Monthly Archives: December 2010

Book Spotlight: Saying Goodbye

Title: Saying Goodbye
Author: Mike O’Mary
Publisher: Dream of Things
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Paperback: 230 pages
ISBN: 0982579446
Genre: Nonfiction, Anthology

Saying Goodbye is a collection of true stories about saying goodbye to the people, places and things in our lives. This is a powerful book that includes a number of sad stories, as well as some very funny ones. Taken together, the stories serve as amazing examples of people saying heartfelt goodbyes with grace, dignity, and good humor.

Saying Goodbye includes stories contributed by thirty-one authors from the United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. These stories show that there is sadness in goodbyes, but there is also irony and humor. It s perfect for book groups that want stimulating conversations about saying goodbye a topic that touches us all in one way or another.

Saying Goodbye is the first anthology from book publisher Dream of Things in a new series intended to fill the gap between popular anthologies of stories that are “short and sweet” (sometimes so saccharine-sweet they are hard to swallow) and the Best American Essays series, which are much longer. Instead of short and sweet, Dream of Things anthologies are intended to be short and deep.

Book Excerpt:

Foreword from Saying Goodbye

When my daughter was five, her great-grandfather died. At the funeral, I read a story about him, and his two sons-in-law each said a few heartfelt words.
After the last person spoke, my daughter, who was sitting in the front row next to her grandmother, stood up in her chair, turned around to face the room full of mourners, and said, “Is that it?”

That moment sticks with me because it shows that in the midst of the most solemn of goodbyes, there is sadness, yes. But there is also irony and humor and in some strange way, a sense of continuity. So it is, I believe, with all goodbyes.

Years later, Stephen Parrish, author of The Tavernier Stones, sent me a story called “Bridget.” I had just launched Dream of Things with the intent of publishing anthologies of creative nonfiction that will fill the gap between popular anthologies that publish stories I regard as “short and sweet” (sometimes so saccharin-sweet they are hard to swallow), and the Best American Essays series, which I love, but which are longer-form and more challenging to digest. So the goal for Dream of Things anthologies is to be not short and sweet, but short and deep. With depth comes authenticity. The result is stories that are easier to swallow because they are authentic, and easier to digest because they average 1,250 words in length.

Stephen Parrish’s story fit the bill…short and deep…but it didn’t fit neatly into any of the anthology topics that were in the works. So we created a new anthology—a collection of stories about saying goodbye. The topic struck a chord, and the stories came pouring in from around the world…from the United States, Canada, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. The result is this book—a remarkable collection of stories, and the first of what I hope will be many anthologies from Dream of Things.

I say these stories are remarkable not just because of the quality of the writing and the subject matter, but also because a remarkable thing happened as I read them. I cried at sad stories and laughed at funny ones…that was no surprise. But I also learned valuable lessons about how people say goodbye—sometimes under the most difficult of circumstances. I learned because the authors who contributed to this collection were unflinchingly open and honest when it came to sharing very personal stories about how they and their loved ones say goodbye. It was a lesson that has better prepared me for whatever the future may hold. Thanks to the authors and their beautiful stories about saying goodbye to family members, relationships, jobs, pets, old homes, couches, jogging suits, the past, and other things, I will be better at saying goodbye in my life whenever the time comes. You will be, too.

I hope you enjoy these stories. Goodbye—for now.

Mike O’Mary, Series Editor

About Mike O’ Mary

Mike O’Mary is series editor of the Dream of Things anthologies including Saying Goodbye, an anthology of true stories about people saying goodbye to the people, places and things in our lives with grace, dignity and good humor.  He is founder of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online retailer. He is also author of The Note, a book about the power of appreciation, and Wise Men and Other Stories, a collection of holiday-related essays. For more information, visit www.goodbyebook.com.

About Julie Rember

Julie Rember is editor of the Saying Goodbye anthology from Dream of Things. She has been a newspaper reporter and editor, front desk manager at an Idaho resort, high school drama teacher, and, for the past six years, a freelance technical writer and editor. She also teaches workshops for writers on giving successful readings. For more information, visit www.goodbyebook.com.

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Book Spotlight: Finding God by Nicholas Oliva

Title: Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe
Author: Nicholas Oliva
Publisher: Old Line Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: September 16, 2010
Paperback: 260 pages
ISBN: 098461432X
Genre: Nonfiction; Spiritual

Do you believe in God, life after death, or nothingness? Do you know the origins of the Bible’s New Testament? This book explores the world of science, religion, and atheism and integrates them into the aspects of Twentieth and Twenty-first Century physics. It ponders life and death experiences and includes the author’s own near death experience. Posing many questions about the realm of our existence, it stresses the importance of promoting humanity without exclusionary elements of human prejudice. These and many other contemporary issues are combined with the latest scientific and philosophic theories in the search for real truth of subjects that have brought down entire empires in bloodlust, and have each of us pondering the eternal “Why?” We are in the second century since the collision of science and religion. One is based in empirical evidence; the other is based on thousands of years of pure faith. Hang on as your perfectly ordered world is shaken and stirred – if you have an open mind to believe what is real and allow for possibilities of the yet unknown.

Book Excerpt

The hardest part of the human experience is to comprehend the enormity of thousands of years, of the many religions predating today’s beliefs, and the shortness of human memory and our lives in perspective to our history. To begin to speak of history is to be mired in details especially in this day and age. Instant gratification rules in this era. Few can keep it all straight and understandable. Massive amounts of information exist on human history and beliefs and the majority of it has nothing to do with Christianity. The human mind can only process a small bit of the intricate details bringing us to present day.

History is made by those who have the blood of others on their swords and keeping track of thousands of points of aggression is impossible, but for scholars. It is easy to confuse hundreds of years with thousands of years. We think the Romans ruled as a unit for hundreds of years but they were part of a process that saw a rise, a stabilization, and then a long fall. We know even less about Greece and the Egyptian Empires, though they are relatively close to our time frame. The ancient civilizations are still many years before these empires and time has eroded their presence. There are but shards of evidence left behind. All this is difficult to put in perspective for the average person trying to get through life with some type of understanding and survive day to day.

The ancient religions of India and the Far East far predate Buddhism, which is usually confused as a religion and not a way of life. That is really more of what religion and belief are supposed to do—meld together so one would practice their beliefs in everyday life. We must begin to recognize the humanness of mistakes and faults and to reach out and spread love to help each other through this short life. These are the real reasons for faith. Faith in one’s self to do the moral and human things necessary to make life bearable. All we have is our ability to create great happiness or great sorrow for others.

Many of us, both religious and non-religious, want to feel what we do is righteous. In order to be righteous, we must do the righteous thing. By this I mean to forgive and forget and to move on with the knowledge, in the end, all that matters is the laughter you’ve spread, the love you made. We cannot control those who have the power to create horrible experiences for their fellow man, but we do have control over those with whom we surround ourselves everyday and our loved ones. Don’t let the big picture overwhelm the importance of your contribution to making the world a better place. It is not as hard as you think.

It begins with you. A mere smile can change someone’s day. A good gesture can make the difference in someone wanting to live or die. Tackle what is around you and leave the worry of what could be harmful for the time being. Do what you can to fight inhumanness and that is all you can do. Struggle is what we humans must do and it never ends. Change is inevitable. It is hard to manage, but it is all we have.

Nicholas Oliva (O-lee-va’) has been a musician, writer, poet, photographer, an audio engineer, an Entertainment and Technical Director for over twenty-five years.

His first book, Only Moments, was published in 2007, which was a novel that followed the lifetime journey of the professional musical career of a husband and wife team to the year 2020.

His latest book is Finding God: To Believe or Not To Believe, now available at Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble and will be available in the Kindle Store soon. To visit the website go to www.tobelieveornot.com. Mr. Oliva’s other Websites are OnlyMoments and for his first book Only Moments by Nick Oliva.  You can find him on Facebook as well on either the book page  Facebook | Finding God: To Believe or Not To Believe or his home page  http://www.facebook.com/noliva.

Oliva lives in the quiet mountains of Nevada.

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Book Spotlight: God’s of the Machines by Gary Starta

Author: Gary Starta

Title: God’s of the Machines

Publisher: Gypsy Shadow Publishing Co.

Genre: Science Fiction/Mystery

Language: English

ISBN: 978-0984452156

Publication Date: 8/26/10

# of Pages: 276

Purchase Here at Amazon

 Detective Sam Benson, a native New Yorker, is brash, opinionated and candid. Transplanted to work on Earth’s first colonized planet, he envisions a relatively peaceful job. But Benson’s ruthless nature might bring it to the brink of annihilation when a series of murders begins. He suspects a non-human is responsible—an android who once shared engrams with a psychopathic human. However, the detective doesn’t know other non-humans once called his new world—theirs. And as Benson obsesses with making a case against the android, he is oblivious to their return and the reason why they consider machines to be their gods.

Excerpt

The survey mission gave Carol and Dean ample time to sample more than just soil and plants; they sampled one another. Neither had planned on the suddenness of their affair, at least not Dean Flavin. A professional geologist, Dean volunteered to scout out the next settlement for Ceres colonists. An influx of civilians from Earth precipitated expansion, preferably to an area that boasted healthy soil and not too much rocky terrain. Carol Walker, a botanist by profession, agreed to collaborate with Dean, citing the survey would provide an excellent opportunity to collect and catalogue new plant species.

They were formally introduced three days before their departure. “I’m so glad to be taking the trip with you Dean. I’ve read all your journals and admire your work.” Carol, fawning over what Dean considered trivial accomplishments, held onto his hand, embracing it as if something more than admiration might be intimated. Dean was more capable of comprehending petrography—the study of rocks—than deciphering the desires of the female species based on a single handshake. Oblivious to Carol’s true intentions, Dean spent the next few days packing and prepping for rock collection.

For him to be involved in this mission, Dean and his wife Cindy sacrificed a week’s time—time they might have spent conceiving their first child. Dean swallowed his guilt and told himself his involvement was for the good of his future children. Time passed so quickly. Dean’s thoughts were consumed by the mission and pondering his time away from Cindy. Before he knew it, he found himself bidding his wife goodbye and setting off in a rover with a mere stranger.

All civilian couples were required to conceive a child within three years of their arrival date or face deportation back to Earth. They signed contracts agreeing to populate the planet as quickly as possible; in other words, the Earth’s governmental rulings mandated they be fruitful and multiply. Most Ceres couples went about this challenge with zeal; Cindy and Dean were having more than just frequent sex, and he missed her already.

Dean, caught up in the prospect of authoring field journals, didn’t notice the alluring glances from his new mission partner, Carol. The rover was a large vehicle designed to accommodate field missions, equipped with beds, a kitchen, living room and bath. Carol could have kept her distance from Dean—but she didn’t. She found small excuses for keeping him company in the rover’s combination navigation deck and living room. Ignoring her presence, Dean alternated his attention between several manuals and the vehicle’s view screen.

The rover was fast-approaching a majestic, purplish-colored mountain range. While the onboard computer navigated a course, Dean felt he needed to keep a personal watch on the rocky path ahead. Sensors blinking in ever more urgent patterns warned him a rough ride was imminent. The information both scared and encouraged him. He felt like a true pioneer. No other Ceres civilian or scientist had previously ventured this far from Reliance Point—the name of the first settlement—located about fifty kilometers away from the mountains. The initiation of a new settlement, beyond the mountain range, would place colonists forty kilometers from Ceres’ nearest ocean, in a southwesterly direction from Reliance Point.

As the rover maneuvered closer to its destination, Dean stopped perusing his tech manuals and focused his eyes solely on navigational controls. Carol, pining to win Dean’s attention, became agitated. She attempted to draw attention to herself by combing her long blonde hair vigorously. Perhaps it would release some of her angst.

Dean’s vigilance over the instruments was totally unnecessary. The onboard computer alerted the team of any dangers far in advance and make the required course corrections. Nevertheless, Dean kept watch not only on the rover’s view screen but on a small panel underneath it, which displayed data from infrared technology, showing radiation emanating from the soil. Dean Flavin hovered, he was a hands-on sort of guy, always excited to plunge his hands into soil or work diligently to pull a rock out of the ground using his might. His physical efforts were nonessential, yet Dean felt compelled to maintain a tactile touch with his work; to keep his heart in physical proximity with his desires, never to forget he was flesh and blood and that the exhilaration of touch often gave humans their most gratifying pleasures.

As he watched, Dean prattled on about how rock dating might give scientists an idea of how old Ceres was; Carol did not fail to acknowledge the importance of Dean’s observations by moving closer and placing her hand upon his thigh to assure the scientist of her solidarity.

“You’ll be a hero, Dean; your children will look up to you. You’re helping to find a new home for hundreds, possibly thousands, of people.” She paused to blush. “Oh excuse me for being blunt, Dean. I do assume you and Cindy are in the process of making child.” Dean laughed with a nervous snort, his eyes darting between the two readout screens. She had gotten his attention. “Yes, we are. How about you and Tom?”

“Certainly.” She paused again, the skin around her lips crinkling to offer the slightest smile. “It’s mandated, you know.”

Dean did not laugh this time. He turned his gaze away from the screens for an instant, catching a mischievous look in Carol’s large brown eyes. They nearly twinkled. Her expression nearly made his heart skip a beat, and it began to stir some feelings in areas that had nothing to do with scientific analysis or topographical studies. With his mouth suddenly parched, Dean changed the subject.

“So I bet you’ll be classifying some new plant life. I bet your children will be very proud of you too, Carol.”

She dismissed his compliment with a wave of her hand.

“No, no, Dean. Your work is much more consequential. You’ve got to make sure the area is free of radiation.” She didn’t have to remind Dean the entire planet had been bombarded with dark matter radiation a few years ago. The event resulted in some very unconventional solutions—solutions Dean didn’t dare even to daydream about. He grimaced.

“Oh, I’m sorry, dear—I mean Dean—I hope I didn’t upset you. So tell me more about how rocks will help date our new planet.”

Dean launched into an explanation. He resumed staring straight ahead at his view screens, unaware the sparkle in Carol’s eyes had lost some of its sheen.

His raised eyebrows and broad grin oozed exuberance, as if he had quickly forgotten about the planet’s dubious past. “You know, Carol, history will list us as two of the first five hundred settlers of the Ceres, no trivial honor, mind you.” He turned to Carol, raising an index finger to add emphasis. But Carol, nearly launching into a yawn, had all she could do to stifle her disinterested response. It really didn’t matter if she had concealed her boredom; Dean seemed to be enjoying his self-serving dissertation. “The first planet in the Andromeda Nebula to become home to humans! A small Mars-sized satellite boasting a rich oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. Just take a moment and imagine what we’ve begun, Carol. Earth space travelers had never found such a life-sustaining planet in the Milky Way, after hundreds of years of searching. Who would ever imagine our generation would taste the fruit of this new world?”

“Well Dean, all I can say is that I hope humanity has time to savor that fruit. I’d hate for other things—other species—to acquire a taste for our new world.” Dean didn’t inquire further. He replied with a grunt. Carol had been referring to the androids now residing on Ceres. Their creation had happened by chance and necessity when radiation poisoning threatened to end the colonization efforts.

 Author Bio

Gary Starta is a former journalist who studied English and Journalism at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

His love for science fiction compelled him to write his first novel ‘What Are You Made Of?’ published in 2006.  Inspired by Isaac Asimov, the science fiction novel focuses on intelligent artificial life and whether sentient androids should possess the same rights as humans.  The androids in Starta’s novel are created as hybrids – part machine, part human – further blurring the line between human and machine. Starta foresees a near future where humans will be forced to decide if intelligent machinery is indeed a life form. Possibly, in this near future, some humans will possess computer enhancements to overcome disabilities becoming hybrids themselves. The line between biological life form and mechanical life form will continue to be examined in a follow up novel now being written.

Starta cites Stephen King and Dean Koontz as inspirations for his 2007 novel ‘Blood Web’ which is also reminiscent of the The X-files television/movie series. Contemporary authors Laurell K. Hamilton, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher and Kelly Armstrong also fuel his aspiration to create paranormal suspense. The follow up novel to ‘Blood Web’ – ‘Extreme Liquidation’ explores Caitlin Diggs’ supernatural gifts including the ability to see the future in dreams and to read a person’s character through emotions.

Starta’s crime novella ‘Murder By Association’ blends mystery with forensic investigation. It is a departure from previous books because it contains no science fiction or paranormal elements. Additionally, Starta foresees his 2008 novella ‘Alzabreah’s Garden’ – a fantasy romance – as another out-of-the-box effort.

 Short story “Growing Pains” now published in Silverlight robot anthology THANK YOU, DEATH ROBOT

Latest sci fi novel, Gods of the Machines now available…
See my website for all my books: http://www.garystarta.net including Extreme Liquidation, a follow up to Blood Web now available from Lyrical Press or go to Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/APOXIRAHDT6R

for reviews and posts.
Readers may contact the author at ven123star@yahoo.com

Categories: Fantasy, Sci-Fi Romance, Science Fiction | 1 Comment

Book Spotlight: BUYING TIME by Pamela Samuels Young

Buying Time Virtual Book Tour November and December’10

Title: Buying Time
Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing (November 1, 2009)
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
ISBN: 098156271X
Genre: Legal Thriller

PURCHASE HERE!

Buying Time is a scandalous tale of blackmail, murder and betrayal, evoking John Grisham with a dash of Terry McMillan.

Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he’s about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential to solve all of his problems.

In Waverly’s new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there’s a catch. His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars—including a hefty broker’s fee for himself—in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.

The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who’s bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General. When Waverly’s clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson—who has some skeletons of his own to hide—are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.

Soon, a determined federal prosecutor is hot on Waverly’s trail. But when the prosecutor’s own life begins to unravel, she finds herself on the run—with Waverly at her side.

EXCERPT:
PROLOGUE

Veronika Myers tried to convince them, but no one would listen. Her suspicions, they said, were simply a byproduct of her grief.

Each time she broached the subject with her brother, Jason, he walked out of the room. Darlene, her best friend, suggested a girls’ night out with some heavy drinking. Aunt Flo urged her to spend more time in prayer.

Veronika knew she was wasting her time with this woman, too, but couldn’t help herself.

“My mother was murdered,” Veronika told the funeral home attendant. “But nobody believes it.”

The plump redhead with too much eye shadow glanced down at the papers on her desk, then looked up. “It says here that your mother died in the hospital. From brain cancer.”

“That’s not true,” Veronika snapped, her response a little too sharp and a tad too loud.

Yes, her mother had brain cancer, but she wasn’t on her deathbed. Not yet. They had just spent a long afternoon together, laughing and talking and watching All My Children. Veronika could not, and would not accept that the most important person in her life had suddenly died. She knew what everyone else refused to believe. Her mother had been murdered.

“Did they conduct an autopsy?” the woman asked.

Veronika sighed and looked away. There had been no autopsy because everyone dismissed her as a grief-stricken lunatic. When she reported the murder to the police, a disinterested cop dutifully took her statement, but she could tell that nothing would come of it. Without any solid evidence, she was wasting everyone’s time, including her own.

“No,” Veronika said. “There wasn’t an autopsy.”

The funeral home attendant smiled sympathetically.

Veronika let out a long, exasperated breath, overwhelmed by the futility of what she was trying to prove. “Never mind,” she said. “What else do you need me to sign?”

* * *
Later that night, Veronika lay in bed, drained from another marathon crying session. She rummaged through the nightstand, retrieved a bottle of sleeping pills and popped two into her mouth. She tried to swallow them dry, but her throat was too sore from all the crying.

Tears pooled in her eyes as she headed to the kitchen for a glass of water. “Don’t worry, Mama,” Veronika sniffed. “I won’t let them get away with it.”

Just as she reached the end of the hallway, a heavy gloved hand clamped down hard across her mouth as her arms were pinned behind her back. Panic instantly hurled her into action. Veronika tried to scream, but the big hand reduced her shriek to a mere muffle. She frantically kicked and wrestled and twisted her body, but her attacker’s grip would not yield.

When she felt her body being lifted off the ground and carried back down the hallway, she realized there were two of them and her terror level intensified. But so did her survival instinct. She continued to wildly swing her legs backward and forward, up and down, right and left, eventually striking what felt like a leg, then a stomach.

As they crossed the threshold of her bedroom, she heard a loud, painful moan that told her she had likely connected with the groin of one of her assailants.

“Cut it out!” said a husky, male voice. “Grab her legs!” he ordered his partner. “Hurry up!”

The men dumped her face down onto the bed, her arms still restrained behind her back. The big hand slipped from her mouth and Veronika’s first cry escaped, but was quickly muted when a much heavier hand gripped the back of her neck and pressed her face into the comforter.

Fearing her attackers were going to rape, then kill her, Veronika defiantly arched her back and tried to roll her body into a tight ball. At only 130 pounds, she was no physical match for her assailants. They easily overpowered her, forcing her back into a prone position. As one man sat on her upper legs, strapping her left arm to her side, the other man bent her right arm at the elbow and guided her hand up toward her forehead.

During the deepest period of her grief, Veronika had longed to join her mother. But now that she was face-to-face with the possibility of death, she fought valiantly for life.

That changed, however, the second Veronika felt something cold and hard connect with her right temple. She stiffened as one of the men grabbed her fingers and wrapped them around the butt of a gun. At that precise instant, Veronika knew with certainty that her suspicions were indeed fact. Her mother had been murdered and now the same killers had come to silence her before she could expose the truth. And just like her mother’s death, her own murder would go undetected, dismissed as the suicide of a grieving daughter. A conclusion no one would question.

As the man placed his hand on top of hers and prepared to pull the trigger, a miraculous, power-infused sensation snuffed out what was left of Veronika’s fear, causing her body to go limp. The heavy pounding of her heart slowed and she felt light enough to float away.

Completely relaxed now, Veronika closed her eyes, said a short prayer, and waited for a glorious reunion with her mother.

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