The Do’s and Don’ts by Hayley Rose

Book 29

Zack and Chloe take kids on a zany ride through the “Do’s and Don’ts” showing how not be a “Manner Monster.”

Kids will enjoy learning about kindness and good manners in this fun new book by award-winning author Hayley Rose. From waiting until you’ve swallowed a bite before speaking to keeping your napkin on your lap, from saying excuse me to knocking before entering a room, and from remembering to say “thank you” to asking permission to use another person’s belongings and more, The Do’s and Don’ts will help teach your children the best way to treat others. Youngsters will enjoy the crazy antics of the Manner Monster, while parents will appreciate the good manners and everyday kindnesses shared throughout the book’s 38 pages. The vibrant artwork by Mark Sean Wilson encourages readers to keep turning the pages.

Every home with kids should own a copy of The Do’s and Don’ts. Highly recommended.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 38 pages
Publisher: Inkwell Productions (August 24, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939625386
ISBN-13: 978-1939625380

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

 

Hayley-RoseI received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

Multi-award-winning author Hayley Rose released her first children’s book, Fifo When I Grow Up, about a six-year-old bear starting school in 2002, followed by the wildly popular geography book and #1 best-seller, Fifo 50 States, published in 2010. In 2012, Hayley was selected as one of “The Top 50 Writers You Should Be Reading” by AuthorsShow.com. In 2013, she branched out with a new series featuring a new set of characters, Zach and Chloe the Louis the manner monster. Her new book, The Do’s and Don’ts, was released in September 2013 and has already garnered four literary awards, including the Readers’ Favorite, USA Best Books and the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards, bringing her career total to twenty-one. The follow up book in the new series, Today I Feel Emotion, will be released in the spring of 2014.

Hayley Lives in Scottsdale, AZ, with her dog Blanche.

Visit her website at www.booksbyhayleyrose.com.

Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads 

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The Maisy Files: Maisy and the Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum

mice

Young mystery lovers will want to read this imaginative and funny story about a fourth grader with a special skill for solving mysteries.

Maisy and the Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum is the first book in The Maisy Files series. It features Maisy, a fourth grader who loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. She also has a knack for solving mysteries. In Maisy and the Missing Mice, Maisy must follow the clues to discover who stole the school’s mascots and the stash of cherry lollipops she keeps in her locker.

This is the best book. I loved everything about it: the way Maisy was introduced, how the case unfolded, the way Maisy is admired by her peers and the staff of the school for her mystery-solving skills, and how everything turns gray when she’s working a case and then returns to normal colors once she’s solved the mystery. The ending of the book also hints at what the next book in this series will be about, similar to how Sam from the show Quantum Leap would leap into the next time period as soon as he fixed what was wrong; giving viewers a glimpse at what would come next.

Woodrum shows off her skills as an educator by being in tune with what kids will enjoy. With Maisy and the Missing Mice she has created an easy and fun to read story for your young mystery lover. Though the detective is a girl, there are several male characters whose actions will capture the attention of boys, and they’ll delight in figuring out the mystery right along with Maisy.

Highly recommended!

Series: The Maisy Files
Paperback: 74 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (October 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1492922056
ISBN-13: 978-1492922056

BUY THE BOOK AT AMAZONElizabeth Woodrum

Discuss this book at the PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Elizabeth Woodrum is a full time elementary teacher. Originally from Indiana, Elizabeth currently resides near Dayton, Ohio with her two pets: a cat named Butterscotch and a dog named Reese Cup. 

You can view more about Elizabeth Woodrum at www.elizabethwoodrum.com

 

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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Interview with Freddie Owens, Author of Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story

A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Visit Freddie’s website at www.FreddieOwens.com.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Kentucky but grew up around Detroit. I would sometimes spend a week or two, once I spent six weeks, in Kentucky, staying with cousins or with my grandparents. And yes, it was an entirely different world for me, providing some of the best and worst times of my growing up years. I had a great time on a dairy farm with several of my cousins, milking cows, hoeing tobacco, running over the hills and up and down a creek that surrounded the big farm. I remember too, periods of abject boredom, sitting around my grandparents’ place with nothing to do but wander about the red clay yard or kill flies on my grandmother’s screened-in back porch.

When did you begin writing?

When it dawned on me back in the early 90s that as a psychotherapist I was going nowhere, I began to think about writing seriously. I had been away from it for quite some time – though I had always found time to write poems. I realized I wasn’t getting any younger and that if I wanted to explore this thing that had bothered me for so long – this thing called writing – I had best get to it. I started experimenting with stream of consciousness and automatic writing – and by keeping a journal – and by developing the discipline of being on the spot each day before the page, whether blank or not. I did that until one day my debut, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story began to insert and insinuate itself into my words.

I should add that originally I started writing way back around 1970, I believe – mostly because I didn’t know what else to do with myself. My first writing desk consisted of an old door supported with cinder blocks I set up in a clothes closet. I used an old Smith Corona typewriter and made carbon copies of the poems I wrote on onionskin paper.

What is this book about?

Well, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story may be described as a sort of backwater Hamlet or a rural-American version of Hamlet, you know, where the stepfather is suspected of murdering the father by the father’s surviving son, though in this book intriguingly different choices are made by the story’s protagonist, Orbie Ray, the feisty nine-year-old with racist attitudes and prejudices ready made for propelling a family drama. It’s set in the segregated South of the 1950s and told from the boy’s point of view in an easy to read and judiciously written vernacular. Of course that would be my opinion since I’m the author; I might add however that it is also the opinion of many others who’ve read the book. Kirkus Review, for example, gave it a starred review, which is their way of designating a book of exceptional merit. You can read that review here @ https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/freddie-owens/then-blind-man-orbies-story/

Finally there’s a link to the book’s trailer, which I think gives a fair summary of its content and tone. Here it is: http://bit.ly/1dnWwwN

What inspired you to write it?

 

Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong, bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a ‘city slicker’ from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I’ve been a member of several such critique groups over the years but am not now involved with any. Feedback at these groups was helpful, sometimes crucial and sometimes not helpful at all; I think one has to take things with a grain of salt and sometimes with a large grain of salt; I think one has to remember oneself and not let what other’s say taint one’s vision. I’ve worked with author’s Rebecca Hill (Among Birches) and Judith Guest (Ordinary People). I’ve worked with British authors James Friel and Carol Clewlow. And I have an editor, a good one (Dave King @ http://www.davekingedits.com/). If you’re an aspiring writer reading this I think you should find a good editor, one you can afford and trust. A literary agent in New York also helped me considerably, especially toward the middle part of the writing; he gave a good amount of his time advising me, which I’ll never forget. I won’t mention his name here, as this is not what he does for a living. Suffice it to say one needs feedback from time to time. I do at any rate – and when I get to the sequel I’ll be looking for more.

Who is your favorite author?

I have many favorites and can’t settle on just one. To name a few, there is Cormac McCarthy, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Pete Dexter, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oats, Hermann Hesse, John Updike and Dorothy Allison. And many others…

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

After many years of ‘almost’ and ‘no’ or ‘yes but we wouldn’t know how to market it’ from agents and publishers alike, I’ve opted for ‘certainly’ and ‘yes’ instead, taking all my marbles to Amazon’s Independent Publisher’s Assistant, Createspace, which has become home base to my phantom publisher Blind Sight Publications. Blind Sight Publications (aka Freddie Owens) published Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story – a bumpy ride to say the least.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Readers can purchase the book on Amazon. The Kindle Version may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/THEN-LIKE-THE-BLIND-ebook/dp/B00A42VK4O . The Trade Paperback version may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Then-Like-The-Blind-Man/dp/1475084498 .

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The jury is still out on this one. KDP’s free days work well (in which one gives away one’s Kindle version for free for a chosen number of days); this is good for getting readers and customer reviews (though these are not always helpful). I think, if one is going to pay for a review, one should go to reputable reviewers like Kirkus or ForeWord’s Clarion. I think such reviews may help decide a reader one way or another, though this is not a slam-dunk. Virtual book tours have potential. Pump Up Your Book (http://www.pumpupyourbook.com) has several good options for tours and Dorothy, their CEO, is a delight to work with. There are many other things I’ve done and that one can do, but in spite of my own book’s having received many good reviews and accolades, sales have been moderate at best. The book did climb recently into Amazon’s bestseller ranks, which is not necessarily indicative of a lot of sales since many of Amazon’s categories are structured to allow bestseller rankings to books with only a handful of sales. Be careful where you spend your money for promotions, especially if you’re self-published. Spend wisely.

What is up next for you?

A sequel. Then a sequel to the sequel. Then fame, glory, money and more money. Then old age. Then sickness. Then death. Always death.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Well, I guess I should be more circumspect in public and not say that it astounds me that so many people now have read Then Like the Blind Man and actually like it. In fact, there’s been a surfeit of praise. I’m tickled of course but is this possible? Am I not dreaming a pleasant dream from which I’ll awaken one day to discover the harsh truth, i.e., that the book is sub par, mediocre and yet another example of self published claptrap? I ask myself this. And I’m a little embarrassed, I guess. I mean I’m out there now, publicized in a way I’m only gradually getting to know. It’s sort of like having been behind locked doors for years and years and finally finding a key of sorts and using it to open the door and stepping out into the sunshine – where everything is now exposed. The temptation, of course, is to crawl back, go back inside, shut the doors, shut out the over bright lights. Seems odd and a little disconcerting at times but I seem to have an abiding affiliation with the darkness, more so than I do with the light – it is the darkness that interests me, that causes me to explore. But that requires light, doesn’t it? I need the light; but I love the darkness.

Interview with Alinka Rutkowska, Author of Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Alinka Rutkowska

Alinka Rutkowska is a “Reader’s Favorite” Five Star Picture Book Author. She writes the “Maya & Filippo” Book Series for Children – travel books for kids with a positive attitude. She takes inspiration from her own travels while cruising with her husband and daughter around the world. She is positive, appreciative and happy 95% of the time and during the miserable 5% she thinks to herself quickly: “things always work out for me” and they do.

Alinka’s doesn’t really have a “to do” list but she does have a “fun things to do” list. It usually consists of writing, reading, reading her writing, writing in her diary, blogging, reading other blogs, commenting, breathing deeply, meditating, feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin, closing her eyes, breathing some more and thinking what a wonderful world she lives in.

Sometimes she takes a few minutes to pause and instead of doing something from her “fun things to do” list she just daydreams a little. She thinks of all the great things that she wants for her to happen and imagines how wonderful it will feel to be interviewed about them in the future. She’s already preparing the answers to those interview questions in her mind. She especially loves the part, in which she says that she achieved all these things because she spent a considerable amount of time visualizing them first.

Alinka loves to ski while listening to music at the same time, she enjoys an occasional glass (or bottle) of Barolo with dark chocolate, she loves cuddling with her husband and daughter. Alinka really likes tea, especially that last sip which is usually the tastiest.

Alinka blogs daily at www.mayafilippo.com for parents, travelers and authors. She loves to connect with like-minded individuals on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mayafilippo), Twitter (https://twitter.com/AlinkaRutkowska) and Linked-In (http://www.linkedin.com/in/alinkarutkowska).
Alinka’s books are available through her Amazon Author’s page at http://amzn.to/1eQNlcZ

When did you begin writing?

In primary school. As a school girl I used to carry a notebook and I would fill it with poems of my own production, whenever I felt inspired. I think I might still have it somewhere:) I was also founder and editor of the school newspaper. I loved writing and publishing since I remember. I wrote my first published work in 2010 and it was an incredible success! I still haven’t quite figured out how that happened but I sold thousands of copies in the first months after launch. That was the moment that I decided I had to quit my corporate job and think what I really wanted to do in life. After a few years of searching what my life’s purpose truly is, the Maya & Filippo picture book series were created. It’s now a brand and I am very excited about it.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I’m a mom and a writer. In that order. This means that I can write when my daughter is asleep. I always make sure that I’m undisturbed, centered, relaxed and that I have a clear mind. I usually spend several days (or weeks!) letting the idea for the book marinate in my head and when the right moment presents itself, I pour it all on paper (or screen!). A picture book is only about 1000 words long and it takes me about an hour to write it. It’s a very intense hour – I usually type like crazy with only brief pauses to read what I wrote. That’s how the first draft is born.

What is this book about?Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is the first of the Maya & Filippo series and it’s about two children discovering the world on a cruise ship. They explore both the sights and the world inside their minds. They dock in Auckland (New Zealand) and have a rough morning, they then go to see the city and notice a very strange thing – the more positive they are, the better their day becomes. They soon take advantage of this new law and make sure that some amazing things happen before the sun sets.

What inspired you to write it?

Back in 2011 I stepped out of my comfort zone, quit my corporate job and took off for the other side of the world – New Zealand. I was all by myself and I soon noticed that the better my attitude was, the better my experiences. I took advantage of this knowledge. I went on a cruise expecting the best and it did turn out to be the best decision of my life. I met my now husband on board and now we cruise together around the world. This gives me plenty inspiration for new Maya & Filippo adventures.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I had already published several books in the past so this was smooth sailing. The challenge was to find a reliable team. It took me a while to find passionate people to work with. It’s important to me that they care for these books, for the characters and the philosophy they convey. Luckily, after a few months of searching everything is in place now.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/IszTxo) and in any major book store. I’m also very active in promoting this book to libraries, book stores and tourist centers in Auckland and I will soon be able to announce that you can get it there. There’s one more thing and this one is huge – it might still be confidential and I’m not sure if I can tell, but one of the big cruise lines will be carrying my titles in their on board boutiques. That for me is a dream come true!

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes, I think that video trailers are a great addition to an author’s marketing campaign. Here’s my video for Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWUZbn8vb7A

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The best investment was a review copy I gave as a gift to a Vice President of one of the biggest cruise companies. She wrote back to me saying that she LOVED the book and wanted to sell copies on board. Sometimes a small gift goes a long way! The truth is that I give out plenty of review copies – to anyone who would write a review in exchange. I send my books out to people who have a large following and can make an impact on sales. I also like giving my books to friends who have children. I give, give, give! And then every now and then – I get back big time.

What is up next for you?

Writing, publishing and promoting. I love what I do and I want to do more of it. I will be writing more Maya & Filippo episodes.

The first batch to be published will be books from my travels in New Zealand:

Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea
Maya & Filippo Look for Happiness in Tauranga
Maya & Filippo See Impossible Things in the Garden City
Maya & Filippo Learn about Careers in Dunedin
and Alaska:
Maya & Filippo Talk Business in Seattle
Maya & Filippo Look for Whales in Ketchikan
Maya & Filippo Visit a Glacier
Maya & Filippo See Things Differently in Skagway

I’ve already written these and the artwork for the covers is also complete, so they will all have been published by mid 2015.

I am now going to Hawaii and I will definitely not come back empty-handed. I think I will also include a few European ports in my future books. We are talking about 2015-2016 here.

Each book requires copy-editing, illustrations, coloring and graphic design. I have a team of people with whom I work closely to get each book ready for publication. After that I spend my free hours spreading the word out. I want this series to get to people who will appreciate it and that’s a full time job!

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First Chapter Reveal: The Cloud Seeders by James Zerndt

The Cloud Seeders 7

Serve Your Country, Conserve Your Water, Observe Your Neighbor

This is the slogan of the Sustainability Unit and of a country gone eco-hysterical. After nearly twelve months without rain and the hinges of the world barely still oiled, Thomas and his younger brother, Dustin, set out across a drought-ridden landscape in search of answers. What they discover along the way will change their lives, and their country, forever.

The Cloud Seeders weaves humor and heartache, as well as poetry and science, into a unique novel that defies categorization.

First Chapter:

Serve Your Country, Conserve Your Water, Observe Your Neighbor

Our Mom tended to be philosophical when she played Would You Rather.

Thomas, would you rather be thunder or lightning? Snow or fire? A question mark or period? Red or yellow?

Dad never played. He even refused to answer the easy questions like would you rather kiss Marilyn Monroe or Madonna? He’d shake his head, smile at Mom, but always claim he just liked to listen.

I still play my own version with Dustin even though I’m eighteen now, and it’s been over a year since we’ve seen our parents.

“Would you rather I kick your butt or you hurry it up?” I say, and Dustin stops to ponder this before realizing I’m not kidding.

“Hurry it up?”

“Move,” I say, and he does.

He has to.

I’m all he has now.

It’s seven a.m. and we’ve got four hours of water-patrol ahead of us. While Dustin gets dressed, I toss his used body-wipe in the bin and head outside to wait.

At least he’s stopped asking to take showers.

There’s that anyway.

When he finally comes out of the house, Dustin’s wearing the state-mandated dust mask with his Officer of Sustainability jacket zipped up to his nose. The logo, a big drop of blue water wearing hand-cuffs, covers his entire nine-year-old torso.

“Let’s do this,” he says and struts off ahead of me, ticket book at the ready.

Normally I’d be doing this on my own, but it’s summer, so Dustin’s helping out, earning his badge. Nearly twelve months now and no rain. And the year before we had a whopping two inches. Just enough to keep the hinges of the world oiled.

We walk, without incident, for a solid hour before being heckled by a Leftover sitting on a cardboard box. There’s a liter of brown-colored water at his feet. Leftovers are what most people call them. The government’s official name for them is “The Internally Displaced.”

“Hey, I think I hear somebody watering their lawn! You guys better go arrest them!”

Even from this distance, I can see his lips are cracked and torn. Dustin has his pen out before the guy finishes his sentence.

“Forget it,” I say, grabbing Dustin by the collar before he can cross the street.

“But he’s worth at least 50 water points.”

Water points: an incentive plan cooked up by the powers that be. For every 1000 water points, you get a 5- gallon drum of fresh water.

“We’ve got plenty without him, D. This isn’t a game.”

“What if Mom and Dad don’t come back? What if they stop giving us their rations? Then what?”

“Then we get by like everybody else.”

Dustin tucks his ticket book back inside his jacket, sticks the pen behind his ear and contents himself by taking a long, unnecessary drink. Then he wipes his mouth on his sleeve and says, “When are they coming back anyway?”

“When Dad finishes his research and figures this mess out. We’ve gone through this how many times now?”

“A million.”

“C’mon,” I say. “Let’s go find some electricity-bandits. That’ll make you feel better.”

We pass by a few abandoned stores, the insides all gutted long ago. One has a banner pasted over whatever the old name was.

The Water Barter.

At least they tried.

We walk off the main road, down a few side streets, straight into the middle of nowhere and see a boy about Dustin’s age riding a bicycle, his belly just starting to distend. He stops and waves when he sees us, thinks we’re the good guys.

I tell Dustin to throw him a bottle of water and Dustin just looks at me like do-I-have-to, but he does it anyway. We watch the kid pump toward the bottle, his spindly legs coming to life. When he picks the water up, he waves it in the air in thanks, then goes back to pedaling more dust.

I keep an eye on Dustin, see if he’s registered the fact that the kid could be him if things were different.

But he just seems annoyed.

It isn’t much longer before we spot some lights peeking out from a curtained basement window. We knock on the door, and, sure enough, the lights go out. A woman, forty something, still wearing her bathrobe, opens the door. She’s got the thirst. It happens when you drink too much recycled water.

Her lips look like two dead worms.

“Hi, ma’am. We’re with the Sustainability Unit. Would you mind if we came in, took a look around?”

I know the look she’s giving me. Our dog used to do the same thing after he peed the carpet.

“Be my guest,” she says. “And who’s this little cutie-pie?”

She doesn’t know it yet, but she just earned herself an extra ticket. Maybe ten.

“This is Cadet Dustin,” I say and give her a look she interprets perfectly.

“Oh, you’ll have to forgive me. It’s just that I haven’t seen such a handsome cadet before.”

Dustin, having none of it, says, “The basement?”

I shrug and she leads us down the hallway. On the way, I peek my head into her bathroom, note the illegal tube running from her Recycler into a hole in the tiled floor. She must have just gone because the thing is still agitating, filtering out the urine, turning it into clear drops of water to be used for laundry, dishes, that sort of thing. On the side of the 5-gallon plastic jug, in big black letters, it says:

NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

The basement holds the usual Unforgivables: crude hydroponics, some lettuce, carrots, tomatoes. The government made indoor-gardening illegal last year since it uses up too much electricity. Well, that and people don’t tend to share what they grow inside.

The only real surprise here is the row of flowers.

“Dragon Lilies were his favorite. My husband’s, I mean,” the woman explains. “He died last year. I share with others when I have enough. Please, you have to understand.”

I want to grab her hand, put my arm around her, sit down and have a nice big salad, eat every last morsel of evidence with her, tell her she has no idea how much I do understand.

“I still have to write you up for this. They’ll probably just garnish a few liters, put you on water- probation for a year. It won’t be so bad.”

“Not so bad?” she starts to say, but stops when she notices Dustin scribbling away.

“Let me see that,” I say and take the pad from him.

“Eight Unforgivables,” Dustin says. “And that’s not counting the fan you have on upstairs.”

“Cadet Dustin,” I say. “Could you go outside and check the perimeters, make sure we didn’t miss anything?”

“Gotcha,” he says and actually goes so far as to hitch up his pants before heading upstairs.

“I’m already getting by on less than most,” the woman begins, her hand rubbing her neck, the robe parting just a touch. “Isn’t there something we can work out, some sort of community service I could perform?”

I take a step back, cough some of the color back into my face. “Here,” I say and only hand her two of the tickets. “Just pay these and dismantle the greenhouse, okay?”

Her eyes go all big and soft and I hurry out of the basement before she can get to me. When me and Dustin head down the street, he eyes me suspiciously.

“How many did you give her?”

“Eight,” I lie. “Nice work, partner.”

*

            After our shift, Dustin and I get cleaned up for our date with Jerusha. She asked me to bring Dustin along to the Water Rally, said she had a surprise for him afterward. Jerusha’s what we call a Bootlegger: someone who makes un-recycled water and sells it on the black market. Dustin adores her, but I’m a little worried about what’ll happen if he finds out about her hobby.

The Water Rally is supposed to be a formal event, so I go through Dad’s closet, pick out one of his brown tweed numbers, the kind with the patches in the elbows. I’m hoping Jerusha will get a kick out of me looking smart for once.

When I get downstairs, Dustin’s standing in the middle of the room wearing his old Halloween costume. Tony the Tiger. From his favorite cereal. Back when we still had milk. And cereal.

“Dustin, what the…?”

“You said get dressed up.”

“I meant wear something nice.”

“This is nice. Wait, no, it’s GRRRR–”

“Stop. Where’s your I.D.?”

We were told to wear our badges on a lanyard. For security reasons. Dustin pulls up his tail. His badge is taped to Tony’s sphincter.

“Wonderful. I’m sure Sarge will love that.”

When we get to the party, there are giant banners hanging everywhere with slogans written in giant green letters.

WATER IS A STATE OF MIND! YOU REIGN!

Dustin’s costume, it turns out, is a big hit. One of the officials even comes over, shakes both our hands, says that maybe next year they’ll have a real costume party.

Dustin jumps up and down at this, claps his paws and growls, “That’s GRRRRREEEAAAT!”

The guy eats it up.

We stop by a few of the demonstration tables as we make our way to the buffet stations, not wanting to appear in too big of a hurry. There are pamphlets about new Recyclers, some with a focus on women’s needs. They’re pink and smoother looking than the clunky one we have at home.

Next is a booth on how to police your neighborhood and turn in Violators: Serve, Conserve, Observe. Basically, it’s teaching regular citizens how to do our job. Free video cameras are available from the government if they want to set up surveillance on a suspect neighbor. There’s even a poster of a man brandishing a knife, a dead garden hose in his other hand.

Like a trophy photo.

Give me a break.

We move on, eventually finding Jerusha hovering around the buffet they have set up. There’s shrimp. Well, not real shrimp. Shrimp-flavored soyfu or something. Jerusha looks amazing, dressed in a black one-piece that stops just above her knees.

“I didn’t know Tony the Tiger was coming!”

“Next year they’re having a costume party,” Dustin brags. “All because of me.”

“Too bad it’s not this year. You’d win hands down, kiddo.”

Dustin wags his tail. “You going to watch the speech with us?”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Nothing I like better than watching people lie through their teeth.”

We watch the “hysteria”, as Jerusha calls it, from the nosebleed seats. Everybody else is jostling down below, crowding the main stage like our President’s some kind of rock star. Which, in a way, I guess he is. They even have his face beaming down from a gigantic 4-sided screen set up above the crowd. His beatific eyes about a foot-wide each.

“How come they get to have a TV?” Dustin wants to know.

“Because they’re pigs,” Jerusha says and pops a fake shrimp in her mouth.

“I don’t get it.”

“Don’t think of it as a TV,” I tell him. “It’s more like a screen. So we can see him better.”

“Oh,” he says, but I can tell he isn’t buying it.

If I could have your attention for a moment, please.

The crowd quiets down, presses closer to the stage.

The first thing I’d like to address are the rumors that there’s been precipitation in California. Unfortunately, that’s a blatant un-truth. Now believe me, there’s nothing more I wish were true. We believe the rumor was started by some of our more unsavory citizens who would like nothing better than to undermine Operation Green. We, as a country, must focus on sustaining our current water economy, working as a whole so we can overcome this greatest environmental challenge of our time. Now who’s with me?

The crowd erupts. I even start to clap but stop once I notice Jerusha glaring at me.

“Do you even know why you’re clapping?”

“Of course, I do,” I say, zero conviction in my voice.

Thank you, my friends! Thank you! Now, with that nasty bit of business out of the way, let’s get to what you’re all waiting for. The Water Awards!

More frenzied applause.

I sit on my hands.

As you know, each month we reward one exceptional citizen with a twenty-gallon supply of pure un-recycled water. This month, for outstanding dedication to the Sustainability Movement, we award Citizen Hugh Penly for the courageous act of turning in his neighbor for washing their electric car. Hugh, are you out there? Come on up here! I want our citizens to see what a true hero looks like!

An elderly man wearing an old Mariner’s baseball hat emerges from the crowd, makes his way to the podium as the crowd chants, “Hugh! Hugh! Hugh!” When they roll out the five-gallon drums of water, the man nearly breaks down in tears. A fairly moving scene, but one cut short when Jerusha stands up.

“C’mon, we’re leaving. I can’t stomach this any longer.”

As we make our exit, we get a few strange looks. Like we’re nuts for leaving just when things are getting good.

Once we get outside Jerusha squats down next to Dustin, and he climbs up without a word.

Piggy-back time.

It’s nice. Something a mother might do.

“You boys game for a real party? Something that isn’t sanctioned by fascists?”

I knew there would be something like this. There always is with Jerusha. Probably some lame party with wanna-be Leftovers in scruffy beards, none of them fully weaned off the grid yet but doing everything possible to look like they are.

“I’m game,” Dustin says and uses his tail like a whip to spur Jerusha on. “Gitty up!”

“It depends on where the party is,” I say, like the decision hasn’t already been made.

“Not far. C’mon.”

Jerusha trots off, Dustin holding onto her black hair like the reins of some magical horse. The streets are deserted, not one car out since nearly everybody in their right mind is at the rally. After about five blocks, Jerusha plops Dustin down on the sidewalk and raps four times on a metal warehouse door.

A peep hole slides open, then quickly shuts again.

“I don’t know about this,” I murmur and Jerusha lowers her eyes at me, says, “Of course you don’t know. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?”

Before I can come up with a response, the door opens and we’re ushered in by a kid in a black suit. It’s ten times more expensive than the hand-me-down I’m wearing.

“Welcome, comrades,” he says and acknowledges Jerusha by kissing her on both cheeks, all European-like. I couldn’t dislike the guy more. “I see you brought some defectors.”

“Not exactly,” Jerusha says, eyeballing me. “But I’ll vouch for them.”

“Whatever you say, Jerusha. But they’re your responsibility.”

Jerusha grabs one of Dustin’s paws. “C’mon. Stick close to me.”

She leads us through a dark and seemingly empty warehouse until we reach a ladder mounted to a wall.

“Where’s that go?” Dustin asks.

“To the roof. Where else?”

Jerusha turns to me, flicks my lanyard. “You might want to lose that.”

I look down, and, sure enough, my ID is hanging out. Luckily it’s face down, my Water-cop face still hidden.

“Right,” I say and stuff it into my breast pocket.

Dustin bends over, wags his tiger-butt at Jerusha. “What about me?”

“You’ll be fine, honey. Just don’t go doodie anywhere, okay?”

I pictured hot tubs, naked people drinking illegal beer, multiple Unforgivables, Dustin having a heart attack trying to hand out all the tickets. But when we get on the roof, we find only a small swarm of dancing teenagers.

Dustin leans into Jerusha, whispers, “These aren’t Leftovers, are they?”

“Leftovers? This isn’t the day after Thanksgiving, honey. These are your neighbors.”

A soft mist falls over the crowd and people start twirling, rubbing the falling water into their clothes. Behind the crowd I see a guy holding a sprinkler. I nudge Dustin, point to the rain-maker, and Dustin’s jaw drops.

I start to say something, but Jerusha grabs his hand before I can get a word out.

“It’s supposed to encourage the real thing!” Jerusha shouts, spinning Dustin around under the fake rain. “Wonderful, isn’t it?”

I nod but can’t help wondering if they’re using Recycled water, drenching everybody in what isn’t even fit to drink. I lean against a railing, watch as some of the dancers run their fingers blissfully through their urine-soaked hair.

“Wasn’t that amazing?” Jerusha asks when the rain ends. “Cleansing, don’t you think?”

“Do you know what the punishment is for–?”

Again, Jerusha doesn’t let me finish. She picks Dustin up, his fur all matted down. “Who cares what sour puss thinks. What does Tony the Tiger think? Fun stuff?”

“Awesome stuff! What was that thing making all the water come out?”

If I don’t step in, I can see Dustin bringing this up at headquarters and getting us all in trouble.

“That, Dustin, was an antique. Something from the old days. Something that’s obsolete now.”

Jerusha squats down beside him as the others make their way back down the ladder. “It’s called a sprinkler, Dustin. People used to place them on their lawns and children would run through them in the summer. Someday, with the help of people like this, we might have them again. Would you like that?”

Dustin turns to me, says, “Can we get a sprinkler?”

“No, we cannot. For one, they’re illegal. For two, they’re nearly impossible to find. Besides, what are we going to sprinkle? We don’t have a lawn.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

By the time we get to Jerusha’s house, it’s dark, her parents long asleep. Her parents think Jerusha’s an angel, living out in the garage so she can remain close to them. The fact that they’re being used as a cover has, I’m sure, never occurred to them.

They’re the opposite of Jerusha: good, obedient, scared citizens.

“Home illegal home,” she says, waiting for us by the garage.

“You live out here?” Dustin asks.

She doesn’t answer, just unlocks the padlock and clean-and-jerks the garage door open. With a flip of a switch, we’re doused in red light. A king-size bed with satin sheets sits in the middle of the garage.

“Whaddya think?”

Dustin immediately goes for the bed.

“What’s up there?” He points to a second story loft with bed sheets hanging from the ceiling. It must be where she hides her paraphernalia, her water-making lab. “Can we go up?”

“That’s my special place, Dustin. Sorry. Off limits for now.”

I haven’t turned her in.

There’s my being head-over- heels in love with her, but also the fact that she knows where my mom and dad are. It works out well, a blackmail made in heaven since I can’t imagine being chained to anything sexier than Jerusha.

“Mind your own business, D,” I say. “Or you won’t get to see the surprise.”

“Surprise, surprise, surprise!” he yells, jumping up and down on the bed.

“First you have to keep a secret,” Jerusha tells him. “Can you do that, Dustin?”

“I can do that.”

“I thought so. How about you, Thomas?”

“I don’t have much choice, do I.”

“No, I suppose you don’t,” Jerusha says and climbs the ladder to the loft.

“Do you think she has a sprinkler? Maybe some water pistols?” Dustin asks.

“I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“That would be so awesome.”

“No, it would not,” I say. Water-pistols are a major Unforgivable. “You know we can’t tell anybody about this, right? We’d both get in big, big trouble.”

Dustin plops down on the bed, says, “Don’t be such a wet rag, Thomas.”

“You don’t even know what that means.”

Jerusha is standing at the top of the ladder, her black dress replaced by a pair of bulky flannel pajamas.

“Thomas, would you give me a hand with this?”

She’s holding something wrapped in a white bed sheet. I climb half-way up, help her walk it down.

“Ready?” she says once we set it on a table, but instead of waiting for an answer, Jerusha whips the sheet off. “Ta-da!”

“A TV!” Dustin says, standing on the bed again. “Does it work?”

Major, major Unforgivable.

Anyone caught possessing movies of any kind will automatically be placed in Rehabilitation.

I remember the DVD burnings held on weekends, the bonus water-points handed out for every ten movies burned. No longer would we gorge ourselves on distraction, no longer would we amuse ourselves into submission.

“Where did you get that thing?” I say, not quite wanting to hear the answer.

“Here,” she says and hands me an old VCR tape. “Make yourself useful.”

Jerusha drags an old car battery out from under the table, goes about threading the modified cord onto the terminals. It’s one of those old combo TV/VCR deals. As I slide the tape in, Dustin puts his hands on his lap, morphs into good-little-boy. When the images from Star Wars start to fill the twelve-inch screen, Dustin’s mouth doesn’t seem able to close.

Once Jerusha is satisfied that Dustin is sufficiently hooked, she fluffs a few pillows, gives me a nod toward the loft.

“Dustin, honey, I need to go upstairs with your brother for awhile. Will you be okay down here?”

“Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”

“Give me two minutes,” Jerusha says and cranks the volume before disappearing up the ladder.

I count out two long minutes in my head, then follow after. When I part the bed sheets at the top of the ladder, Jerusha is standing next to a claw-foot bathtub filled with soapy water, the steam slowly rising, a blue towel wrapped around her.

“You can’t just–”

“I can, Thomas. You should know that by now.” She lifts her leg up, the towel opening up along her thighs in a V as she dips her toes in. “When’s the last time you had a real bath?”

Number One on the list of Unforgivables.

I can’t speak.

Would you rather watch R2D2 or take a bath with Jerusha?

“High school,” she says. “Am I right?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?”

“Where’d you get all the water?”

“Take your clothes off.” Jerusha drops the towel to the floor, starts coming toward me and I back away, worried about Dustin. “We’re just taking a bath, Thomas. What do you think is going to happen?” Her smile widens. “He can’t hear us anyway.”

I undress, sit down in the tub, barricade my knees against my chest as the water envelopes me like smoke. An entire tub full, hot enough to turn my legs a deep pink.

“Now relax.” Jerusha takes her hand, tugs at one of my feet so that my leg slides down along her thighs. “That’s better.” Her hair is spread out against the back of the tub like a shiny black fan. I can’t stop staring. “Feels good, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yeah,” I say, my voice quivering like the surface of the water.

Jerusha leans forward, places her mouth against my knee, gives it a soft bite. The world pulses and pounds in my ears as she lies back with this pleased look on her face. I close my eyes, listening to the sounds of light sabers and blasters filtering up from below. I stay that way for I don’t know how long, but by the time I open my eyes again, the water’s almost cool.

Jerusha, smiling that illegal smile of hers, says, “I guess that makes you a Violator now, too.”

“If Dustin wasn’t here,” I start to say. “I’d violate more than–”

“Oh God, I forgot about him,” she says and pulls herself out of the water, starts drying herself with one foot on the tub.

When she finishes, she climbs back into her pajamas and heads back down to Dustin. I dry myself with Jerusha’s towel, rub her smell as deeply as I can into my own skin before putting my clothes back on.

I’ve been so preoccupied that I haven’t had time to really look at her water-brewing system. I’ve seen them before, but this one is especially tricked out. There’s a car battery on the floor, jumper cables hooked up to an iron rod that leads to a small skylight in the roof. Aluminum foil covers the bottom of the skylight while plastic tubing drips down like an IV into a barrel. It must have taken her a month to get enough water for just the one bath.

I feel honored almost to the point of tears.

By the time I make it downstairs, the tape’s sticking out of the VCR and Dustin’s fast asleep on the end of the bed. Jerusha’s already turned the TV off, covered Dustin with a blanket.

That night I fall asleep with my arm around Jerusha, her back arched into my chest as I dream of flash floods, thunder and lightning, showers, tsunamis.

Oregon Mourning

The lake’s been electrocuted again,

the mist sizzling

from its bald surface,

the fish all capsizing

while the loons keen.

Soon the cicadas, too,

will throw their voices

across the water

in protest.

i can almost remember how all this used to look,

back before they passed sentence

on all the good things.

 

Title: The Cloud Seeders
Genre: Young Adult/Teen/ Dystopian/ Science Fiction
Author: James Zerndt
Publisher: James Zerndt
Pages: 268
Language: English
Format:  Paperback, Kindle

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.

James Zerndt 7

James Zerndt lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son. His poetry has appeared in The Oregonian Newspaper, and his fiction has most recently appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal and SWINK magazine. He rarely refers to himself in the third person.

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Interview with C.M. Gray, Author of The Flight of the Griffin

C.M. GrayBorn in England, C.M. Gray spent most of his youth growing up in the Essex countryside. A beautiful part of England, close to the Suffolk border, but he was born with the need to expand his horizons, so as soon as he could get a passport at the age of just seventeen he packed a backpack and went exploring! 

A slightly risky decision, and one his parents were not too taken with, yet a number of years later he is still traveling…. but with a slightly larger bag. Over the years, C.M.Gray has been lucky enough to live and travel in many many parts of the world, met some incredible people and experienced some amazing places. In fact, he has now lived for more years outside of England than he ever spent living there – It is, after all, a very big and exciting world! 

During his journey he worked and trained as a carpenter and a house restorer… picked more types of fruit over the years than he knew existed – from grapes in France to avocados in Israel. After living in Israel for a year, he was lucky enough to be invited to travel with the Bedouin in the Sanai desert for several months and then moved on travelled around India and then called a Buddhist monastery in the HimalayanMountains home. A short while later he had changed tact, bought a suit and did a stint as a stock broker in the clamor of central Hong Kong. 

To celebrate the millennium he traveled back to Europe, then found and restored an old farmhouse in deep rural Burgundy, France… but then looked to the open road and spent an number of years in Amsterdam… but the winters were cold so he went south again in search of the sun. 

Always vowing to return and sink some roots back in English soil… he hasn’t quite got there yet, but maybe someday, it seems there are just too many interesting places out there to see first! He does, however, live a little closer to England now, just outside of Barcelona in Northern Spain, in the middle of the forest with his dogs and two wonderful children, he claims the Pyrenean mountains and forests of northern Spain are a great place to write and let his mind do the traveling. 

As you will have noticed, his writing is mostly fantasy and he says that many of his experiences in Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East come to life in his writing. He has seen and done some pretty strange things on his travels, and bumped into some amazing characters, so writing fantasy is almost like writing fact for him… you just wouldn’t believe it if he presented it as fact – there are people and things out there in this world of ours that would simply amaze you! 

To explore his life and writing more, please visit his webpage and blog at https://author-cmgray.blogspot.com

Thank you for joining us today, C.M. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

C.M.: Hi, and thanks so much for inviting me today. A little about me…. Well, I’m an Englishman, but I actually live in a forest just north of Barcelona in Spain… Oh dear, that makes me sound like some kind of hermit or Hobbit doesn’t it, let me re-phrase that… I live in a ‘house’ which is in the forest just outside of Barcelona, with my two children and several dogs. The only neighbours we have are the wild boar that we hear crashing through the forest all around us; they drive the dogs potty, but it’s a great place to write!

I’ve lived all over the world and spent several years in Asia, living in Hong Kong, The Philippines and India, so coming to Barcelona actually brings me a lot closer to home!

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

C.M.: I got the writing bug late one evening when I had a ‘waking moment’ and became disgusted with myself for watching far too much television. A friend came to visit me one evening and asked what I was watching and I just couldn’t remember, nor could I recall what the previous programmes were either… I was just numbing my brain! Have you ever done that?

I decided that because I like reading so much that I would try to write… except that the first few efforts weren’t really that good, but it was fun, I enjoyed it! I discovered that writing was like reading a great book, watching a good film and playing a fantastic video game all rolled into one!

Why did you decide to write stories for teens?

C.M.: To be honest, I didn’t set out with the idea of writing for teens. I just didn’t want to write steamy romance, anything with graphic violence and I don’t feel the need to use profanity. So I write for my own tastes, which is why I say my books are for Young Adults of all ages! If you read some of the reviews I’ve been getting on Amazon you will see that a large part of my readership is from adults. I write for everyone who enjoys a good story, I think of myself as a storyteller first and foremost!

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

C.M.: Sometimes it is a little tempting to push the blacker side of a situation, or to describe in a little too much detail when one of my characters enters a dangerous situation. However, the knowledge that readers as young as twelve will be reading my story holds my hand and I gear it towards something I would like my own children to read. So in short, no, it is a joy to write for a younger audience, but beware… I don’t write fairy tales, demons walk the pages of my books…

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

C.M.: Young people have as crazy an imagination as I do. Adults tend to question things a little too much where a younger reader will happily smile and go with the flow of the story. I love trying to trick or surprise my readers, and when I get an email from someone exclaiming how they were shocked or delighted at something, or how they’ve never read anything quite like it, it makes it all worthwhile!

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?The Flight of the Griffin 7

C.M.: The Flight of the Griffin is actually the first book in a trilogy, but it’s okay, I just finished the sequel called Chaos Storm and the third will be along soon. In The Flight of the Griffin, we get introduced to the crew of a boat called The Griffin, four boys between the ages of eleven and fifteen. They are having a hard time trying to survive and one of the boys, Pardigan, decides to rob one of the city’s richest merchants. What he finds send the crew on a quest to unite three magical items and bring them together to stop the whole world tipping into Chaos. A girl, Mahra joins them. She has a few magical abilities and she aids them, acting as their guide as they try to follow clues and find these items. However, all does not go smoothly as a bounty hunter and group of demons follows, hot on their trail, trying to halt their quest. The Flight of the Griffin is a roller coaster ride of an adventure that will have readers of all ages turning pages and reading by torchlight under the blankets until late into the night!

What inspired you to write it?

C.M.: I wanted to write a fantasy adventure and I’ve always enjoyed reading stories where the heroes have a quest to complete and clues to follow to accomplish their goal.  I started with just the first line and began to write with no plan nor any idea where my imagination would take me; it was a huge amount of fun to write and I hope the result will delight you as much as it has so many other readers.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

C.M.: The Flight of the Griffin can be purchased on Amazon as a Kindle eBook here – http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Griffin-C-M-Gray-ebook/dp/B007TKUD7Y
And as a paperback from Lulu here – http://www.lulu.com/shop/cm-gray/the-flight-of-the-griffin/paperback/product-21280036.html

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

C.M.: I have a wonderful website and blog at http://author-cmgray.blogspot.com Here you can read the first chapter from all of my books and find out a whole lot more about me and the reasons behind each and every book.

What is up next for you?

C.M.: Well, my first book is called Shadowland and it’s the story of Uther Pendragon, father to the legendary Arthur, King of the ancient Britons, friend of Merlin and wielder of the magical sword Excalibur. Shadowland is proving to be hugely popular with over 150 reviews on Amazon. I’m now working on a sequel to that which should be available summer of 2014.

Do you have anything else to add?

C.M.: I would only like to say many thanks for allowing me to be here today, it’s been a delight! I would also like to add, in the words of Pardigan, one of the crew from the boat, The Griffin – ‘Growing old is inevitable, growing up is not!’ Enjoy your reading, enjoy The Flight of the Griffin and let your imagination fly!

Thank you for spending time with us today, C.M. We wish you much success.

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XGeneration: You Don’t Know Me Book Blast w/ Brad Magnarella – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

XGeneration 7In the fall of 1984, Cold War tensions between Washington and Moscow are close to breaking.

But in sleepy Gainesville, Florida, fourteen-year-old Janis Graystone is mainly worried about starting high school, earning a spot on the varsity soccer team, and keeping her older sister from running her life. And then there are her nighttime experiences. Experiences where she awakens in her backyard—out of her body—with the disturbing sense that someone is watching her.

For Scott Spruel, the start of high school means the chance to start over. And he’s willing to ditch everything—computer hacking, Dungeons & Dragons marathons, even his comic book collection (well, except for his X-Men)—if it means getting closer to Janis, the secret love of his life. But will Scott’s past be so easy to shed. And what about the eerie delay on his telephone, a delay he senses through powers he is only beginning to understand?

Welcome to the gripping new series, XGeneration: part The X-Files, part Freaks and Geeks, and totally ’80s.

Rated 16+ for language.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON for 99 cents during his book blast!

Excerpt:

“Do you ever think we’re being watched?” Janis asked.

She lifted her head from her soccer ball and squinted past her toes, still slick with sunblock, to where the beach crowd thinned near the crash and rumble of the ocean. For the first time, she and Margaret had the beach blanket to themselves, and she knew it wouldn’t last. Beyond her feet and off to the right, her sister’s three friends squealed and pranced from the water’s edge, breasts bobbing inside new bikinis. The bright pastel colors made them hard to miss. They would probably be running back this way any minute.

“Well, we are at the beach,” Margaret said.

Janis turned onto her elbow. In contrast to her airhead friends, her older sister lay in quiet repose, brunette hair tucked into a neat bun that cushioned her head and opened her lithe neck to the sun. Black Wayfarers hid her eyes. When the breeze stirred, the strings of her apple-red bikini fluttered against her hip.

“Not here, I mean,” Janis said. “In the neighborhood. At home. I keep having this feeling that we’re—”

“Being watched? Like the song?”

Janis groaned. She had walked right into that one. “Somebody’s Watching Me” had played on the boom box a half hour before, the deejay at I-100 FM using a creepy ghoul’s voice when he recapped the song and artist. And it was a creepy song. The video was even creepier. But no, that’s not what Janis was talking about.

“Not funny,” she said.Brad Magnarella 7

Brad Magnarella grew up in North Central Florida. As a boy he discovered Marvel Comics, text-based gaming, Bruce Springsteen, and Stephen King, roughly in that order. The prize, however, was a creek that wound through his neighborhood, providing him and his friends a wooded sanctuary in which to lose themselves, while discovering natural Florida. 

A graduate of the University of Florida and American University, Brad has long aspired to write the kind of fiction that colored his childhood. His books include The Prisoner and the Sun trilogy and the first in his new young adult series, XGeneration. 

Brad lives in Washington, D.C. When he’s not writing, he’s somewhat hard to find.

Sign up to Brad’s mailing list for new releases: http://bit.ly/bdmlist.

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Pump Up Your Book and Brad Magnarella are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins December 2 and ends December 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 30, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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X Generation 1: You Don’t Know Me Book Blast Page: 

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2013/10/08/pump-up-your-book-presents-xgeneration-you-dont-know-me-book-blast-win-25-amazon-gift-card/

Guest Blogger: Kelly Preston, Author of Mister Spunky and His Friends

Mister-spunky-book-cover-300x150

Mister Spunky and His Friends is the creation of award winning author, Kelly Preston. She has taken the story line from her book, Real Dogs Don’t Whisper, placing it in a picture book format for children to enjoy. Mister Spunky and His Friends is about the importance of love, friendship; and, helping those with special needs. Follow Mister Spunky along his journey to the beach, where he meets three new friends; teaching him important life lessons along the way. Parents, if you enjoyed Real Dogs Don’t Whisper, your children will enjoy this book for them. There are several pages at the end of the story for coloring activities. Ages: 5+

The Inspiration behind the Mister Spunky Book
by Kelly Preston

I would like to say thank you for this opportunity, sharing Mister Spunky and His Friends (www.misterspunky.com) and the story behind it.

Prior to Mister Spunky and His Friends, I published an award winning book, Real Dogs Don’t Whisper (www.realdogsdontwhisper.com), which highlights my life journey caring for four special needs dogs and the life lessons they taught me along the way.  The overall message within Real Dogs Don’t Whisper is about giving those with special needs a second chance.  The book touches on integrity, unconditional love, leadership, trust, stopping abuse and opening your heart to receive and give both unconditional love and friendship.  To lighten the message, I developed a co-author, Mr. MaGoo; Mr. MaGoo is my Lhasa Apso and he is larger than life.  He adds humor within the book; sharing with the reader how life is so tough for him being the only male in the house and living with a crazy lady, me.kelly dog photo

Real Dogs has an audience from preteens to young adults to adults.  I realized that I was missing an opportunity to reach children about the importance of love, friendship and helping others.  I decided to take the story line and concept behind Real Dogs Don’t Whisper and place it in a picture book for children, even added coloring activities at the end of the story for children to color.  Mr. MaGoo in Real Dogs Don’t Whisper is Mister Spunky in this children’s book.  He enjoys life, has fun no matter what he is doing; and, helps others dogs he meets along the way to the beach.  At the end of the journey to the beach, Mister Spunky has developed three new friends, each helping each other. The book touches on anti-bullying, friendship, love and helping others especially those with special needs.  Mister Spunky and His Friends is ideal for children ages 5 to 10.

Mister Spunky and His Friends (ISBN: 978-1484966570) is available at the following channels:

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Website www.misterspunky.com

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

Kelly Preston is, first and foremost, an animal lover. Raised on a ten-acre property in a small town in Pennsylvania, she grew up with horses, rabbits, and – of course – dogs. When she left home after college, she acquired Gizmo, an irresistible Lhasa Apso that started her on a journey full of joys and sorrows, hopes and tribulations, frustrations, endless lessons in patience, and above all else, love. All of this has come at the hands (more precisely the paws) of Gizmo, Betty Boop, Buffy, Carla Mae, and the inimitable Mr. MaGoo.

Mr. MaGoo is a nine-year-old Lhasa Apso and the book’s co-creator and co-writer. He is, in his own words, “the alpha and omega of all dogs – in the cutest and sparkiest, most fun-loving package ever.” Ignoring Kelly’s persistent eye-rolling, Mr. MaGoo has forged ahead with this project in an attempt to, as he puts it, “present the facts from a dog’s perspective. In other words, the correct, most accurate, most interesting, only-one-that-matters perspective,” to which he adds, simply, “Woof!”

Interview with Kelly Preston, Author of Real Dogs Don’t Whisper

10571045568926640590Award winning author, Kelly Preston is, first and foremost, an animal lover.

Meet her family like no other: herself, Mr. MaGoo, Buffy, Carla Mae, and Betty Boop. A girl, her two Lhasa Apsos, one Cocker Spaniel, and one adorable mutt – each with their own challenging set of difficulties to overcome. One puppy has serious neurological disorders and is blind. Two were severely abused. All are on a journey of discovery. Together, learning love and patience along the way, they have grown and thrived. Perhaps none so much as Kelly. Raised on a ten-acre property in a small town in Pennsylvania, she grew up with horses, rabbits, and – of course – dogs. When she left home after college, she acquired Gizmo, an irresistible Lhasa Apso that started her on a journey full of joys and sorrows, hopes and tribulations, frustrations, endless lessons in patience, and above all else, love. All of this has come at the hands (more precisely the paws) of Gizmo, Betty Boop, Buffy, Carla Mae, and the inimitable Mr. MaGoo.

Her co-author, Mr. MaGoo, keeps their readers and fans up to date through the use of their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/realdogsdontwhisper); as well as Mr MaGoo is quite the blogger (www.realdogsdontwhisper.com/blog).  His blog, Mr MaGoo’s Shenanigans is updated once a week with healthy recipes, nutrition, exercise and much more tips for pet parents.
Learn more both about Kelly and Mr MaGoo at http://www.realdogsdontwhisper.com 
Where did you grow up?
I was born in a very small town in PA, Brogue, growing up there for my adult years along with my two younger siblings, Colleen and Shawn.  My mother was a homemaker and encouraged us to follow our passion, which I did; I loved animals as a child.  I grew up riding and showing horses; studied Dressage, foxhunting, trail riding, assisted riding programs, and even did horse judging competition.  Upon college years, the horses I had to put aside for studies, and I filled my college years to present with dogs.  After college, I went into business for myself, opening an aerobic studio in York, PA; and, I fell in love with an adorable Lhasa Apso, Gizmo.  Gizmo is a cast member of Real Dogs Don’t Whisper and I do not want to share too much, otherwise, it would be a “spoiler alert.”
When did you begin writing?

This is my first book; the idea came to me December of 2010. I wanted to share my life and experiences around special needs pets and how it was they that taught me so much about life and myself.  I began to journal my life, experiences and what I learned during that particular time. 

Since I published Real Dogs Don’t Whisper, I also have published a children’s picture book, Mister Spunky and His Friends.  I have taken the concept and messages of Real Dogs Don’t Whisper, placing the material in a format that children (5 years and older) will enjoy.

What is this book about?
Real Dogs Don’t Whisper is my life story about having special needs in my life; only to realize in my adult years, how truly blessed I was even as a child.  My journey began early on when my late brother, Shawn, was born with Down’s Syndrome.  As I grew and matured into adulthood, special need pets entered my life at random times.  These series of events led me to a path of self-discovery; I share the lessons that I learned along the way, both personally and professionally.
What inspired you to write it?
Having four special needs dogs that were rescued, there were times in my life that people in my life just didn’t understand why I needed to leave a party early, or why I wasn’t able to travel.  I wanted to share my rewarding experience; wanted to raise awareness for rescue pets, especially those with special needs.  I felt the need to share my experiences to help, inspire and motivate others.
  
How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?
There are great books in this genre and we all share one thing in common; our passion to raise awareness about our cause, pets in need.  Or, is it us humans that are needy? 
What makes Real Dogs Don’t Whisper stand out from the rest? Mr. MaGoo.  I kid you not! Mr. MaGoo not only shares his perspective from a dog’s point of view; he will take you through any given day, adding humor along the way and, of course, reminding everyone that us girls in the house can not survive without him.  Mr. MaGoo will let you know that I am a “crazy lady” and him being the only male in the house is over the top very difficult for him to manage.  After all, what is a guy to do with a house of girls and one “crazy lady?”
What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?
The goal was to inspire the audience. No matter what may face us, with determination, unconditional love and support from others and, opening your heart to allow love in when not expected, amazing and priceless outcomes will occur.  
Where can readers purchase a copy?

http://realdogsdontwhisper.com/the-book/purchase-real-dogs-book/ - Mr. MaGoo paw prints each book purchased from here

Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Preston/e/B004W0AXCO/(Paperback and Kindle)

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/real-dogs-dont-whisper-kelly-preston/1111604520(Paperback) and http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/real-dogs-dont-whisper-kelly-preston/1030796551 (Nook)

Bookshop Santa Cruz: http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/search/apachesolr_search/Kelly%20Preston

KOBO (digital): 
What is up next for you?
With the recent release of Mister Spunky and His Friends, working on reaching parents and teachers about my new children’s picture book. 
Additionally, I recently rescued a 2-year-old Shih Tzu, named him Mini Me, as I foresee him following in Mr. MaGoo’s paw prints; in fact, he already is on so many levels.  Perhaps there will be a sequel to Real Dogs Don’t Whisper with Mr. MaGoo and Mini Me authoring? 
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for having me stop by to increase awareness for special needs pets. It is amazing how much our pets can teach us about life; special needs pets teach us much more than about love and friendship.  They teach us about the meaning of second chances and miracles.  They teach us about life.  

Saderia Series by Sarah Renée

About The Saderia Series

The Tiger Princess Cover 1The Tiger Princess (Book 1)

Ten years ago, a devastating fire took the lives of Queen Karenisha and King Makero, leaving a young Princess Saderia orphaned.

 Nobody knows how the fire started, but it ignited quickly. Too quickly.

In ten years, the truth has never been discovered…

Saderia is a curious 10-year-old tiger Princess. Her Aunt Cia and Uncle Jash have taken over the duties of Queen and King and have raised Saderia since her parents disappeared in a mysterious fire. Saderia’s aunt and uncle don’t understand the sassy, adventurous tiger, which she resents.

At night, though, Saderia is haunted by dark nightmares about the fire – eerie, cryptic dreams that push her to start investigating her parents’ disappearance. As she uncovers strange clues, she soon becomes desperate to know the truth. Could her parents have been murdered? On a quest to uncover the truth about her parents’ disappearance, she soon realizes her forest has many other mysteries when she discovers a dangerous, ancient royal secret regarding her oldest ancestors – a secret that will change not only her life, but the lives of everyone around her.

Saderia doesn’t know who or what to trust, but she is desperate to uncover the secrets of the past. She will do whatever it takes to find the truth.

The Tiger Princess on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Princess-Sarah-Renee/dp/0615321267/

E-book on Amazon:

The Tiger Princess: http://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Princess-Saderia-Book-ebook/dp/B004W3L5DM/

The Tiger Princess on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tiger-princess-sarah-renee/1101714708

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-tiger-princess/id550857596

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Tiger-Princess/book-Tb58TUekdEa9sW71mGM4pQ/page1.html

Dash (Book 2)Dash Cover 2

“His parents are gone. He lives in the woods…”

Dash is a dark lion with a dark secret. Living as an orphan in the cold, winter forest, he strives to hide that secret from the other young animals that have come to resent him. But when he meets the animal that has haunted his past, he isn’t sure what to do.

Meanwhile, Saderia finally gets her wish to go to school. She hopes to meet a friend, but she gets slightly more than she bargained for when she meets a fun-loving cheetah, a bullying panther, three prissy girls, prejudiced teachers, and a strange assistant principal who seems to enjoy making Saderia’s life more difficult. But there is no one as strange as the dark lion that sits in the back, and hides his face from her.

Saderia starts having Dreams again, but even though she knows what they are, she still doesn’t understand them. At the same time, she struggles to accept the prophecy she learned about in her ancestor’s tomb. But why do her Dreams and her instinct always direct her toward the dark lion who seems to fear her?

As the two animals get to know each other, Saderia wonders if Dash is hiding something, while Dash realizes that it is much harder to keep secrets from friends.

Dash on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dash-Sarah-Ren%C3%A9e/dp/1451582250/

E-book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dash-Saderia-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0055F5P0U/

Dash on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dash-sarah-ren-e/1103524592

Hunted Home (Book 3)Hunted Home Cover3 

One year ago, a young dingo was murdered for her beliefs. The murderer was never punished. One year later, the killer seeks a new target…

Dingo is a kind-hearted but bitter canine living in a brutal society in a merciless desert. Hated and tortured by his brother and the cruel dingoes that control his pack, Dingo’s only thought is of survival. Yet memories of his slain sister plague him as he desperately tries to stay alive.

While Dingo tries to overcome the cruelty in the desert, Saderia faces her own problems at home in the forest. When a new foe begins terrorizing the forest, she and Dash must face the fact that their only hope for survival may mean leaving the forest. Forever. Faced with a choice between life and death, Saderia and Dash embark on a life-changing journey to save the kingdom.

With miles of unforgiving desert to cross, Saderia must be strong. But when she and Dash wind up lost, who will save them? As Dingo struggles to escape the cruelty of his brother, Saderia and Dash struggle to survive. When the three animals cross paths, no one is sure what to think.

In the end, Saderia must fight her way home, while Dingo must decide which is more important—saving the tiger that reminds him so much of his sister…or his own survival?

Hunted Home on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hunted-Home-Sarah-Renee/dp/1463541597/

E-book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hunted-Home-Saderia-Book-ebook/dp/B004W3L5EG/

Hunted Home on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hunted-home-sarah-renee/1102959712

Enchanted Home (Book 4)Enchanted Home Cover4

One year ago, a fire destroyed a mysterious forest.
A young animal was framed by the Emperor himself.
Living as an outlaw, he struggles to uncover the real story…

Jeb is a kind but fearful creature living in an underground Spring with dangerous outlaws. With only his parents and a mysterious outlaw named Secka to protect him, Jeb struggles to uncover the truth about the fire he was framed for. When strange creatures invade their home, though, he is forced to focus on driving them out. But as he learns more about the creatures and the fire, he wonders who the real enemy is.

Meanwhile, Saderia finds herself in a strange forest. Disasters plague the forest and weird plants cover the land. On top of everything else, an unknown enemy is sabotaging the royal family. While trying to cope, Saderia begins to doubt herself. After leaving Dingo behind in the desert, she starts to lose faith in her Dream sense. But is Dingo truly gone? And when her best friend finds himself seconds away from death, will she be able to trust her instincts to save him?

While Saderia and Dash struggle to save the kingdom, Jeb searches for the truth. When their paths meet, they have even more questions. Will they uncover the secret of the forest or die trying?

Enchanted Home on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-Home-Sarah-Renee/dp/1477453369/

E-book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-Home-Saderia-Book-ebook/dp/B0088OXYLM/

Enchanted Home on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enchanted-home-sarah-renee/1111100374

Rock Bottom Cover 5Rock Bottom (Book 5)

War is brewing…

At long last, Saderia returns to her home. But with a missing Queen and an entire forest to rebuild, her homecoming is tainted with worry. Soon, she is forced to leave on a desperate quest to find her mother before it’s too late.

Saderia’s forest is not the only land in trouble, though. A cruel tyrant named Rock has taken control of the dingo pack, creating turmoil in the desert. As Saderia searches for her mother, she stumbles upon hundreds of outcasts in the desert. With legions of enemies thirsting for their blood, the outcasts are desperate for help. But will helping the exiled dingoes mean dragging the forest into war?

While Saderia struggles to help the outcasts, Dash finds himself dreaming of an eerie clearing. A mysterious enemy from the past begins visiting him under the guise of helping him. But whose side is he really on? And when war breaks out, whose side will Dash choose?

As the threat of war looms on the horizon, Saderia tries to do what’s right, Dash plots in the shadows to win the war, and Dingo struggles to find a way to save the outcasts.

Battles are waged, dangerous plots are formed, enemies become allies…and in the end, nothing is the same…

Rock Bottom on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rock-Bottom-Saderia-Series-Volume/dp/1484840321/

E-book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rock-Bottom-Saderia-Book-ebook/dp/B00CMHGYPY/

Rock Bottom on B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rock-bottom-sarah-renee/1115238474

ISBN:

The Tiger Princess: 978-0615321264

Dash: 978-1451582253

Hunted Home: 978-1463541590

Enchanted Home: 978-1477453360

Rock Bottom: 978-1484840320

About the author:Sarah Renee Picture

Sarah Renée has loved writing from an early age. She has been writing short stories since the age of 4, and at the age of 10, she came up with the idea for The Tiger Princess. She wrote the novel when she was 12. She is fascinated with wild animals and the wild world outside her home, and has an obvious great love of tigers. She enjoys spending time with her cats, reading, drawing, and playing her violin when she is not writing. In her free time, she is constantly daydreaming about her many characters, creating new ones, and coming up with interesting adventure story ideas. She is now 17 years old.

Visit Sarah Renée’s website at www.thetigerprincess.com or her blog at http://www.thetigerprincess.com/blogsnews.html to learn more about Sarah Renée, her books, and more! You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter

 

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