Category Archives: science fiction

Author Maria Hammarblad: On Writing Sci-Fi

I admire any author who blends science fiction and romance. The task of combining research and technology with a character driven story is not for the faint of heart . So today, it is with great appreciation and a bit of wide eyed awe that I present a talented author from the science fiction genre. Maria Hammarblad has graciously agreed to guest blog on  the art of researching and writing sci-fi. Read on and prepare to be fascinated. Afterwards, you’ll find information about her new release, “High Gravity”, the second novella in the Embarkment 2577 series.

Research and Science Fiction Reports
by Maria Hammarblad

I’ve always loved science fiction. The future, space, and technology hold an irresistible allure, turning me into a little kid in a candy store. The genre is convenient too; there’s plenty of room to make stuff up. I do however believe that every story, no matter how fantastic, needs to be anchored in reality in some way. A book needs to give readers something they can relate to, and larger and more detailed snippets of truth lead to a more believable story.

Writing science fiction takes a good deal of imagination and the science portion might be a small part of the finished book, but it’s important. Many readers have an excellent grasp on science – much better than I. For example, how does gravity really work? (Thus far, no one knows.) What would the solar system look like if you approached it in a spaceship? How far away is the nearest star?

Google supplies many answers, and I tend to stumble over interesting articles in the most unexpected places. When working on my recent re-write of the Embarkment 2577 novellas, my eyes fell on an interesting piece regarding how long a human can survive in space. I always imagined imminent death, but one would have a long time to process the experience. Needless to say, this information does not soothe the heroine of the Embarkment books…

When I wrote on my novel Kidnapped, I needed to fill out some gaps in my knowledge, and boldly enrolled in a college course in astrobiology. Astrobiology is a big and intimidating word. Back in high school, chemistry was my worst subject, and I expected this class to contain a lot of molecular bindings, carbon, silicon, and periodic system. I approached the classroom carefully, wondering why I insisted on straying outside my own comfort zone.

It was a very interesting experience, with a minimum of chemistry. The teacher was really cool, and devoted to space. At times, he wore a NASA uniform to class, and told us how his wife rolled her eyes when he wore it to Kennedy Space Center and pretended to be a real astronaut. Other visitors would see him and ask if he worked there, and he’d say, “Sure!” He also built scale models of spaceships, and they hung from the classroom ceiling. The model of the Saturn V was too big to hang; made in a scale that made other crafts seem reasonable, this one was still gigantic.

We had a stargazing event, and seeing the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter with my own eyes was breathtaking. We drove a simulated Mars rover, talked about planet and suns, and experimented with testing for life in samples of sand. I have to admit my science papers turned into science fiction papers, but the teacher was a good sport about it. He didn’t mind reading an imaginative description of how the little rovers Spirit and Opportunity rolled on the red sand of Mars with the moons slowly orbiting the planet – as long as I got the actual science right.

Maria Hammarblad_2

The class wasn’t just fun; it has also proven useful. Before I took it, I would never have realized a spaceship that just went through the atmosphere of a planet would be hot. It’s logical when thinking about it… Well, at least after someone points it out.

Before taking the class, I didn’t realize just how similar DNA has to be for two beings to be genetically compatible. After taking the class, all my aliens in romantic relationship with humans are basically human.

Science gets distorted in the books, of course; it’s fiction. I like making things up, and I like creating theories around how things might work. Most of my theories never make it to the books. I try to keep long explanations of how I think stuff works out of the stories and focus on people and their relations instead, but when I do write something sciency, I like to have thought it through. =)

 

About The Author:

Born in Sweden in the early 1970’s, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, “The Sun Book.” They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother’s horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.

As an adult Maria’s creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.
Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.
Upcoming releases
Flashback, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2013
Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013
Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013
Fun Facts
Favorite color:              Blue
Favorite food:               Chicken with cashew nuts
Doesn’t eat:                     Mammals
Favorite TV Show:       Star Trek TNG and Leverage
Favorite animal:           Border Collie
Quotes:            “Full Speed Ahead” and “Caffeine is good for you”
Find Maria on the web
Website:                          http://www.hammarblad.com
Facebook:                      https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad
Blog:                                 http://www.scifiromance.info
Twitter:                           @mariahammarblad
Publisher’s website    http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com

 

 

High Gravity Button

High Gravity

Embarkment 2577, Novella 2

Maria Hammarblad

Genre: Sci-fi Romance

ISBN: 1456515128
ISBN-13: 978-1456515126
ASIN: B004HO673O

Number of pages: 131

Word Count: 28566

Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/FWMObuBulXc

Purchase Links: http://amzn.com/B004HO673O

Book Description:

In this second novella in the “Embarkment 2577” series, the story picks up shortly after it left off in “Brand New World.” The main character Alex has come to terms with her new life on a starship in the year 2577, and reluctantly won both respect and admiration for her actions during an alien attempt to conquer the ship.

Little does she know a number of new trials are about to shake her world. Besides encounters with alien species and an unexpected relative surfacing, a fatal navigation error will test her relationships with both her android lover and her friends.

Excerpt:

“Joshen Martinez is an old friend of mine, a mentor, he wouldn’t hurt you. He just wants to connect you to a machine that will tap out your memories. Your knowledge is valuable, and everyone would be able to see what you know. Sort of… like watching a movie.”

Having people watch all my memories? Intrusion of privacy, much?

I got to my feet. “I’ve heard enough of this. I have other things to do.”

Kevin stood up too. “Yes you do. Go pack your bags. This joke is over and you’re coming with me to the Kentucky.”

I took a step towards the door. “In your dreams.”

Blake said, “Sit down. Both of you.”

He didn’t raise his voice, but it was impossible not to obey. Kevin opened his mouth and my Captain made a dismissive gesture. “You’ve already said too much. Sit down and be quiet.”

Watching the scientist sink down, carefully keeping his mouth shut, filled me with glee. Blake pressed a button on his desk. “Commander Adam, could you come to my office for a minute, please.”

My husband’s voice filled the room. “Right away, Sir.”

I didn’t realize how tense I was until he stood in the doorway and I dared relax. He glanced between me and Kevin and crossed his arms over his chest. Adam was tall, strong, intimidating, and mine.

“What’s going on?”

Once again, Kevin opened his mouth. Blake snapped, “Silence.”

Kevin leaned back in his chair and rolled his eyes.

“Adam, this is Kevin. He has come to retrieve your wife.”

“Not happening, Sir.”

I wanted to squirm. “Can I move now?”

Blake smirked. “Yes Alex, you may move.”

I bounced to my feet and threw my arms around Adam. He hugged me back and murmured, “Don’t worry.”

After kissing me tenderly, he put his hands on my shoulders and turned me around so I faced Kevin. Then, he wrapped his arms around me from behind. “This is my wife. She means more to me than my life. She definitely means more to me than your life. If I were you, I’d choose my next words wisely.”

I glanced up at him. “I love you too.”

He smiled and brushed his lips over my temple.

Blake leaned his elbows on the desk and tapped his fingers together. “Mr Nolan, have we satisfied your curiosity, or do you wish to continue the discussion with the commander? I’m sure he’d be more than happy to demonstrate his… abilities. Would you like to see him fold a spare piece of hull plating a couple of times?”

“We’re good.”

Sci Fi Fans: Double Helix series

DoubleHelixCovers

Bewitching B&W

Check out this great series of Dystopian Sci-Fi by Jade Kerrion. The first book, PERFECTION UNLEASHED, is offered at .99 cents for the duration of the book tour. Read the excerpt below.

Perfection Unleashed
Genre: Science fiction (Dystopian)

ISBN: Perfection Unleashed 1469980355

ASIN: Perfection Unleashed B008E98YFM

Number of pages: 212

Word Count: 87,000 words

Cover Artist: Jason Alexander

Two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, the other to escape it.

Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted–a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention.

When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives–the in vitros, clones, and mutants–collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab’s search for perfection, descend upon Washington, D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.

Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.

Kindle  Print

Perfect Betrayal
Don’t fear the army of genetically engineered perfect killers. Fear the cripple who leads them.

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre is powerful, rare, and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. Betrayed by his friends and abandoned to a life sentence in a maximum-security prison, Danyael receives freedom and sanctuary from an unlikely quarter—the Mutant Assault Group, an elite mutant task force within the US military. Physically crippled and emotionally vulnerable, Danyael succumbs to the warmth of friendships and the promise of love he finds within their ranks.

Friendship and love, however, demand his loyalty, and Danyael rises to the challenge of training and leading the assault group’s genetically modified super soldier army. The super soldiers are faster and stronger than the military’s human soldiers; their animal instincts spur ferocity and fearlessness in battle. But who is the perfect weapon—the super soldiers or Danyael, the alpha empath, who can, with a touch, heal or kill?

Adversaries swarm, like vultures around carrion; the pawn is once again in play. The threads of betrayal that sent Danyael to prison spin into a web, ensnaring him. When a terrorist group strikes Washington, D.C., how far will Danyael go to defend a government that sent him to prison to die?

PERFECT BETRAYAL is the second novel in the award-winning Double Helix series.

Perfect Weapon
You can defeat your enemies, but can you defeat your friends?

Danyael Sabre, an object of desire, would much rather not be. An alpha empath by birth, a doctor by training, and an empathic healer by calling, he is stalked by the military that covets his ability to kill, not heal. He finds himself on the run under the protection of an assassin, Zara Itani.

Bereft of two days of memories, the more he uncovers of his lost hours, the more he doubts everything that once anchored him. He knows only that he endangers those around him and that he is falling in love with Zara, who hates him for reasons he no longer remembers.

As forces—both powerful and ruthless—threaten those he cares for, Danyael has only two options. He can betray his values and abandon the path of the healer, or he can wait to be betrayed, not by enemies, but by his friends.

PERFECT WEAPON is the third novel in the award-winning Double Helix series.

Except from PERFECTION UNLEASHED

On another Friday night, she might have been out at a Georgetown bar, accepting drinks from attractive men and allowing them to delude themselves into imagining that they might be the lucky one to take her home.

Tonight, she had work to do.

The hem of the white lab coat brushed about her legs as she strode toward the double doors that barred entry to the western wing. No one paid her any attention. Scientists and lab technicians scurried past her, nodding at her with absent-minded politeness. On Friday evening, with the weekend beckoning, no one thought about security.

Where men faltered, technology kept going.

The corridor seemed endlessly long, and the security cameras that pivoted on their ceiling-mounted frames bore into her back. She knew that her image likely featured on one or more of the many monitors at the security desk, but a combination of training and nerves of steel steadied her. She resisted the urge to twitch or to hurry her pace.

Each step brought her closer to an ominously glowing red eye on the security panel beside the door. Undeterred, she waved her badge over the panel. Moments later, the security panel flashed to green and a heavy lock slid back. Another small triumph. It usually took a series of them to make a victory.

She lowered her head, ostensibly to look down at the tablet in her hand. Her long, dark hair fell forward, concealing the lower half of her face from the security camera as she walked through the open door. “Entering the western wing,” she murmured, trusting the concealed microphone to pick up on her whisper.

“Good luck,” Carlos’s voice responded through the tiny earpiece inserted in her right ear. “All’s clear out here.”

“I’m really glad the security pass I programmed for you actually worked,” Xin added, a whimsical tone in her voice.

Zara was glad, too. She had a solid plan. Two of her finest associates backed her up—Carlos Sanchez waiting in the car concealed off road outside Pioneer Labs, and Mu Xin poised in front of a computer in her Alexandria home—but she could come up with a list of a half-dozen things that could still go wrong.

“I’ve finished checking the employee log against the National Mutant Registry,” Xin continued. “You’ve lucked out, Zara. Apparently Pioneer Labs isn’t big into hiring mutants. You won’t have to contend with any telepaths or telekinetics tonight.”

Good. That was one thing she could strike off her list.

Another long hallway stretched in front of her, but the glass-enclosed research station on the left drew her attention. Two lab technicians huddled around a network of computers, their attention focused on the output pouring from the whirling terminals. Her gaze drifted over the lab technicians and focused on Roland Rakehell and Michael Cochran, the famous co-creators of “Galahad”, the perfect human. The two scientists stood in contemplative discussion in front of a liquid-filled fiberglass chamber.

The man floating within the sensory deprivation tank, his head encased in a metallic hood and his face covered by breathing apparatus, writhed in agony. Wires monitoring heart rate and brain waves trailed from his naked body. Jagged edges leaped hysterically off the computer readouts as mind and body convulsed, shuddering with madness and pain.

One of the lab technicians spoke up, “Professor, his brain waves indicate that he is waking.”

Roland Rakehell glanced at his watch. “Right on time,” he noted, his voice tinged with disappointment. “I guess the miracles can’t come thick and fast every single day.”

“We made him human, not superhuman,” Michael Cochran said. “Besides, we don’t really have time to record a miracle today.” He glanced at the two technicians. “Roland and I are meeting investors for dinner, and we have to leave now. Take Galahad back to his room. Make sure he gets something to eat.”

Silently she pushed away from the viewing area and continued down the corridor. Her violet eyes betrayed the faintest flicker of confusion and consternation.

Galahad.

She would never have imagined it, but apparently the scientists had no qualms treating their prized creation like a common lab animal.

“Xin?” she murmured quietly.

“Right here,” was the immediate response.

“Approaching the suite.”

“I’m one step ahead of you,” Xin said. “I’ve gotten through the security system and rerouted all the cameras in the suite to a static video feed. You’re clear to enter.”

The second door opened into a large suite pressed up against the western wall of the laboratory complex. No gentle ambient lighting there, just harsh pools of unforgiving white light blazing over the bed and table, leaving the rest of the large suite in muted shadows.

Was it through deliberate design or neglectful oversight that no attempt had been made to humanize Galahad’s living quarters? Empty shelves lined the wall. The small metal table and matching chair were severe, the narrow bed unwelcoming. She had seen third-world hospital wards offer far more comfort to its occupants.

Footsteps echoed, drawing closer, and then paused outside the door. There was no time to waste. She strode across the room, slipping into the shadows that obscured the far side of the suite moments before the door slid open again.

The two technicians she had seen earlier half-dragged, half-carried Galahad into the room. It staggered with exhaustion, trying to stand on its own. The technicians hauled Galahad up and dumped it unceremoniously in a wet, shivering heap on the bed.

One of the technicians cast a backward glance at the unmoving figure on the bed. “Pete, are you sure he’s going to be okay?” he asked the other.

“Eventually. It usually takes him a while to recover,” Pete assured the younger man. He pulled out two sealed nutrient bars from his pocket and tossed them onto the table. “Let’s go.”

“I think we should at least get him a towel or put him under the sheets.”

Pete snapped. “How many times do I have to say it? Let him be, Jack. He doesn’t want to be helped, though God knows I’ve tried often enough. He wants to be able to do things for himself, at least here, in this room. It’s the only dignity he has left; let’s leave that to him.”

“It was bad today.”

The older man inhaled deeply, sparing a quick glance back. Galahad trembled so hard it seemed as if it would shatter. It curled into a fetal ball, perhaps to protect itself from further violation. “I know. And the best thing we can do for him right now is leave him alone,” Pete said as he stepped out of the room and allowed the door to seal shut behind them.

The impact was thunderous—not audibly—but she felt it nonetheless. It was the sealing of a prison cell.

Zara had wondered what kind of luxuries and privileges the incomparable Galahad—the pinnacle of genetic perfection—enjoyed. Now she knew the answer.

She watched in silence as Galahad stirred, slowly standing and leaning on the wall for support as it staggered toward the bathroom. She had yet to get a good look at its face, but the blazing light did not leave much of its body to imagination. It was slender but well muscled, powerful and graceful, in spite of its obvious exhaustion—the promise of perfection come into fruition.

She waited through the sound of running water. Patience had never been easy for her, but she possessed the instincts of a hunter closing in on its quarry. Her patience was rewarded when it finally returned to the room, dressed simply in loose-fitting white cotton drawstring pants and a tunic of the same material. As it stepped into the blazing circle of light, her eyes narrowed briefly, and then a faint smile of easy appreciation curved her lips.

She had studied the surveillance video feed Xin had hacked from the central computers of Pioneer Labs the day before, but the wide-angle lenses had not captured anything approximating the full impact of Galahad’s beauty. Its rare and lovely color—pale blond hair paired with dark eyes—stood out and attracted immediate attention, but the longer she looked, the more beauty she saw in its exquisitely chiseled features, as flawless as a Michelangelo masterpiece. Galahad was stunningly beautiful—would be stunningly beautiful, whatever the color of its hair or eyes. The scientists had certainly done well; more than well.

Galahad made its way over to a rattan chair, moving with greater ease. It was regaining its strength, though she did not think that it was anywhere near optimal form, not when it had almost collapsed with exhaustion on the way to the bathroom ten minutes earlier. It curled up in the chair and closed its eyes, looking oddly content, despite the fact that it did not fit very well into the chair. Within a minute, she realized from the even rise and fall of its chest with every breath, that it had fallen asleep.

It was time to get to work.

Galahad did not stir as she silently crossed the room. A*STAR had demanded fresh DNA samples obtained as directly from the source as possible. Hair or skin samples would be acceptable, and both were typically abundant in a bathroom. She pulled test tube and tweezers from the pocket of her lab coat and knelt to examine the bathroom counter.

Something flickered in the corner of her vision.

Instinct and trained reflexes took over. In a flash, her dagger was in her hand. She spun, the black serrated blade slicing outward.

Galahad reacted with uncanny speed. It dove to the side, dropping into a roll and coming up in a battle crouch. Her dagger slashed through the air where Galahad had been standing a moment before. Galahad’s dark eyes narrowed as it assessed her. Its body shifted into motion, preparing to defend itself.

She too reassessed, readjusted. Her attack should not have missed. Galahad’s battle instincts had been trained and polished to perfection. Apparently it was more than a common lab animal.

Her dagger lashed out once again in a graceful, snake-like motion, and Galahad evaded by dodging to one side. The blade sliced harmlessly through the air so close to Galahad that it must have felt the chill breath of the dagger’s passing against its skin.

Galahad’s silent and sinuously graceful movements were driven by so much speed and agility that strength—although abundant—was superfluous. It matched her, step for step, dodging each attack with a grace that made their deadly waltz seem choreographed. There was no doubt that Galahad was good, far better than anyone she had ever contended with. In spite of its obvious fatigue after a long and difficult day, Galahad possessed flawless timing and impeccable spatial precision, allowing it to escape injury by fractions of a second and a hairsbreadth. It had nerves of steel. It taunted her with its proximity and tempted the kiss of her blade, never straying too far as it sought an opening.

She saw the dark eyes glitter dangerously and knew that something in it had shifted, had changed. She thrust her blade at its face.

In less than a heartbeat, it was over.

With a swiftness that left her stunned, Galahad twisted its hand to catch her wrist in an iron grip. It sidestepped, yanked her forward, and drove its knee into her thigh. Her leg weakened and collapsed. Its superior weight drove her to the ground and kept her there without any visible effort.

A perfectly sequenced attack, executed with flawless precision and stunning speed.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, she recognized the inevitable outcome as it eased the dagger from between her nerveless fingers. She cursed soundlessly. She had underestimated its skill, perhaps to her folly. It suddenly released her, pulled her to her feet, and then stepped away from her. Some emotion she could not decipher rippled over its flawless features, and to her amazement, it flipped the dagger over in its hand and held it out, hilt first, to her. “I don’t know why I’m fighting you. You came to kill me; I should thank you for your kindness.”

She reached out and accepted the dagger from Galahad as her mind raced to understand the incomprehensible. Galahad held her gaze only for a moment before it lowered its eyes and looked away. She saw its throat work as it fought an internal battle to suppress its survival instincts, and then it turned its back on her deliberately and walked out of the bathroom.

She could have struck the fatal blow. Galahad was offering her the chance. She could pull Galahad’s head back and apply the faintest pressure to the dagger’s blade across its jugular. She could extract the tissue sample she had been sent to collect, and then leave, her mission completed.

She could not bring herself to do it. Oddly enough, something in her wanted it—wanted him—to live.

“Zara?” she heard Xin’s voice softly inquiring in her ear, her tone concerned.

“I’m all right,” she murmured. “Give me a minute.” She paused by the bathroom door and watched him make his way toward the wide windows. He kept his back to her as he stared out at the manicured lawns around Pioneer Labs. Was he waiting for her to strike?

Well, she could play the waiting game too. She followed him and then turned, casually leaning against the window as she looked up at him, her gaze coolly challenging.

Several moments passed.

Finally he broke the silence. “Who sent you?” he asked quietly without looking at her.

She had expected the question, but not the calm, neutral tone in which it was asked. No anger. No hatred. No fear. Just a simple question, driven more by politeness than by any real need to know. “Does it matter?”

He inhaled deeply and released his breath in a soft sigh as she neatly evaded his inquiry. He tried another question. “Are you from around here?”

“Washington, D.C.”

“I’ve seen media clips of that city. It’s beautiful.”

She offered a nonchalant shrug as a response to his statement. “It’s pretty enough, I suppose. I take it you’ve never been there.”

“I don’t get out much, and the last time was a good while ago.” He shrugged, a graceful motion that belied the bitterness in his voice. “I’ve seen media clips endorsed by Purest Humanity and other pro-humanist groups. There is no place for me in your world.”

It was pointless to deny the obvious, but before she could open her mouth to toss out the retort on the edge of her tongue, an animal-like cry resonated through the complex. It was a ghastly sound, starting at a low pitch akin to the sound a lost puppy might make and then rising until it was a banshee’s scream. “What was that?”

“It’s an experiment in another part of the building.”

“It doesn’t sound like anything I recognize. What is it?”

He tossed her question back at her: “Does it matter?”

“Not if you don’t care.”

“It’s been going on for as long as I can remember.”

His matter-of-fact statement was like fuel to fire. Her eyes flashed. “And you feel nothing? No anger? No pity? You’re inhuman.”

“I thought you’d already decided that,” was his mild rejoinder. “Isn’t that why the pro-humanist groups want me killed?”

She hesitated. Somewhere along the way—she was not even sure when—she had stopped thinking of Galahad as an “it” and had started relating to it as a “he”. She had attributed to him all the responsibilities of being human, but none of its rights or privileges, in effect placing him in the worst possible no-win situation. She recalled his anguished convulsions in the sensory deprivation chamber. How much pity did she expect him to dredge up for another creature in a position no different from his own? Very little. In fact, none at all.

She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The anger subsided. “Do they conduct experiments on you too?” she asked softly.

He stiffened. Without meeting her gaze, he answered the question, choosing his words with care. “I…yes, they do, sometimes.”

“What did they do to you today?”

He averted his gaze and bit down hard on his lower lip. He shook his head, said nothing.

“You looked like hell when they brought you back. I want to know, please.”

He was silent for so long she thought he was never going to answer the question, but then he spoke in a measured, neutral tone. “They gave me a highly concentrated sleeping pill and then injected a hallucinogen, to induce nightmares. They wanted to see if I could overcome the effects of the sleeping pill to wake up.”

“Did you?’

Another long pause. His reply was a softly anguished whisper. “No.”

“How long did the experiment last?”

“About eight hours, perhaps nine.” He laughed, low and melodic, but it was a humorless sound. “I slept all day, and I’m exhausted.”

“Why do they do that?”

“It’s simple; because they can. Humans and their derivatives, the clones and in vitros, have rights. I’m considered non-human, in large part because of the successful lobbying of pro-humanist groups, and I don’t have rights.” Galahad released his breath in a soft sigh. Long eyelashes closed over dark, pain-filled orbs as he inhaled deeply. He opened his eyes and met her gaze directly, holding it for a long, silent moment. The corner of his lips tugged up again in a bittersweet half smile. “I’m tired. I need to lie down. You can do what you need to do whenever you want.”

“Wait!” She grabbed his arm as he turned away from her. “You want me to kill you?”

“Isn’t that what you came to do?”

“Do you actually want to die?”

He waved his hand to encompass the breadth and width of the impersonal and deliberately dehumanizing room. “I’m not sure this should count as living.”

“But you’re not human.”

“No,” he agreed, his voice even. “No, but I am alive…just like any other human. This isolation drives me crazy. I know this is not the way others live. This isn’t living.”

He looked away. His pain was real, his anger compelling. In spite of it, she had seen him smile a few times and wondered whether his twisted half-smile could ever be coaxed into becoming something more. In silence, she watched as he turned his back on her and walked to his rattan chair. He seemed tired, emotional weariness draining his physical strength. Slowly he settled into the chair, drawing his legs up and curling into a vaguely comfortable position. Apparently he had chosen to deliberately ignore her. He was tuning her out and was once again trying to find solace in the few things he had left, such as a worn chair and his own company, trying to get through each cheerless day and lonely night.

Outside, a rabbit, safe from predators in the falling dusk, emerged from its burrow and hopped across the small patch of grass in front of the large windows of the suite. Zara watched as a faint smile touched his face, briefly transforming it. His personality seemed wrapped around a core that was equal parts weary indifference and tightly controlled bitterness, but there was still enough left in him to savor the small crumbs that life saw fit to throw his way. If his quiet strength had amazed her, his enduring courage humbled her. As she watched him, she knew he had won the battle he had wanted, so badly, to lose. He had proved his right to live, even though there was no purpose in living in a place like this. He knew that fact intimately, and so did she.

Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully.

“Zara, we’ve got trouble.” Carlos’s voice cut through the silence of her thoughts, his habitual calmness edged with tension. “Lots of vehicles incoming. Purest Humanity logos. Could be a protest forming; they look seriously pissed.”

She took a few steps away from Galahad. Annoyance disguised flickers of anxiety in her voice. “They’re about two days too early. They’ve been gathering on Christmas Eve each year.”

“Well, looks like someone had a change of plans. I’m estimating about forty…fifty cars, at least twice as many people.”

“They won’t get through the gate,” Xin said. “It was designed to keep out APCs.”

“Uh…The gate just opened…Por dios…They’re driving in!”

“What?”

“No kidding, I swear to God.” The tension in Carlos’s voice escalated. “Someone must be screwing around with the security system.”

Zara suppressed a hiss of irritation. “Find that person, Xin, and disable his access. I don’t want to have to fight my way out of here.”

“I’m on it, but I can’t guarantee they won’t get to you. If they’re already through the gate, they’ll be pounding on the front door in seconds. You don’t have time; get moving. And Zara, if you don’t take Galahad with you, he’s as good as dead.”

Zara’s mind raced through the options available to her, the possibilities. She shrugged, dismissing the many logical reasons why she should not do what she was about to do, and took her first step down her path with a terse and coolly decisive order. “He’s coming with me. I’ll get us out of the building. Carlos, stand by for an extraction.”

“Copy that.”

She stepped toward Galahad. “You need to change into something else.” The thin cotton tunic and pants he wore would not provide sufficient protection from the chilly night air. Besides, his clothes looked like something issued to long-term residents of mental hospitals. Something with fewer negative institutional implications would work better at keeping him as inconspicuous as possible.

He blinked in surprise, her voice jerking him back to reality, and he looked up at her. “There is nothing else to wear,” he said. He released his breath in a soft sigh, his gaze drifting away from her to the rabbit outside the window.

Nothing else? A quick search of the suite confirmed his words. The only pieces of clothing in the suite’s large and mostly empty walk-in closet were several pieces of identical white cotton tunics and pants, a subtle but highly effective dehumanizing strategy. “We’re leaving anyway,” she told him as she returned into the living area of the suite. “Get up. We’re going.”

He stared at her in bewilderment. “Going?”

Zara exercised exquisite politeness and reminded herself to be patient with him. “I’m getting you out of here.”

A glimmer of understanding tinged with wary hope swirled through the confusion in his sin-black eyes, but he still did not move from the chair. “I thought you came to kill me.”

Not precisely, but perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing if he kept believing it, especially if it would make him more tractable. Things were complicated enough; an uncooperative captive would heighten the stakes and the danger of their situation. “I’ve changed my mind.”

“Changed your mind?”

“It’s a woman’s prerogative,” she told him, a wicked smile curving her lips. Her tone softened slightly. As huge as this step seemed for her, it must seem even larger for him. “I want to help you. Will you come with me?”

He met her gaze, held it for a long moment, and then finally smiled. “Yes.”

The simplicity of his answer staggered her, to say nothing of the heart-stopping power of his smile. It was a smile that could melt iron. “You trust me,” she said, “but you don’t even know my name.”

“It would be ungracious not to trust someone who has already passed up on several opportunities to kill me.” He uncurled from his chair and stood. His manners were at least as exquisite as his looks. He made no mention of the fact that he had beaten her in a fair fight and then refused to follow up on his advantage.

Maybe he considered it irrelevant. The important point was that she did not. The fight she had lost had, after all, been the critical turning point. She smiled up at him, suddenly realizing that his dark, fathomless eyes did not seem nearly as distant and empty as they had several minutes earlier. “I’m Zara Itani.”

He smiled faintly, the warmth from his smile briefly lighting up his eyes. “Zara, I’m Galahad.”

About the Author:

JadeKerrion

Jade Kerrion, author of the award-winning science-fiction/dystopian series, DOUBLE HELIX, first developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too? So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren’t their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they’re not.)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JadeKerrion

Website: http://www.jadekerrion.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JadeKerrion

Google+: gplus.to/JadeKerrion

It’s MY turn – New Release Contest “The WARRIOR”

After months (and I mean MONTHS) of challenging aspects in my life, I’ve finally put them behind me – or at least toughened up enough to trudge through  – and released the long overdue second book in my Clans of Tagus series, “The WARRIOR”.

A short summation of my trials without going into a lot of details: a premature grandson with a rare genetic disorder which has, and will, require constant care. He’s a sweet, sweet baby. An angel, truly. But his life will not be an easy one so my hubby and I have decided to remain in the Carolinas. No more plans to return to Arizona, a long held personal dream.

But with that decision, I started a new course through uncharted territory. A little scary. An emotional tug-o-war. A complete alteration to my carefully planned future.

I’m ready to move forward now after weeks and months of NICU, specialists, worrying and resignation that life has taken on a different form with new priorities. Since I’d put my writing on hold while devoting time and energy to family, and ignored promotion, networking and creative plans for future books, my book sales, of course, took a nose dive. Summer is typically slow for digital sales. Mine was almost non-existent.

No problem. I’ll rebound. Finish edits and rewrites of “The WARRIOR”. A good plan until I hurt my shoulder. Since I was reduced to five and ten minute sessions at the keyboard before my fingers went numb . . . actually only two fingers because I couldn’t use all of them . . . it was a slow, depressing time. I considered walking away from writing altogether.

But some good meds, rehabilitation exercises and a glass of wine or two finally restored my usually optimistic attitude if not my complete mobility.

The beginning of 2012 was fantastic. The middle, devastating. The ending . . . a rebirth. And birth can be painful. Why do you think babies cry when they first come into this world?

“The WARRIOR” is now available on Amazon for only .99 cents and will soon be up at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.  Please pass along the news.  I was moving upward at a rapid rate of speed when I took my tumble. Falling that hard and that fast hurts – but it taught me some valuable lessons.

  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Help those who are just starting out, because starting over is the same thing.
  • It really doesn’t matter if you fall, as long as you get back up.
  • Fear is as big a motivator as success.

There are many more bullets I could add to my list but I think you get the point. The last thing I want to say is “THANK YOU” to all my fans, friends and peers who kept me afloat when I thought I was going down for the count. I’m humbled by your support.

And to show my thanks, I’m giving away  ecopy sets of The GATEKEEPER and The WARRIOR to two lucky participants. Just leave a comment to enter. I’ll choose the winners on Christmas Day!

Deb

warrior3-001

The WARRIOR
by Deb Sanders

Genre: Urban Fantasy

33,000 words


AMAZON

SMASHWORDS

Coming soon to 

Barnes & Noble

 

DESCRIPTION:

Artimon, a Tagusian Warrior first introduced in The Gatekeeper (Book One), is working with the Underground on Earth to stop an impending invasion by the ruthless Warlords. When his investigation into a band of insurgents hits a snag, he reluctantly pairs with Zara, a Dark Fae archer with her own agenda for finding the rebel’s lair. After revealing her sister, Lily, is imprisoned at a secret underground location and has been forced to use her telepathic powers to contact the Warlord leader on Tagus, Artimon agrees to help Zara rescue Lily in exchange for information on the rebel’s bunker.

Artimon and Zara exhibit instant dislike for each other. Having shunned emotions in their quest for combat mental toughness, they attempt to override their hostility for the sake of the mission. But the two warriors become locked in a battle for competitive prowess and leadership. As tempers flare and emotions are unleashed, they soon find themselves fighting a different battle, one of intense attraction and sexual desire.

After Zara locates her comatose sister, she realizes the Warlord leader has imprisoned Lily’s consciousness on Tagus, and if her physical body and psyche are not reunited, she will soon die.

Artimon seeks out Kylie, the Gatekeeper, for assistance. They devise a risky plan to enter Tagus through a secret Fae portal at Ben Bulben, Ireland. Zara assumes they are on a rescue mission to free Lily but Artimon is determined to kill his nemesis from youth, Gunter, now leader of the Warlords.

Events push the two warriors toward a terrifying confrontation where their lives and love hang in the balance, as does the future of two worlds – a confrontation where one warrior will win but only at the expense of the other.

Giveaway: Set of 4 books “DARK SECRETS” series

Leave a comment to enter this fantastic giveaway! An excerpt of Book Four – Mark of Betrayal follows the description.

(Giveaway will be in the form of Smashwords code for all four books)

Mark of Betrayal

Dark Secrets Series, Book Four

A. M. Hudson

Genre: Paranormal romance

ISBN: 978-0-9871925-9-2

Word Count: 170, 000

 

Book Description:

A love so strong fire and torture could not break it. A heart so pure neither death nor hate could taint it. But, left alone in a world of lies and secrets, Ara will find herself down the road of treachery, walking very dangerous ground, while those closest to her fight to keep her safe from dangers unseen.

The boundaries between friends and enemies will blur, and the return of an old friend will see Ara crossing a line she can never return from.

EXCERPT:

Excerpt of Mark of Betrayal

(#4 Dark Secrets series)

By A. M. Hudson

 

He took my hand and drew me closer, sliding his cool touch down my spine and back up again, lifting my dress, taking it over my head. I watched it fall to the floor in the dark, tucking my elbows into my bare chest—not quite ready to let him see.

“You’re so tiny. Such a fragile little thing.” He cupped his hand to the side of my face, gently moving my wrists away from my chest. “Don’t be scared, Amara. I won’t hurt you.”

“I’m not scared,” I whispered in a shaky breath. “It’s just…it just feels so wrong.”

“I know.” He slid his fingers down my face, over my neck and cupped my hips. “Let’s just do this quickly, okay. Lay down.”

My knees trembled until I felt the ground beneath them—felt the aged blood and sweat these floorboards had soaked up since this whole thing began. And Arthur lowered himself, too, kneeling before me, making the hairs along my neck prickle under his smooth touch. He traced every inch of my spine, slowly wrapping me up in his arms; I felt small but safe, cradled into his chest.

“You smell like strawberries,” he said, kissing my neck; his lips were so warm, so wet and so foreign, his breath hot down the curve of my tight shoulder—his teeth grazing the flesh above my artery. And it felt nice, but wrong; this was Arthur—not David, not even Jason; he was my husband’s uncle—a man I looked up to. A man I cared about, but never wanted to be with this way. I closed my eyes, praying for strength.

“It’s time,” he whispered in my ear, and though my stomach was tight and my body so stiff I could hardly swallow, I managed to roll myself back, restraining my tears, focusing on the chill of the cold ground on my tailbone, up each vertebra in my spine and across my shoulders. As I lay flat, the world around me felt wider, larger, like there was suddenly more space, or like the roof I’d seen a thousand times before, laying right here, usually pinned by a knight, seemed to sit miles up in the sky.

My chest lifted, my ribs expanding around the fear and hesitation inside me. “What are you looking at?” I asked Arthur.

He studied my thigh, running his hand along it so slowly I held my breath. “You’re just so young, Amara—too young.”

“I’m nineteen.”

“Precisely.” He dropped his hand, his head following. “I’m afraid what this will do to you.”

“I’ve been through worse.”

He laughed, but I couldn’t really see his smile; his face was shadowed by the darkness. He could see me, though—his perfect vampire vision making him privilege to all the things I would never have showed him. I bit my lip when his cool touch parted my legs at the knees, and he knelt between them, his bare hip brushing the inside of my thigh.

“Oh, God,” I said to myself.

“Just don’t look.” He wiped his thumb over my eyelid. “Just close your eyes.”

“I…I can’t,” I said, looking up at him, and I couldn’t help it, I cried.

He clicked his tongue, sinking back on his heels. “Amara.”

“I’m okay. I’m…I’m okay.” I let my knees fall softly together.

“You’re not okay.”

I nodded. “I am.”

“We can do this another time if you’re not ready.”

I shook my head. “It needs to be now.”

He moistened his lips, breathing out through his nose, his eyes square with hesitation. “Okay. Just…just imagine I’m him.”

I nodded, tangling my fingers in my hair when he reached for the rim of my underwear.

“Lift your hips. We won’t get far with these in the way.”

I shut my eyes again, feeling the lace slip past my thighs, over my knees and away from my ankles. And we were naked. Together. My legs completely open; Arthur between them. He slid his hands under my bottom and pulled me forward so the harder part of him brushed softly against the warmest part of me.

I looked into his eyes, seeing the fear and concern I was feeling, too. One movement, one millimetre and he’d be in me—and with just a few strokes, all this would be over. Providing I actually fell pregnant.

“I’m just going to check you before I put myself in you—make sure you’re wet.”

“Wai—?” My toes curled over and I jumped when he placed a cold finger just inside me, then pulled it away.

“You’re not ready. It’ll hurt if you’re dry.”

All I could feel was a flood of adrenaline in my arms, making them weak, unattached, disturbed by the tension and memory of his finger inside me, and as soon as that feeling reached my heart, I broke apart into a mess of short, hiccupping sobs.

Author Bio:

A. M. Hudson loves her life in Australia and, despite wishing it would snow at Christmas, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

She fell in love with her husband at just sixteen, and since then, has added three boys to the mix.

A. M. prides herself on writing the shocking, the depthy and the highly-emotional subjects other writers steer away from. She addresses the uncomfortable with conviction and enjoys taking stories down dark paths.

Some of her heroes are Stephen King, Walt Disney, Hamish and Andy, Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars, and with influences like these, one can only imagine what stories will unfold.

When she’s not writing, A. M. reads books, watches movies and chats with fans on Facebook.

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dark-Secrets-Series/182780011734465

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/AMHudsonAuthor

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15780423-mark-of-betrayal

WEBSITE: http://www.darksecretsseries.com/

 

 

CONTEST: Win $25 Amazon GC!

ANOTHER great contest! Win one of TWO $25 Amazon Gift Cards. Click on the Rafflecopter link to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mad World: SANCTUARY

Mad World Book 2

Samaire Provost

Genre:YA Paranormal

ISBN: 978-1479220090

ASIN: B0093RSLUW

Number of pages: 212 pages

Word Count: 59,780 words

Book Description:

The year is 2017, and the Black Plague infection has swept across most of the United States, leaving death and chaos in its wake. Martial law is the rule rather than the exception, with outbreaks cropping up when they’re least expected. Alyssa and her friends must not only battle outbreaks of the disease, but also find themselves pursued by government agents – men and women determined to track them down at any cost.

Fleeing north to the fabled Sanctuary, Alyssa, Jacob, DeAndre, Caitlyn, Risa and Luke face disturbing ordeals and terrible tragedy as they encounter unbelievable situations in their struggle to reach safety. Using their skills and wits in their fight to survive against ever worsening odds, they weather hardship, betrayal, and the ever-present specter of death as they flee north, all the while vowing to protect one another – and most of all their precious 5-year-old Luke, from a world gone mad.

Sanctuary, the second installment in the Mad World series, is a heart-rending adventure of astonishing revelations, tragic discoveries, agonizing separations and devastating losses that test these friends to their limits. With heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat suspense at every turn, this is a story you will not be able to put down.

Find out what happens next.

EXCERPT: 

We were about 50 feet from the barn when suddenly the lights inside went out.

“Oh, that is so not good,” I said under my breath.

Risa stopped completely and stared, trying to see any danger before she got to it. I stopped, too, and we just stood there for the space of a few heartbeats. This night was getting creepier by the hour. After a minute, Risa shrugged and said, “Well, whatever. I can’t just sit here waiting. Let’s go see what scary horrors lie in wait for us in there.”

At this I burst out laughing, and hung my arm over her shoulders. She had broken the tension, and I felt immensely better. Laughing together we walked toward the now dark barn.

We got to the barn door and peered in. It was pitch dark, so we switched our flashlights on and tried to illuminate the massive interior.

“Hmmmm,” I said, trying to see in the darkness beyond the twin beams of light. The barn was too big to see; there was nothing for it, we would have to search the dark expanse cubic yard by cubic yard.

We split up and began searching and calling every few minutes. I heard a snuffling in the dark reaches, but it was Risa who said, “Awww, hi there little guy.” And then, “Alyssa, come look at this.”

I trotted over to where Risa was standing at a stall door, shining her flashlight on the interior. Peering over the tall wooden door, I looked inside the stall and saw a mare with what appeared to be her newborn foal. The baby teetered over to its mother on long legs and then ducked its head under and began to nurse.

“Awww,” I said softly, smiling. We watched the two for a while, marveling at the wonderful sight. It was so adorable. A reminded that life goes on, that the plague hadn’t affected this little family one bit.

We didn’t hear what had just entered the barn until it was almost upon us. As we watched the mother and baby, the mare’s head shot up and she snorted nervously. At the same time, we heard the low growls, several of them, coming from the direction of the door we’d just come in not five minutes ago.

“Oh, crud,” Risa said as she turned. The hairs on the back of my neck rose as they did every time I heard those growls when I wasn’t expecting them.

“Quick, switch off your flashlight,” I whispered. “Maybe it’ll help.” I switched mine off as I said it, and then ducked and ran softly on the hay-covered floor to the far end of the huge barn. Risa followed me, making hardly any sound. We tiptoed along the side of the stalls and tried to make ourselves as small as possible. After we got to the last of the doors, we crouched there in the darkness. I was unwilling to go inside a stall to hide; I didn’t want to be caught in one, with no way out.

The growling became intermittent, and I thought I could make out at least three different voices. So, at least three zombies now shared this barn with Risa and me, and the mare and her foal. Somehow, I didn’t think the horses had much to worry about.

In the five-plus years since the epidemic began, scientists had been studying the problem and testing different theories. In the process, they had discovered a few interesting facts about the people infected by the plague. The zombies. First of all, they didn’t seem to be attracted to animals. Lucky for us people, they seemed to only want to taste us. Great, huh?

Second. They seemed to have very poor vision. Guess that might have had something to do with the way their eyes quickly went milky, as if they had cataracts. Gross. Anyway, they seemed to hunt by smell mostly, and also used their sense of hearing to find their prey. Speaking of prey, we were it. That’s right, our own people, who had been ravished and zombie-fied by this terrible plague, turned back on us and hunted the humans who had yet to be infected.

Smell. Sounds. These things were on our minds as we huddled there in the dark in the corner of that strange barn. We knew the zombies acted mostly on instinct; they weren’t too smart. But then again, they weren’t too dumb, either. We’d seem zombies duck shots fired at them, and think things through in their seemingly insatiable quest for human flesh. They would attack strategically, looking for any weakness. If we were barricaded in the van, locking the doors on one side, they’d come around to the other side of a car to try the windows there. Luckily, the barn we were in was full of smells other than ourselves. The big pile of horse manure in the corner, for instance.

We had no choice but to try to find a way out of our predicament, while making as little noise as possible. The three zombies we knew of were growling and shuffling around toward the front of the barn again, while we crouched in the back. I began searching for any back door or window we could use as an escape route, and Risa, seeing what I was doing, began looking with me. We must have been about 8 feet apart, at the back wall of the barn, when the zombie we didn’t know was there jumped down from the loft and onto … me.

“AHHHHH!!!!!!” I yelled, startled, as I tumbled to the ground. Luckily, the zombie had fallen more than ten feet, so when it landed on me, it rolled off to the side and was momentarily stunned. I quickly scrambled to my feet and unholstered my shotgun, bringing it forward and leveling it at the figure on the ground.

Risa reacted quickly as well, bringing her the .33 up and training it on the creature. One thing we had learned fast in the last five years was not to hesitate. So I walked up to the figure that was starting to rise, and I fired at its head, the muzzle of my sawed off not a foot away. It quickly dropped to the ground and was still, but the shot, that had been deafening in the closed area, had alerted the other zombies to our presence.

We both looked up toward the barn door and heard the low growling become even more menacing, if that were at all possible.

“Oh, to heck with this,” I mumbled, and turning behind me, I shot out the nearest wooden board in the wall of the barn. With Risa covering me, I kicked out a hole large enough so we could get through. I scrambled through the 2-by-3-foot hole I’d made, and Risa emerged after me, with a zombie hot on her heels. The thing actually stuck its head through the hole, and stretched an arm out too, reaching. Big mistake. Huge.

Quickly holstering my shotgun, I brought my bowie knife up and then down, slashing the thing trying to eat us. The sharp blade sliced cleanly through its neck, and its head rolled free at Risa’s feet, dripping black blood. Hey, what can I say? I liked to keep my blades razor sharp.

“Oh, gross,” Risa said softly.

Laughing, I quickly switched back to my shotgun, reloading it in less than 30 seconds. “We need the men here,” I said, pointing my shotgun to the sky. I let off three rounds, at five second intervals. POP!! POP!! POP!! The shots echoed across the farmyard. We heard the growls stop on the other side of the barn wall, and then resume, sounding angrier than ever.

Looking around, I saw a small water tower on stilts, about three stories tall. We could climb the ladder and, if the zombies came, we’d be able to pick them off one by one. We’d be safe up there. Indicating it with a tilt of my head, I holstered my shotgun and we both trotted over to the ladder.

“Up you go,” I said, boosting her up. The water tower ladder started about 5 feet off the ground so we had to scramble a bit. The growls had faded away, but I was worried the zombies were going to come around the corner any minute. Boosting the skinny teenager up, I prepared to hoist myself up after her.

Then I heard the zombies growls, much closer than before. Without stopping to look around at the direction they were coming from, I jumped and grabbed the third rung and hoisted myself up, my foot catching the bottom rung on the first try. There was nothing like being hunted by zombies to hasten your climb up a ladder, I tell ya.

Risa and I clambered up to the ledge on the bottom of the large, barreled, wooden structure; it was 10-12 feet up. We stood on it, we didn’t want to sit and then have our legs dangling off the end out into possible grab territory. We waited.

We didn’t have long to wait. It was less than a minute after I started up the ladder that the first zombie shambled into view. It was a female, in an old housecoat that had seen better, non-zombie, days. It walked out into the open, not sure where we were, but definitely smelling us. It was followed by two more zombies, both male, one looked to be an old man and the other a middle aged man. It was almost funny to watch, because the old man zombie appeared to have been a bit crippled by old age before being infected, turned and subsequently infused with zombie strength. So what we were watching was a crooked old zombie that look arthritic, but moving pretty fast and not appearing in pain at all. These three zombies began a zigzag pattern, using their noses to find us.

They were about twenty feet away when things got really nasty. And by really nasty I mean that a dozen or more young zombies, of varying ages, came to join the adult zombies in their hunt for us humans. Apparently, this had been a pretty large family. It looked like a grandfather, a great grandfather, a mother, and at least a dozen youths ranging in age from around ten all the way up to early twenties. I suspected the father might have been one of the two I’d killed by the barn, but I wasn’t sure. Trying to count these things was useless, plus in the end, we couldn’t know how big the family had been, how many members there were. Heck, we could try to mentally calculate the whole family only to miss the Uncle Bob zombie or the Auntie Tweedie zombie or something. In this situation you just had to assess the threat as best you could and meet the danger head on as it came to you. Deal with the zombies you knew about, and never let down your guard.

“Shoot, where’s my extra ammo?” Risa said, fumbling in her side bag.

“I put it in the back pocket, there,” I pointed. I fumbled for my own ammo – we were going to need it. I located the box of cartridges in my side pouch and checked my shotgun. I was ready.

“Okay, hold my belt,” I said, and after Risa hooked her arm around the wooden structure and grabbed hold of the back of my belt, I leaned over and shot out the ladder. Good. Now they had no way of climbing up to us, I hoped.

We watched them come, both of us calm, holding our firearms at the ready. We’d been through over five years of this so we were somewhat used to it. This wasn’t even Risa’s first situation of this type. Three other times, we’d been trapped and either holed up or treed like cats and had to pick off zombies one by one to free ourselves. But this was the first time Risa and I had done it alone. I was really counting on her. Glancing sideways I asked, “You okay?”

Risa looked at me and nodded her head, a look of calm determination on her face. “Absolutely,” she said, then looked down on the advancing horde.

___

We later learned that Jacob had heard my three shots and had begun jogging through the trees toward our location. He was almost a mile and a half away, and there was underbrush to deal with, but he made pretty good time. He had slung his shotgun over his shoulder and was trotting steadily, zigzagging through the trees, following the sound of the shots.

DeAndre had heard the shots, too, but was a bit farther away – over the low hills and south of the water tower. The shots I’d fired sounded faint, but it was closing in on midnight and the night was very quiet and peaceful. The stars were brilliant, and together with the quarter moon, they stood watch as D hiked up through the foothills toward our location.

___

Risa and I stood there, waiting for the zombies to wander closer. My shotgun needed to be fired at close range to knock one out for good. I’d shot from several dozen feet away, and you just got a wide spread. The result was a zombie with a pitted, icky, gross, dripping-with-goo face. No, I would need to wait until they had closed within about 6 feet or less. But that was okay, we were up high. I figured we could pick them off one at a time. Unless by some miracle they decided to work together. I’d heard of this happening sometimes. I hoped it didn’t happen tonight.

“Here comes the first one,” Risa said, taking aim. The zombie shambled up to the water tower and looked up, its eyes all milky and its scalp shredded where it had apparently been bitten when it was a human. It looked like it had once been a teenage girl, maybe 16 or 17. It still wore pedal pushers and a flowery sweater. Growling at us, it stretched its arms upward and jumped, trying to catch the ledge we were on. Risa steadied her .33 and shot off a round: *POP* The bullet caught the zombie right in the temple; it dropped heavily to the ground and was still.

“Good shot!” I said. And then, “uh, oh,” as three more zombies began jumping for the ledge.

POP! I knocked another zombie down. It was taller than the first and had actually been able to slap its fingers to the edge of the wood when it jumped. Now it was slumped against one of the wooden stilts that supported the water tower. It would never jump again.

Risa tried to shoot a third zombie, but it was moving around more erratically and it was harder for her to get a bead on it. It took her four shots, but she finally nailed it in the head, and it fell to the ground.

The third of the closest zombies just growled and moaned as it looked up at us. I had no pity for the thing. If we were within reach it would not hesitate to attack us. And I did not hesitate. Lowering my shotgun muzzle and sighting down at it, I pulled the trigger and blasted the thing’s face off. It fell backward onto the ground and lay still.

I looked up to get an idea of what to expect next, and my eyes found the old man zombie approaching. It moved pretty fast – it probably hadn’t moved that fast when it was alive, for several decades. But now, in its crooked, arthritic, sideways shamble-hop, it was fast. And shrewd as well. Looking up at us and staying back a ways, it seemed to study us. Its eyes had not gone completely milky yet, and apparently it could see us. It was kind of creepy in a way, almost as if it was actually sentient.

“Will you look at that,” I said softly. At the sound of my voice, its gaze focused on me, and it cocked its head.

“Whoa!” I said, nearly losing my footing in surprise. The old man zombie seemed to notice this, and then it dropped its eyes down to study the area under our feet.

“I really don’t like the looks of that one,” Risa said. “It’s giving me the creeps.” I nodded. I didn’t like the looks of it either. But my attention was drawn to another wave of zombies trying to get at us. I blew three of them away in quick succession and then leaned back to reload. Risa was getting better with her .33, which was good. That gun was not terribly accurate at greater distances, so you had to wait until you had a clear shot at a zombie no more than ten feet away to have a really good chance of hitting it in the head and stopping it.

I finished reloading and covered Risa as she also reloaded. Sighting down the muzzle of my shotgun, I picked off two more zombies, then stopped to look up. The grandfather zombie had moved back a bit and was now about a dozen feet away from the base of the water tower. As I watched him, he all of a sudden let out a huge roar that made all the zombies stop all of a sudden. Then it grunted and growled and gestured and OH MY GOD IT WAS COMMUNICATING WITH THE OTHER ZOMBIES.

“Oh, this is not good,” I said.

“Oh my God. Oh my ever-loving God, what is happening?” Risa said.

There were maybe six zombies left, including the old man zombie and, believe it or not, they were in an informal huddle, looking like an amateur football team. Those zombies were concentrating their attention on the old man zombie, and he seemed to somehow be GIVING THEM INSTRUCTIONS.

“I don’t believe this,” I said. Looking around us, I saw that we were trapped like treed cats. “Listen, Risa. If this situation starts to go south, I want you to make a break for it, okay?”

“I won’t leave you, Alyssa,” Risa said.

“I’m not planning on becoming a martyr or anything, but I have a bad feeling about this and I …,” I said.

“Alyssa, don’t even think that way. We will come out of this alive and we will find Luke,” Risa said.

Looking around again, I once again pointed my shotgun at the sky and let off three rounds about five seconds apart. I nodded to Risa and reloaded again. Risa nudged my arm, and when I looked up she gestured to the zombies. They were breaking apart slowly and something was happening.

They seemed to be a bit confused I thought, but then the old man zombie let out another loud roar and then hobble-charged right at us!

The other zombies followed him, and all of a sudden we had a small mob of half a dozen zombies rushing at our water tower. Risa and I could only watch as they came. Our guns pointed down, we wondered what was going on. This was not a good scenario at all. When dealing with zombies, I had always preferred to be on the side making the active decisions and controlling the game. Now they were calling the shots, executing some bizarre strategy from their zombie playbook.

We fired as they ran toward us. POP! POP!! POPPOPPOP!!

Two of the zombies fell to the ground, but four others just kept charging, in fact, they ran right under our ledge.

A split-second later we felt the water tower shudder and lean slightly before righting itself again. The zombies had hit the stilts holding us up. I couldn’t believe it. They had launched a coordinated attack and were trying to knock the water tower over to get at us.

“How on earth…?” I said. I didn’t have time to finish my sentence. They were still directly under us, pushing at the stilts in an effort to finish the job.

We teetered as the zombies below us pushed at the stilts. The water tower swung back and forth several times as we hung on to the wooden planks. Then for a few seconds, it stopped moving to the side and I thought perhaps the zombies had given up. But apparently they had just stepped back to gather their strength for another push, because all of a sudden the movement started again and it was worse than before. We hung on tightly to anything we could grab, but it was no use.

“Oh! OH!!” Risa said, as the water tower leaned alarmingly to the side.

“We’re going to have to jump! Come on!” I said, as the thing began to topple over.

ALSO:

Mad World: EPIDEMIC
By Samaire Provost

Mad World  Book One

Genre: YA Paranormal Dystopian

ISBN:  978-1478317371

ASIN:  B008PO969O

Number of pages:  160

Word Count:   44,700

Book Description:

The Black Plague is ancient history. It killed 100 million people nearly seven centuries ago, halfway around the world from the technologically advanced research center at Stanford University. Scientists there have recently begun examining samples of bone marrow from plague-infected corpses unearthed in Europe. All the necessary safeguards are in place. What could go wrong?

Alyssa and Jake are away with their class on a highly anticipated year-end trip to Broadway with their senior acting class when all hell breaks loose at home. Traveling back, and trying to find their families, they encounter deadly results. Riots are breaking out. People are being evacuated. And they have no idea what’s happening to their families.

Horrific ordeals, heart-pounding tragedy, and chance encounters harden them for what lies ahead. Faced with tormenting decisions, they’re forced to follow their instinct for survival at any cost – even when the cost is a heart-wrenching decision of life or death.

A harrowing adventure of frightening discoveries, horrifying confrontations and narrow escapes in Epidemic, the first installment of the Mad World series.

Find out what’s got everyone so terrified.

Kindle      Paperback

About the Author:

Samaire Provost lives in California with her husband and son. Her love of paranormal stories, odd plots, and unique tales as well as the works of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle and Stephen King has deeply influenced her writing.

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samairep

blog: http://samaireprovost.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/samairep

“Impossible Realities” – A Book for Curious Minds

My mother used to say, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I was a curious child and an even more inquisitive adult – so reading “Impossible Realities” was like the best sugar high I’ve ever experienced because there was no crash. Only the anticipation one feels prior to embarking on a journey filled with possibility.

“Impossible Realities” is a compilation of scientific data, anecdotes and the personal experiences of Maureen Caudill, who spent fifteen years researching artificial intelligence and neural networks. If that sounds very “techie”, let me assure you, this book is written in a style everyone can understand. It’s a fascinating and eye-opening study of the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. If you are a skeptic, you’ll find the research substantial enough to reconsider your views. If you are a believer, you’ll rejoice in the validation. And if you’re a student, you’ll find a wealth of information from which to learn and study.

Maureen has compiled a thought provoking blend of information to support the existence of eight areas of psychic/paranormal activity: psychokinesis, remote viewing, energy healing, telepathy, animal telepathy, precognition, afterlife and reincarnation. I’m sure some of you are saying, “Hogwash!” And that’s fine. Diversity of thought and action is what makes our world more interesting. However, I challenge you to read this book with an open mind and consider the possibility that these powers might exist.

The introduction tells a simple story about a village who believes swans are always white. And because no one had ever seen a swan of another color, a theory was born that all swans are white. The villagers accepted this as law. It was taught in their schools and never questioned until one day a little girl asked her teacher. “What if they’re NOT all white?” The teacher was shocked. How could this little girl be so impudent as to challenge what everyone knew to be the truth? She was duly punished. But years later, long after the little girl had reached adulthood, she was near a pond and heard a loud honking. Parting the reeds, she peered across the water and saw a black swan. The villagers would not believe her  but it didn’t matter. She knew in her heart the theory that all swans were white was wrong. She’d seen it with her own eyes.

The moral of the fable is this:  it only takes one person’s confirmation to prove the theory incorrect.

There are a lot of people who choose to believe psychic phenomena is a hoax, fake, an impossibility. Maureen admits to being one of those doubters at one point. But when scientific research, as well as her own experiences, proved certain theories wrong, like psychokinesis, she began to look at psychic and paranormal activity differently. “Impossible Realities” takes the reader on a journey into another realm where the impossible is possible…and then offers the proof.

I’ll be honest, I am so fascinated by this book I’m now on my second reading. I think you’ll feel the same. And to “prove” it, I’ve included an excerpt after my interview with the talented and mesmerizing, Maureen Caudill.

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Maureen Caudill

I can’t begin to express my enthusiasm for today’s featured author and her recently published non-fiction work, “Impossible Realities”. It’s a subject I find fascinating . . . the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. A former Defense Department contractor on artificial intelligence, Maureen Caudill offers evidence to support a wide range of paranormal phenomena.

Maureen, you’ve spent over 15 years as a researcher in artificial intelligence and neural networks. Just citing your experience might intimidate many readers yet you’ve written a book that’s easy for a lay person to understand. Have you always been interested in psychic and paranormal activity or did it evolve through your research?

I’ve always tried to have an open mind about everything, and let the data determine what “truth” was—something that’s not particularly common in certain types of questions. However, what really sparked me was something that happened to me 10 or so years ago. After a lifetime of having absolutely nothing psychic in the way of personal experiences, I took a week-long retreat and found myself doing things that I would have labeled as absolutely impossible.  The problem is, if you explain those events to someone else, there is always skepticism—it could have been faked or hoaxed, etc. etc. But when it happens to you and you know there was no hoaxing involved…well, it’s really difficult to discount these events as being fakes.

Because of those experiences, described in my previous book SUDDENLY PSYCHIC:A Skeptic’s Journey, and the ones I’ve had over the years since then, I now believe strongly that psychic skills are natural human skills that everyone has to one degree or another, just as everyone has some degree of musical talent.  We’re not all concert pianists, but pretty much everyone can hum a tune or pick out “Chopsticks” on a piano. And with practice and training, we can all become reasonably good at whatever psychic skills we have the most natural talent for.

We don’t yet have a solid theory for how these skills work, but to throw out the evidence for lack of a theory is the very opposite of “scientific.”

I especially like the fact you side step sensationalism in favor of a logical, “normal” approach to a series of topics many view with a skeptic’s mind, such as psychokinesis, remote viewing, energy healing, precognition, telepathy, reincarnation and NDE / afterlife. Which of these do you find the most interesting, and why?

The ones I find most intriguing—and puzzling—are generally the ones involving time.  There is no question that psychic skills somehow operate outside time. For example, a remote viewer can as easily view the past or the future as the present. (Though getting numbers is really hard for some reason, so remote viewing winning lottery tickets is very challenging!) We don’t understand that. But I think the one thing that’s very clear is that we don’t really understand what time is. It’s also possible that time really is what the old joke said: It’s something we all made up and pretend to believe in so everything doesn’t happen at once. The more I explore these realms, the more I begin to believe that everything really does happen at once.

In your opinion, why do some people experience “gifts and abilities” that others do not?

Mostly, I believe, it’s because people are culturally trained to suppress our psychic skills. There’s a reason reincarnation is mostly reported in Eastern cultures—it’s a perfectly accepted part of their culture and religion. When I was writing the reincarnation chapter, however, I looked for stories that were not from that part of the world—and I found them. There’s a great story of a NY cop—a Catholic (and Catholics are not known for their belief in reincarnation as far as I’m aware)—who not only reincarnated in his own grandson, he predicted before his death that he would do so.

As I mentioned, I believe anyone can be psychic if they are willing to open their minds and try. I occasionally do workshops where one of the most popular things is a segment teaching people about spoon-bending. I don’t stand up there and bend a bunch of spoons (or forks; I like forks better for reasons I explain in the book). Instead I pass out good quality cutlery and talk the group through the process and have everyone bend their own darned forks!  Watching me do it would leave lots of questions about how I faked it. When you do it yourself, you know it wasn’t a fake.

And you know what? In my experience, in a big group (several hundred people) I get about 85-90% success rate when I ask folks to hold up their twisted forks. In a small group, where I can give a little extra guidance to anyone who needs a little boost, I get virtually 100% success. It’s very rare in that case for someone to fail.

Everyone can change the crystalline structure of stainless steel just by working with their minds. Everyone.  Isn’t that amazing?

What are your views on multiple levels of reality?

Good question. Short answer: they’re very real. Heck, I’m on alternate realities a lot of the time. I’ve gone to find those who are dead and don’t know it to help them move on to a higher place. I’ve communicated with the dead and with spirit beings who were never physically incarnated. I’ve visited realms that are so amazing there are no words to describe them.

And if I can do all this, you can too. If there’s one message I want people to take away from this, it’s that these abilities are available to everyone. You don’t have to be born “special” or suffer a near death experience, or spend time in a coma. You can learn to do these things. Heck, if my left-brained, highly logical, scientific self can learn to do this stuff, anyone can.  I’m really serious about that. All it takes is a mind open enough to let yourself try.

None of my personal experiences can (or should) convince anyone of anything. That’s why I went looking for more scientific proof. But again…if you’ve done it yourself, you know whether you faked it.  You know it’s true, whatever anyone else says. So I’d like people to go out and have their own experiences. Don’t rely on other people’s—go have your own.

You’ve taught over a thousand people to spoon-bend in workshops, including an on-air episode with George Noory, host of Coast to Coast AM. What is a basic exercise someone can do to harness their Chi energy?

With a nod to my good friend Robert Bruce (an Australian mystic), here’s a simple way to feel yourself raising your chi energy:

  • Start when you’re relaxed and there are no distractions (cell phone off, TV off, no radio, no one else around talking to you—though if several friends want to do this together that’s good). If you have pets, let them into the room as long as they’re reasonably well behaved. If you have young kids, either lock them out of the room, or do this when they’re asleep. (Pets enjoy the energy and will participate with you—probably ending up on your lap; young children often don’t have the attention span yet to keep quiet and calm, so it’s pets in/kids out.)
  • Sit in a comfortable chair, preferably with your feet propped up. Do not lie down. Ideally have arms on your chair that you can prop your elbow on. Or rest your arm on a pillow.
  • Make sure you’re wearing something comfortable—nothing tight or constricting. Frankly, a comfy pair of jammies is perfect, but at least loosen belts, take off shoes, etc.
  • Pick one hand and prop it comfortably with your palm up. (I’m going to say right hand, but it doesn’t matter which you use.) Your fingers should be relaxed and slightly curled. Don’t tense up. Just relax and focus on your hand.
  • With the fingertips of your other (left in this example) hand, lightly brush your right hand from base of palm to fingertip. Brush back and forth, forth and back. Focus on what that sensation feels like. Concentrate on remembering that sensation.
  • When you’ve done that for a few moments, take away your left hand and see if you can recreate in your mind the sensations of that brushing movement in your right hand.  Can you?  If not, brush again for a few moments.
  • Keep doing that until you can recreate the sensation just with your mind. What does it feel like? You should experience anything from itching, slight tingling, prickly sensation, even a slight burning sense.  People experience it differently so your sensations may vary a little. But your hand should feel energized in some way. It may not be 100% comfortable, but it shouldn’t actually hurt.
  • Once you can do this with one hand, switch sides and do the same with the other hand.
  • When you can do it with each hand, see if you can recreate it in both hands at the same time.

With a little practice (very little actually) you’ll find you don’t have to do the brushing at all. You can remember exactly what that sensation is, and you can recreate it at will just by thinking about it.

What this does is activate all the minor chakras in your hands and fingers, which is one part of your body that has an enormous number of these minor energy centers. Activating your chakras is the first step in learning to really manipulate chi and use it to do stuff like, well, spoon-bending!

Want more?  Do the equivalent of the same thing with your feet. Since it’s awkward to do the brushing thing half-bent over, get one of those cat toys with a feather on a stick and use that to brush the bottom of your feet (barefoot!) from toes to heels. If your feet are heavily callused, do the top of your foot instead. Again, focus on the sensation of what it feels like and recreate that sensation in your mind.  Your feet actually have even more minor chakras than your hands.

There are many references to the power of thought manifestation by great philosophers throughout history. In more recent years, it’s been called the power of positive thinking and law of attraction, popularized by the cult movie, The Secret. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Manifestation is an interesting subject. It’s certainly true that we do control our own reality to a certain degree, but the thing is, most of us try to manifest something like money. I believe that’s not necessarily going to happen. First, we have a life goal or a life experience that we’ve planned to go through in this lifetime. (Remember that there is good evidence that everyone has literally tens of thousands of lifetimes—this is not a one-shot experience—and that being in “Earth school” means embracing all aspects of Earth experience, good and bad, rich and poor, healthy and sick over those many lifetimes.)

If you try to manifest something that is contradictory to that life experience, your own higher self will stop it. For example, if you chose to have a life experience in this lifetime where you have a debilitating disease, it might not be possible to manifest a cure unless you’ve already learned the lesson intended from that disease.

It’s not that you’re not able to manifest something, so much as it is that you’re trying to manifest something that is not for your own higher good. That will generally fail.

On the other hand, I’ve seen some truly miraculous things happen that are not necessarily explicable by anything except manifestation. One of the tricks is not to focus on a specific “how”—that is, don’t say you want something to happen only one way. You don’t have enough perspective to necessarily know what is really best for you spiritually—and remember, at the spiritual level where manifestation happens, it’s not about “stuff” like money or a new car. It’s about making yourself a better spiritual being.

So if you want a job where you don’t hate your boss and earn more money, it’s important not to ask for a specific new job. Instead focus on making your work experience pleasant, productive, and sufficiently rewarding to give you an ample living.  That could happen a lot of ways, and the one that manifests is likely to be completely unexpected.

When I need mental stimulation or look for a way to relax, I pick up a good book like “Impossible Realities”. What do you do to de-stress and find your Zen moment? Or is your mind always “on”?

I love to read too; I always have. But really, meditation is my go-to device. I find it’s the best way to de-stress. It’s way better in altered states. Sometimes it’s deeply profound and moving. Sometimes it’s just plain funny.

Did I mention I have this spiritual guide who, for reasons best known to himself (itself?), occasionally pops into my meditations in costume? Such as the time I was in this deep, peaceful wonderful meditation and he suddenly appeared dressed as a giant chicken—think Big Bird as a chicken but with sort of glowing blobby feet because his spirit form has no legs!  Why a chicken, you ask?  I have no clue. But it killed that deep, wonderful meditation because I broke out laughing.

A friend of mine once asked me if I was bothered by the fact that my spiritual guides all seem to come from the Stand-Up-Comics-R-Us store.  Huh.

And now, just for fun . . . if you found a magic stone that could transport you to any time and place in history, where would you go and why?

I can only go into the past??  I’d want to go into the future, maybe by 1000 years. I’d like to see if humanity can dig ourselves out of the mess we’ve made of the planet, or if we’ve drowned in our own mistakes. That would be fascinating to know, don’t you think?

I think this century is a tipping point for our species. We’re either going to fail big time and disappear as a dominant species, or we’re going to overcome all our problems and surge forward in a big way. I wonder which way we’ll go?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maureen Caudill spent more than twenty years as a computer scientist, fifteen of those as a researcher in artificial intelligence and neural networks. She was a program manager and Artificial Intelligence researcher working on such advanced projects as DARPA (“High Performance Knowledge Base” program) and ARDA (“Advanced Question Answering for Intelligence” program).

Website: http://www.maureencaudill.com/index.htm

Blog: http://scienceofpsychicphenomena.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MaureenCaudillAuthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/63686.Maureen_Caudill

Impossible Realities: The Science Behind Energy Healing, Telepathy, Reincarnation, Precognition, and Other Black Swan Phenomena

By Maureen Caudill
Genre: Non-Fiction/New Age/Paranormal

Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-57174-663-4

Number of pages: 256
Word Count: 66,377

Cover Artist: Jim Warner

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Book Description:

Impossible Realities is the first book to examine the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. A former Defense Department expert on artificial intelligence, Maureen Caudhill provides evidence for a wide range of paranormal phenomena.

Impossible Realities presents a wealth of anecdotal and empirical evidence to prove the existence (and power) of:

  • psychokinesis (most famously spoon bending
  • remote viewing
  • energy healing
  • telepathy, animal telepathy
  • precognition
  • survival after death
  • reincarnation

Caudill presents the strongest case yet for bringing paranormal phenomena from the margins into the realm of the normal and credible. This is a book both for true believers and skeptics alike.

EXCERPT

The First Black Swan: Psychokinesis

I have a bowl in my house that is filled with the remains of various pieces of cutlery that are not exactly usable. These are forks and spoons and an occasional knife that used to be good-quality stainless steel cutlery, but which now are just . . . strange. Every so often I give a workshop for people who want to learn how to access their psychic selves. The format varies some, depending on the time available. Yet, no matter how long the workshop—a day, a weekend, or a week—the one skill people always want me to teach them is spoon-bending.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure why spoon-bending is so popular. It’s really a bit of a party trick rather than anything profound. But maybe it’s just that a warped fork is tangible evidence that they have done something unusual. When you go home with a fork that is bent and twisted into strange shapes, you have absolute proof that you did something extraordinary.

Spoon-bending is definitely a skill that has fallen on hard times. It had been extremely popular in the 1970s as celebrated psychic Uri Geller rose to fame as a spoon-bender extraordinaire, until in 1973, he was caught cheating on national television, on the Tonight Show. He was declared a fraud. He was pilloried by all and virtually drummed out of the United States.

Now to be fair, Geller did cheat. Everyone agrees on that, even him. What is often not heard is why he cheated. According to his side of the story, he was blindsided by that request, not expecting to be forced into demonstrating his skills in that particular venue. Furthermore (again from his perspective) he was exhausted, stressed, and simply not in the right frame of mind to be doing anything psychic, yet he felt hounded to perform on television. Still young and desperate not to look bad by refusing, he resorted to cheating.

Do I believe this story? Well . . . perhaps. Knowing what I know about doing any psychic function, Geller’s story is credible, at least in the basics. Psychic functions, like all other human talents, are not perfect all the time. No one—no one—can perform at their peak at any hour, day or night, or continuously, or on demand under stressful circumstances. That applies just as much to a top athlete, an exceptional musician, or a terrific student. Human beings simply aren’t perfect. And the public pressure to be perfect—particularly in any psychic field where people are simply waiting for you to fail—is overwhelming. A young man (he was only twenty-seven at the time of that infamous Tonight Show debacle) who had grown accustomed to acclaim might easily be tempted to mix stage magic with psychic skills. So . . . I think the verdict is “unproven” in this case, no matter whether you’re trying to prove Geller’s abilities or his lack of them.

It is also true that after that episode, a number of scientific studies conducted in Europe under extremely rigorous conditions validated his innate ability to manipulate matter with his mind. Here in the United States, however, his reputation seems forever tainted by that Unfortunate Incident.

A decade ago, however, I would have laughed to scorn anyone who defended the “fraud” Geller. Why my change of heart? Because I can spoon-bend. And I’ve taught close to a thousand other people to do it, too. I now understand that not only is spoon-bending possible, but also most anyone can learn to do it—and pretty easily, too. I’ve taught people to do it in small workshops, and in huge ones with hundreds of people. And in one memorable interview on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, he asked if I was willing to try to teach people to spoonbend over the radio. I said I’d never tried that before, but I’d give it a shot. As it turned out, it was hugely successful, with one listener even calling in to say he had no cutlery handy, so he’d bent a large screwdriver instead!

A few years ago I was attending a workshop given by my good friend Robert Bruce. He is a renowned Australian mystic, whose work in energy and out-of-body experiences is some of the most effective in the world—and he’s an incredibly charming and funny man in person. At any event, on the second or third day of this five-day program, I asked him if he ever used his energy exercises to teach people to spoon-bend. He told me he’d never done it himself, so he didn’t teach it. Was I willing to show the group how to do that?

That night I went to the local KMart and bought enough good-quality cutlery for the smallish group to learn spoonbending. When the time came the next day, I handed out forks (I strongly prefer to teach people using forks rather than spoons for reasons I’ll explain later), and proceeded to use Robert’s energy exercises to get people to bend their forks. As I have come to expect, everyone in the class succeeded brilliantly, and within fifteen or twenty minutes, we had a whole menagerie of twisted cutlery sculptures.

The next morning, one of the women in the workshop came in and said she had to tell us what happened the night before. It turns out that this lady was dining with friends at quite a nice local restaurant. During the dinner, the talk turned to politics, a subject she was passionate about. She got a little, um, enthusiastic while talking with one of her friends. She was making her point rather forcefully and wagging her fork at the person she was speaking to, as you might wag your finger at someone. And

. . . the fork drooped and melted in her hands.

She was so embarrassed!

She hurriedly pulled the fork out of sight onto her lap and, hiding her actions with the tablecloth, tried to put it back into its original form. She never did get it quite right, of course . . . the specific curves and angles of cutlery are difficult to replicate by hand, particularly under cover of a tablecloth when you’re upset!

So the lesson from this is: If you must spoon-bend when you’re dining out, spoon-bend responsibly.5

The bottom-line conclusion I have drawn about spoon-bending is that it is one of the absolute easiest psychic skills to learn, at least at the elementary level I teach it. (Far from television worthy,

I might add!) And why do I prefer to teach people to bend forks rather than spoons? Because forks are a little bit harder. With a spoon, about the only thing a beginner can do is to twist the spoon at the neck, where the bowl meets the handle.6 That’s far too easy to do, even in fairly sturdy cutlery. But if you’ve ever taken a good-quality stainless steel fork and tried to bend just one tine with your fingertips, you know that it’s all but impossible to do. I ask people to try to bend their forks with their fingers before we start the spoon-bending process, just to make sure they’re convinced they can’t do it. Only then do I start guiding them in how to spoon-bend.

The basic process is one of running energy through the fork to soften it. I teach people some simple exercises on manipulating chi energy; then I get them to run that energy through the fork for a few minutes, concentrating on setting their intentions that the fork soften and bend.7 As they do that for a while—as little as a minute or two, or as much as five or six minutes, depending on how good they are at running energy and holding their concentration on what they’re doing—the fork really does soften. At that point, they can bend, twist, warp, and distort it however they like—including twisting individual tines. When they have it twisted it into the configuration they like, they put the fork down and don’t touch it for three or four minutes. When they pick it up after that break, the fork has “set” in that new shape and is as hard and stiff as it was before. If they want to change the shape again, they have to start the process from scratch.

It’s true that my success rate is not quite 100 percent. I find  that two kinds of people have trouble learning to spoon-bend. One set is people who are themselves quite low in chi, or life energy. This is usually people who are elderly or who have a serious illness. They barely have enough chi to keep themselves going, let alone some left over for softening stainless steel.

The other type is someone who is convinced that it cannot work. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve taught a lot of skeptics to spoon-bend, to their astonishment. The very first time I tried to teach spoon-bending, the group included a PhD physicist and a PhD anthropologist, each of whom individually assured me that spoon-bending was a total fake, all because of the flap over Uri Geller’s Tonight Show debacle. Yet, they were willing to humor me and give it a try. They took less than five minutes to become amazing successes. The physicist in particular had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), so he had very poor strength in his hands, yet he succeeded at bending his fork.

I also remember one workshop in which there was a participant who was a professional magician. At the break before we started the spoon-bending exercise, he came up to me and assured me that it was all a fake8 and that he knew at least a dozen different ways to fake spoon-bending. I listened to him as he listed them all; then I assured him he wouldn’t have to use any of those fakes in the workshop—he could do it for real. He was skeptical but had an open mind and was willing to give it a try. Twenty minutes later, he came up to me, showing a wildly twisted fork and jubilantly said, “I did it! I don’t have to fake it anymore! I can really do it!”

The type of skeptical person who fails is the one who is so convinced that it can’t be done that she refuses to actually try— or subconsciously refuses to allow herself to try. I ran into one of those in a workshop with a number of scientists. While claiming to have an open mind, when it came to the spoon-bending part, one in particular simply could not get her fork to bend. I tried everything I could think of to help her, short of bending it myself: running extra energy through it with her, helping her focus and concentrate, and so on. Nothing worked. I could see she appeared to be trying to bend it but . . . nothing. Finally, I actually touched her fork . . . and it was so soft it was practically like squishy butter! Clearly, she’d made it so soft and malleable that a small child should have been able to bend it—yet when I again encouraged her to try to bend it, she still claimed she couldn’t, that it was too stiff. It seemed to me that her fingers were working against each other, something like doing an isometric exercise, where a lot of effort is expended yet nothing actually moves. My guess is that she has never been able to bend a spoon and likely never will.

As with any psychic (or physical) skill, you can convince yourself you are incapable of doing it. Yet, the truth is, as best I can tell from my totally unscientific observations of hundreds and hundreds of people, most people, possibly almost all people, can do spoon-bending. It’s easy to learn, easy to do, and when you do it yourself—as opposed to watching someone do it on the stage— you know for a fact that it’s not a fake.

And that’s exactly why I teach this particular little party trick so often in workshops. When I teach people about chi energy, it all sounds airy-fairy and nonsensical to anyone with a scientific mindset—it certainly did to me when I first heard about it. Even when I show people that they can literally feel the energy moving around their bodies, they often have the same reaction I initially had, that it’s all imagination and none of it is anything more than self-delusion. Yet, when I teach people to take that same “imaginary” energy, run it through a fork for a few minutes, and then feel solid stainless steel soften enough to become soft and malleable in their hands, suddenly what was nonsensical and imaginary becomes very, very real.

So perhaps that’s the real reason for the popularity of spoonbending. If you learn to do even one thing that conventional science deems wildly impossible, you begin to believe that other things are possible, too.

Spoon-bending is of course only one of many manifestations of psychokinesis. People have been known to have a wide variety of psychokinetic skills, including

• lighting light bulbs in their hands,

• sprouting seeds by holding them in the palm of the hand,

• moving objects without touching them,

• changing how dice roll or roulette wheels spin to force a specific result,9 and

• influencing random events (such as with a random number generator) to force a specific trend in results over many, many trials.

Again, these are only examples of skills that have been studied. While my experience has been primarily spoon-bending, I did once try sprouting seeds in the palm of my hand. It was, well, not exactly either a success or a failure. Here’s what happened.

I was preparing for a new workshop I planned, and I wondered if I could manage to teach people how to sprout seeds in their palms—in spite of the fact I’d never done it myself, nor even seen anyone else attempt to do it. Someone had mentioned to me that it was possible to do it, so I figured I’d give it a try. If I could manage the trick, I’d think about adding it to the workshop.

I got some vegetable seeds from my local nursery and gave them a little soak in water for about an hour. This particular type of seed was supposed to have a seven- to ten-day sprouting time once planted. After that brief soak, I sat down in my favorite meditation chair, put about three seeds in the palm of my hand, and started doing the same energy process that I use for spoonbending. (I have no idea if this is how people who know how to sprout seeds do this—it’s simply the process that I tried.) I was very careful to hold my hand steady by propping it on a pillow so I wouldn’t accidentally tip it. I cupped my other hand over the one holding the seeds and started running energy between my palms. After a few moments, I felt something very odd—a flash of heat and light combined with a shock, a bit like an electric shock. Startled, I uncovered my palm holding the seeds to see if they had sprouted. They hadn’t.

Instead, they’d disappeared.

So much for my seed-sprouting abilities. I never did add seedsprouting to my workshops. Probably that’s just as well, don’t you think?

A couple of points about this aborted seed-sprouting effort are important. One thing is that when you’re working with these energies, you sometimes get results that are not what you intend. Was I trying to make the seeds disappear? Not at all. It never occurred to me to even try to do that. Nonetheless, that’s what I accomplished. Particularly in a case like this where I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, never even having seen someone else do it, it was likely a little foolhardy on my part to attempt seedsprouting. Maybe someday I’ll get someone to show me how to do it correctly.

Another key point to remember is that the energies you work with when doing psychic work are significant. These are not toys or games. I cannot emphasize that enough. Working with life energy and altered states of consciousness is serious business. These energies are powerful and they can do things to you and to other people that are not so pleasant. Fooling around with psychic skills is highly risky unless you learn how to do it under the guidance of a competent, caring, and highly ethical instructor. It is especially risky when you lack the discipline and maturity to use these skills wisely instead of arrogantly. While not quite as dangerous as handing a four-year-old a loaded pistol to play with, the impact of careless, irresponsible “play” in these arenas can have serious consequences.

On second thought, maybe playing around irresponsibly with psychic skills is more dangerous than handing a four-year old a loaded pistol.10

If psychokinesis is impossible, what are we to make of other reports by researchers in which some amazing effects are noted? For example, Dong Shen reports on a Chinese experiment in which solid matter (a piece of paper) apparently passed through other solid matter (a capped plastic canister)—and did so instantaneously— or at least so quickly that no one observing the scene saw it happen.

Shen described a program in which Chinese volunteers are trained to see a “third eye” screen behind their foreheads by entering a trained state of “second consciousness.” When in this state, they can visualize an object being other than where it is— and the object relocates to a new location. Here’s how it works.

A capped black plastic canister, such as that holding 35mm film, is used to hold a piece of paper. The paper, prepared in secret, has something written on it, unknown to everyone except the preparer. The preparer also folds it in a personally unique way and places it in the plastic canister where the cap seals the paper inside. An independent observer monitors the preparation of the paper and the canister but cannot see what is written on the paper.

In the experiment Shen witnessed, the main participant was a seventeen-year-old with only a middle-school education but who had received approximately six months of training in accessing this second consciousness state. Once the canister was ready, the participant sat in a chair one meter (a little over three feet) away from a table. The canister was placed on the table. The two researchers plus five observing guests sat also between one and three meters (between three and ten feet) away from the table. No words were spoken during the experiment.

For about forty minutes, the participant focused his attention on the plastic canister. Neither he nor anyone else moved from their chairs. No one was close enough to the container to reach it. Other than staring at the container and occasionally looking up at the ceiling, the participant did not move.

After forty minutes, the participant announced that the paper was no longer in the container. It instead had moved about six meters away (nearly twenty feet) to the far wall of the room. The participant also announced that what was written on it was “830,” in blue ink.

An observer checked that location and retrieved the paper. The person who prepared the paper verified his own handwriting, the content of the message, and that the paper was still folded in the idiosyncratic way he had folded it at the beginning of the experiment.

There it was, just as the participant had announced: 8-3-0, in blue ink.

There are many curious features about this experiment. First, the participant had no demonstrable psychic skills until undergoing the Chinese training program. Thus, whatever skills he possessed at the time of the experiment were learned skills. Second, although there were at least seven witnesses, all watching attentively, no one saw the paper move out of the cylinder and across the room. Furthermore, the paper, even folded as it was, was far too small and light to be able to be thrown for that distance (nearly twenty feet).

Shen describes the subject’s efforts:

During the experiment he concentrated on the black cartridge container and got it deep in his consciousness while entering into the SCS [second consciousness state]. Then an image of the container appeared on the third-eye screen located in front of his forehead. He saw the image of the paper in the same way. At the very beginning, the paper image was not stable and not clear. After he focused on the image for a while, it became stable and clear on the screen. The number on the paper could then be easily read, that is 830 written in blue, even though the paper was folded inside the capped container. When the image of the paper was clear on the screen, he started to use his mind to move the paper out of the container. At a certain point he “saw” in his mind that the container was empty and saw in the room that the paper was on the floor near the wall.12

It’s easy to dismiss reports like this. They’re clearly idiosyncratic to this subject. The researchers make no claims that everyone can achieve effects like this. And yet, cultural biases should not lead us to ignore reputable reports, even if they’re not conducted in western European or American institutions. The Shen report discusses the prime candidates for training in psychic skills as being children between the ages of eight and twelve (prepubescent) or young adults between fifteen and twenty-two years who have limited education—in other words, people who don’t know that they’re doing something that isn’t supposed to be possible.

Is it the case that we educate our children out of a whole range of abilities by informing them that they can’t do them? Does the Western mindset force psychic phenomena underground?

What Is a Meta-Analysis?

Often, a single study doesn’t generate convincing results, particularly

when the size of the study is small. Generally, the most trusted form of

evidence for or against an effect is not a single study but an analysis of

all studies that have been done on that effect. Doing a meta-analysis

is tricky, however, because studies are typically done by different

researchers, using different protocols, with different degrees of care

in study design.

The primary reasons researchers do meta-analyses are because

they are more general than any one specific study. In addition, metastudies

can determine if any type of publication bias is occurring.

They also tend to demonstrate if an effect is specific to one particular

researcher or one specific study protocol or if it extends to

multiple researchers and protocols. This process also increases the

total number of participants or trials—and in statistics, more data

means more significant data. If you flip a coin five times, it’s not all

that unusual to get five heads in a row—it happens about 3 percent

of the time. But if you flip a coin fifty times, the odds of getting

fifty consecutive heads (or fifty consecutive tails) are about 1 in 1

quadrillion (specifically, 1 chance out of 1,125,899,906,842,620). In

other words, if you flipped fifty coins every second, it would take you

well over thirty-five million years before you flipped fifty consecutive

heads or fifty consecutive tails.

There are many ways that meta-analyses can go wrong. First, the

analysis is only valid if it includes all studies published on a particular

subject (or at least all studies in which necessary analysis information

is included in the study report). How individual studies are encoded

and selected for inclusion in a meta-analysis is a subjective process. A

meta-analysis can be considered trustworthy only if it explicitly defines

the criteria for selection and the methodology of encoding the studies in

advance and explicates those criteria and methodologies in its report.

All this is well and good, but what is the scientific evidence that these are not just amusing and interesting anecdotes? Does science in any way support the reality of these experiences?

As it happens, it does.