Friday, October 31, 2014

Whiskey Witches (Season 1, Episode 1), by S.M. Blooding ~ Get the eBook for Just 99 Cents!

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Whiskey Witches -- Old Beginnings: Season 1, Episode 1

Detective Paige Whiskey comes from a long line of witches. They may not all be the most powerful, but they are outspoken and supportive of their community. She alone has no gifts. She can’t summon fire, can’t read minds. She knows the arcane. She’s studied it. That, along with her connection to the Whiskey Witches, lands her some pretty strange cases.

Like the sacrificial murders of St. Francisville, Louisiana. There’s a killer on the loose, choosing people in a vain attempt to raise a demon. Once she gets there, she realizes the murders were nothing more than an elaborate invitation, tempting her into the claws of the killer.

She does have a gift, a very powerful and terrifying one.

The killer is after her.

Buy on Amazon / Kobo


Meet the Author:


SM “Frankie” Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Jack the Bird. Jack has refused to let her to take up the piano again, but is warming to the guitar. It might help that Frankie has learned more than two strings. She’s added a few more Arabic words to her vocabulary, but don’t invite her into conversation yet—unless, of course, you’re willing to have a very ... slow  .. conversation.

She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.

She’s also an investigator with a local paranormal investigation group, Colorado Paranormal Rescue!



Find out more about her at:

Facebook /Twitter /Website

4 for Friday October Blitz – Presented by Month9Books with eBooks #Giveaway (3 Winners)

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Welcome to the 4 for Friday Blitz for Predator by Janice Gable Bashman, Into the Fire by Ashelyn Drake, Boneseeker by Brynn Chapman, and The Emissary by Kristal Shaff, presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
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“Predator is a fast-paced, creepy page-turner! Bashman had me at the opening sentence and she’s still got me. I want more!”
~Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author, The Rules 
The hunt is on! 
Sixteen-year-old Bree Sunderland must inject herself with an untested version of her father’s gene therapy to become a werewolf in order to stop a corrupt group of mercenaries from creating a team of unstoppable lycanthrope soldiers. 
When Bree went with her scientist father to Ireland, she thought it would be a vacation to study bog bodies. She never expected to fall in love with a mysterious young Irishman and certainly never expected to become the kind of monster her father said only existed in nightmares. Dr. Sunderland discovers that lycanthropy was not a supernatural curse but rather a genetic mutation. When they return home, her dad continues his research, but the military wants to turn that research into a bio weapons program and rogue soldiers want to steal the research to turn themselves into unstoppable killing machines. 
Bree’s boyfriend Liam surprises her with a visit to the United States, but there are darker surprises in store for both of them. As evil forces hunt those she loves, Bree must become an even more dangerous hunter to save them all. 
Predator gives the werewolf legend a couple of new spins by introducing the Benandanti (an actual folkloric belief that certain families of Italy and Livonia were werewolves who fought against evil), as well as a modern scientific approach to mutation and the science of transgenics.

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Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author

Janice Gable Bashman
Janice Gable Bashman is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Wanted Undead or Alive and Predator. She is managing editor of The Big Thrill (International Thriller Writers’ ezine). Janice lives with her family in the Philadelphia area, where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her at janicegablebashman.com.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future. 
But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems. 
A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.
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Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Ashelyn Drake
Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set, and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Boneseeker
Arabella Holmes was born different and raised different. After it became apparent she wouldn’t fit the role of a proper 1900s lady, her father, Sherlock, called in some lingering favors, and landed her a position at the Mutter Museum. The museum was Arabella’s dream; she was to become a purveyor of abnormal science. What her father called a BoneSeeker. 
Henry Watson arrives at the Mutter Museum with a double assignment -- to become a finder of abnormal antiquities and to watch over and keep Arabella Holmes. An easy task, if he could only get her to speak to him instead of throwing knives in his general direction. 
But this is no time for child’s play. The two teens are assigned to a most secret exploration, when the hand of a Nephilim is unearthed in upstate New York. Soon, Arabella and Henry are caught in a fight for their lives as scientific debate swirls around them. Are the bones from a Neanderthal … or are they living proof of fallen angels, who supposedly mated with humans according to ancient scrolls? 
Sent to recover the skeleton, they discover they are the second team to have been deployed and the entire first team is dead. And now they must trust their instincts and rely on one another in order to survive and uncover the truth.
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Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Brynn Chapman
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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For hundreds of years, dark clouds covered the skies of Adamah, and an ageless king ruled. Those who emerged with one of six extraordinary Shay powers were forced into the king’s army, an unmatched force with inhuman Strength, Speed, Accuracy, Perception, Empathy, and Healing. With the army behind him, the king—a man who wields all six abilities—was invincible and unquestioned in his rule. To most, serving the king was an honor. But for others, it was a fate worse than death. 
When seventeen-year-old Nolan Trividar witnesses the transformation of his brother from kind to cruel after entering the king’s army, he vows never to follow the same path. 
So when his own power—the Shay of Accuracy—comes upon him at the Tournament of Awakening, Nolan conceals his emergence instead of joining the king’s ranks. For years, he traitorously hides his power, pretending to be only a gifted scribe. But when Nolan comes face -to-face with a deserter, the man discovers his secret. 
To evade detection and a death sentence, Nolan escapes with the deserter and flees into a night filled with dark creatures who steal both powers and souls. He joins a resistance, a village hidden deep in the forest, filled with others who secretly wield a Shay. But his peace is short-lived when they discover that the dark clouds, undead creatures, their own decreasing powers, and even the king, are all connected.
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Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Kristal Shaff

Kristal Shaff grew up with books (and used to drive her mom crazy when she wouldn’t leave the library); her first job was even shelving books at the library. She loves anything creative, and you can often find her exploring strange and fantastical worlds in her choices of movies and fantasy fiction. Kristal resides in Iowa with her farmer husband, numerous pets, and 3 awesome kids (plus one more on the way though the journey of adoption). When she isn’t writing, she is a professional face painter who enjoys making children smile.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!



Disclaimer: Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment.

The Wanted Book Blitz: Giveaway for a Clean Teen Publishing eBook and Bookmark Swag!

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Title:  The Wanted
Series:  The Woodlands Series, Book 4
Author:  Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published:  October 31, 2014  
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count:  363
Genre:  YA Mature Dystopian Romance
Content Warning:  Graphic Violence
Recommended Age:  16+

Synopsis:

What would you be willing to sacrifice to get what you Wanted?

It’s the question facing both Rosa and Joseph as they are pushed and pulled in unimaginable directions.

It’s the question Superior Grant answered with a resounding, “Anything and everything.”

The only thing they want is to be back in each other’s arms. But what will it cost them to get there?

Separated after a failed mission, they are caught in dual hells. Joseph, sinking as he struggles to face what he did to escape and who he had to leave behind. Rosa, straddling the divide between fighting the evil, calculating Superior Grant and trying her best to stay alive.

When what they Wanted seems unreachable, can they find the strength -- the will -- to keep trying? To keep fighting? And find their way back to each other and to Orry?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads




JOSEPH

I searched for movement, but I could see none. My eyes squinted and strained, staring at the side of the concrete wall. Smooth, dull, and perfectly curved.

A puff of dust pushed out from the wall like a hard cough. A few moments later, a small, popping sound followed.

Then sirens wailed thinly as if mildly displeased. The only indication of how serious the situation was seemed to be the way all the lights swung around to focus on the explosion site.

The screen opened in the sky minutes later like daylight had cut through the night accidentally. The clouds were the perfect backdrop for the show. I waited, barely breathing, as the video began.

I didn’t notice Elise until she sat down with a thump next to me. “Great view,” she said breathlessly, pulling her sleeves over her hands.

I wondered why she’d followed me up here, but I tried to hide my annoyance.

“Yes, it is,” I replied absently. We were silent as the video played through.

She started talking just as Rosa appeared in the lines of pregnant girls. “How are you feeling? Should I check…?”

“Sh…” I said, putting my hand up to her face.

She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted like a child. “That was really rude,” she muttered.

I groaned, pulling my hair back with my hands and froze, my hands fixed over my head. There she was. I stared into the clouds, trying to will them closer.

“Rosa,” I whispered before I could stop myself. She blinked back at me, sad, disappointed. How could you leave me? she seemed to say.

“I’m sorry,” I told the clouds and the image of her from two years ago. That Rosa loved a different Joseph. I tried not to think about the Rosa of now and what was happening to her at this exact moment, because my mind conjured horrible things.

Elise played with her fingers. “It’s ok… you’re obviously stressed about something.”

“What? No.” I wasn’t talking to her.

God, she sounded like a doctor when she talked.

“Wow, look at that girl with heterochromia. Amazing eyes. She’s beautiful.” Elise said, pointing in the sky.

You don’t even know.

I should have told her, that’s Rosa, but I didn’t. I was hoarding her memory. I didn’t want to share it with anyone.

The image faded.

She was gone.

This was torture.

 photo Lauren-Nicolle-Taylor.jpgAbout the Author:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a bachelor's degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, she found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead, but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released in August 2013 and quickly became a bestseller. The second book in The Woodlands Series, The Wall, was published in October 2013 and followed suit, maintaining its position on the bestseller charts for three months in a row.


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Clean Teen Publishing Links:



Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.

Giveaway is International.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BECOMING BEA By @LeslieJeanGould ~ Kindle Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Leslie Gould is back with the latest book, Becoming Bea, in her Shakespeare-inspired series, The Courtships of Lancaster County. Don't miss the other books in the series, Courting Cate (retelling of The Taming of the Shrew), Adoring Addie (inspired by Romeo and Juliet), and Minding Molly (inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Leslie is celebrating the series with a Kindle giveaway and a Facebook party on November 11th.

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • One copy each of the entire The Courtships of Lancaster County series: Courting CateAdoring Addie, Minding Molly, and Becoming Bea.
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 11/11. Winner will be announced at Leslie's 11/11 Becoming Bea Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Leslie and Amish fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

Literary Addicts Weekly Meme: Little Women, the Missing March and the Civil War

It's time for the Literary Addicts Weekly Meme where each week we answer the question: What are you currently reading? I'd always heard good things about author Geraldine Brooks, and now I'm finally reading one of her books!

March
by Geraldine Brooks

As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the Civil War, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. From Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, Mr. March, who has gone off to war, leaving his wife and daughters to make do in mean times. From vibrant New England to the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott's optimist children's novel. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks's place as a renowned author of historical fiction.

This book is so beautifully written and haunting. It can be a tough book to read because of the realistic depiction of the Civil War, and Brooks makes you feel like you're right in it. But the characters are captivating. It's a far cry from Little Women, but I love reading about the March that was missing from Alcott's book. I'm excited to finish and read more of Brooks's novels!

CLICK HERE to find links to other bloggers participating in the Literary Addicts Weekly Meme and find out what they're currently reading!


Disclosure: This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

How to Be Manly Book Blast: Giveaway for a $15 Amazon Gift Card and Paperback!

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How To Be Manly
When Fatty Matty Sullivan finds a self-help book by former football great Tad Manly at a yard sale, he secretly starts following the old pro’s advice to get in shape and get the girl. Summer goals: lose the milkshake weight, join the football team, and turn himself into the kind of guy super hot Cassie Bale will love.

But between taking care of his grandfather, trying to pass remedial Algebra, and getting caught up in his friend Jester’s half-baked weed-dealing schemes, Matty’s summer isn’t quite the game-changer he’d planned. When on top of it all his dad moves back in with his own plans to get rich quick, Matty suddenly has much bigger things to worry about than football and whether or not Cassie’s going to call him back. And it turns out that there might be more to being manly than he thought.

Maureen O’Leary Wanket’s debut is a sharp, comic novel about trying to do the right thing… even when you’re not sure what that is.

Buy on Amazon | B&N

Put How to Be Manly on your TBR list

Meet the Author:

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Maureen O’Leary Wanket is a writer and teacher living in Sacramento, California with her husband and two daughters. How to Be Manly is inspired by the humor and courage of the students she’s met in her classrooms over the past twenty years. She loves high school football, but only when she happens to teach at least half of the players on the field.

Her short stories have appeared in Esopus, Xenith, Fiction at Work, Blood and Thunder, Musings on the Art of Medicine and Prick of the Spindle.

Maureen writes articles about issues in education for local and national publications. She also muses about inspirations for a writer’s life in Friday Free Topic at http://maureenoleary.wordpress.com.

How to Be Manly is her first novel.

Find Maureen on: Twitter | Blog | Goodreads



The author is giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card and a paperback. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Angus MacBain and the Agate Eyeglass Book Blitz: Giveaway for a Clean Teen Publishing eBook and Bookmark Swag

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Title:  Angus MacBain and the Agate Eyeglass
Series:  Angus MacBain Series #2
Author:   Angela J. Townsend
Published:  October 28th, 2014
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count:  132
Genre:  YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

When Angus MacBain finds that a Sea Hag has cast a deadly spell on Vanora’s father, he must once again set aside his life in the outside world to plunge into danger to save his friend’s father. But when he seeks out Fane, advisor to the MacBain Kings, Angus discovers that Vanora’s father is not the only one in dire peril. Now with two souls in mortal danger, Angus and Vanora must face the unknown challenges of Fingal’s Cave alone this time—without the aid of his trusted advisor. But what new and dreadful dangers lurk in the Hall of Kings? Armed with only the ancient weapon of the MacBain Kings, the heirloom amber eyeglass, Angus is about to find out.


Excerpt from Angus MacBain and the Agate Eyeglass:


Vanora’s eyes went wide. She turned slowly and pointed a shaky finger at the empty chair. “I just sat on someone’s lap.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean, there’s someone sitting in that chair!”

Angus sighed. “This was no time for joking around. I think you need a new prescription for your glasses.”

“See for yourself.” Vanora patted the chair. “Feel right there. A perfect set of legs.”

Angus hobbled closer, cautiously leaned forward, and touched the seat. Beneath his fingertips, he felt a warm pair of legs covered in a fleece material. Angus jerked his hand back.

Vanora crossed her arms. “See, I told you.”


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About the Author:

Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, she grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places. Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, she became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full-time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulation, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, she divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.

Angela’s Young Adult novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Since that time, she has published three books with Clean Teen Publishing: Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, River of Bones, and Moonflower. Angus MacBain and The Agate Eyeglass, the second book in the Angus MacBain series, will be released by Clean Teen Publishing in October of 2014.

Angela also has two of her horror novels in pre-production for motion pictures—River of Bones and The Forlorned.


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Clean Teen Publishing Links:


Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.

Giveaway is International.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Tour: "Becoming Bea," by Leslie Gould ~ My Review

About the book:
Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows.

One person she'll never be able to find peace with, though, is Ben Rupp. They've known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

My thoughts:
I loved how this book was written in the first person because I could really get inside Bea Zook’s head. Many people misunderstood Bea because she’s an introvert, who prefers staying home to going out in public. As a result, Bea lacks confidence, and it doesn’t help matters when Ben starts courting her and then abruptly quits. Needless to say, Bea wants nothing to do with Ben after that, but people still seem to think they’d make the perfect couple. Several years later, Ben starts coming around again, but Bea is naturally reluctant to let him worm his way into her heart. As Bea matures, she begins to find some of the answers she seeks, and she realizes that she is a capable woman who is just fine being herself. More than a romance, this is really a book about growing up and finding our true selves. It’s about learning to like what we find and not being willing to settle for less than we deserve. And, yes, it’s about how the path to lasting love is rarely smooth, but filled with potholes and obstructions.

Meet the author:
Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller The Amish Midwife, a 2012 Christy Award winner; ECPA bestseller Courting Cate, first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; and Beyond the Blue, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She and her family live in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more about Leslie at: website, Facebook, Twitter



Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse to facilitate my honest review.

Corruption Book Blast: Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card

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Cover for Corruption2
As a category six wizard in her eighties, Josephine O’Connor has always enjoyed a youthful body due to extremely slow aging. But when she discovers she’s become immortal, she must return to the workforce. Soon after starting her investigative work for the police, Josephine discovers a secret organization called the Valituras that has amassed ancient magic and power with single-minded determination. Her new assignment of defeating this agency may prove to be an impossible feat as their members have infiltrated all levels of the government including law enforcement and their advanced wizardry rivals her own.

Josephine realizes she may be in over her head when the Valituras end up casting an immortality curse on her best friend, Helen, by mistake. To further complicate matters, her grandson’s eighteen-year-old friend starts hitting on her. Fortunately, Helen isn’t too broken up by the curse. Who wouldn’t want to live forever in a young, perfect body? Of course, everyone knows that dark magic always comes at a cost.

Buy on Amazon | Nook


About the Author:

John for NPWA
John O'Riley has been writing as far back as he can remember. He is an award-winning fiction writer and the author of the Grumpy Old Wizards series, The Winters Family Psi Chronicles series, and the Wizards of Seattle series. His movie feature screenplay, Cursed, is an Honorable Mention Winner for the 2012 Screenplay Festival. His most recent accomplishments include the screenplays New Earth, Pinky Swear, and Mutant Wizards in the 2014 Filmmakers International Screenplay Awards, which made it to Quarter-Finalist status. Other recognition includes the screenplays Cursed, Project Pandora, Pinky Swear, Incipio, and Bad Sister, which have been listed as Quarter Finalists, Semi Finalists, and Top Finalists in the 2013 Filmmakers International Screenplay Awards, 2012 Screenplay Festival, 2012 Filmmakers International Screenplay Awards, 2012 StoryPros International Awards, 2012 Pulsar Sci Fi Screenplay Contest, and the 2012 Reel Authors International Breakout.

John was raised in Washington state. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and French, and he has worked in a variety of bookstores, including Borders. He was the manager for one of the bookstores in Florida owned by Goodwill.

He loves reading fantasy, science fiction, and humorous fiction. Some of his favorite authors include Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, S.J. Viehl, Kat Richardson, J.K. Rowling, Angie Sage, Jayne Krentz, and Kevin Emerson. He currently resides in Washington state and owns a parakeet named Amy who sings like a canary to help encourage and inspire him.

Follow John:

Facebook | Website


GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from the author during the Corruption Book Blast!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: "A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan About Living, Loving and Waking Up," by Linda Leaming


I was incredibly excited when I heard that Linda Leaming had published a second book about her life in Bhutan. Leaming is an American who took a job in the faraway kingdom of Bhutan and fell in love with the people there, especially a talented painter, Phurba Namgay, whom she later married. This story is chronicled in her first book, Married to Bhutan, which I reviewed HERE. In her second book, A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan About Living, Loving and Waking Up, Leaming takes a less narrative approach by dividing each chapter into a particular lesson or theme. However, she tells plenty of new and fascinating stories to illustrate these themes.

Naturally, since the Bhutanese are Buddhist, many of their actions and thoughts are formed by their religion. But you don’t have to convert to Buddhism to find much wisdom in this book. It is about living more peacefully, something that Americans find difficult to do because we feel we must fill every moment with action. We’d never put up with a three-hour wait at the bank, and yet that’s exactly what Leaming learned to do when she moved to Bhutan. On the other hand, Americans rarely have to worry about being attacked by monkeys, something that is much more likely to occur in the mountains of Bhutan. (And, to provide balance, Leaming does point out some things about the United States that fascinate her Bhutanese husband!) Obviously, there are benefits and drawbacks both to living in Bhutan and the United States, but since most of us will be staying in the U.S., A Field Guide to Happiness teaches us how to transfer some of the benefits of Bhutanese living to our everyday lives to achieve the best of both worlds!

A Field Guide to Happiness is the kind of book that I want to keep at my bedside to read over and over again when I’m beginning to feel stressed and overscheduled. Leaming’s advice deserves to be repeatedly programmed into our busy brains until it becomes a natural way of living and thinking. Leaming admits that she still falls off the Bhutanese wagon sometimes when she’s in the United States, but it is possible to get back on the ride when we make a concerted effort to adopt the wisdom found in Bhutan. If you’re struggling to relax, simplify and de-stress, pick up a copy of A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan About Living, Loving and Waking Up, by Linda Leaming.



Watch the book's trailer:


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.




Hexed Book Blast: Giveaway for the Whole Series by Stephanie Nelson (Signed Paperbacks)!

Hexed
Everything and everyone has an expiration date, including Gwen Sparks. When Dorian, the Angel of Death, saved her, he did more than bend the rules: he shattered them.

When Gwen’s memories are stolen, the balance of life and death shifts, and magic goes on the fritz. Dorian realizes that even the angel of Death must face consequences for his mistakes. Everything and everyone has an expiration date, and time is running out for Gwen. If they don’t find a solution, Gwen’s borrowed time will come to an end, and Dorian will lose the woman he risked everything for.

Both will have to make a life-changing decision. Dorian’s choice will result in either altering his very existence or losing Gwen forever. Gwen will risk everything to right Dorian’s wrong, and her decision may just result in her death.

This book includes an Aiden Blake short story. You've heard Gwen's side. Now hear his.


Reading Order
Craved - Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Only $.99 ebook / Audiobook - Audible
Deceived - Amazon /Barnes & Noble /Audiobook - Audible
Coveted - Amazon / Barnes & Noble /Audiobook : Audible
Hexed -  
Amazon / Barnes & Noble /


Due to sexual content and language, this book is intended for readers 18+

Stephanie Nelson is giving away a signed set of her series to one lucky winner. Open to US residents. Ends November 7, 2014 @ 11:59 PM EST. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

M9B Friday Reveal: Chapter One of "Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show" by Steve Bryant and eBook Giveaway (3 Winners) #M9BFridayReveals

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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show, by Steve Bryant

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Lucas MacKenzie eBook Final
Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any ten-year-old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember. 
But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know. 
Like the rest of Luca’s friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?  
If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them. 
When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing. There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show’s enchanting fifteen-year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family? 
Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.
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Title: Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show
Publication date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Steve Bryant
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show
By Steve Bryant
Chapter One
Ghost Story
It was a chill, gooseflesh evening, thanks to the damp ocean air and to ghostly expectations. Thin black clouds scuttled past the moon like witches on broomsticks.
Far below, on an eerily empty California street, a delta wing Buick Electra neared a little theater. The four high school girls in the car shivered, surprised to find themselves so alone at this late hour. A line of empty cars stretched down the block to the black Pacific, and streetlamps glowed faintly in the mist. This was the San Diego community of Ocean Beach, a few heart palpitations shy of midnight.
“Sweet Mary,” said the Ponytail at the wheel. “The show must have started already. Who would have thought ghosts were so punctual?”
“Shut up!” said the French Braids seated beside her. “Ghost stories give me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t believe we came down here tonight to see dead people.”
The car entered the oasis of light cast by the theater itself. Although The Strand’s daytime fare ran to Elvis Presley and surfing movies, its illuminated marquee on this ghost story evening promised far more than Love Me Tender and Sandra Dee.
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
PROFESSOR MCDUFF AND HIS LONDON MIDNIGHT GHOST SHOW
SPOOKS RUN WILD IN AUDIENCE
PLUS
ALL-STAR CREATURE FEATURE
“Creepy!” said the Toni Home Perm in the back seat. “I think that skeleton in the window just looked at me.”
“Drive on by!” said the Poodle Cut beside her. “Let’s go home. I have a feeling. I think something is wrong with this show.”
* * *
Inside the little movie house, in the tiny projection booth at the top of the narrow winding stairs, a little boy peered through the small square window. His name was Lucas Mackenzie, and he was ten years old. Lucas felt as though he had been ten forever, and there seemed to be nothing he could do about it.
On stage at that moment, a magician in a smart black tuxedo and a red turban stood still as death, his dexterous hands moving only as his mysteries required. Professor Ambrose McDuff, as pale as storybook vampires in the glow of a single spotlight, showed both the fronts and backs of his hands to be empty, then plucked fans of playing cards from the air. Individual cards fell from his fingertips like rose petals falling upon a grave.
But despite the Professor’s eerie mastery of nineteenth-century card manipulation, this was 1959, and audiences demanded more. Lucas knew that the couples on hand were impatient for the theater to be plunged into total darkness, that the teenage boys on hand were hoping for something more dramatic than snatching jacks and aces from the air. This was supposed to be a ghost show, and the crowd—if the pockets of teenagers scattered about the theater at this late hour could be called a crowd—was tiring of card tricks.
“Come on, Pops,” someone shouted. “Let’s see some ghosts!”
A narrow cylinder of light sliced through the darkness as a young usher aimed his flashlight beam at the outburst. “Quiet! I’m warning you!”
“Aw, who’s gonna make me?”
On stage, a royal flush appeared at the magician’s fingertips.
Beautiful magic is not to be rushed, the Professor always said. There would be time soon enough for so-called ghosts.
Nevertheless, Lucas rolled his dark eyes in response to the outburst below—a shame, he felt, as he loved the Professor’s card tricks—and concluded that it was time to move the show along.
He wore a set of large black metal headphones, and he spoke into the grille of a gray bullet microphone. “Bravo, Professor. Nice work. Yorick is set to go on, and then Alexandra. This crowd should love the Juan Escadero number.”
As Lucas knew, Professor McDuff, could hear him perfectly thanks to earphones concealed beneath his red turban. Lucas had designed the show’s secret radio network—the entire theater was wired with microphones and receivers—and was very proud of it. It had been his first contribution to the show. Before Lucas’s time, electronic communication relied on copper plates in the bottoms of the Professor’s shoes, and on long copper wires hidden under the runway carpet, a holdover from the Second Sight mind-reading acts from the thirties.
No one would suspect the simple arrangement of the Professor’s next exhibit of using hidden electronics or secret mechanisms. He placed a glass shelf across the backs of two chairs, and atop this innocent platform he placed the centerpiece of the demonstration, an oversized human skull in a red sombrero.
The reaction was immediate. As Lucas expected, the agitators in the audience fell silent. At least this skull in the red hat looked as if it belonged in a spook show. Its eye sockets and nose cavity were dark hollows, its teeth a fixed, mocking grin.
The Professor tossed decks of cards into the audience and instructed three boys to stand and take a card. Could this “Juan Escadero,” proclaimed by the Professor to be the “floating, talking head of one of Mexico’s most notorious card cheats,” look into their minds and identify their cards? Could anyone?
The ivory-hued head on the glass platform twisted from one boy to the other.
“Ay, amigos,” it said, in a voice that sounded like Speedy Gonzales. “My Inner Eye sees all. No one keeps secrets from Juan Escadero. Could you be thinking of the king of hearts? And you the two of spades? And the ace of diamonds for the muchacho in the middle? Please be seated if I am correct.”
Instantly the three spectators sat down, and the audience rewarded the disembodied card sharp with applause and whistles.
As always, uncertainty rippled through the theater.
A wise guy in row 4 voiced his solution. “It’s a hidden microphone,” he said. “Someone behind the curtain is speaking into it.”
Another boy said, “It’s the old man. He’s doing it. It’s nothing but card manipulation and ventriloquism.”
A third shouted, “Hey, Pancho. What about the floating?”
The audience gasped as the skull suddenly turned, ever so slightly, in the direction of the challenge. For the first time the thing appeared to be genuinely alive, as though it had heard the comment.
“Ay, mi cabeza,” the skull said. “I feel so light-headed.” At which point the talking skull rose two feet in the air above its glass shelf. The ghastly thing bobbed in space, its red sombrero at a jaunty angle, its mouth open in a gaping grin. Lucas grinned too as the audience again broke into appreciative applause.
“Threads,” said a worried voice in row 10. “It’s gotta be threads.”
Lucas hoped for a similarly warm reception to Professor McDuff’s next magical presentation, the Houdini Metamorphosis Trunk. As the Professor introduced a wooden packing case large enough to conceal a dead body, Lucas cued Alexandra, one of the lovely Gilbert triplets. Though the three Gilbert girls were only twenty-two, they treated Lucas as though they were his mom. Tonight, it was Alexandra’s turn to do the box trick.
“Thanks, kiddo,” she said from a communication console in the wings. “I’m set. I love these California kids. They think I’m the ginchiest.”
The teenagers whooped and whistled as the beautiful Miss Gilbert strutted onto the stage in a black crepe dress. A red bow adorned her long blond hair, and her movie-star figure was breathtaking. She threw kisses to the audience and winked at Lucas in his booth.
The trunk, Lucas observed with pride, was old and creepy, weather-beaten, and just too darn real—like something that might have been found at night on a dock. This was no glitzy magic shop prop. The Professor locked the lovely Alexandra inside, the lock snapping shut with a heavy clunk.
The magic itself was spooky, like a dissolve in a monster movie when a man turns into a werewolf. Lucas loved the movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf and wondered what it would feel like to change. What if your muscles bulged until they ripped your shirt, if the fur of a wolf sprouted from your face, if your teeth became deadly fangs, all in a matter of seconds? Would teenage girls be frightened, or would they admire you?
The Professor made it look so easy. One moment he was standing on the box, hidden behind a large cloth. After a mere flicker, the cloth fell away and revealed a liberated Alexandra standing in his place. She then wiggled off the box, opened the formidable padlock, and produced the Professor from within.
The cast was proud that magical insiders would swear the exchange could not take place so quickly. It must be a new invention. According to reports in the leading conjuring magazines, the great Blackstone himself had seen the show in Cleveland and had left the theater shaken.
“It’s just the old switcheroo,” a boy in row 8 rationalized. “It’s a sliding panel. They all do it.”
But now it was Lucas’s turn to tremble, high in his aerie. His favorite part of the show was coming up. With both hands he adjusted the headphones, and he faced the microphone, paralyzed. Seconds ticked by.
He forced her name out at last. “Uh, Columbine?” His voice squeaked. “Ready? You’re up next.”
“Of course I am, Lucas.” The words danced in Lucas’s headphones. He had said her name. She had said his. It was the highlight of every performance. “I’m a mystic after all, a seer. And, Lucas, I think you should look behind—”
Just then something cleared its throat behind Lucas.
“AAUGH!” the boy yelled, startled to realize he wasn’t alone. Lucas turned to find a behemoth of a man standing behind him. The man might have been a stunt double from a Frankenstein movie, except that he was too tall and, perhaps, too green. His short black hair carpeted a flat head, and he wore a loose fitting brown suit with a brown bow tie. The two of them barely fit in the room.
“Oh, it’s you,” Lucas said. “For a moment you gave me quite a start.”
They both laughed. It was a private joke between the two of them, a riff on a favorite Charles Addams cartoon. Lucas felt the fellow, whose name was Oliver, looked a little too much like the servant in Mr. Addams’ spooky cartoons.
“Greetings, Master Lucas,” said Oliver. “I thought I should drop in to ascertain that you hadn’t swooned from love. I wouldn’t want to find you incapable of performing your duties.”
“You’re soooo funny,” Lucas said. And then he slapped his forehead and turned back to the microphone.
“Uh, sorry, Columbine. Good luck. Just follow the Professor’s lead.”
Lucas looked through his little window with concern. The theater was musty, a consequence of being so close to the ocean. “It’s such a small house tonight,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t take it personally.”
“What’s the count?” Oliver asked.
“I’m thinking only 150 or so,” Lucas said. “And this theater seats 800.”
“My, my,” his large friend said. “A pity. Goodness, we drew 3100 at the El Capitan in San Francisco, back in ’42. And 4000 a year later at the Bijou in Cincinnati. That’s a lot of screams.”
Audience numbers had been dwindling for some time, and night after night Lucas became more disheartened. Could the show actually come to an end some day if people quit coming? If the cast dispersed, where would he go? To be adrift, alone, was unthinkable, like stepping into a black abyss. And more importantly: where would she go?
But at that moment she was about to take the stage, and the teenagers who were on hand welcomed her warmly when the Professor introduced her as “the Teenage Telepath, the Diva of Destiny, the Psychic of the Century—the sensational Columbine.”
She strode onto the stage, this tall, thin, stargazing girl of fifteen years, with midnight black hair. She wore a plain white shift, and her skin was fair and moonbeam pale. The only color on stage was the girl’s lips, afire with red lipstick. Most would judge her to be six feet tall, though she would insist she was no more than five eleven. Her dark eyes turned to the crystal ball resting in the palm of her right hand.
The audience suddenly became very quiet. One boy coughed, apologetically.
“Okay, Eddie, let’s sell this,” Lucas said into his microphone.
The theater suffered from an ancient wiring system and a shaky bank of lights, but they were not a problem for Eddie, the Lighting Guy, hunched in the back of the building. Lucas watched as Eddie bathed Columbine in a blue spot. She looked ethereal. A Columbine performance was like a religious experience.
“This girl is like putty in my hands,” Eddie said into his microphone.
Lucas hated it that Eddie thought he had Columbine wrapped around his little finger. Ever since she had joined the cast, over two years ago now, Eddie had strutted about as though he were her boyfriend. Columbine herself seldom seemed to notice him, but Eddie just passed this off as her distant personality. “That’s just my girl,” he would say. “We have an understanding.” Lately she spent most of her private time listening to Buddy Holly records and consulting her astrological charts.
Oliver and Lucas leaned their heads together as both attempted to see through the little window at the same time.
“What’s that I hear?” said Oliver. “That unearthly tapping? I’d call it a rhythmic tapping, but it keeps skipping beats. Certainly it couldn’t be, oh, your heart?”
“Quiet, you big goofus,” Lucas said, “or I’m cutting your minutes.”
In the audience, hands exploded into the air, vying for the pale seer’s attention. All the teens wanted their fortunes told.
Columbine turned her lovely face from one longing soul to another. Her gazing-glass visions began.
To one girl, she said, “There is a jukebox, at a place near the beach. The moon has just risen, and the lights are dim. Johnny Mathis is singing ‘Chances Are.’ You will dance with one boy, but another will cut in. He’s the one!
To a boy, she said, “You are in a roller skating rink, and there is organ music. It’s a couples skate, and the song is ‘Volare.’ There is a girl who shows up on Saturdays, with a long blond ponytail. This time you won’t be too shy to ask her to skate.”
And then, “Oh, dear,” she said. “In the third row. I am sorry. Your girlfriend will see the scary movie The Blob with another boy. They will sit through it twice.”
A whispered argument broke out in the third row.
“Big deal,” said a boy in row 12. “That ball is probably just one of those Magic 8 Balls.”
“Or she could have looked this stuff up in this morning’s horoscope,” said another. “In the paper.”
“Yeah, but I’d sure like to take her to the prom,” said still another.
Lucas sat with his mouth open as this astral Miss Lonely Hearts spun out her prophecies. The crystal in Columbine’s hand turned slowly, casting streaks of ice blue across her enchanting face. To look at her was to believe her, to not look at her was impossible.
“My public awaits,” said Oliver. He passed a large hand back and forth before Lucas’s goggled eyes, but the boy didn’t blink. “You’re a lost cause, Master Lucas.”
The big fellow left, closing the door behind him.
“I don’t know what to say to her,” Lucas said, his eyes still drinking in this witch-girl vision in blue. “I never know what to say.”
He adjusted the microphone and reverted to his professional voice. What Lucas lacked in adult vocal register he made up for in authority. “Okay, everybody. Let’s wrap it up for Columbine. Flowers, please, Professor. Oliver is up, and then into the blackout. Stations, everyone. It’s ghost story time.”
Professor McDuff returned and made a big to-do of presenting Columbine a bouquet of blood-red roses, then escorted her offstage to continued applause and whistling.
At the edge of the stage, with the girl safely in the wings, the Professor turned again and explained the rules of the blackout to the audience. “One: remain seated. Two: no flash photographs—our ghosts are bashful. And three: if something cold and dead should put its hands around your throat, you can always scream. And now,” the Professor added over the audience’s nervous laughter, “I give you the Curse of Frankenstein!”
Fog oozed across the stage floor, lightning flashed, thunder rumbled. Lucas gave birth to all three effects: a thick white cloud issued from his Vapor-250 Atomizer, simulated lightning exploded from a bank of flashbulbs, and thunder from his Hollywood Sound Effects phonograph record erupted from speakers the size of refrigerators. With a deft replacement of the phonograph needle, he threw in one more extended rumble for good measure.
“Ka-booooooom!”
On this note, Oliver lurched out, doing his best to look like the Frankenstein monster from the movies. His green hue, some last-minute Hollywood stitches, and a pair of sparking neck electrodes constituted special effects that rivaled those of the best Hollywood monsters. The teenagers granted him full attention as the hulking actor grimaced, spread his arms, and began his recitations.
Oliver’s low voice gave life to a selection of spooky rhymes. James Whitcomb Riley’s famous orphan told her witch tales, Edgar Allan Poe’s black bird perched ominously, Shakespeare’s witches issued their dire portents.
But as entertaining as the actor’s recitations were, and despite his looking like someone to avoid in an old castle on a rainy night, his welcome began to wear on his young audience.
“This isn’t the ‘Curse’ of Frankenstein,” an anguished voice said. “It’s the ‘Verse’ of Frankenstein.”
The teens in the front rows began to throw things at the stage. Milk Duds, Chuckles, Tootsie Roll segments, and a hailstorm of popcorn filled the air. The “monster” waved these trifles aside as he continued his soliloquy.
“That should do it,” Lucas said into the mike. “Cue the McClatter boys.”
In military formation, six life-sized skeletons marched onto the stage. Two of them wheeled out an enormous guillotine as the others restrained Oliver.
“Cool,” said a boy near the front of the theater. “Marionettes.”
The skeletons dragged Oliver to the guillotine and forced his head through the opening. The device’s steel blade loomed eight feet above.
“Murder most foul,” Oliver cried.
With a smiling glance at the audience, one of the skeletons pulled a lever, and the heavy metal blade dropped with a sickening thunk.
The audience gasped.
At first, nothing happened, as though the blade had passed through Oliver’s neck without harming him—the old magician’s trick. Then gravity set in, and Oliver’s head slid down the face of the thing, leaving a bloody red stain, and fell to the floor. It rolled toward the audience, wobbling this way or that as an ear or nose went round.
“EEEEEEEK!” the girls in the audience screamed as one.
The oversized green head stopped just at the edge of the little stage. Its eyes were open and looking about wildly.
The headless remainder of Oliver himself lumbered to its feet and began swinging its huge arms, knocking two of the skeletal McClatters aside in the process. On a quest for its head, it began walking toward the audience, with its arms held straight out, like a sleepwalker‘s. Just as it was about to step off the stage into the audience, Lucas directed Eddie to plunge the theater into total darkness. Even the blue illuminated exit sign faded from view.
This time, everyone in the audience screamed. The blackness was terrifying.
Lucas’s fingers played over the keys and toggles on his control panel, creating further screams, moans, and thunderclaps.
The phonograph needle settled into a recording of “Zombie Jamboree” by the Kingston Trio. The McClatter boys, being phosphorescent and therefore visible in the dark, lined up like a Las Vegas chorus line at the edge of the stage and began dancing a frightening mountain jig. “NOOOOOOO!” More panicked teenagers screamed.
“Launch the aerials,” Lucas commanded.
Flying in formation, three glow-in-the-dark female ghosts soared low in the darkness, just above the audience’s heads, their arms trailing alongside their bodies. At first the boys in the theater oohed and aahed over their pretty faces and their scandalously loose shirts and their pale green glow.
“Hey!” a girl shouted angrily. “I thought you came here to kiss me!”
“It’s a slide projector,” said a boy in row 10. “They’re shining it onto the ceiling.”
“Cheesecloth,” said another ghost show pundit. “I’ve read about this. They just treat it with luminous paint and wave it about.”
Lucas loved the idea of gliding over the heads of the audience and wished he could do that. Surely Columbine couldn’t ignore a boy who could fly.
But then the situation turned from romantic to revolting. The youthful faces that fueled the boys’ imaginations began to age at an alarming rate, decades falling away in a flash, until they became the faces of wrinkled hags. Their eyes glowed red. The gentle drift of the ghosts’ initial flight pattern gave way to a whirlwind of rocketing ectoplasm. The ghosts banked and swooped and buzzed their trapped victims. One of the phantoms shot straight up to the roof of the tiny theater, paused, and then dive-bombed back toward the audience. The teens in her flight path leaped from their seats to avoid being struck. Another plunged to the floor and zoomed along beneath the theater seats themselves, in that crusty netherworld of old popcorn and chewing gum. The excited teens leaped up onto their armrests as the spirit light flashed beneath their feet. The third ghost, to the shock of everyone who saw in the dim glow, lifted a boy into the air, planted a slobbery old grandmotherly kiss right on his lips, and dropped him back to earth.
Lucas chose this moment of collective panic, when the entire assembly was on the verge of rushing to the exits—and perfectly timed to coincide with the finale of the skeleton song and dance number—to liberate the crowd from its fears. “Lights, Eddie,” he said into the microphone.
“Got it, Squirt.”
A single bright spotlight, so bright that some had to shield their eyes to look, revealed Professor McDuff standing center stage, smiling. The skeletons, frozen in their final configurations like characters in an anatomy class, drifted backward into the shadows.
The Professor thanked the audience for attending, explained that the goings on had been “our little way of saying boo,” and introduced the feature film, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, starring Lon Chaney Jr., Glenn Strange, and Bela Lugosi, in their classic roles as The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, and Count Dracula. It was one of Lucas’s favorites, one he often fantasized about watching with Columbine.
“And for any of you asking the question, ‘Do the dead return?’ our answer is, ‘Of course! We’ll see you next year.’ Pleasant nightmares.”
The California high schoolers responded with enthusiastic applause.
It was the same every night, wherever the show played across America. Part of it, Lucas figured, was that the teens enjoyed the show. Part of it was that the clapping masked the fact that many were still shaking from the strange goings on. And part of it, of course, was that the movie would give the lovebirds in the audience time to nuzzle with their sweeties in the dark, well after midnight, with no more fear of being interrupted by spooks that had seemed just a little too real. It was best, Lucas knew, that they not think too much about card skills no one could acquire in a single lifetime, about a floating skull that could steal thoughts, about an impossibly fast Houdini Trunk escape, about a beautiful girl who could see into tomorrow, about a decapitated giant, dancing skeletons, or floating ladies.
Lucas flipped a switch and the film began. The projector lamp gave off a pleasantly familiar burning smell, and the filmstrip ratcheted noisily through the mechanism, casting the movie’s opening black and white images of London at night onto The Strand’s little screen.
Later, there was to be a cast party in the theater manager’s office. Perhaps at the party, among the manager’s framed movie posters of King Kong, Godzilla, and Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, amid the hubbub of post-show chitchat, Lucas might muster the courage to tell Columbine how wonderful she had been this evening, or to invite her for a stroll along the dark beach, only a block away. In his fantasy they walked barefoot in the sand, the black waves slapping the beach, alone beneath a silver moon and a spray of stars.
Right, he thought. As if that were going to happen. Why would the flattery of a ten-year-old boy make the slightest impression on a girl who was already fifteen? Why would his beach-walk invitation hold the slightest interest to a girl who no doubt liked boys on the beach to be taller, with muscles? And what if he were older, more her age? Would she reject him anyway, prefer Eddie over him, or prefer someone else entirely?
And so, once again, Lucas knew that he wouldn’t even speak to her. Rather, just before retiring, at sunup along with the rest of the cast, he would extract his diary from his little traveling suitcase, and he would draw, for the day’s date next to her name, in his small neat hand, his evaluation of her performance: four perfect stars. Lucas Mackenzie—boy critic.
* * *
Meanwhile, none of the teenagers settling in for the movie, the munchies, or the smooching opportunity seemed to notice the scratching noise coming from the back row.
Gleefully entering notes into a little journal, and the only one of the audience who had pointedly not joined in the applause, was an adult named Harlan H. Hull. Mr. Hull—Doctor Hull to his colleagues and students—was ecstatic over his findings. He salivated over a possible book advance, a research grant, a guest appearance on television.
Dr. Hull chaired the Paranormal Studies Department at Bradbury College, a distinguished liberal arts institution in upstate Illinois. From the moment he had entered the theater, armed with a battery of electronic sensors that the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover himself might have envied, Dr. Hull had been monitoring various energy fields.
At first there were only hints. The needle on his Graviton Flux Indicator had registered surprising variations in body mass. If a stage show cutie could lower her body density that far, she could pass right through solid objects. Could the trunk have been normal? The spinning mirror on his Extensible Luminosity Gauge had picked up abnormally low dermal reflectivities. Could the psychic girl have been that pale?
But then came conviction. Dr. Hull’s Remote Thermal Scanner 360 had provided the proof he had been chasing. With a pistol grip, a cross-hair gun sight, and a readout with glowing red numbers, the device resembled a hand-held Flash Gordon ray gun. The RTS 360 could measure body temperatures across a room to an accuracy of one tenth of one degree, and what Dr. Hull had determined was still making him shiver.
If his readings were correct, he knew what he had feared to know.
He now knew the talking skull had housed no hidden microphone, the trunk no secret panel, the guillotine no trick-shop blade. He knew the gyrating skeletons were not string puppets, the soaring phantoms neither magic lantern show nor chemically treated gauze.
For every member of the show—from Professor McDuff to the yakking skull to the pale girl to the big green guy to the dancing skeletons to those floating hussies—had a body temperature of exactly fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the grave. The room temperature of Eternity. In a word, everyone in this show was dead. There was no other way to say it.
They had no business gallivanting around on stage before children. They belonged under the dirt, under the sod, under the feet of the living. And he was the one to put them there.
“I’ve got you, my pretties,” Dr. Hull said aloud, twisting one of his long strands of white hair in his fingers. “At last, truth in advertising.”
The London Midnight Ghost Show?
Spooks run wild in the audience?
Do the dead return?
Yes, indeedy!
And he had the proof!

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
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