaves covered the
roof. The place smelled and looked like decay, well on its way to inevitable
reclamation by the weeds and vines choking the cabin to a miserable death.
Allison was right, the place deserved what it got. Hell, if she was right, she
had half a mind to take a match to the place after everything was done.
down behind a fallen tree, her head barely clearing the top to see the building
and the team closing in. A trickle of sweat started at the base of her neck and
went the length of her spine. She adjusted the Kevlar vest, under her light
windbreaker emblazoned with large yellow letters. FBI. It felt ridiculous to
wear the windbreaker when it was in the ’80s before daybreak with the Louisiana humidity
hovering at about a thousand percent, but if it meant that the hotheads with
assault rifles could more easily identify her as a friendly, then she was happy
to have it.
her, stretching out a leg and rubbing his knee. She gave him a sideways look.
give a damn about him. The comment was intended as a dig at the
fifty-three-year-old Garret who prided himself on being in better shape than
the agents beneath him. Even though he ran the Behavioral Analysis Unit, home
of the FBI’s fabled profilers who spent more time in the heads of the criminals
they chased than in the field, he required an aggressive physical program for
his people. Everything about Morrison is a throwback to the old male-dominated
Bureau. A slicked-back head of hair with just the right amount of grey to lend
him gravitas without making him look old, a square jaw out of a mountaineering
magazine, cold steel-blue eyes that seemed to look through people instead of at
them. Unless they were trained on an attractive female, in which case his eyes
gave their full attention to the area below the chin and above the
turned to Doug Browning, a junior agent who followed Garret around like a
little puppy. “Jesus, Doug. Not so close.”
her binoculars, not bothering to hide the smile on her lips. Garret was a
legend in the Bureau for his work hunting America’s worst
criminals, but Allison’s own legend had grown since her work on the Arnie
Milhouse case a year earlier. While that case had given her credibility, she
knew she was just as likely to be referred to as the woman who’d broken Garret
Morrison’s nose when he’d made one too many unwanted advances while she was a
trainee. And, while she wanted to be known for her work, she didn’t mind that
piece of fame following her around.
through the small speaker in her ear. She noticed Garret put a finger to the
side of his head and nod. He looked over at her.
brilliance—and, regardless of how she felt personally about him, she recognized
that he was brilliant—Garret’s
transparency could border on the inane. What he was really saying was that if
the lunatic Allison’s research had tracked to this location wasn’t holed up in
this backwoods cabin, if the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team had been activated and
deployed for no reason, then the blame would drop on her like a bag of bricks.
If Sam Kraw was in there, Allison knew it would be Garret standing in front of
the cameras taking credit for the HRT mission and the capture of America’s most
caught the bastard and ended his multi-year killing spree in the Southeast, she
didn’t give a damn who got the credit.
team was in place around the cabin, peering through scopes with infrared
capabilities. If there was someone hiding in the shadows of a window or
doorway, they wouldn’t be hiding for long.
began a steady, crouched advance to the building. She realized she was holding
her breath so she blew out her air slowly between pinched lips.
making me nervous.”
approaching from the front reached the deck that wrapped around the front of
the building. As they strode across it, the old wood floorboards groaned. The
men froze. The seconds stretched out. Allison became suddenly aware of the hum
of insects in the air around her. The dampness of her own skin. The sound of a
bird calling in the distance. All of her senses were wired tight. An entire
year of her life was wrapped up in the next few seconds. And if she’d got it
wrong, Garret would have the ammo he’d been looking for to get her out of his
unit once and for all. But she wasn’t worried about herself. What really
bothered her was the chance that she had it right, that this was Kraw’s hideout,
but that somehow they’d spooked him and he’d already slipped away. If that had
happened, he’d be hundreds of miles away by tomorrow, scouting for his next
victim as he traveled.
a bird trapped in a cage. Only her intuition told her it was more than a bird.
It had been an arm. A human arm. Sam Kraw.
tactical team, she realized no one else had seen it.
mic. “Window to the right of the front door. An arm.”
cabin responded immediately, reorienting to the front door. Guns pointed at the
impact, brute force breaching tool. Coordinating with his partner, he crouched
next to the door while the other man readied a flash-bang grenade.
a button on a TV remote. Everyone was in place. The air seemed to still as if the
world knew something was about to happen. Allison had her binoculars trained on
the window where she’d seen the movement. If Kraw was inside, then the
nightmare was almost over. She’d know in a few seconds whether that was the
case or not.
time. But it was too stiff. The color was off. And, attached at the shoulder,
she saw a coil of wire.
for adults and the middle grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first
book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his
reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new
series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have
been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.
son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and
is active in child literacy issues. As a father of five, he leads an active
life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up
with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the
City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.
Jeff Gunhus is giving away a grand
prize of $25 Amazon Gift Card plus one autographed copy of his book and 4
runner ups will receive an autographed copy his book as well!
- By entering
the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive either the grand prize
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About the Author
Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.
For More Information
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About the Book:
Title: Raven’s Peak
Author: Lincoln Cole
Publisher: Kindle Press
Genre: Horror/Paranormal Thriller/Urban Fantasy
A quiet little mountain town is hiding a big problem. When the townsfolk of Raven’s Peak start acting crazy, Abigail Dressler is called upon to discover the root of the evil affecting people. She uncovers a demonic threat unlike any she’s ever faced and finds herself in a fight just to stay alive.
Abigail rescues Haatim Arison from a terrifying fate and discovers that he has a family legacy in the supernatural that he knows nothing about. Now she’s forced to protect him, which is easy, but also to trust him if she wants to save the townsfolk of Raven’s Peak. Trust, however, is something hard to have for someone who grew up living on the knife’s edge of danger.
Can they discover the cause of the town’s insanity and put a stop to it before it is too late?
Raven’s Peak is available at Amazon.
“Reverend, you have a visitor.”
He couldn’t remember when he fell in love with the pain. When agony first turned to pleasure, and then to joy. Of course, it hadn’t always been like this. He remembered screaming all those years ago when first they put him in this cell; those memories were vague, though, like reflections in a dusty mirror.
A buzz as the door slid open, inconsequential. The aching need was what drove him in this moment, and nothing else mattered. It was a primal desire: a longing for the tingly rush of adrenaline each time the lash licked his flesh. The blood dripping down his parched skin fulfilled him like biting into a juicy strawberry on a warm summer’s day.
“Some woman. Says she needs to speak with you immediately. She says her name is Frieda.”
A pause, the lash hovering in the air like a poised snake. The Reverend remembered that name, found it dancing in the recesses of his mind. He tried to pull himself back from the ritual, back to reality, but it was an uphill slog through knee-deep mud to reclaim those memories.
It was always difficult to focus when he was in the midst of his cleansing. All he managed to cling to was the name. Frieda. It was the name of an angel, he knew. . . or perhaps a devil.
One and the same when all was said and done.
She belonged to a past life, only the whispers of which he could recall. The ritual reclaimed him, embraced him with its fiery need. His memories were nothing compared to the whip in his hand, its nine tails gracing his flesh.
The lash struck down on his left shoulder blade, scattering droplets of blood against the wall behind him. Those droplets would stain the granite for months, he knew, before finally fading away. He clenched his teeth in a feral grin as the whip landed with a sickening, wet slapping sound.
“Jesus,” a new voice whispered from the doorway. “Does he always do that?”
“You’ll cuff him?”
“Why? Are you scared?”
The Reverend raised the lash into the air, poised for another strike.
“Just…man, you said he was crazy…but this…”
The lash came down, lapping at his back and the tender muscles hidden there. He let out a groan of mixed agony and pleasure.
These men were meaningless, their voices only echoes amid the rest, an endless drone. He wanted them to leave him alone with his ritual. They weren’t worth his time.
“I think we can spare the handcuffs this time; the last guy who tried spent a month in the hospital.”
“Regulation says we have to.”
“Then you do it.”
The guards fell silent. The cat-o’-nine-tails, his friend, his love, became the only sound in the roughhewn cell, echoing off the granite walls. He took a rasping breath, blew it out, and cracked the lash again. More blood. More agony. More pleasure.
“I don’t think we need to cuff him,” the second guard decided.
“Good idea. Besides, the Reverend isn’t going to cause us any trouble. He only hurts himself. Right, Reverend?”
The air tasted of copper, sickly sweet. He wished he could see his back and the scars, but there were no mirrors in his cell. They removed the only one he had when he broke shards off to slice into his arms and legs. They were afraid he would kill himself.
How ironic was that?
Mirrors were dangerous things, he remembered from that past life. They called the other side, the darker side. An imperfect reflection stared back, threatening to steal pieces of the soul away forever.
“Reverend? Can you hear me?”
The guard reached out to tap the Reverend on the shoulder. Just a tap, no danger at all, but his hand never even came close. Honed reflexes reacted before anyone could possibly understand what was happening.
Suddenly the Reverend was standing. He hovered above the guard who was down on his knees. The man let out a sharp cry, his left shoulder twisted up at an uncomfortable angle by the Reverend’s iron grip.
The lash hung in the air, ready to strike at its new prey.
The Reverend looked curiously at the man, seeing him for the first time. He recognized him as one of the first guardsmen he’d ever spoken with when placed in this cell. A nice European chap with a wife and two young children. A little overweight and balding, but well-intentioned.
Most of him didn’t want to hurt this man, but there was a part—a hungry, needful part—that did. That part wanted to hurt this man in ways neither of them could even imagine. One twist would snap his arm. Two would shatter the bone; the sound as it snapped would be . . .
A symphony rivaling Tchaikovsky.
The second guard—the younger one that smelled of fear—stumbled back, struggling to draw his gun.
“No! No, don’t!”
That from the first, on his knees as if praying. The Reverend wondered if he prayed at night with his family before heading to bed. Doubtless, he prayed that he would make it home safely from work and that one of the inmates wouldn’t rip his throat out or gouge out his eyes. Right now, he was waving his free hand at his partner to get his attention, to stop him.
The younger guard finally worked the gun free and pointed it at the Reverend. His hands were shaking as he said, “Let him go!”
“Don’t shoot, Ed!”
“Let him go!”
The older guard, pleading this time: “Don’t piss him off!”
The look that crossed his young partner’s face in that moment was precious: primal fear. It was an expression the Reverend had seen many times in his life, and he understood the thoughts going through the man’s mind: he couldn’t imagine how he might die in this cell, but he believed he could. That belief stemmed from something deeper than what his eyes could see. A terror so profound it beggared reality.
An immutable silence hung in the air. Both guards twitched and shifted, one in pain and the other in terror. The Reverend was immovable, a statue in his sanctuary, eyes boring into the man’s soul.
“Don’t shoot,” the guard on his knees murmured. “You’ll miss, and we’ll be dead.”
“I have a clear shot. I can’t miss.”
This time, the response was weaker. “We’ll still be dead.”
A hesitation. The guard lowered his gun in confused fear, pointing it at the floor. The Reverend curled his lips and released, freeing the kneeling guard.
The man rubbed his shoulder and climbed shakily to his feet. He backed away from the Reverend and stood beside the other, red-faced and panting.
“I heard you,” the Reverend said. The words were hard to come by; he’d rarely spoken these last five years.
“I’m sorry, Reverend,” the guard replied meekly. “My mistake.”
“Bring me to Frieda,” he whispered.
“You don’t—” the younger guard began. A sharp look from his companion silenced him.
“Right away, sir.”
“Steve, we should cuff…”
Steve ignored him, turning and stepping outside the cell. The Reverend looked longingly at the lash in his hand before dropping it onto his hard bed. His cultivated pain had faded to a dull ache. He would need to begin anew when he returned, restart the cleansing.
There was always more to cleanse.
They traveled through the black-site prison deep below the earth’s surface, past neglected cells and through rough cut stone. A few of the rusty cages held prisoners, but most stood empty and silent. These prisoners were relics of a forgotten time, most of whom couldn’t even remember the misdeed that had brought them here.
The Reverend remembered his misdeeds. Every day he thought of the pain and terror he had inflicted, and every day he prayed it would wash away.
They were deep within the earth, but not enough to benefit from the world’s core heat. It was kept unnaturally cold as well to keep the prisoners docile. That meant there were only a few lights and frigid temperatures. Last winter he thought he might lose a finger to frostbite. He’d cherished the idea, but it wasn’t to be. He had looked forward to cutting it off.
There were only a handful of guards in this section of the prison, maybe one every twenty meters. The actual security system relied on a single exit shaft as the only means of escape. Sure, he could fight his way free, but locking the elevator meant he would never reach the surface.
And pumping out the oxygen meant the situation would be contained.
The Council didn’t want to bring civilians in on the secretive depths of their hellhole prison. The fewer guards they needed to hire, the fewer people knew of their existence, and any guards who were brought in were fed half-truths and lies about their true purpose. How many such men and women, he’d always wondered, knew who he was or why he was here?
Probably none. That was for the best. If they knew, they never would have been able to do their jobs.
As they walked, the Reverend felt the ritual wash away and he became himself once more. Just a man getting on in years: broken, pathetic, and alone as he paid for his mistakes.
Finally, they arrived at the entrance of the prison: an enclosed set of rooms cut into the stone walls backing up to a shaft. A solitary elevator bridged the prison to the world above, guarded by six men, but that wasn’t where they took him.
They guided him to one of the side rooms, opening the door but waiting outside. Inside were a plain brown table and one-way mirror, similar to a police station, but nothing else.
A woman sat at the table facing away from the door. She had brown hair and a white business suit with matching heels. Very pristine; Frieda was always so well-dressed.
“Here we are,” the guard said. The Reverend didn’t acknowledge the man, but he did walk into the chamber. He strode past the table and sat in the chair facing Frieda.
He studied her: she had deep blue eyes and a mole on her left cheek. She looked older, and he couldn’t remember the last time she’d come to visit him.
Probably not since the day she helped lock him in that cell.
“Close the door,” Frieda said to the guards while still facing the Reverend.
“But ma’am, we are supposed to—”
“Close the door,” she reiterated. Her tone was exactly the same, but an undercurrent was there. Hers was a powerful presence, the type normal people obeyed instinctually. She was always in charge, no matter the situation.
“We will be right out here,” Steve replied finally, pulling the heavy metal door closed.
Silence enveloped the room, a humming emptiness.
He stared at her, and she stared at him. Seconds slipped past.
He wondered how she saw him. What must he look like today? His hair and beard must be shaggy and unkempt with strands of gray mixed into the black. He imagined his face, but with eyes that were sunken, skin that was pale and leathery. Doubtless, he looked thinner, almost emaciated.
He was also covered in blood, the smell of which would be overpowering. It disgusted him; he hated how his daily ritual left him, battering his body to maintain control, yet he answered its call without question.
“Do you remember what you told me the first time we met?” the Reverend asked finally, facing Frieda again.
“We need your help,” Frieda said, ignoring his question. “You’ve been here for a long time, and things have been getting worse.”
“You quoted Nietzsche, that first meeting. I thought it was pessimistic and rhetorical,” he continued.
“Crime is getting worse. The world is getting darker and…”
“I thought you were talking about something that might happen to someone else but never to me. I had no idea just how spot on you were: that you were prophesizing my future,” he spoke. “Do you remember your exact words?”
“We need your help,” Frieda finished. Then she added softer: “I need your help.”
He didn’t respond. Instead, he said: “Do you remember?”
She sighed. “I do.”
“Repeat it for me.”
She frowned. “When we first met, I said to you: ‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.’”
He nodded. “You were right. Now I am a monster.”
“You aren’t a monster,” she whispered.
“No,” he said. “I am your monster.”
Rage exploded through his body, and he felt every muscle tense. “That is not my name!” he roared, slamming his fist on the table. It made a loud crashing sound, shredding the silence, and the wood nearly folded beneath the impact.
Frieda slid her chair back in an instant, falling into a fighting stance. One hand gripped the cross hanging around her neck, and the other slid into her vest pocket. She wore an expression he could barely recognize, something he’d never seen on her face before.
She was afraid of him. The realization stung, and more than a little bit.
The Reverend didn’t move from his seat, but he could still feel heat coursing through his veins. He forced his pulse to slow, his emotions to subside. He loved the feeling of rage but was terrified of what would happen if he gave into it; if he embraced it.
He glanced at the hand in her pocket and realized what weapon she had chosen to defend herself. A pang shot through his chest.
“Would it work?” he asked.
She didn’t answer, but a minute trace of shame crossed her face. He stood slowly and walked around the table, reaching a hand toward her. To her credit, she barely flinched as he touched her. He gently pulled her fist out of the pocket and opened it. In her grip was a small vial filled with water.
“Will it work?” he asked.
“Arthur…” she breathed.
The name brought a flood of memories, furrowing his brow. A little girl playing in a field, picking blueberries and laughing. A wife with auburn hair who watched him with love and longing as he played with their daughter. He quashed them; he feared the pain the memories would bring.
That was a pain he did not cherish.
“I need to know,” he whispered.
He slid the vial from her hand and popped the top off. She watched in resignation as he held up his right arm and poured a few droplets onto his exposed skin. It tingled where it touched, little more than a tickle, and he felt his skin turn hot.
But it didn’t burn.
He let out the shuddering breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.
“Thank God,” Frieda whispered.
“I’m not sure She deserves it,” Arthur replied.
“We need your help,” Frieda said again. When he looked at her face once more, he saw moisture in her eyes. He couldn’t tell if it was from relief that the blessed water didn’t work, or sadness that it almost had.
“How can I possibly help?” he asked, gesturing at his body helplessly with his arms. “You see what I am. What I’ve become.”
“I know what you were.”
“What I am no longer,” he corrected. “I was ignorant and foolish. I can never be that man again.”
“Three girls are missing,” she said.
“Three girls are always missing,” he said, “and countless more.”
“But not like these,” she said. “These are ours.”
He was quiet for a moment. “Rescues?”
She nodded. “Two showed potential. All three were being fostered by the Greathouse family.”
He remembered Charles Greathouse, an old and idealistic man who just wanted to help. “Of course, you went to Charles,” Arthur said. “He took care of your little witches until they were ready to become soldiers.”
“And now he’s dead,” Arthur said. Frieda didn’t correct him. “Who took the girls?”
“We don’t know. But there’s more. It killed three of ours.”
“Michael and Rachael Felton.”
“And the third?”
He cursed. “You know she wasn’t ready. Not for this.”
“You’ve been here for five years,” Frieda said. “She grew up.”
“She’s still a child.”
“She wasn’t anymore.”
“She’s my child.”
Frieda hesitated, frowning. He knew as well as she did what had happened to put him in this prison and what part Abigail had played in it. If Abigail hadn’t stopped him…
“We didn’t expect . . .” Frieda said finally, sliding away from the minefield in the conversation.
“You never do.”
“I’m sorry,” Frieda said. “I know you were close.”
The Reverend—Arthur—had trained Abigail. Raised her from a child after rescuing her from a cult many years earlier. It was after his own child had been murdered, and he had needed a reason to go on with his life. His faith was wavering, and she had become his salvation. They were more than close. They were family.
And now she was dead.
“What took them? Was it the Ninth Circle?”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “Our informants haven’t heard anything.”
“Where did it take them?” he asked.
“We don’t know.”
“What is it going to do with them?”
This time, she didn’t answer. She didn’t need to.
“So you want me to clean up your mess?”
“It killed three of our best,” Frieda said. “I don’t…I don’t know what else to do.”
“What does the Council want you to do?”
“Wait and see.”
“And you disagree?”
“I’m afraid that it’ll be too late by the time the Council decides to act.”
“You have others you could send.”
“Not that can handle something like this,” she said.
“You mean none that you could send without the Council finding out and reprimanding you?”
“You were always the best, Arthur.”
“Now I am in prison.”
“You are here voluntarily,” she said. “I’ve taken care of everything. There is a car waiting topside and a jet idling. So, will you help?”
He was silent for a moment, thinking. “I’m not that man anymore.”
“I trust you.”
“What happens if I say ‘no’?”
“I don’t know,” Frieda said, shaking her head. “You are my last hope.”
“What happens,” he began, a lump in his throat, “when I don’t come back? What happens when I become the new threat and you have no one else to send?”
Frieda wouldn’t even look him in the eyes.
“When that day comes,” she said softly, staring at the table, “I’ll have an answer to a question I’ve wondered about for a long time.”
“What question is that?”
She looked up at him. “What is my faith worth?”
Lincoln Cole is giving away an autographed copy of RAVEN’S PEAK!!
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One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one autographed copy of RAVEN’S PEAK
This giveaway ends midnight July 11.
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Winner has 48 hours to reply.
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ENTER TO WIN!
Scavengers are allowed to go beneath Floor 21 to pillage the lower levels in search of food and supplies.
just vanishes into the Darkness. Nobody, and I mean nobody, even knows why. It’s just blackness down there.
which is a total trip. Must suck to live down there.
Why I Wrote Sci-fi Dystopian Novel ‘Floor 21’
It was National Novel Writing Month and I was spending the month chatting with people in the Facebook group. I had no intention to participate. I simply had no interest. However, one day I was watching the Walking Dead. During this particular episode, a girl was being kept on the upper floors of a hospital She was later lowered into the dark, knowing she might have to avoid zombies to leave the building.
So as I thought there, I thought that was terrifying. However, at least she knew what was in the darkness. I wondered, what if nobody knew what was below? What if nobody had ever been in the darkness? If they’d lived their whole lives at the top of the tower? That was the core idea from which FLOOR 21 was born: an entire society of humanity that has existed for all its living memory at the top of a tower. What lies below? They may never know, given the disease known as the Creep that kills them off as they go lower and lower into the tower.
The idea resonated with some video games I knew of. I draw a lot of inspiration from game narrative techniques. One of the most popular narrative delivery techniques in gaming today is the use of recordings left behind by inhabitants. It lets players choose whether to get into the story, or focus on the game. So, my book features a girl who tells her story by recordings. It also lets me switch to other viewpoints if I want, because if these are all recordings, then it makes a cohesive sense. This is a story told by assembled recordings, like a history drawn together. It had something in its DNA drawn from World War Z in that respect. It also relied on narrative forms such as Black Hawk Down and Into Thin Air, where stories were told with exciting first person perspectives, but set in this dark fictional world.
That world itself was inspired first by the scene from the Walking Dead, but also from a game called Lone Survivor. Lone Survivor deals with the single inhabitant of an apartment building dealing with zombie type creatures and infections along the walls. It draws on zombie clichés to make a thematic point, but again what was important to FLOOR 21 was the use of a single building in which to tell the entirety of the story. Finally, a French surrealist game called OFF heavily inspired the ‘weirdness’ of the novel. OFF is almost a modern Alice in Wonderland with a much darker tone, and deals with incredibly bizarre characters. Those all fed the overall tone of the story, which deals with incredibly strange phenomena and an infection nobody really understands.
As for Jackie, the main protagonist? My college years were defined by Ellen Page and Michael Cera, and I draw thematically on a lot of my own youthful experiences in combination with their mannerisms and means of discussion. More than anything, I enjoy the informality of that duo, and that comes through pretty clearly in the way Jackie speaks as well. Despite being in a dark environment, she is overly casual at times. The resulting contrast is interesting, and provides a unique blend of dystopian horror with young adult delivery. You may find the final result unusual, but I think that’s been part of the appeal of the book, and Jackie herself is typically beloved by almost every reader.
Publication occurred due to my participation in the Amazon Scout contest. I won my contract after several thousand readers voted for my book. I’ve been involved in the agenting and publishing process before, and this was the most straightforward publishing process I’d ever been involved with. After being told I’d won, I was contacted by Amazon, given a contract offer, given a copy edit of my book, and six months later was published. It was a whirlwind, but one I’m grateful for.
Jason Luthor has spent a long life writing for sports outlets, media companies and universities. His earliest writing years came during his coverage of the San Antonio Spurs as an affiliate with the Spurs Report and its media partner, WOAI Radio. He would later enjoy a moderate relationship with Blizzard Entertainment, writing lore and stories for potential use in future games. At the academic level he has spent several years pursuing a PhD in American History at the University of Houston, with a special emphasis on Native American history.His inspirations include some of the obvious; The Lord of the Rings and Chronciles of Narnia are some of the most cited fantasy series in history. However, his favorite reads include the Earthsea Cycle, the Chronicles of Prydain, as well as science fiction hits such as Starship Troopers and Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?
Inside the Book:
A month has passed since the eclectic crew of the Covenant Patrol vessel Jinxed Thirteenth endured a harrowing mission on the abandoned space station of Moria 3 and rescued its sole surviving crew member. During the mission, Moria 3’s deranged AI all but crippled the Jinxed Thirteenth, and the skeletal crew is now desperately trying to get it repaired.
Waking from several millennia of cryo-sleep, Jessie Madison’s worst fears are confirmed. She is the last surviving member of the Human race. Surrounded by the descendants of mankind in a world she knows nothing about, not even the basic alphabet, Jessie finds herself only able to communicate with the ship’s medic, Marla Varsin, and its translator, Machina Chord.
When the merchant vessel Althena arrives on the scene, its captain, a shrewd trader named Domiant, offers to sell Captain Morwyn the parts he needs. As guards are lowered on the Jinxed Thirteenth and repairs get underway, it becomes evident that a cunning foe has managed to infiltrate the ship. A deadly game of deception begins to play out, with a sinister foe setting its sights set on capturing Jessie. Captain Morwyn Soltaine, the crew of the Jinxed Thirteenth, and Jessie Madison find their mettle tested as they are dragged into a desperate battle for survival.
Meet the Author:
Davila LeBlanc spent his college years studying print journalism but quickly found himself working as a writer and performer in the comedy circuits of Montreal. During this time his goal became to break into the world of professional writing. He would get his first opportunity when he co-created and sold the hit animated television series The League of Super Evil. This was his first foray into the world of production and an important first step on his road to becoming a writer. After working on various television shows, in 2013 Davila decided to take a year off from children’s animation to focus on writing his first novel, Dark Transmissions. He is an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy and wants to add his own voice to the genre that inspired him. Davila currently resides in Ottawa where he is working on several other writing projects.
You can visit his website at http://davilathewhite.com
About the Book:
Title: My Life: Poetic Literature
Author: Charles Leon Fantroy
Publisher: ‘JourStarr Quality Publications
MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE is a compilation which derives from my many thoughts over a span of thirteen years.
My poetic words speak to the multitude of those who encounter hardship and encourage all to overcome the adversities that one faces. I aim to have my words reverberate from a mental realm; because if a particular plight cannot be handled mentally, than the physicalities are but a hindrance.
The mind is the maker and the molder of all conditions.The thoughts that I’ve transcribed onto paper are channeled to positively engage and to motivate all; no matter nationality or creed. I myself am a voice with an abundance of thoughts to share.
For More Information
My Life: Poetic Literature is available at Amazon.
About the Author
Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. was born and raised in Washington D.C. His journey through the trenches of a Federal Penitentiary started at seventeen years old. He honed and practiced his writing skills during his years of incarceration behind the four walls of Leavenworth, as a way to express himself. Now at the conscious age of thirty six, he has finally perfected his true passion, which is to share his rhythmical array of completed poems, fictional novels, as well as full length movie scripts. He has continued to educate himself in completing eighteen months at Stratford University as a certified internet specialist. Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. is soon to be released from prison where he looks to delve into a bright future of continuing to write quality novels and movie scripts as well as being a positive influence to society.
Charles, thanks for being my guest. Tell us about you.
I’m extremely strong driven, especially when it comes to the completion of a project. I believe that no matter how dire one’s predicament, there is still room to flourish. And that philosophy has been indoctrinated in my own way of life, hence with that belief, makes me me.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
That one person would be Ben Affleck. I have a number of completed movie scripts and Ben Affleck being the professional that he is on camera as well as his directing capabilities, I believe that our collaborating on a number of projects would make for a plethora of quality movies being brought to the big screen. I want the reader to get a general idea from the very first poem, that the words that I bring forth in MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE aren’t just a testament to my own growth and development, but also to send a concise message that no matter what one may endure, the strength to overcome should be much greater.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
I started off writing poetry at nineteen years old as a way to express myself. The thought at the time of actually having my deepest thoughts one day published was never a thought. But over the years as I’ve delved more into embracing my potentiality to possibly share my words as upliftment to those who may be unsure as to the trajectory in which their life is headed.
What is your writing process?
In regards to poetry, once I bring the title of the poem to fruition, that guides me to formulate the poetic words onto paper.
What are you working on next?
I have a novel/movie script which is titled ONE WOMANS JOURNEY about a young mother name Sharee who is a young mother of two boys who lives in Inglewood California. Sharee is a product of the streets with a bad reputation. She is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to thirty years in prison. While in prison her oldest son is violently killed, which causes Sharee to change her violent life style in hopes of making it out to her only remaining son who has now followed his older brothers path of a life of crime.
What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
First, in anything you do, you do it from the heart, and I believe that genuineness will reverberate to others. Secondly, encircle yourself with people who genuinely believe in your craft. And thirdly stay persistent because behind a hundred rejections, there are two hundred acceptances. But you’ll never know unless if your stay persistent.
What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
My favorite book right now I would have to say is: “THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCREENWRITING” By: Syd Field, which gives an in depth step by step guide to the art of writing a movie script.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Well as far as special/extraordinary talents. I don’t know if this would be extraordinary, but I can write a novel from beginning to end in my end, then transcribe it onto paper.
You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
That one super power by far would be to better educate the youth, no matter nationality or creed. Too many of the youth do not understand that their actions of today can and will inevitably affect their actions of tomorrow. The kids are our future and that one super power would go to the advancement of the youth in believing that anything is possible if they just believe.
List 5 things on your bucket list:
- To see a number of my novels adapted into full length movies.
- To start a mentoring program for at risk youth.
- To travel abroad.
- To become fluent in two more languages.
- To leave this earth knowing that I made a difference in a positive way.
Any final thoughts?
I would like to thank CA Milson for giving me the opportunity to be heard. I truly hope that MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE is felt as a form of spoken word from me to the readers.
Title: Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief
Author: Debra Whittam
Publisher: Turning Point International
Genre: Memoir/Women’s Psychology/Applied Psychology
Am I Going To Be Okay? is an American story with a universal message. Ms. Whittam traces her history in the form of stories about her all too human, and sometimes unhinged family; she throws a rope to the little girl living there, and in adulthood, is able to pull her out to safety, bit by bit.
Her history is peopled with folks from a different time, a time before therapy was acceptable, 12 steps unimaginable and harsh words, backhands and even harsher silences can be spun to appear almost normal. She writes of a mother who would not or could not initiate love nor give it without condition, and a father, damn near heroic at times, abusive at others, a survivor with his head down and his sleeves rolled up.
Ms. Whittam approaches her past with the clear-eyed tough but sensitive objectivity necessary to untangle the shame from the source. She speaks of the people that affected her life so deeply with an understanding of their time and place in American culture; a family not far removed from immigrant roots when men carried their own water, emoted misplaced anger, and with fresh socks and food found on the trail, were confident, unflinching and at that same time tragical- ly failing to the little ones they ignored.
Like many of us, details notwithstanding, Whittam responded by numbing, running and gunning. Alcohol gave her hope, soothed a crushed soul for a time and wrecked her on a train, until finally she had the courage to accept it wasn’t working for her anymore. It was time to stop drinking and take inventory and accountability. It was time to accept, forgive and move forward. She healed where she was broken.
It is in the telling of this story that Whittam teaches us the difference between just surviving and surviving well, the importance of shared introspection and a careful eye on the wake we leave behind in our actions. Her story is a guide to surviving abuse and addiction. It is also about witnessing and dealing with the shrinking faculties of aging parents in the unavoidable circle of life. Finally, she offers a realistic sense of hope, forgiveness and a life we can shake hands with.
For More Information
- Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief is available
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
In my therapist’s office, during my first year of recovery from alcoholism, I saw one of her graduate school psychology books on her bookshelf. It was sitting alongside many of her self-help books which I had borrowed during the past year. I read several hoping to find a cure from my irrepressible anxiety that I had previously drunk away. I imagined the wordy text was far from my ability to comprehend as I was at that time only able to retain small bits of information. I asked my therapist if I could borrow that college text titled “Human Growth and Development.” I read it from cover to cover within a short amount of time and surprisingly, was able to digest and retain it. I had to quit doubting my ability. Being hard on myself was no longer the answer. I wanted more.
That following summer I enrolled in a graduate course of the same name. I wanted to see if I could retain enough material to pass a higher level learning class. I loved it and I got an A.
No longer living in a world governed by my need to numb myself through copious amounts of alcohol, I started doing what I wanted to do with my life. Encountering the self-doubt I had always carried within me became the guidepost by which I continued to prove my “what ifs” unnecessary in order to keep myself safe.
My intention in writing this book is to reach out to all who struggle with being frozen in fear of “what if.” This book may trigger emotions that have been shoved down so far they might not have a clear story to them yet. It might trigger memories of resentments, regrets or painful unhealed episodes of your life. These moments may have happened long, long ago or may have been more recent. We go back into the past to find answers. The idea is not to stay there long, but to find healing through understanding the ‘why’ of it. Then begin our process of learning to self-sooth and love ourselves.
Nothing is going to happen that you can’t handle. Nothing.
Isolated within my world of fear, I wouldn’t attempt anything outside of that small world. I had no foundation to stand on as a spring-board toward finding out who I really was, so I joined a 12-Step group. The beauty of being in a community of recovery, from whatever we might be working on, brings connection. at is what I needed so badly.
I hope, within these pages, you are able to find a spark that ignites your longing for more. I urge you to find your own path of being okay by whatever non-mood altering way that makes sense to you; even, or especially, if it is unfamiliar to you. In writing this book, I intended to show how we can all go through our fears and do “it” anyway, whatever “it” is.
Letting go of fear suggests we “just breathe” and be ourselves. Thee “how” of being okay is within these pages and within yourself. Stop listening to the repeated echoes of old messages in your head, messages like “You’ve done it again,” “You aren’t good enough,” “You should just give up.” These messages cause you to doubt yourself. Instead, listen to the other voice inside which says, “You can do this,” “There is a way.” Don’t ignore it. Don’t push it away. Don’t argue with it. That voice is there, even if you can’t hear it and I am here to help you find it. I look forward to hearing you say, “I AM going to be okay.”
Debra Whittam is a licensed, practicing mental health therapist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who specializes in addiction, anxiety and depression, grief and loss. Whittam is passionate about her work in all areas of her specialties, especially addiction. Working in a detox unit for over three years before beginning her own private practice, Whittam realized, while counseling patients in the life and death arena of the detox unit, how much the loss of a beloved through death or a relationship impacted those struggling with addiction.
In this memoir, Whittam skillfully infuses her memories, stories and professional insights to remind us that the most important relationship we will ever have is with ourselves. She splits her time between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York and Paris, France.
CA: Debra. Thanks for being here today. Tell me about you.
DW: I’m very sensitive, open, honest and sometimes self deprecating to a fault. I love people with a passion. Even or especially those of whom I’ve just met who, I can sense, are quite the same. I find joy in this relatively new venture into the world of creative non-fiction, of actually being a writer. Whatever was pushed very far down within myself and considered ridiculous, has now become quite possible and, I hear, moving and funny. I am sarcastic one minute, hopefully not without being offensive; with laughter and tears the next. An open book as they say.
CA: If you cold hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
DW: Most emphatically, it would be J.K. Rowling. Her 2008 Harvard Commencement Address gives me chills and makes me laugh each time I watch it on youtube, which is often. I love her no nonsense style, her depth of writing from some of her dark places; as she has mentioned often in rare interviews she has given.
I relate to what I imagine were some of her most wretched betrayals. I’d like a best friend like her. The entire day with her we would take turns talking and listening from the heart, I’m sure. Some kind of kindred spirit moments that would build into a life-long friendship even if we would see each other only rarely in the future.
She is open, honestly herself which I adore about famous people.
CA: What’s the story behind your latest book?
DW: “Am I Going To Be Okay?” is a memoir of my life with my mother, my entire family actually, but she and I from my birth until her death in 2012. Interwoven within this narrative is all of the untreated mental illness, untreated addiction and unacknowledged grief that has flowed through my family tree from whenever we all started.
I am a licensed professional therapist, and in my work I have come to realize that this appears to be the state of most of us on earth. A human condition as it were. The impact of all of these adults acting like “little monsters” as Eckhardt Tolle says, is on the little children soaking up of this chaos and drama at a very vulnerable and impressionable age. As these open, loving children we assumer that what we are seeing, what we are hearing and how we are being treated is either one of two things. 1. Something is wrong with us or 2. we’ve done something wrong. I travel through time back two generations to explore how there is to be NO blame on anyone. The farther back we go more is revealed as to how our parents and grandparents experienced life as those hopeful yet fearful little ones. All of us grow up searching for reasons to imagine we matter from all of the years of silence and denial. My story is one of hope and recovery. I have been honored by many reviews and acknowledgements that this book has made an impact on my readers. “I want to read more!” is what I hear most often.
CA: What is your writing process?
DW: I find pure joy in the act of writing wherever in the world I am. Most of my book was writing very early in the morning, sitting cross-legged on the floor, writing longhand sitting in front of a beautiful painting I purchased in Place de Tetre in Montmartre, Paris. I wrote my first manuscript by hand and it took about three years total with a long, hard (!) seven months of editing, revisions, changes, changes to the changes and final manuscripts that evolved into Final Manuscript#12 before my editor and I were completely satisfied. I have written in the library above the wonderful bookstore Shakespeare &Co. in Paris, gazing at Notre Dame while I let my thoughts wander into my past remembering from my experiences what and how things happened. I’ve written at a lake house I rent in the Adirondack Mountains in New York where I am from originally. The aroma of pine, balsam and antique things placed lovingly in this cottage bring me peace, replenish my soul where I find even more paths to the journey of where I’m from.
CA: If this book were to be made into a movie, who would play the lead?
DW: This summer I am taking a screen writing workshop at Oxford University in Oxford, England in order to create a movie from my book! It is as a movie when the reader reads and goes from scene to scene throughout my life. I imagine Sandra Bullock from the days of her early work in movies would play me as a young to older adult.
Me very young probably would be played by whom ever auditioned that had imagination and sensitivity written on her sleeve. In Sandra Bullocks early work she had an open and honest way of portrayal that wasn’t over acted. Now it seems to me she’s changed not only physically, I liked her nose as it was, but I see in her now what I see that happens in most people. A change that loses the fresh, beginning new actor she was.
CA: What are you working on next?
DW: I can’t wait, I’m so excited about this one. I plan on writing a sequel of “Am I Going To Be Okay?” since most everyone has remarked they want to know what happened next. But after that, I am working on another non-fiction, query if you will, to the world, “Are men and women really meant to live together?” That is not the title, however, society as it evolves appears to have women realizing, finally, that ‘Men do what they want, Women do as they’re told’ well, they don’t put up with that shit anymore!
Men are left thinking there is no reason to do any of the work to ‘evolve’ they state they are, ‘Already there’. This is a book not about men against women or the opposite.
This is a book of research I have done and case studies of men and women I have worked with who heartily say, “NO!” to the initial question. Basically from caveman times men and women have had the same roles until the mid to late 1800s. I think this will have an impact on my premise and intentions of all my books, which is “Let’s Start Talking About It.”
CA: What advice do you have for other writers who want to get their work out there?
DW: Since this is my first book, I have taken every and all suggestions from my amazing editor, Judi Moreo. She had me purchase a book called, “1001 Ways To Promote Your Book” written by John Kremer. It is the thickest book I have ever read but it has invaluable information for those of us doing our own promoting. I also find being on this Virtual Tour with Dorothy has enabled me to reach an audience never before imagined. It seems social media is the way to go to promote and reach the widest reader audience possible.
CA: What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
DW: Definitely, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It had been sitting on my book shelf for years. I resisted the depth I might have to go to do whatever work I though it would demand. I have been able to reach even deeper into my creative spirit and see the hows of replenishing myself when depleted with writing or working at my private practice or whatever life brings my way. This book along with the Morning Writing Pages was referred to me by Judi Moreo and has changed my thoughts about myself as a writer and creative soul in general. I find peace and support in those pages.
CA: Do you have any special talents that no one knows about you?
DW: Absolutely! I love taking ballet and tap dancing lessons. I once belonged to an adult dance troupe here in Pittsburgh back when my children were young. I still have my tap shoes in my closet ready and waiting if the opportunity arises! I also can drive a forklift like nobody’s business! In my early twenties my former husband and I met at a ceramic tile and marble distributorship where he taught me how to drive a forklift like a pro!
CA: If you had the choice of a super-power, just one, which one would you choose and why?
DW: Time Travel. Most definitely Time Travel would be my super power. I imagine traveling back to the times of my earliest memories, of which I write, and watching what happened from an adult perspective. I am reminded of the play, “Our Town”, written by Thornton Wilder. I mention this play in one of the final chapters in my book as I wandered Grove Cemetery where my mother is buried. So many of the people Mom use to mention from her youth and people I had known are buried there. It reminds me of the third act of “Our Town”. I imagine my Time Travel would end up working out the same way as being wonderful, wistful and not done as often as I had thought I would.
CA: List five things on your bucket list.
DW: Five things on my bucket list are:
- Meeting J.K. Rowling.
- Purchasing an writer’s studio apartment in Paris.
- Becoming a famous writer who makes a difference.
- Being able to travel the world over as often as I like.
- Making people laugh and cry at the same time.
CA: Where can readers find you on the web?
CA: Do you have any final thoughts?
DW: What a wonderful dream it all is to have published a book and share myself through the book and the social media. I am humbled.
A fiery fairy battles for purpose.
Liefdom is the story of Gentry Mandrake. Born with natural weapons in a race known for pacifism, he is cast out and hated for his differences. He hunts for a place among his people, while fighting to defend the human child bound to him. His violent nature makes him wonder at the purity of his soul, while the dark creatures he must face seem too great to defeat. Can he overcome such terrible foes to defend those he loves?
Meet the Author:
Jesse Teller lives in Missouri. He hasn’t always, but like storytelling, it snuck into his bones. He lives with his wonderful, supportive wife and two inspiring kids. When he is not pounding too hard on his poor keyboard, you can find him bumping into walls and mumbling to himself.
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