#Author Chat with Rayne Hall @RayneHall

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Which of the stories in Thirty Scary Tales are based on real events?

Many contain a grain of something that happened to me, but in much-changed form. I’ve often visited the ancient stone circles in Cornwall, but I never witnessed a human sacrifice like in Druid Stones. The train journey across the Swiss Alps happened, but unlike the story Night Train, there were no vampires on board. My experiences as a bellydancer and museum guide inspired parts of Turkish Night and The Painted Staircase.  The events in Black Karma, with the shaggy dog pursuing me night after night, occurred almost exactly as I’ve written them. As a young woman in London, I was really molested by a would-be rapist and had the wits to pretend I was a dominatrix – but the rest of Only A Fool happened only in my imagination.

Where do you write?

I live in a seaside town in the south of England. My writing desk faces the window, so on sunny days I see the sun dancing like diamond sparkles on the sea surface. In the autumn, I watch the storm whip the water into a dark frenzy beneath angry clouds. Often, the view is mist-veiled or streaked with the rain’s silver drizzles.  I love the sounds of the wind lashing against the wall, raindrops drumming on the glass, and seagulls screeching in the wake of the dawn fishing fleet.

I also write outdoors when I can, taking pens and a notebook with me to parks, gardens or the beach. Coffeeshops are also inspiring places to write – I confess that I often eavesdrop on other people’s conversations and use them as inspiration for the stories I write.

What’s your favourite social media network?

Twitter. I’m very active there, sharing #writetip tweets and interacting with my fans. Unlike many people, I’m genuine. I don’t use any kind of auto-tweet, auto-thanks, auto-retweet, auto-response and such, and I don’t post constant buy-my-book tweets.  I respect my followers, and they appreciate it. I have over 40,000 followers, and I value every one of them. If you tweet that you’ve read this interview, I’ll follow you back: @raynehall.

What scares you the most?

I have so many fears! The high-pitched whine of a dentist’s drill. Slimy garden slugs. Big spiders in my bathtub. Crowds. Fire.  Dark tunnels. Heights. The worst is always the one I’m thinking about. I’m a real coward, which is a good thing for a horror writer, because I know what it feels like to be afraid, and I never run out of ideas.

Many of my best horror stories are inspired by my own fears. Sometimes, it takes courage to confront that fear in my writing.  Once the story is finished, though, the fear is replaced by a sense of triumph: By fictionalising the fear, I’ve gained control over it. By writing about what frightens me, I can make it less frightening.

What’s your greatest character strength?

Integrity.

Thirty Scary Tales

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Genre – Horror

Rating – PG-13

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The Colors of Friendship by K. R. Raye @KRRaye

The Alpha Party – January 2000

“Whew, we made it,” Melody Wilkins said with a laugh as she, Lance Dunn, and Imani Jordan escaped the throng of fraternity partygoers.

Imani brushed past Melody, eager to enjoy the relative oasis of the makeshift bar.  She pulled up a stool and swallowed her disappointment.  During their mad, congested dash from the front door to the back bar, she scanned the two hundred plus, hard-dancing students looking for Trevor, but to no avail.

She pasted on a smile to prevent Melody or Lance from misinterpreting things.  Hell, even she didn’t know what to expect from the Trevor situation.  All she knew was that she liked hanging out with him in and out of class.  Imani checked her expression in the nick of time before Lance caught her eye.

Lance winked and arranged his muscular, 6’2” frame into a GQ stance while he stroked his goatee, a pose that he assumed oozed sexy charm.  Please, like he didn’t already generate enough attention when they entered the fraternity house, working the room like a campaigning politician or the ridiculous jock he was.

Imani tried to choke back a guffaw as Melody watched her in amusement.  But much to Imani’s awe and chagrin, Lance’s ridiculous antics started working.  Four attractive girls honed in on Lance’s horny, homing beacon, their mouths almost salivating.

What the hell?  Imani frowned as two of the girls shot her and Melody jealous daggers.  All of this unwarranted attention just because Lance played football the last two games of the season and played well?

Imani sucked her teeth and turned to the bar.  “Damn, I’m ready to get my swerve on!”

“Well, you deserve a drink,” Melody replied as she hopped her petite, frame onto a stool to Imani’s left.  Melody’s thick, blond curls bounced about like springs.  “Heck, after our intense studying all week and your physics exam today; you deserve to unwind.”

Right on cue the attractive fraternity brother acting as the bartender meandered over.  “What can I get you, Sugar?”

“Two amaretto sours,” she said gesturing to Melody and herself, “and one vodka tonic for him,” she said nodding towards Lance.

“Sure thing, Sugar,” he replied with a wink.

After the flirty bartender departed, she elbowed Lance in his side.  “You’re awful quiet.”

“I’m sure he’s thinking what I’m thinking,” Melody said, swiveling her stool around to face them.  “Looking at all these beautiful faces and wondering which person is the one, that magical one, true love.”

“Oh Lord, here we go!”  Imani moaned and leaned back against the bar.

“Ah, let me handle this, Imani.”  Lance clapped Melody’s back.  “Dear, deluded Melody,” he said, then he stroked his mustache and goatee.  “In actuality, I was looking at all of these beautiful women and wondering which one is going to end up in my bed.  However, it seems I need to school you.”  He cleared his throat and his deep voice took on a preacher-like quality.

“Love is highly overrated.  It’s this fantasyland you read about in those Harlequin rags you devour.  A vicious lie parents tell their little girls.”  He shook his head and shrugged.  “That’s why the divorce rate is so high.  Unreasonable expectations.”

“Thoughts, Imani?”  Melody smiled knowing she could get a rise out of her.  Melody’s gray-green eyes twinkled in anticipation against her golden-tanned skin.

“Lance is kinda right.”  Imani’s nose scrunched up, hating to agree with Lance.  “You’re one of these women that fosters unrealistic fantasies about the fairytale wedding and living happily ever after.  That shit don’t happen.”  Imani threw Lance a scathing look.  “But love does exist and it ain’t overrated.”

Colors of Friendship

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Genre – New Adult, Contemporary

Rating – R

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Connect with K R Raye on Facebook and Twitter

Website http://krraye.com/events.html

 

 

Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space by H. Peter Alesso

Midshipman Henry Gallant In Space

Except#1

A massive solar flare roared across the pockmarked face of the sun producing static interference on every display console operating in the tiny spacecraft as it approached the United Planets’ battle cruiser Repulse in orbit around Jupiter.

“No need to worry young man, we’re almost there,” said the aged pilot.

“I’m not concerned about the storm,” said newly commissioned Midshipman Henry Gallant. Eagerly, he shifted in his seat to get a better glimpse of the massive ship that was to become his new home for the next two years.

The pilot maneuvered expertly to minimize the worst effects of the x-ray and gamma radiation until the craft made its tortured way from the sunlit brilliance into the cold black shadow of Repulse. The tiny ship quivered gently as its tractors reached out to the behemoth warship, slowly drawing alongside.

When it attached to the Repulse’s docking hatch, Gallant transferred to the warship and made his way to the bridge. He found the Officer of the Watch standing next to the empty captain’s chair surrounded by its nest of displays and virtual readouts. The officer rested his hand briefly on the panel concealing the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tactical analyzer.

“Midshipman Henry Gallant reporting aboard, sir,” he said, standing as tall as his seventeen-year-old gangly figure would allow. He tugged at his uniform blouse to straighten the buttons into proper alignment.

“Welcome aboard, Mr. Gallant. I’m Lieutenant Mather.” Mather was of average height, barrel-chested with sharp-angular facial features. Stoic, he showed little interest in the new arrival. “Please give me your comm pin.”

Gallant handed over his pin and Mather made several quick selections on a touch screen console. He swiped the pin passed the chip reader which loaded the ID and personnel information into Repulse’s computer.

Gallant took the opportunity to look around the spacious semicircular compartment with its numerous apparatus and instruments. The captain’s seat was centrally located and he noticed that many of the other chairs were also unoccupied. Apparently some watch stations were only manned during conditions of higher alert.

He observed the watch standers carrying out their ritual duties. The communication panel was manned by a midshipman who looked occupied with an incoming message. The radar station was also manned, but by a technician who was diligently studying his display. Gallant couldn’t tell what he was tracking, but there were several blips on the scope. The weapons and astrogator positions were vacant; several science analysis stations were operating automatically. To Gallant’s approving eye, the entire bridge watch seemed a model of efficiency and diligence, just as he had been trained to expect at the academy.

Soon his attention was captured by the huge view screen at the front of the compartment that revealed the gas giant Jupiter with its orbiting space station. He marveled at the spectacle.

“Junior officer authorization, verified. The ID pin has been updated with Repulse’s access codes,” announced a computer’s voice emanating from a nearby speaker. It had a neutral soothing tone that reminded Gallant of a rather cold and distant teacher he had had in basic math years ago.

“Did you bring your personal gear aboard?” asked Mather.

“My duffle bag is forward at the docking port, sir.” The aged pilot had helped Gallant carry his gear from the craft through the airlock onto Repulse. He had given him a cheery smile and said, “Good luck,” as he departed. Having no family of his own, Gallant had found some faint comfort in the good wishes.

“I’ll have your gear sent to your quarters. For now, you had better see the captain,” said Mather, as he flicked an eyebrow at Gallant.

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Gallant.

Mather turned to one of the bridge’s junior officers, a young woman who wore a single thin gold stripe on her blouse sleeve indicating she was a Midshipman First Class, one year senior to Gallant. He ordered, “Midshipman Mitchel, take Mr. Gallant to the captain’s cabin.”

As they left the bridge, Mitchel said, “Henry Gallant. I remember you from the academy. I’m surprised you’re still in uniform.”

Gallant grit his teeth, as he had done many times before when confronted with what he perceived as overt disapproval. He didn’t recognize her, but he couldn’t help observe that she was a pretty brunette with a trim figure.

“Will you be training as fighter pilot, or missile weapon’s officer?” she asked.

“I had basic fighter training on Mars and I will be taking advanced pilot training with Repulse’s Squadron 111.”

“I’m a qualified second seat astrogator in 111. Most likely, we’ll wind up flying together at some point.”

Since her demeanor displayed no indication that that state of affairs either repelled or appealed to her, Gallant merely nodded.

When they reached the captain’s cabin, she said, “I’m Kelsey by the way. Good luck.”

Gallant watched her walk away, wondering if the remark was sincere.

midshipman

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Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – G

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Connect with H. Peter Alesso on Facebook

Website http://www.hpeteralesso.com/Default.aspx

Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Great White House by Christoph Paul @christophPaul_

Chapter 1

President Obama quieted members of the C.T.F. and pressed a red communication button. Thunder burst almost directly above the White House, vibrating the windowpanes and startling everyone in the room. The static screen came into focus, revealing Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was sitting in an ornate gold chair wearing a black suit, a pretty white cat sitting in his lap. He gave the cat gentle pets and smiled at the screen, reminding a few senators unfamiliar with Chinese people of Leslie Chow, the character from The Hangover.

Congresswoman Bachmann not familiar with that film looked at the screen and whispered to Senator Ted Cruz, “I heard they eat them; that’s probably his breakfast.”

President Xi Jinping continued to pet his cat and responded, “Not true, Mrs. Bachmann, you have us confused with the Koreans.”

“No, I heard it my prayer group. I’m not going to fall for your communist lies. Oh dear, that poor cat.”

President Obama raised his hand. “Please, Congresswoman Bachmann, let us show some respect to President Xi Jinping.”

“It is okay, President Obama. She does not know any better; her YouTube videos are very popular in China—well, we ban most American videos, but still let hers in for our own political reasons.” Jinping continued to run his fingers through his cat’s fur. “If you must know, Congresswoman Bachmann, China is actually going to go on entire country vegan diet.”

Bachmann shook her head again in disgust. “That sounds about right, you’re a bunch of wall-building pansies…and stop putting that MSG in your General Tso’s chicken; it causes great problems to my husband’s health. You should be paying me, huh.”

Even the Chinese President decided not to mention Mr. Bachmann’s rumored homosexuality. “We are not, as you say, pansies. We are a very disciplined people and lover of animals. I love this cat, her name…17 Trillion Dollar Debt.” Jinping laughed as the storm got stronger.

The thunder was so loud it spooked the money sum-debt named cat on the end of the teleconference speakers and she jumped off the Chinese President’s lap. Jinping brushed the cat hair off his suit. “I hear the weather is quite deadly in Washington today, almost unnatural sounding. Maybe it like your capitalist economy and not functioning properly.”

President Obama tried to take control of the conversation. “The weather is acting strange but it doesn’t help that your carbon emissions have surpassed ours recently.”

“Do not change the subject, President Obama. We want to be clean; we have great plans for China, but my economic czars tell me we need money to do our great plans and we cannot do them till your debt is paid back. We need back now! You pay now! Your democracy move too slow. Always spending money on wars, and no win! I want pay now!”

“Now, now, President Xi Jinping, no need to get hasty and raise your voice. We are hurting right now. We had the recession. We’re still trying to recover from it, but you’re acting like sharks with blood in the water.”

The Chinese President smiled. “Ha, good choice of words, President Obama. I believe your English word for it is—foreshadowing.”

“Look, let’s be civil here, no need for that kind of talk. We both have nukes. We can’t have any kind talk of war—not over debt, not in the 21st century. We are both strong nations.”

“We don’t want war or to hurt global community. Nuclear war would be mutual destruction. But unless you pay the money you owe us, we must punish you; it Chinese lesson that thieves must be pay when they steal—they must pay back debt or meet white demon. It is in the Tao… probably. Either way today is day you learn this lesson or you shall perish.”

Obama’s brows furrowed, his usual cool demeanor shaken. A drop of sweat ran down his right cheek. “Let me be clear, President Xi Jinping. I don’t like where this going. Congress and I are doing our best to figure out the debt situation.”

“Your best not good enough; we are beating your country in science and math; we are soon to be new super power. We have great power that only your conspiracy countrymen on radio and Internet have realized. We can do things that no one would believe!” Jinping stopped and raised his eyebrow as another boom of thunder shook the White House. “Like, control the weather. Yes, it is true, we have figured it out; while you watch football and sex tapes, we study! While you eat hamburger, we eat fish, which is good for brain.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping then held up what looked a super-sized remote control; he smiled and pressed a button. “You will like this!”

The windows again rattled and the screen flipped to show different parts of the city. The storm throughout Washington became stronger; thunder cracked and rain increased, creating more flood-like conditions. An image of the White House barely visible through the precipitation made the C.T.F. collectively shudder. Members’ jaws dropped and they turned toward the window, where they saw raindrops so unreal, it was like the final battle of Matrix Revolutions.

The President of China smiled as gut-busting thunder caused a few in the room to whimper.

When the thunder stopped, Xi Jinping continued. “We must give you some credit. We the Chinese people are not ‘creatives,’ but love watching American cinema like X-Men Part 1 & 2. My scientists were inspired by Halle Berry’s African special powers, and learned to harness them. Soon your White House will be surrounded by water.”

Senator McCain shook his stiff arm at the screen. “You commie bastards. That’s why they gave Annapolis fake Intel.”

Joe Biden, back at the decanter, drank deeply from the scotch. “John, when you’re right, you’re right. I told you, Barry, we need to keep funding science, not your damn healthcare bill.”

“It’s funny you mention Annapolis, Senator McCain,” Jinping said. He clicked his over-sized remote again. The screen flipped to images of Annapolis. Through the sheets of rain, Annapolis looked like Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, with ships partially submerged and seamen struggling to escape the wreckage.

Biden rolled his eyes and finished his scotch. “That looks fake to me. Chinaman’s tricks. I’m not falling for it.”

President Obama’s jaw dropped. He didn’t think it looked fake at all.

Great White House NEW COVER

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Genre – Fiction, Humor

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with Christoph Paul on Facebook & Twitter

Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Date with the Dead by Chris Myers @CMyersFiction

Chapter 4

I rush upstairs with Mrs. Caldwell close behind. It takes a moment for Reese and Mr. Caldwell to react, whereas, Drew’s way ahead of us.

I head in the direction of the scream and peer inside a bedroom. A thin girl, white as bed linens and dressed much like myself in a long, black skirt and ebony organza blouse, convulses on the bed. A few feet away from her, a younger girl stands slack-jawed—her gaze fixated on the ceiling. She’s a chunky little thing with pink, healthy cheeks. She glances at me while pointing at the ceiling. A few stuffed animals circle the room above us. They drop to the floor as I enter.

The mother gasps at the sight, covering her mouth with her hand. “Lizzie,” she cries. She runs to the older girl and sweeps her frail daughter into her arms. Lizzie trembles. Her eyes roll back down so that the pupils are showing instead of the whites.

I mouth to Drew, “What did you do this time?”

Drew crosses his heart. “I swear it wasn’t me.”

The older girl Lizzie stops shaking then bolts upright. She seems unaware of her previous state and grins when she sees me. “You’re the new girl at Plymouth High everyone’s talking about. You’re here for the ghost.” Lizzie breaks from her mother’s grasp and gets up. When she falters, I grab her shoulders and help her back to bed.

“I need to ask you a rather personal question,” I say, curious what my peers are saying.

“Sure,” Lizzie says. She hugs a pillow one-handed, gesturing with the other for me to sit next to her.

I bite my lip because my next question isn’t always well received. “Are you on your period?”

“Why would you ask that?” Thankfully, Lizzie appears interested, not appalled. She brushes back her dyed black hair shadowing her face.

Mrs. Caldwell taps my shoulder. “We’re on the same cycle, so Lizzie should be…”

I sit down on the bed next to Lizzie. “Poltergeists are noted for creating havoc. Throwing and moving things. They often manifest when a girl goes through puberty and usually when she’s menstruating. Many believe the paranormal activity is caused by the teen’s emotional turmoil being transferred to kinetic energy.” I swallow a laugh when I glimpse Reese taking notes.

“I’m causing the disturbances?” Lizzie asks, tugging my hand.

“There’s another spirit here,” Drew says. “It’s probably both.”

“You may be responsible for some of what you’re experiencing, but I believe there’s another entity here as well,” I say.

“Does her kinetic energy cause the convulsions?” Mrs. Caldwell sits next to Lizzie and smoothes her daughter’s hair.

“It can.” I really have no idea. This is beyond anything I’ve encountered.

“The doctors couldn’t find any explanation for her seizures,” Mrs. Caldwell says. “Lizzie hasn’t been eating much lately. I’m worried about the girls, especially Lizzie.”

“Mommy, I don’t want to stay here anymore,” Ellie says, still glued to her spot.

The temperature suddenly plummets in the room.

“It’s cold.” Ellie takes a hesitant step toward the bed while watching the ceiling. She creeps toward us then snatches a blanket from the end of the bed. She drapes it over her shoulders and shivers.

Mrs. Caldwell wraps an arm around Ellie. “We’re leaving the house for a bit while the investigators work.”

The young girl appears relieved by her mother’s words.

Reese and Mr. Caldwell stand outside the room as if it has been quarantined. Reese scrawls hurriedly, probably writing every word in his notebook.

Lizzie clutches my arm. “He’s here.” Her whole body tenses.

“Who?” I ask.

“He wants something, but I can’t understand him,” Lizzie says, digging her fingers into my hand. “His voice is all garbled.”

“We’ll figure out what he’s saying,” I say.

Mrs. Caldwell stands, holding a protective arm around Ellie who clings to her mother. “We should get going.”

Mr. Caldwell comes into the room and helps up Lizzie. Reese and I trail behind the family. Lizzie pads behind the others. She looks over her shoulder and grins at me.

Drew catches up. “How cute. You have a groupie.”

I fall farther behind. “Lizzie’s too thin,” I say to Drew.

“She looks worse than me, and I’m dead,” Drew says.

Reese slips. He catches himself against the wall. “Oh God.” He seems really spooked.

“It’s just water,” I say.

Lizzie backs up. “We’ve been finding puddles all over the house since the ghost showed up.”

That’s odd. “We’ll clean it up,” I say.

Downstairs, Mr. Caldwell grabs a coat for each of the girls. “Are you okay?” he asks Lizzie.

“Yeah, Daddy,” Lizzie says, though she doesn’t look well.

The two girls walk outside. Lizzie wobbles a bit but manages to make it to the car.

Mr. Caldwell nods in my direction. “So that’s the girl Lizzie’s been copying her dress code from,” Mr. Caldwell says so that I’m sure to hear. “I don’t want her influencing our daughter. She probably uses drugs.”

Not hardly. Pagans practice holistic medicine, though it could be because it’s cheaper than doctors for my mom.

Mrs. Caldwell pushes her husband out the door. On her way out, she says, “Thank you.”

Reese stands behind me. He looks pale for a black guy.

“Don’t worry,” I say, shaking his arm. “You get the gear. I’ll clean up the water.”

“You aren’t scared?” he asks.

“Ghosts don’t scare me. Humans do.”

“What does the water mean?” Drew asks.

I shrug. “Don’t know,” I mouth, so Reese doesn’t think I’m talking to myself.

As Reese goes outside, I grab a towel. After I finish, I walk out to the van while Drew remains upstairs. Organizing the gear seems to have calmed Reese. We unpack cables and haul equipment into the house.

“We run cable to the bedrooms and kitchen to monitor the active sites, right?” Reese asks.

“Sure.” Though I rarely need the evidence, it’s good to show the clients.

After Reese painstakingly unrolls the cable, he securely tapes each section of it to the floor.

“If you went any slower, you wouldn’t be moving.” I take a spool of cable and unroll a trail behind me.

“What if one of us trips on it?”

“I’m not going to be running through the house.” I turn on the digi-recorder in the kitchen before heading toward the stairs.

“Shouldn’t we first try debunking the paranormal activity by checking the plumbing and electrical?” Reese asks.

High electromagnetic field readings can cause feelings of dread or nausea, and air in pipes can often explain weird noises that occur in a house.

“They already checked the plumbing,” I remind him.

Reese ignores me. He walks toward the cellar.

“You sure are anal,” I say.

Reese opens the door leading to the basement and waits for me.

“All right,” I say. “I’m coming.”

“My grandmother always says, ‘Any job worth doing is worth doing right.’”

“Did she also tell you that if you don’t get the job done, you won’t get paid?”

We go downstairs. Even though the house is over three hundred years old, PVC and copper plumbing run along the ceiling. The electrical box has copper wiring instead of the cheaper aluminum used before I was born. I did learn a thing or two from the plumber and electrician I ghost hunted with in New Orleans.

I grab Reese’s EMF detector and take several readings. “No fluctuations or high EMF. The electrical is well insulated, so let’s go.”

Reese grabs my arm. “What about that?” He points at the only rusty pipe. It extends the length of the cellar and disappears into the foundation of the house. The pipe would cause major damage should it burst.

“We’ll tell the Caldwells to replace it.”

He pushes his glasses up on his nose, making him appear even dorkier. “We need to be thorough, so we get paid.”

“We will,” I say. “Just chill.” And give me a breather.

We head back upstairs to set up video in the kids’ bedrooms plus one in the parents’. When we go back down the hall, I look outside through the picture-framed window in the living room at the van holding the monitors.

“My mama would kill me if that got stolen.” Reese stares at the equipment that must’ve cost him a fortune.

“Where did you get the money?”

“I worked for the local chocolatier in town.”

“That sounds like my kind of job. Why did you quit?”

“I want to hunt ghosts,” he says.

“And leave the chocolate factory? Well, we can’t afford to have your equipment ripped off. You want to observe while I investigate?”

“We should stick together.” Reese purses his lips. “I’ll drive the van into the garage. We’ll connect the cables through the door leading into it.”

“Good idea.” I’ll give him that much.

After Reese pulls the van into the garage, I close the garage door. We finish plugging the cables into the computers in the van then go back into the house. I clean up the plate Drew pitched and throw the shards into the trash.

“You didn’t even flinch when that happened,” Reese says.

“It wasn’t our ghost.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll explain later. Are you ready for lights off?”

Reese nods, though he looks uncertain. Probably wants to triple-check every cable. After we shut off the lights, I turn on my flashlight.

“Let’s do Lizzie’s bedroom first. I’m pretty sure that’s where our spirit lurks.”

“How can you be so sure?” Reese asks, the hair on his arms standing erect like soldiers.

There’s no sense telling Reese. It will only upset him and possibly botch our investigation. I climb the stairs to Lizzie’s room with Reese trailing behind me.

While we hang in the room, I turn on the digital voice recorder.

Reese walks around the room with the EMF. “I got a spike of two-point-zero.”

High EMF readings can indicate a spirit’s presence.

“Do you want to tell us your name?” he asks. “Why are you here?”

Lame-o.

“It went back down to point-one,” he says, appearing bummed.

Drew comes into the room then sits on the bed beside me. He’s probably been up to no good. Reese takes more readings at the other end of the room while encouraging the ghost to respond.

“Dork,” Drew calls Reese.

For the next half hour, nothing happens unless I count Reese tearing up and sneezing every time he passes through Drew.

“Let’s go to Ellie’s room,” I say, stifling a yawn while getting up. I hate this part of the job where we sit and wait and sometimes nothing ever happens.

“Maybe there isn’t a ghost,” Reese says, leading the way this time.

I look at Drew. I can tell by the fact he’s not begging us to leave that we have a presence here. “Spirits sometimes take a while to warm up to us humans.”

Drew laughs at my remark. “Warm up to? How about cool down?” He bumps into me on purpose, reminding me of how cold he is as his iciness ripples through me.

“I don’t want to know them on a first name basis,” Reese says. “I just want to get paid, hopefully catch a few EVPs or an apparition on tape and get out.”

EVPs are great evidence to show the client. Electronic voice phenomena, the recording of the dead, often occur at low frequencies the human ear has difficulty discerning.

“It’s not just about the money,” I say. “We’re helping the family, and the spirit needs our assistance in crossing over. They’re better off that way.” I think. Legends say if the dead don’t cross, they may get stuck here or much worse, though I’ve seen a few crossings that didn’t go well.

“How do you know?” Reese asks.

I don’t really. “My grandmother always told me they need to go into the light.”

We camp in Ellie’s room. Drew paces. I can tell something’s up. Reese sneezes, spraying a fine mist.

“Ew.” I back out of the way, then not so gracefully, I land on the floor in another puddle of water. “What the…”

Reese gasps. “It’s blood.”

“No, it’s not. It’s just water or the kid wet the floor.” I find a towel to mop it up.

Drew throws his hands up in the air. “Stop what you’re doing,” he yells at something I can’t see or hear. His voice grows louder. He pushes his hands out as if shoving someone.

Drew flies across the room, crashing into the wall. A ghost has to prepare himself to go through walls and some never master the hang of it. A ghost who can’t has to wait until a door is left open and even then they can be trapped by an invisible barrier.

“What happened?” Reese asks, his hands trembling while pointing the flashlight at the wall where Drew hit.

“You okay?” This sounds dumb asking a dead guy.

Drew nods and gets up.

“I’m okay,” Reese says. “You?”

“Please tell us your name,” I say. “What happened to you?”

Drew screams, “Leave the kids alone.”

He’s so helpful sometimes. I snarl at Drew because he’ll only tick off the ghost. As usual, he completely ignores me. An invisible arm hurls a stuffed elephant at Drew.

“Is that all you got?” Drew asks in a mocking tone.

Great. That’s going to get the spirit to open up.

Regardless of upsetting Reese, I stand and stab a finger at Drew. “Stop it. You’re going to scare him off.” Then he’ll only come out for the Caldwells.

Drew keeps yelling at the hidden specter. He glances sideways at me. In the kitchen, Drew was a big help, but right now, he’s getting on my nerves.

Reese flings himself at me. His eyes and nose are running. He’s sneezing up a tornado. Stuff I don’t even want to think about is flying everywhere.

“Who are you talking to?” he asks. “Can you see him?” His hands lock on my shoulders, but he’s shaking hard and spewing on me.

“Let go of me.” Before I puke. I rub against the bedspread to remove Reese’s bodily fluids. He is so disgusting.

That’s when our ghost materializes. He looms over us and has eyes that glow like a demon’s. Some of them do this to get you going, but that’s not what my gaze locks onto. It’s the gaping hole in his head I can see clean through. With the gust of hurricane-force winds, the spirit blows between Reese and me. It breaks Reese’s hold on me, and we’re flung backward. Reese lands on a mound of stuffed animals while I land in what smells like where the cat peed.

“What was that?” Reese asks, turning deathly gray once again.

“Our ghost,” I say.

“Should we go after him?” Reese asks.

“No, he’s long gone.” I glare at Drew who smiles cutesy at me. He is adorable regardless of his lack of judgment. “I’ll deal with you later,” I tell him.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Drew says smugly.

Reese says, “I thought he was gone.”

I gesture Drew to stay back. “Why did you choose ghost hunting when you’re allergic to them?”

“What are you talking about?” Reese asks.

I grab my head and shake it in frustration. “You have no idea? Every time a ghost is near, you slime me.”

Reese reddens. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize. I guess I was caught up in the moment.” He wipes his nose with a tissue he retrieves from his pocket.

I’d feel guilty for embarrassing him if he wasn’t so nasty.

“How do you know this?” he asks.

I debate telling Reese. He’ll just think I’m crazy, then he won’t want to work with me. What a good idea. “Everyone has a reason for getting into this business. For some, it’s a personal experience, but I do it because I can see the dead.”

Reese is looking at me with awe instead of skepticism.

That didn’t scare him off. “In my case, it’s hereditary. All the women in my family can communicate with the dead in some fashion. Apparently, I’m as good as my grandmother. At least that’s what my mom tells me.”

“Does it bother you?”

I’ve never had anyone interested in my gift before other than freaks like myself. Most give me a wide berth after hearing me talk to ghosts, since they think I’m talking to myself. I’m not sure where to go from here. “I hated it at first.” I had waking nightmares, but then as I got older my grandmother showed me how to deal with the dead and help them cross over and stop pestering me.

“Wow. My grandmother told me she could see the dead, too. My mom never believed her. I always wanted to. You said ‘not our ghost’ earlier.”

“I have a friend who helps me out. He smashed the plate in the kitchen.”

Reese glances around the room. “Where is he?”

I point to the dresser. “Over there.”

Reese walks over toward Drew. His eyes tear. He scratches his nose. “I really am allergic.”

“Back off,” Drew says. “You better not juice me again.”

Reese’s face lights up like he’s been given backstage passes to Lil’ Wayne. “Way cool that you have a ghost friend. Is that how you get business when there are no ghosts?”

“No, like I said, if we can debunk, we do that. Sometimes the homeowners need a little push, and Drew is good at that. He also can see the spirits right away, whereas sometimes they hide from me.”

“Did he make all those noises we heard?”

“Only some of them. He sort of agitated the ghost. That’s how I know the entity won’t be back tonight.”

“Did he scare him off for good?” Reese asks.

“I wish it were that simple. It’s up to us now to find out why he’s still hanging out here.”

“How do you know it’s a he?”

“I saw him and I think he died violently.”

Reese gulps. “As in murdered?”

Date with the Dead

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Genre – YA Paranormal Mystery, Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with Chris Myers on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.chrismyersfiction.com

Accountability Leadership by Di Worrall @DiWorrall

Accountability vs. Responsibility

The literature defines accountability and responsibility in various ways. In this book, I use the definition of accountability that refers to the capacity of one person to hold another to account for the delivery of their promises.

Responsibility, on the other hand is one’s individual capacity to deliver on the promises they make.

Organisations require competency in both in order to achieve a healthy and productive “high accountability” culture.

This means you take responsibility without becoming overly responsible. Yes, you are responsible, especially for failures and mistakes. And yet you are expected to give the credit to others, to the teams and the individuals who do the work.

You are responsible for getting results through others. You can’t do that without creating conditions of accountability in the organisation you lead.

How you handle accountability will determine how willingly your staff will accept your leadership. How much trust they will grant you will be earned by how well you handle these two key issues:

1. Accountability for errors, both of your own and of your staff.

2. Credit for successes, both of your own and of your staff.

Di Worrall

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Genre – Business, Leadership, Workplace Behaviour, Human Resources, Executive Coaching

Rating – PG

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Connect with Di Worrall on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.diworrall.com.au/

The Photo Traveler (The Photo Traveler Series) by Arthur J. Gonzalez @arthurjgonzalez

* * *

By three in the morning I’ve decided I can either stay here or ditch this place. I’ve found that I can take a bus from Carson City to D.C. for $230. It leaves at seven-thirty A.M., so I only have a couple of hours to figure things out.

If I leave here by six, I should be fine in terms of time. I’ll use the rest of my cash from the contest. There’s nothing left for me here, anyway. In three weeks, I’ll turn eighteen, and even if they’re not alive anymore, I can probably start fresh. Maybe get a job. Probably get some photography gigs.

Leaving will spare me the embarrassment of going back to school and having my friends ask me about the bruises. After Jet gave me that last swollen lip, I told Randy, the closest thing to a friend I had at school, that Mel had accidentally hit me with my camera. But since I suck at lying, I was probably as believable as that girl, Cynthia, in our class who constantly shows up with hickies on her neck but keeps swearing she’s still a virgin.

Randy said, “O-kay, dude,” but I know he didn’t believe me because he saw my eyes twitching. They always do that whenever I tell a lie. I can’t help it.

I grab my orange duffle bag from my closet and toss just the essentials into it. Underwear, socks, t-shirts, jeans, toothbrush, deo, some of my favorite photography prints, all of my memory cards. I shove my camera and laptop into my camera bag and set it next to the door.

There’s something about leaving that calms my anxiety. I’ve always dreamed of escaping this place, and the idea brings me relief. It’s now five in the morning and I know there’s no hope for sleep. Which is fine, because in just a couple of hours I’ll be boarding the Grandwood bus to D.C., and maybe my life will finally change for the better.

Photo Traveler

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Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating – PG

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Connect with Arthur J. Gonzalez on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.arthurjgonzalez.com/

Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle by Jessica Bell, Melissa Foster, Susan Kaye Quinn, Leigh Talbert Moore, Anne R. Allen, Cindy M. Hogan, Dawn Ius, Michelle Davidson Argyle, Roz Morris @MsBessieBell

Keep Your Eye on the Money

by Dawn Ius

There’s a certain romanticism about writing—the notion that you sit at an old wooden desk tapping away on an ancient typewriter until your blood, sweat and tears transform into the great American novel. Later, you sip cheap champagne and read the reviews. Your book has received critical acclaim. Awards. The respect of your peers. What more could you want?

Wait what, you want money?

Nah. You don’t need that. You write because you must. Because the voices in your head won’t stop until you do. Because you will certainly go mad if you don’t put pen to paper. You write because it is who you are. Paycheck not required.

Bullshit.

While you likely do have a deep-rooted desire—a need—to write, chances are, you also really want to eat—and mac and cheese ain’t cutting it anymore.

The reality is, you’re cramming writing in between the day job, tending to the kids/spouse, cooking, cleaning, socializing, sleeping, breathing, and—

*deep breath*

indiestructible

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Genre –  Non-fiction

Rating – G

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Connect with Jessica Bell on FacebookTwitter

Blog http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/

The Howling Heart by April Bostic

Chapter Three

While I cried on my bed, I heard someone knock on the bedroom door. A second later, I heard Julie’s voice coming from the other side.

“Paige, may I come in?”

At the same time, I heard my mother’s voice. “Paige, pick up the phone.”

I held the receiver to my ear in a weak grip. My voice cracked. “Yes?”

“Come to Bellevue Hospital. That’s where I am.”

I sniffled and wiped the tears from my eyes. “Okay, I’ll meet you there.”

“Honey, I know you’re hurting. Don’t worry. You’ll get through this.”

I hung up with my mother, and then Julie walked in. “I asked everyone to go home. It’s just you and me, now.” She sat next to me on the bed and put her hand on my leg. “Are you okay?”

“No.” I grabbed one of my pillows and hugged it. “My dad just died. I have to go see him at the hospital.”

The realization I could never talk to him again hit me with full force, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Julie has been my best friend since third grade. When I broke down crying, she lay next to me and stroked my hair.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?”

I buried my face into the pillow. “No,” I said, my voice muffled.

“Do you want me to go to the hospital with you?”

I turned my head to look at her teary-eyed, sympathetic face framed with wavy, auburn hair.

“No, I’ll be all right.”

Julie only lay in bed with me for a few minutes. I needed to be alone for a while, and she knew me well.

She sat up and said, “I’ll let you grieve, but call me if you need anything, sweetie.”

“Thanks,” I said, sniffling.

Once I heard my bedroom door close, I turned on the waterworks full-blast. Intense sobs racked my body as I thought about my father. He and I had a good relationship. Usually, he supported me, but sometimes during family conflicts, he would side with my mother. Reflecting on it, I think he did it to pacify her, because she and I always butted heads. He didn’t want her to feel we were both against her. I knew he loved her in his own way. Although he worked a lot, he never neglected me or hesitated to help me. He was the parent I went to whenever I needed advice. Now, he was gone. Losing my father felt like I lost a part of myself.

I flipped onto my back and stared at the ceiling. Tears leaked from my eyes and left wet droplets on my pillow. Soon, my thoughts turned to my job. When Nina said she wanted me to be the project leader for Vera Wang’s upcoming photo shoot, I knew I’d have to work hard and put in many overtime hours. The shoot was in three weeks and would involve an overwhelming amount of organizing and preparation—two of my weakest skills.

I remembered the promise I had given her. I hated to break it, but my father’s death put an unexpected halt on my career. There was no way I could arrange a funeral and still have enough time to get the project off the ground. As I dialed her cell number, I prepared myself for a demotion.

“Hello, Paige. Is there a reason you’re calling me at this hour?”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I needed to talk to you. It’s important.”

“What is it?”

“I know you wanted me to get started on the Vera Wang project, but I don’t think I can. You see…” My composure was slipping, so I took a deep breath. “My dad died tonight, so—”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I know you were close to him.”

My voice broke. I couldn’t get hold of my emotions. “I’m sorry to let you down. I don’t know how long it will take to bury my father, and I’m not sure when I’ll return to work.”

“I know I’m a bitch, but sometimes, I’m an understanding bitch. We have a benefit called bereavement leave. Please, take advantage of it. You need time to grieve. Your job will still be here when you get back. There’s no one else I want to be Creative Designer. Don’t worry about Vera. I’ll get Oliver on the project first thing in the morning.”

“Thanks, I appreciate you being so understanding about this.”

Her voice turned soft. “Death usually occurs spontaneously. You can’t plan for it. You can only adjust your other plans and work around it. Take your leave, and I’ll see you back here when you’re ready.”

I met my mother at the hospital later that night. When the nurse brought me into the room where my father lay, I tried not to break down into a hysterical, crying mess. I didn’t want to cause a scene. I tried to connect with him one last time by touching his face gently, smoothing his black hair, and kissing his forehead. His skin was pale and slightly cold. With his eyes closed, he looked like he was asleep.

I whispered in his ear, “Goodbye, Daddy,” and then I stepped away from the bed.

My mother moved to stand next to me. I felt her arm slip around my waist as I watched the nurse pull the sheet over my father’s seemingly sleeping face.

SONY DSC

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Genre – Paranormal Romance

Rating – Adult

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Connect with April Bostic on Goodreads

Website http://www.aprilbostic.com/

 

Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.