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Great List of Books to read this winter!
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The Maintainers Arrive, from Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure
Posted by Duane Simolke
An excerpt from Degranon’s first chapter follows.

Lorfeltez suddenly realized that she had stopped speaking and that everyone had stopped listening, or even jeering. The Maintainers had arrived. They filed through the crowd like a swarm of insects, freely pushing and shoving with all the authority that their office granted them, elbowing several people, and pushing a few out the doorways.

Part of the crowd began disappearing, as if the weight of the entering officers forced them outside. However, many of them failed to move away in time, and the Maintainers freely grabbed at their collars or even punched at them, before finding the sources of the disruption.

A female Maintainer yanked the holo-projectors away, knocking them to the floor, then used the handle of her rifle to destroy them, sending hot metal parts and wires everywhere. One of the wires gashed a woman’s arm, sending out a small spurt of blood. Before even noticing her, the Maintainers quickly managed to handcuff all five men, even while the crowd continued to shift madly about, trying to escape. But then one of the Maintainers assisted the injured woman, holding his hand over the cut on her arm while obviously calling a healer with the transmitter in his ear.

Dr. Lorfeltez saw an elderly red woman in the audience, frail to the point that she had obviously lived beyond the virus’s benefits. One of the Maintainers waved his laser rifle around to scare away the remnants of the controversial gathering; he held the rifle at the center, his hand near the button.

It frightened Lorfeltez to see the Maintainer’s barrel sometimes pointing directly at the old woman. At least the other citizens could move quickly from his senseless demonstration of power, even if some of them ran in too many different directions for everyone to escape. As he swung it around again, the handle struck the old woman on the forehead, knocking her to the floor.

Surely that Maintainer sees what he’s doing, Lorfeltez thought. Just as some members of the crowd almost trampled the old woman, the handsome stranger pulled her up and helped her escape. 

Lorfeltez had wanted to intervene as well, but another Maintainer stood beside her, aiming a laser pistol at her. The Maintainer was an extremely tall black woman, but barely more than a teenager, with hair shooting out from her headband, reminding Lorfeltez of a docle flower, one of the few remaining flowers on Valchondria’s overly industrialized landscape. The absence of stripes on her uniform revealed her as a trainee, but she carried herself like a Top Maintainer.

“Dr. Lorfeltez,” she said, her voice brimming with Maintainer superiority, and her unusual height adding to that superiority. Lorfeltez had always hated being short, especially at times like this. The Maintainer continued: “I find you in conflict with the glory of Valchondria. To protect our children and our society, I hereby refrain you from public mobility. Any verbalization on your part will be considered heavy hazard. Do you recognize my guidance?”

Her dark brown eyes studied Lorfeltez. The self-confidence was real, but Lorfeltez could see that this Maintainer didn’t actually want to arrest her or stop her from voicing her concerns. Something existed between them: a sort of sisterhood, if such a thing could exist for two young women in a world with no siblings below the age of forty. 

But it was her job, her genetic destiny as someone with a Maintainer-quality genetic structure. That genetic structure reasserted itself. “I ask again, Dr. Lorfeltez: do you recognize my guidance?”

“I recognize it.” Lorfeltez clasped her hands together behind her back, her slender fingers grasping each other. It was the proper motion of surrender, and she imagined one of her own hands as that of her mother or her father, reaching out to comfort her in this moment of crisis. 

But they wouldn’t be holding her hand anymore. They had warned her to avoid the rally. “Think of your career,” her mother had said. Her father had said much worse: “Stay away from disruptive elements. If you don’t distance yourself from them, we’ll have no choice but to distance ourselves from you. Be maintained, if you want to be a part of this family.”
Degranon at Barnes & Noble
Degranon at GoodReads
Degranon at DuaneSimolke.Com
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There's More . . .

In the immediate aftermath of Thor’s tragic accident, both Body and Spirit lay motionless in mutual disbelief. Then, a stirring. Spirit’s first tug of separation. How difficult it was not to intervene, to utter comforting assurance. Soon, Spirit wrested itself free from the lower limbs, working its way through and beyond the vital organs, bidding sad adieu to the only earthly home it ever knew. Finally, Spirit pushed through the spinal cord and brain on its farewell tour, soon to exit from the top of the skull. Full separation was near when—and this always happens—severe angst set in.
What now? Thor’s Spirit wondered. What might await, if I continue on this uncharted path?
In a final desperate effort to reverse the process, Spirit sought reunion with Body by fighting its way back inside, revivifying dead cells, organs, and limbs. Only to discover the path so recently traveled now blocked, the gate sealed from the inside. No key in sight to enable reentry. Like parting lovers going their separate ways, Body and Spirit bade each other goodbye—the one land bound, “dust to dust,” the other adrift on an ebbing tide that beckoned to a shoreless sea. “Till we meet again.” Then, a mournful wail as the two lost sight of each other.
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Thanks to the Mayor of Booktown USA for posting this.
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Over My Dead Body

Kindle edition of Over My Dead Body
Syd snorted and thrust his chin toward his adversary. “Over my dead body.”

The man almost smiled. “If you insist,” he said easily.

Seventy-two year old Syd Cranzler squinted against the bright Texas October sun and scrutinized the well-dressed man in front of him. Syd was probably six inches shorter than the man, but Syd’s voice had more iron in it. “Was that a threat?”

“No sir, Mr. Cranzler,” Duke Heinz said.

Syd didn’t like this city slicker, wouldn’t have even if he weren’t trying to steal Syd’s homestead. Even Duke’s clothes irritated him. The conservative black pinstriped suit, power-red tie and black wing-tips polished to perfection made the man look like he was posing for a magazine picture in New York City. And what was this “Duke” bit? Did he think he was John Wayne? “Why don’t you just mosey on down the road a mile?” He jerked his hand up and pointed. “Lots of land there.”

They stood on pine needles under three towering trees. Forty feet behind them was Syd’s small, frame house, looking like a giant, square tumbleweed.

Bud Wilcox, Pine Tree’s City Manager, pushed his straw hat back a little and took a step forward. “Syd, Pine Tree wants this shopping center here, inside the city limits. Think of all the tax revenue we’ll get.”

“So’s you can waste even more’n you do now? It ain’t your house and land, Pipsqueak.”

Bud reddened at the nickname Syd often used on him, but kept his mouth shut.

A mud-caked ‘92 Camaro rattled to a stop half off the black-top road. A man got out and started across the yard to where Syd was shaking his finger at Bud.

Duke started to speak, but Syd cut him off. “And don’t tell me again it’s twice what it’s worth. You don’t know what it’s worth to me. And what’s this ‘fee simple’ bit?” He cocked his head to the side. “You think I’m simple? Take your money and go back to Jersey.”

Bud waggled his balding head. “It’s a lot of dollars.”

“He don’t need your money,” said the man from the Camaro. “He stole enough from me.”

“Stay out of it, W.C.,” Syd snapped. But his focus never left Duke. “You keep your money; I’ll keep my land.”

Duke spread his hands. “Mr. Cranzler, the Supreme Court says eminent domain can be used to obtain land needed for a project in the public interest.”

“I know all ‘bout the Supreme Court, and how they trampled all over people’s property rights. I’d like to see some private company try to take the land they live on. They’d change their tune right fast. But that case was decided for a Yankee town. This is Texas. We still believe in property rights down here. And this ain’t in the public interest. It’s in Lockey Corporation’s interest.”

Duke smiled as he pulled a folded paper from the inside pocket of his coat. “Here’s the court order, and it’s signed by a judge right here in Texas.” He held the paper out to Syd.

Syd ignored it. “Judge McFatage, right? He’d sign anything for a price.”

Bud Wilcox leaned in. “Now, Syd, you shouldn’t talk about the Honorable McFatage that way.”

“Honorable, my foot. He’s for sale. Common knowledge. You know what they say: he’s the best judge money can buy. And it looks like Lockey’s the buyer.”

“Look, Mr. Cranzler,” Duke said. “We’re going to start dirt work in three weeks. I’d like to have all the paperwork in order by then. You’ve lost this fight. You might as well recognize that. You can delay signing. But by fighting this, you may end up getting less money and paying a lot of it to lawyers. You can’t stop it. This project will be built. And it starts in three weeks.”

“Three weeks?” Syd pulled on his chin and a sly grin crept onto his leathery face. “I’m bettin’ my lawyer’ll have my appeal filed before then. And I’m thinkin’ I can tie this up for years. You sure Lockey wants to wait that long?” His head bobbed up and down as he continued. “Be a lot faster to go somewheres else.” Now he laughed. “Bet they’re gonna cut you loose when this don’t happen. Can your butt.”

Duke’s smile faded and his eyes turned hard. “Two months from now, this will all be asphalt.”

“Like I said, over my dead body.”

Duke put the paper back in his pocket. “Old man, you’ll hardly make a bump in the pavement.”
Kindle edition of Over My Dead Body
http://amzn.to/1N2t3hz

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From My New Release

From "Stress Fractures" - A new release by author Cathleen Maza - Eighteen stories of life, love, and loss. Available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017ON4R0O       
      "I can do it," she whispers in my ear, "After what we did here today, I feel as if I've finally found my voice."
       And in her embrace I can feel myself start to tremble. I drop the empty urn to the pier with a hollow thud. I pull her closer to me and begin to sob. I now feel free enough to be able to cry for my mother, my sister, and myself.
       After a few moments, Casey gently tries to pull away, but I don't allow her to. I don't want her to break our embrace. And I wonder at how, for the first time in our lives, I have become the one who does not let go.
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Innocence - A Short Story from Award Winning Author Mary Deal
#free   #ebooks   #Shortstory   #BookTownUSA   #MaryDeal  
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Excerpt from the short story: The Name Game by J.D. Holiday

Here is an excerpt from a short story that is called  The Name Game 
from a collection of short stories called, 
Stories And Imaginings For The Reading Spot.
http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Imaginings-Reading-Spot-Holiday/dp/09...
This  was inspired by a story my father wrote.  My  father wrote a story based on what happen to my sister when she was on the game show in the 1950's, I've Got A Secret with Gary Moore. My story has nothing what-so-ever to do with what he wrote. Just the premise.  ~JD Holiday
http://jdholiday.blogspot.com/
Set up: Kelly has been on the TV show, The Name Game and here is what happened at school the next day.

From The Name Game:

The day after I dreaded going to school. That was where I knew the bullies would be waiting to pick on me. But what was surprising was I didn't see Simon or his gang a day.
All day long teachers and kids had a smile, high five, fist bump, 'you were great' or "that was awesome,” or some other praise for me. I liked it! And it made me forgot about Simon altogether, until....
After school, Cole and I got to the corner on Brown Avenue, just two blocks from my house, so close, and I would have miss this encounter. Simon, Eddie, Evan and Joe came around the corner. Cole was the lucky one. He was the one who bolted, sprinting deer style before I could think of it. Besides, they were after me.
"How was playing a woman, little girl. Ha-ha-ha." Simon tried mimicking a girl's voice, but he sound like the goofy kid his is.
I kept walking and cringing while I waited for the smack to the head.
Simon bumped chests with me, "Answer me!" he shouted, giving me the smack to the back of my head.
"Did that hurt, Kelly?"
Rubbing my head, I turn to see my tall big brother, James right behind me.
James just stared at Simon. "Kelly's head is probably hurting. So you can ask me. What do you want to know?"
"Ammm," Simon started. He must have thought better of messing with James. James was a easy a foot and a half taller than him. Instead, Simon shuddered stepping back toward his friends as they turned and headed back down the street.
"If you have anything else to ask Kelly, come find me. I'll answer you.
Better yet, I'll find you if I have to," James told their backs.
James softly squeezed my shoulder leading me toward home. "How long has this been going on?"
"Well, all year really," I owned up to still rubbing my head.
"Why didn't you say anything?" James asked quietly, his head turned to see my face.
I told a deep breath. "I didn't... well, you know, it seem that it was something I had to deal with. And I'd look like I can't take care of myself, so I thought I better try," I admitted.
"Kelly, he's bigger than you. In that case, it's okay to ask me to help you.
I can handle kids like him. If you don't come back at a bully, they'll keep it up. If you think you can't handle him or anybody else, you tell me, okay?" James smiled and rubbed my sore head.

NOTE: This story is dedicated to my James: Doris Winterberg.
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From Secrets Behind the Big Pencil
Posted by Helen Dunn Frame

As Ralph walked into an inner office at the Military Support System in San Francisco, he felt an eerie sensation that he associated with entering a sacred sanctum. After a long wait, the secretary showed him into the office. Paul Heinz did not look up. While Ralph stood waiting, shifting his bulky frame from one foot to the other, he glanced around the room lit with two long florescent bulbs to avoid laughing aloud because he thought that the skinny man behind the desk resembled a small child that could barely reach the table. He observed World War II vintage office furniture, not at all in style in 1970, and bare walls except for a few certificates. The usual family photo was lost among the many papers on the desk.
Finally, Paul Heinz slowly lifted his eyes, which stood out like giant marbles over his half glasses. He looked Ralph up and down and back up. His face showed no expression. Ralph wondered if his sartorial appearance was lost on this man.
“Sit down, Mr. Carter.”
His low voice sounded almost like a growl, as he nodded toward the chair in front of his desk. Ralph sat down carefully because it was barely large enough to accommodate his six-foot-three, two hundred and ninety-five pound frame. Since his ex-wife had dropped her bombshell, he had gained thirty pounds.
“Who are you?” The low growl continued menacingly from across the sea of papers.
“What do you mean?” Taken aback by the question, Ralph did not know how to respond.
“I mean, who are you? We don't know anything about you. I checked with all the vendors and reps. No one has ever heard of you. Not one person. What’s your background Carter?”
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The Making of Jake McTavish Chapter 6
 
 It was May 16, 1887 when Egan and four other men rode up to the cabin. Jake had just finished having lunch and was on his way out, intending to ride around the cattle.
Jake was feeling cocky and proud of himself. Of the hundred and fifty cows he first started out with he still had one hundred and four. They had also increased their numbers with sixty-three calves, which was not a great rate of reproduction, but considering that the cows were all malnourished and many had wounds, it was a good number. Besides, other people Jake had talked with had lost far more. Some had lost most of their herds.
When the five men rode up Egan opened his mouth as if he was about to say something but the man riding beside him, the only one with a full beard, spoke first. “You get out of here saddle tramp, and be damn careful what you take with you. Everything here is mine.”
Jake hung his jacket on the saddle horn, turned slowly, jacked a round into his rifle and fired a round under the man’s horse. A dirt geyser peppered the horse’s belly slightly. The mount liked neither the blast nor the geyser, reared slightly and then bucked. By the time it hit the ground Jake had chambered another round and fired again. When Jake fired the third round the horse took off bucking across the prairie. The other four horses were backing, humping, and dancing. Jake’s mount, used to him shooting wolves, coyotes and wounded cattle turned his head to watch the antics of his equine brethren with some interest.
 www.dmmcgowan.blogspot.com
Below is a repeat of something I posted a year ago to honor (specifically) two remarkable and (generally) a few hundred thousand. Since November 11th has only been "Remembrance Day" (under more than one name) since 1919 and t...
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One's true destiny cannot be altered. Or can it?

EVANGELINE: The Seer of Wall St., historical fiction. A descendant of presidents John and John Quincy Adams, and the black sheep of her family, astrologer Evangeline Adams flees provincial Boston in 1899 to launch her business in New York City. On the train ride, she casts her own horoscopic chart. Her findings--death on November 10, 1932 and an unusual intimate union--alarm her. Soon after, she meets actress and suffragist Emma Sheridan-Fry, and she spends the rest of her life torn between society's restrictions and the trail-blazing nature that made her one of the most prominent female businesswomen of her time. Peopled with real historical figures, including J.P. Morgan, King Edward VII, Enrico Caruso, Rudolph Valentino, Charles Schwab, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Sheridan-Fry and occult figure Aleister Crowley, Evangeline The Seer of Wall St. immerses readers in a New York populated with the Wall Street wealthy and the downtrodden, all of whom visited Evangeline's Carnegie Hall office.

Excerpt
Six thousand five hundred and seventy days remain in my life, according to my astrological calculations. As a woman of society, now a rather mature woman, decorum prevents me from divulging how many days have come prior. My first began in Jersey City, New Jersey, a locale some might regard as unbefitting a member of America's First Family, but a start to my destiny nonetheless. Nearly three years after the reunification of America's North and South, on an overcast and gusty Saturday, February eighth, at precisely eight-thirty in the morning, the pendulum attached to my internal clock took its initial swing. Its continued movement is something I've learned to never take for granted.

"Make every moment count...as if your life depends on it," my most loyal client, financier J.P. Morgan, always said while straightening the line of his eyebrows with his forefingers. Wise words from an extraordinary man, a titan whose few vulnerabilities, according to him, were divulged only to me. J.P. never wasted time, or opportunities. This afternoon, I've taken his example to heart. I plan to create a moment that will live on forever. Today, I'll stand firm and show everyone that I truly do matter.http://amzn.to/1Sqk87D
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