2. Into Shadow

Into Shadow

THE BOOK: Into Shadow.


THE AUTHOR:  T.D. Shields

THE EDITOR: Aaron Shields


SUMMARY: Into Shadow looks at what the world could be like in another 200 years. There are high points (incredible advances in technology)… and low points (cities in ruins after years of world wars and climate change). It’s 2259 and the entire planet has been changed by the melting of the polar ice sheets. As the land was overrun by water, countries ran out of room for their populace. The need for more land eventually led to the 3rd World War – a global conflict that lasted thirty years and drastically changed the political landscape and the physical environment. Many countries banded together for protection and power, including the former countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America, which are now collectively known as the North American Alliance. The North American Alliance is led by President Walker: a war hero, a widower, and a father. His nineteen-year-old daughter Poppy serves as First Lady until she finds herself caught in the middle of a government takeover and dodging assassins. She is forced to go on the run and is completely on her own for the first time.

Hiding from the assassins and robotic soldiers (mechs) who want to eliminate her, Poppy finds an ally who helps her escape to the war-torn ruins of Denver. The city was bombed extensively during the war, leading to destruction so complete that the area, like many cities attacked during the war, was deemed uninhabitable and the evacuated citizens never returned. But what few people know is that the neglected cities are not empty after all. Not just dystopian fiction, “Into Shadow” is also a coming of age story that examines social issues from a near-future perspective.

THE BACK STORY: I was reading a book that was set a few centuries in the future and one of the characters made a passing comment aboTara Shieldsut an abandoned city. That sparked my imagination and I started thinking about what it might be like to have entire cities that have been destroyed and abandoned. And what if not everyone was gone from the city after all? The whole story grew out of that mental picture of a broken, empty city.

When it comes to research, thank goodness for the Internet! I was able to research various technologies and extrapolate from current information to what might be happening to technology in the future. Much of Into Shadow is set in Denver, Colorado – which is about thirty minutes from my house. I spent many years working in downtown Denver, so I was able to use that knowledge of the geography to create my future-version of Denver. It was actually a lot of fun taking these areas that I knew so well and twisting them into a shattered landscape filled with frightening creatures.

I spent about a year working on Into Shadow from conception to editing and release.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I actually started with the title “Betrayal,” reflects the opening chapters of the book; but I realized that I wanted a title that better represented the entire book. Eventually I hit on the concepts of Shadow and Light. In the first book, it’s really focused on these people who are surviving in the shadows and living on the fringes of society. The shadows are also indicative of the secrets and plots that send Poppy (the main character) running for her life. In the second book, the secrets are brought to light. You’ll actually see a lot of that imagery if you look for it. Settings in Into Shadow are dark; while Into Light takes place in a city full of dazzling lights. The covers reflect that difference, too.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The dystopian genre is pretty popular these days, but I like to think that mine has its own twists. The world and civilization haven’t come to an end. People haven’t had to go back to living without technology or medical advances; quite the opposite in fact! Yet at the same time, you have groups of disenfranchised who choose to live without those benefits in order to avoid government control over their lives. There’s a very strict divide between the two sides, and Poppy has come from the high-tech, priviliged world and must now learn to survive in this wild new society.

Readers who enjoy a strong heroine will like Poppy. She grew up privileged and pampered, but she’s no helpless damsel in distress. She’s tough, strong, and can take care of herself without being hard.


“Absolutely loved the first book! Looking forward to reading the next!”

“I loved this book! If you liked Divergent you would probably enjoy this. I got drawn in immediately into the story, with its exciting, futuristic premise, and endearing and spunky female protagonist Poppy.”

“Shields creates a scary and realistic future”

“I loved this book! The story pulled me in from the very beginning. It was full of suspense and even a little romance. I couldn’t put it down! Can’t wait for the sequel.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: People who know me have asked how on earth I find time to write. After all I have a full-time job, take on contract work for evenings and weekends, and have a husband and four kids to take care of… so where does time to write fit in? Luckily, I’m a bit of an insomniac and my most productive hours are between midnight and five a.m. – It’s the perfect time to write! If I tried to go to sleep I’d just be laying there writing a story in my head to entertain myself; so why not just write it down instead?

I have been writing stories in my head for as long as I can remember. I’m an avid reader, but if I find myself without a book handy I can pass the time by just writing a new story (or continuing an old one). Even though I’ve had the stories in my head for all these years, I never quite took the plunge into writing them down to share with others. The idea of letting other people into that private world in my imagination was just too scary. What if they’re bored? What if they laugh? Worse, what if I’m trying to be funny and they DON’T laugh?

My sister finally convinced me to give it a try and I first wrote this book just for her. I was scared to death to share it with anyone else! Finally I found the courage to form a little group of beta readers and then release it to the world at large. I’m so thrilled and gratified that people have been reading and enjoying my work.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: While the book is mostly just about providing an entertaining story, I’ll admit it does tie into some of my fears of what government, left unchecked, can turn into. But because I am an optimist at heart, you can bet that somehow things will turn out for the best in the end.


Mateo and I followed the diagonal street southeast until we came to another street still boasting a street sign. We turned off Speer to head east on the mostly cleared 11th Avenue. In this section it was easier to see why the pack would want to claim the territory. There were dozens of high-rise apartment buildings in this neighborhood, many of them still partially intact. If the buildings were still being explored, there could be all sorts of useful things to scavenge.

I kept close watch for anything threatening as we continued east. Mateo conducted spot checks on some of the intact buildings by giving the doors a firm shake to ensure that they were still chained closed. I was tired of just trailing along behind him, so I moved to the other side of the street and started doing my own spot checks. He ignored me but kept to his own side of the street and left me to mine.

11th Avenue came to an end at another wall of debris. Instead of climbing this one, Mateo turned north then headed east again on the next street. 12th Avenue, I would assume. We continued our silent patrol, conducting spot checks on opposite sides of the street and watching for anything out of the ordinary. We followed the numbered avenues as much as possible to criss-cross the section several times as we worked our way north toward the wall and the transport station.

I wasn’t certain where the wild territory shown on the map would be in real life, but I thought we must be getting close. Even the little animals we had seen scurrying through the streets had disappeared. I hadn’t even realized that I was hearing sounds from birds and other wildlife until all their noises stopped; now it was disturbingly quiet. I moved as quietly as possible as I walked toward a squat red-brick building. Whatever might be out there, I didn’t think I wanted its attention. A blaze of bright red paint streaked the doors and part of the walls.

Mateo?” I asked softly, “is the red paint some kind of boundary or warn-away?” He glanced at me dismissively and turned back to his side of the street.

Vandalism, I guess,” he said shortly.

Not particularly reassured, I still moved carefully when I approached the door. I didn’t have to tug on it; the door stood slightly ajar. It was obviously not locked up anymore.

Mateo,” I called again. “The door is open.”

He raised an eyebrow; he didn’t do it nearly as well as Rivers had managed it. “Well then, I guess you’d better go inside and check it out. I’ll wait for you here.”

I glared at him. I was quite sure that sending your partner in alone was not the proper procedure. On the other hand, having Mateo as my backup was so unappealing that maybe going in alone was better after all. With a last scowl in his direction, I eased the door open.

Before stepping inside I listened intently for any sounds. All the windows here were covered, so the interior was very dim. I couldn’t see more than a foot or two inside. I swallowed hard, very aware of my racing heart and shaking hands. Anything could be hiding in the darkness.

Taking a short step inside, I paused for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the lack of light. My vision improved slightly after a couple of minutes, and I could at least see the outlines of furniture still in place; so I started a quick walkthrough to look for intruders.

This building had once been a small school apparently. The hallway was mostly empty with a bench or two placed along the walls. Open doors lined both sides of the wall, gaping pools of deeper dark opening off the main path. I tried looking inside a couple of classrooms, but it was too dark to make out anything. Instead, I settled for a quick tour of the main hallway, promising myself that once I reached the end of the hall I could turn and race back to the outer doors. Mateo was waiting outside and wouldn’t know of my headlong sprint to leave the building.

I walked faster, anxious to have this over with. I saw nothing to indicate that a person was squatting in this building. Maybe someone had intended to move in but disliked the dark rooms as much as I did. I was only yards away from my destination when something caught my eye. A tiny gleam of paleness against the wall where it should have been dark. I turned my steps to investigate and crouched down against the wall where I had seen the object. It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at; when realization came, I shoved my hand hard against my mouth to hold back a whimper. The white gleam came from bones piled in a jumbled heap against the wall. Judging by the empty skull peering from the mound, the bones were human.

Even worse, behind the first heap of bones was another. And another. I wasn’t sure how many there might be continuing back through that hallway. I wasn’t going to find out either. Investigating this was not a job for one guard on her first patrol. I stumbled to my feet so I could turn and run for the exit. Suddenly, I heard a noise behind me. Not much, just a whisper of sound like a sliding footstep against the tiled floor. I whirled, trying to locate the source of the noise, but I could see nothing.

Is someone there?” I called. I admit it, my voice shook a little. Silence answered me. “Hello?” I called again.

A heartbeat later, strong arms wrapped around me from behind and yanked me off my feet. All my training was not for nothing though. I didn’t freeze in surprise or struggle uselessly to escape his arms. I immediately threw my head back as hard as I could manage. Because my assailant had lifted me, my head was in perfect position and I heard the distinctive crunch of cartilage as the back of my skull smashed his nose. He howled and dropped me as he staggered back clutching his face. The only reason I didn’t follow up with more strikes was because I had recognized his voice when he screamed. It was Mateo. Doubtless he thought it would be a funny prank to sneak up on me and terrorize me in the dark. I wanted to hit him again but restrained myself.

Bitch!” he shouted at me, his voice muffled by his hands cupped over his face. “Look at dis! You broke by dose!”

You deserved it,” I responded icily. “You are an ass with the emotional maturity of a ten-year-old.” I stalked past him, determined to make my way back to the bikes and leave immediately. I had spent more than enough time with this jerk. I was stomping down the hall when I heard another slither behind me. I spun around to confront Mateo, incensed that he would try to sneak up on me again. What I saw instead was the biggest freaking snake in existence sliding down the hallway toward me.

The snake’s head was easily the size of a watermelon – a large watermelon. The snake’s body was a couple of feet in diameter and patterned in dark green and black diamonds. Each individual scale was as large as the tip of my thumb. The snake’s dead-white eyes were bigger than my clenched fist, and when its tongue flickered out to taste the air it was as thick as a rope and very long. Though the snake was still about three feet behind me, the tongue almost touched my face.

The near brush of the snake’s tongue snapped me out of my stupor, and I bolted down the hall. Mateo’s footsteps suddenly pounded behind me as he ran up from the end of the hall, hurdled the snake, and brushed past me, disappearing through the door and slamming it closed behind him.

Mateo!” I screamed, “Open the door! Please, Mateo, I can’t see! Let me out!”

I reached the end of the hall and frantically felt along the wall for the door but couldn’t locate it in the pitch black. I could hear the dry slip and slide of the snake’s scales as it undulated toward me. It wasn’t in a hurry; it knew I had nowhere left to run. I stared back into the darkness trying desperately to get a glimpse of the snake. Finally I saw its outline; it had almost reached me. If I took time to find the exit door, it would have me.

The snake was sliding along the right side of the hallway, so I jumped left, running with all my might for one of those open classroom doors. The snake realized I was trying to escape and moved to stop me. It struck with terrifying speed, and only sheer luck let me duck and dodge just in time. The snake’s jaws closed on empty air as I dove through the first door I came to.

Jumping to my feet I grabbed the edge of the door and slammed it shut as the snake struck at me again. The door swung closed but not quite fast enough. The snake’s head was inside the room, pinned just behind the jaws by the heavy steel door. I thanked whatever city code had required classrooms to have reinforced fire doors as I braced myself against the door, pressing it closed with all my might.

The snake’s head was just above mine and I could see and feel its tongue lashing the air frantically as it tried to escape. I heard the snake’s body thrashing against the tiles in the hallway. It was big and strong and really determined to move the door crushing its throat, but I was fueled by life-or-death adrenaline and had the assistance of pneumatic hinges attempting to do their job of closing the door.

I had the stunner in my pocket, but I was afraid to shift my grip on the door to grab it. I wasn’t sure what a stunner would do to the monster snake anyway. Unable to think of anything else to do, I braced my feet against the floor and shoved back even harder. I heard a dull crack and felt the snake’s thrashing slow. Slower. Slower.

When it finally stopped moving altogether I still couldn’t bring myself to open the door. I stayed there, door pinning the snake tight, for at least ten minutes before I dared to move. When I finally left the doorway, I did it in one huge leap to the other side of the room. I didn’t want to be anywhere near that thing if it wasn’t dead after all.

Without me bracing the door, the snake’s weight pushed it open again. The head fell limply to the floor, striking the tile with a thud. I stared through the darkness, barely breathing. The snake seemed to be dead, but the thought of walking past the enormous thing to leave the room was nauseating. In the end it was only the realization that the snake might not live here alone that got me moving.

I took a deep breath and bolted for the doorway. I raced past the snake at top speed and almost knocked myself unconscious when I slammed into the wall at the end of the hall. Gasping for breath, I ran frantic hands over the wall looking for the door. At last my hands touched the smooth metal bar of the door handle, and I wrenched it violently open, leapt through the door, and slammed the door closed again behind me. I leaned against the door shaking from head to toe.

Mateo was nowhere in sight. When I found him I was going to skin him alive.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Right now Into Shadow is available only through Amazon. You can buy both paperback and ebook versions.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Shadow-Light-Book-ebook/dp/B00RTV2NYY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

PRICE: Paperback, $8.99; ebook $2.99; Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read for free

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can reach me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tdshields.author), Twitter (@td_shields), or by email (tdshields.author@gmail.com). I love to hear from readers!

1. The Burgundy Briefcase


THE BOOK: The Burgundy Briefcase.

Burgundy BriefcasePUBLISHED IN: 2015.

THE AUTHOR: Roberta Burton.

THE EDITOR: Adrian Fogelin, Heather Whitaker, and Gina Edwards.

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing has published a number of award winning books and helps its authors market their books.

SUMMARY:  After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.

While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?

THE BACK STORY: While still in graduate school, my friends kept telling me I needed to write a self-help book. Since I don’t learn very well when someone tells me what’s wrong with me, I decided to write a novel and show the reader how life can change when we change our thoughts and our behavior. My doctoral program and the clients and patients I have seen over the years provided my research. I began writing bits and pieces in 2008 and completed the book in 2014. Because I needed to relearn how to write creatively instead of academically, I took advice from everyone with an opinion. I ended up rewriting the entire novel three times changing tenses and points of view with each rewrite.

WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a story behind this title. I was in a workshop where the presenter had us write a scene using a metaphor. I chose a briefcase to represent the place where Lee stores all the things she will think about or deal with later.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The people who read and like The Burgundy Briefcase seem to be people who are looking for answers about the meanings of their lives. Since the novel is written with a 12-Step prospective, people, with addictions or who are or have been around someone with an addiction tend to like it. Anyone who is or has been in an abusive relationship finds meaning in the book.Roberta Burton


* By rokinrev: “The author, a therapist herself, has written a “grande drama” of a book that readers will connect with viscerally.”

* By DFM: “I loved this book. It was really a help to me in understanding some of the relationships I have had in the past. When I was asked what I like to read I used to laugh and say “sex and psychology.” This book has it all. Hated for it to end.”

* By: A Human Being: “This book could be of great value, perhaps even a life-saver, to people

AUTHOR PROFILE: Besides having a master’s in clinical psychology and a doctorate in marriage and family therapy, I hold also a private pilot’s license. I am an avid reader, even been known to read labels when nothing else was available. My other interests include alternative healing modalities, spirituality, quantum physics, and philosophy. I continue to take classes in these subjects. One of my long-held beliefs is that I am responsible for the choices I make. And, on a good day, I believe that everything is exactly as it should be at this moment in time.

Like Lee, my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. Tenacity kept me writing for six years on one book and keeps me holding on to ideas, relationships, and anything else long after I need to let go. My biggest aha moment was the discovery that all my writing has been about my search for meaning.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: When I began thinking of this book, I wanted a story that would help others see how they can change their lives. By the end, my motivation proved to be my search for the meaning in my life. Yes, even fiction can bring out those hidden beliefs.



There comes a pivotal moment when one’s life will be forever changed. This was such a moment for Lee Lindsey.

Sylva, North Carolina, April 22, 1991

You ducked into the coma just in time, didn’t you, Alex? I crawl into bed with you. Then, the Lindseys descend. Your mother parks on the chair beside the bed, your father at the foot. I clutch your arm like my favorite childhood teddy bear while your mother brags about your brother’s exploits, and your father grunts agreement.

My heart cries as I remember your whisper at the door of your brother’s home. “You are about to meet my parents’ only child.”

From your coma, I know you hear your mother, and my heart cracks.

I feel your chest muscles tighten as she bows her head and lets it rest near your groin. I cringe. The odor of rubbing alcohol seeps under the door. “He doesn’t want your head there.”

She sits up. Your body relaxes. The mind-body-spirit workshop I took two weeks ago awakens my awareness of minute changes in your muscles. You already know that, don’t you?

The hospice nurse enters and takes your vital signs. Your dad reads a newspaper he found discarded in the waiting room. Your mother clicks on the bedside lamp, and afternoon settles into evening. She sits in silence, hands folded in her lap. Are you as grateful for her silence as I am?

Almost midnight. Suddenly, you sit straight up and look at your father. I recognize the

I take five slow, deep breaths. My jaw relaxes.

I eat the overly sweet crème-filled doughnut. Knowing how you hate crumbs in the bed, I’ll finish it before I sit with you. Ah, you’re taking another breath. I’ll wait until the social worker leaves before I go to you.

I stare at the sugary remnants on the cafeteria plate. During these final weeks, we have bared our souls and said everything we needed to say. I felt as if my skin peeled away and exposed my heart. Yet, you never turned away.

I watch and wait. You breathe in just the way you always do.

You’re in control and have everyone’s attention while I subsist on sugar. I won’t let myself feel. Not in front of other people.

What is the social worker saying to you? Her with her accusing looks in my direction.

You breathe out.

You don’t breathe in. Another pause?

No breath in.

You look so peaceful. No more pain. No more agony. I know you’re still here with me.

It’s as if everyone in the waiting room simultaneously understands that you are dead. Friends and family come in and make stiff or tearful goodbyes, then retreat.

Time to call your brother? No, your best friend will do it; he’s in the hallway. He promised to call friends and co-workers. Will your brother inform your daughters? He said he would. My love, you continue to make life easier for me, even in death. I have to call my family.

The nurse’s aide arrives to prepare your body. “I will do it,” as I place a protective hand on the sheet.

She snatches the sheet from my hand and off your body, leaving you naked. I grab the sheet. How disrespectful. You would hate this. I cover you. I begin to wash you. I wash your face and neck, moving from your arms to your torso. I stand so she can’t watch. I cover your top half. I uncover and wash your legs and feet. Together, we turn you over.

As we roll you onto your stomach, I see it. A decubitus ulcer. One I’d not noticed. Didn’t know about. Bright red. The color of raw hamburger. A cavern of bone and meat. Oozing yellow pus. You never mentioned it.

Had I walled myself off so effectively that my whole being said, I don’t know and I don’t want to know? Was this detachment?

Survival? No trips into the danger zone of the psyche for me. I simply hadn’t paid attention.

Guilt arrives, carrying its own bag.

LOCAL OUTLETS: My Favorite Books, Tallahasee; Books-A-Million, Black Dog Café @ Railroad Square

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: http://www.syppublishing.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Kindle, Nook, and currently being formatted for i-Books. PRICE: $14.95.

CURRENT EVENTS: Book signing at My Favorite books, Tallahasee,FLA, Sept. 12, 11 A.M.-1 p.m.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: ladybdr@gmail.com

Facebook: Ask Dr Lee

Banana Sandwich

Banana Sandwich


THE AUTHOR: Steve Bargdill.

THE EDITOR: Steve Bargdill and sometimes Mary Bargdill (my wife) when I can cajole her into it.

THE PUBLISHER: Silver Road Press. This is really me in disguise and the brain child of my wife to make my indie books look more professional. The name comes from us moving across the country so many times. We know I-80 like the backs of our hands, always searching for that silver lining and actually finding it too. One day, the dream is to publish other authors under the name and actually become legitimate.

SUMMARY: Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic.  She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

“These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists. It is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and urging and crying out for someone to listen.”

Steve BargdillTHE BACK STORY: “Initially, I had my doubts about Banana Sandwich as a viable story. I wasn’t sure if I could pull Carol’s voice off through the length of an entire novel; never mind she talked incessantly inside my head.

“This novel was very different for me to write than anything else I had written before. I meticulous plan everything. Carol was complete seat of mky pants, waking up in the middle of the night to write down a phrase or two. Additionally, I have no first-hand experience with bipolarism, homelessness, schizophrenia, anorexia or domestic violence. I’ve known people that have had issues, though, and I really wanted to speak to those specific issues.

WHY THIS TITLE? “Delivering pizzas in Laramie, Wyoming, where the city is dark and no one puts on their house lights when they get deliveries for anything, and you are running up and down the street squinting at house numbers that are only half there.  It’s a welcome sight when a customer comes running out of her house waving her arms and shouting, “I’m over here!” I get out of the car, pizza in hand. And she says, ‘Man, your job must be banana sandwich.’ And I was like, ‘what?’

“I’d never heard that phrase before. I thought what a great title that would make for a book so I wrote it down, and there it sat for a couple of months. And then Christmas Carol Madison came along.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Banana Sandwich doesn’t offer solutions, neither does it preach. The writing of it was a way for me to understand the issues and disorders I’ve seen dear friends of mine struggle with; it was a way to wrap my brain around stiff I didn’t fully understand — still don’t fully understand. Hopefully, the book is doing some good, and the initial reviews have been affirmative in that direction.


“This story could very well be a real-life story.” — Martha E. Weatherell.

“Amazing, breathtaking and hopefully up-and-coming.” — Andrea J. Wildes.

“Most of the novel is … like Kafka’s Metamorphosis in Reverse.” — Ethan Cooper.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  “Originally, I’m from this little town: New Knoxville, Ohio. No one knows where it is.  Because, you know, I mean small. My graduating class was eighteen people, and one was an exchange student. The next biggest town was St. Marys, and that town you may have actually heard of because it made the NPR news two summer ago. Pollution problem with the lake. It’s killed dogs. Sent people, who thought it was okay to go swimming, to the hospital. I mean, back in the day, I’d start a fire in one of the shelter houses out by the lake, and sit there through the night listening to the water against the rocks, the crackle of the driftwood I had gathered for the fire—I mean, we’d all do that.

“And now, we went home this past summer to visit family, and we drove past the lake to look at it — or, rather, to smell it. Because … well, it’s bad.

“I have no idea why I became a writer.  I have always written stories. I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. My wife tells this story about me, about us in Nebraska. We were living in a really crappy apartment. It was always cold, we were so incredibly poor, had a baby that was just a few months old, and we had the computer in the basement, and my wife tells me she remembers me down there typing away wearing a coat and fingerless gloves. I don’t remember that.

“I mean, I remember splitting a McDonald’s Big Breakfast between the three of us, my wife selling blood for money, pawning our wedding rings almost on a weekly basis, freelancing for three newspapers, working all the time. There was a meatpacking place I worked at — I’d push the cow carcasses off the trucks and into a refrigerated warehouse for processing. That stuff I remember, like dragging my daughter to an interview for a piece I was doing for one of the newspapers, and I had to take her because my wife was at work and I couldn’t afford a babysitter.

“Writing is just something I’ve always done.”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “As it says on the book description on Amazon, my five minute elevator pitch for Banana Sandwich has always been that it’s a book about a bipolar pizza delivery driver who lives in her van down by the river, and the line does indeed get laughs. I think giving that throw-away elevator pitch was a way for me to cope with the realities of what I was writing. Sure, the book is funny because you *can’t* order a pizza by banana phone, but you can’t just *choose* to be not affected by these—I don’t know what to call them. Disorders? That word seems so disabling, and there are some really high functioning bipolar people out there—Sherman Alexie, for example. But then, there’s that term: high functioning.”



You can’t order a pizza by banana phone. It can’t be done. Pick up any banana and put it to your ear and you get dial tone. Simple as that. Just doesn’t work. Now if you want to call Jupiter, a banana phone is your ticket. I knew a guy once who lined his hat with aluminum foil to stop the outer space transmissions from reaching his brain. Which is just crap. Everyone knows aluminum foil isn’t going to do the trick. You got to use something like Adamantium, which you can’t use anyway because it’s a made-up comic book metal bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton. Which brings me back to the banana phone, because Wolverine kind of looks like a banana if you think about it. I mean, his costume is yellow, right? And bananas are yellow, except for when they over-ripen. Then, they are black.  And the only thing aluminum foil is going to block are the government transmissions—and those are boring anyway. They tell you to do stuff like mow the lawn, wash dishes, buy more stuff, rinse your mouth with fluoride fortified mouthwash. It’s the outer space transmissions that are interesting. Once, I received instructions on how to build a warp drive for my van. And the line of work I’m in, that comes in real handy.

I used to work for this upscale pizza shop. They tried to be all fancy with artichoke and broccoli toppings. Those whole wheat and gluten free crusts. I quit because they always gave me crap about my piercings. Or maybe I was fired. Yeah, that’s how it really went down. I was fired. So I went to work for this other pizza shop, but we don’t do much except sit on the store steps smoking blunts and ordering delivery from Domino’s. Jordan brought in a bunch of bananas one night too. He picked one up and put it to his ear and tried to order Domino’s. But like I said, it can’t be done because all you get is dial tone. What is truly annoying is when you go to the Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, and you’re going through the produce section. Inevitably, there is that person wearing a bath towel as a dress and still in hair curlers, his butt crack hanging out like clothes on a line. They have that whole display stand of bananas. Normally, the bananas are still green. Those don’t work. The yellow ones work fine, and when five or six bunches of yellow bananas all start ringing at the same time, you don’t know which one to answer first. Sometimes, I put a banana to each ear and carry on a couple of conversations at one time, which is easier to do than you might think.

This is how it all started too. I was in the Wal-Mart examining cumquats because who the heck buys cumquats? Why does the Wal-Mart even have cumquats? It’s the Nineties, and I don’t know anyone who eats cumquats except total health nut freaks. I’m certainly not a health nut freak. Give me a good juicy medium rare steak any day. Baked potato with cheddar cheese, chives, and tons of sour cream: that is a meal. Not some deformed looking orange. I’m standing in the middle of the Wal-Mart produce section examining the cumquats, but in actual reality, I avoid as much eye contact with the guy wearing the towel. Then the bananas started ringing. I looked around searching for a hidden camera. I remember that show by Peter Funt in the Eighties, Candid Camera. I asked the towel-dress guy if he heard the bananas ringing. He didn’t say anything to me. I asked again and he said ‘No.’

I heard them. All of them. I didn’t know which one to pick up. I answered one, because what are you going to do, right? ‘Hello,’ I said, and they all stopped ringing.

Carol? This is Jupiter.’

I think maybe Jordan was teasing me when he tried to order Domino’s from a banana phone. I like Jordan like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream, but sometimes, he can be an ass.

LOCAL OUTLETS: You’re Local Amazon Retailer, of course.

PRICE: $2.99

I love to talk to people!

https//www.facebook.com/author/Steve Bargdill.

@Steve Bargdill.

Goodreads when I’m doing heavy reading: https//www/goodreads.com/author/show/6896174.Steve_Bargdill.

stevebargdill@gmail.com. Seriously, you can send me an e-mail and I will answer it.


Weather Report, Sept. 7





Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van, delivers pizzas, and is bipolar schizophrenic.  She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

Writes Steve: “The novel was very different for me to write than anything else I had written before. I meticulously plan everything. Carol was complete seat of my pants, waking up in the middle of the night to write down a phrase or two. Additionally, I have no first-hand experience with bipolarism, homelessness, schizophrenia, anorexia, or domestic violence. I’ve known people that have had these issues though, and I really wanted to speak to those specific problems.”


After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.

While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?

Writes Roberta: “While still in graduate school, my friends kept telling me I needed to write a self-help book. Since I don’t learn very well when someone tells me what’s wrong with me, I decided to write a novel and show the reader how life can change when we change our thoughts and our behavior. My doctoral program and the clients and patients I have seen over the years provided my research. I began writing bits and pieces in 2008 and completed the book in 2014.” 



Writes Ava: “Life in a strictly patriarchal culture can be suffocating but so is being misrepresented in the national and international media. Kurdish and Iranian women are more than just victims. I wanted to portray an in-depth and honest image.”

Kurdish women VThese haunting stories beautifully evoke the oppressive lives of modern women in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anis, a computer programmer, is at the end of her rope, putting up with the bullying criticism of a no-good, unemployed lout of a husband; Azar is a young divorcee, and the only person she can talk to is Reza; but she can see him only late at night when “they” are not around; Sharmin has Down’s syndrome and hopelessly loves Azad; he loves Kazhal, beautiful and blessed; but Kazhal is married off and is divorced at twenty and now awaits a hopeless future . . . For these and other characters the weight of traditional attitudes, the harassment of the religious establishment make for a frustrating, confining, and sometimes unlivable existence.

Echoes from the Other Land was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Award. The collection was also placed 6th in the top ten winners of the CBC Reader’s Choice Contest for Giller Prize.


Into Shadow looks at what the world could be like in another 200 years. There are high points (incredible advances in technology)… and low points (cities in ruins after years of world wars and climate change). It’s 2259 and the entire planet has been changed by the melting of the polar ice sheets. As the land was overrun by water, countries ran out of room for their populace. The need for more land eventually led to the 3rd World War – a global conflict that lasted thirty years and drastically changed the political landscape and the physical environment. Many countries banded together for protection and power, including the former countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America, which are now collectively known as the North American Alliance.

The North American Alliance is led by President Walker: a war hero, a widower and a father. His nineteen-year-old daughter Poppy serves as First Lady until she finds herself caught in the middle of a government takeover and dodging assasins and robotic soldiers. Not just dystopian fiction, “Into Shadow” is also a coming of age story that examines social issues from a future perspective.


In case you read and enjoyed Joshua Samuel Brown’s “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag” (Snowflakes feature, June 19) and would like to get to know him better, he’ll be leading a cycling tour of Taiwan this fall , The 11-day tour will begin in Taipei with a high-speed train ride to the city of Kaohsiung at the southern end of the island.

The itineJoshua Brown bikerary features rides along the rugged eastern coastline, through pineapple fields and rice paddies and into the Taroko and Jinshan national parks. Pit stops include culturally significant sites, aboriginal villages and night markets.
See the most-read stories in Life & Style this hour >>

The tour is suitable for both beginning and experienced cyclists; the average distance is about 45 miles a day.

Dates: Oct. 24 and Nov. 7

Price: $4,850 per person, double occupancy. Includes accommodations, most meals and bicycle rental. International airfare not included.

Info: Bicycle Adventures, (800) 443-6060.

Andrea Brunais‘ novel “Mercedes Wore Black” (featured on Snowflakes on July 24) recently won a silver medal in the President’s Book Awards contest sponsored by the Florida Author’s and Publisher’s Association. Congrats!

Joe Broadmeadow, whose “Collision Course” was featured on Snowflakes July 14, has a new police procedural novel out, “Silenced Justice.”

Here’s the Amazon blurb: “Lieutenant Josh Williams is back in this latest thriller from Joe Broadmeadow, Silenced Justice. When his former boss, retired Lieutenant Chris Hamlin, asks him to reopen an old case, Josh uncovers the shocking truth behind an innocent man’s death in prison. In 1972, Darnell Grey, accused of a series of rapes and a homicide, is beaten to death in the prison while awaiting trial.

“As a black man accused of crimes against white women, a justice system intent on vengeance uses all its resources to secure his imprisonment.  Evidence of his innocence is ignored, witnesses manipulated, and the truth locked away, putting him into a racially volatile prison system. With his death, his memory and the case against him fades into the past.
“Determined to bring the matter to light, the deeper Josh looks into the case, the more dangerous it becomes for him and those he loves.  Discovering a darker, more sinister conspiracy in play, Josh risks everything to uncover the truth.
A truth that unveils hollowness and corruption at the very core of government and our Justice System.

1. Oklahoma Ghost Dance


Oklahoma Ghost Dance

THE BOOK: Oklahoma Ghost Dance.


THE AUTHOR: Jeff Wilson.

THE EDITOR: Becky Hawksley

THE PUBLISHER: Createspace

SUMMARY:  AJeff wilsonnthony Motavato’s life was shattered forever on the morning of April 19, 1995 when he lost his beautiful daughter. Unable to cope with his new reality, Anthony left town and has drifted on the lonely fringes of alcoholism in the years since the tragedy. Realizing his time is short, Anthony finally returns home to face the family he left behind. As he tries to regain his faith and make peace with the people that still love him, he is pulled into the tapestry of lies surrounding the deadliest act of domestic terrorism on United States soil. The only way he can find the forgiveness he seeks is by reliving it all over again. Oklahoma Ghost Dance takes you into the darkest places of imagination. From a plot born within the ashes of the Waco massacre, it slowly untangles historic events surrounding the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Jeff Wilson, author of the highly acclaimed novel, Queen Anne’s Revenge, weaves a haunting story of love, heartbreak and redemption.

THE BACK STORY: I watched the footage of the Oklahoma bombing minutes after it happened. I have family in Texas and have traveled through Oklahoma City many times over the years. I went down and saw the building before they hurried up and imploded it along with all the evidence. Over the years I have followed the story and began to realize the “Official” account did not add up. I have spent over fifteen years researching this novel to make it as historically accurate as possible.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I picked this title in reference to the sacred Ghost Dance-which is an important part of the novel.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT: I feel this is an important part of American history. The real truth has never been told. I think the victims and their families deserve to be remembered and the people responsible held accountable.


1. Oklahoma Ghost Dance is a heartbreaking love story based on a true historic event.

The book begins with a letter from Lonely Bear, a mystic healer and the main narrator of this amazing story. It gives an ominous warning that there will be a price to pay for learning the truth. This book holds nothing back! It starts in Waco, Texas where the bombing plot originated as the siege of the Branch Davidian compound comes to a fiery end. Each chapter brings strange players that helped plan and complete the tragedy of April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City. The Author uses a fictitious character, Jericho Daniels, to piece the well-researched plot together. In the aftermath, the main character Anthony Motavato’s story comes into focus. Instead of treading on the victims privacy, a composite family is used to show the consequences of the bombing. It is a touching story of love and loss that is filled with more information then has ever been disclosed before. I believe it will resonate with a positive light to those that have experienced the loss of a loved one as I have. This novel takes many chances that pay off in good way for the reader. As the narrator changes, so seems the style of the book.

Not too many books can pull this off in suchan effective way. I was a young mother raising a family when the bombing happened. My memory was limited to a few brief news clips before the media began ignoring the entire terrorist act. I learned so much history reading this and was able to learn why it happened. It is a truly original story with unforgettable characters that keep you awake at night. It is sad that the real people responsible got away with the murder of so many innocent people including children.

This is only one of the topics the book exposes without knocking the readers over the head with useless facts concerning the cover up. The viewer is allowed to make up his or her own minds about what happened that day, without being preached to. I think it is incredible that the truth is finally out as to who was involved. The book answers every question from who John Doe #2 is. to why the bombing was covered up so quickly. Unfortunately, this book is not for everyone. If you are seeking a fluff-piece or time killer, it is best to pass on this one. I highly recommend this great work of fiction even though it is a very controversial. Oklahoma Ghost Dance exposes the “official narrative” for the fraud that it is. This is an important story that should be on everyone’s reading list that cares about truth and justice. Like the book states in the prologue, once you know the truth, there is no turning back. Some scars will never heal.

2. An important story told in a gripping manner.

Although it was two decades ago, I vividly recall the events at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the horrific slaughter of the Oklahoma City bombing, so I was fascinated by the detailed account of this most deadly act of domestic terrorism. The anti-government, paramilitary movement was in full swing and the author takes you inside that strange, violent world to spend time with the people who reside there. The fringe people who populate those groups, their brittle personalities, their insecurities, the childhood abuse they suffered; born losers seeking a purpose in life and who end up in these quite pathetic, but extremely dangerous, “families.” It’s an important story, and appears very well-researched. I learned a lot of things I was previously unaware of, including possible cover ups by government agencies. But in the end, the sad and poignant journey Anthony Motavato and other family members of little Jaci Rae must take after her demise in the bombing truly grips the reader. I was left identifying with their sorrow and pain.

3. I really enjoyed this suspenseful novel.

I really enjoyed this suspenseful, thoughtful novel about the events before and after the Oklahoma City bombing, I found the research to be very thorough but in no way taking away from the depiction of both real people and fictional characters who represent some of people most affected by the bombing. The steady, suspenseful pace will keep you involved all the way through.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a life-long resident of independence, Missouri. I am the father to three amazing children. I have been writing for over thirty years and also enjoy poetry and photography. Oklahoma Ghost Dance is my second novel. Queen Anne’s Revenge a historic adventure is my first novel.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I spent twenty years following this story and researching the facts in the case. I feel it is an important story that needs to be told.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Novella’s Bistro

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & noble, etc.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: jeffwilson2112@aol.com

2. Whispers in the Attic

THE BOOK: Whispers in thCheryl Alsippie Attic


THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Alsippi

THE EDITOR: Olivia Swenson. Working with her was a delight. She was professional, prompt with returns and always accessible. Olivia guided this first-time author painlessly through what could have been a difficult process. https://www.linkedin.com/pub/olivia-swenson/3a/257/685

PUBLISHER: Word Association Publishers

SUMMARY: Life for Claire Swenson is good. She is a college girl with a wonderful boyfriend, a job, and a new roommate. It’s all a girl could want—until the moment she first sees the beautiful young woman with auburn hair and oddly out-of-date clothing standing outside of her apartment building.

Whispers in the Attic unfolds with the delicacy of soft, dense fog creeping in from the sea. Claire, though perplexed by the sight of the young woman—whom no one else seems to notice—has never given serious thought to the supernatural. Even growing up near Salem, Massachusetts, with its witch trial legacy failed to interest her in the paranormal in any serious way. But something has been unleashed and now forces are coming to bear upon Claire that she will not be able to resist.

A breathy voice very close to her ear whispered, “Help me, Claire.”

The decades old mystery brought forth from the spirit world through the young woman with the auburn hair will only be unraveled through the combined efforts of Claire and Mary, the spirit who is seeking her help.

Chilling dreams, visions and voices guide Claire to clues to help in her efforts to free Mary’s spirit from the evil that holds her.

THE BACK STORWhispers in the AtticY: After years of paranormal research and personal experiences as a paranormal investigator, I felt it was finally time to take what I had learned and do something creative with it. In 2010, I began a creative writing course which, after much self-doubt, stumbles, more self-doubt, and probably one thousand (slight exaggeration) rewrites, culminated in the published version of Whispers in the Attic. It is a fictional story but most of the ghostly activity and details I have experienced personally.

WHY THIS TITLE: My choice of title is maybe not the most inventive reasoning out there. A major scene—a pivotal point when Claire decides she can no longer avoid or deny that the persistent spirit activity is truly happening—takes place in her grandmother’s attic.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Most people, whether they believe in ghosts or not, are curious about them. Whispers in the Attic poses the questions and offers the answers to anyone who has ever wondered what happens when the spirit world and the natural world collide.


“Cheryl creates a story that brings you just a little closer to the paranormal. Really makes you think about your  onnection with those who have gone before you. And I love the little dog.” — Olivia Earnshaw

“I finished Whispers in the Attic on New Year’s Eve. I loved it! It had suspense, interest, romance, mystery and excitement. You did a great job and I really enjoyed reading it.” — Carol L.

“I find your book very interesting. I can relate to so many things dealing with the paranormal aspect. Kind of creepy in a way! LOL! Good job!” — Al B. (ghost researcher/hunter)

AUTHOR PROFILE: Cheryl Alsippi enjoys life in Western Pennsylvania with her husband Joe and their family. She is a Ghost Researcher and Paranormal Investigator who draws from her personal experiences with the supernatural for details while writing. She teaches after death communication and ghost hunting classes.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Ever since I was a child, I was interested in books about mysteries and ghosts—anything with a supernatural flair. That interest carried through into adulthood and prompted me to choose the paranormal and
supernatural fields as the genre for my writing.


WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Word Association Publishing

PRICE: $14.95 paperback; $9.99 ebooks

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Website: http://www.cherylalsippi.com
/ Facebook:

First Tuesday Replay, Sept. 1


BAndrea RaineOOK NO 6: “Turnstiles,”by Andrea Raine. Friday, June 12.

From Andrea, our first Canadian author: “Turnstiles is a literary fiction novel that focuses on family drama and social issues. The book addresses how much our social environment and people in our lives shape us. I am very interested in human relationships and social dynamics, and how people can be influenced by other people and being in different places or social situations. I also love to travel and experience new places. I enjoy stories that are character-driven where the reader can witness an internal change happening, and then everything else changes. These characters are transient and, either by choice or by force, they each leave their comfort zone at some point in their journey.

“In the summer of 1998, I embarked on a two-month solo backpacking trip through Western Europe. While I was roaming around London, I went through a tunnel under the street at Hyde Park and saw a young man in a sleeping bag. I thought maybe he was another backpacker and not necessarily a homeless person. When I returned home from the trip, I decided to start writing about him. He became a springboard for other characters to jump on the pages and for the story to unfold. Nearly sixteen years later I was holding a paperback copy of Turnstiles in my hands. My research was based on my travel experiences, some personal experiences and insights, social observations, literary knowledge, and basically being on this earth for a number of years and paying attention. The rest sprung from my imagination.”

BOOK NO 7: “Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie. Tuesday, June 16.

Betrayal “Betrayal is a dark, gritty, thought provoking and hard hitting novel. It addresses problems of how sexual abuse can be neglected or shelved away. The main character, Helen, looks at herself as a survivor of abuse but a victim of others’ betrayal. Sexual abuse is always a difficult subject and rightly or wrongly, Helen addresses the issue. If you liked Stieg Larson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Betrayal might be a good choice.

Writes one reviewer: “In a dark and unrelentingly bleak portrait of violence, abuse, struggle and vengeance we are given a picture of a cycle that continues to feed the machinery of human trafficking. While authors such as Stieg Larson in his trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gave us a painful, and in many ways over-the-top view of this, Sharon Brownlie puts us on a collision course with reality.”

BOOK NO. 8:  “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Brown. Friday, June 19.

ThJoshua Brownere is a little of Hunter S. Thompson in Joshua Samuel Brown’s writing, a pinch of P.J. O’Rourke, maybe even a dash of “Gulliver’s Travels.” For unlike many travel writers who draw back and write about exotic places from a safe and contemplative distance, Brown plunges right in, experiencing the good, the bad and the inedible. Ever wonder how you can tell the difference between good and not-so-good dog meat soup in Korea? Did you know that Beijing has a ghetto inhabited primarily by Muslims? Brown is counterculture savvy, technologically wired and, to some degree, able to converse in Mandarin. Yet through all 19 of these traveler’s tales, he never forgets who he is — a bewildered outsider.

None of us can, in the relatively short life span which we are allotted, go everywhere. So travel writers like Joshua do that for us — and in this case, visits some of the off-the-beaten-track and under-the-radar places we probably wouldn’t see even if we did go to that country. He eats dog meat stew so we won’t have to.

BOOK NO 9.  “Caught,” by Deirdre Thurston. Tuesday, June 23.

CAUGHT is a collection of short stories, literary sketches and vignettes, each capturing a moment in the life of someone a lot like each of us. Each story delves into human themes: expectation, desire, hope, loss, fear, joy, peace, suffering, redemption. The narrative is filled with subtle irony, humour and touching observations.  The overriding message in CAUGHT is: that any moment in every life can be viewed as worthy of treasuring. Whether that moment is filled with despair or joy; they provide entertaining relief and nourishing benefits. The stories are real and everyone will relate in some way.

BOOK NO. 10:  “Thirty Perfect Days” by Claudia Taller. Friday, June 26.

In her book 30 Perfect Days, Finding Abundance in Ordinary Life, a spiritual memoir, author Claudia Taller allows the reader to go into her personal world to find the perfect moments that ultimately define our lives. 30 Perfect Days, Finding Abun30 Perfect Daysdance in Ordinary Life is a quest to live in the moment, make connections, and pay attention to what life has to offer. Through daily reflection, Taller deals with life’s surface obstacles with honesty and authenticity to gain insight into the patterns behind the problems. By the end of her journey, Taller is more accepting and forgiving of herself and others and knows first-hand that a change of approach can lead any seeker to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. The reader comes to a deeper understanding that once we embrace our lives as they are and turn inward to seek guidance, stress, judgment, expectations, and disappointments become small obstacles along the way. In the end, Taller infers, it is up to us to nurture our souls.