Thursday, 31 October 2019

Article 15 by M.T. Bass


Title: Article 15
Author: M.T. Bass
Genre: Mystery


“She was one in a million…and the day I met her I should have bought a lottery ticket instead.”

Griffith Crowe, the "fixer" for a Chicago law firm, falls for his current assignment, Helena Nicholson, the beautiful heir of a Tech Sector venture capitalist who perished in a helicopter crash leaving her half a billion dollars, a Learjet 31, and unsavory suspicions about her father's death. As he investigates, the ex-Navy SEAL crosses swords with Helena’s step-brother, the Pentagon’s Highlands Forum, and an All-Star bad guy somebody has hired to stop him. When Griff finds himself on the wrong side of an arrest warrant he wonders: Is he a player or being played?

Lawyers and Lovers and Guns…Oh, my!

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Excerpt:

The conference room was small—smaller, at least by “Big Firm” standards, than the huge public conference room up front used to intimidate clients, adversaries, witnesses, and opposing counsel by swallowing them up whole like Jonahs lost in the belly of a legal whale. Tucked away in a back corner among the partner offices, it was extremely well appointed, though darkly so, in oak furniture and paneling. The quiet confines served as a war room of sorts, a place where grand strategies and hair-brained schemes were incubated, hatched and sometimes celebrated, sometimes autopsied. He knew because Griffith Crowe was sometimes part of them.

There were no windows, which was fine with him. He didn’t need to be seen, and, besides, he was just there to get paid and be quickly on his way. Even in the dim, indirect lighting, he found a shadow where he sat and sipped coffee from a massive, dark mug with Stein, Baylor & Stein gilded on the side, patiently waiting for Lance Baylor to come back with his check.

Lance was a master of entering and exiting rooms. So, when he burst into the room like a starlight artillery shell, wearing his white phosphorous rain-maker smile, followed by two junior associates and a young, very attractive Asian waitress pushing a serving cart with no doubt a sumptuous lunch, he knew his escape would be neither clean nor quick.

“Miss me?” teased Lance, baring his canines. “I couldn’t send you back to…to…where was it you were you off to, Griff?”

“Home.”

“Right, send you home hungry after a job well done. Pull up a chair, and we’ll feast before you depart.”

Lance naturally took the head of the table with Griff to his right. The two junior associates, veritable bookends with their young, already balding pates, red ties, pin-striped suits, expanding waistlines, and leather portfolios, sat on the opposite side of the table.

They all politely smiled at one another as the waitress set their places and served what turned out to be Beef Wellington. After pouring drinks—Cabernet for Lance, iced teas for the empty bookends and black coffee for Griff—she quietly left them and closed the door.

Like an orchestra conductor, with cutlery for a baton, Lance silently cued the quartet to begin eating.

Lance smiled broadly and looked to his right. “Good. No?”

“Excellent. My compliments to Cookie.”

“You know, our friend here was busy freeing Iraq before there actually was an Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Lance said, turning to the two associate attorneys, who frowned at the apparent contradiction. As if to explain, he continued, “Special Forces, of course. What was it you did there in the desert?”

Griff watched Lance watch himself surgically cut his Wellington.

“Nothing really so special,” Griff said, turning his attention to his own lunch plate.

“I suspect much the same sort of things as you may have done here to get your name on the marquee. You know, all’s fair in love and war.”



Author Bio:

M.T. Bass is a scribbler of fiction who holds fast to the notion that while victors may get to write history, novelists get to write/right reality. He lives, writes, flies and makes music in Mudcat Falls, USA.

Born in Athens, Ohio, M.T. Bass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in English and Philosophy, then worked in the private sector (where they expect “results”) mainly in the Aerospace & Defense manufacturing market. During those years, Bass continued to write fiction. He is the author of eight novels: My Brother’s Keeper, Crossroads, In the Black, Somethin’ for Nothin’, Murder by Munchausen, The Darknet (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #2), The Invisible Mind (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #3) and Article 15. His writing spans various genres, including Mystery, Adventure, Romance, Black Comedy and TechnoThrillers. A Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, airplanes and pilots are featured in many of his stories. Bass currently lives on the shores of Lake Erie near Lorain, Ohio.



Interview with M.T. Bass:

Hi M.T., Welcome to Just Books. Would you like to kick off by telling us how your journey as a writer began and whether you always wanted to be an author?
Truthfully, I started as a reader—way, way back before I ever thought about being a writer. In elementary school and junior high, I consumed mass quantities of bios, mostly of baseball and football heroes. One book, though, I particularly remember is Sabre Jet Ace about Joseph McConnell, the first jet ace of the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War, who flew F-86s (which my dad worked on at North American Aviation.) I’m pretty sure it eventually pushed me over the edge into becoming a pilot.
Later, when I moved into fiction in high school English classes, it seemed like maybe I could do that, so I took a few “creative” writing courses. But after I flamed out of the Music Conservatory my freshman year of college, I retreated into verse because I wanted to be a better songwriter. I chased that dream for a long while, then escaped to Colorado. And there I started having some ideas for novels that just kept coming and coming.


What are you working on now?
When I finished my very first book, My Brother’s Keeper, I always intended it to be a series following Hawk, a World War II fighter pilot, as he kind of wanders through different aviation based adventures in the years after the war. Well, some shiny new stories and characters kept cropping up and distracting me again, and again and again. I’m finally back to it. This time Hawk finds himself in Congo during the Sixties flying old T-6 Harvard training aircraft, fighting Simba Rebels as part of the civil war. It’s called Jungleland.


Besides yourself, who is your favourite author in the genre you write in?
With regards to living authors, definitely Carl Hiaasen is my favorite. I still enjoy his first book, Tourist Season the best. I don’t know if I exactly fit into his Florida-Crazy-Man genre, but I keep giving it my best shot from different parts of the U.S.


What's the best part of being an author, and the worst?
Being done and holding the finished print book in your hands—it just never, ever gets old. There’s really not a worst part as far as the writing goes. What the heck, it’s fun. You’re making stuff up and having a grand old time with it all. I guess when I am absolutely forced to take off my scribbler’s hat and put on my “Author’s” hat and deal with all the promotion and marketing and all the bull crap that comes along with it that is probably the worst part. But that’s not writing.


Do your characters ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
There’s a great book called Being Written by Willian Conescu where one of the minor characters conspires against the author to get a bigger part in the story. That’s the way I feel almost all the time. About halfway through the manuscript for In the Black I was floundering around because the book had so many characters and plot upon plot upon plot that I thought, “Gosh, I should get organized or something.” Right at that time I found a picture of a spreadsheet used by Joseph Heller when he wrote Catch-22 and since In the Black was my homage to Yossarian and his gang, I thought. “This is perfect.” So, I did the spreadsheet thing and had everything all laid out perfectly, except…none of the characters cooperated. They were all off on their own doing their own things, despite my best efforts. What could I do except go with the flow? Consequently, I now work without a safety net, which others call an outline.


You’ve written around 10 books… Do you have a favourite?
I feel like I never finish a book so much as I abandon them and leave them to their own devices out in the publishing world. And what ends up happening is that my favorite book is always the one that I’m working on at the time. It’s almost like having a series of affairs, sort of the Stephen Stills thing: “Love the One You’re With.” That being said, when I look back fondly, In the Black and Somethin’ for Nothin’ are really the two that tug at my heartstrings.


How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one unpublished novel that will never see the light of day. It was my very first, called The Twilight War. It was an odd combination of John Fowles and…gosh, I don’t even know what the heck else I threw in there. Some stones are best left unturned.


Before you leave, I'd like to throw in a 'non-writing' question, if that's ok...
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Let’s see…a pitcher, shortstop, and outfielder…a quarterback, wide receiver, or defensive back…a formula one, then an Indy car driver…Sergeant Saunders, Captain Rock Torrey, General Savage…a cop, an F.B.I. Agent, a lawyer, or, once in a while, a robber…an actor…a pilot…a rockstar…Gosh the world was just full of possibilities. And here I ended up scribbling down bald-faced lies.


Thank you for joining us here on Just Books today. Best wishes for the rest of the tour and for all your future projects.






M.T. Bass will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Follow the tour and comment.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning.








Halloween Book Blast



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RABT Book Tours & PR

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The Haunting At Paradise House by Killian Wolf



Title: The Haunting At Paradise House
Series: Reapers of the Veil- Book 1
Author: Killian Wolf
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Dark fantasy
Publication Date: 26th October 2019


If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?



When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

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My Review:

When Addison accepts a job in South Florida, taking care of Dax Castillo's father, Orlando, she takes on more than she was expecting.

It's a book of two halves, the first half being spooky as Addison is 'haunted' by ghosts, and things she doesn't understand. While in the second half deals with how the demon can be defeated.

With surprising twists, magic, spirits, another dimension and much more, the story was atmospheric and intriguing, and kept me turning the pages.

( I received a complimentary copy of the book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.)




Author Bio:

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.











Tuesday, 29 October 2019

To Snare A Witch by Jay Raven


Title: Bell, Book and Candle
Series: To Snare A Witch Book One
Author: Jay Raven
Genre: Dark fantasy/ Historical horror
Publication Date: 15th May 2019


A Chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge

No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.

What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil...





My Review:

I enjoyed this quick and captivating read.

Sir Henry Cruttendon doesn't want Elizabeth Feinnes to marry Jack Tyler, he wants her for himself. He hires the actors turned witchfinders, Thomas Gaunt and Matthew Stiles, to prove Jack is a witch and force Elizabeth to be his lover.

The characters were well-fleshed out for a short story. Set in 17th Century England at a time when witch hunts were commonplace, the storyline was convincing, interesting, well-paced, and filled with suspense and intrigue, with a surprising twist at the end.

( I received a complimentary copy of the book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.)



Author Bio:

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveaways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay's monthly newsletter on his website.

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Monday, 28 October 2019

Grimworld by Avery Moray



Title: Grimworld
Author: Avery Moray
Genre: Fantasy
Age Category: Middle Grade
Release Date: 1 November 2019


Every day, thirteen year old Henry Bats has his usual bowl of Sugar Slugs, helps tend Cobalt Sidewinders at Frank’s Peculiar Pets, and keeps to himself with his comic book collection. Just your typical day in Grimworld, where the sky is always dark and shadows lurk in the streets. What’s not typical is a suspicious Nightspook luring Henry into a cemetery in the middle of the night with the promise of a prized comic book. The Nightspook steals part of Henry's lifespan with a pocket watch, which begins counting down to his death. Henry is running out of time, and the pocket watch won't stop ticking...


Excerpt:

         His parents said goodnight and Henry fell asleep in his Captain Grim sheets. He was dreaming about a giant meatloaf with legs when he awoke to a noise. He rolled over and tried to fall back asleep. A minute later he heard the noise again, a sort of thump. His eyes squinted at the alarm clock. 3 A.M.
         “Hattie?” he yawned.
         No reply. He pried his eyes open and lifted his head a few inches. As there were no windows in the room, the only light came from the glowing numbers on the alarm clock. But there across the room, darker than dark, was a shadow in the vague shape of a person. Henry blinked rapidly, hoping his mind was playing tricks on him, but the black mass remained. He sat up, heart pounding. There were no distinguishable features on the shadow, but he knew whatever it was, was watching him.
         “Hello?” he whispered.
         The mass seemed to shiver, and as if from nowhere, there came a voice. “Hello.” It was deep and muted, as if underwater, but he heard it clearly. He made himself as still as possible.
         “What are you?”
         “A Nightspook.”
         “Nightspooks are invisible. And they can’t talk.”
         “You’re wrong.” The shadow crept closer. It glided across the floor until it was beside his nightstand. Henry repeated in his mind that Nightspooks were harmless.
         “Hattie told me about you,” it said.
         Henry had trouble getting his words out. “Oh, she did?”
         “I need your help.”
         “How about you ask Hattie? She can be really helpful, you know.”
         The edges of the figure became sharper. “No. You.”
         Henry slowly lay down and pulled the blanket over his face, speaking through the fabric. “I really have to get some sleep, so if you could just leave.”
         After a minute of silence, Henry poked his head out from the sheet. The shadow was still there, hovering above him, and it was growing larger. His palms were slick with sweat. “I guess you’re not leaving.”
         “No.” Its voice was louder.
         “What do you need help with?”
         “I need something.”
         “What do you need?”
         “Come with me.”
         “I really don’t have time right now.”
         The shadow expanded further. “Come. Now.”
         “I can’t.” Henry shrunk into his pillow.
         The black stretched out, covering the bed, its voice vibrating in his ears. “Come now. There will be a reward.”
         Henry knew if he didn’t go, the Nightspook wouldn’t go away, or worse, it would attach itself to him. “What kind of reward?”
         “Anything your heart desires.”
         He thought about what his heart desired. “A first edition of Captain Grim?”
         “Yes. Come.”
         “What if I don’t go?”
         “No escape,” the shadow boomed and completely engulfed the bed with its mass.
         Henry gulped. “Promise you’ll leave me alone after?”
         “Yes.” He squeezed his fists and released. “Fine.”
         The mass shrunk and disappeared through the door. Henry got up, not bothering to change out of his pajamas. The roaring snore of Gobbert echoed throughout the house and he moved with every exhale, making sure to step over the squeaky floorboards. The shadow was waiting for him outside, now a suspended lump the size of his head.
         “Follow me.”




About the Author:

Avery Moray is a storyteller who specializes in middle grade and young adult fantasy. She lives in a land with tall mountains and wide plains with her two furry sidekicks and one non-furry accomplice. She likes sweets, cats, Halloween, and loves creating all kind of things, stories being one of them.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Grimworld. All prizes are US Only. These are the prizes you can win:

  • Signed copy of Grimworld
  • Signed copy of Grimworld + bookmark, notepad, and pin
  • Signed copy of Grimworld + bookmark, notepad, and pin + unreleased chapter art print

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter above.


This is my stop during the blog tour for Grimworld by Avery Moray.
I hope you enjoyed reading.


The book blitz/blog tour runs from 26 October till 8 November.


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Saturday, 26 October 2019

Weave of Love by Rachel J Bonner



Title: Weave of Love
Series: Choices and Consequences Book 3
Author: Rachel J Bonner
Genre: paranormal romance (psychic), coming of age, post-apocalyptic, fantasy
Target Age: NA / Adult
Publication Date: 24th Ocotber 2019


What if the choice you have to make has devastating consequences for others?
How can anyone know the right thing to do?

Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.

Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?

The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember? If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.

Price: £2.99


Excerpt:

Taken from the start of Chapter 1, this is set just a few hours after the end of Thread of Hope. At the end of that book, Leonie was barely clinging to life having risked everything to save others. Perry is her husband. Lord Gabriel is the head of the community to which both Perry and Leonie belong.

Perry

       How often will I have to do this? How often can I even do this before it breaks me?
       Perry groaned and buried his head into the pillow, trying desperately to recapture those fuzzy moments on the edge of waking. Those warm, happy moments of forgetfulness before the memories of the last few days hit him. Before his mind was swamped with thoughts of Leonie sacrificing everything to save others, of her almost lifeless body as he brought her home, of earlier this morning when they’d had to stop supporting her.
       I won’t think about it. I won’t. Just the happy times, I’ll think of the good times.
       “Sit up,” said Lord Gabriel. “I know you’re awake. You have to face this, not run away from it.”
       Gabriel’s voice reached somewhere below Perry’s conscious mind and obedience came without thinking. He sat up. “Andrew was here,” he said slowly.
       “I took over from him. I have a confession to make to you. Under the circumstances, I think it needs to be before tomorrow,” Gabriel replied with a slight smile.
       Perry stared at him, frowning and puzzled. “Okay then,” he said, relieved at the distraction from his own issues.
       “Not yet. You need to eat first,” said Gabriel, nodding towards where food was set out on a nearby surface. “Many years of experience have taught me never to confess to someone with low blood sugar.”
       Despite the circumstances, that brought a slight laugh to Perry, and he moved to comply. As he ate, he kept glancing at Leonie’s body on the other side of the bed.
       “She’s not been alone. Never alone,” Gabriel told him. “And my confession is for her, too, even if she won’t hear it.”
       “I can’t keep secrets from her,” Perry confessed.
       “I know. And this isn’t secret, not now. Although I’d rather my behaviour didn’t become public knowledge. At least, no more than it already is.”
       Tendrils of intrigue wound into Perry’s mind, challenging the numbness he was desperate to hold on to, detachment his only protection against the ocean of pain awaiting him.


Thread of Hope
Book 2

What if your secrets are so dangerous they could destroy the one you love?
Is honesty always the best policy?

Leonie may have run away but Prospero will find her. He loves her and he wants a future with her by his side whatever the consequences. Only when he does find her, he ought to tell her who he really is, outside the monastery. That’ll make her run again. Dare he risk it? But if he doesn’t tell her, someone else may...

Marriage to Prospero is what Leonie wants most and the one thing she knows she can’t have. If he found out what she was really like, what she’d been, what she’d done, he’d despise her and she couldn’t bear that. Better to leave now than live a lie – but it’s harder than she expected. If only…

Gabriel is starting to discover the secrets inherent in Leonie, secrets that not even she knows, secrets that will tear the world apart. And the secrets he is keeping are tearing him apart. How can sacrificing those he loves possibly achieve peace when everything he discovers risks the death of millions?

Price: £2.99



Strand of Faith
Book 1

What if the choice you have to make has devastating consequences for others?
How can anyone know the right thing to do?

Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.

Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?

The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember? If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.

Price: Normally £2.99
From 12th October until 5th November, ebook copy of Strand of Faith is available free from Bookcave but requires a subscription to my newsletter.



And coming soon (February 2020)

Cloth of Grace
Book 4

When the fate of the world rests on your shoulders, how do you choose between what you ought to do and the only thing you really want?

Leonie finally knows who she is. But now she needs to decide who she is going to be. Her choice will affect not just her family, not just those she knows but tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of people that she doesn’t. And every path that’s open to her will put Perry under the pressures that caused his breakdown before. How can she do what she must and still protect Perry?

Perry desperately wants to make things easier for Leonie. Somehow he has to find the strength to face the things that all but destroyed him in the past. But every way he turns some aspect of his past lies waiting to pounce – even during his happiest moments. And he can never forget that Leonie’s life is in danger from someone, somewhere. That danger may be much closer to home than anyone suspects.

Gabriel has managed to negotiate peace, at least in theory. Now he must put that into practice and reunite Leonie with the family she never knew she had. Then disaster strikes right in the middle of his own sanctuary. Can he still protect those he loves, or has he been harbouring a villain the whole time?

Price: £2.99


Author Bio:

Rachel J Bonner is the author of the compelling and enthralling four book Choices and Consequences series. The first book in the series, Strand of Faith, was published in November 2018. Book 2, Thread of Hope, released on 2nd May 2019, followed by Weave of Love on 24th October, and Cloth of Grace at the end of February 2020.

Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in fantasy or romance. Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun. When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books, or shooting things with her local archery club. Shooting targets only, honest. Nothing to worry about. (Okay, sometimes we shoot Polo mints. Or cabbages. Still nothing to worry about.)

She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary. It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.




Giveaway to Win signed copies of Strand of Faith, Thread of Hope and Weave of Love, plus a selection of bookmarks, plus three MixPix acrylic photo tiles (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions - Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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Friday, 25 October 2019

A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens



Title: A Pocketful Of Lodestones
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #2
Author: Elizabeth Crowens
Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Publication Date: August 1st 2019
Publisher: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781950384051


In 1914, the war to end all wars turns the worlds of John Patrick Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West and Harry Houdini upside down. Doyle goes back to ancient China in his hunt for that “red book” to help him write his Sherlock Holmes stories. Scott is hell-bent on finding out why his platoon sergeant has it out for him, and they both discover that during the time of Shakespeare every day is a witch-hunt in London. Is the ability to travel through time the ultimate escape from the horrific present, or do ghosts from the past come back to haunt those who dare to spin the Wheel of Karma?

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful Of Lodestones, sequel to Silent Meridian, combines the surrealism of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with the supernatural allure of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell set during WWI on the Western Front.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful Of Lodestones was the First Prize winner of the Chanticleer Review’s Paranormal Fiction Awards.


Excerpt:

Chapter One: Kitchener’s Call to Arms
August 1914


“Have you ever killed a man before?”

I had, but close to three hundred years ago. So, I lied and just shook my head.

“Your name, son?” the recruitment officer asked.

“John Patrick Scott,” I said, with pride.

The officer handed me a card to fill out. “Write your date of birth, where you live and don’t skip any questions. When finished, bring this over to Line B.”

Born during the reign of Queen Victoria, somehow or other I managed to travel to the 23rd century, feudal Japan, and ancient China long before the Great War started. The army wanted to know all the places I had traveled, but it was doubtful that much information was required.

Since the war to end all wars commenced, recruiting centers sprang up like wildflowers. This one took over an Edinburgh public library. If unaware as to why the enthusiastic furor, one would’ve guessed the government gave away free land tracts with titles.

“Let’s see how clever you blokes are. Tell me the four duties of a soldier,” another enlistment administrator called out.
An overeager Glaswegian shouted, “Obedience, cleanliness, honesty and sobriety, sir!”

The chap next to him elbowed his side. “Takes no brains to read a bloody sign.”

Propaganda posters wallpapered the room with solicitous attempts at boosting morale. Kitchener wanted us and looked straight into our eyes. Proof of our manhood or perhaps stupidity. Queues of enthusiasm wound around the block. Impatient ones jumped the lines. We swore our allegiance to the King over a bible. As long as the war lasted, our lives were no longer our own.

Voices from men I’d never see again called out from the crowd.

“It’ll be over in six weeks.”

“Are you so sure?”

“Check out those men. All from the same cricket team. Play and die together. Medals of Valor in a blink. Local heroes with celebrations.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

A crusty old career soldier yelled out to the volunteers, “Does anyone speak Flemish?”

Suddenly the place got quiet. Then he looked at me. “Soldier, do you know anything besides the King’s English? French?”

“Fluent German,” I said. “That should be helpful.”

“Since when were you with the Bosches?”

“Fourteen years, sir. Before the war.”

“And what were you doing in enemy territory?”

“Worked as a teacher. A music professor and a concert pianist when I could get the engagements and sometimes as an amateur photographer. They weren’t our enemies then, sir.”

“Have you ever shot a rifle, son?”

“Actually, I have…”

“Find a pair of boots that fits you, lad. Hustle now. Time’s a wasting.”

The Allied and German armies were in a Race to the Sea. If the Germans got there first, then England was in danger of invasion. Basic training opened its arms to the common man, and it felt strange to be bedding alongside Leith dockworkers and farmers, many underage, versus the university colleagues from my recent past. Because of the overwhelming need for new recruits, training facilities ran out of room. The army took over church halls, local schools and warehouses in haste. Select recruits were billeted in private homes, but we weren't so fortunate.

Except for acquired muscles, I slimmed down and resembled the young man that I was in my university days except with a tad more gray hair, cut very short and shaved even closer on the sides. No more rich German pastries from former students as part of my diet. At least keeping a clean-shaven face wasn’t a challenge since I never could grow a beard. Wearing my new uniform took getting used to. Other recruits laughed, as I’d reach to straighten my tie or waistcoat out of habit despite the obvious fact that I was no longer wearing them.

While still in Scotland during basic training, I started to have a series of the most peculiar dreams. My boots had not yet been muddied with the soil of real battlefields. New recruits such as I, had difficult adjustments transitioning from civilian life. Because of my past history of lucid dreaming, trips in time travel and years of psychical experimentation I conducted both on my own and with my enthusiastic and well-studied mentor, Arthur Conan Doyle, my nightmares appeared more real than others. My concerns were that these dreams were either actual excursions into the Secret Library where the circumstances had already occurred or premonitions of developments to come.

The most notable of these episodes occurred toward the end of August in 1914. In this dream, I had joined another British platoon other than my own in Belgium on the Western Front. We were outnumbered at least three to one, and the aggressive Huns surrounded us on three sides.

Whistles blew. “Retreat!” yelled our commanding officer, a privileged Cambridge boy, barely a man and younger than I, who looked like he had never seen the likes of hardship.

We retreated to our trenches to assess what to plan next, but instead of moving toward our destination everyone froze in their tracks. Time was like a strip of film that slowed down, spooled off track, and jammed inside a projector.

Then the oddest thing happened to our enemy. For no apparent reason, their bodies jerked and convulsed as if fired upon by invisible bullets over the course of an hour.

When the morning fog lifted, the other Tommies and I broke free from our preternatural standstill and charged over the top of the trenches with new combat instructions. Half of our platoon dropped their rifles in shock. Dead Huns, by the thousands, littered No man’s land long before we had even fired our first retaliatory shot!

I woke up agitated, disoriented and in a cold sweat. Even more disturbing was finding several brass shell casings under my pillow — souvenirs or proof that I had traveled off somewhere and not imagined it. I roused the sleeping guy in the next bed and couldn’t wait to share this incredible story.

“Shush!” he warned me. “You’ll wake the others.”

Meanwhile, he rummaged inside his belongings and pulled out a rumpled and grease-stained newspaper clipping that looked and smelled like it had originally been used to wrap up fish and chips.

He handed it to me with excitement. “My folks sent this me from back home.”

The headlines: “Angels sited at the Battle of Mons”

Almost as notable was the article’s byline written by my best friend from the University of Edinburgh, Wendell Mackenzie, whom I had lost track of since the war started.

He begged me to read on.

“Hundreds of witnesses claimed similarities in their experiences. There were rumors aplenty about ghostly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt where the Brits fought against the French back in 1415. Inexplicable apparitions appeared out of nowhere and vanquished German enemy troops at the recent Battle of Mons.”

“This looks like a scene from out of a storybook.” I pointed to an artist’s rendition and continued.

“Word spread that arrow wounds were discovered on corpses of the enemy nearby, and it wasn't a hoax. Others reported seeing a Madonna in the trenches or visions of St. Michael, another saint symbolizing victory.”

“Now, I don’t feel so singled out,” I said and handed the newspaper articles back to my comrade.

For weeks, I feared talking to anyone else about it and insisted my mate keep silent. Even in wartime, I swore that I’d stay in touch with my closest acquaintances, Wendell Mackenzie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was easier to keep abreast of Arthur's exploits, because of his public celebrity. On the other hand, Wendell, being a journalist, could be anywhere in the world on assignment.

* * *
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie,

I regret having missed Wendell when he never made it over to visit Scotland, and you wonder if someone up above watches over us when we make decisions where to go and when. In my case it was when I decided to take a summer vacation and travel to Edinburgh before the war. Those without passports or proper documentation endured countless detours and delays getting back to their respective homelands. One of Mrs. Campbell’s lodgers had been detained in France.

With nothing to return to back in Germany, I joined the Royal Scots. Military training commenced in Edinburgh, and at least they had us wearing uniforms of pants tucked into gaiters as opposed to the Highland troops who wore kilts. Although I was born and bred in Scotland, as a Lowlander that’s one outfit you’d have to force me into with much duress.

Our tasks would be in the Scots Territorial units deployed on our coastline in case of an enemy invasion. Potential threats could come from spies or submarines, but most say that the worst enemy has been the frigid wind blowing off the North Sea.

As there is always talk about combining forces and transfers, my aunt can always forward letters. It would mean more than the world to hear from Wendell saying that not only is he all right, but also in good spirits.

Yours most devoted,

Private John Patrick Scott

* * *
Dear Arthur,

In our last correspondence, I conveyed that I was unable to return to my teaching post in Stuttgart. With your tour in the Boer War as my inspiration, I joined the military. We learned the basics: how to follow commands, first aid, march discipline and training in all matters of physical fitness. My feet have been in a constant state of rebellion, since my previous profession as a pianist was a sedentary occupation.

Deployment was supposed to be along the coast of Scotland, but the army reassigned me despite first promises because of too many staggering losses on the Western Front. I requested to be part of the air corps and a pioneer in new battle technology, but my recruiting officers had other plans. Our regiment left for Ypres in Belgium. None of the Tommies could pronounce the name of this place, so everyone called it Wipers. You’re no stranger to war, but everyone has been surprised that it lasted longer than anticipated.

Yours Most Devoted,

Private John Patrick Scott

* * *

Troops from all over under the wing of the British Expeditionary Forces piled on to ships to sail out to the continent. The locals from Edinburgh didn’t expect to leave bonnie ole Scotland. They told us we’d defend our shores from foreign invasions. I’d crossed the North Sea before, but then it was a sea of hope and a new life full of opportunity when I got my scholarship to continue my musical studies in Germany, now the enemy.

I turned to the nearest stranger, hoping that a random conversation would break the monotonous and never-ending wait until we set anchor in Belgium. “How was your basic training?”

“Three months at an abandoned amusement park,” the soldier replied. “We trained for the longest time in our street clothes and were told they ran out of uniforms. Probably sent recycled ones after the first troops died. Used wooden dummy rifles until the real ones arrived. What about you?”

“We used an abandoned dance hall. Never could get used to waking at 5:30 a.m.”

“Word got around that in Aldershot soldiers had luxury facilities with a billiards room, a library, private baths and a buffet. I suspect that was for the regulars, the old-timers, not new recruits like us.”

“I should’ve enlisted elsewhere,” I grumbled, not that it would’ve made much of a difference if we’d all die in the end.
He pointed to my face and examined my flawless hands. “You don’t look like much of an outdoorsman. Pale, hairless complexion. No scars.”

“I’m a concert pianist.”

“Not much use on the Front.”

“Probably not. Excuse me, I need some air.” I bundled up in my great coat, wrapping my muffler a wee bit tighter.

Wasn’t sure which were worse — the soldiers with their asphyxiating cigarettes or numbing sleet turning into ice pellets. Hadn’t gotten my sea legs, yet. Stormy swells churned my stomach. Sweet Scotland. Lush green grass and the sky the color of blue moonstone. Never thought I’d be so sentimental. Continued staring until brilliant hues of the shoreline merged into dismal grays of a foggy horizon. In the transition from civilian to soldier, I stepped through a door of no return unless I desired to come back home in a coffin.

Chapter Two: The Other Lost World
Ypres, Belgium Late fall, 1914

A sea of strange men, but all comrades-in-arms, all recent transplants marched to their assignments and followed orders without question to who-knows-where on the way to the battlefield sites. We sallied forth, anonymous troops with a distorted sense of time and distance through the streets of has-been cities, once thriving communities. Poetry in ruination.

As we marched through the Grote Markt (Grand Market) heading out toward the Menenpoort (or Menen Gate) I didn’t expect to get an education. The soldier to my left kept talking out loud and compared notes of local tourist attractions.

He was probably unaware that anyone else had overheard his comments.

“That long, distinctive building with the church hiding behind it must be the Hallen… or their Cloth Hall. There were impressive paintings on the interior walls of the Pauwels Room depicting the history of this town and its prosperous textile trade.”

“How do you know this?” I asked, trying not to attract too much attention.

“I’m a historian. Used to teach at a priory school in Morpeth.”

Perhaps I was na├»ve, but I asked, “Why would the armed forces recruit someone with a background in history?”
“That didn’t influence my enlistment although I’m sure it’ll come in handy somewhere. Before the war, I traveled all over Europe when time permitted. I brought original postcards with me as to what this town used to look like. It’s frightening to see the difference.”

“Your name?” I asked.

“Private Watson. What about you?”

“Not John Watson, by any chance?”

“No, Roger Watson, why?”

I shook my head thinking about Arthur and bit my lip to hide a slight smile. “Oh nothing… My name is Private Scott, John Patrick Scott.”

“What brings you to this dismal corner of the earth?”

“Ich war ein Musiklehrer. Pardon me, sometimes I break into German. I’m from Edinburgh but was living in Germany as a music teacher. Can’t be doing that sort of thing now.”

“I suppose not.”

“Roger, sorry to have eavesdropped, but it sounded so interesting. Then you are familiar with the area we just marched through?”

“That was the central merchant and trading hub of Ypres and has been since the mid-fifteenth century. On the north side over there is St. Martin’s Cathedral. You can already see the damage from German attacks.”

There was no escaping the needless destruction by aggressive enemy bombing. We continued marching forward in formation. A little way beyond the city gate, we passed by the remains of a park and children’s playground. The soldiers took a rest break and snacked on portable rations. Many of them took off their boots and massaged their feet. Not too far away, I found a shattered brick in the rubble of what had been a schoolhouse and brought it back to where everyone was having his makeshift picnic.

Watson noticed that I kept twirling the small fragment in my hand while intermittently closing my eyes. “Scott, what are you doing?”

“Pictures form in my mind similar to movies. It’s the art of psychometry,” I replied.

“Psycho — what?” Another soldier overheard us talking.

“Sounds like something from Sigmund Freud,” one called out.

“Not at all, it’s like a psychical gift or talent. It has nothing to do with psychoanalysis.”

“What’s the point?” the first one asked.

I felt under pressure to put my thoughts into words. “I can understand what building this brick was part of when it was intact and what was here before it was destroyed.”

“That’s incredible!” Watson exclaimed. “If you are able to uncover bygone times by psychical means, I am all ears.”

When everyone else discounted my talent, Watson gave it full praise. Others became impatient and weren’t interested in our sidebar history lesson.

“Can you use those skills beyond inanimate objects?” one soldier asked.

“Find me an object, someone’s former possession,” I said.

Another soldier found a broken pocket watch not far from a trampled garden. He tossed it over, and I caught it with both hands. When I closed my eyes, the images materialized in my mind’s eye.
“A loving grandfather was reading to his grandchildren from an illustrated story book. He was balding. Wore spectacles. Had a trimmed white beard.

“‘Time for bed,’ he said, looking at his watch. Tick tock, tick tock. It was a gift from his father.

“He kissed each grandchild on the forehead as they scampered off. Two girls, one boy, all in their nightgowns. The tallest girl was a redhead with… pink ribbons in her long, curly hair. Then the bombs dropped. Fire. The roof collapsed. All was lost. Then… then… Oh my God!”

“Scotty, what’s wrong?” Watson asked.

I looked at the blank faces around me. “You don’t see him?”
Watson was baffled. “See who?”

“That grandfather,” I said, horrified and clutching onto that timepiece. His ghost was standing right in front of me!

Then I realized that no one else was capable of seeing him. Inside, I panicked until my frozen fingers let go of the watch, and it tumbled into the dirt. That’s when his phantasmal form vanished, but there were still indelible memories impressed upon the ether that refused to fade with the passage of time.

Warning bells tolled from a nearby church. “Quick, run for cover!” our commanding officer shouted.

Double-time over to shelter. Incoming bombs whistled and boomed in the distance. Civilians followed, carrying their most precious possessions, also fleeing for their lives.

The sanctuary already suffered from shell damage that left large gaping holes in its roof. Birds nested above the pulpit. Cherished religious statuary had been knocked over and broken. Several nuns rushed up and motioned the way for us to take refuge in the basement. We joined the crowd of scared families, members of the local community.

“Isn’t Britain giving them haven?” I asked Watson. “I thought most of the civilians evacuated by now.”

“There are still the ones who want to hold out,” he explained. “Wouldn’t you if your entire life and livelihood were here for multiple generations? That’s why they’re counting on us, but the Germans are relentless. Ypres is right on the path of strategic routes to take over France.”

When several farmers brought over their pigs and chickens, our retreat began to resemble a biblical nativity scene.

From inside the cellar, we could hear the rumble of the outside walls collapsing.

“We’ll be trapped!” People yelled out in panic.

A group of sisters prayed in the corner. Our trench diggers readied themselves to shovel us out if it came to that. One terror-stricken woman handed me a screaming baby.

“I found him abandoned.” At least that’s what I thought she said in Flemish, but none of us could understand her.

Confused and without thinking, I almost spoke in Japanese, but that would’ve been for the wrong place and an entirely different century during a different lifetime.

“What will I do with him?” I said to her in German, but she didn’t comprehend me either. I couldn’t just place him down in a corner. We’d be marching out in a matter of minutes.

I approached a man with his wife and three other children. First I tried English, then German, random words of French, and then I tried Greek and Latin from my school days. Finally I resorted to awkward gestures to see if he’d take the child. But he shook his head, gathered his brood and backed off.

Troops cleared a path out of the cellar. We needed to report to our stations before nightfall.

“Sister, please?” I begged one nun, interrupting her rosary. To my relief, she took the infant.

“Oh Mon Dieu!” I cried out in the little French that I knew. “Danke, thank you, merci boucoup.” Then I ran off to join the others.

Watson slapped me on the back. “Looked like you were going to be a father, mate.”

“Not yet. Got a war to fight,” I replied.



Author Bio:

Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.





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