Category Archives: science fiction

Picher Perfect

The Lore:

Northeastern Oklahoma is often called “Green Country” due to the abundance of man made lakes and heavily treed, rolling hills. Tucked a few miles from the Kansas border lies Picher, a modern day ghost town described by one local news source as “The biggest environmental disaster you’ve never heard of”.

Picher is surrounded by huge piles of “chat” – white, chalky tailings – the aftermath of lead extraction from nearby mines. The small rock byproduct was used by local residents to fill their driveways. Children rode bicycles over the mounds. Picnics and family reunions were held there. The chat symbolized the town’s major employer and folks paid dutiful homage. They had no idea the towering mountains of rock concealed toxic hazards.

Nearly a hundred years of unrestricted subsurface excavation eventually destroyed Picher and left many adults and children with physical and developmental disabilities.

It all started in 1913 when zinc and lead were discovered in the area. The town sprang up overnight and was named after O. S. Picher, owner of the Picher Lead Company. By the 1920’s, the population neared 15,000 – with more workers commuting from other communities to labor in the mine or for service-related businesses. Lead and zinc mining consumed the tri-state corner consisting of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas – and Picher was the crown jewel, producing more than $20 billion in ore over a thirty-year span. Fifty percent of the bullets used by the U.S. military during World War I came from the Picher mine. Production surged again during World War II.

The mine waste, or chat mounds – some as high as 150 feet tall, were piled all over Picher. They shadowed residential neighborhoods, schools, churches, and businesses. Fine, toxic dust blew over the town – and residents breathed it on a daily basis.

Water runoff from rain polluted the area’s creeks and water supplies. When mining finally ceased around 1970, underground tunnels were no longer pumped out. They eventually filled with even more toxic wastewater, infiltrating trees and soil.

Perhaps the worst consequence of the mine operations was the subsurface excavations. The huge caverns were tunneled so close to the surface; tree roots were later discovered in the roof of some of the shafts. Parts of Picher began to collapse into deep sinkholes. The Army Corps of Engineers determined 86 percent of the town’s structures were in danger of caving in.

Creeks where residents had gathered for swimming and fishing were contaminated by cadmium and arsenic. The people didn’t know. They attributed their chaffed, red skin to sunburn, not realizing it was actually chemical burn. Cancer in residents skyrocketed.

The EPA finally labeled Picher as a Superfund site – which means it was too toxic to clean up. Federal buyouts began with the government paying people to relocate. Even then, a handful of residents refused to leave.

It wasn’t until a destructive tornado hit the area in 2009 that the town ceased municipal operations.

Today, Picher is a modern ghost town. Tar Creek continues to run red from metal contamination. Chat piles, though not as tall, still dot the landscape. The clean-up and reclamation project is moving at a snail’s pace. It could be twenty or thirty years before the area is habitable again.

Read more about Picher and other strange tales in ROAD TALES, Myth, Lore and Curiosities from America’s Back Roads. 

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The Story:

Picher Perfect

by Debra S. Sanders

“Oh, lawdy, I’m a dyin’ and ain’t nobody can save me.”

Dolly Mae Jarvis rocked back and forth, wrapping her arms across her stomach. The pain in her belly grew more intense with each breath, exacerbated by a thick, fetid salvia forming in her mouth. Her legs crumbled beneath her, sending her withering body to the floor.

It was the eighth attack in three months and the worse by far.

The first time, she thought premenstrual cramps had brought on the pain but it came at the wrong time of the month. A week later, it happened again – only this time it was so severe she spent the day in bed with a heating pad.

Her neighbor, a kindly old widow named Maude, tended to her with homemade soup and herbal tea. When that did little to ease her discomfort, Dolly went to the local clinic. Seventy-five dollars and a sympathetic smile later, she was told, “It’s stomach flu. Everybody’s got it. Just let it run its course.”

Dolly Mae went back to the clinic between attacks four and five. After extracting a vial of blood for tests, it was determined she was anemic. The doctor administered a B12 injection and sent her home.

During the seventh attack, the pain rendered Dolly unconscious. Maude called her mother, a woman devoid of parental instincts, and demanded she take the twins while Dolly Mae recuperated. It was a full week before the poor girl regained her strength, primarily due to Maude’s nurturing and home cooked meals.

But now she was back to square one, rolling from side to side, racked with pain and guilt. I’m dying. What will happen to my babies? They were only three. They needed her. She couldn’t die. Not yet. If anything happened to her, the state would surely send her children to foster care. Her mother wouldn’t take them and their daddy ran off a month after they were born. There was no one else but her to give them the love they deserved.

A tear trickled down her cheek.

“Dolly Mae! Oh dear, are you sick again?” Maude was at her side, smoothing the hair from her face. “C’mon, honey, let’s get you in bed.”

“Mama’s bringing the kids home tomorrow. How can I take care of them like this?” she sobbed.

“Tsk, tsk. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about those children. I’ll help you.”

“Who will raise them when I’m dead, Miss Maude?” The woman’s laughter irritated Dolly to the point that she rolled away in disgust.

“Look at me.” The sharp tone commanded obedience. Dolly rolled over, timidly meeting the woman’s stern expression. “You’re not going to die. Do you hear me?”

“The pain is awful. I can’t take much more.”

Maude’s face softened. “Do you want to get well? I can help but you must promise to follow my instructions without question.”

Dolly nodded. “I’ll do whatever you say.”

Maude placed her hands over Dolly’s stomach and closed her eyes. She began to hum a low, indistinct tune under her breath as she rotated the palms over her pelvic region then up to her sternum.

An intense heat flowed from the old woman’s hands even though they hovered a good four inches above the afflicted area. To Dolly’s amazement, the pain began to ebb. Minutes later, she sat up, feeling much better.

“Why ain’t you done that before?”

“You weren’t ready. This is only a temporary fix. You’re not healed yet. I need to get you on your feet for the next part. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

“Yes, Miss Maude,” Dolly exclaimed enthusiastically. “Just tell me what to do.”

“Very well. I’ll have you in perfect health by tomorrow but you must do exactly what I say and not tell anyone about our plan. Do you promise?” The girl nodded. “I need a photograph from when you felt good. A time when you were smiling and happy. Then tonight, meet me at nine o’clock by the chat pile where the creek runs under the bridge. Bring a change of clothes. Something pretty.”

Dolly frowned. “I don’t understand. Why the chat pile? And why after dark?”

Maude tilted her head, shaking her finger. “No questions, remember?”

“Okay, sorry. I’ll be there and bring everything you said.”

“Good!” The older woman leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Not a word to anyone, dear.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Dolly waited until her neighbor was gone before getting out of bed. None of the woman’s instructions made sense but it didn’t matter. Maude had made the pain go away. Dolly had heard stories of people laying hands on diseased folks. She reckoned Maude must be one of those gifted healers.

Fishing a shoebox from her closet, Dolly sorted through a stack of old photos until she found the one she wanted. She barely recognized the happy, smiling face. The picture was taken right after she met Ben . . . right before she became pregnant. At eighteen, she was the prettiest girl in Picher, Oklahoma and the photograph proved it. Black hair cascaded across slim shoulders, framing almond eyes and full lips.

Dolly always wondered if her dark, good looks was the reason for her mother’s hatred. She bore no resemblance to the blonde haired, blue eyed woman who gave her life, only to the man who drank himself to death and left his wife in a mountain of debt.

But on this day she basked in the glow of new love. Ben had just asked her to marry him and happiness shone in her face. It was exactly the kind of picture Maude wanted.

A few hours later, Dolly closed the small overnight bag on her bed and headed for the door. She’d carefully folded a pink floral dress and placed it inside. It was the only dress she owned but at least it was pretty.

At eight forty-five, she began the ten minute walk to the chat pile, using a flashlight to illuminate the darkened street. Half the residents of the small mining town had already moved away. More were planning to do the same because they believed the lies from a bunch of nosy environmentalists.

They said mining sludge had contaminated the water and ground. Ridiculous, Dolly sniffed, picking up her pace. It was because of them the mine closed down. People lost jobs. Those meddling no-gooders ruined the whole town.

She glanced at the glistening mountains to her right – mountains of tailing. They were a reminder what life had been like before the do-gooders showed up. Children played on those hills. Families gathered for picnics on Sunday afternoons. If taking a dip in the swimming hole at the end of a hot summer day was bad for folks, why hadn’t anyone complained before now?

Dolly arrived at the low bridge and turned right, following the uneven ground to the chat pile rimming the creek. She shone her flashlight near the pool of dark water and spied Maude standing at the edge.

“Hello, dear. You’re right on time.”

Dolly picked her way down the sloping bank. “I brought everything you asked. Here’s the picture.” She pulled the photograph from her pocket and handed it to the older woman.

Maude glanced at the glossy image and smiled. “It’s perfect!”

“So what now?”

She returned the photo. “Chew this up and swallow it.”

Dolly’s eyes widened. “I ain’t eating that.”

Maude arched a brow. “We discussed this, young lady. You promised to do exactly what I say. Don’t you want to feel better for your babies?”

Dolly nodded. Her shoulders rose and fell before tearing up the photograph and stuffing the remnants into her mouth. After a few minutes of vigorous chewing, she managed to swallow.

“Good girl. Now take off your clothes and step into the water. You can leave your underwear on.”

Dolly took a step back. “It’s cold! And I didn’t bring no towel.”

“You won’t need one. Trust me.”

After a moment of hesitation, Dolly began to undress. She’d come too far to stop now. The thought of those awful stomach pains spurred her into action. She dropped her jeans and sweater on the ground and stepped into the slow moving stream. “Brrrr, it’s freezing.”

An effervescent laugh trailed over the water. “Just wade in past your knees. That should be enough.”

Dolly did as the woman asked, moving her bare feet through the soft silt until the water lapped at her thighs. She wrapped her arms around a shivering torso, struggling to stay warm. Suddenly, something touched her ankle, slithering across her calf. Dolly squealed and twisted from side to side, searching the ripples. It had felt like a snake but Cottonmouths wouldn’t attack like that. She tried to step back. It was as if her feet had settled into quick sand.

“Miss Maude, help me! Something’s out here and I can’t move.”

“No worries, child. You’ll be fine.”

Her breath came in short spurts as she struggled to free herself. That thing was crawling up her leg, circling itself around her like a boa constrictor. Dolly thrashed her hands against the water, twisting violently until she lost balance and fell backwards. She went under. When she emerged, her feet came out of the water. They were covered in a black sludge.

Sputtering through a mouthful of water, she called out again. “Miss Maude . . . help me!”

“It’ll be over in a minute, dear. Try to stay calm.”

Dolly didn’t understand why the old woman just sat there. She managed to regain her footing and stood up. The sludge slid past her waist, climbing up her torso and arms . . . like it was alive. The pain in her stomach was back, ten times worse than it had ever been before. It was as if her insides were being shoved into her throat.

Dolly tried to scream but it was too late. The black substance covered her mouth, her nose, her eyes . . .

Maude hummed a little tune as she watched the sun rise above the chat pile. Another beautiful day. She glanced at the black cocoon near her feet. Oh, good. It’s almost ready.

A few minutes later the pod began to wiggle, much like an egg in the process of hatching.

This one went better than any of the others, she smiled brightly, running a hand over the top of the murky water. The oily black substance crawled up her arm to the elbow.

“Yes, yes. She’s almost ready. We’ll bring the twins to you soon. It will be the start of a new generation.” Maude giggled as the sludge rolled off and disappeared beneath the surface.

The mine unwittingly awakened the entity from a centuries old sleep. It was now her lord and master. Maude had been serving it for nearly three decades. Those silly government bureaucrats thought they could close down the town and make it go away but they were wrong.

She’d been transitioning hybrids into society for years. They were positioned in local politics where talk of reclamation and rebuilding the town were going surprisingly well. It was only a matter of time until they went national. And international. It would be a global transformation. A perfect world built from a perfect host.

The cocoon shuddered. A large piece fell into the water. Then another. And another . . . until Dolly Mae emerged looking exactly like her photograph. Young, flawless, happy.

Maude handed her the overnight bag. “Get dressed, dear. We have much to do.”

A few minutes later, Dolly twirled around, smiling at her benefactor. “Does this body look okay?”

Maude nodded as her eyes turned completely black. “It looks picture perfect.”

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REVIEW: Pangaea – A Rollicking Sci-Fi Adventure

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REVIEW:

Pangaea coverPangeaea: Eden’s Planet by Tom Johnson offers something for everyone: a fresh take on a familiar Sci-fi theme which should thrill Sci-Fi and Fantasy buffs; romantic elements with “swoon” factor for romance addicts; non-stop adventure for adrenaline junkies; survivalist theme for preppers; and a shorter length (50k) for those readers who have limited time to devote to reading but still want the punch of a longer story.

Have you bought this book yet? You should.

Pangaea is the tale of an ill-fated NASA crew on their way to Mars by way of the Twilight Zone. (Sorry, had to throw that in!) The crew soon finds themselves on a prehistoric planet with danger and threats around every tree, boulder and hill and valley. Our adventurers encounter monstrous creatures so realistic you might find yourself looking over your shoulder as well as some pretty scary humanoids. The characters are fun, quirky and well developed. But don’t get complacent. Pangaea is also about surviving insurmountable odds with limited resources. People get killed.

I don’t want to give away the ending which was a surprise for me . . . and I’m not slow to catch on . . . so go buy the book. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Pangaea: Eden’s Planet
Tom Johnson  


Genre: Science Fiction/Survival

 
Publisher: First Realm Publishing
Date of Publication: June 18, 2014
 
ISBN -13: 978-1497340749
ISBN-10: 1497340748
ASIN:
 
Number of pages: 100
Word Count: 50,000
 
Cover Artist: Jared from Off the Wall Creations
 
Book Description:

Seven astronauts en route to Mars encounter a time warp in space that disables their ship. Crash landing on Earth, they discover an alien planet sixty million years before the dinosaurs.

Pangaea, the super continent, is filled with danger and terror, as they must survive against fierce reptiles that ruled the Earth 250 million years in the past!

Excerpt:

“Damn!” he let out a whoop, “My foot’s caught in something. Someone shine their light down here!”

When two flashlight beams were aimed at his feet, three voices sounded as one:

“Oh, hell, what is that thing?”

The twin beams illuminated not only the major’s trapped foot, but also the thing that had hold of it. Cooper had stepped into something like a giant circular pit with gentle sloping sides that culminated in a center at the bottom, like a whirlpool in sand. A long, dark vine had wrapped around his ankle. Only the thing wasn’t a vine, it was some kind of slender arm with thick scales, and steel-like strength. And the arm was slowly, but steadily pulling him towards the creature waiting at the bottom!

Like the head of an octopus, there was a bulbous cranium sticking out of the sand at the bottom of the pit. The skull-like thing was covered with a thick layer of scales like those of a reptile, but that’s where the resemblance ended. There were no eyes visible, only a round mouth, with many sharp, pointed teeth. The long, powerful, scaly arm was pulling Cooper towards that gaping mouth!

Pulling the automatic pistol from its holster, the major fired point blank at that bulbous head, until the clip emptied. He was aware of Colonel Peterson firing her pistol at the same time, and heard its audible click as well. Their pistols were useless now. In an act of blind rage, he threw the empty automatic at the head of the ugly monster, and was satisfied to see it strike the creature in the mouth. It must have injured one of the teeth, for the creature shook for a second. But the awful arm continued to pull him ever closer to the wide opening and horrible death.

He was only a yard from the monster when he suddenly yelled, “The spear. Throw me the spear, quickly!”

Colonel Peterson was nearest to the spear, and she grabbed it up and jumped into the pit, as if intent on rushing the creature herself. But Major Cooper grabbed the long, metal weapon from her hand and pushed her out of harm’s way, as he brought the weapon high above his head just as he came within reach of those deadly teeth.

About the Author:

Tom's Back Cover PictureAs a twenty-year military veteran, I served on the Korean DMZ under fire, as well as in Vietnam. I have a law enforcement background. My studies of paleontology and entomology have been an influence in many of my novels.

My wife and I started the publishing imprint of FADING SHADOWS in 1982, and published a hobby magazine and several genre magazines for 22 years, before I settled into writing my own novels.

I have now been published in over 80 books, which include fiction novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction books. I write SF, YA, Western, and Action novels.

Website http://www15.brinkster.com/jur1/index.html

Pulp Den http://pulplair.blogspot.com

Jur Novels  http://jurnovels.blogspot.com

Spotlight: STATE OF INFECTION by Michael Frey

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CONTEST!!

Win one of FIVE ebook copies of STATE OF INFECTION by Michael J. Frey

Enter HERE

 

 

State Of Infection         

Michael J. Frey

State of Infection eimage

Genre: Science Fiction/ Horror

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Date of Publication: March 6, 2014

ISBN: 9781612963211

ASIN: B00J4WWY3Q

Number of pages:266

Word Count: 84K

Cover Artist: Tommy Dalston

Book Description:

Just months before the Battle of Central Park and the onset of the Second Civil War, President Obama declares martial law in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as Montoya’s encephalopathy spreads.

Despite the military’s best efforts, the government falls and Manhattan is reborn as a city-state under a military dictatorship. Survivors Mike Calaf, and Avalon Calendar struggle to survive, caught between the zombies and the new ruler of New York.

But long before the zombie infection, during the First Civil War, Doctor William Jackson (of the Confederate States of America) is trying to unravel the mystery behind this strange new sickness. He knows that if Complex P fails to work, there could be devastating consequences which might influence the future of mankind.

Book Trailer: http://www.stateofinfection.com/pics—video.html

Purchase it at Amazon  BN   iTunes  Goodreads

Excerpt:

1- DOCTOR MIKE CALAF

It’s been nearly a year since the outbreak. Most people call it the ZA infection, though it’s not really an infection. The proper medical term is Montoya’s encephalopathy (named after Claude Montoya, the French researcher who spearheaded the early studies).

I was in my office seeing patients when it began. Back then I had a medical practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, about a block away from my one bedroom apartment. I could get from my office to my home before you could say Jack Robinson. It was convenient as heck (and in the end, probably saved my life).

In those days my biggest concern was keeping the practice growing. Medicine is, among many things, a business, and like most businesses, mine had overhead. Lots of overhead. In my case overhead meant two receptionists and two nurses. I also had the malpractice insurance to cover, which seemed to go up almost every year. Next came the office supplies (both secretarial and medical). Then throw in the computers, maintenance, and a small reserve for holiday parties. Private practice in New York City was a costly beast to say the least.

Fortunately, I did pretty well and was able to celebrate my black Friday earlier and earlier each year. I wish I could attribute my good fortune to my skills as a doctor, but as Avalon might say, that dog won’t hunt. There were plenty of good docs in New York City before the ZA infection, so I had to find a way to stand out. The real secret to my success was keeping the waiting down to a bare minimum. I prided myself on it. Everyone hates waiting for the doctor, I get that, I hate it too. And no group of people does hurried and rushed like Manhattanites. So if Mrs. Kessler had an appointment at noon, she was seen by noon, or sooner. That, and a pair of the friendliest secretaries known to mankind, is what kept my people coming back.

Of course, it didn’t always work out that way. All it took was one complicated condition to throw off the schedule. For example, during what I thought was a routine physical exam, I felt an enlarged liver in a fifteen-year-old boy. That’s how a visit booked for twenty minutes became forty-five minutes. After explaining the findings to a terrified patient and his mother, I then had to order liver function tests, screening tests for hepatitis and a CT scan of the abdomen. It takes time, but it has to get done. You do what you can while keeping the bottom line in mind. And, if Mrs. Kessler wants to tell you about her son’s academic success at Brandeis University, or Mr. Barkman wants to show you pics of his new Shetland Sheepdog? Well, you smile and look at the pics, or at least that’s what I did. Good word of mouth followed, and my practice grew; satisfying both my needs as a physician, and as a businessman.

I wish I could say my office was filled with marble and gold leaf, and that I had one of those big fancy wooden desks. It wasn’t like that. But it wasn’t one of those tired, worn out old offices with dirty carpets and framed posters of Matisse and Van Gogh everywhere you turned. It was pretty standard I guess.

On my desk, I had two photographs. One was a recent pic of Kimberly and me in the North Fork of Long Island (the wine country). The other was of my sister and my parents, which was taken at a wedding, or bar mitzvah, or something; everyone dressed up and smiling in the type of picture that seemed dated the second it went into the frame; the type of picture destined for a desktop. Overall, I’d say it was a nice setup. Then the ZA infection came and everything changed. And if a little zombie apocalypse wasn’t bad enough, the Southern Federation showed up next to conduct what they called the Second Civil War. Talk about bad karma.

Manhattan is now what one might call a city-state, a tiny little country onto itself. And who gets to be king of New York? A man named Castor Dean does. Castor Dean is the class president…of a pretty big class. Not that he was elected by his classmates (or anyone else for that matter). His authority was given to him by what remained of the military after the government collapsed. His official political title is the Gallum Major; which means king or ruler. Personally, I would have chosen “El Hefe” if I ruled New York, but they never offered me the position. This is not to say that Castor Dean is a bad leader, it’s just that the vox populi never meant much to him. Most survivors welcomed Castor and his absolute rule. After all, because of him, the city still has electricity and clean water. That fact alone makes Castor worth his weight in gold.

Castor changed things up when he came into power. For starters, he renamed the city. Manhattan, he felt, had been erased by the ZA infection. The survivors of the zombie apocalypse needed a fresh start, a new beginning. So Manhattan was reborn as Gallum City, and Roosevelt Island (a small island adjacent to Manhattan) became its capital. Because of Roosevelt’s small size, Castor’s army was able to clear out the zaps in a matter of days. This zombie-free sanctuary (just a few minutes boat ride from Manhattan) was the ideal location for the new ruling class. Roosevelt Island was divided into three sections. The southern section became a military town named New Sparta (where most the soldiers were barracked). The middle of the island was for government leaders and their families. The northern section was given to the surviving civilian population, the natives, who lived on Roosevelt before the infection. They were allowed to stay, provided they agreed to relocation.

About the Author:

authorpicMichael Frey is a physician and assistant professor in New York City. He lives in Westchester, New York with his wife Jessica, two children and two dogs.

www.stateofinfection.com

www.facebook.com/stateofinfection

https://twitter.com/Zom_Novel_Frey

http://stateofinfection.wordpress.com

We’re Having a PARTY!!!

 

 

BlueFBBannerLove romance in the Spring? So do we! Fifty of your favorite authors are celebrating May 1st from 3-10pm EST. Live chat, win prizes, ebooks, audiobooks, gift cards, and more. Click on the banner above to join the fun and WIN PRIZES!!!  

And for an extra treat, you can view our promoted titles at http://www.BookLoversBuffet.net

Something for everyone! Great Books! Great Authors! Loads of Fun!!!!

 

 

 

RELEASE DAY: Brass Stars by A.G. Carpenter

Brass Stars

A.G. Carpenter

BS_web(main)Genre:  SF Western

Publisher:  Eggplant Literary Productions, Inc.

Date of Publication:  11/18/2013

ISBN: 978-1-932207-49-1(Nook),

ISBN: 978-1-932207-50-7 (Kindle)

Word Count: 21,000

Cover Artist: Paul Alexandrescu

 

Book Description:

Tashndelu Sand has wandered the known universe on a mission of vengeance.  She’s spent years tracking down the gang who murdered her mother.  And, with the help of Snyder—a psychotic cyber-horse with an agenda of his own—she’s killed all but one: Brannigan.

Now she’s come to Paradise, a lonely town on a desert planet.  Here, Brannigan rules with a new gang.  Here, the graveyard is filled with the corpses of gunslingers who have tried, and failed, to kill him.

Get in, kill Brannigan, and get out.  That’s the plan.  And Tashn is determined to finish what she started.  She’ll not be stopped: not by Brannigan’s army; not by her feelings for Johnny, an Extra sapien like her; not even by the darkness she sees in herself.

Excerpt:

I stand up, sway for a moment and catch my shoulder hard against the post. “Ungh. Damn.”

Jackson is on his feet in a heartbeat, slipping his arms around my waist. “Easy.”

My cheeks are hot. At least it’s dark and maybe he won’t notice. “I’m all right.”

“You’re certain?”

“Just tired.” I try to shrug away from his hands. “It’s been a long day.”

“Yes.” A pause. “Tashn…” He leans in and kisses me.

Warm as a spring afternoon. Intense as a lightning strike. His arms holding me hard and close. Pushing me back toward the house.

It’s nice. Enjoyable, even. And also terrifying. There is no spark like there is with Johnny, no rush of blood in thighs and breasts.

This is energy of a different kind. I take a breath, trying to find something to say. “What the hell, Jackson.” I thump his shoulder with my fist. “You think I’m easy?”

“No.” His eyes are dark, serious. He pulls me in a second time, slower, but no less intense. My chest aches with it.

“Stop.” My hands are knotted in the front of his shirt, caught somewhere between pulling him close and shoving him away. “Let go of me.”

He takes a half-step back, leaning against the other side of the doorframe. Only inches separate us, but it hurts like a bruise.

I press both hands against my chest, panting for breath. This isn’t lust, and I’ll be damned if I think it’s love. But I know this pain. The grief of separation, no matter how slight. The echo of connection, no matter how permanent the distance.

I felt this way when they put Mother under the sand.

I felt this way the day I left my father’s village.

“Damn you, Jackson.” I can barely whisper around the weight over my heart.

He cups my face between his hands. “Come inside, Tashn.”

“I can’t.”

“John won’t keep you safe like I will.”

“Like you will. A gunner with no gun.” I grin, bitter. “I think I’ll take my chances with the one-eyed Extra.”

He tips his head as though he will kiss me again, but this time I lean away from him.

Read another excerpt here: http://eggplantproductions.com/excerpt-brass-stars-g-carpenter/

About the Author:

A.G. Carpenter writes fiction of (and for) all sorts. She studied film-making in college, but quickly discovered that pen and paper are a less costly medium. She likes: movies where things explode, rainy days, strong tea with lots of milk and sugar. Her favorite color is black.

She lives in the South-eastern United States with her husband, their lively son and a herd of cats.

Twitter: @Aggy_C

Blog: agcarpenter.blogspot.com

Goodreads: A.G. Carpenter

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Bonus Material for Release Day Blitz:

What Happened to Earth? – Theories abound about the reported “loss” of Homo Sapien’s planet of origin, but they boil down to three main ideas.

The most commonly accepted is The Navigational Miscalculation Theory. It claims there was an error in the navigational calculations much like the Mars Surveyor loss of 1998 AD. By the time the error was detected and rectified, the coordinates of origin had been so corrupted it was impossible to relocate Earth. (This would also explain the dozens of transports that missed their target worlds on this end.) The specifics of the type of miscalculation and the degree of error are the subject of heated debate especially at a university level.

The second major theory is the Deliberate Data Corruption Theory. Proponents hold that the navigational charts and data were deliberately corrupted in order to keep Homo Sapien from returning to a homeworld that was already damaged beyond the ability to support large quantities of life. “Nostalgia,” one scientist was reported as saying, “can be more powerful than self-preservation.”

The third theory is The Rich Bastards Theory. In this theory the wealthy decided to keep Earth for themselves and paid to have the origin coordinates destroyed or corrupted. The biggest flaw in this particular idea is the continuing presence of rich bastards in the colonies.

Leeland Snyder’s Last Words

A tall man with thin hands and dark hair takes a seat opposite the recorder and smooths a piece of paper on the table in front of him. He clears his throat.

I, Leeland Snyder, now record my final words.

A pause, while he studies the paper.

My final words in this material form. If there is justice in the world, my brain will survive the planned surgery and I will be given a second-chance at life. A chance to prove that I am innocent of the crimes of which I have been accused.

He combs his hair behind his ears.

I know that many of you feel I am an evil man, guilty of the murders of seventeen women and one child, but I can only remind you that sixteen of them were my wives. I am as heartbroken as the rest of their families over their brutal loss. I can only hope that the true killer will eventually be brought to justice.

An unsettling smile turns his mouth up at the corners.

In the matter of Abigail McKinley and her half-breed daughter, I had no role in their deaths. Though I was witness to the real criminals who took that mother and child too soon. I leave it to you to draw the natural conclusion that my subsequent trial and conviction is merely the attempt to bury the truth that I am capable of revealing.

He folds up the paper and tucks it into his pocket.

For the others, my dear and departed wives, I can only mourn. And I pray that those powers that be will allow me to continue my existence in some form ’til I may bring the truth about their deaths to light. Well. All except for Martha Clemmings. That bitch had it coming.

– End of Recording –

It’s HOT for the HOLIDAYS!!!!! Bewitching Book Tours Giveaway Starts NOW!

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway Button 300 x 225 (1)

I”ve been biting my tongue while waiting to tell you about the fantabulous Holiday Giveaway offered by Bewitching Book Tours. The Grand Prize – a Kindle Fire HD (or equivalent value in an Amazon Gift Card) – is enough to convince most people to enter this incredible contest . . . but it doesn’t stop there. Roxanne Rhoads, our esteemed leader and owner of one of the best virtual book tour and promotion companies around, has aligned with the stars (as in talented authors) to create a truly awesome event. There’s something for everyone.

 Just look at the rest of the available prizes:

THREE Bewitching Prize Packs full of books and book swag goodies- open to US Shipping. Prize packs may contain print copies of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, Would Be Witch by Kimberly Frost and Earth Angel by E Van Lowe, Paranormal Pleasures by Roxanne Rhoads, Tasty Christmas Treats by Roxanne Rhoads. Books will be distributed among the 3 prize packs

1  e-book set of the first three books in the Seven Seals Series by Traci Douglas 

1 Release, book 3 of The Angler series by Annie Nicholas 

1 ebook copy Murder on Mars A New Orleans Mystery by MM Shelley

1 Ebook giveaway Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea 

1 Ebook copy of Tigress by JE Taylor 

1 ebook copy of In Flames by Jessica Jayne

1 copy of River Road by Suzanne Johnson 

1 ebook copy of Visionary- Unleashed by N Dunham

1 copy of each Bleeding Hearts and Blood Rush by Ash Krafton 

1 ebook copy of Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1) by AD Starrling

1 ebook copy of Blaze Ignites by JL Madore

1  e-book copy of Operation Earth by Maria Hammarblad

1 Earth’s Requiem by Ann Gimpel. Print if in the U.S., an e-copy otherwise.

1 ebook copy Silent Oath (Book 2 of the Locked Within Trilogy) by Paul Anthony Shortt

1 Ebook: Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy from the Season of Seduction Carina Press erotic holiday anthology

1 eBook: An Unexpected Bride (The Bride Series, Book 1) by Shadonna Richards 

1 eCopy of Divine Destiny by Joanna Grace

1 Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences 

1 Ebook giveaway. “Beautiful Stranger” by Katalina Leon

1 ebook copy of Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

1 ebook copy of Cleaning Up by Jophrael L Avario

1 One e-book copy of Haven by Celia Breslin

1 one e-book copy of Dragon Fire by Dina Von Lowenkraft

1 ebook copy of Hex and the Single Witch by Roxanne Rhoads

1 one kindle copy of Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden

1 One ecopy of Cursed Ever After by AC James

1 copy of The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone

1 ecopy of Catwalk:Messiah by Nick Kelly

1 ecopy of Wucaii by Pembroke Sinclair

1 ecopy of The Bottom Line by Shelley Munro

1 Ebook copy of Dangerous Pursuit by Margaret Daly

Can you believe it??? Like I said, there’s something for any reader’s tastes. All you have to do is enter, which is soooo easy! Just click on the Bewitching Book Tours Button at the top of this post or on this link: 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f446

And if you’re a visual person like me (one picture is worth a thousand words), you’ll enjoy this enticing display of book covers and prizes featured in the contest. Remember, BBT’s HOT HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY is open to everyone, whether you’re naughty or nice!