Monday, September 4, 2017

The First Page: Night in Jerusalem by Paul Kennedy


Title: NIGHT IN JERUSALEM
Author: Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy
Publisher: PKZ Inc.
Pages: 246
Genre: Historical Romance

A bewitching love story that is also an extraordinary portrait of Jerusalem, its faith, spirituality, identity, and kaleidoscope of clashing beliefs, Night in Jerusalem is a novel of mystery, beauty, historical insight, and sexual passion.
David Bennett is invited to Jerusalem in 1967 by his cousin who, to the alarm of his aristocratic British family, has embraced Judaism. He introduces David to his mentor, Reb Eli, a revered sage in the orthodox community. Despite his resistance to religious teaching, David becomes enthralled by the rabbi’s wisdom and compassionate presence. When David discloses a sexual problem, Reb Eli unwittingly sets off a chain of events that transforms his life and the life of the mysterious prostitute, Tamar, who, in a reprise of an ancient biblical story, leads both men to an astonishing realization. As passions rise, the Six Day War erupts, reshaping the lives of everyone caught up in it.

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The First Page


Hail pounded the windshield of the sherut as it made its way through the night to Jerusalem. The driver pulled to the side of the road, startled. He peered at the windshield. It was fractured, but to his astonishment, still intact.
“In twenty years I never see such storm,” he said in his best English.
He lit a cigarette and offered the pack to his passengers. David refused; the three Israelis accepted. Sitting up front, an elderly woman took out oranges, which she peeled, divided, and shared, using her dress to wipe the juice off her hands. The taxi filled with the pungent smell of oranges mixed with cigarette smoke. David cracked open a window.
The storm reminded him of the monsoon in India. Like many of his generation, he had gone there searching for revelation. He had hoped it would let him shake off the feeling of isolation that plagued him wherever he went. His upbringing had given him every comfort that money could buy, except the comfort of belonging in his own skin. At times the loneliness hid long enough to fool him into thinking it was gone, but then, like a familiar ghost, it would find its way back and fill him with despair. After a year of traveling, he had returned to England, only to discover that nothing had changed.
Now, stuck in a taxi on a desolate hilltop outside Jerusalem, enveloped by smoke while waiting out the storm, he regretted leaving Hampshire’s gentle slopes, which were always so green and welcoming, where sometimes after a rain, like a gift from heaven, the sun would come out followed by a sudden rainbow.
He was trying to ignore his reservations about coming to Israel. He wished he had not allowed his cousin to persuade him to come “just for a visit.” Although Jonathan, at twenty-eight, was only a year older, David viewed him as a more mature, elder brother, as well as his best friend. They had grown up together in the south of England in an aristocratic family, enjoying the privileges of great wealth, but subject to the remoteness from society that it can sometimes bring. When Jonathan had left for Israel, David’s loneliness had become unbearable.
After an hour, the storm stopped. The driver told everyone they would need another car to take them to Jerusalem, as he could not see out of his cracked windshield, and that their only option, given the hour, was to hitchhike. The passengers stood at the side of the road for what seemed like an eternity. David was certain he would be there until morning, when an army truck loomed out of the night and juddered to a stop. The driver, a young soldier, helped them aboard, before continuing cautiously down the steep, winding road to Jerusalem.
David was the last passenger to be dropped off. He thanked the soldier for stopping and delivering them safely, surprised by the informality of it all. Just after midnight, standing before a two-story stone building in Abu Tor, with only the moon shimmering through the clouds for illumination, he could just about make out the number of the house. The flat Jonathan had arranged for him was upstairs. He could not find the light and, after blindly climbing the staircase, he felt his way to the top-floor door and fumbled under the mat for the key.
Inside the flat, a lamp had been left on for him, with a note attached to a bottle of wine on a small, wooden table.
Welcome to Jerusalem. See you in the morning, eight o’clock at Cafe Cassis. It’s down the hill to Hebron Road, then right to Rehov (Street) King David, and right again on Rehov Ben-Yehudah. The cafe will be on your right, just a bit further up at the corner. It’s less than a fifteen-minute walk, Jonathan.
P.S. If you want a bath, turn on the red switch outside the loo an hour before. Hope you remembered to bring toilet paper.
The shutters on the windows and doors were closed. The room had a vaulted ceiling and contained a dark, birch armoire that matched the headboard on the double bed. A tufted, deep green armchair was the only other piece of furniture. The room felt as ancient as the city.
Chilled from the storm, David lit the gas heater, then clicked on the red switch for hot water. The bathroom had a commode with a chain flush and a small sink with an even smaller mirror above it. He felt the rough, brown toilet paper sitting on top of the commode and understood why Jonathan had told him to bring a suitcase full. He was grateful there was a deep bathtub with a hand shower.
Restless while waiting for the water to heat, he changed into warmer clothes and decided to take a first look at the city he would live in for the next month.


About the Author

Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy worked as an actress and writer in film and television in the United States and Israel. Night in Jerusalem is her debut novel, which she has adapted to film. She lives in Ojai
California with her husband and daughter.

She writes, “I lived in Israel in the 1960s, a naive twenty-year-old, hoping to find myself and my place in the world. The possibility of war was remote to me. I imagined the tensions in the region would somehow be resolved peacefully. Then, the Six Day War erupted and I experienced it firsthand in Jerusalem.

I have drawn Night in Jerusalem from my experiences during that time. The historical events portrayed in the novel are accurate. The characters are based on people I knew in the city. Like me, they were struggling to make sense of their lives, responding to inherited challenges they could not escape that shaped their destiny in ways they and the entire Middle East could not have imagined.

I have always been intrigued by the miraculous. How and where the soul’s journey leads and how it reveals its destiny. How two people who are destined, even under the threat of war and extinction, can find one another.

Israel’s Six Day War is not a fiction; neither was the miracle of its victory. What better time to discover love through intrigue, passion, and the miraculous.

Writing this story was in part reliving my history in Israel, in part a mystical adventure. I am grateful that so many who have read Night In Jerusalem have experienced this as well.”

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

The First Page: Surgeon's Story by Mark Oristano




Title: SURGEON’S STORY
Author: Mark Oristano
Publisher: Authority Publishing
Pages: 190
Genre: Nonfiction Medical

What is it like to hold the beating heart of a two-day old child in your hand?  What is it like to counsel distraught parents as they make some of the most difficult decisions of their lives?

Noted pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian has opened up her OR, and her career, to author Mark Oristano to create Surgeon’s Story - Inside OR-6 With a top Pediatric Heart Surgeon. 

Dr. Guleserian’s life, training and work are discussed in detail, framed around the incredibly dramatic story of a heart transplant operation for a two-year old girl whose own heart was rapidly dying.  Author Mark Oristano takes readers inside the operating room to get a first-hand look at pediatric heart surgeries most doctors in America would never attempt.

That’s because Dr. Guleserian is recognized as one of the top pediatric heart surgeons in America, one of a very few who have performed a transplant on a one-week old baby. Dr. Guleserian (Goo-liss-AIR-ee-yan) provided her expertise, and Oristano furnished his writing skills, to produce A Surgeon’s Story.

As preparation to write this stirring book, Oristano spent hours inside the operating room at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas watching Guleserian perform actual surgeries that each day were life or death experiences. Readers will be with Dr. Guleserian on her rounds, meeting with parents, or in the Operating Room for a heart transplant.

Oristano is successful sportscaster and photographer and has made several appearances on stage as an actor. He wrote his first book A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game, and continues to volunteer at Children’s Medical Center.

“We hear a lot about malpractice and failures in medical care,” says Oristanto, “but I want my readers to know that parts of the American health care system work brilliantly. And our health care system will work even better if more young women would enter science and medicine and experience the type of success Dr. Guleserian has attained.”
Readers will find all the drama, intensity, humor and compassion that they enjoy in their favorite fictionalized medical TV drama, but the actual accounts in Surgeon’s Story are even more compelling. One of the key characters in the book is 2-year-old Rylynn who was born with an often fatal disorder called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and was successfully treated by Dr. Guleserian.

Watch the Book Trailer at YouTube.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The First Page
 
To see a human heart beating inside a chest is astonishing. I’d seen it once before in the OR, from a distance, standing behind the anesthesiologist at the head of the operating table. But this was my first time observing a heart transplant. It was a teenage boy. His diseased heart was removed and placed in a small dish, put aside for later study by pathologists.
I always walk carefully when I’m in the OR because I’m terrified of tripping over something, or getting in somebody’s way and screwing up the operation. I walked slowly, carefully, over to the dish. I got my first close look at a human heart inches away.
And it moved.
It beat.
The heart didn’t want to die. It was trying to pump blood that wasn’t there around the body to which it was no longer attached. It pulsed about once every 30 seconds for the next ten minutes, before resting forever. The heart deserves respect.
********
March, 2010. I was finishing up my weekly Tuesday afternoon volunteer shift atChildren’s Medical Center in Dallas when Dr. Kristine Guleserian, pediatric heart surgeon, stopped me in the hallway. Dr. G is five feet tall, but “diminutive” isn’t a term to apply to her. A thick head of dark black hair, falling in waves over her white lab coat, frames sharp, probing eyes and highlights the features of her Armenian heritage. Her speech has an insistence that compels you to listen.
“We’re transplanting today at four. It’s going to be an interesting one. You might want to come and observe.”
So … a quick text to my wife to tell her I’d miss dinner, then a change into surgical scrubs, followed by some food to prep for a long evening. (Come on … if you were offered a chance to watch a heart transplant, wouldn’t you go?) Four hours later, things were starting to heat up in Operating Room 6. The organ procurement team arrived back at Love Field and…

About the Author


Mark Oristano has been a professional writer/journalist since the age of 16.

After growing up in suburban New York, Oristano moved to Texas in 1970 to attend Texas Christian University.  A major in Mass Communications, Mark was hired by WFAA-TV in 1973 as a sports reporter, the start of a 30-year career covering the NFL and professional sports.

Mark has worked with notable broadcasters including Verne Lundquist, Oprah Winfrey and as a sportscaster for the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network and Houston Oilers Radio Network.  He has covered Super Bowls and other major sports events throughout his career.  He was part of Ron Chapman’s legendary morning show on KVIL-FM in Dallas for nearly 20 years.

In 2002 Oristano left broadcasting to pursue his creative interests, starting a portrait photography business and becoming involved in theater including summer productions with Shakespeare Dallas. He follows his daughter Stacey’s film career who has appeared in such shows as Friday Night Lights and Bunheads.

A veteran stage actor in Dallas, Mark Oristano was writer and performer for the acclaimed one-man show “And Crown Thy Good: A True Story of 9/11.”

Oristano authored his first book, A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game. A Sportcaster’s Guide offers inside tips about how to watch football, including stories from Oristano’s 30-year NFL career, a look at offense, defense and special teams, and cool things to say during the game to sound like a real fan.

In 2016 Oristano finished his second book, Surgeon’s Story, a true story about a surgeon that takes readers inside the operating room during open heart surgery. His second book is described as a story of dedication, talent, training, caring, resilience, guts and love.

In 1997, Mark began volunteering at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, working in the day surgery recovery room. It was at Children’s that Mark got to know Kristine Guleserian, MD, first to discuss baseball, and later, to learn about the physiology, biology, and mystery of the human heart. That friendship led to a joint book project, Surgeon’s Story, about Kristine’s life and career.

Mark is married and has two adult children and two grandchildren.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The First Page: Tell On You by Freda Hansburg



Title: TELL ON YOU
Author: Freda Hansburg
Publisher: Micro Publishing Media
Pages: 248
Genre: Thriller

Tell on You is a psychological suspense novel that best fits within the Gone Girl-inspired niche genre of “grip lit.”   Jeremy Barrett’s obsessive love equals that of Jay Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan, as life imitates art in his private school English class. But his angst-driven infatuation brings dire consequences as he is drawn into the machinations of his disturbed 16-year-old student Nikki Jordan, whose bad intentions rival those of her teacher.  A fast-paced, drama-filled tale, Tell on You reminds readers about the wildness and trauma of adolescence—and the self-defeating behaviors to which adults resort in times of stress. From gaslighting to vicious bullying, poisonous family privilege to the loss of a parent—Freda Hansburg draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist to explore the depths of each dark situation in Tell on You.

PURCHASE YOUR COPY:


The First Page


“ALL RIGHT, LADIES!” 
Jeremy Barrett clapped to get the attention of his second period Advanced Placement English class.  When they continued talking, he barked:  “Hey!”  Eleven pairs of adolescent eyes turned toward him and the buzz of their conversations died down.  The Forrest School demanded academic excellence along with the steep tuition.  These daughters of wealthy New Jersey bedroom communities mostly rose to the challenge.  Jeremy found them a pleasure to teach.
            He scanned the room, mentally taking attendance and ticking off today’s borderline violations of the school dress code.  Here, a bit of exposed belly or cleavage, there, some serious piercing.  He frowned, but not over the wardrobe issues.  No one had called in absent today, but someone was missing. 
“Anyone know where Heather is?”  They were all enmeshed in a tapestry of tweets, texts and posts.  If one fell off the cyber trail for more than fifteen minutes it drew the herd’s attention.  Cellphones were supposed to be turned off, but there were always a few cheaters.  Probably more than a few.
            But nobody offered an explanation for Heather’s absence. 

About the Author

Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and Tell On You is her debut trade thriller.  She self-published the suspense novel Shrink Rapt and co-authored two self-help books, PeopleSmart – a best-seller translated into ten languages – and Working PeopleSmart.  Freda lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she is working on her next novel and her Pickleball game.

Her latest book is the thriller, Tell On You.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The First Page: Chasing Hindy by Darin Gibby




Title: Chasing Hindy
Author: Darin Gabby
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 284
Genre: Thriller

ADDY’S DREAM AS a patent attorney is to help bring a ground breaking energy technology to the world. Addy’s hopes soar when she is wooed by Quinn, an entrepreneur, to join his company that has purportedly invented a car that can run on water using an innovative catalyst. After resigning her partnership to join Quinn, Addy discovers things aren’t as they seem. The patent office suppresses the company’s patent applications and her life is threatened by unknown assailants if she doesn’t resign.

When she is arrested for stealing US technology from the patent office she realizes Quinn has used her. Now, Addy must find a way to clear her name while salvaging her dream of propelling this technology to the world, all while powerful forces attempt to stop her.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:



The First Page:

GIL HURLED THE baseball as hard as he could at the
backstop. He needed to blow off steam and calm himself before
he did something stupid, or regrettable. He picked up another ball
from the fluorescent-orange five-gallon bucket, and concentrated
on his form.
He was consumed with frustration, and was venting with the
baseball instead of with his fists or mouth. He tried concentrating
on his form instead of his woes. Gil could control his pitches,
but not his destiny. He was good, but not good enough. At age
forty-four, Gil knew he was well past his prime and was trying
to accept the inevitability of unfulfilled dreams.
He reached again into the bucket beside him on the mound
and grabbed another ball. Focusing his form, he hurled another,
and then another. Arm back; elbow bent, he told himself. He
threw once again, then he looked up, and saw his buddy and
assistant coach, Peck, making his way over to him from a series
of disjointed brown brick buildings, the campus of the Prairie
Ridge High School Coyotes.
“First strike I’ve seen you throw all night. What gives, Gil?”
Gil kept his foot lodged against the rubber on the pitcher’s
mound then stooped down and plucked up another baseball.
With a quick windup, another of his pitches cut the thin Colorado
air and hammered the fence.
“Okay,” Peck interrupted, stepping between the mound and
home plate. “That’s enough, Gil. We need to talk before you ruin
a whole bucket of balls—and your arm. With these budget cuts
we’ll be lucky if we get enough for the season.” He turned and
made his way to the backstop, tugging on two balls lodged in the
wire lattice. Peck yanked one out and ran his fingers across the
torn leather.
“Holy crap,” he muttered to himself, shaking his head.
“What’s got you so pissed off?” Peck asked.
Gil slid the back of his worn leather glove across his brow.
“I’ve got my reasons.”
“Like?”
“All my life I’ve worked so hard, tried to do the right thing,
and look what it’s gotten me.”

About the Author

In addition to a thriving career as a novelist, author Darin Gibby is also one of the country’s premiere patent attorneys and a partner at the prestigious firm of Kilpatrick Townsend (www.kilpatricktownsend.com). With over twenty years of experience in obtaining patents on hundreds of inventions from the latest drug delivery systems to life-saving cardiac equipment, he has built IP portfolios for numerous Fortune 500 companies. In addition to securing patents, Gibby helps clients enforce and license their patents around the world, and he has monetized patents on a range of products.

Darin’s first book, Why Has America Stopped Inventing?, explored the critical issue of America’s broken patent system.  His second book, The Vintage Club, tells the story of a group of the world’s wealthiest men who are chasing a legend about a wine that can make you live forever. His third book, Gil, is about a high school coach who discovers that he can pitch with deadly speed and is given an offer to play with the Rockies during a player’s strike. Gil soon discovers, however, that his unexpected gift is the result of a rare disease, and continuing to pitch may hasten his own death.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree, he is highly regarded in Denver’s legal and business community as a patent strategist, business manager, and community leader. He is also a sought-after speaker on IP issues at businesses, colleges and technology forums, where he demonstrates the value of patents using simple lessons from working on products such as Crocs shoes, Izzo golf straps and Trek bicycles.
An avid traveler and accomplished triathlete, Darin also enjoys back country fly-fishing trips and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. He lives in Denver with his wife, Robin, and their four children.
His latest book is the thriller, Chasing Hindy.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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The First Page: Forever King: Surviving the Loss of My Unborn Child by Diana Sims



Title: FOREVER KING: SURVIVING THE LOSS OF MY UNBORN CHILD
Author: Diana Sims
Publisher: Forever King Publishing
Pages: 78
Genre: Inspirational/Self-Help

Sims life has been one of a survivor… a survivor of grief and distraught after having lost a child. Today, she is using the journey, to help other women, who have had similar experience of losing a child, whether through early pregnancy, miscarriage or stillbirth, to have hope.

Watch the book trailer at YouTube.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


The First Page:



It all started on Thursday, July 3, 2014. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful summer day, clear skies, and a nice, very much appreciated breeze from the close by Santa Monica Pier. As I traveled on foot to my 36-week checkup and ultrasound, the nurse assigned to me that day gave me a biophysical profile (ultrasound and nonstress test combined) that was sent via live-feed to my doctor to view.
My baby King opened his hand and closed his hand as if he was saying, “Hello.” The doctor was astonished. She said that babies at 36 weeks’ gestation usually didn’t have those motor skills yet. She said everything looked great and made my appointment for the following week. Little did I know that King was really saying, “Goodbye,” and that would be the last time I saw him alive. I walked back to the office and stayed until the end of my modified shift. I gave hugs to everyone since I was starting maternity leave the next day.

On Friday, the 4th of July, 2014, hubby and the boys went to Bakersfield for the 4th of July festivities. I stayed home since I was so close to my due date. Instead of watching fireworks, I rested most of the day and then attempted to do some online shopping with a ToysRUs® gift card I had received from my coworkers.

I found a cute outfit that had a crown and the wording “King” on it, and I said this would be so cute since my husband had named our son King. For some reason, their system was having issues and would not complete the order. So, I mustered up some energy and took my pregnant self to Target to get some baby clothes for King.

Interview:

Welcome Diana Sims. Can you tell us what your book is about?

As a self-publishing author, I felt compelled to share my journey regarding the loss of my son, and the miracle that took place after his passing. I simply wanted to let other women, who have lost children, know that there is still hope for miracles after loss.

The first page is perhaps one of the most important pages in the whole book. It’s what draws the reader into the story. Why did you choose to begin your book this way?

I wanted to paint a picture where everything started. I wanted the reader to feel what I was feeling of what would transpire in the upcoming pages.

In the course of writing your book, how many times would you say that first page changed and for what reasons?

It changed only twice due to revisions and adding description to some of the paragraph’s. I wanted to grab the reader’s attention.

Was there ever a time after the book was published that you wished you had changed something on the first page?

No. I made sure I took my time to write exactly what I needed to write, and chose excellent Editor/Proof Read company to convey my message to reach the targeted audience I wrote the book for.

What advice can you give to aspiring authors to stress how important the first page is?

I would say take your time. Don’t try to do too much and add too much wording. Dissect the irrelevant information. Speak through your heart and let it flow naturally. 

About the Author

As a self-publishing author, Diana Sims has felt compelled to share her journey regarding the loss of her son, and the miracle that took place after his passing. She simply wants to let other women, who have lost children, know that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

Aimed primarily at all mothers ranging from teenagers to the older women, Forever King: Surviving the Loss of My Unborn Child particularly addresses those who have lost a child, no matter the circumstance.

Diana is committed to humanitarian services whether in her field or position. She worked for many years helping customers keep their homes from foreclosure during the economic fall in 2008. Currently, she is assisting physicians and patients as a Patient Liaison. Diana is a California native and resides in Southern California with her loving husband Cory Sims, and three handsome Kings in training: Isaiah, Solomon, and Anthony Sims.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

The First Page: The Feet Say Run by Daniel A. Blum


Title: THE FEET SAY RUN
Author: Daniel A. Blum
Publisher: Gabriel’s Horn Press
Pages: 349
Genre: Literary Fiction
At the age of eighty-five, Hans Jaeger finds himself a castaway among a group of survivors on a deserted island.  What is my particular crime?  he asks.   Why have I been chosen  for this fate?  And so he begins his extraordinary chronicle. 

It would be an understatement to say he has lived a full life.  He has grown up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl.  He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess.  After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, finds solace among prostitutes while his wife lay in a coma, and marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her. 

By turns sardonic and tragic and surreal, Hans’s story is the story of all of the insanity, irony and horror of the modern world itself.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


The First Page:



If there is an actual name to this island, it is unknown to us.  We have chosen to call it Illyria.  We’re not exactly sure where the name comes from.  Some book perhaps.  But it no longer matters.  The name has become our own—mythic and melodic-sounding.  As though, if we keep calling this place Illyria, keep pretending it has some magical allure, people will want to come.  Someone will come rescue us.  
I am not complaining, particularly.  Well, maybe I am.  But I probably shouldn’t be.  So far fate has proven a fair enough agent.  The beaches are sandy, the water clear and turquoise, the reefs plentiful.  The island is wreathed in a soothing white foam.  On shore there is the shade of palms and palmettos and eucalyptus.  At least we think it is eucalyptus.  We call it eucalyptus.  Maybe it is just some kind of fancy magnolia though.  Who the hell knows? 
There are fruits in relative abundance—though what they are, we aren’t sure.  Some are purple.  Others are yellow.  Some vaguely sweet, others sharp and abrasive on the roof of the mouth.  There is a variety of coconut that grows in conjoined pairs to look like the buttocks of an African woman.  We call this ass-fruit.  When I offered some to Conrad, he said to me, “I’m not into that shit.”  As though I were suggesting something perverse.  As though fear of this fetish object outweighed the need for sustenance. 
“What shit are you not into?” I asked. 
“Ass fruit,” he said.  “Ass.”
“It’s not real ass, Conrad,” I said.
“Well, it’s not a real fruit either,” he said. 
“What do you think it is then?” I asked.
“A joke,” he said.  “A sick joke.  Like the rest of this place.” 

God is playing a joke on us.  That is a common theme here. It was funny the first time someone said it.  Now it is just annoying, like a child saying, “knock-knock” to you over and over, more and more emphatically, as you refuse, just as emphatically, to ask, “Who’s there?” 
The other common theme here is that none of it is real.  We all died when the boat went down.  And this is all just a dream.  Conrad suggests this a couple of times a day, each time choosing a different angle, a different inflection, in a vain attempt to keep the joke fresh.  If you suggest, gently, that this joke no longer strikes you as uproarious, Conrad will immediately jump into a long denial that he is joking.  “I’m not fucking kidding,” he will tell you.  “I really mean it. I think this is all a dream.” 
Perhaps Conrad is right.  Because honestly, I did not believe, until my current predicament, that deserted islands still existed.  I thought these islands were all owned by former tennis pros and former tyrants, or inhabited by caricatures of primitive tribes who sell carved bamboo flutes to flabby tourists in checkered shorts. 
If it is a dream, if this is my Land of Oz and I am soon to wake up, then it is curious how, from time to time, little bits of Kansas wash up upon our shores.  Whenever we wander further down the beach, away from our settlement, we find Styrofoam packing peanuts, Styrofoam bowls, #3 plastic take-out containers with their familiar, triangular recycle symbols (apparently the previous owners of these containers ignored this particular environmental imperative).
The restaurant take-out containers are the most distressing.  More mockery from The Almighty.  More of his levity.  Ha ha.  We bring them back to our camp and wonder what twenty-first century foods they once held.  Pad Thai or Kung Pao Chicken or Shrimp Korma.  From some restaurant from the other world.  Thank you, God, for delivering us this practical joke.  Ha ha.  You’re fucking hi-lar-ious.




About the Author

Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.

Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.

His latest release is the literary novel, The Feet Say Run.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

The First Page: The Ashes by Vincent Zandri



Title: THE ASHES
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: Bear Media
Pages: 277
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Romantic Suspense
HORROR IN THE DARK WOODS
It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill, was abducted and left to die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But even if her abductor, Joseph William Whalen, has since been killed, another, more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started but failed at.

How is he going to get to Rebecca?

He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.

HORROR IN THE DEPTHS
Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath her property.

But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.

Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save the children?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon


THE FIRST PAGE

The old homicide detective sits behind his metal desk surrounded by the cold quiet of the early morning, staring forlornly into the radiant screen on his department-issued laptop. He’s been using the laptop, which is integrated with the department’s web server, for years and years now, but he still fondly recalls the days when his desktop supported only a telephone connected to an old fashioned landline and beside that, an IMB Selectric typewriter. And how could he ever forget the old two tiered Inbox/Outbox?

He glances at his inbox and the two dozen or so new emails that have come his way since he last checked it the previous evening. He scans the emails for their importance, relegating most of them to routine, until he comes to one marked, “URGENT: Serial Murderer Hanover Escapes Custody.”