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Didi Oviatt

Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection.

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Cover Reveal! The Scented Bones: The Svabodina Case Files (book 1) by Angelina Kerner

The Scented Bones: The Svabodina Case Files (The Svabodina Case Files Book 1)

Genre: Paranormal/ Crime Thriller

Expected Publication Date: September 28, 2018

Publisher: KDP Select

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Synopsis:

Angel Svabodina is a rookie forensic anthropologist, enjoying the beginning of her new career. That joy comes crashing down when she figures out the skeleton she’s working on is not human and then it vanishes.

She throws herself fully into the case without thinking about the parties involved, a psychopomp associate, and paranormal mafia families made up of vampires and werewolves—or the consequences.

When she sees there’s no avoiding the inevitable, Angel has to suck it up and work with the werewolves to solve the case but can she trust them?

Werewolves and witches are in a centuries-old feud, but that doesn’t stop the shivers running down her spine from one wolf in particular. What’s more, nothing comes for free, including information. To get what she needs from the werewolf don, Angel has to meet with the fae queen. Can she meet her without repercussions and solve the case?

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About the Author

ANGELINA KERNER is a self-published author of paranormal and lighthearted romance. She’s the wife of a photographer/physicist, and the mother of a cute little toddler, but she’s also been a dancer, a psychologist, an anthropologist, a geographer, a dreamer, and an adventurer. She does her best writing while being bothered by her cats, taking care of her son, in dressing rooms while waiting for family to try on clothing, and at home in sunny California. Angelina loves to play goddess-dragon matchmaker, transporting readers to a place where young goddesses have lovable flaws, the Fates plan to dethrone, the universe is endless and untamed, and dragons roam free! She also loves to write carefree romance where one can finish reading with a smile.

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Visit her website at www.kernerangelina.live

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#excerpt #blogtour The Phoenix Cycle, by Bob Collopy @shanannigans81 @BobCollopy

phoenixcyclefrontcover.pngThe Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise

Publication Date: June 23, 2017

Published By: The Department of Smoke

Genre: Dystopian/ YA/ Sci-Fi

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen?

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Excerpt

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Every wrist in the stadium beeped. Every boy and girl glanced down at the face of their watch. “00:10” then “:09” then “:08.” Everyone turned their heads to the west. There it was. Right on time, as always. The nightly storm. A wall of blackness had lurched up into the sky, swallowing the setting sun. The hairs on Steve’s neck stood up, urging him to get the hell out

of there.

Instead he grabbed Leslie’s hand, who sat quietly quivering next to him, instinctively pressing her bow into her head for comfort. Steve knew her shaking wasn’t coming from Line’s yelling, the storm, or even the tank pointing at them. Her quivers never came from the barrel of a gun, no, the ragging agony she held within her was the very same thing that pushed him back into the sheets when the sun finally rose—are we going to lose each other?

Leslie’s mind pushed the feeling away for at least another moment. “It’ll be all right,” she whispered. Her brown eyes guided him to the dozens of mortar tubes pointing upward and outward on the vibrant green field and then to the perfect line of churning ash that approached the stands.

“Unity can only be achieved and be maintained when it is the STRONG who come together and fly under one flag! We, like no other in the world, have created a unity that has never broken, has never FLINCHED! When the rest of the world saw THAT—” Line’s long arm pointed at the coming avalanche of black— “They all fell to pieces!”

The earth began to quake as the wall rose over them. Someone screamed. The mortars on the field fired as one at the roiling sky. The blackness spilled over the stadium, then slid over the perimeter of the frizzing wall of static that had encapsulated the field. No Phoenix Cycler had seen—only heard rumors from past Cycle Pref parties—this blackness that was sliding over and them whispering their deaths.

– The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise

About the Author

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Bob is pretty dope. Firstly, his name is Bob, so…yea. Second, have you seen him rock that suit while in a maximum security prison? Epic.

Yea. That’s Bob. No psychological scarring with that author. Nope. Totally fine.

Gosh he looks good in suits.

Hey Have you read The Phoenix Cycle? He wrote that.

One suggestion before you read it and become one of those fans that leaves him roses by his doormat. Read her slowly. This book is not Twilight. She’s deeper than that. Take your time with her. Show the book you care. Cradle it and make it feel loved. If you do, she’ll be good to you. Go too fast and you’ll have no idea why she’s acting so crazy.

Philosophies Dead | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Goodreads

Giveaway!!!

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The author is giving away 10 print copies (That’s right 10) and 5 Digital copies of his book so make sure you enter as the odds are definitely in your favor! (Runs from May 21st to May 30th)

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Blog Tour Schedule

May 21st

Reads & Reels (Kick-Off Promo)

Just for My Books (Excerpt)

The Lit Cottage (Review)

Adventures Thu Wonderland (Review)

The Midwest Ladies Who Lit (Excerpt)

May 22nd

IAMAGEEKINGGINGER (Review)

Tranquil Dreams (Review)

On the Shelf Reviews (Excerpt)

May 23rd

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt)

The Genre Minx (Excerpt)

The Cozy Pages (Excerpt)

Valerie’s Musings (Excerpt)

The YA Book Divas (Interview)

May 24th

J Bronder Reviews (Review)

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Interview)

Bri’s Book Nook (Review)

The Cozy Pages (Excerpt)

Wicked Good Reads (Review)

May 25th

Afire Pages (Excerpt)

Port Jerricho (Excerpt)

Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Review)

Life at 17 (Review)

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Over a Hundred Downloaded! Thank You!

As a spring time thank you gift to my readers I offered Search For Maylee free for a few days last week. I’m over the moon that so many people took advantage of this offer! Usually when I do a free day or two of one of my books, I get anywhere from ten to fifty copies downloaded. It’s a very random number, to be honest… I never really know what to expect.

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SO, when I had over a hundred copies downloaded you can imagine my joy!  I’m so excited, and so grateful that so many readers were interested in reading Search For Maylee!

That said, I just want to throw a quick THANK YOU for everyone who spotted the promotion here on the blog and decided to give this book a try!  I appreciate every single reader dearly, and I can’t wait to see your thoughts on my book!

 

Search For Maylee, #free (May 15 – 18)

I love everything about this time of year! The colors, the smells, the warmth. There is just something about new life and growth that comes with spring. I light of the spirit of spring, as well as a (somewhat belated) Mothers Day celebration, I’ve decided to do a spur of the moment spring promotion!

I’m so excited to offer my latest book Search For Maylee as my gift to you! From today May 15th through Friday May 18th the kindle version is downloadable for free on Amazon!  Click this link to claim your gift! Happy spring, and happy reading!

Description:

Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her. It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead. She moves across the country to find him. Will Autumn be able to pry Maylee’s case back open? More importantly, what will Autumn uncover in the process of searching for Maylee? It’s a cold dark world we live in, and she is about to find out just how cruel it can be. Strength and determination are on Autumn’s side and she will do what ever it takes.

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Happy spring everyone, and happy reading!!

Remember sharing is caring, and reviewing is LOVE!

Screams You Hear, by James Morris #booktour #review #excerpt @shanannigans81 @JMorrisWriter

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Screams You Hear

Genre: Horror/ YA

Publication Date: January 8, 2018

Book Blurb:

Murder and madness infect a small town.

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone?

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Excerpt

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Chapter 1

I wake to pain, pain beyond comprehension, my skin on fire, only to find myself in a hospital bed, my arms bandaged, and wires snaking into machines. The burns are covered in white gauze and every motion, no matter how small, sends my nerves screaming. The air is heavy against my skin. And that smell. I can still smell the bitterness of my singed hair. I feel my head, expecting strands of hair, thick and wavy, but it’s gone. There are only splotches of emptiness, a topography of touch that alarms me. I wonder if it will ever grow back.

Tendrils of anxiety course through me, pulsing steadily. I need to wake up from whatever this is.

In spite of the pain, I caress my face and I have no eyebrows. Only stubble. No matter where I touch, my skin isn’t soft; it’s leather, a mask that rests too tightly against my skull. It’s like my skin is both expanding and contracting, pushing and pulling.

In the cyclone of terror, I remember. I remember everything.

I wish I didn’t. I wish it all away.

Around the room, there are no mirrors, and I know it’s no accident. It’s small comfort. I don’t want to see myself. I may never look in a mirror again. It’s only me and a bed, and colorful murals of elephants and giraffes on the wall, their cartoon smiles mocking me. I must be in the children’s wing, even though I’m sixteen. Next to me, an IV recedes into my vein. To my left is a button. It could be to call for assistance. Or to adjust the bed. But I think it’s something else. I think it’s for pain.

I could press it and disappear into numbness.

I could press it and just drift.

But there is something about pain. It’s the price of being alive.

The button is my litmus test.

I am stronger than my pain. I need to focus on something—anything. I need to distract myself.

I am not my pain.

I am Ruthie Stroud. I live at— wait—not anymore. I have a brother—no, not anymore.

I shut my eyes. I can’t shut them hard enough. Through the darkness, I still see fire. My world engulfed with flickering orange and reds. And the all-encompassing heat, heat beyond boiling, bordering on oblivion. Melting.

My last memory is coming ashore on the mainland, alone and fiercely tired. I didn’t walk, didn’t run. I moved, floating, held aloft by the most invisible of strings, my eyes on the horizon, people on the edges of my vision. Adults. I felt their gaze. The air was cool and moist and my skin so hot. Moving and moving; people staring. I hear them, words like police and 911 and oh my God. They surround me, a horde. They’re feral creatures, circling, their faces distorted. They are coming for me. I have no escape.

I scream and my world goes dark.

“Ruthie?”

I open my eyes. A woman stands in the hospital room doorway. Her skin is the color of teak, her black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, and without a uniform, she’s clearly no nurse. I look down her button-down shirt and a badge is attached to her belt, a gun holstered at her side.

She says, not unkindly, “I’m Detective Perez from the Washington State Police.”

I knew the cops would get involved, even though they’re late. Far too late.

She waits for me to invite her in. “May I?”

I nod and my skin crinkles and cracks. She enters, pulling a chair beside my bed and sits down. Her brown eyes rest on me and then dart away. She can’t bear to look. I must seem a monster. She asks, “How are you feeling?”

I don’t know how to answer that question.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

Down the hall, I hear a child scream. From surgery or fear, I don’t know. I think fight the pain, fight the pain.

She speaks to me in soothing tones. “I need to ask you a few questions. About what happened. Can you talk?”

My mouth is dry, my throat sore, my vocal chords thrashed. I’d forgotten how much I screamed. I feel my skin wrinkle into deep crevices as I move my jaw, and it’s an effort to form words. Even my tongue feels burned; this strange muscle in my mouth. “Is my dad coming?”

“He’s on his way.” We share a bit of silence and I stare at the woman she is, the beautiful woman I will never be, and she says, “I’d like to start at the beginning. And if there’s ever a point where you need to stop, just let me know, okay?”

“There’s just one thing,” and I clear my throat. I force her to find my eyes. To see. To look. To understand.

“What’s that?”

“Don’t judge me,” I tell her. “I did what I had to.”

Are you jonesing for more? Well for a limited time, Screams You Hear is available for review!

Request Copy!

Available on Amazon and it’s an absolute MUST read!

About the Author

James Morris

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

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Giveaway Time! The author is giving away a print copy of Screams You Hear to one lucky winner so don’t forget to enter!

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My Review: 5 STARS

Hold onto your seats with this one. The pace is fast and the twists WILL dump you on your rear, and quick!!! Every single page of this book is splattered with jaw dropping content. It’s the kind of horrifying scenario that every teen/kid (or anyone really) who lives on a secluded island should have nightmares about.
It starts out with Ruthie waking up in the burn unit of a hospital. The island she’s from has literally been completely wiped out in population… all except for her. She’s the sole survivor of an insanely morbid series of events. She’s being questioned by the law enforcement who’s trying to figure out what exactly took place. Her recollection is detailed, overflowing with adrenaline, and just flat out bloody terrifying!
So, the story bounced in time, back and forth between the now and the previous few days as the odd events play out. I loved this approach here, and I usually don’t. Most books that bounce around leave me a little confused and irritated, but with Screams You Hear it worked out perfectly. The character development was perfect. I especially loved Max her best friend, and Theo her brother. They each bring about their own story and personality dynamics, that in my opinion polish the story over, making it well rounded and actually realistic.
It’s hard to explain any details without throwing any spoilers in the mix. So, I’ll just give a short and very broad outlook. Basically, the adults in the community snap. Ruthie has her suspicions on what’s causing it, which makes total sense. No matter the scientific backdrop, it’s murderous, its nasty, its ruthless, and utterly heartless what they do to the kids here. It has a feel of a survival story, more so than anything else, as its coming from Ruthie’s point of view.
I debated between 4 and 5 stars for some time. The writing is exquisite, and the story is definitely one of a kind horrifying… But at the same time, because the kids aren’t mentally sick the way that the adults are… a few of the scenes were a little too hard for me to stomach.
All in all I enjoyed the read, and will most definitely be reading more from this author!

Feel Me Fall, by James Morris #Blitz #excerpt

Genre: YA/ Thriller/ Survival

Publication Date: May 2017

Blurb:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

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Excerpt

I have tried so hard to forget, but memory is a stubborn thing. Memories linger no matter what I do. They’re there all the time—and worse. Even my dreams aren’t safe. I have vicious nightmares, and they’re real—too real—and suddenly I’m back there. I can’t will them away, I can’t squeeze them away, and the more I try, the more they burrow in my head. I want to cut open my skull and dig my fingers into my brain and just pull them out.

I press the Call Nurse button.

This place, this room; it’s no better than a white coffin. Sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I have to remind myself nothing’s moving. Nothing at all.

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.

A nurse enters. She’s got skin the color of rich walnut. She says, “It’s late, you should be asleep.”

“I can’t.” She tilts her head, knowing it’s a lie. The truth is I don’t want to. “Can I have some coffee?”

“You’ve got to sleep sometime, honey.” She walks over and gently grasps my bandaged hand. “Do you want me to stay with you a while?”

Usually my mom is with me, but she must’ve had to run home. Reduced to a little girl, I nod.

I close my eyes, but my mind runs and runs. Tubes and fluids enter my body, but there’s nothing to stop the anxiety. My heart pounds and sometimes I fear I’m on the cusp of crossing into whatever lies on the other side of sane. Being in the hospital makes it harder. The white walls and sick people only remind me that I am so far from normal. My mom’s apartment in Los Angeles is less than five miles away, but it might as well be a million.

The nurse, staff, doctors, everyone; they all know me for one thing. The thing that will define me for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. The only survivor of Air Brazil, the plane that crashed in the Amazon jungle carrying 134 passengers; 37 of them students, teachers, and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. I used to hear about plane crashes and wondered how the victims felt in the seconds before impact, wondered what it was like to know you were about to die.

Now I know. And I’d give anything not to.

I knew those people from school. Every. Single. One.

They aren’t faceless names. They are people and they are dead.

The counselor didn’t help, either. She told me not to feel guilty. Survivor’s guilt, she called it. She warned I could expect to be angry and sad. I could expect to be confused. I wanted to tell her I was angry and sad and confused long before I got onto that plane.

My counselor told me to write my story down. By writing I could make sense of all that happened. I keep thinking if I remember everything the way I need to that the memories will fade away. That I can accept what happened. I can accept that I survived and everyone else died.

The laptop on my nightstand is waiting for me. I’m scared to touch it.

###

I was dead to the world and when I came to I was drowning. Water gushed into my mouth and I was tumbling, flailing, not knowing what end was up or down. I heard the sounds of screaming and the roaring of water and then nothingness. Coming up for air, I held something, something rectangular. The seat cushion I was holding kept me afloat. I was in a river and I didn’t know why. I kicked and kicked and it made no difference. I never believed in God, an all-powerful being that allowed so many horrible things to happen, but as I saw the rocks up ahead, I prayed.

The current sped faster, churning like boiling water and I thought I was going to die.

I was 17 and I was going to die.

All the time wasted. All the things I never got to do.

I had one thought over and over: I don’t want to die. Someone else, but not me.

I held onto that seat cushion for dear life and plunged into the rapids. I was a human rag doll. The torrent sucked me into a watery hell and I couldn’t breathe; my eyes shut, mouth shut, face tight against the murk, willing everything to stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic.

Someone else, but not me.

I needed air, my body screamed for it and I opened my mouth about to take in water when I bubbled up to the surface and gasped. As quickly as I was brought above, I was taken under again. I slammed against the rocks and buried my face deeper into the cushion. I saw nothing, heard nothing, and imagined I was in a womb. I could only wait for the terror to pass. There was no outlet; my fear was so deep and tangible I couldn’t scream. It felt like an actual substance that enveloped my body, my brain, my very being. I receded further and further within myself, a dark hole, my entire body a taut muscle.

Suddenly, I took a shot to the head and saw stars. A high-pitched squeal rang in my ears. I fought the growing sensation of darkness that threatened to overcome me, but I knew to give in meant death. I was tempted. So, so tempted. I forced my eyes open and saw the water, the dark water and wondered in that emptiness if I hadn’t died already.

My prayer must’ve been heard.

The water calmed and I was spit out near a bend. I realized I had to give up the cushion, my lifeline—it was holding me back. I let go, cursing myself as it floated away and I swam, giving everything I had. My body had nothing left but I commanded it, willed it, to swim. As I approached the shore, my shoes finally touched bottom and I heaved myself onto land.

I don’t know how long I lay there catching my breath. But there is no greater feeling of security than the sensation of the earth beneath your stomach, hands grabbing dirt. The scent of decay and wet leaves smelled like a bouquet. All this time I’d taken the ground beneath me for granted. Now I was thankful for this place to rest.

I was soaked. My jeans pressed against me, my hair drenched, my socks squished against my feet. I didn’t understand. I had left on a flight from Los Angeles with a layover in Panama City and then on to Asuncion, Paraguay for a year-end class trip. We were traveling as an inter-disciplinary trip for history, international relations, foreign language and biology. We were going to have the trip of a lifetime.

Then it hit me, a delayed reaction: I almost drowned. I almost died. My body seized and I was overwhelmed. I cried; I didn’t even know why or for what, but I sobbed on that little stretch of dirt. I heaved, gasping for breath. Every inhale was a wheeze, and I caught myself hitting the ground, my hands balled into tight fists, pounding and pounding.

Moments passed and I cried myself empty. I told myself: get up. You have to get up.

I placed my hands in the dirt to help me stand and looked around thinking: What is this place? There was green everywhere, too much green, and a river the width of three football fields in front of me. The air was heavy, a physical pressure against my skin. I was in the jungle, a tangled web of trees and totally foreign. Any other time, I might’ve been amazed by its majesty, only now I felt small. Trees towered behind me, the river flowed in front, and I was trapped.

It was then I felt the weight of my cross-body bag. I’d been wearing it the whole time. Not very heavy, I managed to unhook it and was about to open the zipper when I heard screams.

Floating down the river were more people. I wasn’t alone! A ripple of joy overtook me until I saw their faces reflecting what I sensed my own might look like—bruised, bleeding, and utterly thrashed.

Exhausted, I shouted my voice hoarse, “Over here!” I waved my hands over my head. “You can do it,” I encouraged. “Almost there!”

Some didn’t move at all. They floated, faces down, rolling through the current, lost in the rapids, disappearing for far too long. Those were the ones who didn’t thrash. Others were swept in the rapids, their screams barely heard over the rushing water only to be silenced on the other end. I was watching people die. The bodies were like a slow leak, trickling down the river a few at a time, and yet almost none of them emerged alive on the other side of the rocks. I couldn’t save them. They were too far away.

Someone else, but not me.

I didn’t mean like this.

Then I saw Viv and my heart nearly stopped.

She struggled in the water, past the rapids, a bobber about to go under. She was never athletic even though she was stick thin. Water gurgled from her mouth and she barely moved. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I wouldn’t allow it. I was terrified of my own exhaustion, but I jumped into the water and found a strength I never knew. I swam out to her. Her head dipped under the water and I would not let that be the last time I saw my best friend alive. I grasped her flotation cushion and then headed back to shore.

She looked at me, dazed. “Emily, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.” I could barely contain my relief.

The sun shone over my head, reflecting in the ripples. “You look like an angel.”

I knew Vivian was out of it. “Stop talking now. Just swim. We’re going to be okay.”

I reached the shore for a second time and pulled her up with me. Once on land, she pulled me into a hug and nothing had ever felt better. Always shorter than me, her face burrowed into my chest and I felt I was protecting an abandoned baby bird. Her inky dark hair, usually so pretty was now plastered to her head, her make-up had washed away, and she was just this tiny thing. Her whole body shivered. “Tell me it’s a dream, tell me it’s a dream….”

“I wish it was, Viv.” I would’ve stayed hugging her if not for the other people in need of help.

Nico, Viv’s immature boyfriend, splashed ashore, his glasses gone, his nose bloody, red streaks smeared across his face. He was panting and heaved over, and I thought he might throw up. We had a history, but there was no time for irritation. Any familiar face was cause for celebration. He seemed surprised to see me. “You made it.”

He then eased Viv from my arms and into his.

Further down the river there was movement. It was Derek, all limbs and urgency, his face pockmarked with acne and not a hint of stubble. He splashed onto shore, his fingers digging into sand and he kissed the earth.

Twenty yards away, Ryan Wray followed. One of his prosthetic legs was missing—he’d lost his legs below the knee after contracting a rare case of meningitis a few years earlier—and he crab-walked onto land, his one pant leg empty, wet, and flat. He wasn’t alone. He helped guide Mean Molly with him. She was far from mean then, almost drowned, flustered and frantic. Once she got out of the water, she toppled in the mud, curling into a fetal position.

I stayed where I was as Ryan, Molly and Derek staggered along the shore, finally meeting up with us.

There was no time to rest or reflect. The river scattered more survivors along the shore. I pulled in a man and stopped in alarm when I saw that one of his arms had snapped off. I gently laid him down and he didn’t even notice until he turned his head. He said with an eerie calm, “That looks painful.” I recognized him from the plane. He’d sat a few aisles in front of me and slammed back drinks whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. On land, he didn’t even scream. His face was pale and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses from below his shoulder.

“What do we do?” Nico said.

I had no clue. I only knew we needed to do something. “Derek, your belt!”

Derek looked from his perch on the mud and shook his head. I couldn’t believe it.

“Derek, give me your belt! He’s losing too much blood.”

Derek, in shock or otherwise, didn’t move.

I searched for anything that would act as a tourniquet, but my efforts were in vain. The man’s blood had dwindled to a dribble, leaving a red puddle in the mud.

Another woman emerged from the water like a swamp creature, stumbling. We sat her down and she gazed at the water. She had a head injury like mine. Blood ran from her scalp and there was a small spot where her hair had been chafed away. It wasn’t a wound. It was a hole. Looking closer, I could see something I didn’t want to—her skull and what lay within. Her eyelids fluttered and she swayed, falling unconscious. I tried to grab her, but gravity took her to the ground. I nudged her once, twice; she didn’t respond. “Wake up,” I pleaded. “Please wake up.” She never moved again.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run from this place.

It seemed like a Halloween parade. They had to be in costume or using special effects; the injuries and deaths couldn’t be real.

They were all too real.

One man drifted to shore, his face down in the water, his wispy gray hair splayed out on the water’s surface. We grabbed ahold of him and he was heavy, far too heavy for his slender body. We saw why. The flotation device had kept him afloat, but he’d drowned somewhere along the way.

The last man we helped suffered so many burns his face was charred and etched in pain—I had the horrible thought of grill marks on steak. Once on land he jumped back into the water. Maybe the water had soothed him. I tried to reach out and grab him. “Let me help you!” But he was hysterical, too fast, and we watched as he floated away. I tell myself that he would’ve probably died anyway.

It’s terrible that I only knew them as The Woman, The Old Man, The Man Without an Arm and The Burned Man. Somewhere people knew their names, their histories, secrets and loves. Many of them rested at our feet, their chests still, mouths open. We were among the dead, and I found that we all, consciously or not, distanced ourselves from the horror.

###

The six of us stood on the shore, a hodgepodge of strained relationships, but I hoped the past meant nothing now. Silence fell over us. My voice felt robotic. “What happened?”

They looked at me as if I was stupid and in that moment I knew.

You’ve been in a plane crash.

You’ve been in a plane crash and you survived.

Viv broke down crying. “Where’s everyone else?” I asked.

“Where do you think?” said Ryan.

There had been a whole planeload of people, 37 of them from our school including my English teacher, Mr. DeKoning. We couldn’t be the only ones left. Things like this didn’t happen. At least not to us. To me.

I struggled, trying to remember, and yet there was only me sitting in my cramped seat, my body wracked with discomfort after such a long flight, the recycled air making my skin feel plastic, and then this. “How did we end up in the water?”

Ryan looked at me, stunned. “You don’t remember?”

I shook my head.

“Maybe it’s better that way.”

Derek rose. “The plane crashed in the Amazon. At least that’s what the map on my seat showed. You don’t remember bracing yourself? The flight attendants freaking out?”

“She said no, Derek!” This from Viv.

Derek said, “The plane broke apart. Flooded. We were lucky to get out.”

I didn’t remember any of it. “How did I get out?”

“Same way we did,” Derek said. “We were all sitting near each other. Near the exit rows. Threw on our life jackets or grabbed seat cushions and jumped in the water. A lot of people….” He paused. “A lot of people didn’t.” Derek looked at the dead adults. “They did, though.” He spit near the dead bodies.

“What are you talking about?”

“You should’ve seen ‘em claw over everyone. Trampled over people. They scratched and pushed their way out. There were no heroes on that plane. Not them, at least. They deserved to die.”

Nico shot back, “No one deserved to die. No one.”

“I don’t know,” Derek said. “Bet if you checked under their fingernails, you’d find human skin.”

Ryan interrupted, “Anyone see Conlin?” We shook our heads. Pete Conlin was Ryan’s best friend. “He was sitting right next to me. He was right there.” Ryan peered out over the water, as if he could see Pete in the distance. “He was right next to me.”

I don’t remember what I did next. Maybe I cried. Maybe I fell on the ground. I receded back inside myself where nothing could hurt me. It didn’t make sense. None of it made sense. Beyond the wreckage and bodies, we were in some kind of Garden of Eden, untouched by humans, as pristine as anything I’d ever seen, canopies of trees, and plants and flowers like colorful origami, a perfume of nature, and yet we’d fallen from the sky. I hunched over, shivering, saying to myself I am safe, I am safe, I am safe.

Our layers of clothes were so wet there was no point in wearing them. Derek was missing a shoe. Most of Nico’s pants were ripped from the waist down. Viv’s designer sweatpants clung to her body. Ryan fiddled with his remaining prosthetic leg, knocking sand loose from the joints and making sure it moved properly. Disjointed and detached from his body, it looked out of place, like the rest of this nightmare. With his jeans rolled up, I saw his stump covered in scar tissue.

Derek stood near the jungle’s entrance, a quizzical look on his face, almost scientific. He didn’t seem all that fazed, and even ran his hand over some of the trees, feeling their bark. I wondered what was wrong with him.

Molly sat on the shore, plopped down like a scoop of soft-serve ice cream, her head in her hands. She sat alone, and I felt bad for her, but she had earned the nickname Mean Molly for a reason. I got up anyway and approached her. Even as I asked it, I felt stupid. “Are you okay?”

She ignored me. Then she spoke. “I never wanted to come on this trip.”

Molly didn’t once look at me. She just kept staring ahead. I left her alone.

Viv, Nico and I formed a triangle on the ground. Viv and Nico leaned into each other, and Viv’s crying went from a soft cry into heaves of despair. “I just want to go home. I just want to go home.”

We didn’t know it then, but the jungle was to become our home for far too long.

Feel Me Fall is Available on Amazon!

About the Author

James Morris

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

James Morris| Twitter| Facebook | Amazon

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Musicians and Authors: Comparison in Conversation! Benedict and Didi (Guest Post, Part 1.)

Last week Benedict Roff-Marsh came to me with the brilliant idea to do an interview in conversation style comparing the similarities between music and book production. Something in depth  and helpful to readers, that can have a home on both of our pages. I was absolutely elated at the idea!  So, without further ado, please enjoy!

Benedict at Bandcamp

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Image link: https://benedictroff-marsh.bandcamp.com/

Please meet Benedict Roff-Marsh. Benedict is a musician. He has made music for 30 years, always using synthesizers as his bandmates. Benedict also Blogs a lot about the process of being creative and how to get work past the barriers of fear into the light of the public.

www.benedictroffmarsh.com

Didi Oviatt

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Please meet Didi (MYSELF). Didi writes and self-publishes books like Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians as well as her own Blog about writing which has some distinct parallels to my own posts. Didi is also a columnist at The Conscious Talk Magazine, an online outlet for diverse intelligent readers. 

www.didioviatt.wordpress.com

amazon.com/author/didioviatt

www.conscioustalkmag.com

AND NOW FOR THE INTERVIEW WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR

B: Hi Didi. Thanks for agreeing to this interview, especially seeing we have only known each other for about 12 seconds. Something I really love about the Internet (and writing) is that it can allow a person to present a lot about themselves in a controlled way. Conversations can be messy but typed material is only as messy as you let it be. How does it feel having a total stranger tap tapping on your chamber door?

D: Hello Benedict! I’m thrilled to have met you too. I couldn’t be any happier with this conversation and a chance to pick at your brain a bit. I’ve been spending some time on your site, and I have to say your vast knowledge of music is impressive!

To answer your question: This age of technology and having strangers tap tapping on my door both scares and excites me… in equal measures! It seems the more advanced we get, and the more knowledge is accessible at our fingertips, the smaller our world becomes. It makes us both powerful AND vulnerable at the same time. Honestly, this frightens me beyond measure for the future of my kids, and grandkids to come. That said, it’s also empowering to be able to influence, create, and grow in a community of like minded people from anywhere on the globe on any given day. That’s a beautiful thing.

Now, I have a question for you:  It looks like you have been in the music business for many years. The Discography page on your site dates back as far as 1989 (I was four years old that year). Musicians are now technologically able to create, produce, and distribute their material from home just the same as authors are able to write, publish, and distribute their books. Do you feel that this is a positive or negative aspect for the majority of consumers, and why?

B: Now that is a curly one straight up. Two answers and depending on what day you get me either can be the dominant one:

  1. Technology has certainly lowered the cost of entry for being a composing & recording musician. In the last few years what can be done on a phone with free software exceeds what I could do with expensive Used gear back in the late 80’s! This is great as now really anyone has access to the tools they need to get their musical ideas out there to the whole world. You don’t even need a record company any more. Everyone has an equal ability to have a voice.
  2. I think it is currently a bit of a disaster area; or at least it has been for the last 20 years as now anyone can say or do what they want with no gatekeeper or curator to help keep standards high. Art is a big responsibility and being able to bang out all manner of garbage and call it self-expression like they just made “Hotel California” or “Stairway To Heaven” is not a positive thing for the nobility of expressing the human condition.

Thankfully I am starting to see that, while the mainstream record industry is stooping real low, there are some stirrings in the self-powered artist arena. So hopefully very soon I will be majoring with option #1.

I read a self-published book from a free eBooks site a while ago and rather enjoyed it. So, would I be right in assuming that what I say above is about right for books too?

D: First off, I’m glad you threw a reference to ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (I love that particular age of rock). Secondly, you’re absolutely right! The whole time I was reading your question, I was asking myself that exact same thing and comparing the similarities. Being a Self-published author, I read a LOT of Self-published books. I try to support fellow Indi’s as much as I can, and I also enjoy the chase in finding a diamond in the rough. But, that’s just it… There is so much to read and sort through due to the abundance and simplicity in the publishing process, as well as so many books being rough unpolished rubbage, it can be hard. I think this is why so many people only read traditionally published works. They’ve been turned off by a few Indi reads, and turned their backs. Traditional books have already been filtered, so they’re more likely to be trusted by the consumer.

Now, that said… I’ve also read quite a few traditional books that are equally as hard to get through. A lot of authors have an in after their first one accepted, and the rest of their work can easily get sloppy with repetition. This day and age in writing, has opened the doors so wide for bibliophiles that the standard of both Traditional and Self-published can be a bit of a double edged sword.  

B: I write a lot about the stumbling blocks we face as musicians in getting our records finished and published. Because those means to create & publish are so available now, I wonder if aspiring wordsmiths really have essentially the same challenges us note wranglers do?

D: Yes, and no. There is so much to learn, I feel like even after years of dipping my toes in the water, I’m still learning something new on a regular basis. I also feel like once you’ve figured something out, everything advances and changes. Writing a manuscript is really only a start of the battle. It’s like the training and prep before going to war. Once you have the manuscript written, the real work begins. You’ve reached the battle destination, but haven’t exactly joined the fight. This is the point where you need to think tactically. There are so many options, so many potential roads to take, it can be overwhelming… and expensive if you let it.

At the end of the day, creating and publishing can most definitely be a struggle, but with enough persistence and dedication you’ll get there eventually. No matter which road you decided to take, the publishing job is finish-able.

In my opinion, it’s the marketing that truly takes the struggle cake. This is where the majority of new writers get hung up. They assume that because they’ve published a book, it’ll automatically be read by the masses. Sadly, this just isn’t the case. Getting your books out there can be hard work! You could have the greatest piece of literature known to mankind, yet if no one knows it exists then how will it ever be read? People spend very large sums of money on marketing, lots of which the outlets are scams and/or useless. They also spend a lot of time. Building a readership and author platform is double the time consumption of actually producing books. I could go on and on about marketing, but I’ll just stop here lol.

So, what about musicians? Is getting one’s music delivered to the ears of the masses as rocky of a trail as it is getting books in the hands of mass story lovers?

B: Short answer, yes. Very much so.

Putting your record on Bandcamp or YouTube is really easy (once you’ve done it once) but getting it heard, and more importantly generating paying fans, is soul destroying. I understand why people still wish for Mr Sony to arrive on their doorstep to take all the pain away. Sadly tho, I don’t think he’s coming.

In the meantime there are plenty of places that offer the nirvana of endless fans if you just Join Now and then Upgrade to the Pro plan. It’s rather clever but more often than not a total noose (a waste of cash & energy) as you can only develop fans organically. I see so many developing artists going in completely the wrong direction chasing stats in some web app instead of building what their natural talent is suited to.

Of course that just leaves them more frustrated, and less able to be helped. It is a sort of Dante’s “Inferno” out there. My Ma used to say that it was a sin not to use the talents that God gave us as He has a bigger plan that relies on each of us being the puzzle piece He intended. Once I swap God for Nature or Life I agree.

The problem we have right now with the internet, is that essentially everyone is posting something in hope people will listen but no one is listening because they are too busy posting their missive and trying to demand plays. This is all so me, me, me and leaves no space for conversation.

This circles me back to the way you grabbed onto Led Zeppelin & the Eagles as I truly worry that we aren’t getting those moments where an act can speak to and for the masses so powerfully. Will we ever see bands like that again? Will we ever see the like of H.G. Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” again?

You appear to have had some success getting nice feedback on your books. Can you try to help us understand what you did differently from those who get nowhere?

PLEASE STAY TUNED!  THE ANSWER TO BENEDICT’S QUESTION WILL BE BLED OUT, AND MORE!!

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A Creative Writer’s Logic Is Often Wackie #amwriting

I think there’s more than one reason the majority of writers refer to themselves as ‘starving artists.’ It isn’t only about money. I mean, granted we spend hours and hours, and then even more drawn-out tedious hours tapping away on the keys of a board, and for what? To turn around and spend even more countless hours advertising our own crap?  Sounds a little insane, right? So why do we do it? Some make millions $$, some make a measly double digit number $$ and then quit. But why? Why do we insist on being starving artists? Why take the time? What drives our little bibliophile brains to push the boundaries of literacy?

Most people think they know why, but for the most part they’re wrong.

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So let me just set the record straight!

The reason we writers do what we do, is because we’re all just a little off.  On one hand we’re smart, we love words and how we’re able to bend and twist them into creations, into life. We love the game, the competition, the struggle, the trudging forward into the unknown of adventure that may lay ahead in our writing journey.

Then on the other hand, we at times hate all of those same things. We loath that after all the time spent, we’re still lingering in some gray area. We can’t get all the white noise out of our heads. Unless we take the time to sit our asses in front of our projects and create random greatness in order to get it all OUT of our thoughts. Our minds don’t really shut up. The fact that writing is a channel to hone in on, offers some relief to the madness.

We’re all sorta weird, and sorta quirky, and sorta insane.

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Let me also point out, that we ourselves as writers don’t always know why we do what we do! Some days we think we have it all figured out, and we can provide the most wonderfully logical answers…

BUT REALLY THAT’S WHY WE’RE WRITERS, BECAUSE WE’RE ALL FULL OF SHIT… We’re good at being full of shit, we make stuff up all the time.

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Ultimately, in my opinion…. There really is no straight forward reason that we writers do what we do, aside from the fact that our logic is for the most part askew. Because NOT writing would actually take a larger toll on our well-being than actually writing. Creating is our glue, it holds us together and gives us purpose whether we like it or not.

So let me ask… Why do you do it? What drives you to be a writer?

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