Welcome to Commas and Quotations...

Here you will find a new blog post each day featuring a 1st chapter or an excerpt from an author. It's impossible to wade through all the books on amazon to find something you might enjoy. Most readers rely on a beautiful cover to sell them a book, and others listen to recommendations from friends and family. We're going to do both for you here at Commas and Quotations, but you'll get to read a snippet from the book and decide for yourself if it is your cup of tea. If you think you might want to come back and see us on a regular basis, take 10 seconds out of your day and 'Subscribe to Commas and Quotations' (over on the right) to receive the excerpts delivered right to your email account. Be sure to follow us on Google+, too! I hope you enjoy, and please feel free to comment on the excerpt to let the authors know what you think. Their buy links and social links will always be under the excerpts, so take advantage of that and make a new friend! And as always... Happy Reading from Commas and Quotations! =)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Excerpt from 'Soul-Mates Forever' by Vicki Green

*Contemporary Romance 18+*

‘Love …captures us in a moment and changes us forever’

When love isn’t enough to break through the walls that were built so long ago, how is true happiness ever found? Paxton Davenport built these walls when every guy she met only wanted her gorgeous body. Her modeling career really takes off after returning to L.A. from her best friend’s wedding. But her thoughts continually plague her of the hot rocker, Tucker Williams, who pursued her both times she visited her friend. Her rich parents have never provided the attention or love she needed growing up. She is considered your typical 21 year old rich bitch, snooty to most but deep inside she is the most loving and caring person you could ever know.

Tucker, or Tuck as everyone knows him, grew up in a house where a normal day was seeing his parents drugged out, no food to be found and finding solace in his guitar. His mom ending up in prison and his dad dying from an overdose leads him to falling in with the wrong crowd. With the help of friends, at the age of 22, he finds himself as a tattoo artist by day, the leader of a Rock band (Razers Edge) by night. He falls head over heels for Paxton one night when the band is playing at Barton’s bar but she won’t give him the time of day.

Will Tuck ever get through Paxton’s walls or annoy the hell out of her trying?

*Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.*
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Excerpt from 'A Secret Fate' by Susan Griscom

*Paranormal Suspense Romance 18+*

Days began to run together. Addie lost track of how many. She’d slept most of the day today, not unlike all the other days recently. Nowhere she wanted to go. Nothing she wanted to do. Sleep was an escape as long as she didn’t have a nightmare, but lately she dreamed of Cael most times. Unfortunately, he didn’t remember her in any of those dreams. Too much like real life.
Addie watched particles of dust float within the ray of light coming in through the window as the sun began its slow descent into the horizon. Like most things, cleaning house was not a high priority. Glancing at the kitchen, she considered making some coffee when the faint knock on the door jolted her. Addie didn’t know why it surprised her. She’d been expecting another visit from Darcy or Maia. What she hadn’t expected when she opened the door was Aiden. Aiden was Gerry’s best friend growing up and best man at his and Maia’s wedding a few weeks ago. Aiden had come by a couple of days after Cael’s disappearance to check on her, offering coffee and donuts, but Addie had been rude. Very rude, she remembered. He hadn’t been back since.
She sighed. “Why are you here?” Still rude, she thought, but wasn’t sure she cared.
“Came to see how you are. They say you haven’t left here since the wedding.” His voice dripped with the same thickly coated Scottish accent Gerry possessed.
Addie shot him a dagger-riddled glance. “Yes, I have,” she stated defensively. “I went to …” She hesitated and thought about the place where she’d last seen Cael and cried, begging him to hear her thoughts again and come home. Her voice shaky and raw, she tried to finish the sentence, “…to the spot where …”
“The spot where your boyfriend disappeared,” Aiden finished for her.
She turned away from him, trying desperately to keep the well of tears in check at the memory. “Yeah, and what business is it of yours, anyway?” God, Addie, the man’s only trying to be nice.
“None, I guess.” Aiden rubbed his chin, looked around the living room. She followed his eyes as they swept over the furniture, taking in the chairs and marble-topped coffee table. Then his brilliant blue gaze traveled to the all-too-comfortable deep-red leather sofa where she and Cael enjoyed many pleasant conversations as well as some steamy sexual encounters while taking in the heat from the large rustic fireplace. Aiden meandered his way through the entry, his gaze lingering on the massive window spanning the entire wall, and the breathtaking view of the ocean. His eyes glanced briefly up the stairs before settling back on hers. “This is a nice place you have. I can see why you might want to hole up here and hide for a while.”
“I’m not hiding,” she shot back at him, not meaning to sound so curt. Lowering her voice a tad she added, “I’m … adjusting.”
He nodded. “Aye, I see that you are.” He reached out, took a strand of her hair that hung annoyingly in her face between his thumb and finger, slid them to the end. She flinched at the gentle gesture. “You look thin. When did you eat last?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, I ate …” she had to think about that. When did she last eat? “Um … recently.” Addie frowned, pissed that she couldn’t think of a good reason not to be nice to him. He was only trying to help.
He nodded again. “I, uh … was on my way home from Manny’s grocery store. I saw the smoke from the chimney and thought I’d stop in. I have a couple of steaks in the car. I wouldn’t mind sharing … if you want.”
Her stomach grumbled at the mention of the steaks and she placed her hand over the traitorous organ in an attempt to cover up the rumble. Maybe she was hungry, but having Aiden in for dinner was not going to happen. She was certain to find something in the kitchen to fix. Maybe. There had to be some leftovers from the last time Maia brought her something to eat.
 Aiden grinned at her. “Your stomach seems to like the idea of food.”
Something about Aiden tickled her. He always seemed a little shy, but not, if that made any sense. He was full of charm but unpretentious. That was it. He was pretty hot for an older guy too. Okay, he wasn’t that old and he wasn’t as gorgeous as Cael. Addie caught herself comparing the two; well, maybe, but in a different way. Her mind rambled on with the strangest thoughts lately. It must be because she hadn’t been taking very good care of herself.
Aiden swiped his hand through his shoulder-length dark hair similar to the way Cael always did. Addie shook her head. “No. I …” she glanced at the kitchen. “I have dinner. I ... I’m sure of it.” Why was she having such a hard time talking? “I mean, I do. I do have dinner … already.”
“Right,” he said, strolling to the kitchen as if he’d been invited to stay.
“Hey! Where are you going?” Addie trailed behind him.
He stopped at the entrance, glancing around at the empty counter, the empty stove, and the dark oven. He opened the refrigerator and saw the starkness of the cold box. “Yeah. I see you have plenty to eat.”
His sarcasm exhausted her. She leaned against the doorframe, suddenly faint, unable to hold herself up.
Aiden stepped within inches of her, staring into her eyes as he propped his hand along the side of the doorframe very close to her face. She stole a quick glance at his long fingers.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Excerpt from 'Reflections' by Susan Griscom

*Paranormal Suspense Romance 18+*

She walked closer to him, lowered her gaze to his chest and put her hand there, her fingers toying with the button on his shirt. “I wanted to see if there was anything still there. Still here.” She ran her finger in a circle around the spot on his chest where his heart was. “Between us.” She looked back up into his eyes. “And … I can see in your eyes, that maybe with a little coaxing …”
“You’re wrong so don’t flatter yourself, Reenie; you should have your eyes checked. I’m in love with Maia.”
“Yes, well, you’re not married to the woman, are you?”
Married? Gerry hadn’t thought about it. Married? No, he’d never been the marrying kind. Did that make him an uncaring man, considering Maia was pregnant? Did it mean he loved Maia any less? That was something he should think about—later. “No. I’m not.”
Placing her hand on his shoulder, she slid her tongue over her bottom lip. “Well, then, what’s to stop you from having a little fun with me? Do you still own the sexy little silk boxers I so enjoyed seeing you in?”
“No. I don’t.” Did he? He wasn’t sure. Underwear was underwear, not something he gave much thought to. Like marriage.
“I still have the little silk number you gave me. Ahhh ... we had such good times back then, didn’t we?” Not waiting for a response from Gerry, she went on. “I’ve been thinking about you for such a long time. You can’t tell me you haven’t thought of me, Gerry. Do you remember what you said to me when I left? You said you didn’t think you’d ever forget me, or even could forget me.”
“No, what I said was I didn’t think I’d ever forget what you did to me.”
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Excerpt from 'Whisper Cape - Book 1' by Susan Griscom

*Paranormal Suspense Romance 18+*
Excerpt from Whisper Cape book 1
Forgetting everything except her, he wanted her with a fierceness he had never experienced before. She moaned softly as she tangled her fingers in his hair while his tongue glided down her neck. She shivered as he kissed her softly.
“God, you smell delicious,” he said, pulling her jacket aside as his lips and tongue skimmed down her collarbone. “Addison, I want you so much.” He brought his face back up, covering her mouth with his. As he tasted her, he sensed her soul, the intensity so arousing he was losing control. Forcing himself to stop, he lingered at the spot under her earlobe.
“Not here.” His voice was husky, his breath ragged. “Let’s go back to the house before we have an X-rated scene on the beach.”
They’d barely made it in the house before he was pulling her to him again, covering her with more hot kisses. As they struggled to get their jackets off, Addison’s hand slipped and hit his gun. “Here, wait.” He unbuckled the holster and let it fall to the floor. They tugged at each other’s clothes with an uncontrollable frenzy. She unbuttoned his shirt, and he shrugged it off and onto the floor. His mouth came down on hers hard and she wrapped her arms around his waist, her fingers pressing into his back. He tugged her top up and she lifted her arms as he pulled her blouse over her head without even unbuttoning it.
He kissed her neck, brushing fluttering little kisses down to her shoulder. “God, Addison, you’re doing some major damage to my self-control. Since I first laid eyes on you, I’ve dreamed of this. You’re so sexy. I can’t keep my hands off you.”
He cupped her breast in his hand and covered her mouth again with his. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she moaned, and he scooped her up, cradling her in his arms as he carried her upstairs.
He laid her on the bed and stretched out on top of her, kissing her lips then her neck, grazing her throat with his teeth, his tongue tasting the salt from the ocean breeze still lingering on her skin.
“You’re making me crazy. I can’t breathe, Cael.” Her breath warm on his neck, she ran her nails down his back, trembling beneath him.
He started to move away, fearful of crushing her. “Am I hurting you?”
“No, don’t move, stay. I want to feel your body on mine.” She pulled him tight, her heart pounding against his, as need had his breath catching in his lungs.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Excerpt from 'Gumshoe Goddess and the Catskill Caper' by S. McKane

*Mystery Adventure Humor 18+*


Naomi was wondering what was taking Robert so long, maybe an accident on the West Side Highway was holding him up.  The phone rang, she rushed to answer it, no, not Robert, it was Fifi, her mother.  Naomi got lost in conversation and forgot all about Robert being late while she described the details of their up-coming romantic honeymoon… the one they never had.  She expressed her excitement about retiring from waitressing and becoming a full time mom.  Life is good she told her mother. 


As Robert Parker unlocked and opened the door, the two strangers behind him quickly put their gloves on and pushed him into the apartment.  One man cuffed him from behind while the other stuffed foam in his mouth, then forcefully pulled up his tie and rammed that in.  It happened so quickly that the victim was barely able to grunt.  They beat him mercilessly until he passed out.  The intruders searched the apartment from top to bottom, tossing anything and everything that was in a closet, drawer, or cabinet onto the floor.  After slashing all the cushions on the couch, they cut the mattress open.  Their search didn’t reveal any documents or a computer.  When they couldn’t find what they were looking for, they thrust their arms up in the air and looked at each other questioningly.  Then, the taller man quickly left the building while the other man did a second sweep.  It looked like a tornado had slammed through the place.  A groan escaped from the victim.  A swift kick to the head silenced him.  The tall man returned with a recycled shopping bag that he quickly dropped on the floor.  The shorter man reached in and pulled out the plastic milk container filled with gasoline.  He had a sick grin on his face when he tossed the shopping bag on top of the motionless man.  He saturated both the man and the bag with gas and then poured a trail of gasoline to the gas stove in the kitchen.  The other man laughed and mumbled, “Got a match, buddy?”  

“Yeah, I got a match.  Watch this!”  He plucked the gas-soaked shopping bag off the victim and shoved it between the body and the door.  He dropped the match and was about to flee, but the match went out before it hit the floor.  “Damn,” he cursed and picked up the bag, lit one end, and quickly dropped it back on the floor.  They closed the door and left the building unnoticed.  The explosion rocked the neighborhood.  Glass and debris were propelled everywhere!  A woman screamed, “Not again!  Oh my god, it’s happening again!”  Smoke filled the street.


Her pace was swift and graceful.  Her heart was pounding.  Would she make it on time?

There’s no doubt about it; Lucky is a classic beauty with a demeanor of extraordinary confidence.  At forty-four, she doesn’t look a day older than thirty.  She attributes her youthful look to good genes, good shoes, and a cup of boiling hot water every night before bedtime.  Her curly red hair cascades softly to her shoulders and could use a trim.  Her passion… vintage fashion from the late 40s and early 50s, especially suits by “Adrian,” which she felt elevated her to that timeline.  Not to be out-done by the infamous, Imelda Marcos, Lucky’s fabulous collection of designer pumps, platform, and stiletto shoes over-fill her custom-made shelves with names like Delman, Prada, Jimmy Choo, and Valentino to name a few!  Not surprisingly, the oldest established designer shoemaker is her favorite, Delman, worn almost exclusively by Divas of the pulp-fiction era (1930-1950).  Lucky’s stiletto’s increase her stature to, a whopping five-foot-seven inches, which brings us to her favorite expression, “If the shoe fits, wear it!”  Oh, one more thing… she would never admit that she is a closeted, upscale consignment shopaholic and that hidden beneath her clothing is the undergarment Spanx, helping to keep her not so perfect figure—perfect.

Somewhere along the way, Lucky’s colleagues endeared her with the nickname Gumshoe Goddess because no matter where or no matter what, Lucky wears high-heels.  She sometimes wondered why they didn’t nickname her the Gumheel Goddess, but that thought would quickly diminish. After all, she could never be a heel… or could she?

As Lucky approached her friends in the restaurant, out of breath, but on time, they noticed something was different about her.  She didn’t seem to be with it.  Her eyes appeared glazed over, and the usual smile on her face was gone.  Instead, sadness seemed to overwhelm her.

“What’s up Lucky, you look like your best friend died?”  Gene said sympathetically.

“I’ve run into a stone wall on a case I’m working on.  I truly felt I was close to getting some answers and then wham, dead-end, roadblock.  End of story!  I’m about ready to throw in the towel on this one!”

Her friends couldn’t believe it, Lucky never gives up; she’s like a pit bull, one taste of a case and she latches on until the case is solved. 

“Throw in the towel?  What on-earth would make you give up?  What the hell’s going on?”  Gene blurted a little too loudly.

“Where’s that super sleuth that we know and love?”  Rifka winked.

“Well…” just then the waitress interrupted to take their orders.

“Hi, my name is Naomi.  I’ll be your waitress this afternoon.  Are you ready to place your order?” 

Gene ordered salmon, Lucky just coffee, and Rifka prime rib.  (No vegans at this table Lucky giggled to herself.)

Lucky was a big coffee drinker.  She could finish off two pots of coffee and still drink her hot cup of water before going to bed.  Her friends were insisting she eat something, but she couldn’t.  She was sick to her stomach at the thought of giving up a case.  What did she do wrong?  What did she miss?  Those thoughts kept spinning around in her head over, and over again.

“Can you tell us what’s going on?  Is there any way we can help you?”  Gene said as she shifted her weight towards the edge of her chair.

“I can’t get you guys involved.  Everywhere I go I have this feeling I’m being followed and I assure you it’s not paranoia.”

“Sounds serious,” Rifka interjected.

“Ladies, you know the walls have ears.  Let’s move into the conference room once you’ve finished your lunch.”

The rest of the conversation was light.  Her friends tried to put a smile on her face, but that wasn’t going to happen.  No one ordered dessert.  Instead, they asked if they could have coffee served in the conference room.  Lucky left a sizable tip for the waitress.

Naomi was totally unaware that the woman she was serving was working on the case that left her husband in chunky monkey pieces.  The newspaper said, Robert Parker was beaten and burned beyond recognition in one of the apartments he managed.  At first, they thought the badly burnt body was the tenant, Jay Barrett, a scientist who kept to himself.  It wasn’t until investigators discovered that the manager Robert Parker was reported missing the night of the fire that they put two-and-two together.  Dental records confirmed that it was Parker’s body and not the scientist tenant Jay Barrett. 

Naomi’s eyes were red from crying herself to sleep every night.  She thanked the women and put the large tip in her apron, her thoughts drifted to her husband again, she couldn’t believe he was dead.  She felt as if she’d entered the twilight zone.  Just six months ago, the Parkers were planning a trip to Europe.  They were going to leave the kids with her parents and go on the honeymoon that they never had.  Robert managed real estate, and his efforts were about to pay off.  Naomi gave notice to her boss at the Country Club.  Finally their dream honeymoon, upon their return, she would be a full time mom and fulfill her longing to spend more time with her children.  She loved being a mom and homemaker.  However, she had no choice; she had to work because Robert didn’t have any life insurance.  Naomi couldn’t wake up from the “real time” nightmare that impinged upon her well-intentioned plans.  Her life literally exploded into nothingness when Robert died, but she realized she had to be strong for her children, especially now.  The kids cried for their father every night, and she cried while her heart ached.  He was her soul mate.  How could such a horrible thing happen?  His pillow was the only thing that muffled her cries and still held his scent. 

It was difficult but Naomi was able to get through the day because of work, but the nights alone in their room were more than she could bear.  At times, the depression was so overwhelming that Naomi felt she couldn’t bear the pain any longer, and then she thought about her two little angels who needed her now more than ever.  She couldn’t leave them alone.  She had to go on. 

Earlier in the day, a customer suggested she see a grievance counselor.  Naomi definitely needed to talk to someone about her anger and depression.  It was getting worse.  Every night she sobbed the same words into her husband’s pillow, “Robert, oh Robert.  Why did you have to go to that apartment?  Why?  Why?  God damn you!”

“Miss, are you okay?” a customer said softly into the server’s ear.

“I’m fine I’ll, I’ll be right back.  I have something in my eye.” 

Naomi retreated to the ladies’ room, while Lucky’s friends pushed their chairs away from the table.

Heads turned as the three women stood up and headed for the conference room.  A man at the bar offered to buy them all a drink.  “One for the road ladies?” he sloppily slurred.

Gene immediately snapped, “You’ve got to be kidding?  You’re encouraging us to drink and drive!  Don’t you know that’s against the law?  What’s your name mister?  Show me your identification.” 

Just then Rifka gently grabbed her arm, “Gene, you’re off duty, relax.  He can see we’re heading for the conference room and not the exit, and besides he doesn’t know whether we have cars or not.”

“Yeah right, I’ll relax when jerks like that stop trying to intoxicate every woman they see just for some afternoon delight.”  She snarled.

Gene is a transplant from the Bronx accredited not only with a degree in forensics but in street smarts as well.  She’s a glutton for details and meticulously precise with everything she does.  Add to that, great organizational skills, and there you have it, the perfect “formula” for a forensic scientist.  Gene is truly a tough cookie on the outside; in a man’s world, you have to be, but a real softie on the inside.  And yes, her name is spelled correctly.  Sadly, she lost her only child Joshua to a mysterious accident in Portland, Oregon, last year.  She’s hoping to use her accumulated vacation time to go out there and investigate with Lucky, but neither can get away at this time.

And Lucky— well Lucky is a well-respected private eye completely enmeshed in her craft.  After receiving her degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College, the Scott Farfel Agency hired her.  Scott, a veteran detective, taught Lucky everything she ever needed to know about sleuthing that wasn’t in a book.  After two years of honing her skills with Farfel, she decided to take the world by storm and open her own detective agency—Astral Investigations.  She really wanted to call it Stellar Investigations but that would place her too far back in the telephone directory.  Astral Investigations worked just fine.

Just as they entered the conference room, Gene’s cell phone rang.  She had to leave immediately.  There was a homicide; they needed her right away.  “Keep me posted,” Gene yelled.  Lucky sat at the head of the table with her friend by her side.  The room was massive and seemed to echo with every word spoken.  Three cups of coffee arrived.  The waiter looked questioningly at the two women.  Lucky said, “That’s ok, the third in our party had to leave suddenly.  Please leave the extra cup and the coffee pot.  Thanks.”

Her friend smiled at the waiter.  Lucky was a little apprehensive about discussing the events of the past three months even though she knew her friend could be trusted.  She told Rifka that her client was a manufacturer of lipstick, nail polish, and eyeliner, and that the missing person, a scientist, was on the brink of an exciting discovery when he disappeared.  Lucky started to relax. She sat back in the chair, crossed her legs, moved the hair out of her eyes, and began to enlighten Rifka about Jay Barrett.  She disclosed that Barrett was lead scientist for CAVU Cosmetics and worked for the company for sixteen years.  He was unmarried and completely devoted to his work.  Lucky spoke about Jay’s passion for research.  How he would stay in the lab for days on end when he felt close to discovering something he felt was important.  He never thought that he could achieve his dreams in a cosmetics lab at CAVU.  “Jay wanted to find…” she stopped short.  “Well let’s just say that he always imagined doing something spectacular for humankind.  Things didn’t work out quite that way until just about three months ago when he had a major breakthrough.  He discovered something that was going to revolutionize the cosmetic industry.”

Lucky went on to explain that the scientist disappeared shortly after his major breakthrough. 

The NYPD investigated the chilling murder of Robert Parker and the missing scientist Jay Barrett until the case went cold in June.  Shortly thereafter, CAVU Cosmetics hired Lucky to find their lead scientist.  She reiterated the inconsequential details disclosed to her by the powers that be at CAVU Cosmetics.  Rifka nodded with recognition about the case.  None of the newspapers mentioned the scientific break-through, nor was the story leaked to the media.  Lucky would love to tell her friend, but she adheres to a strict code of ethics, besides she also signed a confidentiality agreement.  Mum’s the word.  She asked her friend Rifka, the psychic, if she could sense anything about Jay Barrett.  Rifka couldn’t pick up a thing.  She suggested Lucky bring something personal of Jay’s to her place.  Now that was going to be a problem.  The contents of his apartment went up in smoke, so to speak.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have an office at CAVU.  He used the lab as his office, and Barrett didn’t keep any personal belongings there.  That’s why she didn’t call Rifka in on this before.  She had absolutely nothing to give her.  Rifka asked where Barrett’s family was from.  Lucky admitted that was another roadblock.  There was absolutely, positively, no evidence that he ever existed.  He didn’t even have a checking account.  He used to sign his checks over to Ann in accounting.  She took his check to the bank and gave Barrett cash.  Who is he or who was he?  Every lead led to a dead end!  Every co-worker and/or acquaintance knew very little about the scientist.  His acclaimed Alma Mater, Cornell University, had no record of his attending school there.  Yet his diploma hangs in the lab.  Just like the show “Without a Trace” Jay Barrett was gone.  There was nothing to prove he ever existed, and that’s what’s driving Lucky crazy.  No wonder the NYPD put the case in cold storage.  They hit the big FREEZE!  It seems Jay Barrett really didn’t exist.  She explained to Rifka how everyone in her office put in a great deal of time on this case doing research, which is not very exciting, and, as of  late, not very fruitful- clearly, the most challenging case of her career… so far.  Lucky was beginning to get a headache.  Maybe she should eat something, but she knew if she ate, she’d just give it back again.  Something was wrong with her.  If she lost any more weight, she’d disappear like Jay Barrett.  She looked at her watch.  It was almost one-thirty.  She had fifteen minutes to make her two o’clock appointment with Eli Sash and Amy Michaels, both key personnel from CAVU Cosmetics.  Rifka needed to get going as well.  They agreed to get together soon rather than wait another month.


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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Excerpt from 'Tolomay's World - And the Pool of Light' by M. E. Lorde

*Epic Romance Fantasy / Time Travel / Dystopia / Adventure 17+*

“Peace of life,” said the chideman as he poured the blue water from the glass urn into the pool.  It was surreal.
“Peace of life.” My response was automatic.
My heart pounded.  For thirteen years I’d trained for this.  Still I was not ready.  The machine’s copper pipes gave off a warm smell that drifted to my nostrils as if precious biscuits were baking in the eating room.  The calming scent only made it worse.  I was leaving.
On display before every citizen in the community, my bare feet stepped the few inches further to the edge of the pool.  Fear haunted my mind.  Shivering from head to toe caused my short golden dress to tickle at the tops of my thighs.  I brushed away the itch.  Goose bumps peppered my arms and legs.  I was freezing.  For a moment, the massive musics and sounds on the stage overwhelmed me.  I was small in comparison to everything here, all present and to this wondrous event.  Through dazed thoughts, my focus returned and I remembered to count to three before placing my foot in the shallow liquid.
With eyes watering, my every heartbeat echoed in my ears.  Never again would my father’s eyes look upon me.  Never again would I feel his warm embrace.  I would so miss his gentle, loving voice.  How would I bear it?  I fought my great desire to turn and dart to him, or steal a look as he sat in his chair upon the stage.  Instead, I kept my step. 
There would not be another last goodbye.  We already said it, and he wanted just the one.  It would be my greatest honor to him to leave with the dignity, respect, and position he bestowed upon me, to act older than my meager thirteen years.  I had to be brave and pave the way for the others, as he had instructed.
The tears nearly choked me as I quietly sniffed them back.  I could scarcely see, but chose not to rub the wet away.  Everyone would notice.  More would only follow and my eyes would be closed soon enough.  The time had arrived.  This was no longer wholly my choice.  I was being led by my duty and so had to control my emotions for these last few seconds.
The immaculate stage held static, causing the miniscule hairs on my head to stand on end.  They reached toward the beautiful colored glass of the cathedral roof in the pod community’s grandest room, as if they too wanted to stay.  The urge to run, to escape, consumed me, yet I betrayed my heart, followed my learned directions, and kept my course.
No matter the logic and knowledge in my head, nothing had prepared me for this feeling of claws tearing me apart from the inside out.  I fought off the nausea.  I could not be ill, not in front of the community while representing my father.
The crystal and copper Pool of Light lay before the five of us, with solar panels running from floor to ceiling as the toner’s chorus continued to sing behind us.  The brilliant round majesty beneath my feet, only six inches deep, held the key to our futures and to what would become the whole of humanity.  We were taking these steps for everyone.  Once we left, we could never return home.
Tarron had ordered that we space ourselves just two paces separated, one behind the next.  The four older candidates followed behind me, the taste of anticipation mingling with the hum of energy that filled the great room.  My mind whirled.
‘Keep walking forward… do not turn around,’ father’s words echoed in my head.
I was horrified.  Chills took residence up and down my spine, causing me to shake further.  How would my days unfold without him by my side?  How could I leave him alone?  My heart was dying.
‘The coming light can blind, if you lose protection of your eyelids,’ he had warned.
Think only of your training and the swim, I reprimanded myself against my inert weakness. Focus.  You are leading the others.
I squeezed my eyes closed.
“Your eyes… don’t forget,” I choked out the words, reminding the four following me to keep theirs closed as well.
The desire to see where my feet landed was nearly more than I could endure as I took my next step.  Blindly, trembling as I’d never thought possible, I walked on until a humming of energy engulfed me.  Then a wall of water, warm and flowing, caressed my face and arms and legs until I was drenched in it.  It unnerved me.  I imagined my skin would feel this way if covered with a million tiny insects. That vision sent more shivers.  I rubbed away the feeling.  Fear controlled me.  I was holding my breath. ‘Do not forget to breathe, Tolomay,’ I remembered father’s training. ‘Or you may lose consciousness.’
Barely able to manage my thoughts, I took back my air and continued forward.
A light penetrated the liquid as if they were one and the same.  Much too bright, even with eyes closed, it rained down upon my body as if it were the sun and had no limits.  The burning lasted only a moment and rid me of my chills.  Then I was struck hard in the back by a force that seemed more as power than matter.  It propelled me through the air so fast I almost opened my eyes, but instead fell into a somersault, ending in a stand as I had been trained. 
The grasses felt soft beneath my bare feet.  The air smelled completely different... fresh and clean.  Was it safe to look?  Sure the diminished music meant safety, I slowly peeked to see what tickled my toes.  My feet rested on an unbelievable world of vegetation.  I turned my eyes upward.  Plant life flourished about me.  An insect landed on a bloom and dipped its head inside until completely hidden in the bright yellow flower.
With every cell overwhelmed, my delight leapt.  Miraculous science!  Holy green gravity, it was unbelievable.  We did it!  I accomplished what I trained my entire life to do!
Magnificent and abundant life surrounded me as far as I could see.  The sky was a magical light blue like the ancient’s paintings and pictures; the clouds were bright whites and grays.  It had all been true, or was I dreaming?
As hard as it was for my mind to accept my surroundings, I could no longer hold my tears.  Crying like a joyous newborn, I breathed in the pure nature of the heaven of the clean world.  Its power bore into my soul.  The energy of a long sturdy tree line reached toward me in the wind, welcoming my spirit to share in this wondrous space.  I looked to the trees’ highest branches.  They were much taller than I had imagined.
This was real. Father’s machine worked!  We were here!
The much too-loud screech of the hole and noise of the water pouring into this world drowned out the distant sound of the toner’s chorus.  My heart shook with uncontrolled excitement.
“We made it!” I shouted over the machines deafening pitch, then turned to view the light point from which I had come.
But… where were the others?
The water fell from midair, waiting for them.  As if in warning the sound turned to something altogether different.  First came the silence, and then an angry hiss.  Elation left me as the air around the running water shifted to a dingy gray.  Impending doom gripped my chest as Candra’s face peered through the wall of water.  She smiled in disbelief at the world she saw.  Why had the pool not spit her out?  Why did it hold her to itself?  Dread filled my belly even before I heard her shrill scream.
With half her body through, she hovered just ten feet away, her arms stretched toward me.  The look of astonishment fled from her face as she let out a sound more horrific than I’d ever heard.  Terrified, my mind blanked, body froze.  We had no training of this otherworldly power.  A moment later, Teresa was at her side, next Florentina, and finally Marva.  They did not clear the entryway either and instead, floated helplessly as the glorious and glowing blue water turned a dirty brown. 
The scent of a burned out candle permeated the air.  Candra’s skin was pulling light from the water into itself.  Every blood vessel seeped its treasure from her skin.  The others bled, too.  Nearly instantly, they were painted in crimson.  No longer lit, the water turned as dark as an endless hole and the black backdrop taunted us all.  Panicked, I barked the order.
“HURRY! MOVE! MOVE!” I screamed, but none of us obeyed.
Unable to aide them the slightest bit, I stood shocked at their suffering when a brilliant flash of light struck the portal.  Their shrieks filled me with horror as I watched them writhe frantically in the midair, black watery grave.  Like the dark liquid that hung motionless, the moment was frozen in time.  Candra stopped screaming.  She was gone.
No! No! No!
Mere seconds dragged like eternity as Teresa’s voice took on a high pitched squeal.  Her eyes nearly bulged from her head.  I viewed my team members disappear, sucked into nothingness as the Pool of Light made a sizzling sound.  Then it slammed shut with a thunderous clap.  The water disappeared and I stared at the now empty space in the beautiful green world, my face awash in tears.
What just happened?  Nothing could be real.  I lost them all, lost all who I’d known, those in my charge.  Finally, my feet led me running toward the closed light point.  I grasped frantically at the air before me.
“Come back!  Come back!” The words choked.  “Father, take me back!  I want to come home!” I sobbed. “Bring me home!  I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”  
I gave way to gravity and fell as a lost spirit to the trembling Earth. 
With my cheek against the cool earth, tears dried in the warm breeze.  The feeling haunted me.  Why had I not reached out to my team when they were in unfathomable pain?  I was the curer, the healer, yet stood idly by and watched them each die.  I’d failed my life’s purpose, to lead and keep safe and healthy all citizens in the new community.  Guilt annihilated my soul.   
“I’m so sorry,” I bawled as if they could hear a single word of it.
     Crumpled into a ball, I wailed to the enormous trees, now wholly and utterly alone in this strange green world.  Why had I lived?

                                                      ChapTer Two
 What did it mean to be in love with the world?  I could not tell a soul.  For it had been long for me, too long.  Not that the passion was dead in me.  It was alive and well and screamed at me each day from the first sign of sunlight, until I closed my eyes to sleep.  This place was more than I’d thought, but the isolation made it impossible to share things with anyone else.  It was my birthday and, once again, I spent it alone.
Three years is too long to be alone on this Earth, even with Carmella at my side.
I first saw her after the blast, the one that took the others.  Even while the ground shook, Carmella sat looking at me as she did now.  It was as if she instinctively knew what it did to them, as if she knew there would be no others but me from then on out. 
Without a blink or so much as a shiver, she sat frozen on that rock, looking at me with those heavy lidded eyes.  That day I cried for hours, longer than I cared to recall.  Carmella did not know of self pity.  Pity does not help a creature who’s struggling alone to survive in the wild.
She was a different breed, but we were friends, two females living together as silent partners, Carmella and I, lizard and gardener.  We relied on each other.  I liked to think it she had the nature of truly caring for me, aside from the insects I fed her.  Garden crickets were her favorite and in ample supply on the hillside.
Not those little green ones, mind you, but the big black ones that squirmed in her mouth and crackled as she swallowed them whole.  They were too big for her, but none the less, she gobbled them up even while they caused her to choke. 
The lizard would never learn not to bite off more than she could chew, but who would blame her?  Perhaps crickets were her chocolate.  It’d been so long since my taste of chocolate.  Something as diminutive as a little choking would not have prevented me from inhaling a chunk of the sweet brown heaven, if one were available in this place.  I’d have devoured it.
So there I was waiting with Carmella, each Tuesday the same routine.  Even in oblivion, consistency ruled the planet.  Tarron told us it would be like this.  He said the waiting would be grueling, though he himself had never and could never swim in the light; he was too old.  But he was right.  The waiting was hard and you could not train for that.
I prepared myself for three months before my swim, isolated myself whenever possible from the rest of the group.  I stayed in my room, ate alone, camped for three weeks straight in the wooded side of the lab’s property.  I did it right, just as Tarron trained me to.  I thought I was ready when the time came to take the step.  I thought I was.  I’d been wrong. 
No one could ever be prepared enough for the waiting because I was never sure what I waited for would come.  Another day, another glorious day, but without human companionship I looked to creatures for comfort.  Though they could be wondrous, there was so much to be missed by the human glance, the words, the smile, the touch.  Yet this was why I did it, wasn’t it?  All of us in Tee-Pod were spirits who loved the world and humanity.
Carmella blinked, scampered toward me, and ran onto my hand and up my arm, finally resting on my shoulder.  I rubbed the top of her head.  When the coddling stopped, she leaned in for more.
It was Tuesday afternoon and the sun beamed hot.  Would one come today?
No one came.  They never did.  One hundred eighty seven Tuesdays and still no one came.  I plucked her from my shoulder, carried her back down the knoll, into the hillhouse, and set her upon the floor.  She scratched at the hard dirt wall to sharpen her claws as I finished preparing dinner.  I was good at dinners.
~ ~ ~
The floral bouquet I gathered of spring dandelions and violets would prove tasty as a side salad this eve.  The rabbit stew had cooked all day and the meat was so soft it had fallen apart into thin strips in the clay pot.  The only way I liked my rabbit was tender and stringy. 
The smell couldn’t help but force me to remember my first hunting experience in this new land.  Even though the little hoppers were abundant, it still took me two days to catch one, once I finally set it in my head to.  After practice, I could snare a rabbit in fifteen minutes. 
Still, I preferred chicken meat to rabbit.  Chickens were easier to catch, but rarely seen.  They hid, so squirrels were what I ate most.  The one thing I disliked about making squirrel was those tiny bones.  Trying to get the meat off them if you cooked it whole was like shelling crab for its precious meat at the eating room back home.  The best thing about squirrel was that they weren’t scarce, and tasted better than rabbit.  Even at that they evaded me this morning, so it was rabbit I found myself eating tonight.
I removed the flora from the counter and began plucking the pieces from the stalks.  I used only the leaves from the dandelions and the petals of the violets, then threw the scraps out the door for the rabbits to pick at.  Slipping the new wooden plate from the old one beneath, I uncovered the other herbs and checked them for moistness.  The parsley and basil were damp enough to enjoy fully.  Putting a few large pieces of each into the salad, I reached for the hanging leather bag near the window and added several drops of apple vinegar.  Carmella was on the table waiting for me.  I threw her a strip of rabbit meat which she engulfed in a quick moment and then I sat down to eat. 
Once again I wondered who they would be sending and when he would get here.  My mind was patient, but my heart grew anxious.  Had Tarron really told me it would be a year or two, or had it been so long I’d forgotten?  Living alone, I suppose I’d forgotten some things about humanity, but in all certainty they said a year or two.  Either they were mistaken, or he was late.
I hoped I would remember social skills when he got here.  Worried about communication, I’d kept up with my languages by speaking to Carmella in each of them throughout my day.  I wondered which language he would speak.  Which pod would he come from, Tee-Pod, Crue-Pod, or one of the others?  I did my part.  Where was he? 
It crossed my mind that father couldn’t fix the machine, but of course he would fix it.  Aside from being head of the science division, he was a Seer too, after all.  He would view the Pool and know I was...
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Excerpt from 'Navigating the World of E-Book Publishing' by Deena Rae Schoenfeldt


With a no-nonsense, conversational style, Deena Rae of E-BookBuilders gives advice to aspiring authors about indie publishing. Filled with information about social media, pricing, formatting styles, covers, reviews and platforms (to a name a few) there is a wealth of information for the novice author. Even experienced authors and publishers will find this book helpful and informative. 

With sections such as ‘Authors — Quit Doing This!’, ‘In Praise of Audio(books)’, ‘Twitter Primer for Authors’, and ‘Should You Use Amazon’s Author Central’, Deena Rae gives detailed information that anyone in the industry of publishing should know and consider. 

Whether you are just starting on your publishing journey, considering entering the literary world or have 30 books for sale, there is something for everyone in this book.
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