Monthly Archives: April 2016

Movie Blast! The SECRETS of the KEYS by Robin Jay

 

We’re thrilled to be hosting Robin Jay’s THE SECRETS OF THE KEYS Movie Blast today!

 

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Title:
The SECRETS of the KEYSProducer: TwoBirds, Inc.

Genre: Inspirational/Motivational

Imagine getting a life-altering call from your doctor. That’s exactly what happens to motivational speaker and author “Elizabeth” in The
Secrets of the Keys.
Now, the inspiration she has used throughout her career to guide others comes back to her as she attempts to make sense of her situation.
Elizabeth comes face-to-face with her spiritual guide, “Gwen,” who has an intriguing opportunity for her. Gwen takes Elizabeth on a mystical
journey where they encounter impressive experts eager to share the importance of 7 Keys: Appreciation, Harmony, Courage, Passion, Faith, Vibration, and
Empathy
.
Will she accept Gwen’s unique offer of a new kind of existence? This empowering and transformational film is both entertaining and beautiful . . .and will forever change the way you look at life.

For More
Information

Cast:

 

Watch the Trailer!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/icETsM3NdPk?rel=0

 

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About the Producer

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Robin Jay is an award-winning filmmaker, author, speaker, and publisher. She began her career in Personal Development as “The Queen of the Business Lunch™,” a Business Relationship Expert who shares the nuts-and-bolts of building profitable business relationships, with an
emphasis on smart ways to network and socialize with clients.
Robin’s award-winning book, “The Art of the Business Lunch ~ Building Relationships Between 12 and 2” (Career Press) is in 12 languages worldwide. She is also a contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Wine Lover’s Soul.” Robin has been featured internationally on MSNBC-TV,
Newsweek Magazine, CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, The London Financial Times, Forbes.com and other well-recognized media outlets.
In 2006, she founded the Las Vegas Convention Speakers Bureau. As president, she not only runs the bureau and coaches speakers to success, Robin also published “The Power of the Platform,” a series of anthologies that feature messages from today’s top motivational
speakers, including Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, and Les Brown.
Robin’s first film was “The KEEPER of the KEYS” – the first FUNNY personal development movie, which stars Jack Canfield, John Gray, and Marci Shimoff. Robin wrote, produced, and costars in the movie.
Her goal was to empower viewers by keeping them engaged and entertained. She was thrilled when the movie won the Las Vegas Film Festival Award for Best Independent Film, and The INDIE Fest Award for Best Documentary.
Her latest project is titled “The Secrets of the Keys”, which features a fun, engaging fictional story along with expert testimonials and personal accounts from some of the top names in the self-help industry, including Brian Tracy, don Miguel Ruiz, Gloria Loring, Dannion
Brinkley, Michael Beckwith, and John Assaraf. The film was released in January 2016 and immediately won awards, including two gold awards for Concept & Original Song from the International Independent Film Awards.
For More Information

Giveaway

Robin is giving away 3 DVDs and 3
downloads!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Six winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one THE SECRETS OF THE KEYS DVD or one download
  • This giveaway begins April 4 and ends on April 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on April 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Free of Malice Book Blast!

Free of Malice banner 2
Title: FREE OF MALICE
Author: Liz Lazarus
Publisher: Mitchell Cove Publishing LLC
Pages: 274
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Laura Holland awakes in the middle of the night to see a stranger standing in her bedroom doorway. She manages to
defend herself from the would-be rapist, though he threatens to return as hemretreats. Traumatized with recurring nightmares, Laura seeks therapy and is exposed to a unique treatment called EMDR. She also seeks self-protection—
buying a gun against the wishes of her husband. When Laura learns she could have gone to prison had she shot her fleeing assailant, she decides to write a hypothetical legal case using the details of that night. She enlists the help
of criminal defense lawyer, Thomas Bennett, who proves to be well versed in the justice system but has an uncanny resemblance to her attacker. As the two work together to develop the story, Laura’s discomfort escalates particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Reality and fiction soon merge as her real life drama begins to mirror the fiction she’s trying to create.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

Run. Run faster. As much as I
strained my legs to move, they were immobile, like I was waist deep in
quicksand.
Why can’t I move?
I tried to scream for help but
my mouth was full, like it was stuffed with cotton—no sound would escape.
I felt something clutching my
shoulder. No, it was someone. He was pushing me forward and then yanking me
back. I tried to jerk away but he had a tight grip, like a vice.
I have to break free.
The tugging got harder, more
forceful. He was calling my name— over and over. He knew my name.
“Laura, Laura.”
I jolted awake—my husband’s
hand still on my shoulder.
“Honey, wake up. You’re having
another bad dream.”
Slowly, I turned over in bed
and looked at him—his dark brown eyes were fixated on me. I could see them clearly
as the light from the bathroom brightened our bedroom.
For a month now, we had slept
with this light on.
I could see the small wrinkle
on his forehead. I loved that wrinkle though wished he didn’t have good reason
to be so concerned. I was enduring the nightmares, but he had to deal with my
tossing and mumbling in terror.
I remember when we first
met—ten years ago in chemistry lab at Georgia Tech. He had walked up to me with
those warm eyes and a charming, confident smile and asked, “Want to be partners?”
Two years later he took me to
Stone Mountain Park, rented a small rowboat and, in the moonlight, he pulled
out a diamond ring and asked me again, “Want to be partners?”
Life had seemed just about
perfect.
Until now.
We looked at each other for a
moment. Then he propped himself up on his elbow and said softly, “Laura, I feel
so helpless. I know it’s only been a month, but…”
He hesitated.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s just as bad as that
first night. After it happened. Look, I want to make you feel safe again, but I
don’t know how.”
He rubbed his eyes and looked
away. I waited, staring at him.
What isn’t he saying?
“I know you don’t want to see
a therapist, but seeing someone doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapists don’t
treat just crazy people. They help people who have been through traumas and you
have. Hell, no one even has to know.”
He paused for a second.
“Don’t be mad at me, but
yesterday I made an appointment for you. I was going to talk to you about it in
the morning if you had another bad dream. I found a woman who is downtown by my
office. She’s been practicing for about twenty years, got her doctorate from
Emory and comes with really good patient reviews.”
He looked for my reaction and
continued. “I made the appointment for you at 4:00 so we can go to dinner
afterward. You know what you always say. You’ll try anything once, right?”
“I told you I don’t want to
see a psychiatrist,” I pushed back. “I just need more time. I’ll bounce back.
You know I almost came in the house on my own today. Besides, if I see a
psychiatrist, on every job application I complete in the future, I’ll have to
check the ‘Yes’ box when they ask if I’ve had mental health treatment.”
“Jesus. No you don’t. You’re
too innocent sometimes.”
He gently tapped me on the nose.
“You can check the box ‘No.’
Besides, if that’s the only thing stopping you, I think you should give it a
try. Her name is Barbara Cole. I’ll take you to Houston’s afterward,” he added.
I ignored the bribe. “But what
can she do that you can’t? All she’ll do is listen and you do that for me
already. Psychiatrists are for people who don’t have friends or husbands to
talk to.”
Chris shook his head.
“Please? Do it for me.”
The tone in his voice was
different—more helpless than normal. Chris had been so understanding, so
comforting this past month, especially considering I had been waking him every
night. How could I refuse his request?
I sighed. “Okay,” I relented.
“I’ll go.”
“One visit. That’s all I’m
asking. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back. She’s a psychologist,
by the way, not a psychiatrist. She does therapy, not drugs.”
He glanced at the clock. It
was 3:30 a.m.
Chris grabbed Konk, my stuffed
animal gorilla that I won at the state fair by outshooting him at the
basketball game. He had sworn the scum running the game couldn’t take his eyes
off my butt and let me win.
“Here’s Konk,” he said. “I’m
going to finish my presentation since I’m up. I’ll just be in the office. Want
the door open?”
“Yes,” I said as I wrapped my
arms tightly around Konk.
“Hey, we’ll celebrate your
first therapy visit and my signed contract, I hope, this evening.”
“You mean you hope my
first visit?” I said with a playful smile.
He gave me a look—he was in no
mood for jokes.
“Fine. Fine. I’ll go,” I
assured.
“If you’re asleep when I
leave, just come by my office after the appointment and we’ll head to dinner.
Try to get some sleep. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
About the Author
Liz Lazarus is the author of Free of Malice, a psychological, legal thriller loosely based on her personal experience and a series of ‘what if’ questions that trace the after effects of a foiled attack; a woman healing, and grappling with the legal system to acknowledge her right to self-defense.
She was born in Valdosta, Georgia, graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern with an MBA in their executive master’s program. She spent most of her career at General Electric’s Healthcare division and is currently a Managing Director at a strategic planning consulting firm in addition to being an author.
Free of Malice is her debut novel, set in Atlanta, and supplemented by extensive research with both therapists and criminal defense attorneys. She currently lives in Brookhaven, GA, with her fiancé, Richard, and their very spoiled orange tabby, Buckwheat.
For More Information

Giveaway

Liz is giving away a $25 B&N
Gift Card & an autographed copy of FREE OF MALICE!!

Terms &
Conditions:
  • By entering
    the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners
    will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 B&N Gift Card or
    one autographed copy of FREE OF MALICE
  • This
    giveaway begins April 11 and ends on May 11.
  • Winners
    will be contacted via email on May 12.
  • Winner has
    48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Book Excerpt: The Bipolar Millionaire by John E. Wade II

The Bipolar MillionaireTitle: The Bipolar Millionaire
Author: John E. Wade II
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 164
Genre: Memoir

John E. Wade II, retired CPA, author, investor, television producer, and philanthropist, reveals in his memoir, The Bipolar Millionaire, his personal struggle with bipolar disorder and how he has succeeded in living a balanced and blessed life, despite his mental illness.

 

Wade takes the reader through his family experiences, political aspirations and beliefs, spiritual journey, relationship trials and errors, all while battling mental illness.

Through his religious beliefs, personal perseverance, and the help of friends, family, and his mental health professionals, Wade lives an active, creative, and successful life.

 

His memoir doesn’t end with contentment at achieving a balance in his life, however. Instead, Wade expresses a determined vision for the future, aiming to assist humanity in what he describes as achieving heaven on earth through his writing, political and spiritual endeavors.

 

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

I was struggling and dropped into a walk from the jog required of fourth classmen. It was an autumn day in 1963, just a month after I’d had a near-fatal attack of meningitis, and I was still fighting to regain my strength. Panting for breath, I was confronted by a first classman. He asked very directly why I wasn’t jogging. I quickly replied that I had a medical excuse, knowing full well that the excuse had expired. He ordered me to produce the excuse, which I did. Noting its date, he nonetheless allowed me to proceed.

 

Soon, I was in the academy hospital, lying flat on my back in an almost catatonic state, unable to cope with my mental torment. Although this severe depression, the first in my life, was not diagnosed at the time, it must have been my first bipolar episode, possibly having been triggered by the recent attack of meningitis.

 

My mother and Carol, my then-girlfriend, came to try to revive me, but I don’t remember responding. Years later, Carol told me that I asked her to help me kill myself, but I have absolutely no memory of making such a request.

 

Until this illness I had been a model cadet. I had prepared physically according to academy guidelines, so the transition to basic cadet summer was rigorous but easier than it would have been without vigorous training.

 

One other thing that helped me during basic cadet summer was the stream of daily letters from Carol. My fellow cadets were jealous, partly because of the letters, but also because of the picture of her I had in my room. Even though it was black and white, it was clear that she had blond hair, a sweet smile, and a pleasing, pretty face. That face helped me get through the rest of what we all had to endure to complete our training.

 

Each week we were given certain “knowledge” to learn, such as types of aircraft or chains of command. I always spent part of Sunday afternoon memorizing the information so that I could recite it during Monday’s meals. The upperclassmen pointedly asked several questions of each basic cadet, which kept us from finishing our entire meal. The first classmen took turns performing the interrogation, but as the questions were considerably shorter than the answers, they always had plenty of time to eat. I always felt I was short-changed because I was the only one who knew the trivia from the first day it was due, and yet I didn’t get a chance to eat more than the other basic cadets.

 

At the end of basic cadet summer, all the cadets were subjected to a physical fitness test, and I scored the highest in my squadron. At about the same time, we also went on a survival exercise in the mountains for which we were organized into small groups with twenty-four hours’ worth of food and about a week’s time to find our way back to the academy. The experience was particularly taxing for me. I became so obsessed with saving my food that I still had some left when we got back to the academy.

 

After the final tests, those of us who successfully completed basic cadet summer became fourth classmen. My personal excitement was not long lasting, however. Although I had scored high marks on the physical tests, I was disappointed with my first academic grades, which included some Bs, as I was used to all As in high school. When I asked a first classman for his opinion, he said I did just fine considering that I came from a weak high school.

 

Basic cadet summer had ended—then the meningitis hit. I’ve since read that physical illness can trigger the onset of bipolar disorder, and although the diagnosis was not made at that time, I believe that is what had happened. My father eventually was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder also, so it appears that I was genetically predisposed to the condition, as is often the case.

 

I had entered the academy in June 1963, and I received an honorable medical discharge that December; whether I was right or wrong, I considered the situation a great disgrace. It was definitely a life-defining event for me, and I was overcome with depression.

 

But, there was another aspect to my failure at the Air Force Academy that I didn’t disclose to anyone else until years later: part of the reason I attended the academy was that I had presidential ambitions, which I knew would be shattered by the stigma of mental illness. I internalized and brooded over that stigma for the next forty years.

 

To make matters even worse, when I finally got home I also lost my girlfriend.

It was quite a shock to me and had a negative effect on my confidence with the women I would date for most of the rest of my life.

 

I have often wondered what would have happened had I not had the meningitis and bipolar episode. What aspects of my life would have been altered? It’s a haunting possibility to consider.

 

Still, even though the realization of some of my dreams has eluded me, I have had and am having an interesting, fulfilling life in spite of bipolar disorder, and I invite you to understand its role as I work toward what I believe is my destiny.

 

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A Bookish Conversation with Kim Harrison, author of ‘The Drafter’

Kim HarrisonKim Harrison, author of the New York Times #1 best selling Hollows series, was born in Detroit and lived most her her life within an easy drive.  After gaining her bachelors in the sciences, she moved to South Carolina, where she remained until recently returning to Michigan because she missed the snow.  She’s currently working on the Peri Reed Chronicles, and when not at her desk, Kim is most likely to be found landscaping her new/old Victorian home, in the garden, or out on the links.

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About the Book:

Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job The Draftermakes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. Her memory of the previous three years erased, she joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her fateful final task. Her motto has always been only to kill those who kill her first. But with nothing but intuition to guide her, will she have to break her own rule to survive?

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What made you decide to become a published author?

I almost hate to say this, but I became a writer almost by accident. I started writing later than a lot of authors, probably my mid-twenties, actually avoiding everything but the most basic English classes in high school and college to pursue a career in the sciences. But I was an avid reader, and I think I picked up on the niceties of pacing, plot development, and character growth from the sf/fantasy masters of the mid 70s, early 80s. They have stood me in good stead, and I owe them a debt of gratitude.

I first put pen to paper at the birth of my second child. I had decided to stay at home, starting a licensed family day care to be able to afford it. At that time, writing was the escape, not the job, so when the kids went home, I wrote to unwind. One hour became two, which became four, which became my weekends until I was able to quit and write full-time. It took about five years, but toward the last two, I treated writing as a part-time job, devoting four hours a day, every day, when I got home from my paying job.

Would you consider your latest book, The Drafter, to be a one of a kind?  How so?

Absolutely I would. Every book is one of a kind, even when they explore the same themes and follow the same directions as others out there. It’s the characters, not the plot or theme that make a book unique, and so as long as you’re not writing fan fiction, your work stands alone.

But from a more nuts-and-bolts view, I’ve never heard of anyone mixing rewriting time with memory loss framed by a strong nod to espionage. There’s a unrequited love in there too, which keeps me happy even as I’m blowing up buildings and righting the wrongs.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

My writing space has evolved as my career has, and what started as a small pressboard desk against a wall in my kitchen has grown over the last two decades into a stunning space in my small, city backyard. There are windows on all sides to let in the light and keep me connected to the passage of time. I can look up from the keyboard to my office garden complete with a koi pond and bird feeders. It’s always as warm or as cool as I want, as quiet or noisy as I want, and no one comes in looking for a cookie, or a Band-aid, or even a pair of socks. When it snows, it’s like heaven, and when it rains it’s even better with the damp air flowing over my desk. There is a couch for napping, that I never use, and a chair for my husband who spends the first half hour of our day together with me and coffee. I figured that if I was going to sit somewhere for 6-8 hours a day, I should be comfortable.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

Determination

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

Yes, my family and I are learning how to graciously accept one of life’s ugliest bitch-slaps called Alzheimer’s, and where Peri Reed does not have this disease, many of her coping techniques and fears come from here.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m a really good knitter, going off pattern all the time to make my own creations. One of my greatest joys this year was to share the pattern I made to create Anna McCaffrey’s fire lizard. (I’ve included a picture if you want to use it.)

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Drafter, called The Operator, which is scheduled for a November 22, 2016 release. I’m also working on the rough draft for a fourteenth volume in the urban fantasy Hollows series which will probably come out in 2017. I’m also beginning to collect the ideas and elements I want to work with on a third, utterly new series that will have a more horror bent to it. I don’t expect that to see the light of day for several years, but anything worth having takes time.

 

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First Chapter Review: From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw

From Ashes Into LightTitle: From Ashes Into Light
Author: Gudrun Mouw
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary/Visionary Fiction
Publisher: Raincloud Press

From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.

Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.

With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancé’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.

For More Information

  • From Ashes Into Light is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

First Chapter Review:

When we look back at WWII, visions of Nazis, Hitler, concentration camps, war on Jews, all that, comes to mind.  If we haven’t experienced it first hand, Gudrun Mouw brings it to life for you in her new visionary fiction, From Ashes Into Light.  What I wanted to do is give you my review on the first chapter, then the whole book at some point, but this first chapter is so totally riveting.  It’s November 10, 1938.  Ruth Gutherz and her family leave their home after it had been ransacked by the Nazis.  They knew their lives would be in danger if they continued to stick around.  Wearing extra clothing, they escape in the middle of the night.  They get into the back of a furniture delivery truck where they can hide from the Nazis until they get to their next destination – Vienna, where there is more family.  What happens at the end of this chapter might be a spoiler if I mentioned it but that’s where I presume the visionary fiction comes in.

All in all, I would definitely keep reading after this first chapter.  It is so intriguing.  Some first chapters don’t give you enough information to keep going.  Some first chapters you end up going if I keep reading I’m sure I’ll be able to fall into the story, but not so with this one.  I am a Holocaust buff anyway, but this sounds like it’s going to be an excellent story and I can’t wait to finish the whole book.

 

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First Chapter Reveal: The Hidden Reality by Stephen Martino

The Hidden RealityTitle: The Hidden Reality
Author: Stephen Martino
Publisher: Light Messages
Pages: 318
Genre: Science Fiction/Political Thriller

In the year 2084, the brilliant inventor, Alex Pella, finds himself at a precarious crossroad between the pursuit of justice and preservation of his own sanity. While attempting to undermine an international New World Order government created by the financial juggernaut known as The New Reality, he must also face the hidden truths about his own genetic heritage that are slowly destroying him. After receiving an ambiguous message sent from a former New Reality executive who died 2 years prior, Alex learns that the only possible means to confront this New World Order is to defeat a long-forgotten enemy almost 2500 years old.

 

THE HIDDEN REALITY is the second stand-alone novel in a trilogy starring Alex Pella, created by New Jersey-based neurologist and entrepreneur Stephen Martino. With his fusion of history, politics, and science fiction, Martino joins such masters of the thriller genre as Dan Brown, James Rollins, and Michael Crichton.
Martino’s villain is a corporation run by a cadre of ruthless international bankers known as The New Reality. Directed by the most corrupt and morally unscrupulous of the bunch, Myra Keres, the company has economically seized control of the world’s governments and the population’s personal freedoms in the process. In order to save humanity from this despot ruler and the unwonted atrocities to which she plans to perpetuate on the world, Alex Pella must infiltrate the company and face an enemy that has unknowingly haunted both him and history for almost 2500 years.
Martino says he wrote THE HIDDEN REALITY more than just to entertain the reader. He wanted to create a modern day Orwellian ANIMAL FARM to allegorically forewarn his readers of a possible dystopia future that awaits all of mankind if humanity continues to proceed down its path of self-destruction.

 

In THE HIDDEN REALITY, Martino has included such hot-button contemporary topics as genetic cloning, unprecedented economic debt, the rise of big government, and the threat of a New World Order run by the economic elite, while bringing the reader back almost 2500 years into the past when the ancient city state nation known as Greece fought the mighty Persian Empire for world domination.
All of these elements, Martino maintains, separate his book from the pack. He calls THE HIDDEN REALITY “issue-oriented fiction. There are real concerns facing society today that threaten both the sovereignty and prosperity of our future generations. Though fictional, my novel addresses some of these issues and predicts the potential consequences we face as a nation and the world if they are not properly addressed today.”

For More Information

First Chapter

 

September 4, 2084 London, England

A YOUNG MAN IN HIS late twenties stood confidently behind a large, circular table made of clear glass. With his well-tanned, stubbled face and wavy, beelined honey-colored hair that reached his shoulders, he appeared more ready to catch the next wave than to speak at this meeting. His tan suit with a large butterfly-like collar and unbuttoned white shirt completed the look.

Most of the other 20 executives at the meeting also appeared less than adequately dressed for such an occasion.

In the center of the table a crisp image was meticulously engraved on the glass. It represented not only the symbol for their company but also that of the New World Order it created—a vibrant triangular diamond with a perfect, golden circle at its center. Above the symbol, a holographic image of a globe with countries coded in different colors rotated slowly.

“As you can see by the green color on about half of the countries,” the speaker from the public relations team went on to say with little enthusiasm, “The New Reality virtual services is actively utilized by at least 50 percent of the population. Though this percentage has increased by almost two-fold since the first quarter in 2083, we are still about 10 percent shy of reaching this year’s expectation.”

He pointed to one of the large canvas painted portraits at the front of the room. “As our former president and CEO of The New Reality, Albert Rosenberg, once said,” he continued in a monotone voice, “failure to meet expectation, no matter how grandiose these expectations may be, is still a failure.”

He attempted to rouse his fellow colleagues around the table with this famous quote, but none seemed interested with the words from the deceased old man or with the presenter’s lack of enthusiasm.

Although the painting depicted Albert as a younger gentleman with large blue eyes, curly, gray hair, high cheekbones and an intense demeanor, most remembered how he looked before his death three years ago—decrepit and skeletal. Some incorrectly assumed he was a casualty of The Disease, which once ravaged the planet and led to the untimely deaths of millions of her inhabitants. The real reason for his demise proved much more dubious in nature.

“Sit down!” a man by the name of Jules Windsor bellowed from across the table in an English accent. “Just sit down. Your total lack of understanding and ignorance of the subject is making me go completely out of my mind.”

Jules stood up from behind the table and pointed at the door behind him. “No, better yet, why don’t you just take yourself and that God-awful ensemble you call a suit and get the hell out of here. Go. Now. Be quick about it.”

The man giving the lackluster presentation then slowly backed away in disbelief. Because of Jules’ worldwide reputation as a great philanthropist and highly esteemed member of The New Reality board, he was taken aback by such a negative reaction.

“But…” he attempted.

Jules once again pointed at the door, curtailing all further discussion.

Unlike most others around the table, he was exquisitely dressed in a designer black pinstripe suit with a red tie and similarly colored handkerchief protruding from his right breast pocket. Just above six feet tall with wavy blond hair and an athletic physique, his physical prowess overpowered all those at the table. His large, black, penetrating eyes only proved to accentuate his ominous presence.

The man whimpered away from the table like a beaten dog. The door dematerialized upon his exit.

Not many noticed his departure as all eyes now squarely focused on Jules Windsor. Once a man of Albert Rosenberg’s inner circle, Jules was now relegated to the London office to oversee advertisement and distribution of The New Reality virtual products across the globe.

Still riling in the fact that Albert did not allow him to run in the general election for the leader of The New Reality, he begrudgingly took the position with plans of greater success in the future.

After The Disease had ravaged the planet for over a year, the world was subsequently left financially bankrupt. Though the illness did not precipitate this financial ruin, it was the final act that led to its collapse. Years of deficit spending, mounting debt, growing unfunded liabilities, poor central financial planning, and complete waste of taxpayer money produced the problem. The inception of The Disease proved to be its tipping point. Led by Albert Rosenberg, The New Reality was there to reap the benefits of the world’s financial ruin. Fueling the economic crisis by providing loans to countries around the globe that had no means to repay them, he took control of the governments when they universally defaulted on their payments. Thus marking the end of all local, territorial sovereignties and the rise of a central, economically controlled New World Order run by The New Reality.

“Look at you all around this table,” Jules admonished, as if scolding wayward children. “You all come here, to my office, dressed like shaggy vagabonds.”

He pointed to a gentleman who wore running pants made from synthetic rayon woven fabric with long slits along the sides to maximize air flow and a baggy black-striped shirt that looked similar to a poncho and said, “Or worse yet, some…” He was at a loss of words. “God knows what even to call that terribly unfortunate outfit.”

The man began to chuckle, somehow thinking that Jules’ reaction was funny.

“You think it’s amusing?” Jules asked as he closed in to where the man was sitting. The closer he approached, the less the man found it humorous. Jules’ broad shoulders, chiseled jaw, and focused expression made further laughter next to impossible.

Those few in the room who actually knew Jules on a personal level, shuddered at what was to happen next. Despite his popular reputation, Jules was actually an intense businessman with relentless determination and an abundance of self-confidence.

Jules placed his rather large and muscular hand around the back of the man’s neck. The pain was so intense that he felt paralyzed and could do nothing in response but wince helplessly in pain. He tried to speak, but only tears came out. The other people around the table were in shock. Instead of helping the man, they sat motionless in fear. Jules finally released his grip. The man slumped to the floor and began to gasp for breath as if he had choked.

“Crawl on out of here hooligan,” Jules reprimanded. “You will disgrace my board room with your insolence no longer.”

The man quickly obliged. Mustering what little energy he had left, he crawled to the doorway and rolled out of the room once the door dematerialized.

He turned to the woman and the rest of the men at the table. Many began tucking in their shirts, adjusting their jackets, or simply attempting to sit up a little straighter. “So,” Jules went on to ask as if nothing had occurred, “do any of you want to finish this dreadful presentation you traveled from far and wide to present to me today?”

No one dared to answer. Though he understood the fear he instilled upon his guests, Jules was certainly disappointed that not a single person was willing to speak. Always looking for a mental challenge or good intellectual argument, he quickly realized by the blank stares from the woman and men around this table that he would receive neither at the moment.

He pointed at the painting of Albert Rosenberg. “Your esteemed colleague left off by mentioning expectation. Would anyone like to further explain what Mr. Rosenberg meant by expectation?”

Though Albert was Jules’ uncle, he seldom acknowledged this familial bond any longer. The people who were chosen to run the enterprise shared little of Jules’ political or even moral beliefs, and he was appalled by Albert’s nominees and even more appalled by the political policies that The New Reality had created. From the time Jules was a teenager, he had worked tirelessly with his uncle and had helped financially to bring this company to its economic prominence—not the pathetic candidates who were nominated. Many of his ideas were those used to consolidate The New Reality’s power and create a financial empire never before seen on the planet.

Though his uncle never showed him any love or affection, Jules did not require it. Instead, he received something far greater: respect and responsibility. A promotion by his uncle meant more than a hug. A raise was more prized than an affectionate pat on the back.

“Well,” Jules went on to say, “despite what was so horribly just taken out of context, what Mr. Rosenberg referred to when speaking of expectation is a concept known as reflexivity.”

He looked around the table at even blanker stares. Knowing that few, if any, understood his reference, he continued, “The theory of reflexivity was first popularized by a great man and professor by the name of Karl Popper. Does anyone know of him or his work, The Open Society and Its Enemies?”

No one answered.

He shook his head, “William Shakespeare once wrote, ‘Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.’” Imploring those around the table, “Please let us all not whither in this ignorance. Listen to what I am about to teach.”

Jules walked over to the painting of Albert Rosenberg and stood in front of it. “Reflexivity is simply a matter of cause and effect. If the cause is expectation then the effect will be its outcome. However, this simple domino effect is bidirectional in many instances whereby cause and effect can become blurred and at times indistinguishable from one another. And that is what we call reflexivity. It can occur not only in economics but also in business or even politics.”

He felt intellectually enthralled by the subject and could speak on it for hours. He continued with a little more baritone to his voice. “Let me give you an example. If the expectation for a product or even service is high, then the cost of its stock will rise accordingly. If the stock begins to rise, the expectation for this product or service will thus rise accordingly, making the cause and effect one in the same—creating a reflexive relationship.”

Jules swung his fist and hit the painting’s wooden frame, sending it crashing to the floor, smashing the glass-covered canvas upon impact. Shards of glass scattered across the tan carpet.

The people around the table shuddered at the sacrilegious action.

Jules smiled at the reaction, realizing he had properly conveyed his point. “You see, some reflexive relationships can build until they are unsustainable and come crashing down like this painting, crumbling under the false pretense of a ballooning cycle.”

He stared at the youth around him. Though they were at most only 10 or 20 years his junior, he felt this new generation being created by The New Reality was already lost. “So what do you believe?” he asked one of his guests wearing a rather conspicuous red sports jacket.

The man just shook his head, not knowing how to respond. Jules walked over to him and again asked, “What do you believe? What are your expectations? What do you want out of life?” “Well,” the man feebly responded, “my wife and I are going on a two week virtual New Reality experience later this year. We’ve been saving for it for some time now.”

Jules scoffed at the response, insulted by both the man’s ignorance and self-absorption. “Where is your drive or aspiration in life? If that is your greatest ambition, then you surely live a petty existence.”

Jules shook his head and began to walk around the table. Glass crunched under his feet. He put his hands behind his back and looked down as he perused the room. “Don’t you see what The New Reality has done not only to all of you but also the world? They are creating a generation of mediocre, mindless sheep. While The New Reality’s New World Order takes away more of your individual freedoms, rights, and even integrity on a daily basis, you are all so self-absorbed in total nonsense that you fail to notice what is so blatantly occurring.”

Jules laughed and continued. “Rome gave its population the Coliseum and spectacular gladiatorial displays to suppress the masses. Now, two thousand years later The New Reality gives you virtual experiences, mind-bending drugs, an inundation of free, highly-censored media, and a myriad other self-indulgent activities. Instead of reading the great Aristotle or the modern day philosopher Winston Burke, you peruse the bantering of the latest pop star. Instead of worshiping great minds like Heisenberg or Einstein, you venerate men who can carry a silly ball quickly or some underage, socially immoral adolescent who can gyrate to an algorithmic computer-produced song. Classical literature has been replaced by the holograms of pop culture. Conformity has supplanted innovation and enlightenment.”

“Don’t you see?” he said as he approached another painting on a different wall. “This is all just a smoke screen created by The New Reality to suppress the people of the world. While you all pursue your materialistic, self-destructive, and selfish behaviors, The New Reality and its economic cronies are becoming wealthier by the day at your expense and your personal freedom.”

Jules gestured to the painting of a smiling, middle aged, hazel-eyed female with short, cropped hair, sharp, yet fair facial features, and a mildly bulbous nose and on the wall. “Sure, there are some who understand what the esteemed President of The New Reality, Myra Keres, is perpetrating, but most say nothing in fear of negative repercussions. Plato wrote, ‘We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.’” He beseeched them all, hoping to inspire some initiative on their part. “Who of you or your pitiful generation will embrace this light?”

Jules attempted not to laugh as he mentioned Myra’s name. The election that brought her to this position was fixed by Albert Rosenberg from its inception. Her opponents were simply political puppets used to create a facade of a genuine election. The votes were never counted and the media coverage of the event was a carefully orchestrated event by the New Reality meant to provide the world’s population with a false sense of importance and power.

All those around the table sat uneasy on their chairs, not daring to utter a single word. Expecting Jules to smash Myra Keres’ painting just as he had Albert Rosenberg’s, an already tense situation grew even more uncomfortable.

The door dematerialized and a beautiful, young woman sauntered through the opening. Dressed in a blue dress, she cleared her throat and politely said, “Excuse me. Mr. Windsor. There’s a package that was delivered to your office that said Urgent—Must Open Immediately. I didn’t want to bother you sir, but…”

Jules’ whole demeanor instantly became at ease. Her blue eyes, long brown hair and pouty lips almost made him lose his train of thought. “No bother Marie,” he politely interjected. “I was just finishing here.”

Jules had a propensity for a beautiful woman and a long list of former acquaintances that grew by the day. He never found his secretary’s interruptions at all intrusive; in fact, he looked forward to them.

The woman and men around the table exhaled with a great sense of relief as Jules exited the room without speaking another word to them. Their reprimand had finally ended, and each could not wait to return home as quickly as possible.

***

Jules paced in his office, awaiting the package. Usually he would have disregarded such a seemingly unimportant message, but the public relations team the top brass at The New Reality sent to meet him was woefully inadequate and not worth any more of his time. Plus, the mere thought of how Myra Keres became president of The New Reality instantly placed him in an irritable mood. He never understood why Albert Rosenberg would choose such a crooked, unscrupulous, and morally bankrupt person to take over his company. She had a body-bag list too numerous to count lining her way to success. In addition, her policies of a strong-fisted New World Order that corrupted the population would never survive. Eventually, the sense of individualism and intellectual enlightenment would again rise like a great Renaissance and make her control over the masses nearly impossible.

Like the man himself, Jules’ office was immaculate and exuded an air of elegance. The natural flow and curvature of the Greco-Roman furniture with its cream-upholstered cushions, dark wood chairs and master desk, and white, lush draperies were offset with an assortment of modern fluted class sculptures in the shape of different colored exotic plants. Unlike all other rooms throughout the building, there were no New Reality logos or pictures of its current or former leader. Jules believed such visual distractions in his office would only be detrimental.

The door dematerialized and Marie began to walk through the opening with a large pizza-shaped box held out in her hands. Before she could fully enter the room, the box unexpectedly seemed to stand still in the air and slide across her arms until it abutted her chest, halting any further progression. She momentarily stumbled on her heels, both surprised and confused by the interruption.

“Is everything alright?” Jules asked in the most pleasant demeanor. She pushed the box forward with her body, and like a slingshot it flung about 10 feet into the room and hit the mosaic-tiled floor.

“I hope it didn’t say FRAGILE along with URGENT,” Jules jested, trying to diminish some of his secretary’s embarrassment.

Marie stood in the doorway almost in a state of shock, not understanding what had just transpired. “But,” Marie finally said with confused look on her face, “it seemed to just fly on its own. I really didn’t do anything.”

“No worries,” Jules responded while picking up the package. After placing it on his desk, he traced slowly over the box’s white strip that ran diagonally from one corner to the other, releasing the adhesive binding. The box instantly opened and white packing foam protruded.

“Thank you, Marie,” Jules finally said, curious as to what secret the box held. Without a return address on its front and with only a clear sticker continuously blinking URGENT on it, the package had no indication from where or from whom it originated. Jules patted down the packing foam and upon contact it collapsed, forming tiny white beads that fell to the bottom of the box. Captivated by the contents, he barely took note of Marie exiting the room or her again mentioning how the box flew through the air of its own volition.

Neither did he notice all the commotion that started to commence around his office building. Flashing red lights, sirens and even a muffled voice on a bullhorn did little to garner his attention. Two fully armed and internationally sanctioned World Order Guards, or WOGs as they were known colloquially, flew by his office windows, each riding their own silver, chariot-like heliocrafts named after the Greek sun god Helios.

The white beads continued to trickle down to the bottom of the box, revealing a beautifully ornate, circular shield. Jules gazed upon it, perplexed by the urgency of this gift. Though clearly recognizing its historical significance, he was at a loss to understand why he needed to see it right away.

A few more WOGs flew by the windows as other sirens and police began to converge on the building.

The intrinsic beauty of the shield was not lost on him as he looked in awe at the craftsmanship of this ancient artifact. The sun surrounded by the earth, moon and a few constellations were engraved in the center of the silver-plated shield. Then, like layers of an onion, different gloriously sculpted scenes encircled this central point. A city at peace lay above the sun and constellations, while a city at war was depicted below it. Surrounding these scenes were three separate engravings of men reaping bushels of corn from a king’s estate, workers plowing a field, and young girls picking grapes along a bountiful vineyard. The following layer tempered its adjacent, inner scenes of serenity. A bull being ripped apart by two lions was engraved prominently at the top while two more pleasant engravings of sheep grazing and young men and women dancing framed each of its lower sides. At its outmost edge, a flowing ocean encircled the inner scenes while a rusted strip of metal wrapped tightly around the edge secured its perimeter.

As the foam continued to collapse, Jules noted a transparent, rectangular strip of plastic lying inconspicuously to the side of the box. Taking the message card in one hand, he contemplated if it would provide him some clue to its origin or its urgent nature. Jules knew this shield was formerly the prized artifact of Albert Rosenberg’s Greco-Roman collection. But who sent it was a different story. Rumored to be the actual shield of Achilles, written of in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad and usurped by Alexander the Great, Albert prominently exhibited the relic in the center of his massive display.

The card’s perimeter began to blink a bright red. The intensity of its illumination made Jules wince. A succinct message then became apparent on the card. In three large capital letters, the word RUN appeared. Jules looked at both the front and the back of the card, perplexed at the message. Hoping more was to come, he awaited patiently, trying not to be blinded by the flashing light.

The door to his office dematerialized. “Marie,” Jules asked, assuming his secretary had entered. “Would you happen to know from where this package here originated? I’m awfully confused—”

Jules looked up, hoping to receive an answer. Instead of seeing his beautiful secretary at the door, a fully assault-ready WOG began to enter. Dressed in a pure black uniform with a New Reality diamond and gold emblem on each shoulder, gray helmet and crimson visor, this anonymous soldier headed towards Jules. As the WOG began to raise his weapon, only one thought came to Jules’ mind.

RUN!

 

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A Conversation with Kaylin McFarren, author of ‘Banished Threads’

Kaylin McFarrenKaylin McFarren is a California native who has enjoyed traveling around the world. She previously worked as director for a fine art gallery, where she helped foster the careers of various artists before feeling the urge to satisfy her own creative impulses.

Since launching her writing career, McFarren has earned more than a dozen literary awards in addition to a finalist spot in the 2008 RWA Golden Heart Contest. A member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers, she also lends her participation and support to various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

McFarren currently lives with her husband in Oregon and visits her second home in California once a month. They have three grown daughters and two grandchildren, and look forward to having more.

Her latest book is the romantic suspense, Banished Threads.

For More Information

About the Book:

Banished ThreadsTitle: Banished Threads (Book 3 – Threads Series)
Author: Kaylin McFarren
Publisher: Creative Edge Publishing LLC
Pages: 258
Genre: Romantic Suspense

A valuable art collection disappears turning a treasure-hunting duo into crime-stopping sleuths committed to vindicating family members in Kaylin McFarren’s action-packed suspense novel, Banished Threads.

While vacationing at the stately Cumberforge Manor in Bellwood, England, Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen attend an elegant dinner party hosted by her uncle, Paul Lyons, and his aristocratic wife, Sara. Before the evening ends, a priceless collection of Morris Graves’s paintings are stolen from her uncle’s popular gallery, throwing all suspicion onto his wife’s missing granddaughter. Determined to clear Sloan Rafferty’s name and, in the process, win Paul’s favor, Chase scours the countryside looking for answers. In his absence, the police accuse Rachel’s uncle of an unsolved murder and secrets surrounding her grandmother’s death and the deaths of Sara’s former husbands turn his wife into the most likely suspect.

With the true villains hell-bent on destroying Paul Lyons and his family, solving both crimes while ensuring her uncle’s freedom not only endangers Rachel’s life but that of her unborn child. Will Chase save them before the kidnappers enact their revenge or will the ultimate price be paid, as predicted by a vagabond fortuneteller?
First place – 2016 Hudson Valley RWA Hook, Line & Sinker Contest

For More Information

  • Banished Threads is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

What made you decide to become a published author?

I’ve always had a fondest for the written word. As a youngster, I was an avid reader and fell in love with mysteries. A few of my poems won awards and a few short stories found their way into high school newspapers. But it wasn’t until all three of my daughters were grown and on their own that I felt to need to reinvent myself. I realized that I wanted to write a book and end it completely different from all the books I read over the years. The day my father died became a turning point and made me understand the importance of sharing experiences and pieces of our lives, even if it came from a fictional place.

Would you consider your latest book, Banished Threads, to be a one of a kind?  How so?

This book, like all the books in my series, comes from personal encounters, work experiences, sightseeing, and information gathered while traveling around the world. I love the idea of creating flawed, multi-dimensional characters that grow despite their weaknesses and the hardships in their lives. I also love the idea of educating readers about places and things and at the same time leaving them guessing as to who the good and bad guys are until the final pages are read. Together, this results in creating a unique story.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

I have a fabulous library inside my home in Oregon where I practically live. It includes a great writing desk, comfortable chair, MAC computer and wonderful bookcases filled with bestsellers, works by up and coming authors, collectibles, Japanese novels and research journals.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

First, don’t fall in love with the first draft of your story…at least not deeply. It’s not unusual for publishers to toss pages, especially the first chapter, or to eliminate characters that are fun to write about but ultimately serve no purpose. Don’t believe your book is perfect, even after hiring a professional editor and sharing it with friends and critique partners, because somehow errors magically appear even in Arthur Golden books. No matter what anyone tells you, don’t believe that your book will become an overnight bestseller without being seen or recommended by Oprah Winfrey, the New York Times and the top writing critics in the nation. It’s a rare occurrence when this happens and the success is short lived unless you write day and night, and publish as many books as humanly possible. But most important of all, don’t give up on your dream to be a qualified author – the person who can hold a book in your hands and know that every word in it came from your thoughts and imagination. Believe me, the right publisher is out there, even if it turns out to be yourself.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

A compelling premise or storyline that can be told in twenty words or less.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

While in college, I studied art and for eight years owned and operated a 5,000 square foot art gallery in Portland, Oregon where my staff assisted in representing the work of more than 400 artists. This experience came in handy while writing a book about art thieves, especially since a neighboring gallery had more than $200,000 worth of art stolen during one of our monthly shows.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

My husband and I formed an organization called the Soulful Giving Foundation due to our pledge to find a cure for cancer. Each summer, we host a music, art and food event at our home, bringing together 4,000 ticketholders and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Providence Cancer Center and Randall Children’s Hospital. With the help of 8 board members, 160 volunteers, 16 restaurants, 40 cases of donated wine, 60 kegs of beer and hundreds of silent auction items, this festival has become an award-winning east Portland event with the slogan, “Come for the Concert, Stay for the Cause.”

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the next installment in the Threads series, Twisted Threads, bringing together villains from two books and am loving the drama and unexpected twists that I think readers will enjoy and have come to expect from my books. J

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