Excerpt From BOB, THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD by Pat Bertram

A sample of Pat Bertram’s latest novel:

The screen went black.

“Something must be wrong with the cable,” Isabel said. “I’ll call them tomorrow.”

After thirty seconds of whistles, hums, and buzzes, the picture came back on. Instead of the anchorperson, the head of a gnomish man with a round, bespectacled face, a bald pate, and a receding chin filled the screen.

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do. For another thing—”

Isabel clicked off the television and stood up. “We must have missed the news.”

Clutching the remote, she stalked to the guestroom and shut the door.

Chet continued to stare at the darkened screen. He would have liked to see more of Bob—looked like it could have been an interesting science fiction movie—but dealing with Isabel exhausted him. He didn’t have the energy to get up and manually turn the television back on.

[The next day, John the butcher stopped by Chet’s pet store with entrails and such for the reptiles. They talked for a bit, then John started to leave, hesitated, and turned back.]

“Does it feel a little strange to you today?”

“Strange how?”

“I don’t know. Just a creepy feeling I have, like a storm’s coming.” John twitched his shoulders. “Probably nothing. Maybe I let that Bob thing get to me.”

“What Bob thing?” Chet asked.

“Some guy pulled an April Fool’s prank last night. Hacked into the television signal. Claimed he was The Right Hand of God. Silly, but I’ve been feeling creepy all day.”

“I thought it was a movie.”

“Nope. A friend of mine at Channel Ten told me they lost the signal for about five minutes.”

Chet shivered. “Now I’ve got the creeps. Thanks a lot.”

And so the saga begins . . .


Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Excerpt From PASTOR LARSEN AND THE RAT by Lazarus Barnhill

Pastor Larsen and the RatReverend Martin Luther Larsen—highly regarded, completely ethical, genuine and sincere—has dedicated his life to the pastorate. Now, in the face of the drudgery, church politics and frustration that are the usual professional hazards of the ministry, a dangerous and intriguing complication has slipped into his life: Ange. No one in Larsen’s close knit congregations knew of the existence of this woman, the daughter of a parishioner who appeared just in time for her mother’s funeral. For Larsen, Ange is more than mysterious. She is alluring, wise and astonishingly intuitive. . . . And then there is the issue of the large rat that seems to be taunting the members of his church.


She had answered the door shoeless, wearing a close-fitting black dress and no makeup. Her black hair was just long enough to bounce when she let him in the front door and immediately turned toward the kitchen table, where packets of documents and possessions were stacked. He assumed she was going to hand him the items she had promised him at the funeral and bid him farewell, until he saw the magnum of red wine and the two glasses beside it. First he thought he would have to turn down the offered drink, and then he wondered if perhaps he should not have assumed. Perhaps she was expecting other company. She sat down in one of the two chairs at the table and crossed her bare legs.

“Can you sit down for a minute? It was nice of you to come all the way out here to pick these things up, Pastor Larsen,” she said.

He pulled out the chair and sat down. The daughter sat in the one he had always used in past visits. It was strange to him to sit in the chair Joan Celeste sat in when he visited her, where she graciously offered him crumb cake and lemonade.

“I came out here to Alton a lot, actually. Your mother was very dear to me. That is, she was just as nice and hospitable as she could be. And I always really appreciated that. I enjoyed coming to visit her.” He smiled. “Of course you mother very faithfully showed up every Sunday. It’s a long way from Alton to Manchester. But she never missed. When someone comes that far every week, you want to show your appreciation.”

Ange Celeste stared at him. It was a bit disconcerting to Larsen. Did she not believe that he visited often, or did she doubt his sentiments? Did she—perhaps cynical about church life or even an outright disbeliever—look down on the sort of pastoral relationship he described? The unexpected or incomprehensible reactions of extremely attractive women had always troubled him, made him feel like an unappealing buffoon.

“She liked you.”

Her words and the way she spoke them surprised him. It was almost like a pronouncement or a verdict Joan had handed down for her daughter to share with Larsen in her absence. And there was something about the tone she used. It was wiser and perhaps more intimate than he expected.

“Well. I liked her.”

“She told me about conning you into going to the fall festival here in Alton. And on a Saturday, no less. And she told me about your favorite wine.”

Without asking, she turned and grasped the magnum in two hands. Larsen’s mouth dropped. He stammered, started to protest that he was working, had other appointments to keep that Friday afternoon and could not drink. The daughter paid no attention to him, though, as she poured the glasses full.

“A nice Nebbiolo from Verità Wino, your favorite Italian winery.”

“. . . I really shouldn’t.”

She had anticipated his reluctance and brushed it aside. “One glass, Pastor Larsen. Only 12% alcohol. Undetectable.” She picked up the glasses and handed one to him. “A toast to my mother, the divine Joan Celeste.”

He laughed, somewhat anxiously, as they touched their glasses. “To Joan.”

The wine was as he remembered it: rosy and slightly tart with a lingering mellow aftertaste. And with the first taste he felt himself begin to relax. The second and third sips did not disappoint.

“I did not know Verità Wino produced a magnum size of their Nebbiolo.”

She looked at the bottle, as if seeing it for the first time. “Well I guess they do.” She smiled at him. “Mother said it was ironic that you liked this wine.”

He gazed at her. “Seriously? Why did she say that?”

“Because you are so much like it.”


“The Nebbiolo grape takes an exceptionally long time from the moment it blooms until it’s ready to pluck.” She smiled. “And once you do skin it and start the fermentation process, it takes a very long time before . . . it’s ready for the bottle.”

He stared at her oval face, cream-colored complexion, dark almond eyes, pert nose and small mouth. She bore only the faintest resemblance to her mother, whom he had only known in her 70’s. How old was this daughter? Forty perhaps, at most? Was she a late-life child?

“What does that have to do with me?”

She had finished her glass and poured another. “I guess Mother thought you were a work-in-progress.” She grabbed his glass in his hand and steadied it as she brought the neck of the magnum onto the lip and filled it again.

“No thanks. . . . Uh. What did your mother mean, that I’m a ‘work-in-progress?’ Was I not the pastor she needed me to be?”

“I seriously doubt that, Pastor Larsen. . . . Sounds like you worry about that kind of thing though.” She took another drink.

He thought about it. “Every pastor worth his salt wants to be the shepherd his—or her—congregation needs.”

“How politically correct of you.”

He laughed. “Heaven knows I try, Ms. Celeste.”



“No. Say it right. It’s pronounced ‘auhnjj.’ It’s French.”


“That’s right.”

“Well, Ange, I take it you don’t have a great deal of use for church life and customs.”

Her head tipped to one side. “I don’t do religion the way my mother did. That doesn’t mean I’m not spiritual.”



Lazarus Barnhill’s titles appear in several Indigo Sea Press genres. Among his first novels to be published was the police procedural The Medicine People. Later, co-authored with Sally Jones, he released Come Home to Me Child. His work is characterized by the unexpected twist and turn, by crisp dialogue and unpredictable endings.

Only $.99 on Kindle today! https://www.amazon.com/Pastor-Larsen-Rat-Lazarus-Barnhill-ebook/dp/B01GGIKF4A

Excerpt from Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) by Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo

downloadBook blurb:

“Animal Dwarf Bandits” with Tommy Guns are on a crime spree in Georgia!

Dillinger-style bank heists are being committed by a dangerous gang of little people wearing animal masks. Enter ursine photojournalist Thelonious T. Bear. Still smarting from his misadventures in Norfolk, he’s eager to begin his assignment in the American South. However, Thelonious soon learns that the South isn’t all fried chicken and sweet tea. In between encounters with a trigger-happy farmer and a fire-and-brimstone preacher with a snake, he’s stalked by a man in a red pickup truck and nearly bear-napped by a family of hillbillies. Thelonious’s resemblance to one of the bank bandits puts him on the radar of Sheriff Maynard Grizzle and budding reporter Nate Jessop, both of whom are convinced he’s in the gang. As the robberies gain more media attention, locals smell fame in the air. Suddenly everyone wants in on the action. And Thelonious finds himself at the heart of yet another series of crimes!

From bestselling author Mitzi Szereto, co-authored with her celebrity sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. Be sure to read Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles), the first in the series!


By late afternoon a tired and hungry Thelonious was ready to pack it in for the day—until he saw the ruined timber barn. It was set well back from the road in a field so long untended it actually seemed to consume the structure. An oak tree had fallen onto the roof, causing it to collapse. The tree was thriving and had even become part of the barn, feeding new life into something left to die. Parking at the edge of what once had been a driveway, Thelonious got out of the Mini. He stood for a moment perusing the site. Slinging his camera bag over one shoulder, he trundled forth into the overgrown field. A No Trespassing sign lay on the ground, covered over with weedy detritus. It was still attached to a chain that had fallen down between two rotted posts. He passed right by, never seeing it.

Thelonious photographed the barn from various angles, changing lenses as he saw fit. Although the weight of his camera bag was a nuisance, he dared not set it down for fear it would be swallowed by the overgrowth. Approaching the barn’s entrance, he noticed several bales of hay inside that had been left there to rot. Rust-covered farm implements lay scattered about both inside and out. He included them in some of the images, since they lent extra character to the scene. He even captured a triangle of sunlight coming through the barn’s collapsed roof as it returned the mouldering hay to its original golden splendour, zooming in when a mouse poked its head out to feel the sunshine on its whiskers. The light shifted and changed hue, adding shadow, depth and richness to his compositions. Had Thelonious’s attention not been caught by a ramshackle assemblage of containers off to one side, he might’ve seen the figure skulking in the shadows behind him.

A rusty metal cylinder with a triangular-shaped lid had been set up in a corner of the barn. An encrusted pipe had been attached to the top, the elbow joint bending it sideways connecting it to a worm-eaten wooden barrel; its remaining iron bands had turned green with corrosion. Glass jugs and jam jars lay strewn about on the dirt floor. Some looked as if they had mouse droppings on them. Thelonious’s nostrils detected the odour of fermenting grains. It appeared that he’d stumbled upon a moonshine still.

As Thelonious framed it in his viewfinder, he heard a loud explosion. A bullet whistled past his right ear, nearly taking his deerstalker hat with it.

“Hold it right thare!”

A wiry old man with a shotgun stepped out from the shadows. He planted himself solidly behind Thelonious. A long scraggly beard hung from his chin; it would’ve been white if not for the dribbles of tobacco juice. Thelonious was pretty sure he saw things moving in it.

The ancient codger aimed the firearm at Thelonious’s chest, the brown sticks of his arms surprisingly steady as they stuck out from his tattered bib overalls. “This here’s private property!” he shouted.

Thelonious took a few steps back, feeling his bowels loosening. “I thought the barn was abandoned?” he croaked.

“Abandoned?” The old man spat into the dirt. “This here barn ain’t abandoned!”

“I must’ve made a mistake.”

“Ah’ll say y’all made a mistake! This here’s my farm!”


“Hmmph…” The farmer squinted hard at his intruder, his creased face like a dried plum above the beard.

Thelonious shifted the camera bag to his other shoulder. “I’ll just be on my way then.”

But the farmer had other ideas. He moved nearer, closing the gap between them. “Did that no ’count Bobby Ray Tuggle send y’all down here to steal my corn liquor?”

“No!” Thelonious shook his head until he thought it would fall off. The cosy relationship between the old man’s index finger and the shotgun’s trigger was making him nervous.

“Y’all don’t know Bobby Ray?”

“I don’t know anyone!”

“Okay. If’n y’all say so.”

Hoping this was the end of it, Thelonious turned to go.

“Not so dang fast! Didn’t y’all see my ‘no trespassing’ sign?”

“What ‘no trespassing’ sign?”

“Y’all walked right on past it. It’s thare, plain as day!” A skeletal brown finger pointed toward the barn’s gaping entrance. “C’aint miss it!”

“But I didn’t see any sign!”

“Ah shoot trespassers.” The farmer gave Thelonious a grisly brown grin. “Shot me one last year. He’s buried out back of the barn. Wanna see?”


Author bios:

Mitzi Szereto (mitziszereto.com) is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (mitziszereto.com/blog), and a web TV channel Mitzi TV (mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers the “quirky” side of London. Her books include Love, Lust and Zombies; Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance; The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles); Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; and Silk Sheets: Collected Stories of Mitzi Szereto.

Teddy Tedaloo is an author, celebrity teddy bear and the publisher and editor of The Teddy Tedaloo Times. He’s also a trendsetter, world traveller, and the production assistant extraordinaire/co-star of the web TV channel Mitzi TV. Popular in social media circles such as Facebook and Twitter, he’s known for his entertaining commentary and opinions as well as being an advocate for animal welfare. He lives (and goes) wherever Mitzi lives (and goes). He’s the co-author of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles). Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is his second novel in the series.


Available for Kindle, Nook and Kobo e-readers and in trade paperback (Sept. 2015)

Author website: http://mitziszereto.com
Book website: http://mitziszereto.com/rottenpeaches
Mitzi Szereto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitziszereto
Teddy Tedaloo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/teddytedaloo
Mitzi Szereto on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitziszereto.fanpage
Teddy Tedaloo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teddytedaloo.fanpage

Buy links:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Rotten-Peaches-Thelonious-Bear-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00XTH3SHS/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rotten-Peaches-Thelonious-Bear-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00XTH3SHS/
Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Rotten-Peaches-Thelonious-Bear-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00XTH3SHS/
Amazon Australia: http://www.amazon.com.au/Rotten-Peaches-Thelonious-Bear-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00XTH3SHS/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rotten-peaches-mitzi-szereto/1122563223?ean=2940151033503
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/rotten-peaches-the-thelonious-t-bear-chronicles


In this remarkable spiritual memoir, written by one of the most astonishing and enigmatic mystics of the modern era, Nosirrah takes us through the arc of his life from his birth, which he claims never actually happened, to his own death, amazingly described by Nosirrah himself in great detail. He recounts the rollicking events that occurred as this spiritual genius encountered the unfolding of his life and his message for humankind. Scholars will no doubt study this tome to help explain the brilliant writings of a man who so transcended his own existence that he was unable to authorize his own autobiography.

Learn more or purchase at http://sentientpublications.com/shop/all-titles/practical-obsession/.


I had to be enlightened early because I had a hard time following normal procedures, not because I was rebellious, but because I was often confused by the instructions that seem to keep coming at me. Like when I try to call into one of those big companies and the computer answering system says, “Do you want to talk to the billing department, say Yes or No” and I say “Yes or No” and the computer person says, “I didn’t understand, please say Yes or No” and so I say “Yes or No” and this goes on for hours without much progress. I learned after some experience to start out hitting 2 and then at least I could practice my Spanish. After a while I went for the hearing impaired option, but while I tried to be sensitive to the operator’s impairment, she kept saying, “Stop shouting!” I said to her, “Lady, you don’t have to shout at me, I’m not the one hard of hearing.” It turns out that hearing impaired number is for customers who are hard of hearing. I was just trying to be helpful and really this is the crux of the issue in my life. I am so convinced that I am not, that all that there is left to do is to help those who have the horrible fate of thinking that they exist. You could say I was born with this purpose, except what is not is not born, and come to think of it, purpose would be a gross exaggeration of Nosirrah’s non-existence.

You may wonder what I mean by non-existence, so let me explain. We exist only in our concept of our self; that concept is itself just a form of resistance to the vast nothingness that awaits the silence of the mind. We maintain our busy life of the mind as a kind of anxiety about our emptiness, and that anxiety is what we think of as our self. We say we want peace, but peace is the end of anxiety, and therefore the end of the self. So what we really want is to want peace, not to have it, because wanting peace is more anxiety and therefore more self. To end wanting peace and to simply be peace is to be nothing and that is a fearless state, or rather, a fearless non-state. Nosirrah has known this fearless state since birth. I was without fear and this seemed to make those around me quite fearful. I was taken to priests and rabbis, healers and psychics, psychiatrists and podiatrists, and all other forms of doctors. After much consultation and collaboration, I was not declared enlightened, rather I was declared to have a rare genetic disorder, Urbach-Wiethe disease. I had lesions on my amygdala, preventing me from experiencing any normal fear of terror-inducing hauntings and demons, ghosts and monsters, death threats, being attacked, snakes, spiders, none of these had any effect on me at all and since my childhood was full of all of these things, I had a pretty normal childhood.

But one thing in my childhood concerned me: if I had no fear, then how could I transcend fear and become enlightened? As a spiritual prodigy, at an early age I had read all the religious texts, The Bible, The Koran, The Bhagavad-Gita, Tao de Ching, and all the spiritual classics, over and over. I read in the original Latin and contemplated A.E. Walinbrucke’s Verum Nihilim, which makes all other books on human consciousness look like marginal postscripts, but I read on nonetheless, The Necronomicon, The Book of the Damned, Being One, Tales from the Crypt comics, and more. Later in life, I came upon the spawn of the New Age, books that told me to be in the now, then to be love, to be peaceful, to be mindful. But these books just brought one question to me over and over again: if I was supposed to be something other than what I was, what was I? I realized that this was a question that was neither present nor loving, peaceful nor mindful, in short, I realized that I was alive and was surrounded by the spiritual undead, zombies, spiritual zombies practicing zombie spirituality. You may ask how you can tell if you are alive or a zombie, let me explain.

Is there an emptiness in you that cannot be filled without endless, mindless feasting on the living? Do you have no purpose other than consumption, and yet there is no fulfilling the hunger? Do you stagger, grasping, clawing, irrespective of the damage it does to your own ravaged being, driven to feed, without knowing why, without even the question of why as a possibility? Is the drive to possess, to fill yourself all that you know? Are you a spiritual zombie?

Look around you. Do you see a shelf of books on spirituality and self-improvement? Does your credit card bill reflect enrollment in seminars, workshops, retreats or even on-line meditation groups? Do you feel that your understanding is not enough, that your stress level is too high, that there is something missing in your life, that happiness is available to everyone but you? Are you going to classes where you stretch your ligaments, work on your core strength or pretend to be boxing while jumping up and down? Do you use words from ancient languages, gestures from cultures and religions alien to your own, and read translations of ancient texts as if these are instructions directed towards you?

These are just some of the beginning signs of spiritual zombification, a kind of viral infection that is passed easily from the lurching zombie to you. At first you didn’t notice, a friend gave you an amazing book to read, or took you to see an insightful teacher, or convinced you to do a yoga weekend. This seemed innocent enough. But, soon the virus began to spread to your central nervous system, and the first symptoms began to appear almost unnoticed (one of which was that you began to refer to your central nervous system as your chakras). You began to believe that there was the possibility of enlightenment now, or enlightenment next, or enlightenment in a previous incarnation, but whatever that enlightenment thing was, you wanted it, you deserved it and you were going to get it. The zombie begins to have strange appetites. Sprout salad with a side of tofu begins to look like a tasty meal despite the intensive gas buildup in your third chakra (which is probably just a little energy movement). Books that were written for total morons begin to look profound. Even this book, which was written by a total madman, may seem weighty.

And speaking of weighty, the zombie not only reads spiritual books but also “understands,” although the zombie’s not always holding the books right side up, but for zombies these books make sense. They consist of an amalgam of all philosophies randomly cut and pasted into a chart of quadrants, levels, and fields, although all the fields are left fields (way out in left field) and published in immense volumes (see weighty) with the conclusionary tautology that if you understand and agree with the conclusion then you are at the highest state of consciousness and if you find the writings to be derivative ramblings that are unreadable, unintelligible and jargoned, then you are at a lower state of consciousness and cannot understand the conclusion anyway.

Think of it as astrology for the thinking zombie, or as a kind of technical stock trading system using charts and graphs – both result in a random success rate, but what we like to remember is the successes and what we like to forget are the failures. If you throw enough material in a book, even zombies will recognize something in that mass of information that resonates with their experience and the rest of the material just fades into the background. The trick is to make those books big, and then the zombie master has a career explaining it to his fellow automatons. Those who don’t get the teaching get eaten. Wait, don’t eat me, and then spit me out into the mouths of your followers like a mother robin feeding her young! Yuck.

One of these teachers can produce No Brain Activity at will and has a YouTube clip to show it. He does this while awake! No brain activity while awake – isn’t that great! And he did this with a special and rare form of meditation. It is everlasting awareness. Now that is marketing!

But, let us for just one minute engage our minds and remain awake, and I know this may be difficult for many of you (and no, you cannot turn on the television to keep your mind engaged). This will only take a minute. Engage your mind and follow this deductive reasoning:

All zombies have no brain activity and appear to be awake.

Human beings who are awake have brain activity and consider that quite acceptable, usually even desirable.

Human beings without brain activity are considered clinically dead.

A spiritual teacher has no brain activity when he is awake and has proudly placed video evidence of this on YouTube.

Therefore, the spiritual teacher is a zombie.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

For those of you who are not used to dealing with the kind of high level mathematical logic that I have just utilized to prove my point, let me say it in plain language: the teacher is awake but dead and he wants you to join his group of undead.

Inspired by this awesome demonstration of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi, I realized I have something to offer the world similar to this mind that doesn’t think. I have a flaccid body with virtually no muscle tone and barely the capacity to walk around the block. I did this by sitting around doing nothing. I would like to produce a YouTube video on this but have found a great deal of resistance to filming me with my shirt off , something to do with obscenity laws and local standards. My promise is that you, too, can have everlasting lack of muscle tone with my special meditation, found in my forthcoming book tentatively titled Sex, Ecology and More Sex: A Brief History of Everything Else Except That Too Complicated Integral Stuff . I put the word ecology in there because it is good to be green, although I am not really too ecologically aware myself, except I do collect aluminum cans when I am short on cash, which is pretty frequently, but if you aren’t really green then it is really good to pretend you are. It sells things to other people who are pretending that they are green. Real green people don’t buy things and that makes for lousy book sales.

I put the word sex in there twice because it is twice as important as any other word, even green people will buy something with sex attached to it and I am hoping some really stunning integral lady gets the hint that the word sex and everything it represents on all levels, all quadrants and all positions is important to me (except the position where I am bending over backwards touching my heels, that is a little hard on my back with Ms. Integral bouncing around) and even though I don’t have a cool loft apartment like the hip integralists, I would be OK in the back seat of my car, which is kind of like a loft, lots of glass and steel, good urban street view. I will have to move all my clothes and canned dog food out of the way (no, I don’t have a dog), but it is already set up with a sleeping bag.

But Nosirrah has one teensy, weensy insight, an insight that exists just at the outer edge of Everything, it is a known, so it is part of the Everything, but is paradoxically an unknown and so it is not part of anything. Here it is in summary: what is not known is infinitely more than what is known, and while it is impressive to endlessly rehash what is known, the true explorer heads for the unknown, where few go and the pay is not very good.

See also: Excerpt From “God Is an Atheist: A Novella for Those Who Have Run Out of Time”, by N. Nosirrah

Excerpt from ACQUIESCENCE by Velya Jancz-Urban

Acquiescence+front+coverWhen Pamina Campbell learns of a murder committed over two hundred years ago in her Connecticut farmhouse in order to avenge an unforgivable crime, she accepts that she has no idea how the universe works, except that it requires acquiescence at every point.


I used to think the antique cross-stitch sampler hanging in my friend’s tiny guest bathroom was kind of cheesy. Her sloping bathroom is tucked up under the eaves, and I’m one of the few people who can actually stand up straight at the corner sink. The other day, I dried my hands and read the sampler. For the first time, I thought about the words.

“Some people come into our lives and quietly go, others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same.”

In the last year, two such women have entered, and exited, my life.

I’ve thought a lot about these women. Both of them have left their mark on me. Both of them have changed me. My mother always told me, “Pamina, there is no growth without change.” They have made me grow.

The first woman was an intuitive who claimed to have psychic abilities. She was in and out of my life so quickly I often wonder if she was real. She helped me understand that sometimes we just have to accept the fact we can’t explain everything. Because we see the effects of wind, we believe it exists. Just because we don’t see the spirit world doesn’t mean it’s not there. As a skeptic, I resisted. Yet I didn’t question contagious yawning, the placebo effect, dreaming, nipples on men, intuition, the law of gravity, or female orgasms. It’s a very confusing dilemma to be open-minded, yet be skeptical. It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I met the second woman only once – on a chilly October night when the maple trees blushed red and my husband and kids were out of town. That’s when I found out ghosts do exist. My ghost needed me. She had unfinished business in this world, and spirits are often people who can’t get over their past. I don’t think you have to believe in ghosts to know we are all haunted.

I used to think a lot of things. I used to know a lot of things. Now, I only know two things: I have no idea how the universe works, except that it seems to require acquiescence at every point. And disaster – the sort of disaster that leaves you numb on a park bench or aching for your husband to come back to you – can be a freaky thing of beauty.



Velya Jancz-UrbanVelya Jancz-Urban, and her Acquiescence protagonist Pamina Campbell, have a lot in common. Both are teachers and hoodwinked Brazilian dairy farm owners, and both share a 1770 Connecticut farmhouse with a spirit woman. Velya has been married for 32 years, and is the mother of two grown children. She has a few too many rescue dogs and cats, is happiest with a fresh stack of library books, loves thrift shops, and is passionate about alternative medicine. Her entertainingly- informative presentation, ‘The Not-So-Good Life of the Colonial Goodwife’ is a result of the research completed for this novel. http://www.acquiescencethebook.com

Click here for an Interview with Velya Jancz-Urban, author of “Acquiescence”

Acquiescence is available from Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!product/prd15/3391685311/acquiescence


Website: www.acquiescencethebook.com
Website: www.colonialgoodwife.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vjanczurban
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Acquiescence-and-Colonial-Goodwife/1554841878108700?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cgoodwife
Blog: https://colonialgoodwife.wordpress.com/

Excerpt from “Where the Bodies Are” by L. V. Gaudet

42221362058-20141202195135What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

A young woman is found discarded with the trash, brutally beaten and left for dead. More bodies begin to appear, left where they are sure to be found and cause a media frenzy.

The killer’s reality blurs between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind. Overcome by a blind rage that leaves him wallowing in remorse with the bodies of victim after victim, he is desperate to stop killing.

The search for the killer will lead to his dark secret buried from the past, something much larger than a man on a killing spree.

Coming: book 2 The McAllister Farm. The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Excerpt from Where the Bodies Are:

Out of the corner of his eye Harry spotted a hand, the arm visible halfway up to the forearm, sticking out of the rubbish pile at his feet. The dainty hand was dirty, streaked and splotched with some sort of red-brown paint, and dangling in a shallow puddle of dirty rain water. It had been raining on and off all day.

Looking down at the hand for a moment, he merely registered that someone had thrown out an old mannequin and thought nothing more of it.

He was adding his garbage to the pile, shifting one foot forward for balance as he leaned over the garbage bin to place his bags on top of the mound.

His foot bumped the mannequin’s arm.

It moved slightly with the impact, but it moved soundlessly, felt soft not hard. It did not scrape against the concrete like a plastic mannequin hand should.

Harry pulled back from the pile, trash bag still in hand.

Bending forward a little, he studied the hand more closely. He pushed it with his foot, listening for the scraping sound, feeling for the hard plastic. It moved soundlessly, felt soft but firm, not hard.

Startled, he took a hurried step backwards, almost dropping his trash bag.

Gathering his courage, he knelt down to examine his find more closely. He reached forward with his left hand and discovered, to his surprise, that he was still holding the trash bag. Tossing it aside, he tentatively poked at the arm. It was firm, giving only slightly, yet felt soft, like flesh. He placed his hand on it. The flesh was cold. Too cold to be alive, he was sure, but still soft.

The words “fresh kill” leapt unbidden into his mind.

Shaking his head to rid it of this morbid thought he pulled some of the garbage away, digging it out.

The rest of the arm appeared, obviously a young woman’s arm. The top of the head appeared, then a face. It was a badly bruised and swollen face, unrecognizable through all the crusted dried blood. Rivulets of blood had dried as they seeped from her cracked lips and bloodied nose, like streams frozen to ice, caught in a sudden chill that stopped its flow mid-gurgle.

Harry staggered backwards, almost falling over. His pale face looked like a terrified ghostly phantom in the darkening gloom.

The shadows were long and getting deeper as dusk chased away the sunlight, preparing for the blackness of night.

Unable to quit, he attacked the pile of debris, trembling, drooling slightly, his eyes crazed. Digging frantically, he threw garbage into the air.

The rest of her body appeared, dishevelled and beaten.

Gagging, he turned and ran in a stumbling shuffle back to the store’s rear entrance. He fumbled the keys from his pocket, dropping them with a merry clink on the pavement. Trembling, he tried three times before his fingers could coordinate enough to pick them up.

His mind began playing tricks on him, imagining he heard the soft sound of shoes scraping on the ground behind him, heavy breathing approaching, and a menacing presence just out of sight. His head swivelled, looking around fearfully. Not seeing anything, he turned back to the locked door, frantically trying to open it.

The wavering key could not find its way into the lock. It glanced off the side, hit the top, and finally bounced out of his hand to the pavement at his feet.

This time it took him only two tries before his palsied fingers finally grasped it firmly enough to bring the key back to the lock. It hit home on the first try. He almost pulled the key out of the lock before he realized that he finally did it.


42221362058-20141202191758LV Gaudet is a Canadian writer and mother of two. Her writing endeavors range from stories written for her young children to the realm of adult horror.

Some of her short stories can be found scattered in the dark void of the internet.

Link to Second Wind Publishing where you can buy my book

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Facebook – author page

Twitter @lvgaudet

Google+ – author page





Excerpt from A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram

ASHFborderStraight from today’s headlines! In the novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram, hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death. In an effort to stop the disease from spreading beyond the state of Colorado where the disease originated, the entire state is quarantined. In this dangerous world, Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. Investigative reporter Greg Pullman, is determined to discover who unleashed the deadly organism and why they did it, until the cost — Kate’s life — becomes more than he can pay.


After an uneventful day at work, Kate hurried home through the silent streets. More than half the houses she passed had fluorescent orange dots splashed on their front doors indicating that someone had died within. Beside some of those doors were small shrines or memorials—artificial flowers, crosses, dolls, teddy bears. Other houses were unlit, mute testimony that entire families had died.

A white unmarked delivery van stopped in front of a house that already had one fluorescent dot on the door. When two men jumped out of the truck and ran up the porch steps, she knew that soon another orange mark would appear next to the first.

She could hear the men lamenting the loss of the Broncos while they waited for someone to answer their knock. It seemed strange that they spoke of such a prosaic matter. Shouldn’t they be crying, “Bring out your dead. Bring out your dead,” as their counterparts during the Black Death had done?

As she neared the house, she could see the door open. An old woman with bowed head and trembling shoulders stood aside to let the two men enter.

Kate had passed the house by the time the men emerged with their burden, but she could hear the thud of the body when they threw it into the van.

She thought of Greg and how he had cradled Mrs. Robin in his arms as he carried her down the alley and how he had gently laid her under a tree in the next block.

And how he had said he liked her, Kate, very much.


Until November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What If an Entire State Were Quarantined?

People are being quarantined in Texas, healthy people who simply hosted someone who was ill with Ebola. What if the disease spreads? What if more cases are found? What if a whole town or maybe a whole state were quarantined to prevent a pandemic?

This is the premiASHFbordersmse of my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire. The disease in the story is not Ebola, the avian flu, or any known disease, but a lab-created disease that had its origins in biological warfare experimentation. This fictional disease was created to be unstoppable, to wipe out entire populations. And it fell into the wrong hands.

Because the disease began in Colorado and that is where most of the victims lived — and died — the entire state is quarantined and martial law is put into effect. The seemingly inhuman measures that take place in the story to keep the non-sick under control are all probable since they are based on executive orders Clinton signed into law. The wonderful thing about writing such a book is that I didn’t have to imagine any of the horrors. Our own president did the work for me.

We are coming up on the supposed anniversary date of the publication of A Spark of Heavenly Fire. (I say supposed because although it wasn’t published until March 25, 2009, Amazon lists the publication date as November 23, 2008.) I hope you will check out this still relevant novel, thinking as you do so of the small quarantine in Texas (small in numbers, and perhaps even small in consequence, but huge to the people whose freedom is being denied). It happened to them. It could happen to you.

To celebrate this faux anniversary, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. Offer expires on November 23, 2014. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory.)


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Excerpt From “Murder, She Floats: A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery” by Stephen Kaminski

uA suicide note found in a locked room. A shard of glass buried in a scoop of whipped potatoes. A pickle jar filled with poisonous spiders. Precious jewels yanked off of a woman’s neck but left at her feet. It’s just a week in the life of Damon Lassard when he boards The Vitamin of the Seas with his charismatic mother for a ‘relaxing’ Caribbean cruise.

After Damon’s acerbic dining companion is found floating alongside the ship and local police rule the death a suicide, the loveable amateur sleuth is left to find the killer himself. He encounters seductive sirens, cunning con artists, and fascinating family members en route to solving not only the murder but a handful of clever capers as well.

Murder, She Floats is the third book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery series by Stephen Kaminski. It Takes Two to Strangle was the Winner of the 2012 Reader Views Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk was the winner of the same award for 2013 as well as a finalist in the 2013 Chanticleer Media Clue Awards.


Jack launched a half-inch sliver of glass from his mouth. The bloodied shard landed in a ceramic gravy boat.

“Oh my gosh,” Fava shouted. “Jack, are you all right?”

Jack coughed, and blood spilled from his mouth onto his plate. It slithered among the beef Wellington, mashed potatoes, and asparagus like lava finding recesses in rocky terrain. Jack swept a cloth napkin from his lap and crammed it into his mouth.

Houston rose to his feet and yelled for help. Niels sprinted across the dining room, followed by Kristjan and the mustachioed headwaiter, Charles.

Jack gathered a small clump of unswallowed food from his mouth into his napkin, wadded it up, and set it on the table. He snatched Fava’s napkin from her outstretched hand and pressed it firmly against the inside of his right cheek.

“That little spear was smack in the middle of my mashed potatoes,” Jack said through a mouthful of napkin. He pointed at the glistening spike floating in rich, brown gravy.

Charles and the waiters rushed to a stop beside Jack. Their eyes followed his finger and focused on the shard of glass in the gravy boat.

“My most sincere apologies, sir,” Charles gushed. “Let me clean this up and get you a fresh entrée.” He reached for Jack’s plate.

Jack caught Charles’s arm in midair. “Not so fast.”

The headwaiter’s face registered shock. “You’d prefer me to leave the plate, sir?” he asked. “I assure you it’s no trouble at all. Besides, there’s blood all over your food.”

Jack’s wrinkled eyes narrowed. He removed the red-splotched napkin from his mouth and tossed it on the table.

Without removing his grip from Charles’s arm, he turned to Fava. “Do you have your camera in your purse, dear?”

Fava looked just as confused as Charles. But she answered, “Of course. You know I carry it everywhere.”

Jack smiled. “Be a good girl and take photographs of everything here. That shard of glass in the gravy boat, my plate, both of our napkins, and the inside of my mouth.” He looked at Kristjan. “Go find one of the ship’s doctors. I need him to document the lacerations inside my cheek.” Jack focused on his tablemates. “If you all don’t mind, could I trouble each of you for a written statement, detailing exactly what you witnessed here?” He picked up his fork and delicately pushed around the bloodied food on his plate. The sight was repulsive, and Kitty turned away. But every other set of eyes around the table watched in horrified amazement as Jack pulled a second fragment of glass from the depths of his whipped potatoes.

Jack turned his head toward Niels and Charles. To Niels, he said, “I suggest you collect the other waiters and remove the plates from anyone else who ordered potatoes.” Then he directed his attention to Charles, finally releasing the man’s arm. “And you tell the captain to put in a call to corporate headquarters. They’ll want to get their lawyers up to speed. Had I swallowed that sliver of glass, it would have torn up my insides. I could have internally bled to death.”



27c14beabefb32f5b8db0e6935552676STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School, and currently serves as an executive of a national health services organization.

Please visit his website: http://www.DamonLassard.com


Call For Submissions

rangelSecond Wind Publishing is accepting short stories, essays and poetry for its upcoming anthology, Wind Through an Open Door.

All submissions should deal with the question: what happens to us when we pass from this life? Remembrances of lost loved ones, personal experiences, profound recognitions of the afterlife (or its absence)—regardless of religious persuasion—are all welcome.

There is no cost to submit an entry. There is a maximum of 7000 words for essays or short stories. All entries must be submitted no later than June 10, 2014. Those whose work is included in the anthology will receive two contributor copies. Additional copies will be available for purchase, with contributors receiving a 60% discount. Submissions and questions should be sent to mike@secondwindpublishing.com.

Best of luck to everyone!