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Read-A-Chapter: Defiance and Redemption by Maria J. Andrade

Read a Chapter is a *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the women’s fiction/historical fiction novel, Defiance and Redemption, by Maria J. Andrade. Enjoy!

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Based on a true story, Defiance and Redemption, A Lifetime of Unbroken Bonds, brings to life the joys, dramas, and triumphs of two sisters, Eva and Victoria Alisio and their loyal friend Marta. The sisters are raised by their atheist Grandfather Marcus and religious Grandmother Maria Luisa. Eva, a proud and strong-willed young woman defies her family, society, and culture, faces scandal and disgrace, for her forbidden love affair. Victoria finds herself in the center of a multigenerational conflict as her benefactor bestows a great inheritance on her excluding the rightful heirs. Marta, loyal to the childhood bond with the Alisio sisters, brings humor and support to their twists and turns of fortune. The young women’s bond of love, and perseverance, carries them through ordinary and extraordinary losses, triumphs, and ultimately to their destiny in the United States.

An important novel about 20th Century women, Defiance and Redemption, is an absorbing epic that moves through decades and destinies. It blends personal and historical events into a collective tale of self-determination, love, and sisterhood.

“This book is an engrossing page turner which will pull you in and keep you cheering for your favorite actors until the very end! Defiance and Redemption is a unique book that tells a story that is both particular to a given time in Ecuador, but also universal in its themes of love, betrayal and survival.” – Nancy Mintie, Founder of Uncommon Good

“Reading Defiance and Redemption reminded me of a distant time when I read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Like these writers, Maria Andrade took me through a captivating journey of love and deep passion. Being gripped by the strong emotions that the characters possess and what they did in the end moved me profoundly.” – Maria Donovan, Retired Verizon Executive

“In Defiance and Redemption, Maria Andrade weaves together history, biography, and fiction into a romantic love and a story of three women that defy the ability of patriarchal culture to define them. We see the young women grow up to rise above the shame that tries to silence and limit them. They learn to find their voices and make sacrifices to be true to themselves as women. They leave behind all that they knew to make a better life for themselves and their daughters. This is a book to remind women of all ages where we came from, and what it took to break out and thrive nearly a century ago. Women like these paved the way for all who came after and have the rights we have today.” – Nancy Poitou, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Amazon link : https://amzn.to/3CQWKhJ  

Barnes&Noble: https://bit.ly/3BLZYS9  

Draft2Digital: https://bit.ly/3EQFud3  

Signed copies of book – on author website: www.booksasfriends.com

Chapter 1

WAIT FOR ME

The national swimming champion, Eduardo Velasquez, lay dying

in a hospital bed in Ecuador, South America. His stomach was

filled with cancer. He had always lived for the present, so he rarely

ever thought of his death, least of all at fifty-two. In the hospital room

were six of his children. The eldest, Amalia, was standing close by

his bedside. She was the product of his relationship with the great

passion of his life, Eva, a woman he had loved and lost.

     At the foot of the bed, across the room, was Dolores, his wife

of twenty years, and her adolescent children. On the other side of

his bed, seated by the wall, were two young adult children from his

extramarital affairs. He had brought these children to his wife to raise

when they were infants.

    Many miles away, two more of his illegitimate children would

leave their jungle home and arrive in threadbare clothing the following

day to attend his funeral at La Immaculada Concepción church.

The two would enter the church, misspell their last name on the guest

roster and weep in each other’s arms. At the church, they would find

well-known sports figures, celebrities from the world of entertainment,

politicians, and the news media from various parts of South

America. Many of the citizens of Guayaquil would be there to file

through the church and pay their respects to their hero and champion.

     Few in Eduardo’s family would notice the two offspring until

later. When their identities were discovered, many would be shocked

and outraged. Many, but not his daughter Amalia. She loved her father

with the bittersweet adoration her mother had imbued in her.

She loved him with blindness, which forgave him everything, his

extramarital affairs, his illegitimate children, even the fact that he had

spent little time in her life.

     But Dolores, his wife, could not forgive him. She had suffered

too many of his infidelities. Through the years, her resentment had

turned into bitterness and eventually a weary resignation. Yet, she

often comforted herself with the rationalization that she was his wife.

The other women had been mere interludes in his life. Her position

in society was clearly defined and well regarded.

     In her culture, it was common and even expected that men would

misbehave and that the consequences might be illegitimate children.

That was nothing new. Yet sometimes, as the men aged, they settled

down. They would then spend their older years in the company of

their patient wives and beloved grandchildren. This had long been

Dolores’ hope, a hope that died when Eduardo’s cancer was discovered

three months earlier.

     Now, she felt the ultimate betrayal. He would abandon her once

again, this time, forever. Not only was this fatal reality approaching,

but he also was dying without a will, a fact that further complicated

her life. She had her attorney fashion a will making her and her

children universal heirs, but Eduardo would not sign it.

     No matter how many times she placed his weak hand on the document, 

his eyes would look at it, he’d whisper, “no,” and he would drop the pen.

Eduardo examined his life with Dolores. He had only loved once,

but it was not her whom he loved. Dolores knew when she met him,

he would not be faithful. But he vowed never to leave her. She had

chosen to live with him and raise their children, even those who were

not hers. He was grateful, and he would leave no will so she and the

children could all own the land.

     His father, Don Miguel Velasquez, had also not left a will when

he died, yet Eduardo and his half-brother Bolivar inherited La Perla

Negra, the Black Pearl, a large hacienda that stood between two rivers.

The two brothers fulfilled their father’s wish. They honored each

other and held title to the land equally, though their mothers never

accepted this. Until Bolivar died, he and his brother worked side by

side, caring for the estate on thousands of acres of rich, dark, volcanic

soil. On it was a farm with an abundant market of fruits and vegetables,

but the most commercial crop was the large, sweet bananas,

sold nationally and internationally. On either side of the property

were two rivers flowing in opposite directions, each one producing

fresh fish, and on the land were thousands of head of cattle and over

a hundred fine horses.Eduardo expected his children to follow in his footsteps to love

and work the land together. No one would be disinherited.

     Dolores observed her dying husband resentfully and determined

her ultimate revenge would be to see that only she and her children

got La Perla Negra, not his other bastards. She had accepted the humiliation

of his misdeeds with other women for two decades. She had

raised other women’s children not with kindness but expecting that

she would one day win his love and loyalty. Now he would fail her

again by not granting her sole ownership of his estate. She resented

his eldest daughter. 

     Dolores imagined Amalia had crossed a continent

only to partake in his inheritance. She looked at Amalia with disdain

and refused to address her.

     Amalia took little notice. She watched with curiosity as her father

periodically lifted his hands before him, intent on studying them

front and back. His body was dying, but his hands, tan and strong,

were still alive. He reviewed them carefully as if assuring himself for

the last time that he yet existed. He studied them as if they were a

mirror holding the memory of his sensuous past.

     Eduardo’s hands had caressed many women, shaken hands with

friends and enemies. They had played and glided through the silky

warmth or the chill in the depth of waters. Since he was a boy, he had

dived into rivers, lakes, and oceans to become a swimmer his country

would not soon forget.

     His hands had also worked hard alongside the campesinos, planting,

harvesting, branding cattle, corralling, and riding horses, building

fences, and performing the countless repetitive tasks that filled

his days and nights. He had given the land his fidelity and more. He

had given what every young laborer gives, his strength, youth, and

time, which is sold for a price but is priceless and unrecoverable. He

had given generously year by year to the point of exhaustion in the

unforgiving environment of heat, torrential rains, mud, insects, and

reptiles.

     He had tended his piece of earth, and like his ancestors, he had

made a covenant with the land. He had become the thing he loved.

He and the land were wed to each other, and only death would separate

them.

     His eyes swelled with tears realizing he would never see the

Black Pearl again. He looked at his hands once more before letting

them fall to his sides feeling listless, aware he was leaving his life

and all that he loved.

     Amalia stood by her father’s side at last, after waiting years to be

with him. She wiped the tears gently from his face and kissed him on

the cheek. Brief had been their encounter, and soon she would never

see him again. She stared at him for long periods with love, sorrow,

and concentration, to remember his countenance and take with her

the essence of his spirit.

     He smiled up at her, and she observed his eyes more closely,

deep-set and caramel colored. His life ebbed away, yet his skin was

golden, his brow as beautiful as her mother had always described it.

He reached for her, and his hands showed the years of toil, but his

touch was tender.

     “Give me your hand,” he said, and their fingers interlaced. “This

will be the bridge we build between us, which nothing will ever destroy.”

He looked into her eyes, but he could barely see her.

Softly he whispered his last thoughts, “Eva,” he said lovingly,

“I knew you would return. I have waited for you.” 

He was calling her mother’s name! Dolores, who had approached his 

bedside, heard him. She turned away furiously and stormed out of the 

room with her children following.

     “I am here, beloved,” the daughter responded, trying to fulfill the

dying man’s last wish. Hearing her words, Eduardo smiled, exhaled,

and was gone.

     Amalia said the Lord’s Prayer as she placed her hand on his chest,

but there was no heartbeat. She imagined his spirit lifting upward out

of his body and away into the sky. The sun was setting. She thought

of her mother in another continent and wished that Eva was there instead

of herself. Then she realized once more that her father had been

right. Eva was present through her.

* * *

She had heard the story of her parents’ love for each other all her

life. Now more than ever, she wondered how her mother ever had the

strength to face disgrace in order to gain the love of this man. Why

did she part from him, whom she loved so much? How had a woman

with two small children find the courage to leave her country and become

a stranger in a strange land? What kind of fierce determination

possessed her to become an immigrant who would set out with no

resources, no employable skills, and embark on such a risky venture?

     It had been over two decades since Eva left with her two daughters.

Yet only now, in the country of her birth, did Amalia begin to

grasp the pieces of the world that had shaped her mother. It was a

world that now barely existed. She wanted to see it, catch it, one day

describe it to her children before it disappeared, for, like all the moments

we live, it was foam on a receding wave. 

About the Author

Maria J. Andrade was born in Ecuador, South America, and raised in New York and California. She has a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. As a licensed therapist and writer, Maria has been diving into other people’s minds and her own, through dreams, poetry, and books for over three decades. She traveled with the Four Winds Society where she studied and was initiated into Andean shamanism in 1990.

Before Maria retired as a therapist, she specialized in women’s issues and founded the Wise Women’s Circle a ritualistic and transpersonal study group that continues today. The women support each other through life’s challenges and in the growth of mind, body, and spirit. 

Maria Andrade’s books for children and adults is found in a variety of genres. This is an unforgettable first novel that reflects her imagination and creative storytelling.

Defiance and Redemption is her latest release.

Visit her website at www.booksasfriends.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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Read an Excerpt: Awaken to Tarot by Karen La Puma

Title: AWAKEN TO TAROT: BE YOUR OWN GUIDE WITH ASTROLOGY, NUMBERS AND THE TREE OF LIFE
Author: Karen La Puma
Publisher: Soul Source Publishing
Pages: 420 (including pictures)
Genre: Self-Help / Spiritual / Self-Help / Kabbalah / Astrology / Tarot

BOOK BLURB:

The Tarot is visual system that reveals both our True Nature and

our obstacles. Introducing a new Tarot deck, made with digital

collage. Through pictures, symbols, meanings, questions, processes, Kabbalah, key words, and affirmations, you can learn to:

      • Find ways to reflect your inner guidance.

      • Explore the magical journey of evolution

      • Blend Astrology, Numerology, and the Tree of Life with the Tarot   

      • Discover the power and implications of the symbols of Tarot

PRAISE

“Awaken To Tarot is full of valuable information and I feel blessed to have it in my possession to refer to as often as I like when I am doing a tarot reading for myself. I am certain I will go to this book over and over again for inspiration and guidance while working with the Tarot.” – Cynthia, A Hippie’s Bookshelf

“This book offers deep wisdom and guidance for anyone seeking to live in alignment with universal principles. It presents a body of wonderful tools for awakening to our divine nature, showing us how to access the help that is always available to us if we know
where to look.–Susan Campbell, Ph.D. Author of Getting Real and From Triggered to Tranquil

Book Information

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Publisher:  SoulSource Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN:  978-1878203106; 420 pages; $24.95; Kindle Unlimited FREE 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3poitYX 

Watch the book trailer at YouTube.

BOOK EXCERPT:

Throughout history we have wanted to understand the circumstances of our lives and our relationships with others. We have had a profound desire to know ourselves on the deepest  levels, to make sound decisions, and to receive guidance from  the Divine.  

The Tarot is a set of universal principles that provide a visual system which reveals both your True Nature and the obstacles to living from this Unified State of Consciousness. Tradition ally and cross-culturally these archetypes communicate all the aspects of existence. Through these rich symbolic mirrors you can receive messages about where you are at present, an external issue, a relationship, your career, and an inner psychological state—in fact all aspects of your evolutionary journey.  In the following pages, you will touch on how to tap into inner guidance and awaken internal allies. This book was writ ten for you to draw assistance from the symbols of your soul’s journey as each card is like a magic talisman. 

As you explore the visual symbols of each Tarot card, you are given different components that add to your understanding of its meaning. After the visuals there are: a short meaning; descriptions; key words to summarize them; reflective suggestions to go into your process; questions to ponder; and an affirmation. In the descriptions there are correlations with Astrology, Numerology, the Tree of Life, the Hero’s Journey, and the general process of evolution. I have included the Hebrew letter for each of the Major Arcana, and the I Ching’s association to the Royalty cards.  

Toward the end of the book, you will learn to find your life’s path, your yearly path, some inner teachers, and sample readings for you to try. Please take what is useful for you and ignore the rest. For those of you who want to dive in deeper, there are several dense teaching chapters that I include in Part VII, “Integrating the Tarot.” Altogether these systems can assist your assimilation of each card, as their cosmic voices can exert a powerful support for you. When you use the cards, you not only have a self-reflective tool, a device to awaken intuition, but also a suggestive magnifier of the qualities you want to infuse into your life.  

This book is a part of a series called, A Toolkit for Awakening, which is based on the eminent mythologist, Joseph Camp bell’s great blueprint, “The Hero’s Journey.” It is from his classic book, A Hero with a Thousand Faces (1948). This formula for spiritual evolution, presented in Chapter 83 and the conclusion, gives the structure and foundation of this series.  

The stage of the Hero’s Journey that this book deals with is called “Supernatural Aids.” You are encouraged to seek helpers, animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, ancient and mod ern. You don’t have to rely solely upon your own innate powers.  Magical helpers appear once you are on the spiritual path as you see abundantly in myths and fairy tales. This book suggests that the Tarot is “a supernatural aid,” for these cards are external mirrors from which you can hear your inner guidance.

Having support is one of life’s most valuable assets. I am thankful for all the support I have received. Yet because I have chosen “a road less traveled,” my deepest gratitude has been to those invisible forces—the archetypes (also called universal symbols). Exploring interrelated metaphysical systems, like Tarot, Astrology, and Numerology have given me the keys to the human journey. “Meta” means beyond, for these maps of consciousness go outside the physical to bridge existence with causality. As you play with the archetypes themselves, they become intuitive and active spiritual allies.  

There is a vast array of metaphysical oracles to help you gain self–knowledge. You can delve into the many different cosmic looking glasses to muse and reflect. You can pick cards, gaze at charts and maps, throw coins, select stones, add some numbers, dream, visualize, meditate, or open a book randomly for a message, and they will become your guideposts and supportive tools that help you to see another way and wake up to the highest aspects of yourself.  

My hope is that the Tarot images, the concepts presented in this book, and the series, A Toolkit for Awakening, will be a source of support for you. The empowering myth of the Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey is the underlying basis of this series. Love and allowing are the ways of the Goddess. Being accountable for your time, attention and intention is how you embody the Warrior. These archetypes become your helpers and infuse higher vibrations to facilitate new states of consciousness.  

My inner and outer helpers guide me and inspire me along my sacred path of expressing Divine Light. 

About the Author

Karen La Puma is the Author of a series of books called A Toolkit for Awakening, which are based on the Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey. She is a motivational, intuitive, and spiritual counselor in private practice in the Bay Area since 1979. She is a teacher, astrologer, hypnotherapist, reiki master, inspirational speaker, and creative storyteller with a potent and timely message to empower your life.

Her latest book is Awaken to Tarot: Be Your Own Guide with Astrology, Numbers and the Tree of Life.

Visit her website at www.soul-source.org or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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 Book Excerpt: Awakening the Avatar Within by Darren Starwynn

Title: AWAKENING THE AVATAR WITHIN: A Roadmap for Uncovering Your Superpowers, Upgrading Your Body and Uplifting Humanity
Author: Darren Starwynn
Publisher: Desert Heart Press
Pages: 348
Genre: Spiritual Awakening/Meditation/Energy Healing/Personal Development

Awakening the Avatar Within offers a practical roadmap for deeply healing yourself and living an awakened, actualized life as an Avatar. An Avatar is Divine consciousness expressing itself as a human being, and this book will help awaken your awareness of this vital part of yourself.

You will learn many transformational practices for raising your level of consciousness and upgrading the health and functioning of your body. Many of these practices are based on the cutting-edge science of epigenetics. From this place you are able to become a vital part of the movement to heal and uplift the human race.

The information and energy transmissions of this book can empower you to:

  • Identify and express your superpowers
  • Become a powerful catalyst of healing for yourself and others on the Quantum level
  • Increase your inner peace and clarity of mind through awareness of the Fifth Dimension and the Quantum Field
  • Identify your “job description” as a Lightworker
  • Create a fulfilling daily practice of meditation and self-development
  • Activate your Light Body (Merkaba)
  • Augment your self-love and come to peace with your shadow self
  • Be a planetary healer, and join with other Avatars in uplifting the human race

Dr. Darren Starwynn has had a long career as acupuncturist, inventor, writer, healer and teacher, integrating therapeutic systems from around the world. He has written four groundbreaking books, led hundreds of workshops and seminars, invented several vibrational devices used worldwide and helped develop advanced mind-body healing systems.

“Awakening the Avatar Within is a phenomenal guidebook on how to live on the leading edge of consciousness and awaken your latent superpowers. It is indispensable reading for those wishing to claim their power to live an extraordinary life of deep love and fulfillment of their highest purpose.”  —Christy Whitman, author of The Desire Factor and the New York Times bestseller The Art of Having It All

“Awakening the Avatar Within guides you through the essential actions and practices you can do to fulfill the higher potential that you always knew was possible but may have had a hard time actualizing. Avatars are human beings going through a process of re-wiring the energy circuitry of their bodies so they can embody higher light more of the time. This is required reading for anyone ready for awakening to their true self and learning to practice energy healing at a high level of expression.”    —David T. Kyle, Ph.D., bestselling author of Energy Teachings of The Three

“Awakening the Avatar Within aligns with the energies emerging during this important time on our planet, calling us to step into our magnificence and embody our Truth as the Soulful Self, or the Avatar we are.”  From the Foreword by Dr. Sue Morter, author of The Energy Codes

“Awakening the Avatar Within is one of those books you will want to keep around for years. It can help you gain insights for self-transformation. This book is a treasure of workable insight and approaches.”  –Richard Gordon, Author/Founder of Quantum-Touch

“Darren Starwynn’s book, Awakening the Avatar Within, is both inspirational and practical. It is a treasure map of how to heal, grow and embody the Divine Self. Anyone with the willingness to follow this motivational guide and apply the simple and grounded processes can accelerate their awakening journey. This book is a spiritual gift, for it shows us how to be a part of the Second Coming of Christ, which is a group event. I highly recommend it for all who want to live their True Nature and manifest a creative and transformative purpose.”  -Karen La Puma author of the A Toolkit for Awakening book series

“Awakening the Avatar Within is a sophisticated yet accessible guidebook for healing and spiritual awakening that brilliantly incorporates wisdom from many streams, including Darren Starwynn’s own direct connection with Source. Fresh, inspired, and heart-based, it’s filled with mind-expanding concepts, moving stories, compelling testimonies, and powerful exercises that will totally uplift your entire being, from body, to mind, to spirit. It’s also an illuminating resource for healing practitioners who want to go deeper with their clients. Thank you, Darren, for using your superpowers to bring this gift forth. It should become required reading for anyone incarnated on planet Earth.”  – Marguerite Rigoglioso, Ph.D.  Author, The Mystery Tradition of Miraculous Conception:  Mary and the Lineage of Virgin Births

“These days, there seems to be an endless stream of books and Internet sites about healing and consciousness, Darren’s book Invoke the Avatar Within stands out like a bright beacon of light. Darren has done something new and different, very necessary in these destructive times on our planet Earth. He has provided a practical roadmap for evolving both our minds and physical bodies to a higher level of consciousness and vitality through the principles of epigenetics and spiritual alchemy. He has convincingly shown a way that people can become Avatars, and how awakened Avatars can join forces to literally change this world. Today, in the compromised political and public domains, it is truly difficult to name any heroes, Darren’s work is indeed champion.”  -Jon Whale. PhD., author of The Catalyst of Power, scientist and inventor

In his latest book, Awakening the Avatar Within, Darren Starwynn manages to describe the current problems, and the solutions for all of humanity in clear and easy prose, and makes it easy to follow his guidance in how to recognize and develop the Avatar you already are. In addition, you can feel an energy transmission that emanates from the very pages of the book. This book is chock-full of intriguing information along with easy-to-follow guided practices, all designed to awaken your remembrance of who you really are.”  -Vidya Frazier, Author of The Ascension Lightworker Guide & Awakening to the Fifth Dimension

“In Invoke the Avatar Within You, Darren Starwynn, O.M.D., offers a practical and pertinent guide to how to be a “practicing evolutionary”, and help heal our own lives, along with humanity’s traumas. As the boundaries between the physical and metaphysical become more porous, Darren helps awakening souls guide others through this evolutionary passage – so that heaven becomes a practice instead of a destination.”  — Steve Bhaerman, aka Swami Beyondananda, Comedian, Uncommontator and co-author of Spontaneous Evolution with Bruce Lipton

“Awakening the Avatar Within guides the reader through practical steps of a deep inner awakening of their highest self, helping tap into pure consciousness, your own healing transmission and the ability to transcend old habits and patterns that have kept us stuck as mind/limiting self.”  —Shannon Kassoff, Yoga Teacher, Master Reiki Teacher

Book Information

Release Date: September 15, 2021

Publisher:  Desert Heart Press

Soft Cover: ISBN: 0578251426; 348 pages; $19.99; E-Book, $7.99

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578251426/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/awakening-the-avatar-within-darren-starwynn/1140269384?ean=9780578251424

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/awakening-the-avatar-within-darren-starwynn/book/9780578251424.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Awakening-Avatar-Within-Darren-Starwynn/9780578251424m

EXCERPT

Introduction

There is now a rapidly growing movement of people who recognize that the awakening of human consciousness is the ultimate solution to our personal and planetary problems. They recognize the truth that there is one common denominator to all the environmental, social, political, economic and health crises facing the human race now. That common denominator is the part of the human mind denying our true, divine self – the universal consciousness of Love and oneness.

This book is a roadmap to an extraordinary transformative process few people even believe is possible. Each of its chapters contains consciousness-awakening messages combined with transmissions of higher light energy. Receiving these transmissions and working with the guided practices offered will support you in realizing your true identity as an Avatar. The word Avatar is derived from the Sanskrit word avatara, which means “descent,” meaning the Divine coming down into material expression.

You probably know some people who radiate spiritual light in powerful and charismatic ways. Many are drawn to follow them, and they tend to be spiritual teachers, ministers or other kinds of leaders. You may wonder “I’m not one of those, how could I be an Avatar?” The truth is, there are many different ways Avatars show up and not all are in public view. I can assure you that you have your own “job description” for how you beautifully express divinity. Chapter 17 – Your Job Description as a Lightworker will help you identify it.[1]

Living as an Avatar becomes real as you go through the physiological process of upgrading your body to be able to hold a higher frequency of energy and consciousness. From that place, you will discover you have real superpowers you can develop and share to help heal, bless and uplift others. And, have a lot of fun in the process!

These extraordinary transformations are possible because we are living through a wave of rapid planetary ascension of consciousness affecting all life. This is part of vast cycles of consciousness that have been documented in the ancient Vedas from India, traditional Mayan cosmology and other sources. The doors to awakened consciousness are now wide open, much more so than ever before in recent human history. In fact, our greatest impediment to taking advantage of this extraordinary opportunity is simply believing we can’t.

We are already moving through this ascension into greater light, and nothing can stop it. What is variable is how much suffering there needs to be during this transition time. This is where modern Avatars shine. We have powerful abilities to heal ourselves and reduce the suffering of others. We do this by helping accelerate the grounding of higher light in our bodies, our psyches, our societies, our arts, our institutions and our sciences.

There are so many good people working toward the healing and upliftment of humanity in all those areas. Yet without the major shift of consciousness Avatars help bring, our collective experience is likely to look like one step forward, one step backward. That’s not enough for humanity to make it through this time without increasing destruction.

Each of us is caught up in this ascension of consciousness, and our experience of it can range from blissful to deeply disturbing. A great analogy is riding a surfboard on large ocean waves. When surfers have good balance and skill, the experience of riding big waves is exhilarating and joyful.

If they lose their balance and “wipe out,” they can quickly find themselves crushed under a wall of water and gasping for breath.

In a similar way, when we trustingly allow the rapidly elevating energies of consciousness ascension to carry us, it is a high, joyful experience – the greatest ride of your life. Yet when we fearfully deny and resist this profound shift in consciousness, it can and often does feel scary and overwhelming.

The information, perspectives and practical methods presented in this book come from my own lifetime journey of learning, research, self-healing, helping heal others, meditation, facing my shadow self, teaching and direct spiritual experience. Rather than place a bio about me at the beginning of the book, I have woven my personal story throughout various chapters within it.

Healing Ourselves

If you’re like many people on the path of self-healing, you may have consulted with a succession of healers, therapists, doctors, holistic practitioners, clergy, gurus or self-help books, and yet still have times when you feel a deep sense of trauma or disconnect within your being. And yet there is a mighty divine current flowing through you 24-7 that can free you from all bondage and give you the power to help free the rest of the human race. This is the missing link that can bring you what you have really been looking for through all that searching.

You can access more of this divine current through the process of becoming Christed. Christing refers to a process through which your mind, body, nervous system and genetics are literally rewired to operate at higher frequencies of love, intelligence and creative power.

These are attributes of what is often called God or Divine source, and as an Avatar, your job is learning to practically express them in your everyday life. In this case, the term Christing has a similar meaning to the words “maturing,” “evolving,” or other terms that describe a process of fulfilling one’s greater potential. The oft-prophesied second coming of Christ is not about one superstar person making a grand appearance. The second coming is happening as huge numbers of people become Christed, and through the immense field of love and power that generates, we are able to effectively rebuild our world.

Section Two of this book is titled Quantum Healing and gives you practical guidance in developing your Avatar healing abilities. As will be explained in Chapter 13, you are in holographic inter-connection with all life. This means there is no real separation between you, everyone else and the entire Universe. Therefore you can be a catalyst of healing for people thousands of miles away. Due to the holographic principle, there is essentially no difference between healing yourself and helping heal the planet – it all happens together. It’s just a matter of your intention and focus.[2]

The phrase, I AM Avatar, is a supremely powerful affirmation and mantra of your highest truth. When you say I AM Avatar, you identify yourself as an expression of the pure love, power and wisdom of the Universe. You accept responsibility for being a vital part of the solution at this critical time. To some people, saying I AM Avatar or I AM the Christ may sound like a radical, conceited or even insane thing to say. Yet claiming I AM Avatar is the pre-eminent key to the fulfillment of your personal purpose, healing and self-realization.

The following passage from the beloved Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, expresses the purpose of an Avatar well. The word Dharma in this quote means fulfilling your true purpose and living in tune with the laws of nature.

“Whenever dharma declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth. I am born in every age to protect the good, to destroy evil, and to reestablish dharma.”[3]

According to this phrase, we are certainly living in a time where Avatars are needed – lots of us.

I’m calling upon you to trust your own inner knowing and not settle for anything less than this highest and clearest truth that a vital part of you already knows. If you have ever felt that there was a bigger picture for fulfilling your life potential, or a more expansive way you could contribute to the welfare of the human race, now is the time to step up. It is my sincere wish that the message, practices and vibrational transmission of this book act as a touchstone to help awaken you to a greater truth of who you really are. The tools you will gain here can empower you to free yourself from your own inner struggles and contradictions, and recognize the divine energy transmission that is already flowing through you. The ultimate solution is right here to all the things that may have made you feel discouraged, frustrated or afraid.

Dogma–Free Understanding of Avatar, Christ, Buddha and Lightworker

The word Christ has a similar meaning as Avatar. It is derived from the Greek word Kristos which means the anointed one, referring to a human being who is expressing divine Presence. Christ is an innate quality of the true, higher self of human beings. Therefore, I use both terms Avatar and Christ interchangeably throughout this book. The term Christ is not used here in a religious, Christian context. The term Buddha, which means “awakened one” in the Pali language, also has a similar meaning. All of these terms describe the experience of being an awakened Avatar in human form, independent of any religious affiliations or beliefs.

A more contemporary word to describe those stepping up to heal and serve through higher consciousness is Lightworker. There are already many millions of people acting as Lightworkers on our planet now, and that is one of the main reasons that so many natural and human-caused disasters have been averted or lessened from how severe they could have been. If you are a Lightworker or moving into being one, Chapter 17 will help you identify the characteristic ways you offer your love and service.

Two of the most famous Avatars, Jesus the Christ and Gautama the Buddha, were not always awake. They had to go through a process of becoming aware of the illusions they lived in, taking back their power and awakening themselves to their true nature. They were able to break free of the profound amnesia most of us fall into when we grow up in human bodies. Yet they are no more Avatar than you are. It’s just that they accomplished their awakening to a greater degree, and so can act as our helpful big brothers. This same opportunity is in front of you now.

How Can Avatars Help Uplift the World?

Avatars are creators, and intuitively grasp a profound truth: what we see as “the world” is not any certain way. It is really what we believe it to be and make it to be. Realizing this truth is a major step in awakening our consciousness and knowing who we really are. Less awakened people generally see the world helplessly, in a fear-based way. Avatars learn to hold the vision of the world they choose to live in, manifesting their vision by focusing their love, consciousness and actions upon it. This means that each person living as an Avatar becomes a beacon of light helping illuminate the path for others.

This form of focus has unlimited potency, especially as large numbers of us develop our superpowers and focus together. See Chapter 4 to learn more about your superpowers.

I have witnessed many remarkable examples of the power of Avatars when we focus our light together. As a striking example, in fall of 2019 some of the worst wildfires in recorded history were raging throughout eastern Australia. Prior to the start of these wildfires Australia had been gripped by record heat and more than two years of continuous drought. By November of that year a state of catastrophic fire danger was declared in Sydney and other parts of New South Wales. By January, 2020 over 46 million acres were burning in various Australian states and territories, destroying thousands of homes and wiping out entire species of animals and plants.

In mid-January, 2020 I received a series of emails calling on me to participate in two scheduled times of global meditation to benefit Australia. Participants were requested to take a few minutes two days in a row to visualize heavy rains falling all over the fire-stricken parts of the country. It was suggested in the email that we visualize people standing out in the rain celebrating and giving thanks. I participated in these group meditations, feeling the power of people all over the world focusing their prayers.

Rain started falling within two days after these global meditations. The first rainfall in late January started putting out the fires. Then, between February 6th and 10th 154 inches of rain fell throughout the fire-stricken areas of Australia, putting out most of the fires. It was the heaviest rainfall recorded in Australia in 30 years.[4]

I have heard about or witnessed many experiences like that. Another one happened at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill back in April of 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. Considered to be one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history, over 210 million gallons of petroleum was discharged into the Gulf with severe toxic effects on human and marine life. Scientists and engineers tried many methods to cap the deep underwater well without success over a five-month period.

On the weekend of September 18 – 19 of 2010 I was participating in a spiritual healing retreat in Tucson, Arizona led by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha, a teacher of advanced spiritual healing methods. At one point on Saturday the 18th one of the retreat participants suggested that I ask Dr. Sha if our group could somehow help mitigate the Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster. I did go up to him during a break and explained the situation. Dr. Sha had not heard about it since he apparently didn’t listen to the news. But he acknowledged the situation and agreed to “see what he and our group energy could do.” The next day, Sunday the 19th, I was checking the news and learned that a team of engineers had finally succeeded at capping and containing the oil spill.

Was this just an interesting co-incidence? Or could it have been a manifestation of the power of focused intention? I am open to the latter explanation because I have personally experienced or heard about many such extraordinary healings and reprieves from negative or disastrous situations throughout my life. Awakening Avatars can participate in a level of causality hard to explain through most of our sciences, yet can clearly be experienced. The science of Quantum physics has been catching up to being able to explain the power of consciousness to create reality, and you will find several explanations of quantum phenomena throughout this book.

Why Trauma Matters and Why Healing Trauma is an Essential Part of the Solution

Trauma is a big deal for the human race now. While about 8 – 12 million people in the United States are medically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, almost all of the rest of us deal with what I call “low-grade PTSD.” It has become our new normal to feel stressed out in various ways due to economic pressures, isolation, family breakdowns, exposure to toxins and living in highly polarized societies.

Ironically, all of this easily recognizable stress is exacerbated by the mass ascension of consciousness we are part of. As our consciousness expands, we are becoming more empathic, literally feeling more of the pain of the world. Many of our own conveniently buried psychic burdens and unresolved past trauma are also coming up to the surface of our minds much more quickly than we can often process. These are reasons why so much of the traditional psychotherapies and holistic healing arts only ease part of people’s distress these days.

As mentioned above, Lightworkers are Avatars who specialize in helping others heal by awakening to their true nature. This is the highest and most effective form of healing. It truly frees people from their past mental and emotional programming and allows them to step up to being part of the solution themselves. Section Two of this book is full of valuable guidance for healers and specific healing methods.

Opening to your Avatar Energy Transmission

As you go through the process of becoming Christed, you become familiar with the specific ways divine consciousness expresses through you. I call this your unique energy transmission. This is a stream of pure vibrational energy emanating from your highest spiritual source that flows through you and blesses others in profound ways. This is the essence of you. It is also what makes you most effective at whatever you are called to do in your life.

Why do I say that your energy transmission is unique? Think of the human race as a huge symphony orchestra. Each musician in the orchestra has her own part to play that differs from most of the other player’s parts, although some players share the same part and play in sections. When each player in the symphony plays her part clearly and accurately an amazing, beautiful composite musical sound is created. This is the way it is with us. Our energy transmission is the part we are given to play in the grand symphony of the human race. Our highest key to success, effectiveness and fulfillment in every aspect of our life is identifying our unique energy transmission and cultivating our body’s ability to hold and emanate it.

The specific abilities your transmission gives you can be called your superpowers. These are the ways you express genius in your life. Yes, that’s right, genius. Genius refers to people who have opened up to allow their transmission to freely express though them. There is great, unlimited power in this. We have seen how a handful of people in touch with their genius have transformed the human race through science, technology, the expressive arts, furthering of human rights, spiritual awakening and much more. You are now called to be one of them. Why? Because you can!  And, also because the world surely needs that special ability you are perfectly suited to offer.

The reason this book, and others like it are needed is that most of us who are Avatars in human form are on the latter part of a long journey in which we have been exploring the human experience. During this “long strange trip” we have experienced all manner of high and low vibratory experiences, from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair. We have repeatedly acted out the roles of both perpetrator and victim. Many of these experiences have created lasting energy imprints upon the ultra-sensitive inner membranes of our subconscious minds. By now, that has created quite a bewildering burden that can cloud our hearts and obscure our sight. I often use the Sanskrit word samskara, or the English terms “energetic gunk,” conditioning or “residoo-doo” to refer to this complex psychic burden that is at the root of most chronic pain, disease, anxiety and depression.

One factor that has made this burden even heavier is the tendency for some self-serving individuals and organizations to take advantage of others by programming their minds with messages and images designed to manipulate them into giving their divine power away. These individuals have been all too happy to take this power for their own personal gain. You will learn how to put a stop to that in this book.

Human beings are energy transceivers. This means that that we are constantly sharing energy vibrations with others – sending and receiving. This includes those close to us and those a world apart. The current Earth condition in which close to 8 billion people are sharing vibrations that are frequently stressed and fear-based has created a kaleidoscopic mass hallucination in which we have largely lost touch with who we really are. No wonder things often seem so bizarre.

The great news is that there are simple, effective methods for clearing your inner space so you can not only remember that you are an Avatar, but also embody that pure, high vibration of love in your everyday, physical experience. This makes you a powerful part of the solution whether you are engaging as an activist or living a quiet, contemplative life – or anything in between.

Healing Humanity

As I write these words our human family is living through a new set of experiences that very few of us ever expected. Fallout from the COVID-19 virus epidemic put the brakes on much of human activity through much of 2020 and 2021, and at the time of this writing is still adversely affecting much of the world economy. As is usually the case, those who are richer and more privileged are coping relatively well and even thriving, while the poor face increasingly devastating consequences.

There are almost endless beliefs and theories about what this epidemic is, where it came from, why it is happening and what the solution could be to get the human race back on track. People hunger to know – when will things go back to normal so we can get on with our lives? 

My firm belief is that things will never go back to what we considered normal, and that’s a great blessing. We have been living on Planet Earth in ways that have become increasingly unsustainable, and as a result are facing a myriad of escalating consequences. To put it simply, we just can’t keep living the way we’ve been living. The issues surrounding COVID, and pressing social issues filling the news headlines daily have pushed an even more crucial truth to the background of most people’s awareness – and that is the environmental reckoning we are facing now. Ninety-seven percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree tat climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities, and the majority emphatically state that this poses critical threats to human wellbeing and even survival. 

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a well-known sci-fi movie that was released in two versions in 1951 and 2008.  The story is about an alien with God-like powers who comes to Earth to tell the human race that our self-destructive ways are not only endangering ourselves but other worlds as well, and that we must change our ways or be stopped. In case you have not seen the movie I recommend it and will not spoil it by disclosing more.

Although our current situation is not the same as the plot of that movie the underlying truth – the urgent need for rapid, fundamental change – is accurate.

It would make sense for scientists, governments, churches and all concerned people to come together to mobilize our best resources to resolve the pressing crises facing humanity.  Yet there is deep division among people, not only about what the best approach is but even what the most fundamental facts are about our situation. This extreme polarization has hamstringed the kind of massive, unified action and mobilization that is so needed now.

This book offers a radical perspective on some of the most effective solutions to these challenges of our individual and global situation. I will demonstrate that it is through our consciousness that we have collectively created our current situation, and it is through the unlimited power of awakened consciousness that we can save the human race and our Earth from destruction, while simultaneously ascending into a way of living we may have only dreamed of as conscious, joyful sovereigns.


[1]  See Chapter 17 for distinction between the terms Avatar and Lightworker 

[2]  Chapter 13 provides details of the remarkable practice of engaging in planetary healing

[3]  Attributed to the ancient Avatar Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

[4]  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51439175

Dr. Darren Starwynn has been aware of the Quantum Field of consciousness since childhood, traveling to India to study with a spiritual master during his teenage years. Since then Darren has had a long career as acupuncturist, medical device developer, writer, healer and teacher, integrating therapeutic systems from around the world. He has written four groundbreaking books, led hundreds of workshops and seminars and invented several vibrational devices used worldwide. Darren’s workshops and retreats weave laughter and playfulness with profound personal healing and transformation.

Thousands of people have been directly or indirectly touched by Darren’s offerings, and he has inspired many colleagues to expand the scope of their work to include energy medicine and consciousness-based healing systems. His work integrates vibrational energy medicine with multi-dimensional quantum healing to help people rapidly release old trauma, pain and limitations to their self-expression.

Darren serves as a Reverend through the Lightworker Ministry, empowering healers and Lightworkers to live as Avatars and participate in the currently unfolding planetary ascension of consciousness. He is a graduate of the Tri-State Institute of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and received a doctorate in Chinese Medicine in 1995 through the National Academy of Advanced Asian Medicine. He has been ordained as a Knight through the Sacred Medical Order of the Knights of Hope, a branch of the historical Knights Hospitaler from Europe.

Darren also loves playing and composing music, hiking, writing and dancing.

His latest book is Awakening the Avatar Within.

Visit his website at www.drstarwynn.com.

You can connect with him at Twitter or Facebook.

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Read the First Chapter of Through Dangerous Doors: A Life at Risk by Robert Charles Lee

Read a Chapter

Read a Chapter is a *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the memoir, Through Dangerous Doors: A Life at Risk by Robert Charles Lee. Enjoy!

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THROUGH DANGEROUS DOORS: A LIFE AT RISK

In a life defined by risk, Robert Charles Lee experiences a poor and free-ranging childhood in the racist South of the 1960s. After his father dies, the family grows dysfunctional. As a result, teen-age Robert seeks sanity and solace by rock climbing solo and driving cars fast. He wins a scholarship and graduates from university, but still seeks to escape the South.

Moving to Alaska and the Western US, Robert works in a series of dangerous and brutal jobs. He meets and marries Linda, who enjoys climbing and skiing difficult mountains as much as he does. Simultaneously, Robert trains in the science of risk to become a respected professional risk scientist.

Robert shares his remarkable story as he guides the reader through a series of dangerous but rewarding doors, culminating in a vivid journey of adventure and risk.

~ Chapter 1 ~

The Free-Range Door

The horse gallops across our range of a few acres. I’m exhilarated and barely hanging on, but my father, Charles, is watching. I go hunting with him, and he guffaws when I’m almost knocked flat by the recoil of my first deafening discharge of a twelve-gauge. I explore the copperhead-snake, wasp, hornet, tick, chigger, and poison ivy infested hardwood forest on our property. My feet and legs are bare much of the year. However, I tread carefully. The door to the outdoors opens. I’m six or seven years old, but I eagerly enter.

***

I was serious about managing risk, even as a kid. Life began as a late Boomer and a Fallout Boy. A B-52 bomber broke up over my home state in 1961, releasing two nuclear bombs. Above-ground nuclear weapons tests were conducted in the United States West, creating radioactive dust clouds. These events perhaps foretold a career steeped in radiation.

My family is of working-class, British and Scots-Irish ancestry; the original hillbillies in the Appalachians and Piedmont. My birthplace and time were subject to systemic White racism, resulting in the designation “Klansville, USA.” We lived near Salisbury in rural Granite Quarry, North Carolina, about a mile from the gated compound of Bob Jones, a powerful Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon. Jones was kicked out of the Navy for refusing to salute a Black officer, proclaiming, “I won’t salute no nigger.” Jones helped expand the North Carolina KKK to over ten-thousand members. A friend and I once snuck over to watch a cross-burning near his property.

If the neighborhood White men weren’t pickin’ and grinnin’, drinking and playing guitars and banjos on their porches on a Saturday night, they were hanging out with their bros in the local men’s Klub. I don’t recall any lynchings, but harassment and violence were common. The county sheriff was a Klan member, and wore a Western cowboy hat on his bald head and a patch over one dead eye. Chain-gangs broke rocks in the steaming Southern heat under the squinty eyes of shotgun-toting overseers on horseback. Most of the Black people in the area lived in segregation in the equivalent of a shanty town. Schools, churches, and most activities were segregated.

My family is purported to be related to the slaveowner and traitor General Robert E. Lee, but I’ve not been able to verify this. If true, I’m appalled in a moral sense, but there’s nothing I can do about it aside from trying to be an anti-racist and a good citizen. At least I don’t have the same middle name. I do indeed have a red neck, but solely due to years of outdoor activity.

My father, Charles, was no stranger to risk. He served as a United States Marine drill sergeant and war dog trainer in World War II. He was a marksman, boxer, expert swimmer, hunter, hunting dog trainer, fisherman, and horseman. As far as I can tell, he was good at whatever he tackled. He was a so-called “good ol’ boy,” but he was intelligent and wasn’t racist, which was itself risky in a racist society. He was raised in rural North Carolina and loved the outdoors. His brothers were also intelligent and interested in the natural world. Charles was a small-time homebuilder by profession, which had its dangers. He was struck by lightning once while working on the roof of a house and tumbled off, breaking his leg.

My mother, Frances, was the flaming red-haired, seventh daughter of a quarryman and his wife from Leicestershire, England. This resulted in unusual speech patterns and word usage for a Southern boy. I loved going to her father Pop’s cottage to visit. It was a pat of working-class, Old Blighty butter in a sea of hick grits.

Frances wasn’t as risk-seeking as Charles, but she loved him and indulged his lifestyle. Charles was a strong advocate of what’s now called free-range parenting, but he made sure the kids applied some common sense. My free-range childhood was the start of a long and winding road to rational risk management.

The family likely lived below the federal poverty level, but we grew vegetables, and hunted and fished for meat. I’m not sure whether we were called “White trash” or not. We lived in a small frame house Charles built, so we weren’t trailer trash. Charles was the alpha over the other five humans, a couple of horses, a dozen or so hunting hounds, several pet dogs and cats, a cow, chickens, and various wild animals we kids caught and eventually released. All those kids and animals required food, so this contributed to our poverty. I didn’t inherit Charles’s horse addiction, but my older sister did, and horses became the focus of her life. All the kids loved and still love dogs, the noblest of beasts.

Being an ex-Marine and a natural teacher, Charles taught the kids how to fight and shoot as early as possible. Marines specialize in those skills and consider them important. Part of the reason may have been a practical risk management strategy, given our family didn’t belong to the Klan tribe. These were dangerous times for Blacks, and to a lesser degree, Whites who didn’t buy into the systemic and often violent racism extant in the South.

Hunting was another reason for early firearms training. Charles owned a half dozen or so hunting rifles and shotguns he kept unlocked in open racks in our home. He kept unlocked guns on a rack in his pickup truck, as did many men. We would never have considered touching Charles’s guns without his permission. He taught us how to hunt and take care of guns as soon as we could pick them up. I received a twenty-two caliber rifle and a twenty-gauge shotgun of my own around the age of seven.

Packs of feral dogs prowled the countryside. Many families let their dogs roam, and didn’t neuter them. Chickens and other small animals were at risk from these packs, and occasionally the neighborhood men went dog hunting. Dog- and cockfighting were common, but my parents disapproved.

Charles never used physical punishment on me, unlike Frances, who later in life didn’t spare the rod. He was a powerful man, but I don’t recall seeing him pissed, or even in a bad mood. According to older relatives, he was hilarious, although I was too young to fully appreciate it. He referred to me as an “odd liddle feller,” an assessment that was and still is, accurate.

I was born left-handed. Back then, southpaw-ness was considered a mental and physical defect. Schools encouraged right-handedness, and Frances proclaimed, “I won’t have any left-handers in my house.” The basis for this policy was unclear, as were many of her stances. The sinister implications of being a lefty were never clear to me. I was hampered as an athlete until I ignored Frances and switched to using my left hand for throwing and other boyish activities. I still have unreadable, right-handed penmanship, but using the left would be worse.

A rural Southern accent is often associated with sub-normal intellect, bigotry, and other negative attributes. Many years ago, a dear, sweet Yankee friend from the North commented, “I’m amazed you became an academician, having such an accent.” At the time, I hadn’t lived in the South for twenty years. She had no idea this observation might be insulting or condescending. I’ve known others from the South to tamp down or discard their Southern accents due to negative perceptions, which ain’t easy. I never cared enough to bother, but my yokel-ish accent may have hampered my life in subtle ways.

Our family always made a yearly trip to the Appalachian Mountains, often in the fall when the hardwood forest blazed with color. A surefire way to tell somebody ain’t from around there is if they pronounce Appalachia with a long a sound on the third vowel. Our activities were largely limited to driving around, in the spirit of the 1950s and early 1960s. However, there were high points for an odd liddle feller. I wore a favorite sweater which I imagined to be my special protective mountain parka. Charles gave me an old masonry hammer I employed as an ice ax in mountain climbing fantasies when we stopped for breaks. This foreshadowed the pursuits that have consumed much of my adult life.

Once, the family was in the middle of a sketchy suspension bridge with big air underneath, between the two peaks of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. Charles started to swing the bridge back and forth, to the kids’ glee and Frances’s terror. To this day, I try to swing my wife, Linda, on any swingable bridge, but she demands I go across first. I’m my father’s child in many ways.

I called my parents “Mommy” and “Daddy” when I was liddle, but for reasons unclear, I started using their first names as a youth. Perhaps I was trying to distance myself from my mother, for reasons that will become clear. She also suffered a number of silly and obscure nicknames, including Chewie, which I don’t think was short for Chewbacca. I may have called her Frances just to be different.

My father died when I was eight, the year the Civil Rights Act passed. He died in his forties, victim of a hereditary kidney disease called glomerulonephritis, which skipped his sons due to genetic luck. The loss of my father plunged me into a maelstrom of involuntary risk.

Frances was a fine mother and partner to Charles when he was alive, but after he died, she was forced to work. She’d never worked in a formal job but had taken secretarial training at a junior college. She sold off most of the animals, Charles’s guns, a rental house he’d built, and most possessions of value. I doubt the family had any savings. Frances was unprepared for working and single parenthood, in both temperament and practical matters, so she hired a Black woman named Annie to babysit us and run the household. She was “the help.”

My two oldest siblings started to grow wild, but Annie kept me and my younger brother under control. She was a hefty, strong, and competent woman, somebody you didn’t want to mess with. As long as she commanded our respect, we continued to live a similar lifestyle as before.

Annie influenced my musical brain in the form of gospel and soul music she listened to on Black radio stations. I thought it was cool, and I enjoyed seeing her sway to the grooves and hearing her sing along. Later, when I became a musician, I appreciated how rare it is for music to speak from the depths of the soul.

While Charles was alive, the family attended both Lutheran and Episcopal churches, according to the preferences of my parents. The existence of two different Christian denominations in one small, rural town was due to settlement by immigrant quarrymen of German and British descent. I found the churches and their teachings interesting. They represented two interpretations of the same mythology, and I enjoyed some of the music.

After Charles died, though, I told Frances I didn’t believe any of the spiritual stuff. She was indifferent, so I backslid. I never saw any value in supernatural belief. Lack of belief was associated with risk, if I gave any credence to Blaise Pascal’s wager for the existence of a god or gods. I didn’t, and eternal damnation was and remains the absolute least of my worries. Much later though, I came to appreciate Pascal as a father of decision analysis.

Frances slipped into clinical depression and an anxiety disorder. She was deeply in love with Charles, and unprepared for working and raising four large, headstrong, and unruly kids. Frances did her best, but she wasn’t a strong woman. She was broken, and for years, was prescribed a bewildering cocktail of powerful and toxic drugs. It wasn’t until she was in her sixties that she was weaned off the drugs and her condition stabilized. Her eventual dementia could be partially attributed to drug use. Many elderly people take multiple prescription and nonprescription drugs, unaware of possible negative interactions. If they drink alcohol as well, they risk increased psychological and physical damage.

Modern medicine is miraculous, but it doesn’t always work as well as it should. My health risks due to medical errors increased. This has been a major source of involuntary risk throughout my life. The first I remember was a prescription error. We lived in a rural area with many species of grass which flowered much of the year, and I developed a severe grass pollen allergy. Our physician, who still had bathrooms labeled Men, Women, and Colored, as if the latter were a third gender, prescribed one-hundred milligram capsules of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) every few hours, the maximum recommended adult dose. Diphenhydramine is also used as a sleep aid. I was a child zombie as a result. Perhaps Frances found me more manageable when I was zombie-fied. I missed much of the second grade because I simply couldn’t think. I don’t remember when the dose was adjusted downward, but due to a lack of other effective antihistamines, I took diphenhydramine for years.

I compensated for the zombie-ness by self-medicating with large amounts of sugary and caffeine-laden soda, and sugar in general. This didn’t help my oral hygiene, and had other adverse effects. In grade school, fluoride treatment was made available. Without it, I could’ve been indentured by now. Fluoride was also added to toothpaste (Look, Mom, no cavities!). The result of the overuse of fluoride was mild fluorosis, manifesting as whiter spots on my teeth. A dentist from my childhood, whom I recall with clarity because he had unpleasantly large and hairy, ungloved fingers, tried to grind away the spots on my incisors until he realized they weren’t just on the surface.

I don’t recall flossing until I was a young adult. The family had no dental insurance, contributing to decay and crooked, White-trash teeth. Only wealthier kids received good dental care and braces. It’s surprising I still have the roots of all my teeth.

A missed childhood diagnosis was myopia, which isn’t a sudden onset condition. My third-grade teacher finally alerted Frances to the fact I couldn’t see a damn thing. Being able to see clearly with prescription lenses opened doors to many new worlds.

Frances loved to read, and she had a small library including a complete set of encyclopedias, which I read often. I read the entire King James Bible, as well as Greek, Roman, Norse, and other mythologies. I read everything I could find. I read the dictionary when I couldn’t find anything else. All this reading was a positive thing. Rural Southern schools back then weren’t exactly paragons of learning. History and social studies curricula were laughable, especially with regard to slavery and racism. “Fake news” isn’t a new invention. My voracious reading balanced the risks associated with a poor education, which can persist throughout life.

Back then, a Southern boy who didn’t play football, baseball, or basketball was considered a lower phylum of life. Confused hand dominance impeded my sports ability, but I also wore glasses and did well in academics. I was therefore branded as a nerd, a significant psychological and social impediment. These days, it’s cool to be a nerd, but certainly not then. I was excluded from the athletes’ tribe, and always picked last for teams.

This was devastating, but perhaps fortunate. There’s no better way to put a kid at risk for a lifetime of physical pain and dysfunction than to let them engage in contact team sports. Once I shifted to left-handed athletic activities, I became more proficient in baseball and softball. This was bad enough, considering the risk of high-speed balls hitting sensitive parts of the body such as the nuts and noggin. I wore a cup, but good batting helmets weren’t common when I played Little League baseball. My left shoulder and elbow suffered from throwing hard with poor form and little muscle. I was never good in true contact sports such as basketball or football, which was fortunate. Kids are at much greater risk for injury playing these sports.

The risks added up. Many were then uncertain, at least among the general public, such as health effects associated with tobacco use. One way to make a little money during the season was pulling, or harvesting, tobacco, a major crop in North Carolina. I started work before the age of ten, toiling alongside mostly Black adult laborers. Between sweating bullets in the torrid Carolina climate and getting tobacco plant sap all over my hands and arms, I recall being quite buzzed. The nicotine in the ’baccy countered my diphenhydramine zombie-ness. Most of the adult men, including Charles, smoked and chewed tobacco, as did many boys. The rate of lung and oral cancer must have been whopping. Chewie refused to kiss Charles until he spit out his chewbacca. I chewed ’baccy once I started playing Little League. All the boys did. If they didn’t enjoy it, they chewed to avoid being ostracized. It’s surprising I never became addicted, although there’s likely a genetic component to tobacco addiction.

It’s impossible to estimate my personal cumulative risk associated with all the toxic stuff I was exposed to in the 1950s and 1960s. I’m uncertain exactly what I was exposed to or in what amounts. Environmental protection regulations didn’t exist, and food safety was rudimentary. The family lived on the edge of the higher radon zone in North Carolina, on top of granite with radioactive minerals as part of its composition. Our house was ridden with asbestos, including the siding and flooring, and perhaps the roofing and insulation. Lead from gasoline and paint was everywhere, as were numerous other chemicals later banned. Many substances later found to be toxic existed in prepared foods at the time.

I begged for and received a chemistry set for Christmas one year and proceeded to alchemize foul and toxic-fumed concoctions. I used an asbestos heat-diffusing pad over my Bunsen burner when boiling these brews. I melted lead, because it was interesting to transform a metal to liquid. I soldered wires in old electronic equipment, resulting in more lead fume exposure and potential electrocution. I tried to make gunpowder, but only succeeded in exposing myself to choking smoke. We burned most of our trash in old oil barrels, and I threw in objects or substances that exploded or caused fireballs or stunk. I collected mercury from old switches, thermometers, and other sources, acquiring a fat marble-size ball to play with. As a junior rockhound, I collected radioactive uranium minerals found in North Carolina pegmatite.

I explored under the house and in old abandoned buildings contaminated with pesticides. Frances didn’t let us ride our bikes behind the dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT-fogging trucks patrolling the streets during mosquito season, like many other neighborhood kids. Although DDT per se wasn’t likely to be particularly toxic to the kids, at least in an acute sense, I’m not sure what organic solvent mixture was employed to dissolve the insecticide. Multiple solvents were often used, some of which were nasty. Any one of these chemical risks may not have been of particular concern, but cumulative risk should have been. Whether these experiences started me down the road to a career in toxicology, is lost in the pesticidal fog of history.

I still owned firearms. There were no shooting ranges. I just went out into the woods or a field and blew away inanimate objects. Good thing there were no passersby. I had an aversion to shooting animals, if not humans. I engaged in BB gun wars with neighbor kids, which seemed safer than using a shotgun. Nobody experienced having an “eye put out” or was seriously injured, despite a lack of protective gear. Anybody who wore goggles or padding would’ve been laughed at.

There were always firecrackers. Solid fuel model rocket kits were popular at the time, but I took rocketry a step further into weaponry and rigged powerful firecrackers called M-80s to ignite when the rocket fuel was expended. Small rockets were cheap to build and thus disposable. My friend Keith, who would one day save my life, once shot a cow with a large, non-explosive model rocket. His expensive rocket was trashed, but the cow was unharmed.

In addition to minor crashes, I suffered my first major bicycle accident when I sped down a steep hill on my banana bike. I slammed into the driver’s door of a parked car just as it swung open and went airborne. The driver yelled at me for screwing up his door. I was stunned and suffered major road rash, and my cherished bike was totaled.

As a good junior scientist, I read the classic book Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif, which inspired me to grow colorful and smelly fungal and bacterial forests. This probably didn’t help my allergies. Annie caught me sterilizing my own piss in one of the household cooking pots, for use in a culture medium. After a “Lawd, Robert, what in sweet Jesus are you messin’ with now!” I received a good whuppin’. The whuppin’ is why this event stands out in my memory. Punishment, however, didn’t dampen my fascination with living things.

My diet suffered after Charles died. While he was alive and healthy, the family had a substantial garden, a dairy cow, and chickens, plus we hunted and fished. For my first seven or eight years, I ate a good diet, if heavy in grease, as was most Southern cooking. Once Frances started working, processed food largely replaced her wholesome country cooking. We contributed to the decline of the Atlantic cod, eating boxes of frozen fish sticks. Lord knows what was in hot dogs and sausage back then. White bread, white rice, white pasta. Frozen vegetables boiled to tastelessness. Barely edible TV dinners. Pounds of sugar from soda, candy, and desserts. I was so skinny, I developed ulcers on my butt from sitting in hard school desk chairs. Things might’ve been different if I’d experienced a good diet and stable family life during my childhood and teen years. I might’ve grown inches taller and many pounds heavier in muscle, possessed better teeth, and been much smarter. I coulda been a contender.

I grew tall, regardless. I’m sure there were advantages, but it’s been my experience that being at the ninety-eighth percentile for an American male’s height (six-foot-three) is associated with health risks. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hit my head on low-clearance obstacles. My scalp has significant scar tissue. My wife, Linda, tries to get me to wear a helmet at all times. I don’t think I’ve ever suffered major concussions, or at least none I can remember, but I’ve come close. The world is engineered for the average, a uniformity of design contributing to my current neck and back issues. I suffer a stiff neck after parties and other social gatherings from bending over to converse with shorter folks.

***

Schools were integrated while I was in elementary school. The overtly racist George Wallace won a straw poll in my class before the 1968 presidential election. My aunt, neighbor, and grade-school teacher claimed, “Those little niggers just cain’t learn.” This was more a reflection of her lame teaching skills and racist attitudes than any inherent learning difficulties among students of color.

In Granite Quarry, riots didn’t erupt after schools were integrated, but a lot of friction existed and plenty of fights broke out. For example, in junior high I saw four White high school football players beat the hell out of a Black friend my age who happened to be talking to a White girl. I started to intervene, but my friend warned me off and just took the beating. It’s fortunate he wasn’t severely injured.

I was never threatened by Black kids. However, I was threatened several times with beatings and torture, such as having my head dunked into a filthy toilet, by other White kids. The bullies included White racist kids with Klan parents who threatened me for my refusal to join them in talking shit, or worse, about Blacks. Klan begat Klan. I managed to avoid fights with them by taking an aggressive posture, balling my fists, and silently staring down my enemies. I suppose I received some mental reward from taking the moral high ground, or maybe I just didn’t enjoy being fucked with, an attitude that persists to this day.

Yep, silent staring worked. They may have thought I was deranged, but after the first couple of times, I learned a valuable lesson. It’s possible to intimidate yourself out of confrontation. Intimidation didn’t always work, especially in fights with my brothers. It nearly always did outside the family, and served me well throughout life when dealing with male assholes. Avoiding fights was probably wise, as I have a bad temper. Allowing anger to take hold isn’t the best defensive strategy. Early exposure to violent White racism on the part of local adults and my Klan Kid Klassmates also influenced my lifelong hatred of racism and bigotry in general. Bigotry is among the ugliest of human attributes.

***

Frances dated a lot of men. I didn’t want to know why, although she was probably desperately lonely and sick of being a single mom. I don’t recall the parade of men with clarity. Some might have been nice guys, but I found her behavior repulsive. I withdrew more in response to her becoming weirder due to her mental state and the crude drugs she was prescribed, but also to my siblings becoming wilder. I was active, but wasn’t particularly athletic. I grew tall and looked emaciated by the time I was in junior high school. I was self-conscious and slumped. It took twenty years of yoga and physiotherapy to straighten myself out.

I found talking to girls difficult, despite having female friends in the neighborhood. I didn’t understand that girls were just people. Frances thought I was odd for not having girlfriends and tried to set me up with daughters of friends, which made things worse.

I just wanted to escape my family, but I needed a door.

—————————————————————-

ABOUT ROBERT CHARLES LEE

Robert Charles Lee

Robert Charles Lee is a retired risk scientist with over twenty-five years of academic and applied risk analysis, decision analysis, and risk management experience in a wide variety of contexts. He has authored over one hundred peer-reviewed scientific works, as well as over one hundred technical reports for industry and government agencies. Prior to the professional risk work he worked in laboratories a bit, but otherwise was a manual laborer until he reckoned that he could use his brain for a living.

Robert has a BS in Botany, a BS in Science Education, an MS in Environmental Health, and a Certificate in Integrated Business Administration. He is ABD (all but dissertation) in a Toxicology PhD program. He is an ordained Minister and has an honorary Doctorate of Metaphysics from the Universal Life Church and is a Member of the Nova Scotia L’Ordre du Bon Temps, or Order of the Good Time.

He was born in North Carolina and lived there for over twenty years, but has since lived in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Alberta. He was also homeless for a time while a laborer in the Western United States. He currently resides in Colorado.

Robert and his wife Linda have climbed hundreds of technical and non-technical mountain, rock, ice, and canyon routes, hiked thousands of miles in several countries, and skied many miles of vertical feet at resorts and in the backcountry.

Robert is an avid amateur photographer, largely of outdoor subjects. He is a musician who plays hand, stick, and mallet percussion, and who can sing, but rarely does for unclear reasons. He is an amateur sound engineer and producer and has recorded more than a thousand written and improvisational instrumental pieces with other musicians to date. He was trying to learn to relax in retirement, but then he discovered non-technical writing. He has written a memoir and a poetry collection and is working on short stories.

Through Dangerous Doors is his latest book.

Visit his website at https://robertcharleslee.com or follow him on Goodreads.

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Book Excerpt: The Willing by Lindsay Lees

Title: THE WILLING

Author: Lindsay Lees

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 299

Genre: Dystopian

In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?

The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.

Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.

Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.

To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imaged.

PRAISE

The Willing is stunning in its brutality as well as its sensitivity! Absolute must read. We all have a piece of Gypsy in us. We must consider our potential future as women now with eyes wide open.”–Amazon Reviewer

“The Willing is an unusually deep commentary on a malignant dysfunction in our society, dressed in fishnet utopian stockings. While the premise and its sensual details push the boundaries of belief, a community that is ostensibly focused on the greater good but is governed by fear and hypocrisy fits perfectly in the dystopian genre. Gypsy’s character is flawed and immature in many ways, but her shield-like honesty is refreshing among a sea of conformists. A rather feminist piece filled with satire on the state of equality, The Willing is weighty and serious in its message, and sad in its reflection of how women are treated in our modern world. For a change from the norm, Lindsay Lees provides a gripping story that will have you thinking deeply about the importance of the relationships in your life.”–Jennifer Jackson from IndiesToday.com

In a basement meeting room of the Head Gaje’s oval-spiral Headquarters, an arched doorway slid open. Doctor Gino’s tired, wrinkled eyes also bolted open; he had only been resting them. He’d practically been dragged from his bed, after all. Ovoidia’s Chief Crusader, Rigby Katz, entered the hermetical, bleach-white room holding his round helmet, nestled under his thick, toned arm. Eyes bright and vigilant—a caffeine glow—he must have only just finished his shift, Doctor thought. He had been a Crusader for over thirty years but had the good fortune of not appearing his age. Rigby scanned the room like a robot from Robocop or Terminator, one of the Pre-Ultimate Revolution movies. After completing a thorough assessment, he surveyed the white leather office chair where Doctor sat with his liver-spotted hands folded on the round table. 

“Oh good. I’m not the first to arrive.” Crusader Katz clomped in wearing heavy black boots, clean as the day they were made. “Gives me anxiety waiting around, wondering if I’m at the right place. Easy to get lost down here.”

A round clock above the arched doorway swept past the seconds. It was almost three A.M. Doctor hadn’t expected the tribunal meeting to take place so late.

“Do you know why we’re having the meeting now?” Doctor asked, casually.

Rigby regarded Doctor with amusement, rather like the way a mama looks at her child when she asks where babies come from. “Yes, the Head Gajes had an inauguration party to attend.”

Doctor yawned. So much for not having time to get a coffee.

Crusader Katz removed a piece of spearmint gum and his cell phone from his utility belt. He owned the newest model, a razor-thin silver flip-phone with a peek window on the front. When he flipped it open, the interior buttons reflected electric blue on his milky eyes. Doctor didn’t know why cell phones required upgrades. So long as they served their primary function who cared what they looked like?

Crusader Katz snapped the phone shut and shoved it back in his belt. “No service.” He sighed.

“We’re too far down,” Doctor said, pleased with himself.

The steady hum of an air purifier oscillated from a corner. A few stray bubbles burped in a standing water cooler. Doctor eased a ballpoint pen from his lab coat and hovered it over the table, pinching the cap to make sure it was firmly secured. He was forever spilling ink or coffee on the ubiquitous white leather.

“I forgot my notepad,” Doctor said, surprised at his error. While most communications in Ovoidia were transcribed digitally, Doctor preferred to handwrite his notes for archival purposes.

He experienced nostalgia for the tactile fluidity the pen afforded the fingers. “Do you happen to have an extra pad or a piece of paper?” he asked Crusader Katz.

Just then, the meeting room door opened to the heady scent of a dozen steamed bouquets, as though the Head Gajes had bathed in the buckets of wilting flowers being sold on the streets in the mid-day heat. Diam, the eldest of the Head Gajes strolled, chin up, into the room. Her stilettos tapped like hail on glass as she walked across the marble floor. She wore a black satin skirt flared above her knee. Her skin shone, glossy and supple. Isis, the younger Head Gaje, teetered in behind her, gripping a round red lollipop on a white stick.

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3k2qbqC

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3yIQLZF

Kobo → https://bit.ly/3gujQBr

Lindsay Lees is originally from Los Angeles and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and while growing up and later in college, she split her time between the two countries. Lindsay earned a B.A. in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University, and next an M.F.A.in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. 

The Willing is Lindsay’s debut novel. She currently lives a quiet Southern life with her husband and a houseful of pets. 

Visit her website or connect with her at FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.

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In the Spotlight: Bandits of Basswood by E.P. Bellows

Title: BANDITS OF BASSWOOD
Author: E.P. Bellows
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 195
Genre: Children’s Fantasy

BOOK BLURB:

John William Drake was born an explorer; just like many, many Drakes before him. His adventure really began with the discovery of a book hidden in the ceiling, followed by the mysterious disappearance of his father. He lived every day in misery until his twelfth birthday. A new friend gave him an invitation he could not turn down… follow me and change your destiny.

He never imagined being captured by bandits and taken to a ship riddled with river rats was part of his fate. Not just any bandits – the Bandits of Basswood; known to be a ruthless and wild crew of thieves. Trying to escape would be a ridiculous idea. No one has ever escaped and lived to tell about it. Uncovering traces of his missing father gave him hope and upped the stakes. John William was determined to get off the ship alive and search for the missing pieces of the puzzle. The chase out of Basswood was on. He took a chance to change his destiny and ended up on a wild ride to solve the most important mystery of his life.

PRAISE

“The imaginative world created by the author is especially fun. Some animals can talk (with attitude!), magic is in the air and emu-like creatures provide fast transportation. Yes, I realize this series is for children- and they can certainly read it. Just as soon as I’m finished.” – Amazon Reviewer 5 stars

I enjoyed reading these books. Great for young adults, even though I’m an adult. I would recommend this series to those kids who like a good adventure…” – Amazon Reviewer 5 stars

“A simple walk into the world of furry and fairy alike. Enjoyed the character building, as the young boy finds himself in a world with furry pirates, and a feisty fairy princess. Even the villains (as a group,) were only bad because of the main villain of the piece. all in all a nice intro to a simply enchanted world. Hope to see more…” – Amazon Reviewer 4 stars

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Amazon → https://amzn.to/3okMyYh

**********

MEET THE AUTHOR

A few random things about me…

Um, let’s see… when I was eight, I had a pet turkey. I used to take it with me on my very short lived paper route. Needless to say, I was terrible at delivering the paper. No one wanted a “Dollar Saver” with turkey poop splattered across the front page. Apparently that’s where the best coupons are.

Books… well, “Treasure Island” is a fantastic pirate tale. I love just about anything by Roald Dahl. I would also like to thank C.S Lewis for sending me on an unrelenting childhood quest for portals to amazing worlds (even in the most unpleasant locations, e.g… the older brother’s closet, etc…)

I write fantasy stories for children. Yep – I am a HUGE fantasy geek. I can’t help myself! It’s too darn awesome to escape to another realm with sorcerers and wizards. The underlying theme in my stories is empowerment, self love, and living purposefully.

When football is on I turn into a different person. I may even use a curse word or two… or three. I enjoy running; which is a good thing because I need to do it in order to fit into my jeans.

I love to cook and really, really love to eat. I have a theory that avocados actually contain super powers and have the amazing ability to make any snack epic. I also love garlic… which, according to my loved ones, also has an unfortunate super power … the pungent breath-inator… or something of that nature.

Few things make me smile more than chocolate, cheese… AND, if the Chargers would make it to the Super Bowl again – just once:)

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK |INSTAGRAM

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Character Profile Sheet for Detective Katherine “Katie” Scott from Jennifer Chase’s ‘Perfect Broken Dolls’

Years ago (and still applies today), the experts were telling fiction writers that in order to really know their main character, they must come up with a character profile sheet for them and definitely applies to all your characters as well.  This is a good practice because once you know all the ins and outs of all your characters, the book flows better and allows the author to get inside the head of each of their characters.

We decided to ask authors if they would like to come up with a character sketch of their main character, throwing in a few unique questions to make it really fun!

Today we have Jennifer Chase stopping by on her blog tour with a character sketch of her main character, Detective Katherine “Katie” Scott.  Enjoy!

———————————————————–

Learn more about Detective Katherine “Katie” Scott!

Name of Character: Detective Katherine “Katie” Scott

Age: 28

Eye Color: Brown

Hair Color: Brown

Birthplace: Pine Valley, California

Marital Status: engaged

Children: 0

Place of Residence: Pine Valley, California

Description of Home: Inherited her parent’s farm house and property.

Dominant Character Trait: determination and dedication

Best Friend: K9 Cisco

Enemies and Why: Any bad guys or killers that try to get away with murder.

Temperament: focused and ready

Ambition: to become an FBI profiler

Educational Background: college for administration of justice and criminology

Philosophy of Life: Never forget to tell the ones you love—that you love them—now than later.

Bad Habits: never backing down

Talents: sharpshooting and dog training

Hobby or Hobbies: running and reading

Why is Character Likeable? Detective Katie Scott is loyal, humble and intelligent woman, once she’s your friend—she is your friend for life.

Favorite Pig Out Food: pizza and French fries

Character Mini-Interview:

Every New Year’s I resolve to: Relax more and enjoy life—especially away from killers.

Nobody knows I am: Afraid of losing the ones I love.

I wish: My parents were alive.

The worse part of my life is: I feel alone and suffer from PTSD.

I want to teach my children that: No matter what happens there are always good things and good people in your life.

A good time for me is: Late in the evening when everyone is sleeping, I sit outside on the porch swing, so I can recharge in the quiet time.

The worse advice my father gave me is: He never gave me any bad advice. He was a great father and I miss in dearly.

When I feel sorry for myself I: Have a tendency to retreat from people until I work through any problem I’m having.

My friends like me because: I and loyal and dependable.

My major accomplishment is: Being able to work a job where I’m making a difference.

My most humbling experience was: Being a military K9 handler on the battlefield and seeing how precious life really is.

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Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers. You can visit her website at www.authorjenniferchase.com or connect with her on TwitterGoodreads and Facebook.

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In the thin light of the moon, the woman’s limp body hangs from the iron fence amongst the redwoods. Looped over the railings is the little gold locket her mother gave her when she turned sixteen. The picture of the girl inside smiles out at a future she’ll never see…

As day breaks over the fairground, Detective Katie Scott forces herself to take in another disturbing scene in front of her. A woman, the same age as her, found slumped in the carriage of the Ferris wheel, red lipstick dragged across her lips, her throat cut.

Katie doesn’t want to believe that the serial killer picking off women across the state has found their way to the small town of Pine Valley, California, but when her team finds a gold engagement ring hanging nearby, it’s a terrifying, but undeniable fact.

With a twisted killer on her doorstep, Katie knows if she doesn’t act fast, she’ll find more women left out in the cold like broken dolls. Her team hit dead end after dead end, but only she can see the vital link between the victims: a connection with Katie herself.

Katie has spent years pushing traumatic memories of her years in the military far out of reach, but she must confront them now or more innocent women will die. But as the killer circles closer and closer to Katie, what if the only answer is to give him what he wants? There must be another way…

Warning – This absolutely unputdownable thriller will keep you up all night! Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh better hold on tight for a nail-biting rollercoaster ride!

PRAISE

5 Stars! “This is the first book in the series I have read – and I want more! Suspense up to the end, characters I enjoyed, and K9 units. Loved it!” – NetGalley

5 Stars! “As always this Jennifer Chase thriller just cries out to be read in one sitting. Here we see Katie get tangled up with a serial killer although it takes time before anyone takes her seriously. Great characters and a great story, I loved this book.” – NetGalley

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Amazon → https://amzn.to/3xDXuU9

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In the Spotlight: New Mystery Crime Thriller ‘GROUP’

Title: GROUP
Author: Lynne Turner
Publisher: FriesenPress
Pages: 102
Genre: Mystery / Crime Thriller

BOOK BLURB:

Dr. William Osgood, a Beverly Hills psychologist, must make a quick decision. Seventeen-year-old Loretta, his most troubled patient, has just fainted on his couch, and his Thursday night group is about to arrive. Knowing that allowing Loretta to stay is ethically murky and potentially perilous to the group’s dynamic, Dr. Osgood begins to consider what might happen once Loretta opens her eyes. He feels that Loretta will be safe – but even the good doctor can’t possibly predict the results of his decision.

Loretta, as it happens, has come to be Dr. Osgood’s patient under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Her story rivets the six members of Dr. Osgood’s weekly group, who themselves struggle with inner demons and life conflicts; when a bigtime talent agent is shot, the doctor recognizes that each of the group’s members may have had a motive. These psychological twists and turns – as well as Dr. Osgood’s own as he copes with a bitter divorce and downsized

lifestyle – pave the way for the captivating story told in the debut mystery GROUP, by Lynne Turner. The thriller’s author knows her subjects well: she herself is a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, and deftly weaves the lives and maladies of her characters with elements of mystery and surprise, set against the backdrop of the fringes of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

“None of the characters in the book are based on my actual clients. However, the many compelling cases in my work, along with my deep love for Los Angeles, inspired me to write GROUP,” explains Turner, a lifelong fan of mystery writers. “My years of practicing psychotherapy have enhanced my ability to create characters that readers experience as real people, as opposed to caricatures.

“What is underscored in GROUP is the discrepancy between outward appearance and the actual genesis of one’s dynamics and one’s pain. In writing it, I wanted to give readers a ringside seat inside a therapist’s office and allow them to ‘hear’ the intimate details of each group member’s life, as well as to give them the rare opportunity to hear a therapist’s internal dialogue and witness his private life.”

Equally authentic is the geographic setting Turner provides, in part because another of her passions, Los Angeles street photography, gives her a literal close-up view of the city and its denizens.

“The many cultural references drawn from life in Southern California are, on the surface, funny and absurd,” Turner notes. “However, they also reveal a great deal about the values and aspirations of many Americans. The social injustices are gently exposed with humor and compassion. I’d like to think readers will be entertained, especially in these troubled times.”

By book’s end, not only is the mystery solved, but the characters – psychologist and patients alike — have grown and begun to heal, and a romance has bloomed. “GROUP is indeed a story about a particular group,” Turner says. “However, the word ‘group’ accrues meaning as the story develops. It demonstrates what can be accomplished with group effort, strength and understanding.”

BOOK EXCERPT:
After the group had left, there was an eerie quiet. Even the wheezing of the cleaning crew’s vacuum cleaner had ceased. The doctor opened one of his desk’s secret compartments, which was empty save a single glass and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. He poured himself a generous double. His lips surprised him. They trembled as he took his first horrid swallow; the second one went down easier. He could see the Hollywood sign from his office window tonight. The Santa Ana winds had cleaned up the city. It was now flooded by an amber wash that was so devastatingly beautiful his throat tightened unexpectedly.

— GROUP (p. 54)

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Amazon → https://amzn.to/3zLojYJ

About the Author

Lynne Turner is a psychotherapist in practice in Beverly Hills, California, where she has practiced for over 30 years. She grew up on the East Coast, in the aptly named seaside town of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Montclair State University, she moved to Los Angeles, where she earned her Master of Science degree in psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. In addition to her practice and her writing, she is a Los Angeles-focused street photographer, which has afforded her the opportunity to take a closer look at the human condition from yet another perspective. She lives with her daughter and two dogs in the Hollywood Hills. Visit her WEBSITE or connect with her on INSTAGRAM.

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Character Profile Sheet for Roxy Drake from Irene Woodbury’s ‘Honeymoon Roulette’

Years ago (and still applies today), the experts were telling fiction writers that in order to really know their main character, they must come up with a character profile sheet for them and definitely applies to all your characters as well.  This is a good practice because once you know all the ins and outs of all your characters, the book flows better and allows the author to get inside the head of each of their characters.

We decided to ask authors if they would like to come up with a character sketch of their main character, throwing in a few unique questions to make it really fun!

Today we have Irene Woodbury stopping by on her blog tour with a character sketch of her main character, Roxy Drake.  Enjoy!

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Learn more about Roxy Drake!

Name of Character:   Roxy Drake

Age:   25

Eye Color:  blue-green

Hair Color: Blond

Birthplace:   Evanston, Illinois

Marital Status:  Perpetually engaged

Children:   None

Place of Residence:  Summerlin, Nevada

Description of Home:   1-bedroom apartment above Jake Dorito’s garage

Dominant Character Trait:  A stubborn-confused-vulnerable romantic.

Best Friend:  Crystal Hicks

Enemies and Why:  The Fleck Triplets:  Chad, Corey, & Curtis. They kidnapped Crystal and me from a Las Vegas casino during an armed robbery and held us captive for 4 harrowing months on a dysfunctional alfalfa farm in Pahrump, Nevada

Temperament:   Sensitive, emotional, impulsive. My parents were rich control-freaks. This leads to the crisis at my wedding to Connor in Vegas.

Ambition:  To figure out my love life.

Educational Background:   I graduated from the Culinary Institute of Chicago

Philosophy of Life:  Try to avoid people who want to dominate you & run your life, even if they’re your parents.

Bad Habits:  Canceling or postponing weddings at the last minute.

Talents:  Great taste and style. Very good at renovating & decorating homes.

Hobby or Hobbies:  getting engaged

Why is Character Likeable?   I’m sensitive but stubborn. I bolt from my wedding to Connor 1 hour before the ceremony & manage to survive the next 2 years in some pretty harsh conditions.

Favorite Pig Out Food:   Cheese enchiladas

Character Mini-Interview:

Every New Year’s I resolve to:  stop getting engaged so often

Nobody knows I am:  Hiding out in Jake’s garage apartment in Summerlin, Nevada

I wish:   I knew which man to trust and which one to dump

The worse part of my life is:  having to worry about being discovered by the cops in Vegas because I’m a missing person in Illinois.

I want to teach my children that: They have a right to do what they want and find their own happiness. What they want for themselves is more important than what I want for them.

A good time for me is:  shopping for wedding gowns with my best friend, Crystal

The worse advice my father gave me is:   Don’t marry Connor J. Barrington.

When I feel sorry for myself I:  E-mail ex-fiances and get in a lot of trouble

My friends like me because: I’m fun to be with. I shop a lot, and I get engaged a lot.

My major accomplishment is:  Surviving 4 harrowing months of captivity on a dysfunctional alfalfa farm in Pahrump, Nevada. Surviving my honeymoon. Just surviving, period.

My most humbling experience was:  Eating the raunchy breakfasts slapped together by Wanda on the Fleck Farm:  The fried, burnt Spam, runny scrambled eggs, and charred toast slathered with lard were disgusting. But we were hungry, so we had to eat it.

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Luckily for all you fans of romantic fiction, Irene Woodbury knows that what happens in Las Vegas doesn’t have to stay there. The Denver-based author has captured the heart and soul of Sin City in four colorful, suspenseful novels.

Irene Woodbury

In the gritty, engrossing Romeo Stalker (2021), a Vegas showgirl’s life is plunged into stalker-hell when her ex returns from prison and learns she has a new boyfriend. Love and Payback (2021) is a dark, dramatic look at a married woman’s mysterious death in Sin City, where she has gone to meet an Internet love.

In the darkly humorous Honeymoon Roulette (2021), a bride goes rogue after learning her handsome fiance may have killed his first two wives. And A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis (2021) is the vibrant, funny story of a mixed-up newlywed who goes to Vegas for a girls’ weekend that never ends.

Irene, a successful travel writer whose favorite destinations are London and Las Vegas, is currently working on another novel.

You can visit her website at www.irenewoodbury.com or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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To marry or not to marry Connor J. Barrington? That is the question Roxy Drake faces one hour before her wedding, when she discovers her handsome fiance may have murdered his first two wives. Did Connor kill Annie and Charlotte, or simply let them die? Does Roxy become wife number three, or the runaway bride from hell? Find out in the darkly funny Honeymoon Roulette.

PRAISE

Honeymoon Roulette is funny and off the average track of love and romance stories. Honeymoon Roulette was a very quick and fun read. It was impossible not to love Roxy and share in the troubles she got herself into at every turn. There is plenty of romance but no vulgar sex scenes or cursing going on, only lots of good clean reading. This book is perfect for an afternoon at the pool or a relaxing day snuggled in front of the fireplace. Irene Woodbury has created great characters and a plot that leaves you wanting more. I am hoping for a second book so I can continue to follow my new friend Roxy’s life. Do not pass up Honeymoon Roulette – it is a winner.”

Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

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Amazon → https://tinyurl.com/cjbrcb2u

Smashwords → https://tinyurl.com/3sr6vd7m

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Play Book Trivia with Arabella Sheraton, author of ‘THE LORD BLACKWOOD REGENCY ROMANCE SERIES’

It’s time to play Book Trivia!  Periodically, we scour the Internet for interesting authors who would like to play Book Trivia with us.  By answering our book trivia questions, we get to learn things about the author no one else knows!  So, let’s get ready…let’s play…Book Trivia!

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Today our guest author is Arabella Sheraton, author of the series, The Lord Blackwood Regency Romance Series.

It’s time to play Book Trivia!  Periodically, we scour the Internet for interesting authors who would like to play Book Trivia with us.  By answering our book trivia questions, we get to learn things about the author no one else knows!  So, let’s get ready…let’s play…Book Trivia!

Today our guest author is Arabella Sheraton, author of the Regency romance, The Lord Blackwood Regency Romance series.

Thank you for playing Book Trivia with us!  Here are your questions:

You have a chance to appear on the hit talent show for authors, American Book Idol, and the mighty judges will determine whether your book will make it to Hollywood and become a big screenplay.  What would impress them more – your book cover, an excerpt or your best review – and why?

I’d choose the cover for Book Two, The Lady’s Revenge, because there is mystery, intrigue, subterfuge, and a hint that somebody might be up to no good, given the use of a Venetian carnival mask.

You have five seconds to tell us who the greatest author of all time is.  In your opinion, who would that be?

Jane Austen for her perspicacity and her deep and insightful understanding of human nature. For this reason, her books have endured and remain ever popular.

You have been told your book has won one free year on a billboard in any one state.  What state do you feel would be best for your book and why?

I’d pick Virginia because this state buys the most books in the USA.

The Arbor Day Foundation has decided to pick one tree in your honor because of your writing brilliance.  What kind of tree is it and why did they choose that tree in relation to your book?

The tree they pick is an oak, solid, enduring, and from the smallest of acorns come great things.

Finally, you just got word that your book has received the NY Times Bestselling Book Award and you have to attend the ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan.  Anyone who’s anyone will be there and it’s your shot for stardom.  On stage, you must give an acceptance speech.  What would you say and who would you thank?

Actually, I have thought about this a lot. I’ve watched Oscars with performers and directors wallowing in self-indulgent thank-yous. So, mine will be short and sweet: “Thank you to everyone who helped in this book coming to fruition.”

About the Author

Arabella Sheraton grew up reading her mom’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels, the queen of modern-day Regency romance, and of course, Jane Austen’s iconic Regency novels. Although Arabella’s literary background was in publishing and editing, she had never written a fiction book. Her first novel started out in response to her mom’s complaint that she had nothing new to read. That first Regency novel was The Dangerous Duke! Since then, Arabella has penned six more authentic Regency novels and a romance self-help guide to finding the right partner, with useful quotes by none other than Jane Austen. Arabella has branched out with a mash-up of genre in her latest work in progress. A murder-mystery, time travel, Regency romance coming soon!

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Series

Title: LORD BLACKWOOD’S VALENTINE BALL (Book 1)
Author: Arabella Sheraton
Publisher: Bublish
Pages: 90 (novella)
Genre: Regency Romance

BOOK BLURB:

In this romantic traditional Regency novella, Patience Cherwell is resigned to a life of spinsterhood. Therefore, when her young friend, the lovely Lorna Hartley, comes to stay for a London season, she decides the eligible, charming Lord Blackwood is the perfect match for Lorna. Granted, Lord Blackwood, at forty, is much older than the vivacious 20-year-old Lorna, but Patience is determined to help her young friend make a good match. So why isn’t she happy when his lordship and Lorna seem to like each other’s company? The problem is that Patience is already madly in love with his lordship! An unexpected invitation arrives for Lorna and Patience to attend Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball. This is the perfect moment for him to propose to Lorna. Mysteriously, a corsage arrives from an anonymous admirer. Who is it for? And what will be the outcome for the wearer at Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball? Patience and Lord Blackwood’s enchanting story continues in The Lady’s Revenge.

PRAISE

“Set in the era of grace and chivalry, Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball by Arabella Sheraton is the heart-warming novella prequel to the more adventurous novel, The Lady’s Revenge. Written with similar charm and panache of Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice, this enchanting story captivates the reader and draws them into the vibrant life of Patience Cherwell. Patience’s loving and noble spirit is evident from the onset of the story; instantly capturing the reader. Despite the results that could lead to a lifetime of loveless solitude, Patience’s sacrifice of self for the love of a friend is gut-wrenching, yet profoundly noteworthy. This is a beautiful story of eternal love and redemption, and I highly recommend it to hopeless romantics.” – Amazon Reviewer 5 stars

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3vEp1Vd

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3vyAW6O

iBooks → https://apple.co/3p7GoLm

Kobo → https://bit.ly/3wJE8g7

Title: THE LADY’S REVENGE (Book 2)
Author: Arabella Sheraton
Publisher: Bublish
Pages: 186
Genre: Regency Romance

BOOK BLURB:

This engaging traditional Regency romance is the sequel to Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball. Miss Letitia DeVere decides that revenge is a dish best eaten cold when she returns to London after a two-year absence to find her former admirer Lord Charles Blackwood on the verge of proposing to Miss Patience Cherwell. Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball proved to be the turning point in his fledgling romance with Patience. Letitia is not the kind of woman who gives up easily, as Patience and Charles soon find out. She stops at nothing to achieve her aims. However, Letitia has a dark past, with secrets that threaten to return and destroy her newfound social success. When Charles proves less malleable than in the past, Letitia resorts to subterfuge, seduction, blackmail, and even violence to force him to propose. Will he see through her tricks and remain true to Patience, or will Letitia’s seductive wiles lure him back?

PRAISE

“The timing is one of the most wonderful things in this read, especially because of the various means of subterfuge and blackmail which are at play. Author Arabella Sheraton has a knack for timing her comedy and her suspense in just the right balance to keep that rompy pace going, just like authentic Regency novels should do. I can’t recommend this two-partner enough, or indeed the author herself and her other super-fun works. Readers with a modern mindset or a lack of historical knowledge might not fully ‘get’ the style, but if you’re someone that does, then you’re going to truly fall in love and want to keep stepping back into this world time and again, so give them a try!” – Amazon Reviewer 5 stars

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3vD5mER

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3vyAW6O

iBooks → https://apple.co/3fyBPH4

Kobo → https://bit.ly/3vPFZzK

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