Rare Atmosphere

Rare AtmosphereTHE BOOK: Rare Atmosphere


THE AUTHOR:  Rachelle Rogers

THE PUBLISHER: InWord Bound Press

Rachelle Rogers

SUMMARY: When, at age fifty-nine, Rachelle Rogers was told in a channeled conversation about a man she didn’t know, yet felt she’d been waiting for all her life, it initiated an extraordinary six year inter-dimensional affair of the heart. The rich tapestry of events, which unfolds through ongoing conversations with angelic beings affectionately called The Dead Guys, weaves through a world of classical music, poetic inspiration, synchronistic interludes, and unexpected landscapes including Paris, Provence, and the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. In an authentic and lyrical voice, Rare Atmosphere recounts a story of passion, vision, and the courage to quest for a grander truth.

THE BACK STORY: Although I kept a journal, I hadn’t intended to actually put my story into book form. While I was living it, I was living it.  And later, the writing of it as memoir began more as a retelling for myself. It was only after I had integrated the experiences and come to a place of inner understanding that I thought perhaps reading about my journey might be meaningful to others. Once I got started, it took a little over a year to complete. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: Rare Atmosphere is a title I’ve tried to use for decades. It was inspired by research I was doing on the 20th century poet Elinor Wylie’s (inter-dimensional) obsession with the 19th century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. I don’t think the words “rare” and “atmosphere” together appeared in any of her poems, but the phrase came clearly into my mind sounding very “Elinor and Shelley” and I knew I would use it as a title for something I would write. I tentatively named two previous manuscripts Rare Atmosphere, one that in part became integrated into this memoir, and one that became my novel, A Love Apart.


WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: I suppose someone might have to have an interest in or curiosity about the kind of memoir Rare Atmosphere portends to be. That said, a man who won a copy, actually read it and took the time to write: …“I’m not really doing justice to this work, because I don’t buy into all this stuff, but it doesn’t matter, because the author does and the journey she leads the reader on is mystical, poetic, artistic and, well, just plain wonderful…”

Once inside, I believe a reader would find an honest, lyrically written account of an unusual personal journey. The memoir takes its own form. The book is divided into sections by year. There are no chapters, but instead, vignettes of varying lengths with titles. And, be forewarned, there are pages that include poetry.

In this rare metaphysical excursion, seasoned writer Rachelle Rogers explores the synergy between inner and outer realms, past and present; a richly poetic journey that reflects the beauty and resilience of the human spirit.
Mindy Lewis, author of Life Inside: A Memoir
An unusual, touching account of a woman’s search for self-acceptance.
Kirkus Reviews
Many more of us have had an experience of an altered reality than have had the courage to write about it, and few who have written of their metaphysical journey have done so as honestly and convincingly as Rogers…
Peggy Tabor Millin, author of Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine
Find 5-star reader reviews on amazon.com

AUTHOR PROFILE: In 2006, I won a competition in which I was asked to write a 150 word description of myself in 3rd person. Some of this still holds true. 

She saw herself as the heroine of her own literary affairs du coeurs. She’d had three husbands, an inter-dimensional relationship with a famous Russian, a liaison with a younger lover doing time in a federal penitentiary. Her most recent passion was with a man who’d left due to fear of his own magnificence. Drama spilled into poetry, stories, novels. It was her identity, her inspiration. She wore mostly black. Soon, however, she became too wise for sorry stories. Angst loosened its narrative grip. She stopped coloring her hair, let it wind free in wild silver curls. She smiled a lot. For the first time, she experimented with the possibilities of yellow. But then, sitting in front of the keyboard on an almost spring morning, chickadees trilling in the bare branches of a sycamore, she wondered what in the world she could write about now that she was happy. 

In addition to writing, editing, and designing jewelry, I own Serendipity Digital Design, where I develop elegant affordable websites for the arts and small business and offer POD and ebook formatting and design. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The main thing I’d hoped to accomplish with Rare Atmosphere was to wing my words across a page as honestly as I knew how and let them fly out into the world to begin their own journey, hopefully landing in front of those who would find resonance with the writing and meaning in what I’ve shared. 

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  You can find excerpts from Rare Atmosphere on my website: rachellerogers.com. 

LOCAL OUTLETS: Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville.  

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:  Online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and other online bookstores. 

PRICE: $15.95 paperback  $5.99 Kindle ebook.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me by email, on Facebook, and on Twitter To read descriptions, reviews, and excerpts from my other books — A Love Apart, a novel, and POSSOONS stories, and to read some of my published poetry, please visit my website and blog at: rachellerogers.com

1. The Big Wheel


 Big Wheel

THE BOOK: The Big Wheel


THE AUTHOR: Scott Archer Jones

THE EDITOR: Phaedra Greenwood, line editor Tom Birol

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing

SUMMARY: Robko Zlata is careening across America, on the run with a call girl–his ex-wife– on a hot red racing bike. He stole the wrong thing, a device that can guarantee immortality. His wrathful target refuses to lose control of the world’s greatest piece of technology. Robko’s new worst enemy unlooses hundreds of his corporate security in pursuit, and asks his golden boy Thomas Steward to “follow the money” and turn up the thief by massive illegal surveillance. Thomas, morphing into his prey, becomes the most dangerous of hunters. But Thomas could die too: a gang of ex-mercenaries, mostly good at killing, torture, and rape, are hot on both Robko’s and Thomas’s heels. The thugs are ready to murder anyone who has ever touched the immortality device. Throw in the underground world of thieves and billionaires, drugs, punk clubs, five-star hotels and cheap motels, and you’ve got a hell of a ride.

Scott Archer JonesTHE BACK STORY: A near-future book, The Big Wheel deals with themes as varied as fate, a medieval-style society where its citizens are trapped in their own societal niches, amorality and unthinking goodness versus evil, crime, drugs, corporate and political corruption, and technology impacts on society. There are also punk bars.

WHY THIS TITLE: The Big Wheel is code for the “Wheel of Fate,” so I semaphore my theme of a medieval society.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Multi-level story ranging from crime-procedural through to the transformation of a Ivy-league character into a criminal.


“I read Jones’ first book so I expected this one to also be quirky. I was not disappointed. The plot is complex while at the same time a simple “bad guys are after the good guys” tale. At several junctures, I knew that I knew how all the plots and subplots were going to be resolved– and I was wrong every time. The world that Jones creates for the novel is fascinating, and, depending upon one’s view of immense corporate power and political corruption, quite believable. Murder and mayhem permeate the pages, interspersed with lots of humor, dark and otherwise, a Jones trademark. The reader is drawn into a series of murky settings and a tour of the recreational pharmaceutical universe. The dialog sparkles, the descriptions are crisp, the pace quick and the writing superb. I found myself re-reading sections just to savor Jones’ wordplay. I was completely caught off guard at the end. A fun book. But you have to pay attention! Worth your time.”

“THE BIG WHEEL by Scott Archer Jones will take you across the country and play with your mind as you read this book full of complex characters that you root for one minute and root against the next.

There are no truly “good guys” in this novel, just levels of lesser evil. Jones pulled me in, twisted me in a cyclone of emotions, and finally dropped me with a splat at the end. I recommend this book to anyone who likes complicated characters in complicated plots. Jones is a master.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Scott Archer Jones is currently living and working on his sixth and seventh novels in northern New Mexico, after stints in the Netherlands, Scotland and Norway plus less exotic locations. He’s worked for a power company, grocers, a lumberyard, an energy company (for a very long time), and a winery. Now he’s on the masthead of the Prague Revue, and launched a novel last year with Southern Yellow Pine, Jupiter and Gilgamesh, a Novel of Sumeria and Texas. Jupiter was a finalist in four categories of the 2014 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and won a 2015 Bronze IPPY and a 2015 Silver FAPA President’s Award. The next book The Big Wheel, arrived in March, and won FAPA’s Silver and Gold. River Rising is planned for release with Fomite at the end of the year.

Scott cuts all his own firewood, lives a mile from his nearest neighbor and writes grant applications for the community. He is the Treasurer of Shuter Library of Angel Fire, a private 501.C3, and desperately needs your money to keep the doors open.



AUTHOR COMMENTS: The Big Wheel might be considered genre, but I believe literary fiction can take on any genre. I also want to reassure my small fan base that I didn’t purchase and consume the drugs found in the book. I did interview a few people, including two village councilors. Just kidding.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.scottarcherjones.com/?page_id=366


Garcia Books in Santa Fe, Bookworks in Albuquerque, op.cit. in Taos.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Online at Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

PRICE: $14.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: scott@scottarcherjones.com

2. The Other Side of Midnight

THE Karen RivelloBOOK: “The Other Side of Midnight.”


THE AUTHOR: Karen Rivello

THE EDITOR: (I edited it myself).

THE PUBLISHER: Lulu Publishing.

SUMMARY: One prophecy, two families, one moon, two worlds; who will survive? A curse has spread across the Elvin realm of Waters Edge and only the ‘chosen one’ from the human world can stop it.

One hundred years after the prophecy was foretold, on the night of the harvest moon, the small village celebrates its bountiful year never suspecting that their ancient lore was about to unfold. Though none believed, it could not stop the events from unfolding, and only a few who had been unwillingly drawn in could hope to stop the Elvin prince that had betrayed his own.

As the power of the Elvin king wanes, the shadow dragon has also returned to the human world, leaving the pools open for more evil and vile things to pass through, and unless the two worlds pull their armies together, none may survive. How many must perish before the prophecy can be fulfilled?

THE BACK STORY: After my first book, which was a romance, my boys said they wanted something that would interest them – sigh Other Side of Midnight– hence the birth of my Elvin series. I had a lot of fun writing this one because with fantasy the sky’s the limit. It took a while to write since I don’t devote all my time to it.

WHY THIS TITLE: There are two realms to my story but a sinister place called Midnight stands between them. So what’s on ‘The Other Side of Midnight’?

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: If you’re into the whole elves and dragon sort of book this will satisfy your craving. Elves that can turn into good and evil dragons, elves that can turn into animals, a one hundred year old prophecy that has another hidden prophecy in it, and of course a love conflict.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I love to read, cuddled up in a comfy blanket and sipping something hot, preferably coffee, and hopefully while it’s raining. I like all kinds of books but my favorite are fantasy and romance with some mystery thrown in there. My favorite author is J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve been married since 1985 and have five wonderful kids. I love being outdoors and recently discovered kayaking, my new favorite sport. You can view my other books here: http://write2me1moretime.wix.com/karenrivello


“I absolutely love this book! If you are a fan of fantasy and the Lord of the Rings books then you must read this series. It has romance, mystery, intrigue, battle scenes, good elves vs evil elves that support  an excellent plot taking you to so many different possibilities. Karen keeps you on the edge trying to figure out the next outcome. This is definitely a book that you will not want to put down until you have finished it and then you’ll want to read the next book in the series!” — F. Kirala.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: As a mother of five, I have always encouraged my kids to read. I write what I think parents would approve of for their own kids.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Go to the Amazon page.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc. PRICE: Paperback $14.99, e-book $2.99 CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.rivello.1 / http://write2me1moretime.wix.com/karenrivello / https://twitter.com/

1. Patchwork Man


Debrah Martin

THE BOOK: Patchwork Man


THE AUTHOR: D.B. Martin (Debrah Martin writing as D. B. Martin).

THE EDITOR: Stephen Parolini (http://www.noveldoctor.com/)


SUMMARY: Patchwork Man tells the story of top English barrister Lawrence Juste and how his life unravels when his wife is killed in a hit and run accident, but not before she’s left him a blackmail letter. The reason? Lawrence isn’t quite who he says he is – in fact, his past is murky, to say the least; not exactly what you’d expect of a man of the courts. The letter is only the start of his problems. They gradually escalate to encompass incest, betrayal and murder, and an adversary determined to make him fall as far as a man can – maybe even into his own grave…

THE BACK STORY:Patchwork Man Originally the book was going to be a stand-alone novel, but Lawrence just had too much story to tel,l so it developed into a trilogy as the story developed. However, I always knew I wanted the first book to be called Patchwork Man because that’s exactly what Lawrence is – a ragbag of the past and the present, good and bad; cobbled together to create a whole. It was the idea of having a past so bad he would never want it uncovered that first prompted me to write the trilogy – and then what would be in that past.

The hardest part of writing Patchwork Man was keeping track of all the characters and how they fitted into Lawrence’s past and present. To research it I spent a lot of time initially finding out about children’s homes in the 1950’s, and then how the due process of law would apply. I was both gratified and disturbed when someone who’d actually worked in a children’s home at the time approached me after the book was published to say that what I’d written was very true to life. I was also immensely lucky to have the legal details scrutiniszd by an English High Court Judge. I won’t say who, but he has a very glamorous family pedigree!

I so enjoyed writing a trilogy – and learnt so much about where to break and when to restart the story across the three books, that I’ll definitely write another. And being awarded the Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion was absolutely wonderful. The trilogy is now complete with Patchwork People continuing Lawrence’s story towards finding himself and both his enemies and supporters, and Patchwork Pieces concluding the series in a truly unexpected way – according to reviewers!

WHY THIS TITLE?: See above

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: I think Susan Dahood said it best in her review: http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7202/1/Patchwork-Man-Reviewed-By-Karen-Dahood-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.VeSR7PlViko

“This is not an easy book to read. Evil lurks here. The narrator (Juste) is just short of bitter, and always afraid. The tone tends toward the ironic and the vocabulary intellectual as he tries to remain in control. Yet it is vividly humane. Two lines stand out as hallmarks of the author’s message: “It ain’t real life unless it’s personal,” and, explaining the title, “A patchwork person – for that’s what we all are, cobbled together by the thread of life.”

Patchwork Man is as compelling as last year’s psychologically taut, legal procedural “Apple Tree Yard” by Louise Doughty, and is as unrelentingly concerned with social justice for the poor as Elizabeth George’s stunning “What Came Before He Shot Her” (Inspector Lynley Book 14, 2006). Like those authors, D.B. Martin is not afraid to bring her readers to unpleasant realities, distasteful characters, and to moral questions that have no simple or, perhaps, any permanent solutions. Fair warning: She has two more tantalizing books in this thought-provoking and sometimes gut-wrenching series.”


See Susan Dahood above: http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7202/1/Patchwork-Man-Reviewed-By-Karen-Dahood-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.VeSR7PlViko Glenda Bixler: http://gabixlerreviews-bookreadersheaven.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/what-brilliant-concept-for-series-debut.html

Grady Harp Top 1000 reviewer – Amazon “D.B. Martin has a flair for building layer upon layer of meanings in dosages individually tolerable until the entire story comes to an end. This is the beginning of an immensely successful trilogy.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Debrah Martin writes under three different pen names and in three very different genres. She plots fast-paced and compelling thrillers as D.B. Martin, with the first in the Patchwork trilogy, Patchwork Man, having been recently awarded a coveted B.R.A.G. Medallion. The explosive conclusion to the series, Patchwork Pieces, was released on 13th April 2015. As Debrah Martin she writes literary fiction, where often the truth IS stranger than fiction, and two new titles are due to be released in 2015/16. And not to be overlooked is her YA teen detective series, penned as Lily Stuart – THE teen detective. Irreverent, blunt, funny and vulnerable. Webs is the first in the series and Magpies is to follow shortly.

So why not stick to just one name and one genre?

‘Variety is the spice of life,’ she says. ‘And I continually have all these new ideas – they have to come out somehow!’

Debrah’s past careers have spanned two businesses, teaching, running business networking for the University of Winchester (UK) and social event management. She chaired the Wantage (not just Betjeman) Literary Festival in 2014 and also mentors new writers.

You can find out about all of her books and latest releases on her website http://www.debrahmartin.co.uk

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Prologue and first chapter as the prologue is very short:



They overwhelm you when you least want them to – like memories. You tuck them safely away and think they’re lost. They’re not. They’re merely lying dormant, awaiting the miscreant – inquisitive, prodding and delving.

I opened the envelope clumsily, exhausted from the effort of maintaining a dignified propriety since Margaret’s death yesterday. It was a list of names and dates and places, written in her hand. My hidden history, meticulously researched – including the parts I’d thought even I had forgotten. 1999 rolled back forty years to the first time the threads of my life unravelled, when I was nine, and a tidal wave of memories crashed over me in a suffocating arc of white water and humiliation. Then my body shook and the cold finger of fear slid down my neck and into my gut as the patchwork man felt his carefully seamed life pull apart.

1. Memories

It was 1959 and I was nine, the day everything changed. Nine, and puny. The aftermath of the Second World War was plain in my rationed frame and our meagre lifestyle, and the Croydon of then was a bomb-crumbled crater of dilapidated buildings and open spaces, perfect for kids to disappear in when they should be somewhere else. I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. I ran into the room, all skinned knees and flailing elbows, nose running from being outside in the crisp cold of early autumn. I recall even now hastily wiping it on the sleeve of my jumper so Ma wouldn’t chide me, and how the snot made a slimy snail trail. It sparkled in the morning sunlight, like someone had woven magic into the jumper’s holed and matted dereliction. I remember that almost more clearly than what the woman was saying.

‘You can’t carry on like this Mrs Juss.’ The woman was sitting on the only armchair we had; Pop’s chair, by the fire. She’d be for it if he came in. She looked as if she had a smell under her nose. Her bright red lips were stretched into a thin supercilious smile, and her nose wrinkled at Ma as if she was the one making the smell. I stopped in the doorway, mid-way between bursting in and running away. Was she here from the school? Telling Ma on me, and how I hadn’t been in weeks? Her legs were crossed daintily at the ankles but her ankles weren’t dainty at all. They were thick and bloated, like Mrs Fenner’s cat had been after it had died. It had blown up like a balloon and Ted Willis had poked it with a stick to see if it would pop. It hadn’t, it had just oozed pus and maggots and we’d watched fascinated but disgusted as the balloon had deflated and the sickly brown mess oozed out.

‘It were a nice ’un once,’ Ted had said to me. I hadn’t replied. I’d been too busy controlling the urge to retch over the yard wall, but I couldn’t forget too how it used to perch on the fence near the bins, stalking mice. It had been proud and feral then. Why did it have to turn into this?

I didn’t puke. Ted would have thought me a wimp, and told the others. Then Jonno and his mates would mark me as an easy target and tail me when I went down to Old Sal’s shop for Pop’s fags or a jug of milk for Ma, and grab whatever I’d got on me. They’d kick me in the guts for it too. Pop would belt me, and the buckle of his belt would leave a scratch from the spike. No, even as a child, I knew there were times when you had to feign indifference for appearances’ sake and keep your thoughts to yourself.

Instinctively I didn’t like the woman. Not just because her ankles reminded me of the cat, but because of the way she was talking to Ma. Ma looked so defeated. She was never like that with me. Sometimes she was as tough as old nails, hollering at me for being ‘a right little shit’ and whacking me across the knees with her wooden spoon. Other times she’d ruffle my hair and sigh. ‘Oh Kenny, whatever’ll I do with you; all of you,’ and I’d feel a surge of love for her that made me want to hug her tight and never let go because Ma just made you feel special when she did that.

‘What else can I do?’ Ma rounded on the woman harshly, a touch of her old spirit showing momentarily. Then she bent double with pain and gripped the back of the rickety chair that was hers at our dinner table.

‘Do you need the midwife?’ the woman asked anxiously, shifting awkwardly as if about to up and run herself.

‘Nah, I’ve had enough of them to know when it’s me time.’ Ma straightened up and saw me in the doorway. The woman saw me at the same time.

‘Is this one of them?’

‘This is my Kenny.’ Ma held a hand out towards me.

‘How old is he?’

‘I had him after Georgie so he must be nine or thereabouts.’ I wanted to say I’m here, and I can speak for meself, but I daren’t in case the woman was from the school. I studied Ma, trying to work out from her expression who the woman was, but it was blank. Worn out from childbirth and sheer grind I suppose by then.

‘Well, this one will make eleven Mrs Juss, and you can’t go on like this, whatever your religious beliefs. What school does Kenny go to? And why isn’t he there now?’ Ma looked at me, confused, and I felt like I’d betrayed her.

‘Which one do yer go to?’

‘The one down the end.’ My voice came out too loud. I couldn’t remember the name of it either. Shit.

‘So why aren’t you there, boy?’ The woman was addressing me now. I hung my head. She must be from the school. What was she here for otherwise? Now I was really for it. She turned her attention back to Ma. ‘Do you know why he isn’t at school, Mrs Juss?’ Ma shook her head slowly. ‘Do you know whether any of your children are at school right now?’ Ma shook her head again and flinched as another contraction cut her in two. The woman sighed loudly. ‘You have ten children, you’re about to produce another and yet you do not know where they are at any time during the day. I repeat, Mrs Juss: you cannot carry on like this.’ There was silence, broken only by Ma’s involuntary gasp.

‘It’s time,’ she croaked as she bent over, and her waters broke in a rush over the linoleum. The woman jumped up and grabbed me just before the blood-soiled puddle reached my feet, boot soles turning up at the ends where they were worn to splitting.

‘And what about your children?’

I tried to twist away from the woman. ‘Gerroff, you cow! Ma needs the midwife. Leggo and I’ll get her.’ I was afraid for Ma, but I wanted to escape as well. The woman’s nails cut into my shoulder but she let go and I stumbled forwards, almost ending up in the murky pool.

‘Go on then boy, hurry up.’ She waved me off impatiently. To Ma she said, ‘Where do you normally give birth, Mrs Juss – in here or on your bed?’ I didn’t hear Ma’s reply, I took to my heels and ran for Mrs Lapwood.

We kids were made to stay out in the yard as we all straggled back in from wherever we’d been – not at school; that was for sure. Binnie and Sarah looked after the littlest ones whilst the boys played footie and made catapults to ping stones at the crows. If we got one of them, they’d be tea, so it wasn’t just for mischief that we aimed at them. Upstairs the curtains were closed. Ma’s groans after I’d fetched the midwife were enough to keep me out, even if curiosity about what ‘give birth’, like the hoity-toity woman had called it, was actually all about. I’d never been this close to a new brother or sister appearing before. It had always happened whilst I’d been out somewhere. It wasn’t as if it was the first time, of course, but this time made it through the immunity that childhood usually provides. I didn’t want to see Ma’s contorted face, or hear those inhuman howls again. They had terrified me, even though I wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone. There was something no longer childish about my world that day.

About five hours later, bellies empty and limbs stiff from the insidious cold of the twilight of an autumn day, we were allowed to troop in and see the newest member of the family. It was scrawny and red-faced, screwed up and misshapen like one of Binnie’s ragdolls that had got mixed up with the red table cloth and come out of the wash deep pink, instead of white. The snooty woman turned out to be from The Authorities – as Pop put it.

She was still there, and a bloke with small wire-rimmed glasses and a big folder under his arm had joined her. They were waiting in the corner of the room and counted us in. I didn’t like it. It made me feel like I was being herded. Ted had told me his uncle counted the sheep on his farm in before they went to the slaughter house. Ted had stayed there once, when his mother had rheumatic fever and he and his brothers and sisters were shipped off to the farm until she was better.

‘It were good,’ he’d informed me when he came back, grinning, ‘until they herded up all them little lambs and stuffed them onto a truck. You knew they was gonna get their gizzards slit – sshh,’ and he made a slicing action across his throat like it was being cut. I didn’t like the idea of herds after that or being counted in. It was probably what put me off school because I did like finding out things I hadn’t known before.

The man pushed between us as we filled the room, and separated us into two groups; the ones older than ten and the ones younger. I shuffled toward the older ones’ group, taking Georgie with me, but was kept back by the bloke. The older ones – three of them – were marshalled across to the woman with the bulging ankles. Pop was there too, looking stony-faced in his best trousers and a clean white shirt tucked behind his braces. With the ‘Authorities’ people there, the belt that I feared so much was redundant around his waist. We kids all knew what the belt was there for. Pop stuck his thumbs in it and slouched against the wall, scowling, as the bloke with the glasses and folder told us to sit on the floor. Jill sat on Binnie’s lap and Emm was on Sarah’s, curled into a little huddle like Binnie’s doll. Sarah was twelve and Binnie almost eleven. They bossed me about when they had the chance and I cheeked them back like the devil, but I think they were kind girls really. I wish I hadn’t pulled their hair and pinched them as spitefully as I had when they told me off now. There were times when they mopped my cuts and hugged me when it hurt, like

little mothers. I remember those times with a regret it’s hard to shake, because I haven’t seen them again since that night – in all of forty years – over half an expected lifetime. They are a part of my past I might have still wanted around – once.

The fat-ankled woman subdivided us again. The girls went with her, apart from the two tiniest ones who were taken back to Ma. The woman took my older sisters into their bedroom – shared between the five of them, Binnie, Sarah, Mooney Mary as we called her – turned at birth, or so Ma Lapwood said, and Jill and Emm, the girl twins. The man took me, Pip and Jim into our room and told us to pack our clothes into small brown suitcases that were already placed on our beds, open and waiting. Win and Georgie were told what to do and left to it.

Pip and Jim sat either side of the suitcases, eyeing them and the man suspiciously. They were almost identical, but not quite. I could tell the difference because Pip had lost both his two front teeth at the time whereas Jim had only lost one, so it was easy to work out who was who. I always wonder why – given the fact that they enjoyed tricking everyone so much – Jim hadn’t already yanked out his extra tooth. Maybe I remember us all as both harder and more vulnerable than we were at the time? They were the lookers of our motley crew, sandy hair falling in wilful shocks round scrubbed-apple cheeks, freckles and bright blue eyes; tomboys with charm. I was just a scraped-kneed, stick-legged awkward version of them, with sallow cheeks, wary eyes and an apparently hard outer skin. Ironic that my hard outer skin was in reality softer than a baby’s, and my heart easier hurt than a girl’s.

‘You’re going on a little trip, whilst your mother gets better after having this baby. It’s all too much for her to cope with all of you at the same time. It will be nice, you’ll see.’ He was quietly spoken and seemed sincere. I remembered Ted’s trip to stay with his uncle. I liked the sound of the wide open spaces, the animals, the fresh air and time to roam. He’d

even said the village school they’d gone to was all right. No more Jonno and his gang, or Pop and his belt.

‘Ted went to stay with his uncle when his ma was poorly,’ I told the twins. ‘It’ll be OK, you’ll see.

‘Will we all be together?’ Pip asked shyly.

‘I’m sure it will all be sorted out satisfactorily,’ the man assured him, but looked away at his watch. ‘We really need to hurry up though. You have a train to catch.’

‘A train?’ Jim was agog. ‘I’ve never been on a train before. Is it a big un? Is it taking us somewhere good?’ The man looked at him reflectively.

‘Yes it is.’ He said eventually. He went to stand by the window and looked out, face half in shadow. ‘Come on, get a move on then,’ he threw back at us over his shoulder without turning round. I bundled what little I had in my suitcase as quickly as I could and then went over to him at the window. He was looking out at the grassy sides of the communal air-raid shelters that were still standing from the war. Ma occasionally told us stories of how cramped and stuffy it had been down them and what it had been like when the bombs fell. My oldest brother Win had been conceived the year the war officially ended and Ma had named him after Winston Churchill in honour: Winston Kenneth Lawrence Juss. She’d rearranged the names for me and Georgie had a similar combination. There was no denying the connection between us – that was sure.

The speed at which you could run down the slopes of the shelters depended on how confident you felt at the time. It was the way we tested who was top dog locally. Jonno was the current holder of the fastest time then so he and his gang were in charge. I’d always intended to beat him one day. I chalked up that particular race as one that would have to wait until I was older – maybe a good thing considering my skinny body and scrawny

muscles. Occasional trips and falls did no real damage, but I had still to develop the ability to put my hands out in front of me as a cushion so I usually had a good assortment of bruises, after-effects of nose-bleeds and the occasional black eye as rewards for my practice runs. Ma obviously thought that I was often in fights and would exclaim wearily over me when I rolled in with another set of injuries. I tried once to tell her it was all innocent but she wasn’t listening. It never seemed to matter much after that, other than that I didn’t like her thinking I was in trouble all the time, when really I was anything but.

Now, comparing the man to the child, I’m still largely unco-ordinated. My golf swing is only fair and I gave up on squash and tennis in my early forties once I married Margaret and handed on the baton of the social integration race. Her co-ordination was impeccable – like everything else.

Back to then: our road was quiet for a slum area. Unusual to even have one still around in the sixties, but the rag and bone man was possibly the most interesting thing that made its way down the street at this time in the evening. He was on his way home and just stopping by to see if there was any trade around before ending his day in the next road. No-one had ever been able to explain to me why he was called a rag and bone man, apart from that he sometimes accepted old clothes, even rags. There were no bones on his horse-drawn cart. I knew that because I’d lain in wait once and clambered up on to it to check when he was having a fag. Once or twice I’d been allowed to pat the horse and feel it blow gently from its great cavernous nostrils onto my open palm as I held out a handful of grass. Its nose felt like nothing I’d ever felt before, soft and smooth like the black velvet they’d draped over Grandpa’s coffin. I couldn’t understand the rag and bone man’s call either until on one of the occasions that I was patting his horse he explained that it was for the things he was after. Everyone dumped the things he might collect on the kerb for him. Opposite

our house there was an old loo cistern that had been abandoned in the gutter and he stopped to load it on the cart as I and The Authorities man were looking out the window. A man was walking along the pavement and watching, maybe wondering what the rag and bone man would do with such a foul thing. He wasn’t looking where he was going and walked straight into the lamppost, banging his head with a clang we could hear from our flat. The Authorities man and I both laughed simultaneously and the brief moment of shared laughter encouraged me to ask him more.

‘Is it in the country or in a town?’ I hoped he would say the country so there might be some horses there and I could find out more about the strange way such a big beast as a cart-horse could also be so gentle when I fed it grass. He sucked his lower lip in and rubbed his hand across his face thoughtfully.

‘I don’t know I’m afraid, but I’m sure it will be fine. A nice place where you’ll be with other children your age and it will be fun.’ The words ‘Children’s Home’ were never uttered. Even at that age, and ignorant as I was, if they had, I would have made a fuss. Ma kissed us each weakly on the cheek and Pop nodded at us, still scowling, as we were led away.


The records I’ve seen since confirm my age then – nine – but, like Ma, I wasn’t entirely sure of it at the time. Birthdays didn’t feature much in our lives. There was no money so why would there be cake and presents? It’s only since adulthood and seeing the money lavished on modern day kids that ‘birthday’ means anything other than another day of grazed knees, rumbling gut and dodging Pop’s belt for some mischief I’d supposedly done and he’d found out about. I hadn’t done anything wrong that day, ironically, and it was that which worried me for so long afterwards. That and the fact that maybe I should have tried harder to explain to Ma that my bumps and bruises weren’t from fights or mischief, just from running

down the side of the air raid shelter. Maybe she wouldn’t have assumed I was bad then and they would have kept me, otherwise why had I been punished when I hadn’t done anything wrong?

You can think something is your fault nearly all your life, but it’s not. It’s just the way it is and you’re the poor sod who got caught in the backlash at the time. So it was for me then, caught in the backlash of the grinding poverty, Catholic rigidity over birth control, and the sheer desperation to survive that was life for my family along with so many others at the time. When number eleven came along, something had to give. It wasn’t just me, of course. The other kids went too, and none of us had done anything wrong. But it wasn’t anywhere nice, even though it was in the country. Not anywhere nice at all.

LOCAL OUTLETS: WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Currently just Amazon: http://smarturl.it/patchworkman

PRICE: Print $11.99/ £7.99

Kindle $3.99/ £1.99 (variable)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Email address: info@debrahmafrtin.co.uk Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahMartin.Author

Twitter handle: @StorytellerDeb

Blog: http://debrahmartinwrites.wordpress.com/

2. End of Men

End of Men

C.B. Murphy

THE BOOK: End of Men.



THE PUBLISHER: Zoographico Press, St Paul, MN.

SUMMARY: C. B. Murphy’s End of Men is a satiric tour de force about the ambiguity of identity where art intersects relationship. Inspired by The Magus, the book takes a successful Chicago couple through life-altering experiences ending on an Italian island run by a Warholian student of Aleister Crowley and his Iranian-feminist femme fatale. Adrift in midlife angst, financier Ben withholds the secrets of his wild past from his younger wife Kay. In horror at becoming a suburban “Beige,” Kay longs for her own walk on the wild side. As assistant curator of a feminist-themed outsider art exhibit, the End of Men, Kay contacts Ben’s estranged friends, the narcissistic Gordon and the exotic Shiraz, who run a film school on a Mediterranean island. Their secret is that it is a struggling place where underpaid Eurotrash produce factory art while working as grips and extras on Shiraz’s underfunded masterpieces of neo-feminist surrealism. When the self-styled enfants terribles premier their film at Kay’s museum, Ben’s past crashes through its barriers. Caught in the nether zone of grief and confusion, he accepts an invitation to “vacation” at the island described as an artists’ paradise. In Magus territory now, Ben and Kay become pawns in bizarre psychological games of erotic adventure with the promise of a renewed marriage through the reawakening of Ben’s wild heart. In this swirling circus of eccentricity, Ben’s ability to distinguish what is real quickly erodes as he and Kay become performers in Gordon and Shiraz’s final film, a reenactment of the immolation of Jacques de Molay, the last Knights Templar. As simmering violence threatens to become more than cinematic metaphor, Ben and Kay realize the manipulations have become dangerous.

THE BACK STORY: My first book, Cute Eats Cute, wasn’t originally supposed to be told entirely from a young person’s point of view. That’s just the way it worked out. That character’s voice was so strong “he” just wrote the book. That left me wanting to write an “adult” novel with more serious themes. I had a writing coach once who said (he got this from someone else, I don’t know who) that you find a door you never went through in your life and send a character through. So in many ways the characters in END OF MEN are composites of people from my life (including me) but no one is 100% any one person. I had certain themes that seemed not to easily connect but they were themes from my life. Examples are: art, filmmaking, business, gardening, and occultism. See what I mean?  Most of it I had already researched from living it. There were parts, like placing a section of it on an Italian island that I had to research, especially for the vegetation and so forth. Some of the Aleister Crowley stuff I had to re-research; I had read a lot about him when I was younger but forgot most of it.

I don’t feel like I am when my fingers are flying but as it turns out I am a slow writer. I take my time with first drafts and revisions. So I kind of hate to take this question too seriously. Let’s say “a long time.”  I do believe in writing groups, however. I was in one for a long time and learned how to take criticism. I am still in one, though it’s much smaller and more informal. Sometimes writing groups can be negative, though. I realized there were many people that wrote for a hobby (usually the first chapter over and over) and never intended to finish their book. I don’t mean to say anything negative about that hobby, but it’s a different position than one who expects to finish something and get it out there.

WHY THIS TITLE? I had this title in mind for a long time. Then as fate would have it, another author (Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men: And the Rise of Women) came out right before mine! Her book was a feminist nonfiction take on contemporary society and mine was fiction. But she was moderately famous and I was an unknown. I still don’t know if it was the “right” decision to keep the name or not, but I suspect those kind of polemics date pretty fast and as we know fiction last forever. Plus, Warhol said any publicity (even my accident) is a good thing. My title comes from the title of a feminist art show in the book called the End of Men. So my themes do relate to Ms. Rosin’s though as a fiction writer I take the attitude that watching it all happen is preferable to acting like you know what’s really coming next. Part of my inspiration for the book was John Fowles’ The Magus, so I could have gone a route where I tried to pay homage to that title. But then titles like The Magician (etc) have been overused in books and movies; it would be hard to find a fresh one. Maybe I will someday, as one of the presenters suggested at AWP*—retitle your book and put it out again!

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?:  Going back to my list of what the book is about (art, filmmaking, business, gardening, and occultism) I could add: relationships, friendship, and clash of world views. I think many people have to deal with the issue of change in their lifestyles and how that effects old friendships. There’s a film that covered this material pretty well (The Banger Sisters, 2002) but it was strictly a comedy. It did deal with the fact, like my book, Sarandon’s character took the “straight path” and Hawn’s character remained the wild child she was in college. My book deals with similar issue but complicates it into a four- way matrix.

There are two couples in my book — Ben and Kay, living the suburban life style in Chicago, and the unmarried artistic partners, Gordon and Shiraz, who run a film school on an Italian island. Ben was an artsy pal of those two when he was in college, but as he got older he left all that “hippie stuff” behind. But he married a younger woman, Kay, who felt she missed the fun of the 60s and wanted very much to know what happened back then (especially to her husband who is closed-mouthed about it all). To complicate it all, Shiraz is an Iranian trying to meld “modern art” and her dedication to being a “new” Islamic woman. Gordon is an eccentric pill-popping bisexual who believes in the second coming of the notorious “magician” Aliester Crowley. So there. Lots of reasons to read it.


From Amazon:

Reviewer #1

“His new novel, END OF MEN (published before Hannah Rosin’s book) is as trenchant, funny, and unpredictable as his first book. I could try to synopsize the plot–which snakes its way through the midwestern art world, slithers onto the Greek island where Aleister Crowley once held court, and twists around the necks of gardeners, artists, museum curators, filmmakers, hardboiled businessmen, and narcissists of all stripes– but it hardly matters, because the book is a thrilling roller coaster, not a comforting Sunday drive. Be prepared to have your head turned, your values questioned, and your face occasionally slapped, all while following an array of eccentric characters down strange yet always believable paths.”

 Reviewer #2

The End of Men” has a storyline filled with webs that are skillfully woven by the author, C.B. Murphy. The book evolves around a successful Chicago couple as they go through life changing adventures. He keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will be next. As a little twist he adds a little humor. You will get the ride of your life while you are Reading an interesting story filled with characters that you actually want to get to know. The author throws in some history along the way. This is an adventure you won’t want to miss. Mr. Murphy writes a believable story.”

The main characters, Ben and Kay are dealing with problems in their marriage after Ben’s father’s death. Kay contacts Ben’s old college friends. From there it has an interesting mixture of art, sexuality and much more. The author also adds the element of danger to the mix. What more could a reader want?? Just one thing, it will make you stop and think about your values and your life. I would recommend this book to everyone.”

Reviewer #3

C.B. Murphy pens “End of Men” in a plot filled with twists and turns that kept me guessing through the whole book, while throwing in just a bit of humor. He takes you through a truly interesting roller coaster ride of adventure with interesting characters, and a bit of history. Although the characters were different/creative/eccentric, the author always stayed on a believable path throughout the book. A fantastic read and highly recommended for all….just be prepared, it will make you question your value

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “At this stage in my life I am focused on producing excellent work (more than making money of “being famous.”) With my range of interests it’s easy to get confused by multiple projects so I try to focus on the novels as my “main” thing. My primary audience (and best critics) are my sons (both in their 20s now). I write for them and now  with them as Nicolas Murphy is collaborating with me on Bardo Zsa Zsa.

I would like to learn to write poetry and do some, but I can barely take on any more

I am a student of history and the contemporary world, but unlike many of my fellow novelists don’t feel I have the “answer” which I then weave into my plots. I prefer the idea that everyone holds a tiny piece (some very tiny, obviously) of “the truth” which is the world from their point of view. We are all right and wrong in that sense. This is why I prefer fiction to non-fiction. I think in the end we are locked into our world of being a character in a world of characters. Getting inside of “character” is the most challenging and rewarding thing one can do. Much better than advocating for a point of view that is probably deeply flawed, as they all are.


Chapter One

Ben stood on the patio in his bare feet, arms outstretched like a scarecrow or Jesus. He was waiting for the sun to warm the red stones, making it impossible for him to remain where he was. This was the ritual he had stumbled onto and performed religiously every day of the month since his father died. He wore what he jokingly (Kay didn’t think it funny) called his work clothes: cut-off jeans like he wore as a kid. Kay had made him agree to put on a shirt when he worked in the front yard.

Thinking of his wife, Ben glanced at the wall of picture windows above him, but the glare made it impossible to see if she was watching him. But she was there, he knew, drinking coffee and worrying about when he would return to his normal life and stop acting strange. She would stand there a few more minutes and then join the commuters flowing out of the houses around them and then he would be alone with his plants.

Morning was the hardest part of the day. The ritual helped. All around him garage doors had been opening and closing for hours. Breadwinners, men and women, but mostly men, were hitting the Kennedy Expressway in their upscale cars—BMWs, Saabs, giant SUVs, and the occasional minivan. The traffic was probably backed up to the Forest Lake exit since six. He was glad Kay’s hours were forgiving, though she took her assistant curator position more seriously than most of those around her.

Ben heard the distinctive roar of the yellow school buses driven by reforming alcoholics while electricians, plumbers and handymen were hitching up their pants, and fantasizing about the lady of the house being a nympho-mom. Hispanic maids hopped out of beater Fords laughing and waving goodbye. Men began spraying lawns with toxic chemicals from vans ornamented with ecologically friendly logos.

Ben knew if he could get through this last hour of the rush, he would be free once again to pretend the world beyond his backyard didn’t exist, especially the world of jobs. Somewhere he still had (as far as he knew) a desk, a secretary, work piling up, and young men eyeing his office hungrily. He was fully aware that by all standards—Kay’s, his secretary Evie‘s, and surely those hungry young men and some women (who had named themselves the Young Turks)—his sabbatical had already crossed over from acceptable grief into questionable sanity. He would have to make a move soon, take a stand.

The patio stones were heating up fast.

His mother, Cass, had told Kay she knew what he was doing. Ben was waiting for her to confront him and shame him into reactivating the Protestant work ethic and “stop messing around with the family’s good name.” She could say something no one else could: “I loved your father more than you, and I’m functioning normally. You don’t see me skipping out on my responsibilities and walking around the yard half naked. Whatever you call this, it isn’t grieving.”

Ben agreed with that in part. This thing he was doing wasn’t exactly grieving, but he didn’t know what it was.  He had read an article, years ago, in one of Kay’s art magazines, about a woman (a dancer or performance artist, he couldn’t remember) who lay on her floor for days until she found what motivated her to move. From there, ostensibly, she rose and created the work for which she was being interviewed. But Ben couldn’t tell anyone about how this woman’s story reminded him of his own. Even Kay would think he was putting her on. He wished he could find what motivated him before something tragic happened.

He had full days planned; he was busy. Once the suburban world completed its shift into daytime maintenance, he became, like them, a service person. He became a gardener, pure and simple, pagan and basic. A laborer. He loved this. But first he had to segue from the porch ritual.

He hated that Kay watched, but he wouldn’t let that stop him. He closed his eyes, rested his arms a moment, and then stretched them out, again thinking of that dancer as she rose for the first time from the floor. Kay officially tolerated eccentricity. It came with the territory of working for a cutting-edge “visionary art” museum, the art of the untrained and the insane. Her job brought her into contact with the near-insane, artists, and staff, every day. Ben suspected the association didn’t help his standing with her. He had always been a counterpoint to that world, the stable one who laughed off the irritating eccentricity of her world and brought home the bacon they lived on.

He sensed the duration of this “period” of his was beginning to scare her in a way it hadn’t before. He took a bit of satisfaction in this.  She should have known when they got married that she was getting a strange bird. Hadn’t she bragged about it to her girlfriends (who worried about the ten year age difference) that Ben had an exotic past he would rather not talk about but, nonetheless, was a solid basis for understanding her world? Ben assumed that part of her fascination with him was about the times he had experienced and she had not, the mythic age when masses of people took mind-altering drugs and danced naked on beaches. She did not hide the fact that she wished she had been there. Ben assumed his history somehow stood in for experience she wished was part of her experiential resume. What she didn’t know was that, after the wedding (after impressing her, landing her), he more or less shut up about it, like the World War II vets who killed German boys with their bare hands only to now sit on their porches staring. Ben once overheard Kay say on the phone that Ben was like Jack Kerouac who had worked for his father’s firm on LaSalle Street instead of going home to his mother and nodding out in an alcoholic stupor. He wasn’t totally sure what he thought about that, but he accepted it. Suits and deals grew over his other life like mold covered the forest floor.

Nevertheless Kay’s arty peers saw Ben as a Willy Loman or worse—a Stepford husband tolerable mostly for the paycheck he brought home.  Kay said she didn’t care about the money, claimed she could go low-income and live in a trailer any time, but Ben doubted how easy it would be for her to give up the style to which she had become accustomed, including an Audi with satellite radio. Her own paycheck became essentially petty cash, disposable income; mad money.

Then, out of nowhere came her desire for a baby. Ben wondered if she could still walk away and live in a trailer, dirty-faced toddler in tow.

He tried to force all these thoughts out of his mind. He imagined himself bombarded by subatomic particles originating from the sun: photons, gamma rays, neutrinos, negatively charged ions, and all the new particles so recently discovered their names weren’t even in textbooks yet. These building blocks of the universe converged, passed through or bounced off the electromagnetic field that constituted his body, the illusion of solidity people call flesh. In Ben’s imaginary science film, he saw some particles attracted to his gravitational mass, others deflected. Some were so tiny they zipped through him as if he weren’t there. Some caused changes as they passed through, leaving a barely perceptible burn only an electron microscope could identify. These burns, Ben imagined, would eventually kill him through their encouragement of subtle cell mutation. On the other hand, some rare particles, he speculated, might help. It was not impossible that, in such a chaotic and unknown swarm, one or two could knock out a cold virus or kill evil bacteria. Some things were well beyond science.

Ben felt Kay eyeing him critically from an upper window. He imagined her drinking coffee from an oversized cup she held with two hands. He wondered if he should consider her worry a motivation for changing his behavior. Looking down, she would see a man in his late forties with thinning hair, a slim athletic build (“trim for his age”), and a tan deeper than a grownup should have (given everything we know about skin cancer). She would see a man a decade older than her, but one she still hoped would father her children.

Ben wondered how strongly she was clinging to the official explanation for his odd behavior—that it was all about his father and employer, one and the same, dying a month ago. Obviously it was hitting him harder than anyone expected, especially given the publicly combative nature of his relationship with his father. She might have taken comfort in the fact that Ben was exhibiting some erratic, spontaneous behavior, a precious human quality so valued in the decade she missed. But working against this was his maleness. What did men know about handling grief? Whatever her rationalization for not demanding he take a serotonin uptake inhibitor (dopamine could be the issue after all); he knew her restraint was wearing thin. Lately she had begun to snap at him and criticize him. If he wanted to hurt her, he could say she was doing it like his father, in public. Worse, she had taken to talking to his mother on the phone, perhaps seeking a childhood paradigm that might explain his behavior.

Cass, no doubt, gave her an earful.

Ben had decided that today was the last weekday of his grief sabbatical. Should he tell Kay? Monday he would go back to work, all this Tarzan-in-the-garden nonsense behind him. He couldn’t just blurt it out, though. It had to be the right moment. He was ready to be a man in the world again, to put away childish things. He was motivated.

Ben heard a click and then the sound of metal sliding against metal as the patio door opened. He turned to catch a glimpse of Kay’s long white leg protruding from a blue kimono. She touched her big toe on the red patio stones as if she were testing bath water. She was not dressed for work. Since when had she started acting like the others at the museum, not caring about arriving on time? Everyone over there was always coming from or going to something: therapy, Pilates, traffic court, or volunteering for some utopian cause they assumed the museum would agree with.

They’re so hot!” she said. “How can you stand out there in bare feet?”

I just dance around every few seconds. Wait and see.” Ben raised his index finger toward the sky and wiggled his butt. Kay laughed. Ben felt relief. He wasn’t so crazy that he forgot how to make her laugh.

Wait—my coffee,” she said, disappearing.

She returned wearing flip-flops and then moved tentatively out of the dark interior of the house, shielding her eyes from the sun. She carried her yellow latte cup in one hand and a cordless phone in the other.

Should’ve brought my sunglasses,” she said, laughing self-consciously. It was an old joke—her simultaneous disdain for, and need of stuff, lots of stuff.

Embroidered snow cranes flashed from the back of her blue kimono as she closed the sliding door with her foot. She liked to make a show of honoring Ben’s obsession about keeping the house cool. 

You can do amazing things with those feet,” he said, surprised she wasn’t dressed yet for work.

She walked toward him, squinting, holding the phone like a visor.

God,” she said, handing him the phone. “I almost forgot why I came out here. It’s Evie.” She nodded at the phone.

This startled Ben. Evie was his secretary. Hadn’t he made rules about accepting calls at home? Or had he just thought he had and no one called? At the moment, Evie represented the world he had been avoiding, the hapless ambassador of MM&O. She had called once before but it had to do with where to put his father’s personal things. Evie could have called Cass, but Kay understood and had dealt with it.

Ben grabbed the phone, trying not to glare at Kay. “Evie!” he said with slightly manic gusto. It came out stronger, crazier, than he expected. In the second before she answered, he wondered if it was really her. It could be a prank by one of the Young Turks who coveted his office. Could it be something Kay was in on, something she cooked up with Cass to jar him into reshouldering his responsibilities?

When Ben heard the sound of chewing followed by a rapid swallow, he knew it was Evie.

Um, Mr. Wolfe?” Evie asked in a breathless voice.

Ben had forgotten how sexy she sounded on the phone. Her voice always made him think of women in old movies. She was addressing him more formally than usual, which might foreshadow the seriousness of her mission. Certainly there must be new power configurations coalescing since Joe the Wolf died a month ago. In the eulogy, J.P. had said the old man had died at his desk, kindly leaving out the fact that someone found him face down in his lunch. Ben remembered wondering if one of the Young Turks might have done it. They were amoral enough, but there had been no sign of a struggle. Perhaps the reason for formality was simple: Evie was afraid of talking to her old boss, a man everyone (even Cass who prowled the office) said was acting mad.

You can call me Ben, Evie.”

Ben. Yes,” she said, “I’m so, so sorry for calling you at home, but…”

It’s okay, Evie,” Ben said. “I know this has been hard on you, too.”

You do?” she asked with sudden enthusiasm. “J.P.’s been great to me. He’s been giving me all kinds of, uh, new things to do.”

Ben frowned. J.P. was an enemy. He wasn’t exactly Ben’s boss, only Joe had had final authority over Ben, but J.P. had to report to management the results of everything Ben did or attempted. Thus, functionally, Ben had answered to J.P., hidden power structures aside. Ben had assumed J.P. hid his resentments (and subtle affinities with the Turks) behind enlightened management phrases like “circle of trust.” In Ben’s opinion, J.P. had advanced mainly because he knew how to enhance his persona with business vocabulary and character-building sports vacations.

J.P. said you would approve,” Evie said. “Of all I’m doing, I mean.”

I’m sure I will,” Ben said.

Kay mouthed, what’s wrong? from her wicker lounge chair. She sipped from the latte cup, managing to look spaced-out, competent, and worried all at the same time.

Nothing, Ben mouthed back. But Evie’s conversation was stilted, her chewing restrained.

Is something wrong, Evie?” he asked.

I got another memo–from Mr. Maher?” Maher was Human Resources—they called him The Worm behind his back. “You got a memo,” she clarified. “It sounds kind of bad. He said you had used all your vacation time, and the policy on medical…”

I know all about that,” Ben said. “Email him back that I’ll be in on Monday.”

The chewing sounds stopped. There was no sound at all from the other end of the phone for several seconds. Then the chewing sounds started back up, faster and louder.

Oh. That’s, um, good,” Evie said without even making an effort to act. “Can I, um, tell anyone?”

No,” Ben said. He was winging it. “It’ll be a surprise to the others when I come in Monday morning. Maybe I can catch someone rifling through my desk.”

No one’s been–” Evie started and then seemed to get the joke and forced a sexy little laugh. “I’ve been protecting it. Grrr.”

Ben looked at Kay expecting to see surprise, shock, possibly anger. But she wasn’t even looking in his direction. This was not how he had planned to make his announcement, though it occurred to him now that he hadn’t even thought how he would make it. Just not like this.

Kay was staring straight out, unblinking, toward his garden. He put his hand over the phone and said, “I’m sorry, I meant to tell you earlier that I was going back.”

She nodded at him and tightened her mouth.

He sketched a quick scenario. Hadn’t Kay been talking to Cass on the phone lately, more than they ever had? Maybe they had cooked up something. Maybe Kay handed the phone to him knowing exactly what Evie would say. If she knew that Evie had shocking news, she might have assumed it would be disturbing enough to shock her husband into returning to work. The convoluted possibility frightened him.

Evie had been talking for a minute or two. She was saying something about his project, Legacy Planning, the one everyone hated but he knew was right. The project would position MM&O for the next decade of demographic shifts and market uncertainties. But it had to get past Joe the Wolf and his Young Turk syncophants. And now Joe was dead.

You gave me tons to do on it,” Evie said. “That research and retyping…” She choked. Whether on her carrot or on emotion, he couldn’t tell. “J.P. said that project won’t be getting off the ground any time soon, so I needn’t bother doing the research and the type-up. He said maybe they would make a new department for you. You’d be the head of it. Isn’t that great? But by then he said I would probably be a broker…” She talked faster as if she wanted to get it all out in one breath.

Take a breath, Evie.” Ben glanced at Kay. He had the impression she looked away quickly.

J.P.’s kept me so busy,” Evie said, clearing her throat loudly in his ear. She sounded like a daughter at college telling her dad about a new course she was taking. “He said I could start working on my broker’s license and that some client contact, under his supervision of course, would be good training.”

Ben stifled his reaction, not wanting to leak anger. “Have you been talking to my clients?” he asked.

Some, yes. J.P. said someone had to help you out, and they knew me. He took some of the harder ones and gave them out to some of the boys.” The Boys was a somewhat nicer way people referred to the Young Turks. Ben’s best clients had been handed out to the Turks. He heard some of his own breath release itself slowly, a football crushed by an SUV’s tire.

J.P. said someone had to reassure them that the firm was here working for them. I only talked to the old ladies, the ones who liked you.” She chewed faster, sounding famished. “I didn’t tell them to change anything.”


J.P. did that.”

Bad, Ben thought. “Interesting,” he said.

In a pleading voice Evie said, “I tried to call you, but you never answered. Oh, and your mother was here.”

My mother? What was she doing there?” Ben felt his jaw tighten.

Cleaning out Mr. Joe’s desk.”

Damn her! Ben thought.

Has she started sending out memos yet?” Ben asked. It was an old joke that Cass would be like those women who stepped into their husband’s job of senator or governor the minute he died.

Evie giggled then hiccupped. “Damn,” she said.  When Evie was upset, she hiccupped.

What else?” Ben asked.

Is your wife still near you?” Evie whispered.

Kay sat up in her chair as if on cue. She made a display of looking at her watch and tapping it as she got up. There were the legs again, kicking out of the kimono. Ben waved.

No,” he said to Evie. “What?”

I found something,” she said. “Before your, um, mom did.”

Uh-huh?” Ben said, smiling toward Kay as she walked toward the house.

Some kind of note about money. It’s, um, a note from your wife,” she said. “Handwritten.”

To?” Ben wondered how he could be so clueless as to ask this. But Kay was not a sneak and if she was it meant he knew nothing about her. The note could be to anyone.

To Joe the…” she said then giggled. “Your dad. He wrote something on it, too. It’s hard to read, but…”

Okay,” Ben said, flashing another smile at Kay who was walking slowly across the hot stones. She lifted each foot unnaturally high but didn’t pick up her pace. She watched his face over her shoulder.

He wrote ‘The end of men’ and put two dollar signs after it,” Evie said. “What do you think that means?”

That’s fine, Evie. Just put it in a special place for me to read later. You did good. Just a second, Evie.” Ben covered the phone and turned to Kay. She stood at the open patio door, one foot raised, doing an impression of a lawn flamingo. She squinted back at him.

Everything’s going to be okay,” Ben said to her before he noticed she had raised her index finger. He wondered why he was reassuring her and not the other way around.

Ben put his hand over the receiver. “What?”

Your mother invited us for dinner. I said yes. She’ll be so happy about you going back.”

Okay,” Ben said to Kay. But Evie took it as a goodbye and hung up. He had more to say to her or ask her but couldn’t remember what it was.

Ben returned to his thoughts on subatomic particles. If this were the last day of his Tarzan vacation, he didn’t want to think about Evie and Cass and J.P. for the rest of the day. He especially didn’t want to think about Kay and his dead father passing notes.

He heard a knock on the window and turned around. Kay, now dressed, air-kissed him through the glass. She was holding up something. It was the Australian aboriginal fertility doll Cass had brought her from Hong Kong. She was kissing it and rubbing it.

Ben nodded and smiled.

He didn’t understand women, not one bit. How had she made this jump? Now that his crazy period was over, did she assume he wanted to have sex again and get back to serious baby making and that this time things would be better, and everything would work like it was supposed to? Why had he stopped liking sex anyway? Kay rubbed her belly with her hand as she tapped the wooden doll on the glass.

Maybe she’s trying to tell me something, Ben thought. Something she’s afraid to tell me in person. Could she already be pregnant? When had they last made love? Could it be his?

He tried to imagine himself like J.P. with a picture on his credenza. He would be holding his child swathed in Patagonia microfleece against a backdrop of Aspen.

Ben smiled and turned back to the garden. Not only did he not understand women, he didn’t understand men. He didn’t understand anything except plants and they were easy: sun or shade, wet or dry, clay or humus. No, even plants were not easy. He shut his eyes and imagined being bombarded by the very tiniest subatomic particles originating from the nucleus of the sun. These mystical particles imparted self-knowledge, and some were rewiring his brain while others repaired his libido.

And the gods of the garden said it was good.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com


$9.99 paper

$4.99 kindle

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: charleybmurphy@gmail.com

twitter  @CharlesBMurphy

1. Discernment




THE AUTHOR:  Lacy Sereduk


THE PUBLISHER: CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle

SUMMARY:  When the sun is up, Johanna Parks is no different than anyone else.  When the sun goes down, that other half of Johanna’s life can only be described as what it is: a living nightmare.

Johanna Parks has suffered from night terrors since she was a kid.  Hearing things go bump in the night is nothing new but, as her everyday life in the sun begins to spiral out of control, Johanna begins to lose grasp on the very things that let her know she is real.  From ghostly apparitions to violent nightmares to waking up with strangers in her bedroom, her life in the dark becomes a terrifying game of just trying to make it out alive.

The fear of being alone and the fear of hurting other people brings her sanity and emotional stability to its very breaking point.  Johanna must find a way to understand.  Before it’s too late.

THE BLacy SeredukACK STORY: About two weeks prior to writing this book, I suffered an injury as the result of a night terror that left me cut, bloodied, bruised, and utterly terrified of the dark.  I’ve dealt with this condition my entire life and have even tried to jump out a second story window, but this was the first injury that involved my face.  I wrote Discernment in hopes that it would help me cope with what I’ve been through and bring enlightenment to those that wanted to know more of what it’s like.  Once I decided to do it and actually sat down to begin typing, the story just seemed to flow out of me and I wrote the first book in 6 days.

WHY THIS TITLE?: There’s no other way to describe a night terror episode other than literally a living nightmare.  They are very similar to hallucinations and, in fact, the condition is sometimes accompanied by early morning and even daytime hallucinations.  Life with this disorder is a constant game of discernment between reality and the products of the disorder.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: Discernment is unique in that it’s written based on previous, real-life experiences from a first person perspective.  It delves into the difficulties that people with the condition face on a fairly daily basis.  Whether it’s that first awkward conversation with a potential lover about how you might accidentally punch them in the middle of the night or trying to describe the condition to a health care provider that has never heard of it.  Most books, stories, movies that deal with the condition are written by people that have never actually lived it so this book has greater insight into just how terrifying it can be.


“This book climbed to the top of my favorite list. It took me only one afternoon to finish it. Love how the characters played their own individual part in the story. When the frightening parts came into play I would get chills. Can’t wait for the sequel to come out. I recommend this book to all my friends and family. Absolutely amazing!” – Mrs. Toughmama.

“Discernment is going on the shelf of books that I can only read in the daylight.” – Amazon coa

“I.ve never read a book like this before, but im so glad that I did! It made me stay in bed and not want to get up cuz I was in slight fear of what I may see outside the covers! Lacy is so brave and its a little humbling to see what she struggles with on a daily basis. Scary! I would have been locked up in the psyche ward long ago deemed bat s*** crazy, if this was to happen to me! Lol! Great job Lacy! Looking forward to touched” – Amazon customer.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Lacy Sereduk is an Idaho native and enjoys long walks on the beach, reading, coffee, and video games. But seriously, I have suffered from night terrors since I was a child. I was always told that they would go away and, if they hadn’t by the time I reached adulthood, they were probably there to stay. Another unfortunate piece of information that I received was that a lot of people who continue to suffer into adulthood, also develop full-blown schizophrenia by 35. I’m a little over 30. I fully believe that would happen to people like me because the world just starts to dissolve around you after so many years of exhausting torture.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “My hope for my book, Discernment, was, originally, cathartic. As a way to ‘get out’ some of the demons that have haunted me from childhood. After starting and sharing to get others thoughts, it became clear that other people thought it was worth publishing. Now, my hope for this book, when published, will be to help other sufferers know that they are not wholly alone in their fight toward the light. As well as to help parents of children afflicted to understand just what their kids might be going through and how to potentially help them. Spouses or partners of adult sufferers might gain a better understanding of the dark half or our lives. Many who have night terrors can’t remember what was so terrifying or are too afraid or embarrassed to talk about it. My sharing may help shed a little light on what they could be going through when the light is turned off.

“Another aspect I hope to attain is that my own children will have a better understanding of who I am and how I became the woman I am today. And, hopefully, they’ll cut me some slack for not making breakfast in the morning, when they start to understand just what my nights could entail.”



Sitting in the crook of the brown, leather couch’s comforting embrace, I’m surprised at what little has changed since I’ve been in Tia Daniels’s house. Tia and I had grown up together but the walls still held their old family portraits, just repositioned to accommodate newer ones, now that the kids had grown.

The carpet had been redone since last I’d been here, maybe ten years ago, but the familiar little raise in the corner of warped floor board was still noticeable. It was the place where we’d thought would be the perfect spot to water a plant (really a weed, as I think back now). The spot had been directly under a window but behind a sort of long end table that doubled as a record player, no longer there. The record player had hid our horticultural project from the parents for a few days; thus the floor received more water than the plant before our gardening endeavours were put to an end.

Half-smiling at these memories of another time and life, I recognize the presence of another being in the room. I swiftly turn my gaze in the direction of the being and my mouth opens slowly in disbelief at the figure there.

A female, blonde hair up in a bun, silk dress-shirt tucked into a woolen skirt, seems to hover in front of the chair that was always occupied by Mrs. Daniels. Something is not right, my brain tells me, as I regard the figure in front of me. Nothing moves in the woman’s countenance, no hair or edge of fabric flits in the waves descending from the ceiling fan above her.

Oh dear god! Her eyes! My thoughts exclaim as I realize that her eyes have been completely removed from her skull, just dark empty sockets where the windows to the soul should be. That’s it! I realize with morbid horror, there’s no soul in that body, it’s just a corpse.

Fear seizes my throat and begins to creep, slowly, down my spine, encasing my lungs in a grip of ice, despite the warmth of the room. Goose bumps flare down my arms and even my hands begin to shake as the room temperature drops thirty degrees. Run! The only thought that can permeate my frozen mind falls dead with nothing but faint echoes of itself in its stead.

The corpse, still stoic in countenance, begins to drift forward, straight toward me. No blessed noise or interference comes to my aid as the thing is steadily, evenly drawn, to my position. I let out a scream sufficient to alert the Neighborhood Watch and glance toward the entry of the kitchen. No one comes, no one calls out to check on my safety, but the corpse woman moves continuing forward.

About halfway across the distance from her original position to me, I can see that her scalp at the top and side of her head has odd and discomforting deformities. My eyes widen further. Her torso reveals a blackness in her skin, over her lungs, just visible in the contours of the v-neck, silk shirt. All the rest is pale, as if belonging to someone that hadn’t seen the sun in a year.

Still moving closer.

I screech, despite myself, and throw a small pillow at the figure. The bright yellow embroidery taunts me as it flips in its trajectory toward the woman; There’s no place like home. Flying straight at the thing, I know that connection is imminent. I flinch at the moment when the pillow should reach its target and open my eyes with the expectation that it be gone, dissolved like an apparition when the real world comes in contact.

Instead, I see the pillow crash against the chair at the far side of the room and topple, deftly silent. The woman comes nearer with her empty eyes, within arms distance of my cringing body as I seek comfort and safety, attempting to bury myself in the slight crease between the cushion and the arm of the couch.
The empty-eyed woman slips her head just slightly downward to point her darkness filled sockets at my face. Slowly, ominously, she lifts her arm, reaching out to touch me. I turn my head slowly and mechanically, as if the battle of my eyes wishing to no longer see equalled the strength of my neck’s desire to stare my aggressor in the face. I cram my eyelids as tight as they would go, waiting for the ether-worldly touch of that empty vessel.

The fierce, guttural roar startles me and I turn, close enough to see the total darkness inside her eye sockets, so close that I can see the lines on her fingertips just inches from my cheek, and realize with a shuddering horror that this ‘thing’ is wholly lacking the inner effulgence that would make it living.

I feel my own face contorting and stretching into an unhuman mask of menace with beast-like qualities. The corners of my mouth rise painfully to the centers of my cheekbones and I can feel my own saliva dripping from my incisors onto the softer flesh of both sides of my chin.

The roar is followed by a voice that I can only just recognize as a part of that long ago memory, having never quite been sure of what I’d heard, when caged in that dark room. Snarling and gravelly, as if a wild and grown version of that once frightened six-year old girl, I hear, “I Am The Spirit Walker!”

The pointed, accusing finger of the woman makes contact with my skin below my eye in an explosion of burning fire that emanates from my cheek, radiating across my scalp, and heats my very body to a degree just shy of combustion. I jump up to my feet, knocking her arm away, eyes almost shut in frenzy, and unleash a harried assault against the woman’s already disfigured frame.

But I find that I am slightly shaken at the feeling of my fists, slowing down as they force contact with the exterior of the corpse and then push their way, with difficulty, into the center of the thing’s mass. They drop like lead as they find their way through and out the other side of her. Like punching through a waterfall of pudding, I was no more effective at bringing the thing to its knees as I would have been at stopping a downpour of rain with my jabs.

The disorienting feeling of this new law of physics, coupled with the realization that the unchanging expression was still glowering at me, not the slightest flicker of recognition of anything happening to disrupt it’s cold countenance, caused me to stop and falter after my last stroke came through the woman’s throat and fell swiftly down into the beveled destruction that was previously a well-formed torso..

Withdrawing my arm and grabbing my own hair at the sides of my head, I look straight into the blackness-filled orbs of that inanimate face, and let myself scream …


WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KOM4BFO

PRICE: $4.99 e-book, $12.50 paperback


2. Shari’s Shot

 James Ross 3

THE AUTHOR:  JaShari's Shotmes Ross.

THE EDITOR: Barbara Milbourn

THE PUBLISHER: Xlibris and Amazon Kindle Select.

SUMMARY: More excitement arrives at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis when former Mrs. Missouri, Shari Daniels-Donnelly, in a fluke twist of a bottle cap earns a chance to win $1 million at America’s greatest tournament, The Classic. Shari is among the fashionable nouveau-riche, a member of prestigious Old Blueblood Country Club and seeking excitement outside a stale union with real estate mogul, Tyler Cy Donnelly. After her high-powered and influential attorney, Leslie Potter, serves divorce papers it appears Shari is on the path to a luxurious lifestyle that includes young lovers, a multimillion dollar settlement and freedom from the balls and chains of a boring marriage. Events become complicated when a young Latin lover supplants a longtime friend who vies for Shari’s attention. Between threatening texts, arrest, jail time, confessions and a liaison with a U.S. Congresswoman, Shari’s pending divorce delivers chaos. When a lover is found shot to death in a carpool parking lot prior to a golf outing a detective duo is determined to find who fired the shot..

THE BACK STORY: It took a lot of living to have a compelling story. Once the words were put on paper the fingers worked non-stop. Then a funny thing happened. The characters had another story to tell. And another. And another. Well, you get the picture.

WHY THIS TITLE: Shot is a play on words. The reader gets a chance to pick the proper use.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Quirky, memorable characters offering twists and turns.

REVIEW COMMENTS (See more on the Amazon page)

“James Ross takes the reader on a wild ride of death and deception. Unlike most books where the reader roots for the main character, the reader will spend their time hoping against hope that Shari will poke her eyes out with her putter! Great book, I recommend it — oh, and you do not need to be a golf fan to read it.” — Simon A. Barrett.

“From the moment you begin James Ross’s terrific novel “Shari’s Shot” — actually, before that, as readers find themselves instantly drawn in by the alluring gaze of the woman on the book’s beautiful cover — you will enjoy a wild and totally unpredictable ride every step of the way. Shari Daniels-Donnelly is a former beauty queen who initiates divorce proceedings from her rich husband right around the same time she finds herself drawn into the middle of a high stakes golf tournament. With razor-sharp dialogue and continuously entertaining, often shocking plot twists, Ross moves his considerable action along at a breathtaking pace. Ross’s sixth book contains a bit of everything including romance, mystery, sports and drama. An avid, low-handicap golfer, Ross has proven equally adept at both studying and documenting life’s greatest mysteries on the gorgeous canvas presented by the links.” — Brad King,

AUTHOR PROFILE: James Ross was born in the early 1950s in central Illinois. The oldest son of a high school teacher/basketball coach and homemaker had a childhood dream to become a professional athlete. At age twelve he took to the links when his family moved to a golf course development in the western suburbs of St. Louis.  As his passion for the game grew he became a low-handicap player.After turning fifty he decided to get in touch with his creative side and sat down to write. At the keyboard words flowed naturally through his fingertips. His first novel, Lifetime Loser, was published in 2007. An unethical businessman swindles an estate. The IRS opens a criminal investigation. Caught in the middle is a young golf pro who becomes the victim of civil fraud.

The writing bug had bitten. He continued with stories that attack social issues and delve into Midwestern life. Before his first novel was finished he had begun the second book Finish Line (2008) involving a cancer survivor and two adolescent boys. It is a continuation of the happenings in and around the fictitious setting of Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis. Shari’s Shot is the newest edition to the Prairie Winds GC saga.

The novel writing pace has slowed down. Screenplay adaptation has taken center stage as an effort to bring Lifetime Loser to the big screen has demanded some attention. All the stories are centered on a sports theme, particularly the game of golf. Being a native of the Midwest they also carry references to America’s heartland. Readers love the eclectic cast of recurring characters and enjoy the delivery of the story through their dialogue.

When he is not writing, Jim is out looking for a golf game around town or traveling to some warm weather destination to enjoy life.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I love creating memorable characters …”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Try the author website or the book page on Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Kindle online

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon or Xlibris

PRICE: $3.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.authorjamesross.com

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey’s Course, Opur’s Blade, Pabby’s Score, Shari’s Shot
Website: www.AuthorJamesRoss.com
Twitter: golfnovels and JamesRossBooks
Publisher Website: www.Xlibris.com
Blog: http://www.authorjamesross.blogspot.com/
Amazon Purchase link: amazon.com/author/booksbyjamesross
YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/plqpme5
Facebook Fan Page: http://tinyurl.com/qasmk4s

IMDbPro: http://www.imdb.me/authorjamesross.com