Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you!
For believing in me,
For sticking with me,
For being you!
Thank you to everyone who helped make this blog possible! Thank you to everyone who gave me advice, held my hand, and inspired me to dream as big as I could. Thank you for being you, and thank you for making Choices and Forgiveness possible. Thank you for taking a chance on me!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Preface to Choices


I could hear my youngest’s voice in my ear. The angst in the tone of his voice
 reverberated throughout my entire being summoning my own mommy-angst. He was
whining about the difficulty of making a choice. He didn’t want to do it. Most people
At his age, the hard choices weren’t quite so awful. But for grown-ups, it was even harder. Most people didn’t want to make the painful choices. Those choices that could shred your heart and leave gaping wounds in your soul─even if it was to protect another’s soul. What child could understand the concept of making that type of choice. I wondered if even adults could fully grasp the magnitude and repercussions of the choices they made within their own lives.
People want to slather on avoidance and denial like sunscreen. They want to deflect the truth from their skin like UV rays. They want to prevent the truth from being absorbed into their pores where it could travel to their hearts and minds forcing them to make choices they don’t want to make.
My sweet, little boy couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have all the flavors of ice cream listed. He wanted to know why he had to choose just one flavor.
Why, indeed.
I explained to him he needed to pick the one he just couldn’t live without, the one flavor he dreamed about constantly, the one that changed his entire day for the better. Then I watched the peace enter his eyes and travel to his mouth causing his lips to spread wide into his megawatt smile, and I knew he had made his choice. I only wished my choices were so easy to make. I wished mine were so peaceful.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Writing to make a friend, J.D. Estrada

Hello! I’d love to introduce you to my good friend, J.D. Estrada, a profound and prolific writer. I’m honored J.D. carved precious time out of his busy writing schedule to answer a few…ahem, okay a lot…of questions about his mad writing skills and what inspires his greatness. I’ve had the pleasure to peek inside this talented writer’s very active brain and now so will you!


1.    Did you always want to write?

As a kid, I wanted to be an inventor. Not sure if part of me wanted to be one of those guys with crazy products and an 800 number although writing is my way of inventing. I was always interested, and I often said I wanted to write...that’s until I REALLY wanted to write. The difference is that when you say it, you write once in a while and when you mean it; you can’t stop writing.


2.    Do you see yourself as an author or a writer? Do you think there is a difference between the two and how would you categorize yourself?

I’m sure if you searched for the etymology; there’s a difference. My business cards say author, though, at the end of the day, I’m more of a writer because I love ALL forms of writing. It could be a blog post, a poem, a review on Amazon or Trip Advisor, a story, a novel or a birthday message. The fact remains; I love writing.


3.    Tell me about your writing process.

Every single project is a beast I tackle differently. I learned a long time ago that if I get a routine or a process, I run the risk of getting stuck. It also fully depends on what I’m writing. For a blog post, I need it to be something that strikes a chord with me. For a poem, I love capturing a moment although I need to challenge myself. In two collections I’ll be releasing soon, I actually explored two completely different approaches than my first collection. In one, I challenge myself in regards to variety, and in the other I challenge myself to go to dark regions of inspiration. And this is just poetry. For novels, Only Human was a beast that took me seven years to complete. Then again, I was aiming for a story arc in more than one book... so the research was intense. In short, between all three books of the Human Cycle, there are over 600 pages of research. History, geography, topography, religions, folk tales, you name it. For three other projects I have, I wrote down the main plot points on index cards and went from there. Having a full-time job makes time scarce and quite often, my projects keep me company on my lunch hours. I have countless pages of notes, even stuck to my cell phone. I'm efficient with whatever time I invest in a project. As for when I write, good luck getting to me because I’m often lost in my stories.


4.    What have you learned about yourself through your writing?

A lot. From my fears, to my values, writing has allowed me to cope, to deal, to understand myself and to explore my emotions. It’s also helped me meet various other people and to show me how much words can heal. In short, I’ve learned how much of a difference words can make when they’re written or spoken from the heart with the sincerest intention to help, comprehend and leave behind judging. I’ve also learned that I love stories, reading and telling them. We grow as people through the stories we read and hear, and of course, the ones we live.


5.    Tell me about your projects. You have an eclectic mix of work, which type of writing is your favorite?


Oh, I always have an eclectic mix going on my reading and writing queue. I have one published novel and one poetry collection. Only Human is the first novel within the Human Cycle, a three-book journey in my exploration of humanity through fiction. It started off as something simple and quickly escalated into something that came from deep within. From casual characters, I was writing about; these people became a reality through my words, and it was a beautiful process. Between the Tides is my first poetry collection. For the longest time I had forgotten about poetry, more focused on other projects. Then one day I wrote down some lines on Twitter and people reacted. I posted a poem, and it resonated with someone and I remembered why poetry was so special. That was last year and from that time, I have published one collection and have two others I’ll be releasing very soon. In addition to this, I’m working on a Young Adult Book, a philosophy book, a bilingual collection (English and Spanish), a noir book (dark and murky, kind of mafia related though fictional) and at least 4 other projects, including my blog. I honestly can’t choose a favorite because each responds to an interest, and whatever my soul insists on working on, I follow. You see, I may delay with a particular project because I’m working on something else; the thing is I’m ALWAYS working on something. In addition to the two poetry collections waiting for formatting, I’m also organizing my series of young adult short stories, the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore, of which I’ll be releasing the first volume soon.


6.    Do you write because it’s your job or do you write because it’s your passion?


To be honest, both. I’m a copywriter, editor, proofreader and translator by trade, meaning that’s my day job. Within me though, there’s a deep seated need to write, and it truly is a passion. If you read Only Human, you can see when I went from writing because I was intrigued and then the moment when the story took hold of me and didn’t let go. It was a blissful feeling to lose track of time as I etched down that story. Writing is a true passion, and I write passionately on a lot of topics. I may tackle various genres, but beyond all interests and projects, I just love writing.


7.    Your writing reflects a desire to reach out and make a connection, please tell me more about the connection you’d like to make with your readers.


When you write something and someone clicks like, that’s nice. However, when you dig down into your gut, write deeply and have someone write you a private message thanking you... that is the most humbling and rewarding experience I could ever experience. I am fascinated by the aspect of humanity, and I truly do my best to connect with as many people as possible. It could be something casual, a flight of fancy if you’d like, still... it can be meaningful. There are so many things in the news that inspire fear, constriction and people limiting themselves... I’d like to work against that. So many people have so much to offer with just a little encouragement. It’s the 21st century and I truly believe we are living through a massive shift in humanity. Some people will insist on limiting views while others adhere to a worldview of unity, of connection, of love, of understanding. I want to put my grain of sand into that second worldview. I’ve met such wonderful people in real life and online who have been kind enough to invest their time in me, on my writing be it online or in book form. We’ve connected, and I truly believe positive connections cause positive ripples in our lives, and I’m all for positive ripples. Maybe a joke, a comment, a compliment or a conversation sticks with someone and they pass on a smile. I like that and I think that during these times, we need a little more of that and a little less division. Still, that’s my worldview and people are entitled to their opinions. For me though, we have so much more that connects us than what divides us.


8.    Only Human is on my TBR. Please tell me more about Only Human.


Only Human spawned from seeing a commercial for the Underworld movie while chatting online and listening to Bach and me being stubborn enough to say, “You know what, I can write something as good as that.” It began as fiction, something simple, my homage to many great writers. I kept writing, then the characters started to get their voices, and then topics started creeping in, then I started seeing links in history, in geography, in philosophy, in psychology... in life. I started seeing so many aspects that fascinate me about what makes us human. I went back to my psychology roots; I started reading on different theologies, I saw how so many things coincide... I saw the beauty of what unites us... and I just wrote. I set certain bullet points, no rules, no limitations; I just needed to get from one point to the next. And slowly but surely, my influences came out, childhood dreams came out in the text, links to forgotten short stories came into play, and the path revealed itself clearly... I found my story, and I committed to it. Regardless of theologies, my story is of unison, of growth, of exploration, of love, of sacrifice, of suffering, of questioning... of life. I started seeing the possibility of angels, of demons, of vampires, of therians (don’t call them werewolves), of photogeni... of any and everything and in that ocean of possibilities I swam. Only Human is the first book in this exploration, and its sequel is in progress. There is much to say, much to explore and much to digest, because imagine if you were told that all you thought was true was actually fiction and that the fiction was actually true... imagine the implications... that’s the basis for the Human Cycle.

9.    How do you manage your wide variety of writing projects?

 I honestly just go with the flow. Depends on how much time I have and how much time I can make for my writing. Then there’s also the matter of having one project demand and command your attention. That happens as well, and when it does, I stick with that project until it lessens its grip. Sometimes it does, sometimes it insists on me finishing it. I don’t make the rules with my projects, and you’ll probably see me walking with three notebooks to see what catches my fancy. I don’t work on word count quotas; I work on milestones, on chapters and as long as I’m moving forward with my projects, I’m happy. And that’s what it’s all about. I’m looking for my creative happiness, and every single day can have a different answer to what that is. I do keep loose tabs on where I’m at with most of my projects because I like to know. As for deadlines, I only have two set deadlines in all my projects. The sequel to Only Human will be finished by next year and the Young Adult book I want to finish this year. They’re both aggressive although I don’t mind; sometimes you need to prove to yourself just how much you can accomplish.


10. Where can we find your work?

You can find my work at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and soon in Puerto Rico at the Book Mark in San Patricio Plaza.

Product Details

JD, thanks so much for sharing your work with us and answering my questions. Once you’ve experienced a book by J.D. Estrada you will certainly feel a bigger and brighter connection to yourself and the universe. Go check it out!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guest Post for DL Atha

I became a doctor because I loved science and wanted to save the world.  Not because I enjoyed dressing up, was good at public speaking or even had nominal social graces.

I was the geek girl at the front of the class in elementary school, the charter member of the band club in high school, and as nerdy in college as I was in high school.  I’m sure you’ve seen my type and so can understand how I loathed this yearly night of torture.

 The other ladies at the table were all in their evening gown regalia. I had been very careful to not wear the same dress by accident or repeat a dress from a few years before. Such an accident could lead to months of embarrassment. My heels were right and reasonably comfortable and I’d even managed to stay upright as I walked in. My hair was still decent after a long day of call and for once, even my make-up fit in with the evening’s format. And to make the night even smoother, I’d as of yet to make a Star trek joke or snort when I laughed. I was feeling optimistic. And that’s when it happened.

Dr. Stiff, the cardiologist, (the names have been changed for the sake of privacy) leaned slightly in my direction and said. “Dr. Atha, I’ve been told you dabble in writing.” He smiled politely and waited for my response.
I could feel the corners of my mouth lift at his remark. I smiled nervously and excitedly at the same time. I couldn’t help it. The mere mention of writing makes me giddy! But then I realized the inevitable. I started to sweat. I gripped the stem of my wine glass tightly in my fingers. I became mildly tachycardic. My breathing picked up.

“Yes. I write a little in my free time,” I answered but then I broke eye contact and studied the band. I looked over his head and waved to someone I didn’t even know at the back of the room. They raised their eyebrows and smiled hesitantly but politely waved back. The room was loud and I desperately hoped Dr. Stiff would drop it and not disturb the rest of the conversation going on at our table.  I signaled the waiter for another glass of the bubbly.

“What you do you write about? Do you have a pen name?” He asked as I cursed the innate curiosity of cardiologists around the world.

The waiter didn’t come and my glass remained empty. I reached for my husband’s glass. After all, he didn’t need it as bad as I did. The CEO of the hospital was looking at me now and two of the wives were waiting expectantly as well. The nun had leaned forward to listen better. The pit of my stomach dropped to my knees.

Avoidance wasn’t possible. I was trapped.

I took one more sip of the champagne and cleared my throat. “Vampires,” I say. And then my cheeks flamed and all the air conditioning in the world wouldn’t have lessened the deep red that colored my face.

‘Doctors do not write about vampires,’ my mother had told me. ‘This is not a good career decision.’ Her words burned in my ears.

 I was mentally pleading with the band to play louder. I was beseeching the Good Lord for help. Knock the electricity out! I begged. Let some drunken dancer fall! I prayed internally. Desperately, I glanced towards my husband but his mouth was full of salad and he’s a firm believer in the ‘chew each bite 32 times club.’ I could expect no help from him. 

My best friend, another vampire lover and doctor but with far more suave than myself, was seated next to the CEO. He had strategically set by her with the hopes of recruiting her to our group. I glanced desperately her way, mentally wishing her to fake a seizure, but her expression looked more like the proverbial deer in the headlights. I was on my own.

“What was that?” Dr. Stiff repeated, his hand to his ear.

I leaned forward and whispered it again. “Vampires.”

The middle-aged cardiologist raised his eyebrows and shook his head at me. He still hadn’t gotten it. Perhaps he was in denial.

“Vampires,” I speak louder this time. “I write vampire novels.”

Just my luck, the band ended their riff at that exact moment and my voice broadcasted across our entire section. Dr. Stiff stared at me wordlessly, shocked clear down to his plaid underpants. I could almost see his brain spinning as he wondered if he’d heard me correctly. Looking quizzically at his wife, she nodded in affirmation and turned her back to the table, finding a sudden and new interest in the band but not before I could see the smirk on her face.

“Like Twilight?” the neurosurgeon next to me questioned. “My twelve year old daughter loved Twilight. I guess there’s probably a lot of that stuff out there right now.”

“Not exactly like Twilight,” I said. “More Stephen King-ish or Anne Rice-ish,” I offered.

“Maybe I’ll buy a copy for my daughter. She loves all this vampire stuff,” he answered back obviously not hearing what I was saying.
The entire table froze, their forks and spoons held eerily in midair. The nun’s hand grazed her Crucifix.“Oh. No. Um. My stuff isn’t really appropriate for twelve year olds.” I choked out a little too loudly. The
“You mean it’s for adults?” he questioned.
Now I really had their attention. Even the next table over was listening in. Everyone including Dr. Stiff’s wife, Ima Stiff, was looking at me incredulously. The band was only a distant buzzing in the background. My head was spinning. My blood pressure was at stroke level and my husband was consuming his salad at a rate of 5 chews per mouthful. His face was crimson with the effort.
“Yeah,” I stammered. “I was looking for realism. What I was really trying to do was to convey the sheer terror of meeting a vampire face to face...”
“Is there a lot of violence?” the good doctor interrupted.
“It’s a horror story, so yeah,” I answered.
“And a LOT of sex,” my progressively inebriated friend across the table piped up. The stress had finally gotten to her. I forgave her instantly knowing she was trying to help.
The occupants of the table were still staring at me as if I had sprouted black wings from my back and was about to begin levitating when my husband pulled me to my feet and motioned to the dance floor. He just had to dance the cha-cha, he explained to the table. “We love the cha-cha,” he said again as I, red-faced and sweaty, smiled nervously to the table. And then we escaped onto the dance floor and put the entire experience to our backs. 
I’d like to say we went back to the table after our awkward dance interpretation ended but I’d be lying. Instead, we cha-cha’ed to the other end of the dance floor and escaped out a side entrance. We didn’t even bother to stop and get my wrap. Instead, I texted my friend to grab it for me.
Well okay, I embellished the story a little. We really didn’t cha-cha. It was more like a drunken two step mixed with a waltz that got us out the door but I’m sure you get the picture.
That was a year ago and luckily, I still have a job at the ultra-conservative Catholic hospital where I’m employed. The nuns look awry when I pass them in the hospital but otherwise, I’ve suffered only the occasional laughter behind closing doors and the too large smiles when someone mentions my writing career like its really funny joke. 
The point, you ask?
If you’re a struggling writer (like me) and haven’t, as of yet, managed to land a major publishing deal (like me), you are probably still working. And even more likely, you are working in an environment where being a little different (such as being a writer at all) sticks out like a sore thumb. Write paranormal romance or horror? Odds are you might even be considered strange!
And I can nearly promise you that somewhere and at some time, someone is going to bring up your writing when you least expect it.
So you’ve got to learn to coexist in the real world and the writing world. This co-existing is very difficult for emerging authors in part because he or she is dependent at first on the local support that they receive from family and friends. Their first sales are usually from people they know and it is those sales that begin to boost you up in the ratings on sites like Amazon and other e-book sites. So how do you maintain some type of professional distance at work and still manage to engage the people you know?
Here are a few pointers from my own experiences:
  • Get a pen name. 

It really does help and I personally don’t think it’s a cop out. I’m not selling enough books to support myself yet so I still have to work. Most likely you will too. If you have a professional career and you write on taboo subjects, it will help to keep your two worlds separate. Imagine someone being treated for cancer and they Google the doctor’s name only to find links to vampire erotica or horror stories. I think it’s acceptable to want to keep these different parts of your life separate. It doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of your second career or of your writing, only that you respect your current employer enough not to bring any undue criticism onto their business as well.

The point of a pen name in today’s world is so that it cannot be traced back to you and in the age of Google that can be very difficult. I’ve relaxed my standards a little these days as I’ve grown accustomed to being connected at work to my writing but if you choose your name correctly, it can be done. Set down at the computer when you’ve chosen a suitable name and Google the name every way you can think of. Google it with the full pen name and then with just the initials. Then try it with the pen name and half of your real name. Type in every combination you can think of and see if you are able to trace it back to yourself.
  • Don’t ask your co-workers to be your beta readers. 

It puts them in a difficult position. These men and women have to work with you routinely. It’s not their job to tell you that your latest literary work is not up to your usual par.  Even worse, they may tell you the work is good when, in fact, it is not. That is a travesty!  I can promise you it is much better to find out your writing is only so-so before it hits the press than afterwards. Find true beta readers who do not know you and are impartial. In my experience, there are many such readers on a variety of networking sites who would be willing to help you. Start by setting up an author Facebook page and forming a circle of readers who are interested and willing to help.
  • Find some friends apart from your work environment who can appreciate your outside interests. 

As I mentioned before, I work in a Catholic hospital as a physician and most of my fellow doctors have absolutely no interest in the paranormal. I can see their eyes glazing over when I start talking about my research into vampire lore.  Boring them with such details will only widen a gap that I don’t want to exist.  So I save my vampire discussions for the paranormal readers that I’ve met at book signings and other functions.

  • Join some writing groups or a book club in your area. 

Try to find a local successful author that you can connect with. If nothing else, their success will inspire you and inspiration is a commodity you can’t live without if you’re going to try to break into the writing world.  If you’re a romance writer, join a romance writing club. Don’t join a horror novel club if you write romance and vice versa.  If you write horror, you will not likely be well received in a romance group. It’s possible that the confounding stares could scar you for life. I made that mistake once and it was ugly!

Writing clubs are a great place to find beta readers who have an interest in your genre. They know what works in that genre and what doesn’t. A few authors are able to cross genres but it’s truly hard to do, especially when you are first starting out.

  • Don’t pimp your books out to your co-workers. 

No one likes high pressured sales and no one enjoys feeling obligated to read a book that they would never normally read just because they know you. If a co-worker asks about your work, happily give them the names of your books and where to find them but then resist the urge to ask them if they got your book and if they liked it. Trust me; you do not want to know if they didn’t!

And when all of the above fail to keep your writing career and the career that actually pays the bills separate and it will fail at times, try the following:

Be confidant in what you wrote and take pride in your accomplishments! Nearly everyone thinks to write a book at some point in their life but most people never take the time to do so.

If someone makes a snarky remark or laughs at your attempts at writing (and they will), just smile politely and walk away. It will only add to your air of mystery! Grow a really thick skin. Remember, you’re a writer. You’re supposed to be a little odd!


About DL Atha:

DL Atha, having the good fortune to have been raised in rural western Arkansas, resides there still with her husband and three children where together they enjoy the farm life. She earned her MD in 1999, and currently enjoys the practice of hospital medicine and wound care which she performs full time in a nearby town.
She is currently working on the sequel to Blood Reaction.
For the Sake of Revenge was her first venture into non-medical fiction.
A few of her favorite things are chocolate, anything old but especially old houses, gardening, and horses.
Her least favorite things are getting up early, anything that happens before
nine a.m. and constricting clothing.
Get in touch with DL ATHA:
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Monday, July 14, 2014

BLOG TOUR: JESSIE by Rebekah Lyn

Jessie by Rebekah Lyn

Book Synopsis

The four Cole boys suffer abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father, while largely being left to their own devices by a heartbroken and overworked mother. Their adventures on their island home have become a welcome escape, and one of the only things in life the boys can truly rely on. Jessie, the youngest and a dreamer, becomes enamored with US plans for manned space flight and its race to the moon, stirring his own dreams of one day becoming an astronaut. In a strange twist of fate, it is the space program and the momentum it gains that abruptly brings their beloved island life to an end. The family is forced to move to the city and start anew. Life in town creates new challenges, financial pressures, news of the Vietnam War and the impending threat of the military draft for Max the eldest of the Cole brothers. 3d cover Jessie copy  
“Welcome to another episode of Rising Stars. Today I’m talking with Eleanor Cole, who moved to Indian River City with her husband and four boys in 1964 after the government forced them to leave Merritt Island.
“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, Mrs. Cole.”

“Call me Eleanor, although I’m not sure why you want to interview me.”

“You are an interesting lady, Mrs. Cole, don’t sell yourself short.”

“I’m just a woman trying to take care of my family.”

“You’ve done so through some truly difficult times, though. Why don’t we start with how you and your husband met?”

“I was seventeen, working at the Sit A Spell CafĂ© in Carswell, West Virginia. Gene would come in just about every night after his shift in the coal mine. He always ordered the same thing, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots. He didn’t talk much but he did leave me a nice tip. One evening a table of miners got rowdy, started giving me a hard time and Gene stepped in, telling them to show some respect. The next day there was an explosion in the mine.

“I barely knew Gene but I was worried sick. He didn’t come in to the restaurant for almost a week and I was sure he was dead. When he did finally come back, he was wearing a suit and there wasn’t a speck of dirt under his fingernails. I hadn’t realized how handsome he was under all the coal dust and almost didn’t recognize him. He came right up to me, took my hand and asked if I would have dinner with him. We were married a year later.”

“How did the mine explosion effect Eugene?”

“He took it hard. He should have been in the mine, but had been sent out for a new tool or something, I don’t remember it exactly. He was a nervous wreck after the mine reopened and he went back to work. I thought I could take care of him or I wouldn’t have married him.”

“Was it hard for you to leave your family when you moved to Florida?”

Chuckling. “It was terrifying. Gene ran off and joined the Navy without even telling me. Next thing I know we are packing up and moving. We moved the week I turned 19 and I had never been outside of Carswell. I had no idea how I would manage without my mother and sisters. I didn’t know if Gene would be sent off to Europe once we got to Florida. Our first week on the base, I met a couple of other young wives who were in the same position, far from home for the first time. We became the best of friends. They really saved me that first year.”

“I’ve heard about the friendships that grow between military families being like a second family.”

“That’s true. Jan Maisey was probably my best friend, still is. She has two boys the same age as my middle two.”

“I know this may be a difficult subject, but can you tell me how your husband started drinking?”

“If I’m honest, I think it started after the explosion. He was having nightmares and so he started having a couple of beers before going to bed. It think the turning point, though was when we got to Florida, we heard stories about German U-boats patrolling the coast and merchant ships that were being targeted. In May of 1942 the freighter La Paz was torpedoed and ran aground within sight of the Cocoa Beach Pier. The locals were called upon to help unload the cargo-china, fertilizer and 900 cases of Johnny Walker scotch.” Eleanor pauses and shakes her head with a sad smile.

“I don’t know how many of those cases of scotch made it back to the shipping company. Gene spent most of the night helping unload that boat and got so drunk that two of the high school boys who lived nearby had to practically carry him home. He insisted we move off base a month later; found us a house out in the orange groves further north on Merritt Island. That’s when he started making his own moonshine.

“After Max was born, Gene seemed to come home drunk more often, sleeping off the alcohol through all of the middle of the night feedings. I was too afraid to talk to him about it and I was too ashamed to tell my family. I wish I had talked to someone in those early years. Maybe I could have protected Max and Jessie better.”

“They seem to have turned out pretty well.”

“They’ve been through some tough times, but they seem to be thriving now. I am so proud of what they are each accomplishing.”

“As well you should be. I’m looking forward to following Jessie’s career and hope you’ll put in a good word for me when he starts being interviewed by the national press.”

“I’ll make sure he takes your call first.”

“Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a bit more about your family. I look forward to breaking the story of your family’s success in the future. I like seeing our local boys succeed.”
3d cover Jessie copy

Book Excerpt

Set Back April 25, 1961

Jessie stood at the edge of the playground with two other boys, anxious for the next space launch. Recess would be over any minute. There would be no time for a hold in the countdown. Two weeks earlier the Russians had announced the successful launch of Yuri Gagarin into space. Once again the Americans had been left behind but today’s launch would hopefully be the last before America put their own man into space. Jessie held his breath as the rocket appeared above the trees. Then it happened. The plume of white smoke erupted into a fiery ball, debris flying in all directions. Jessie didn’t wait for the teacher’s frantic call to take shelter in the school. He shook his head and turned his back on the carnage. At the door, the teacher gently laid a hand on his shoulder and gave him a sympathetic look. Any other day and Jessie might have resented it, but he knew, today, it had nothing to do with his father and the reputation he’d developed for himself the past couple of years. When school was out, Jessie dragged his feet along the familiar path home. He kept walking when he came upon his brothers, his head down, watching the sand shift beneath his worn-out sneakers. “I heard the explosion.” Max draped an arm over Jessie’s shoulders. “Sorry.” Jessie nodded. “Maybe we should go out to the beach, see if we can find any pieces,” Ricky suggested. The thought turned Jessie’s stomach, but then he stopped. “That’s not a bad idea. I’d like to have something to remember we at least tried to get to space.” “Don’t talk like that,” Sam said. “We’ll get there, it’s just going to take time.” Jessie knew Sam was trying to be encouraging, and so attempted a smile of thanks before shifting course across the large field of scrub grass. The boys spread out when they reached the beach. The tide was low but turning. Jessie took the section closest to the water, knowing the rising tide would cover it in another hour. The salty tang of sea spray filled his nostrils and he inhaled, while his eyes and ears locked away every detail of the sand and surf. He saw a flash of light ten feet ahead and quickened his pace, keeping his eyes on the spot. The ocean foamed up, then slowly retreated. Jessie squatted down to find a silver and black triangle, partially buried in the sand. Another wave rushed toward him, splashing over his feet and soaking the bottom of his shorts. He held onto the metal afraid the undertow would pull it out to sea. When the water receded, Jessie pulled the debris free of the remaining sand. It was five inches tall and three wide. Turning it over in his hands he noted scorch marks and part of what he thought might be the letter U or A from the USA painted on the side of the rocket. “Guys,” he waved to his brothers. Max arrived first. “What’d you find?” Jessie handed him the piece of metal. “Cool.” Ricky joined them and reached for the newfound treasure. “Good job, Jess.” Sam clapped his brother on the back. “I didn’t think we’d find anything that big.” Jessie reached for the metal and traced the rough edges. “You don’t think they will give up do you?” Sam shook his head. "Since the Russians have gotten into space already, I don’t see how we can give up now." "I hope they don’t.” Jessie tore his gaze away from his find and looked at his brothers. “I want to be an astronaut." Max laughed. "You can't be an astronaut." "Why not?" "Cause you gotta have money to be an astronaut. You don't think Shepard and Grissom and all those other guys are dirt poor do you?" "Maybe they’re not dirt poor, but they aren’t filthy rich. They were chosen because they were in the military and had good records." "So you gonna enlist when you turn eighteen? We'll probably still be in that dag gum Vietnam and you'll go and get yourself killed the first day in the jungle." "Nuh-huh. I know how to take care of myself. I hide from you in the woods all the time." Jessie balled his hands into fists and planted his feet. Sam stepped between them. "Cool it, Max. If Jessie wants to be an astronaut, then maybe he can be. Lots of things are changing." Max snorted. "Yeah, and I could be President." "If that happens, then I'm moving to Mexico," Ricky quipped. Jessie laughed and unclenched his fists. Yet again Sam had brokered peace without anyone coming to blows. Maybe Sam was the one who would become President. Sam stepped back. “Let’s head home.” “Did you hear Mom and Pop got another letter from the government yesterday?" Max asked as they walked along the hard packed sand. "About what?" Jessie asked, turning up the beach, shuffling through the soft sand to a well-worn path across the dunes. Thick saw palmettos, sea grapes, and sea oats grew on either side of the path, slowly thinning as the boys moved farther from the beach. "About buying our land. They want to expand the missile complex more. They've been buying up all the land around here." Max swatted at a dragonfly buzzing around his head. "But they already have so much land, what do they need more for?" Jessie ducked under the wispy needles of an Australian Pine tree, his brothers close behind. "How'm I supposed to know? I didn't see the letter, I just heard them arguing about it after we went to bed. Mom wants to take their offer, but Pop doesn't want to move." "I don't want to move either," Ricky agreed. "I like being close to the beach and huntin' in the woods." "I don't think we have much choice. Sounded like the government letter said we take the offer or they'll just take the land away from us." "They can't do that," Jessie cried. "We've lived here forever." "Not forever, you moron," Max sneered. "Mom and Pop only moved here during the war, when Pop got assigned to the Banana River Naval Air Station." "Still, that's practically forever." Jessie let his fingers run through the thin pine needles as they emerged from the copse of trees into a clearing. "There are families that have lived here since the 1800s and they’re being bought out too. I don't think the government is going to consider our twenty years here more important," Sam replied. Jessie rolled his eyes. Leave it to Sam to know the history of the island. "But they can't just take our land," Jessie insisted. "Yes, they can, it's called eminent domain. If they can prove to the court that private property is needed for public use and fair compensation has been offered, the court will likely rule in favor of the government." "But this isn't public use," Ricky interjected. "Yes and no." Sam leaned forward, obviously warming to the subject. "A public park isn't being created, but the research being conducted and the satellites being launched are for the public good. Plus, the government will probably be able to make a pretty good case for public safety. Think about how close this piece of the rocket landed to our house. The government can use this incident and the others before as evidence of danger to the people still living on this end of the island." "All right, professor, we get it, but it still doesn't mean I want to move," Ricky interrupted. Up ahead, Jessie could see the orange grove that bordered their land, and glanced back over his shoulder. He couldn’t see the beach through the trees, but it had taken less than five minutes to stroll home. Sam was right. This one had been a little too close for comfort.

About The Author

Another Rebekah Photo

Rebekah is a Christian with a heart for new beginnings. She is a Florida native and a graduate of Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Fl. A love of history, research and journaling led naturally to a passion for writing. She enjoys travel and has traveled extensively across the United States and Canada as well as Europe and the Caribbean. Her reading taste run from the classics to light fiction. When she is not working or writing, she enjoys cooking, baking and sharing recipes on her blog.

Her current works include, Summer Storms and Winter's End, books one and two in The Seasons of Faith series, and Julianne the first book in The Coastal Chronicle series. She is currently working on Jessie a coming of age novel set in coastal Florida during the early days of the United States manned space flight program. Jessie is the second book in the Coastal Chronicles Series.

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BOOK RELEASE by Nicholas C. Rossis

Yesterday’s crimes. Tomorrow’s retribution.
In the third book of the best-selling Pearseus series, the incessant scheming of the various players and their nebulous puppet-masters has brought about major change. Cyrus is now the new ruler of the Capital, struggling to fight Jonia’s revolt along with his own demons. Gella strives to keep abreast of Teo’s devious plans in order to end the war with Jonia. David returns to the First in an effort to overcome his loss of the Voice. Lehmor’s struggle to reunite with Moirah brings him to uncharted territories, where the enigmatic Iota play with minds, senses and the future of the entire planet.
Old foes and unlikely new friends appear as invisible forces continue to pry humanity apart. Masks drop to reveal the ultimate truth: on Pearseus, everyone has their own agenda. And they’ll stop at nothing to achieve it.

What people say about Pearseus:

“He simply tells a story of corruption, people struggling as pioneers seeking to do with what they have...  The measure of this book is that the triumph is not a textbook description, but a sense of a living struggle.”
“A cross between Game of Thrones and Dune”
“Astonishing, intriguing, thoughtful”
“It will be hard to put this book down long enough to eat and sleep, never mind doing responsible things like going to work and taking care of the kids”
“[It] hits on those big archetypal themes of invasion, loss, leadership, death... and high tech. It gives the reader plenty of material for discussion.”
“Warning: May cause loss of sleep, lowered work productivity, and missed meals”

Nicholas C. Rossis bio:
Author. Avid reader. Web developer. Architect by training, holder of a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh.
Nicholas loves to write.  Mad Water, the third book in his epic fantasy series, Pearseus, was just published, while his first children's book, Runaway Smile, is currently being illustrated.  He has also published The Power of Six, a collection of short sci-fi stories.
He lives in Athens, Greece, in the middle of a forest, with his wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is always sitting on his lap, so please excuse any typos in his blog posts: typing with one hand can be hard...

Book links:

The Power of Six: 6+1 Science Fiction Short Stories can be found on
Pearseus: Schism, Book 1 in his epic fantasy series is available on
Pearseus: Rise of the Prince, Book 2 in his epic fantasy series is available on
Pearseus: Rise of the Prince, Book 2 in his epic fantasy series is available on
Pearseus: Mad Water, Book 3 in his epic fantasy series is available on
You can also read Books 1 & 2 (special edition) on and
Books 1 to 3 (box edition) on
Also available: Tao Te Ching  (translated into Greek) on

Web presence:

Making Mistakes

I met a new friend this weekend. To say she is amazing is an understatement. This woman will be the first one to tell you mistakes come knocking on her door, but haven't we all heard that knock?
To me, making mistakes is living life. If you aren't making mistakes, then you aren't living. You're sitting on your pristine pedestal watching the world pass you by. Making mistakes, learning from them, finding the courage to make a choice to live a positive, rewarding life while raising children in the process takes a serious amount of moxie! Your choices reflect your life, good and bad. Making poor choices doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a courageous person, someone willing to stretch beyond their threshold to reach for the brass ring despite the mistakes. It's what you do with the knowledge of your mistake that creates your choice.