"JOLT: The Paranormal & Dystopian" by K. D. McLean

ON SALE for $0.99
NEW RELEASE and INTERVIEW
JOLT:
The Paranormal & Dystopian
by K. D. McLean
JOLT is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can get the book for only $0.99 during December, so get your copy now! Make sure you visit the other tour stops as well.
Description
What if it cost you NOTHING to put gas in your car? What if you paid nothing to heat your home or cool it in summer? What if your electric bill was only for new light bulbs? How would that change your life? A real pipe dream, right?
Joel Heath, PhD has dedicated his career to making this pipe dream a reality. He’s obsessed with unlocking the secret of cold fusion energy. He’s come so close, but the final piece of the puzzle eludes him.
Which is a good thing, for Joel actually. You see, Phil Devlin’s energy conglomerate earns billions in profits with things just the way they are. He’s been keeping tabs on Joel. Phil was ruthless in attaining his stature of wealth and influence, and he’d protect his position with ferocity. He can crush Professor Joel Heath with a text message.
Neither man knows the planet is 90 days away from global slaughter, triggered by an oil war. One man does know. He has been cursed with prescient visions. These visions have shattered his life, plummeting him from an established career to begging on the street.
Joel’s simple gesture of compassion to this homeless derelict is rewarded with a dazzling insight. He has the key! This jolt of clarity begins with a touch, a touch that can send the world spinning out of control.
Because Phil Devlin sends that text message.
Excerpt
He kept his head down. Like blinders on a horse his stringy hair kept the faces of the people ignoring him from his peripheral vision. He had been out on the street begging all day and now deep into the night. With each step his feet ached from the cold. He placed them as softly as he could, every pace agony.
He was muttering to himself, arguing with the unseen tormentors of schizophrenics everywhere.
“No, no, no! I won’t! You can’t make me!” repeated over and over again.
The rank stench of too many clothes and too few baths surrounded him, an unseen barrier between him and the shoppers and diners rushing home.
He paused for a moment. “Okay! Okay!” he muttered as he approached the entrance to Odessa’s. He brushed the hair from the side of his face and peered in the window. Brown teeth peeked out from behind his salt and pepper beard when he grimaced. He sidled backwards until his back rested on a telephone pole. He wasn’t even forty years old and was worn out.
He jingled the coffee cup at passersby. “Gotta quarter? Gotta dollar? It’s cold out here. Gotta quarter? Gotta dollar? It’s cold out here.” He remained as unseen as always.
He waited.
Interview With the Author
Hi Katie, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, JOLT: The Paranormal & Dystopian.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Wow. So many. In my newest book I was inspired by some of the writings of Stephen King of course. But also Naomi Klein, and Paul Krugman for the politics and economic ideas that inform my book.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
While I think it would appeal to all ages, I’ve been told that it’s really a book for adults that are sick of paying their utility bills!
What sparked the idea for this book?
An article I read that told me that we’re paying about 20-25% more for gas for our car than we need to because of Wall Street speculation. A lot of writers get ideas by asking a question that begins with ‘what if’. I asked myself, “What if we were able to discover an alternative source of energy that would make oil, coal and nuclear power irrelevant?” The book took off from there.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
A good story is always about a person in a situation and how they handle it. So as soon as I asked my ‘What if’ question, my next question what ‘Who did?’ From there, it took on a life of its own.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The science research on fusion energy! I had to make the development of the LITE (Low-cost, Infinite, Total Energy) device plausible. Then the research on the political and economic power wielded by oil companies today – that part was pretty frightening, to tell you the truth.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Well, first of all, I hope they enjoy the story! While I’d love to be the spark that increases awareness of our lack of research in this field, I want my readers to enjoy the adventure that Joel, Elise, Charlie and the rest of my characters have.
How long did it take you to write this book?
This book took almost a year to write. There were a lot of research questions I had to get right in order for the plot to stay plausible and interesting.
What is your writing routine?
I’m more of an outliner than a seat-of-the-pants writer. So, when I get my first idea, I write up a couple of paragraphs about the story. Then I flesh out my characters – I write a bio for each of them (in this book, that took quite a while, because there’s such a cast!). Then I outline the book chapter by chapter.
When that’s all done, I start writing, and commit to 2,000 words a day for my first draft.
How did you get your book published?
I clicked a button! I’m independently published and this novel is exclusive to Amazon.com.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
All I can comment on is the independent route of course. The first thing I would advise is to finish what you start. Whether it’s a short story, or a novel, once you begin writing it, keep at it every day until you type ‘The End’. There are so many writers with unfinished works, so many ‘The Ends’ that have yet to be written.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have so many interests! I love to read (that’s almost a cliché, isn’t it, that writers are readers, no?). I’m also a sculptor, and enjoy working on that physical art as well.
What does your family think of your writing?
My partner, Desmond, is completely supportive. I bounce ideas off him, and he’s always the first to read my work. He tells me when things are working, and also when my writing isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
It was a pretty good childhood. I grew up with my sister, and we’re very close.
Did you enjoy school?
Yes, I did. From elementary all the way through college. I was never crazy about homework (who is?) but I had great teachers and went to good schools.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I couldn’t get enough of it. I was constantly reading.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I started ‘seriously reading’ early and got hooked on the Nancy Drew mysteries. They were numbered on the spine, and my library had the entire series. One summer I remember wanting to read every one of the books.
Who were your favorite authors as a child?
Carolyn Keene who was the author of the Nancy Drew mysteries and the Henry Hugginsbooks by Beverly Cleary. When I got older I loved reading Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds) and also Jean M. Auel’s Clan of The Cave Bearseries.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not very long ago. I started my first book two years ago and finished the first manuscript in six weeks. By the end of it I was hooked.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think so. My parents were big on ‘finish what you start’. They instilled in me a sense of self discipline that I can still see in my work process today.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
It’s great hearing from my readers! It’s really cool that people who don’t care for my work leave bad reviews of course, but people who really enjoy my books take the time to email me. I honestly can say getting that first email from a reader is one of my most gratifying memories.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently working on a ghost story. I’m not going to say anything more about it for fear of jinxing anything other than saying it’s scaring the bejeezus out of me as I’m writing it!
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Katie. Best of luck with your new project.
About the Author
Katie lives in Canada near Lake Ontario with her partner Desmond. They are living the life that they’ve always dreamed about – writing, editing and collaborating on books. Both are alumni of Queen’s University in Kingston and are frequent visitors to the Tyendinaga reservation, where the novel JOLTis set. She has published a series of adult romance books as well as a romantic comedy, recently released – Funny Business.
For relaxation (what is that?) she and Desmond enjoy walking their neurotic pug, trying different recipes together (Des cooks, Katie helps) and watching HBO movies, followed by immersion in their hot tub. There’s almost nothing better than star gazing in the frigid air while being toasty warm … Well maybe skiing at Mont St. Anne is a close second.
In taking on an epic of the scale of JOLT, Katie has been inspired by the words of Goethe.
“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
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"Black Swan Collected Tales (Volume 1, Books 1-6)" by Victoria Danann

SALE and GIVEAWAY
Black Swan Collected Tales
(Volume 1, Books 1-6)
by Victoria Danann
The Order of the Black Swan is a serial saga including My Familiar Stranger, The Witch’s Dream, A Summoner’s Tale, Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf, Gathering Storm, and the never-before-released Book 6, A Tale of Two Kingdoms.
The entire box set is ON SALE for only $0.99 to 15 December (regular price $18.99).
Join the Facebook online release party for your chance to win some great prizes. You can also enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a signed paperback copy of My Familiar Stranger along with a keychain (US only).
Victoria Danann’s assistants, Judy Fox and Sarah Blausey, join me today for a guest post. Please return to this blog on 13 December for a book tour stop.
Description
Once upon a time a girl lost everything familiar. She escaped death by being forced into an experiment that left her in another world where modern day knights, elves, vampires, werewolves, witches, demons and fae became her allies, friends and family. She discovered a place where adventure intersects fairytales, where honor is more than an ideal, and she learned that love can find you in the strangest places, when you’re least expecting it, even when you’re far, far from home. This is the story of Elora Laiken’s strange and wonderful journey. It is also the story of those whose lives she touches along the way.
If you love romance, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, this series is right for you. 17+
Guest post by Judy Fox and Sarah Blausey
Confessions of an Author’s Assistant
Being an author’s assistant is a job like no other: Exciting, fulfilling, and, at times, crazy! We work for an Indie author, Victoria Danann, which adds another level of challenge to the mix. Without a big publisher behind us, we work on her behalf to get the word out about her amazing books.
Here’s our first confession: Neither of us has worked as an author’s assistant before! We were both fans first, as well as being members of her street team. She mentioned one day that she was looking for a new assistant, and both of us replied. Being a smart woman, Victoria realized how amazing we both are. So, instead of choosing one, she hired us both! Now the three of us are blazing our own trail in the wild world of Indie publishing.
Our most important functions are managing Victoria’s social media and the street team, which is a group of some of the most devoted Victoria fans around. The street team is one of our most important keys to getting the word out about the Black Swan serial saga. We also work with Bloggers and Facebookers to feature or promote Victoria’s books, keep track of her calendar, and organize events such as giveaways. There are a lot of moving parts that require a tremendous amount of organization and detail supervision. Through a semi-complicated structure of file sharing and online chat, the three of us are able to work as a team so that each of us always knows what the other is doing.
Once people find out about and read Victoria’s first book, My Familiar Stranger, which is free everywhere, they usually join the rest of us in being fans of her work. We really love that her books are a mix of paranormal romance and fantasy, genres that we both really enjoy reading. It’s so fun working for someone you admire – Any task that helps her out is something we’re glad to do.
We’re commonly asked the following questions:
How’d you get the job?
Sarah: I had been on her Street Team for about a month when the opportunity came up that she needed an assistant. I sent her an email about all the things I had done in the past, reasons why I would be a great assistant. I was SO nervous waiting for the response! But, as you can see, I am here!
Judy: One day, on the street team page, Victoria mentioned that she needed an assistant. I contacted her to offer to help her out in the meantime, but it turns out I was in the right place at the right time, and started working for her! The learning curve has been pretty steep – there is so much about the author world that is so very different from the experience of a reader. I love this job! I get to utilize every skill I’ve learned over the years and apply them in unique and creative ways.
Sarah: You’re right, it is crazy different as far as how it measures up to any other job I have, but I would never trade it!
Judy: I’m constantly amazed that I get to do what I do. I learn so much every day. I didn’t realize how bored I was before. Seriously.
How did you know that the street team idea would even work?
Judy: The idea of a street team isn’t really new. It started in the music industry with a literal street team handing out fliers about a new music group. The concept has evolved now into street teams for all kinds of things. Feedback I get from members of Victoria’s street team is that this is one of the most active groups for an author. Our team has regular blogs that they work with to help spread the word. Having a hangout on Facebook with a private page for our group has been really great for building our team identity.
Sarah: Victoria had the Street Team before I became her assistant. I think it’s a great idea for many different reasons. Her biggest fans get time to chat with her whenever they like, they know her better than her other readers do. They also get the opportunity to get her new books about 2 weeks before everyone else. This helps both them and Victoria as she gets feedback before the release date. It is also a great advertising tool as we have wonderful Street Team members that will help get the word out about anything!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author’s assistant?
Sarah: This one is hard to explain. Being Victoria’s assistant is a reward in itself. I get to talk to her daily, manage a fantastic Street Team, and meet some really incredible people. All the while knowing that I am helping a writing genius get the time to do what she does best!
Judy: The most rewarding thing about this job is that I get to help an author I truly admire. It just feels so good knowing that my work in the background enables her to have time to write her amazing books.
Sarah; She’s right; I know Victoria is writing fantastic things and that makes me extremely happy!
Judy: I love it every time Sarah says, “She’s right,” when she’s talking about me! It happens a lot.
How many hours a week/day do you spend on this job?
Sarah: A lot. But in no way can I complain. Most of the Street Team says they see me online, all the time, no matter what time it is. Well, I LOVE what I do. And a lot of my part of the job includes Facebook, so I’m on there for my stuff and book stuff all the time. Plus keeping track of what 50 people do takes up some time!!
Judy: It’s really impossible to calculate. I know I work the equivalent of office hours daily, and then check in again at night. I try to avoid working on the weekends, but when stuff is happening, I’m on whenever I need to be. This job for me is a blend of fan/ employee – it’s definitely more a labor of love … but it is nice to get paid!
Sarah:  Wait… You get paid??
Judy:  Oops.
So, what’s the dirt? Any scoops you can share?
Judy: Wow! Way to put us on the spot. Part of being an assistant is protecting the person you work for. My boss probably won’t fire me for saying that she put a photo of herself on Facebook once – she was swimming – I noticed no clothing in the picture, and asked her about if – to which she replied, “haha”. Yep. That’s the kind of crazy I’m lucky enough to work with every day. I love her.
Sarah: She’s got a wicked crazy sense of humor … and she and I get one another’s jokes, while Judy is often left scratching her head!
Judy: Hey! I get some of the jokes … sometimes.
Blazing a new trail in the world of Indy book publishing is exciting and fun. There is some seriously hard work involved, but it’s hard to really take note of that when we’re having such a good time! Being coworkers that truly enjoy and admire, not only our boss, but one another, makes every workday fun and entertaining. We both like meeting new people, learning new things, and we’re pretty good at sharing the load. We don’t know how Victoria got along without us!
About the Author
If you’re looking for something new and different in paranormal romance, you’ve come to the right place.
I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of sci-fi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. My heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, or past life therapists. My heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.
I have authored and illustrated Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners for fifteen years and teach magickal arts for Seasons in Avalon. I live in The Woodlands, Texas which is why I sometimes joke about being the witch in the woods.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a signed paperback copy of My Familiar Stranger along with a keychain (US only).
Links

"The Adventures of Zeppi #4: Greenback Town" by C. K. Omillin

ON SALE for $0.99
The Adventures of Zeppi #4Greenback Town
by C. K. Omillin
The Adventures of Zeppi: #4 Greenback Town written and illustrated by C. K. Omillin is ON SALE for only $0.99 (save $1.78) to 15 December. The Adventures of Zeppi #1: New Friends, #8: Trip to the Castle, and #9: Ghosts at the Castle are also ON SALE for $0.99 to 31 December. 
Description
How it all started …
On his way to Antarctica, a young penguin named Zeppi, falls off the delivery truck and finds himself trapped in his cage in the middle of the night. Abandoned on the side of the road, he misses his parents and fellow penguins. But Zeppi is brave and struggles to free himself from his cage. He makes his way into a backyard where he finds a place to shelter for the night.
The next morning Zeppi the penguin is found by a boy named Alesdor. He is the lonely boy who wished every night for a special friend since his neighbor and best friend moved to a faraway country
Zeppi the penguin loves the mall and his favorite shop is Kingdom of Toys. When he plays a joke on his friend Alesdor in the toy store, something unexpected happens and Zeppi needs a lot of courage to get himself out of this nasty situation.
Excerpt
“Zeppi, where are you?” Alesdor searched for him in the aisle.
Zeppi kept quiet. He thought it would be fun to play a joke on him. Hidden under the pink cat’s hat, he pretended he was a toy. He stopped breathing as his friend and Mia-Mom were seeking for him. Would Alesdor recognize him?
Book Trailer
Review
If you’ve ever dreamed, as a child, that a special pet would magically appear and you and he would have a magical life together, then you can well identify with young Alesdor and Zeppi, the little penguin who lives in a teepee in Alesdor’s garden. This is the fourth book detailing their adventures, this one in a department store where Alesdor almost loses Zeppi to an overzealous wildlife warden who, in some tense moments, tries to haul Zeppi off to the zoo. My inner child loves these stories. Yours will too. Highly recommended.
About the Author
Writer by day and artist by night and inspired by the world around us, bestselling author Charlotte Omillin loves creating the adventures of Zeppi the penguin.
Omillin believes we must do all we can to respect our environment and she weaves ecological tips through her stories.


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"The Fairies of Turtle Creek" by Jill K. Sayre

FREE on iTunes
NEW RELEASE
The Fairies of Turtle Creek
by Jill K. Sayre
The Fairies of Turtle Creek is Jill K. Sayre’s first novel. It is a fantasy suitable for young adults and children aged 9 and up.
The ebook will be FREE on iTunes on 29 November, 2 December, and 26 December. On those days, it will be ON SALE for $0.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It will be listed at the discounted price of $3.99 (save $4.00) from Thanksgiving Day (28 November) to Christmas Day (25 December) on iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (excluding the days previously mentioned).
Description
Claire Collins is a scientifically-minded 8th grader living in Highland Park, Texas, near Dallas. Her home life changes dramatically when her brother leaves to fight in the Iraq war, and she fears her world will be even more disrupted when her estranged and eccentric grandmother comes to live with her. Grandma Faye begins telling about her own life as a 13 year old in the 1920s, through stories, diary entries, and old letters, including the fact that she believes in fairies of all things! At first, Claire is skeptical, but soon strange occurrences down by Turtle Creek make Claire question what she thought was impossible …Could fairies really exist?
Excerpt
Lacey and I walked along the creek bed on our way home every Friday, but on that particular day, strange things began hap­pening. As we hopped from rock to rock, our balance was thrown off by the heavy backpacks we carried, and our feet slipped into the water now and again. Splash! Splotches of sunlight broke through the greenery overhead, flashing across our faces. The warm air whispered reminders that summer vacation was just around the corner.
“I can’t wait ‘til we can do this all day long!” With my arms straight out, I spun around, my feet sloshing in an ankle-deep pool. I slid on the slimy creek bottom and almost fell, teetering over far to the right. But, finding my balance, I landed and struck a superhero pose. “Ta-da!”
“Easy there, Claire,” Lacey laughed. “Ya nearly wiped out!”
“Are you saying that wet school books wouldn’t be a very good thing?”
Lacey raised an eyebrow and tilted her head, a smile bursting on her lips. “No, it wouldn’t.” Standing there, her black hair gleaming in the sun, she looked so pretty and confident. It was no wonder that she had so many friends. I caught my own reflection in the water and sighed.
“I’ll try to be more careful, Lacey, but hurry up. We’re almost to the stone bridge.”
We continued along the wet, rocky creek, edged with trees that quietly cheered us on with their waving leaves.
“There it is.” I pointed at the great grey arch made of giant stones just as we came around the bend. As we got closer, the cement plaque in the middle got clearer: “1913.”
“Let’s sit on the bank and soak up a few rays,” I suggested, scram­bling up the vine-covered slope to sit atop a boulder.
Lacey climbed up the bank and sat on the rock next to me.
“All of this here goopy moss is getting on my new water shoes.” She frowned and began picking the green muck off of the toes of her pink spandex with a long stick. “And it smells so musty in these parts.”
“I told you to bring an old pair of tennis shoes for creek hiking.”
“Sorry, Claire, but the shoes you’re wearing are far from fashion­able,” Lacey replied, bobbing her head from side to side.
“Who cares about fashion when you’re in this mini-ecosystem? Down in this creek bed, creatures, plants, and lots of algae grow as if they’re in a cool forest. We are in a microclimate. They don’t real­ize they’re really in a hot, dry city.” I spotted a smooth stone on the ground next to me and stretched my arm down to pick it up. I studied it—all grey with a nature-made hole in the middle. Cool.
“I love how the hustle and bustle of the world passes overhead while we are down here in a calm, organic place. We’re in what they call a chasm.” I held up the stone and stuck my finger through the hole to illustrate.
“Chasm—really, Claire? You’re always using such big ol’ words.” Lacey examined the rubber soles of her shoes. They were caked with green mud. A gush of air came from her lips. “I give up,” she said, tossing her stick to the ground.
“Shh! Did you just hear someone say something?” I looked around for another person, slipping the holey stone into my pocket.
“Hear what? I was just saying that I give-”
“Just listen a sec.”
We sat there quietly. At first we heard only birds chirping and water trickling, but then it happened again.
She’s coming! She’s coming!
“Did you hear it that time, Lacey?”
“I did. Someone’s whispering.”
“Who’s here?” I called out, jumping to my feet, searching the banks.
“I think it came from under the bridge,” said Lacey.
“Come look with me.”
Lacey stayed seated on her rock, wide-eyed.
“Lacey, I need you for moral support. You wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to me, would you?” I gave her my best sad puppy look.
She rolled her eyes. “All right, but I’m bringing a weapon.”
Lacey got off her rock, picked up the stick she’d been using to clean her shoes, and hurried over to me.
I saw how tightly her hand was clenched around the stick. “Are you scared?”
“Maybe a little. The voice didn’t really sound human. It sounded strange.”
“It’ll be okay. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for what we heard.” I grabbed her other hand. “I’ll show you.”
Wading through the water, with backpacks on, our shadows looked like two Ninja Turtles. Just when we’d reached the inside edge of the bridge bottom, we heard the hiss of She’s coming! She’s coming! again, but this time it was mixed with squeals of Soon! Soon!
“Goodness gracious!” Lacey quickly wrapped her arms around me, still clutching her stick. “There are many voices!”
We froze, standing just inside the arching blackness.
“Hello?” I called. “Who’s there?”
We waited, but there was no answer. “Let’s go in a little further.”
Lacey gulped really loudly and I could feel her body trembling. Huddled together, we cautiously took a few more steps into the dark.
Book Trailer
Review
Being a long time friend of the author’s, and having never read any of her writing, I opened her book for the first time with anticipation and curiosity about her ability to create a worthy story and to maintain the readers interest. I was completely impressed on many levels. First, as an artist myself, I found beauty starting with the soft, whimsical cover, continuing throughout the novel, with graceful lettering for each chapter title paired with charming drawings of impeccable detail. Second, the story has a perfect blend to appeal to a pre-teen and teen audience. It embraces family issues (brother leaves for war, grandmother moves in), mystery, romance, science and nature. Third, the author’s descriptive writing enables the reader to vividly imagine the characters and surroundings. I highly recommend this magical story!
About the Author
Born and raised in southern California where flowers bloom year-round, Jill K. Sayre loves plants and gardening. She grew up in a small town, just outside of Los Angeles, full of beautiful Arts & Crafts homes, with her antique-collecting parents. While attending UCLA, Jill modeled and received her degree in Art. She continued on to receive her Teaching Credentials in Elementary Education, specializing in gifted learners.
Her husband’s work moved them, and their three children, to Dallas … twice. She fell in love with the beauty found in Highland Park, Texas where she resides today. Her first book, The Fairies of Turtle Creek, is woven with the things she loves, like nature, science, art, folklore, and the early 1900s. Jill illustrated the beginning of every chapter and much of the story takes place along Turtle Creek, where she often walks her vizsla dog, Bella.
Jill currently works at an acting college, instructing teens in the areas of acting, modeling, and etiquette. She loves to help other writers and speaks on “Want to Write a Book? Let’s Get Started!”, and assists parents by sharing her educational strategies when she speaks about “How to Help Your Child Become a Better Reader”. She is active in her local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), is the founder of a Dallas writer’s salon, The Little Read Writing Hood, and is co-chair of the 18th annual Highland Park Literary Festival.
She is currently working on a different trilogy, the first book of which is called Grotesque, with gargoyles that come to life. There are also plans for a second book in the Fairies series, which is set in Maui, Hawaii, with sea sprites, mermaids, and the Hawaiian fairies called menehunes.
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"39 (Memoirs of Amanda Green)" by Amanda Green

NOTE: This book is suitable for adults only
ON SALE for $0.99
39 (Memoirs of Amanda Green)
by Amanda Green
39 (Memoirs of Amanda Green) is ON SALE for only $0.99 to 4 December, the author’s birthday. Please help Amanda celebrate her 40th birthday by downloading a copy of her book or by spreading the word about this promotion via one of the share buttons.
You can also read my earlier blog post on Amanda’s first memoir Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me.
Description
After recovering from mental illness and many other adversities, Amanda Green published her true story, My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me. This is the journal of her life during the year following publication. Dysfunctional and ever more inspiring, this memoir will take you into a whirlwind of love, humor, emotion, depression, adventures, music, animals, family health and relationships, as she strives to stay strong and achieve a life really worth living as a childless woman before her fast-approaching 40th birthday.
Due to flashbacks of dark scenes and sexual abuse, this memoir is for adults only and although it’s a sequel, it can easily be read alone.
Excerpt
Introduction
I have truly been tumbling towards the age of forty, wondering if it’s true what they say – that life really doesn’t begin until you reach that number – and if it’s true what has my life been before this – just the prologue?
I wrote a memoir that was published in 2012, covering my whole life to 2011. I talked about how I coped with adversity, mental illness and my dysfunctional family – and once that was finished, it was time to move on in life, and try to be more balanced, mentally. I wanted to reach my fortieth birthday with some grace. By that, I mean not riding the roller coaster nightmare of mental illness, not feeling anguish that I have not had children and by radically accepting those around me just as they are, instead of fighting them in my mind.
I currently spend all my time writing my book, and run six websites ranging from an Orang-utan campaign, Spanish holiday rental advertising and a personal blog where I can have my say about the issues I am passionate about, a site for my published writing and photography portfolio, plus my mental health campaign to beat stigma.
I passed nine GCSEs at school, which was a turbulent time when I was bullied because my mum was mentally ill and hospitalised; I sweated a lot, masturbated publicly in class at junior school and had various other problems, mostly due to stress.
After a short span in college, I decided to go to work. Through my habit of ‘running away’ from problems, I travelled extensively across the world since I was sixteen, taking in over twenty-five Countries – living and working at times in Japan, Thailand and Australia.
Due to my issues, I found it hard in the past to settle in one career, but have been successful and liked in my work in the fields of hotels, leisure, banking and recruitment. Customer service and sales were my forte, as I was always a bubbly honest person, so I have built some great ‘self PR’ skills over the years.
I love photography, writing and my websites, and love to get my work published in magazines and local newspapers. It feeds my self-esteem which has gradually built up again since my semi-breakdown a few years ago, where I totally lost touch with my true personality and became an ‘alien self’.
My spare time hobbies are eating out and reviewing restaurants, wine and beers, travel, days out, campaigning for Orang-utans, campaigning against mental health stigma, advocating and chatting, plus reading, theatre, cinema, films, TV documentaries, comedy and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!
My aspirations are to be a full time writer/photographer.
From 2008 to 2012, I spent all my time writing and editing my memoir and I was still recovering well after publishing it, whilst finding myself left with the bare broken bones of a life which needed to be fixed.
And since my fortieth birthday was fast approaching, I gave myself a year to turn my life around – May 2012 to May 2013. I had managed to enjoy social media, sell books and get some great reviews, so, here were my goals for the year! Not New Year resolutions, life goals…
1.   Get to my thirty-ninth birthday, and at thirty-nine have a life worth living, be happy, let my personality blossom, and take some responsibility…
2.   Complete a course at college and pass the exam as this will allow me to meet new people, learn a new skill and gain confidence. Even though everyone seems to believe I have tonnes of confidence, I absolutely do not!
3.   Move out of the apart-hotel I have lived in for well over a year, into a real home, paying bills and taking responsibility.
4.   Have pets – cat or dog.
5.   Volunteering – helping animals, elderly or mentally ill.
6.   Stop taking my mental illness medications.
7.   Settle down, like myself and my own company, and have a life worth living.
8.   Accept that I am childless. My mum had me (her fourth and last child) when she was thirty-nine, and was going through her menopause at the same time, and since early menopause can be hereditary, I have lived, for years, with the idea that if I don’t have children before I am thirty-nine, my chances will be gone forever.
Sounds boring right?  But life is far from boring in my world, and as we all know getting what you want is all too often not easy at all…
This book is not like the journey I portrayed in my first memoir – in many ways I see it as both a snapshot of my life in the year after publication, and my personal countdown to turning forty. I use extracts of my journals and my website blog, as well as diary and narrative pieces that never made it into the first book. Perhaps it remains a metaphor for my life and my coping strategies that I tend to move from subject to subject, swinging between the past and the present, the good and the bad – covering all sorts of topics as my ever busy mind does. But this time, I hope, with more of an emphasis on the positives in life. And while my focus is more light-hearted than my first book, I hope it also shows how recovery from a mental illness is never absolute. Living with a mental illness is a journey every day.
Review
After reading Amanda Green’s My Alien Self I was left thinking what a truly inspirational lady she was!
Amanda opened herself up and was brutally honest in this memoir dealing with multiple mental illnesses, drink and drug abuse, and so much more.
I was left thinking I really want to know more of this very interesting, kind, and most of all inspiring, woman’s life.
I have since started to tweet with Amanda and follow her Facebook page to see how her life has panned out so far, and to also educate myself more on mental health issues, and also found out we have a common love of animals, and family.
I was so excited when Amanda announced that she would be releasing a sequel called 39, which is about her life during the year following publication.
I absolutely loved this sequel. It carries on with Amanda’s life and her recovery of mental illness, which again I find truly inspirational, and her fight against the stigma against mental health through her campaigns/blogs/twitter, plus also campaigning to stop cruelty to animals! These are all subject that have touched my life through my family and friends and also my jobs, and I truly feel even if they have not touched your life, these memoirs give you a real inside view of what it’s like to suffer with mental illness, and I feel everyone should be educated in this area to help people talk about these issues, so they do not feel isolated from the world and people in it.
This book also transports me back to my era as a young party diva with Amanda’s love of her music and how songs remind her of certain times in her life. (They certainly bought back some of my memories, strutting my stuff on the dance floor)  *blushes*
A brilliant sequel to My Alien Self, I know I keep saying it but when I think of Amanda Green I always think kind, strong, and truly inspirational.
From the Author
I am Amanda Green, author of My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me and the sequel, 39.
My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me is my memoir which follows my journey through travel, excitement, normality and mental illness to find myself again. 39is about what happened afterwards; the year before reaching the prime age of forty, family relationships, love and memories. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living.
Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created my website where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self-help, depression, bankruptcy, alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self-harm, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia nervosa/bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, schizophrenia, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues, and psychology.
I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self-publish to Kindle in this first instance.
I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my books will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with. I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of mental health and love stories – facing and combating adversity as the main point. (Not self-help books, but based on reality.)
I hope that doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my stories, as they unfold what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.
But I have also written my memoirs in a style that hope will compelling and sometimes shocking reads for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.
I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD or other mental illnesses.
Outside of work, I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production, running six websites of my own and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!
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"Lethal Journey" by Kim Cresswell

ON SALE for $0.98
Lethal Journey
by Kim Cresswell
Kim Cresswell’s latest novel, Lethal Journey, is ON SALE for only $0.98 (save $3.00). You can also read my blog post about Kim’s first novel, Reflection, whose sequel will also be released later this year.
Description
A killer lurks in the shadows of Hyde Park, New York … waiting.
Manhattan District Attorney, Lauren Taylor, is about to take on the most important case of her career, prosecuting Gino Valdina, acting mob boss of New York’s most influential crime syndicate.
For three decades, Gino Valdina has led New York’s Valdina crime family. Since his recent indictment for murder, the leadership of the family is in turmoil, appalled by the death of one of their own, Gino’s wife, Madelina. Without the support of the family behind him, Valdina will do anything to save himself.
But Lauren soon discovers, things aren’t always as they seem when she’s tossed into a mystery, a deadly conspiracy that reaches far beyond the criminal underworld and a journey into the past makes her a target … and anyone she’s ever loved.
Excerpt
September 1997
Rain pounded down.
Lauren Taylor squinted through the windshield, a backwash of water battered the glass. She flicked the wipers on high and tightened her hands around the steering wheel. With a quick glance in the rear-view mirror she noticed headlights behind her. The vehicle appeared to speed up, fall back, and then speed up again.
Her muscles tensed. “That driver behind us seems to be in a big hurry.”
Her father leaned forward in the seat and peered into the side mirror. “He’s all over the road. Might be drunk or something.”
“He’s crazy driving like that in this weather. I’m letting him go by.” She downshifted the Jaguar and steered onto the side of the road and rolled to a stop.
As the van raced by. A giant wave of water pelted the side of the car.
Her father watched out the window. “Christ, he’s flying”
Taillights flickered and quickly faded ahead into the blackened night.
With a quick glimpse in the mirror, Lauren steered the car back onto the road, her grip relaxed around the wheel. “That’s better.”
Her father repositioned himself in the leather seat and stretched his legs. “The Law Society’s dinner is next week. You going?”
God, the dinner. She’d bought an expensive navy and white designer dress for the occasion and even toyed with the idea of having her hair cut into something more sophisticated and polished for a New York district attorney.
“I’ll have to check my schedule.”
“Not good enough. I want you there, Lauren. My chance to show you off. Do some bragging, big time.”
She couldn’t help but smile. “Okay, Dad. Okay.”
“And don’t forget to bring a date for protection. Don’t want a bunch of drunken seedy lawyers groping you on the dance floor. And by the way, I heard Eric was back in town.”
Her smile faded as she remembered the annual dinner years before. She’d never forgotten a single detail of that night—how Eric held her in his arms and how his mouth devoured her willing lips then pulled away and left her mouth burning for more…
“What else did you hear about him?” she blurted out.
“Not much. Can’t even remember where I heard the news. Thought you didn’t want to talk about Brennan?”
“I don’t. I just wondered when he got back.”
Her father’s jaw tightened. “Don’t know.” His voice turned hard. “Just heard he’s back.”
At one point in their relationship, Eric begged her to come with him and start a new life in Florida. She didn’t have the courage to leave her father and walk away from her job. Four years later, she was taking on the most important case of her career—prosecuting Gino Valdina, head of New York’s crime family, just like her father had done a decade before. But this time would be different. Gino Valdina wasn’t going to get away with murder.
The sky split and lightning lit the wet road. Lauren eyed the exit sign to Hyde Park.
The whining squeal of an engine roared from behind.
Lauren glanced over her shoulder. “God, that van is back.” She clicked on the turning signal and steered onto the off-ramp. Her eyes darted back to the side mirror.
Headlights swerved from side to side.
A shiver drove up her spine. She clutched the steering wheel.
“I’m calling the police.” Her father grabbed his cell phone out of the glove box and turned it on. “Damn it. I can’t get a signal.”
“Keep trying.”
The van’s driver gunned the engine.
The grill came into view, massive and powerful.
Close. Too close.
Metal connected and scraped against the bumper.
The van shoved the Jaguar ahead on the road.
High-beams from the other lane blinded her.
Lauren blinked and turned her head.
The van rammed the back of the car. Metal popped as the back window disintegrated into the back seat.
The seat belt snapped across her shoulder. Her head slammed back on the head rest then forward. “Oh my God!”
The cell phone flew from her father’s hand. “What the—”
“Dad!”
Like a slingshot the Jaguar shot down the slick road.
Lauren slammed on the brakes.
The car slid a half circle and spun out of control. A massive tidal wave of water washed over the roof.
Her father clutched the dashboard with both hands. “The tree!”
She yanked the steering wheel hard to the left.
Wood splintered. Metal buckled, squealed and cracked. The air bag struck her body like a fist, and smacked her head against the side window. She pushed at it, viciously. With every move, fiery pain shot through her face and down her neck. The sickening sweet stench of gasoline and smoke filled her nostrils. Her head clouded.
Lauren heard her own voice, pinched and muffled, cry out. “Dad!” until her words drifted into silence.
Review
High tension, high intrigue, and an angry mob boss put young District Attorney Lauren Taylor on the defensive as she prepares for the biggest courtroom case of her life. All she has to do is stay alive long enough to put the head of one of New York’s biggest crime families behind bars, and the jury is out on whether she can pull that off. Her greatest ally is a man she knew and loved long ago, who shredded her heart as his own demons of guilt tried to drown him in an alcohol induced haze. Lethal Journey by Kim Cresswell hits the ground running and does not stop! Are people as they seem or is there more to them? As the attempts on her life escalate and people close to her go missing, Lauren doesn’t have many options on who to trust. Enter the one man who broke her heart, Eric, a homicide detective who has also felt the burn of getting too close to the mob. Can Lauren trust him? Does she have a choice? It would be so much easier if her heart would stay out of it, wouldn’t it?
Kim Cresswell’s talent shines through again! With a talent for setting the stage, bringing in the characters and cuing the action, she held me from page one. She is not afraid to write a tale that is real, where the good guys do not go unscathed and they are not perfect. There is grit in her style, and when she says you are in a warehouse with a stench, you smell it. The romantic tension runs high, and using character flashbacks to the past not only builds on the development of each character as a flesh and blood entity, but serve to eventually bring everything full circle with an ending that you will NOT see coming!
About the Author
Kim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada. Trained as a legal assistant, Kim has been a story-teller all her life but took many detours including working for a private investigator, running a graphic design business, and teaching computer classes at a local business school. After becoming disabled with Fibromyalgia and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, Kim returned to her first love, writing. For her, writing suspense fiction is an incredible adventure and she’s surprised where the journey takes her. She’s also an avid reader who enjoys playing computer games, ghost hunting and loves anything paranormal.
Her debut romantic suspense, Reflection, has won numerous awards including; UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner (2013), Silicon Valley’s Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Gotcha!” Romantic Suspense Winner! (2004) and an Honourable Mention in CARWA’s The Writer’s Voice Contest (2006).
Kim has a few new books in the works including the sequel to Reflection which will be released in late 2013.
Links

"Trail of 32" by Paul Rega

ON SALE for $0.99
Trail of 32
by Paul Rega
Paul Rega’s new book, Trail of 32, is based on actual events from the author’s life. You can currently get it ON SALE for only $0.99. 
Paul states,” I had just turned 15 years old in August of 1972. I was on a trip with my Boy Scout Troop where we rode our bicycles from our hometown of Wood Dale, Illinois to Jacksonville Florida. At the time it was a historic trip and hailed as the longest bike hike in Boy Scout history. There were no helmets then, and all we were armed with in addition to our new Sears Free Spirit ten-speed bicycles, were our unique set of values we had learned as children during the early 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. When we completed our trip on August 20, it was an irreplaceable moment of time. The fact that we successfully completed our trip of nearly 1,400 miles was a euphoric feeling like no other I have since experienced. The trip is the subject of a new novel Trail of 32.
Description
The astonishing true story of a group of thirty-two boys and leaders who accomplished an amazing feat in 1972, when they rode their bicycles from Wood Dale, Illinois to Jacksonville, Florida.
It was a simpler time – a common sense two-pedal world with realistic adventures, and everyday heroes. In the summer of 1972, an innocence was lost when twenty-six young boys in a small rural town set out to accomplish something bigger than themselves. Their journey of nearly 1,400 miles would take them through eight states, crossing over the Great Smoky Mountains. It was a tremendous achievement – one that would be hailed as the longest organized bike hike in the history of Scouting.
Excerpt
Chapter One
SHUTTING DOWN MY RECRUITING BUSINESS even for a few days was always a difficult task for me. Owning a small business for nearly 23 years was grueling enough. Taking a vacation and trying to mentally check out from the demands of my business was extremely difficult. It was late October and the fall season was fast approaching. There was usually a day or two during this time of the year, when the weather would cooperate and I’d be able to get away to fish and reflect on my hectic life.
Indian summer had not yet arrived and I began to think it would never come, but the weatherman miraculously changed his forecast at the last minute to a sunny, 75°F day. I would have to act quickly, as I was sure another day like the one predicted would not come again until next year. It would be perfect fishing weather and I was determined to go and try to rejuvenate my work torn mind and body.
I was particularly excited about the prospect of a fishing trip this year, as I had missed my annual outing to the river the year before, because of a difficult time I was having with my family. Earlier in the week, when the unpredictable Midwestern weather didn’t seem to be cooperating, I started to think about what other options I might have to get away on a fishing trip before another harsh winter set in. I began to have visions of my previous fishing trips in the warm gulf waters of the Florida Keys once again. I had taken a much needed trip a few years back in February 2002, in an attempt to cope with a difficult family situation, and avoid a burnout from the rigors of my business. My dream had always been to be in Florida, sitting on a beach somewhere in the Keys, writing a book.
The Keys had always been a place for me to go where I could gather my thoughts and connect with my father, who had passed away a number of years ago. In an effort to cope with my life, and recharge my internal batteries, I decided to take the trip alone and reflect on my life’s future. This was unusual for me, as I have a relatively large family of four boys and we would normally travel together. This particular year however, had been much different from the past and some time alone was exactly what I needed to save my sanity, and potentially my marriage.
We had lost our only daughter, Jennifer, in the summer of August 1998, in a tragic car accident, and our family was never quite the same afterwards. Jenny was not my wife’s biological child and she did not live with us at the time of her accident. My wife did not quite understand the pain and extreme level of emotion I was feeling. It was having a negative impact on my ability to function or even run my company.
Relieved by my decision to take a fishing trip by myself, I was still somewhat lonely and missed my family. Nonetheless, I was determined to enjoy myself on my vacation while writing my book and trying to relax in the warmth of the Keys. I decided to explore an expansive white sandy beach in a beautiful state park called Bahia Honda. The warm clear blue ocean waters and sound of the gentle surf began to calm my soul. This incredible park is located on Bahia Honda Key, approximately eight miles south of the town of Marathon and Key Vaca. To get to the park via automobile, you need to cross an enormous bridge that spans nearly seven miles into the ocean, before coming to rest on another small island and piece of the Keys. If you’re heading south toward Key West, the “Seven Mile” bridge, as it is called, is situated between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west.
The Keys are literally comprised of hundreds of tiny islands, the largest of which are connected by several man-made bridges and are primarily made up of coral deposits. As a result, very few natural beaches are present in this part of Florida. A much older bridge, that was originally built in 1912, as an overseas railway by industrialist Henry Flagler, runs parallel with the newer more modern bridge. Large sections of the original bridge were destroyed by a massive hurricane that killed hundreds of people in the Keys on Labor Day, in 1935.
I fished for the first time in the Florida Keys on that trip; somewhat ironic since my father had owned a townhouse for many years in Marathon on Key Vaca. I didn’t catch many fish despite having an excellent guide, but I came to admire the beauty and serenity of the backcountry. The pristine blue waters and the thousands of exotic birds that often congregate in the shallows of the Keys were magical. I had dreamed of going to Africa for many years, and as I sped across the crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Everglades in my 16 foot skiff, piloted by Captain Charlie Owens; I was in Africa that day.
As I sat on the beach trying to relax on a cheap lounge chair I had bought at Wal-Mart for ten dollars, I felt the warm white sand between my toes and a gentle breeze start to caress my face. I soaked up an abundance of sun and began to visualize leaving my business and writing full-time. I was on a special mission during that trip, as I was trying to prove to myself that I could write and relax at the same time. I was anxious to try my hand at backcountry fishing. Both writing and fishing have always been passions of mine, and unless I scheduled time to do either one of them, often constraints due to my business and family life seemed to get in the way. That particular trip to Florida had special significance and meaning for me, and I was sure it would be one I would remember for the rest of my life.
A Midwestern fishing trip, like the one I was beginning to plan for, nearly always eluded me. This year however was somehow different and no matter what, I was determined to go. The previous destination for my trip was the Vermilion River in a beautiful part of South Central Illinois. It’s a rather unusual river as it flows north on its journey to meet up with the Illinois River. The fact that the Vermilion runs north is a feat shared with only a few other rivers in the world, one such being the great Nile of Egypt. The Vermilion is a very old river as its many twists and turns are evidence of the time spent cutting through its rocky and sandstone banks. Many miles of beautiful and untamed sections of whitewater rapids and pristine wooded shoreline dotted with massive boulders, can be seen having been deposited by the last great Ice Age. Wildlife is abundant, while any real industry is rare, and not a single house can be seen for many miles at a stretch.
As a young boy, my father would take me canoeing and fishing at the river and we would often camp along its lush wooded banks. He loved the area so much that he would later purchase a small farm on the river above the dam near Streator, Illinois. He used it as a refuge to get away from the demands of his own business. My trips to the Vermilion during later years of my life were often bitter sweet after my father’s passing in June of 1997. My memories of him and our many times together, either fishing or canoeing the river, lay heavy on my mind. I missed being with him. My personal trips to the river as an adult were a time and opportunity for me to reflect on my own life and the challenges that lay ahead of me on my own journey.
An area of the river where I planned on fishing during this trip had a very significant and special meaning to me. It was also rife with a vivid memory of a near tragedy. My father and I had been canoeing the river many years ago, when I was only nine years old. The river seemed rather high for that time of the year and the water was moving at a very fast pace. I was wearing a bulky, oversized lifejacket my father had purchased from a Navy supply store. I think he thought the bigger the better, but I remember not being able to move or even paddle very well. He had added an extra level of security by tying a half inch piece of rope around my back and securing it with a large square knot in the front of the jacket.
The military issued lifejacket was very constricting, but I was sure it would hold me up in the water and probably one other person should I fall into the raging rapids. It had only been my second time down the river and I could sense a certain amount of concern on my father’s face. He was desperately trying to keep our canoe afloat as we dodged numerous rocks and submerged boulders. I recall his anguish as he commented that the river was a lot higher than he had originally thought and the current was moving faster than he could ever remember.
My father was an expert canoeist and former Boy Scout, having canoed numerous rivers across the country including the Vermilion and several others in Illinois. For whatever reason, he decided to run a rapid on the far left side of the river in an area known as the Rock Garden. I think he wanted me to experience the thrill of running a real rapid. Strewn across entire sections of this part of the river are numerous jagged rocks and massive boulders, some partially exposed. When the water is higher than normal, the Rock Garden can be rather treacherous and deadly, as many a canoeist, both novice and experienced, have discovered over the years.
My father had purchased a Voyageur canoe that had fallen off a delivery truck and was severely damaged. He was able to buy it for a reasonable price and quickly learned how to repair it with fiberglass. The canoe was maroon in color, and the bow and stern of the boat rose up and curved at the top resembling an Indian birch bark canoe. It was unlike any canoe I had ever seen. Its extra wide body and keel were well suited for whitewater and almost never tipped. Over the years, the canoe would take on a new dimension and weight, as we would need to repair it after several bouts with the Vermilion. The canoe became so heavy due to all its repairs and added amounts of fiberglass, that it would take four men just to carry it to the launch site near Englehaupt’s property.
On a previous trip with my father, Mr. Englehaupt, who lived in one of the few homes on the banks of the Vermilion warned us that if you’re not familiar with this river or are a novice canoeist, this section can be very dangerous during times of high water and should be avoided. He was right, and we were just about to run this part of the river and try to navigate through some of its most treacherous rapids! I began to feel my heart beat faster as we got nearer to the Rock Garden. I could see and hear the water swirling and crashing violently against the rocks. My father yelled to me, “Get down on your knees, Paul, stay low and paddle!” Because I was in the front of the canoe, I could see clearly as we approached what appeared to be a massive amount of whitewater and a five to six foot drop off. We were heading straight into the center of this incredible whirlpool of swirling whitewater.
The front of our canoe hit the rapids first and we began to drop off the edge of the waterfall. I heard a loud crash as the bottom of the canoe scrapped hard against the rocks below the surface and the fiberglass began to buckle. Our canoe shook violently from side to side and just as I thought we were about to tip over, my father steadied our canoe and we continued to move swiftly through the rapid. Then, without any warning, there was a loud crushing noise followed by an eerie almost deadening sound of what must have been solid rock ripping through the bottom of our canoe. As our small craft came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the raging rapids, it began to shake more violently as waves crashed hard against its sides. With our canoe on the verge of being eaten alive by the rapids, I heard my father cry out in pain. When I looked back at him, to my horror I saw a steady flow of his fresh blood clearly visible against the gray bottom of our canoe. His left knee had been split open from a jagged rock that that had punctured a section of our boat where he had been kneeling.
We were now being held in place by a large jagged rock in the middle of a churning mass of whitewater. The rock had just ripped a gaping hole in our canoe severely injuring my father. His face was grimacing with what had to be excruciating pain. His massive body and tired arms tried desperately to keep our small canoe afloat. He yelled to me, “Stay low, and don’t panic!” I don’t remember panicking, but I was worried about my dad and wondered how we would manage not to sink and be swept down river in only our lifejackets. Even at nine years old, I was a pretty good swimmer, but questioned my ability to swim with any chance of survival in these types of waters.
As more and more water rushed in from the large rip in the bottom of our canoe, huge whitecaps crashed over the sides completely soaking our bodies in cold river water, threatening to sink us. I could feel our canoe begin to shake violently once again as my father desperately tried to free it from the grips of the rock that had punctured our boat, and ravished his knee. Suddenly, I heard another loud scrapping noise and our boat catapulted forward and was finally free from the grips of the rocks. My father yelled to me, “Bail Paul, bail!” I quickly dropped my paddle into the canoe and began to frantically bail the water out of our nearly swamped boat with a plastic milk container.
Our only hope to survive this incredible mishap was to try and make a quick sharp turn across the river and shoot for the right bank. I could see that the left bank of the river was completely washed out by the high water and there was no sign of dry ground. A massive concrete and steel bridge that spans across the Vermilion at this section of the river has hash marks on its immense columns, indicating the height of water in the river. As we came closer to the bridge, I could see that the river was well past the six-foot marker on the columns, nearly reaching the seven-foot mark, an extremely dangerous water level for this river. At an eight-foot level, the Vermilion looks like a branch of the Colorado River.
As we desperately tried to keep our canoe afloat, I thought that if we missed getting out of the river at this point, we might be washed further downstream without much hope of getting out for several miles. I was worried about my father’s knee and his ability to continue paddling. If we were to save ourselves, we would have to safely steer our small canoe around the massive bridge columns, make a sharp right turn and head for the far right bank of the river. Not a very easy task with a boat nearly filled with water and my father’s severe injury. Still kneeling, he tried desperately to stop the profuse bleeding from the gash in his knee by wrapping his drenched shirt around his wound. As he applied pressure, I could see his face grimace in pain. It was a first aid technique I’m sure he must have learned while in the Boy Scouts. It was apparent that he was in agony and was the only one paddling, as I continued my desperate attempts at bailing. With each movement forward, our canoe continued to take on more river water. The water rushed in through what appeared to be two large jagged rips in the bottom of our canoe.
As I struggled to bail, mustering every ounce of energy left in my body, I could hear my father groan in pain as I felt our weighted down canoe start to slowly turn toward the right bank with each powerful thrust from his paddle. His last orders to me on the river were, “Stop bailing, Paul, now paddle, paddle hard!” Somehow through our incredible determination to save our lives, my father and I were able to make it safely to the other side of the river without sinking and being swept down the Vermilion River. It’s a vivid memory of how determination, teamwork and the sheer will to live, which saved our lives that I will never forget. I often reflect on this amazing tale of courage, as I continue to fish and canoe that very part of the river as an adult.
Review
Mr. Rega presents a delightful memoire of growing up in what may be called a simpler time. The book culminates in a bike trip from Illinois to Florida. As an amateur cyclist, I cannot fully fathom such a trip even in this day of padded shorts and clipless pedals much less in a Boy Scout uniform and clunky shoes and without a cellphone.
Truly the values of the time and the lessons he learned from his family and scouting gave him the determination and character to make such a trip possible. A must read!
About the Author
Paul Rega began his writing career in 1980 while attending Western Illinois University as a staff reporter for the Western Courier. Upon graduating with a degree in biology and journalism, he spent the next thirty years in business having started an executive search firm in 1984.
Paul’s passion for writing stayed with him throughout his business life, and he started writing his first book in 1993. He published, How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs in December 2011. The book was an instant success, and hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for job hunting books in March 2012. He published 12 Steps to Freedom in August 2013 and Trail of 32, a true coming of age story in September 2013.
Paul lives in a small town along the Gulf Coast of Florida, where he is working on his next book.
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