Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir #bookreviews

Title: The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketing Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively

Author: Nina Amir
Genre: Nonfiction/Publishing
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Purchase at Amazon

Publishing a book is every writer's dream.  I have been published every which way but loose and I am still learning the process.  Every day there's a new way to do something and it's something else I must learn.  How I wish I had The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir to guide me along when I first started.  I would have not made costly mistakes I'm sure.

Anything related to writing, publishing and marketing books I am so there.  My life revolves around all three and Amir's book is so chocked full of useful tidbits of information it makes my head swim at how great they are.

Certain points in the book stood out for me.  Like the average nonfiction sells 250 copies per year and that nonfiction outsells fiction.  Wowsers.  Also, the average yearly ebook sales are about the  same as print book sales, possibly just a tad higher.  In my experience though, ebook sales definitely outsell print but I think in order for this to happen, there has to be some kind of promotion behind it.

Amir suggests you must create a business plan for your product before you introduce it into the marketplace.  I so agree with this.  She takes you step by step to make it easier.  She shows you how to write book proposals, something most authors struggle with.  What I like about this book is that each chapter is a step.  By completing each step, you work toward a greater product and one that sells.  I especially liked Step #2 - Know What Your Book is About and Why Someone Would Want to Read It.  You would be surprised at how many authors fail to do this.  Step #5 is another good one - Examine the Structure of Your Book - one of my favorite chapters because this is where you define your book and it is often called the overview which includes how to create your table of contents, dilineating chapters, and how to mind map your book.  

Another chapter I loved was Step#7 - Discover Ways to Brand Yourself and Earn More Money.  I lvoe the tip about how to spin your book into multiple titles and a brand.  It's nice to know how the books you write can support you in becoming who you want to be

Pretty interesting stuff.

P.S. Love the sample mini-proposals and business plans at the back of the book.

Because I feel this book would be great for aspiring as well as seasoned authors, I give this book five book trees.

My Rating:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Hair of the Corn Dog by A.K. Turner #bookreviews

Title: Hair of the Corn Dog
Genre: Humor
Author: A.K. Turner
Publisher: Fever Streak Press
Pages: 220
Format: Hardcover/Kindle
Purchase at Amazon

I have always said I should write a book about my own dysfunctional family only no one would believe it.  When I picked up Hair of the Corn Dog by A.K. Turner, I knew I was going to be in for a night of belly-laughing.  I have a motto.  If you can't laugh at yourself, no one can, and A.K. had me in stitches the whole time I was reading about her own hilarious life which I could so relate to.

The book is divided into many stories about her family life and reading through these, well, I couldn't stop reading.  I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to them next.  Might I say I was thoroughly entertained at Turner's expense, lol.

My favorite part was when they swapped houses and left their home in Idaho to stay in New Jersey for a month.   Hi-larious.  They literally turned Jersey upside down.  Then when they get home, they discover the renters who had their house had a dog when she explicitly remembered she said no dogs.  As it turned out, there was a clause she had added that they could have a small pet and she could have smacked herself for not remembering it.  Haven't we all been there, done that?  But while they were there, it was one mishap after another and I had several laugh out loud moments and I'm still laughing about it thinking about it.

Turner does an excellent job at keeping our funny bone tickled. This is humor at its awesomness! I so loved this book and I know you will too so I give this five book trees!

Book Watch: Ghost of the Gods by Kevin Bohacz #bookwatch

Title: Ghost of the Gods
Genre: Techno-Thriller
Author: Kevin Bohacz
Publisher: Mazel & Sechel
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Was it the accumulated wounds to the environment that had finally triggered the nanotech plague or was it simply one more step in a shrewdly crafted plan to replace us with humans 2.0? As I write this at least one pair of these transhumans breathe the same air as us, and there are likely many more. They may look like us, they may even be almost human, but they are also cybernetic and will live for an extraordinary length of time. Trust me, their goals are not the same as ours. It was not a natural plague that almost drove humankind to extinction but an attack from within, turning our own biology against us. Scientists discovered all too late an artificial entity, a sentient machine foolishly created in the image of god, had been studying us and genetically altering us for longer than we can imagine. Perhaps it is because of this god-machine that we evolved into creatures who can think and speak and know our own mortality? This silicon god is so different from us that we may never truly understand it, but what we do know is that it is terrifyingly intelligent and it hates us. What we do know is that it tried to eradicate us from the face of our planet and then stopped for no discernible reason. What we do know is that its work is not done.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Get Hooked: Of Dreams and Shadow by D.S. McKnight

Welcome to Get Hooked, a weekly feature at The Literary Nook.  What better way for readers to find out about fantastic books than to get a glimpse inside!  We feature a short book excerpt or even the whole first chapter so that you'll know if you're hooked enough to read on.  If you are hooked, please click the buy link.

Today we're featuring Of Dreams and Shadow by D.S. McKnight on Get Hooked at The Literary Nook!

Title: Of Dreams and Shadow
Author: D.S. McKnight
Publisher: Stone Bay Press
Pages: 286
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

We live.  We die.  Is there anything more?  Jenna Barton is about to find out.  After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson’s Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child.  Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession.  With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.

Book Excerpt:

                                       June 17, 1997
Details…they were the making or breaking of any plan and he
felt sure that his plan was perfect. He surveyed the yard one last
time, slid back into his hiding place and waited. It wouldn’t be
long now. She would open the door and come out to play as she
did every morning: swinging, pulling her wagon, playing with her
doll. Only this morning would be different, this morning would
be special.
      Laying in her wagon was his gift, a necklace he had taken from
his mother. He was certain Sarah would love it. A door slammed,
pulling his attention from the wagon to the patio where the little
girl stood.
      “Big…black…bug’s blood,” she said slowly. And then, looking
rather pleased with herself, she continued a bit faster, “Big, black
bug’s blood, big black blugs blug, blig black blug’s blug.” Shaking
her head, she stepped off the patio, “I don’t like bugs anyway…well,
maybe ladybugs…and butterflies,” Sarah added as a swallowtail
fluttered by.
      Sarah found herself following the butterfly’s trail, stopping
when it lit upon a flower and continuing on as it once again took
flight.  “Come back butterfly,” she called as the butterfly
flitted from place to place, always just out of her reach. The
tinkling sound of her laughter floated across the yard to his
hiding place. He couldn’t believe his luck. It seemed that fate
was lending him a hand as the butterfly fluttered ever closer to
the wagon.
      Just a little further, sweet Sarah.
      She stopped, looked up at the butterfly as it changed course,
then set off in the opposite direction. He clinched his fist. Fate,
he thought, is like a fickle strumpet. But patience on the other hand,
was quite the virtuous lady. Damn. He hated virtuous ladies. And
strumpets…they weren’t any better.
      The swallowtail, perhaps tired of playing the game, circled
around and carried Sarah back toward the wagon. Its flight was
now one of purpose. It had nectar to collect and flowers to pollinate
and a curious little girl was a hindrance. The butterfly, however,
didn’t need to worry. It had lost Sarah’s attention. She had seen the
      Picking up the silver chain, she watched as the blue stones
glistened in the sunlight. It was the most beautiful thing she had
ever seen. Sarah slid the necklace over her head and ran back to the
house calling out for her mother.
      Liza Jones opened the door. “Is everything okay, Sweetie?”
      Sarah lifted the pendant. “See what I found.” Her voice dropped
to a whisper, as she looked over her shoulder. “Do you think a fairy
dropped it?”
      Liza shook her head. “I don’t know about a fairy, but someone
certainly did.” She put out her hand. “I think maybe you should
give the necklace to me. We don’t know whose it is.”
      Sarah’s lip began to tremble. “But I found it and it’s so pretty.
Can’t I please wear it for a little while? I won’t lose it.”
      Liza smiled as she touched her daughter’s cheek. She hated
telling her no. “Okay, as long as you’re careful. But when we find
out who owns it, no tears.”
      “No tears, Mommy,” Sarah agreed. “I promise.”
      Liza closed the door, her mind already going over the phone
calls she needed to make. She felt certain that one of the neighbor’s
children had been exploring in their mother’s jewelry box.
      Smiling, Sarah whirled around and set off for the swings. Her
soft caramel curls, caught in a ponytail, danced about as she skipped
across the backyard. She hoped her mommy couldn’t find the owner
of the necklace.
      As she sat in the swing and pushed off with her feet, Sarah
noticed her shadow. It moved along the sand, stretching out just as
she did. Higher and higher she went, her shadow following below.
Taking a flying leap from the swing, Sarah sailed through the air,
landed on the soft grass and toppled over. Giggling, she righted
herself. Her shadow did the same. And so the game of chase began.
      Like a small rabbit, Sarah scampered across the lawn, her
little feet swiftly changing course. Sometimes, depending on the
direction she was going, Sarah noticed that she was being chased by
her shadow. Other times, she was doing the chasing.
      The slamming of the neighbor’s back door didn’t go unnoticed.
Boys! She thought to herself as she wheeled in the opposite direction,
making sure to avoid the fence. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw
the neighbor boy peeking over the pickets.
      As she neared the back of the yard, Sarah slowed to a walk,
sat down, and leaned against a large boulder, her shadow all but
forgotten. She fingered the silver chain before carefully lifting the
pendant. Blue stones surrounded a small crystal, reminding her of
the flowers that grew in her mother’s garden. “Buttercup, Poppy,
Forget-Me-Not,” Sarah recited her favorite nursery rhyme, “These
three bloomed in a garden spot—” her soft voice trailed away to
nothing as the sensation of being watched rolled over her.
      Sarah lifted her eyes from the necklace and glanced toward the
wood line, looking for anything that seemed out of place. Seeing
nothing out of the ordinary, she continued to search the yard,
looking for the source of her discomfort. She paused, realizing that
the only place left to look was behind her. The hair on her arms
began to rise as did the instinctual feeling to run to safety. Slowly,
she turned her head to look over her shoulder. Her eyes rested on
the dark figure standing behind her right shoulder.
      “Shadow?” she asked in a bewildered voice.
      “Who else could it be?” hissed the childlike apparition as it
took position between Sarah and her house. A ragged whimper
wrenched from deep in Sarah’s throat, her eyes darted, looking for
an escape but seeing none. From across the fence, the frightened
eyes of the neighbor boy found hers, his small hand waved for her
to run.
      “Mommy!” she cried out, her eyes welling with tears.
      “Thy mother hearest thou not, sweet Sarah,” the specter hissed
as it took a step closer to the child.
      Sarah’s mind told her to flee yet her body refused to move.
Tears streamed down her face. The shadowy figure looked over
its shoulder at the house. Satisfied, it turned its attention back to
Sarah. Cocking its head to the side as though in thought, Sarah’s
silhouette paused for just a moment before lunging and engulfing
the child. Sarah had no time to scream. She was gone, swallowed
by the blackness that was the shadow. The dark figure of the little
girl stretched upward and outward as it shifted into the dark shape
of a man.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Get Hooked: Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness by Gulten Dye

Welcome to Get Hooked, a weekly feature at The Literary Nook.  What better way for readers to find out about fantastic books than to get a glimpse inside!  We feature a short book excerpt or even the whole first chapter so that you'll know if you're hooked enough to read on.  If you are hooked, please click the buy link.

Today we're featuring Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness by Gulten Dye on Get Hooked at The Literary Nook!

Title: Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness
Author: Guten Dye
Publisher: Guten Dye Publishing Company
Pages: 205
Language: English
Genre: Self-Help
Format: Paperback & eBook

Purchase at AMAZON

This book is about self-discovery and the journey that awakened me to the many facets of life. The road hasn’t always been easy with its tolls and junctions. It’s about my struggle to discover who I really am, what I believe in and how I’ve arrived at a place where I am able to appreciate myself and my surroundings.

Most of my life I lived in a state of arrested consciousness without being aware of it. Then one day out of nowhere my eyes opened just enough for me to question my way of living and my state of mind. That was the day questions started to arrive. They were nothing like the questions I had before. As if they weren’t even questions they were an unraveling string of realizations followed by overwhelming sorrow. How could I have lived my life as if I was in a semi coma and in turn induce my own suffering?

Of course in the beginning of seeing I didn’t realize that my eyes would open slightly from time to time to give me an illusion of happiness, but because I had no idea what true happiness was I would drift back to my state of familiarity. I lived my life mostly on an automatic life-sustaining machine by my body without my mind interfering with it.

It is my hope that the stories I share with you will somehow touch your heart, perhaps crack open a door and shine a light for you to embark on your own quest of self-discovery. I don’t presume to have all the answers; I don’t even know all the questions. At the very least, I am seeking to understand and allow life to happen; learning to take responsibility and ownership of myself and my actions, and appreciating all that is.

Read the chapters, each on its own. As you move through them, you will uncover my intermittent consciousness as I explore my thoughts or beliefs and might be able to even get a glimpse of my evolution along the way. 

I am blessed to have had so many people touch my life and, knowingly or unknowingly, helped me on my journey. I have come to realize that because we are all one, that anything I come to know and am willing to share with others affects all of us in a positive way. With great humility, I open up my imperfect, yet perfect, life for you to walk beside me. I am forever grateful and honored. 

First Chapter:

Clinical rotations started during the second year in nursing school. As you can imagine, after being in school for a year and not even seeing the inside of the hospital other than the morgue, was boring and seemed like a waste of time for a nursing student who chose her profession to be around the patients. Who needs microbiology when you can be in the middle of the action, in the hospital with patients?

Although we had a few boys in our lab technician division, our mostly female boarding school was kind of exciting, especially when we lined up in front of the school bus in our uniforms to go to the hospital. There were thirty-five girls, who were divided into groups of seven in my class. One of the criteria for graduation was that we all had to rotate to every clinic in the hospital over a three-year span.

Nursing student uniforms are definitely different than the all so exotic nurses’ uniforms. Our pale blue, cotton, short sleeved, tent-like dress buttoned all the way up to our chin. We always had to wear white stockings, white shoes and a white cap. We had to put our hair in a bun under our cap and were not allowed to have long nails, make-up or any jewelry.

In the winter, we wore a long, dark blue cape to stay warm. All in all, I think that our uniforms were designed on purpose to make even the most beautiful girl unattractive. But no matter what we were wearing, we all thought we were all that at the time.

First rotations consisted of behind-the-scene things like, diagnostic and research labs, allergy and immunization clinics, and home health. One of my personal favorites was home health. That was when one of our teachers would take us to visit families in mostly lower income neighborhoods. We would teach them about birth control, childcare and the importance of having regular check-ups.

Since they knew of our visit, it was customary in Turkey to “force feed” anyone who dared to pass by your home, and we were always fed delicious food. Our visits were always in the afternoon, and like the English, we love our hot tea, pastries, tea biscuits and cookies.  It was these that we were mostly served. At times, someone would really go out of their way and feed us traditional foods, which were heavenly.

Even with all the food I loved eating, I didn't want to teach home health. I grew up doing most of that with my mother. She was a midwife nurse, and besides delivering babies, one of her many job descriptions was to teach home health, and I often tagged along with her. My job as a child was to help Mom do all that.

I wanted to go to the hospital where the patients were, or so I thought at the time, anyway. But, then again, those rotations which lasted 3 months were still much more exciting than being stuck in a classroom all day long.

Besides being in the huge university hospital, no matter what clinic we had to go to was beyond anything I had known up to this point. Each clinic was like a small city unto itself, housing several buildings, each several stories high.

There wasn't a day that went by that I personally didn't experience or live drama through the stories of other students. Each night after mandatory study sessions, we would gather on our beds and share mind-blowing stories until our mandated bedtime.
Although it did not become clear to me until years later, there was no emotional attachment to the labs, morgues or in teaching home health. Personally, as long as I didn’t come into contact with a patient in human form, it was easier for me to deal with anything that had to do with paperwork.

It felt somewhat unreal to find cancer cells with a microscope in someone’s blood in a lab and then be the one to document on a piece of paper their unfortunate fate.  It was as if it were a game, not reality. But it was quite different to hear the news of someone you only met once that he has cancer. No matter how interesting it was to be in the lab and to search for diseased cells, it still wasn’t my cup of tea.

As the rotations continued, I remember moments that had rendered me speechless.  One such moment was when I saw a dead body for the first time. It was shocking! It was even more shocking to cut with a blade on a dead body, all in the name of science.

When a patient I got to know passed away, I felt deep grief.  Early on, I somewhat understood that getting to know the patients wasn't a brilliant idea. I don’t think anyone intentionally wanted us to learn any life lessons; rather, overall, going to the clinics was designed to make us mechanical caretakers of the body, and its needs.

But you would have to be dead inside not to be affected by what goes on in human lives in and around the hospitals. I stared straight into the fearful eyes of people who were in intense pain...people who looked at me, deep into my eyes, with a need for compassion. Some even reached to grab my hand to ask for mercy to stop their pain and misery.  At the time of its happening, I didn't pay attention to my real emotions or the attached lessons since I was pretending to be very strong.  They surfaced years later.

But, let’s get real! Of course, we were all affected from such a dramatic work place! After those rotations, often a student would drop out of school since it was hard for most to handle such things on a daily basis. Unlike most work places, mine was full of saintly lessons if your heart was wide open. In hospitals, humans are most vulnerable. They willingly or unwillingly must let their guards down, and they have to trust and depend on total strangers. It is very humbling, to say the least. Usually in such a place, ego has to go into its dormant state and, in my opinion, where it should remain for eternity.

In a hospital, human drama in every stage is out in the open for all to witness. Often, after we or someone we know gets critically ill or is dying, we crumble. As students, we crumbled along with the patients and their families to almost the same small pieces under the heavy burden. Witnessing and being a part of human suffering on a daily basis has its difficulties, especially when you are very young. In such an environment, you don't get to take your time to grow up. You sort of grow up over night.

Not all things that make you grow up in a hospital are considered suffering. In the beginning, there are mostly times of hardship where you get to learn your lesson often under very rough circumstances. Though your fate is being tested on an hourly basis, if you allow it, this is a place you can become saintly after many tears, heartaches and lessons. Even if your heart is too small, you are sort of forced by nature to become more compassionate in your caring for others.

At the end of our required four-year education, which at the time felt like a long, dreaded winter, we completed our metamorphosis beyond any shadow of a doubt, but without the few students who had to drop out. We emerged as beautiful butterflies.

I know and acknowledge the need and the importance of a nurse in human existence. Beyond the ideal glory job, I don’t think there is much glory in nursing. Like anyone else who has had hands-on job training around the critically ill, no one can ever claim they didn't cry at one time or another.

I remember questioning the existence of God through tears after witnessing the death of a young child with leukemia in the Pediatric Oncology unit. I remember feeling overwhelming sorrow, while watching a person shrivel right before my eyes, after hearing the news of losing a loved one in the emergency room. I remember being crazy afraid to forget to give someone their pain pill and cause them further suffering.    

There were a few occasions when the fear I felt was not for someone else, but was for me. Like the time when my teacher locked the door behind me, right after I had entered the male lock-down psychiatric unit. For years, I couldn't shake off the feeling of being dragged through the long hallways.

In reality, what had happened as soon as she locked the door behind me, a chain-smoking, smelly, male patient grabbed me by my arm and made me walk with him what seemed like an eternity until one of the unit nurses came to my rescue. It’s not that she really cared to rescue me because it wasn't a secret among students those days in Turkey that while most nurses sat behind their desk and chain-smoked, we had to do all their chores. And believe it or not, in 1987, I even remember smoking in the lounge of a surgery center where I worked in Shreveport, Louisiana. Wow! Imagine that!  Thank God, times have changed!

Sometimes, though not nearly enough, there were divine moments where your faith was restored and reminded you of the other side of the coin. Like the times I, along with other students, breathed in and out for long periods and began puffing with the women who were in labor, bringing new life into this world; or when I was the one delivering the news after just learning that after a long, fierce battle that someone was cancer-free, and together through tears of joy, we shared a life-affirming moment.

Although I remember some of those feelings and recall them as my memories, they are now mostly faded like background noise, and only occasionally occupy my mind.

But there is one memory of a moment still as fresh as the day of its happening. In my third year of nursing school, we were given more and more responsibilities, such as working in places like the Burn Care Units, Intensive Care Units and the operating rooms. By this time, I was becoming a cockier, seasoned pro and I knew it.  However, it soon became apparent how little I knew. I never will forget the moment when I carelessly walked into one of the rooms in the step- down Intensive Care Unit. I literally felt all my blood draining, rushing out of my body. I froze at the sight of a patient who was in a semi-coma.

There was a young girl in a hospital bed, her body propped up with the help of several pillows. Her head had slipped to its side and was now tilted at an angle. It almost looked as if she were looking down, but had lifted her head halfway to look at you without straightening her body. Her eyes were unnaturally open. After my initial shock wore off, I noticed a large ventilator with a thick, white tube going from the machine to an opening in her neck.

I later learned that she was in her early twenties and had slipped into a coma seven years earlier due to a brutal car accident. She now was in a semi coma, her life being sustained with the help of the external ventilator.  For me, the most haunting thing was her eyes. Her eyelids had atrophied due to years of not using them, leaving her eyes exposed. Although her eyes were open, they were empty like someone had sucked the life right out of them, but forgot to do the same thing to her body. She was alive, but without the presence of emotions. There appeared to be no signs of life in her.

After the first day, I somehow got used to her just lying there. Each day, we would care for her with the help of her devoted family. It was like taking care of an infant, but because her body was much larger, it made it harder for us to handle her. It usually took two of us to care for her needs. Besides the usual need to change her diaper, give her a bed bath, comb her hair and brush her teeth, there were added things, like cleaning the tracheotomy site, suctioning her airway, and nourishing her with a feeding tube.

Since her circulation was diminished, we would have to reposition her to prevent bedsores, which were deadly for anyone in her condition. When we turned her and tried to exercise her limbs, she would moan an almost invisible moan. At times, while I massaged her frail body with talc powder, I would think to myself, “Why bother, as if after all these years later, she will wake up and have a life that is worth living?” In my mind, I was thinking since she was not conscious of what was going on around her and could not control her bodily functions, she would not experience feelings nor would she have the ability to interact, experience awareness or make the choice that her life was not worth living.

After I spent two days a week with this girl for several months, I went into her room one day and found the bed empty.

“She must have passed away,” I thought. As I inched my way to the usual hustle of the busy nurse’s station, I was surprised at my conflicting emotions. On one hand, I felt the same emptiness inside of me as I did after the passing of each patient I had come to know.  On the other hand, I was happy for her. Her suffering finally had come to an end. Afraid of looking weak, I didn’t want to ask if she had died.

But soon I could not overcome my curiosity as I heard myself asking in a small voice, “Did she die?”

“No,” said one of the nurses.  “She went home!”

“She went home?” I repeated back, without being able to hide my shock.

“Yes, she went home.” repeated the nurse before handing me a list of things that had to be done that morning.

Apparently, one day, out of nowhere, she had regained her consciousness. Did that mean that she could now breathe on her own, and have voluntary movements? Did that mean she could now see when she looked? Did that mean she is now like the rest of us in a semi-coma in consciousness only? Her brain might be back to do its job and to take care and help sustain her body, but her state of mind will remain in the state of Intermittent Consciousness.

To tell you the truth, at the time, I was not awake enough to have noticed such thoughts. Not until years later did I have enough clarity to question what it means to wake up after seven years of being in a coma.

From that shocking moment up until now, many years have passed. Along the way, I experienced rare moments of pure joy, as if I could zoom in and see myself and everything around me with such clarity, in great detail. In those rare moments, I felt intense aliveness. I often felt like I could fly! It was as if I were a butterfly, who landed on each and every flower petal to take a closer look. I could smell scents I didn’t even know existed. I not only saw the colors of things, but the depth of the colors themselves. In those fleeting moments, I felt utter contentment, peace and happiness. I didn’t know to question where these feelings of bliss came from or if I had the power to make it happen more often. In my innocent ignorance, I attributed those moments of random happiness to external conditions outside of me because they usually happened during long, intimate moments, while dancing, or after a super long walk in the wilderness.

I thought that the other person or the condition was the cause of my happiness. So when I felt that way, I believed that I was in love with that person and wanted him to give me more of those moments. As for dancing, I went every weekend and danced for four or five hours nonstop. I didn’t understand that when I experienced those moments of joy, even if only for a split second, my overloaded brain stopped thinking and went into a meditative state where all mental chatter ceased. It was only then that I became aware of all the beauty around me. Since I had not heard about Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, or Eckhart Tolle at the time, I went on living my life on an automatic invisible life sustaining machine, wishing for more of those moments.

It took years of mental suffering before I learned the simple truth about living in the present moment. I seldom had moments of clarity. Conscious presence was a rare occurrence for me. Even when I had moments of clarity, I wasn't aware of them until years later. It would take me years to get to this point of feeling alive and being able to zoom into my inner self, as well as the inner self of all those other beings around me.

There is a real joy of knowing the way to true happiness that doesn’t depend on outer conditions.

Perhaps you will find the story of my Intermittent Consciousness and my search for enlightenment resonate with you, or better yet, start to awaken something within you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Get Hooked: Immortality by Kevin Bohacz

Welcome to Get Hooked, a weekly feature at The Literary Nook.  What better way for readers to find out about fantastic books than to get a glimpse inside!  We feature a short book excerpt or even the whole first chapter so that you'll know if you're hooked enough to read on.  If you are hooked, please click the buy link.

Today we're featuring Immortality by Kevin Bohacz on Get Hooked at The Literary Nook!

Title: Immortality Genre: Techno-Thriller Author: Kevin Bohacz Publisher: CPrompt Pages: 389 Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at Amazon
Without warning, something has gone terribly awry. In the remote and unnoticed places of the world, small pockets of death begin occurring. As the initially isolated extinctions spread, the world’s eyes focus on this unimaginable horror and chaos. Out of the ecological imbalance, something new and extraordinary is evolving and surviving to fill the voids left by these extinctions. Evolution is operating in ways no one could have expected and environmental damage may be the catalyst. Once discovered, this knowledge changes everything.

Amazon Forest: January, present day.

The rainforest had a humid, earthy smell that reminded him of home. Diego was twenty-two years old and, like most of his village, he’d spent half his life away from home. The bulldozer he was illegally operating was idling in neutral. In front of him were a half dozen control levers and gauges. With a worker’s rough hands, he compressed the squeeze-grip on a lever and pushed forward. He heard the sound of grinding gears. The tree cutter failed to engage. The huge dozer was thirty-year-old army surplus. There was a cable problem in the lever he was working. The problem sometimes caused the squeeze-grip to snap shut when the transmission grabbed. If he was not careful, the squeeze-grip could badly pinch his hand. Diego pushed harder on the lever. He could feel teeth missing in the gears from how the lever bucked back against his push. Without warning, the gears dropped into place as the squeeze-grip bit his palm. It was like a vicious dog. An angry welt throbbed in his palm. He cursed the dozer. He cursed the steaming heat. He’d drunk two quarts of water since breakfast, and lunch break was still hours away.

The rainforest was alive with insects. Diego had never seen this many in all the years he’d illegally logged the deep forests. There was a steady drone which was louder than the diesel engine he controlled. Tiny no-see-em’s, biting things, had left a rash across the back of his neck that felt like sunburn. Earlier, he’d scratched it raw but now had a bandanna tied around his neck to remind him to leave it be. The bulldozer rocked into a depression as the cutter began chew-ing through the trunk of a mahogany tree. Diego fed more fuel into the beast’s engine. The dozer’s treads dug in; there was a hesitation. He could feel the strain building. Tons of steel lurched forward pitch-ing him in his seat. Another tree tumbled, its branches snapping like rapid-fire gunshots as it crumpled into the ground. The front of the beast was equipped with a chain driven saw instead of a dozer blade. The fixture had a pair of serrated edges that shimmied back and forth like steel teeth. Pieces of shredded green leaves and bark caught on the teeth’s edges. Diego had long ago decided the beast was a sloppy eater.

The insect sounds of the forest had stopped. As far as Diego knew, these insects never stopped. He dropped the beast into neutral then switched it off.
There was silence.

Out of this stillness, a faint crackling sound rose from the distance, then disappeared, and then came again. He listened carefully. It took him a moment to realize the faraway sound was trees falling. The log- ging company operated a small army of dozers, far apart now; but by evening they would all meet up, connecting each of the separate cutting tracks into a solid plot. Diego swung round in his seat and gazed back. A swath of fallen tropical forest lay behind him: mahogany and cedar and even some rosewood along with countless varieties of plants and bushes. The largest trees were left standing so their canopies would hide the results of his work from the few government scouting planes that were not on the company’s payroll. Heavy tractors would come through later to drag out the good logs. He got paid by the yard for mahogany, rosewood, and cedar; the rest was trash. Today it looked like he would earn a small fortune; tomorrow might bring nothing. He lit a cigarette and left it hanging in his lips. After starting the engine, he ground the shifter into a forward gear and moved out. He drew cigarette smoke into his lungs then exhaled through his nose. No time to rest. He needed every bit of money he could earn. He didn’t blink as a cloud of insects flew into his face as their nest was churned into rubbish by his dozer’s teeth.

The humidity was so high that water had begun to evaporate into a fine mist. A steam cloud floated through the tops of the trees blurring the upper canopy into a milky green. Diego swung the beast around in a stationary about-face. The base camp was miles behind him by the river. The camp was a dock and tents with ratty screens. Beside the camp was a tree covered clearing that at night was filled with sleeping dozers and other heavy equipment. By now, a pot of beans would be simmering for lunch. A hunk of flat bread and canned beer would complete the meal. No meat. He’d lived worse. Everything here had been secretly brought in by river barge, including him and the other labors. With luck, he could cut a second swath back toward camp and arrive by lunch. Today would fill his pocket with more than two hundred Reals… a new record. 

The logging ride out of the forest turned out to be easier than the ride in. The trees in his new path were an ideal size for cutting. Diego began thinking about his wife Carla and their dream. She’d been anx- ious to come with him into this hell. He had kissed her and told her no… no wife of his would suffer in a place like this. In seven months, he would be a father. The foreign company running this operation was taking good care of her. She’d written last week that the company had paid for a test with a machine that was like an x-ray but used sound. The nurse had told her the baby would be a boy. Diego smiled with that memory… it was a good one. He would have a boy who would grow up to be his friend. That was a new part of the dream; the old part was still a small house outside Maceio, the coastal city where Diego was born. Diego instinctively slowed the dozer to the speed of a man’s stride.

He squinted watching a cloud of rain moving toward him along the path he’d just cut from camp. The rain didn’t appear heavy, but when mixed with ground steam it was solid enough to bring a false twilight. Nothing could be seen inside the cloud. The dozer had a roll cage. A piece of corrugated sheet metal had been welded to the top of the cage as a roof. Diego switched on spotlights. Drops started hitting the sheet metal with rhythmic pings. The humidity grew heavier. The air surrounded him like a damp towel. He pulled off his t-shirt and wiped his face with it. A storm of birds fled from some trees his dozer was about to consume. Their colored shapes moved past him at eye level like watercolor paints in fog. Diego cocked his head to one side. He sensed something wrong.

Grinding the shifter into neutral, he idled the machine. As the noise of his engine simmered down, he was able to hear the far off sounds of a dozer racing at top speed. He heard an engine revving at its highest rpm… no, it was two engines. More than one dozer was racing through the forest. This was very unusual. A hollow feeling began gnawing inside his chest. He remembered stories of odd things that happened to people alone in the forest. He heard a different sound like a wet towel hitting the ground in front of him. He leaned forward, squinting into the fog. A bird tumbled from the air bouncing off the cab, the sound startling Diego badly. The bird fluttered, then righted itself on the ground and took off. He saw another bird fall a couple yards away, then another, and another. They would roll around a bit, then fix themselves and fly off. This was very strange… too strange. He now understood why dozers were racing through the forest. Something very bad was happening. He shoved the dozer into gear and slammed his feet into the pedals. The beast jumped forward at top power. He heard muck spitting into the air off the backs of the tread-plates. To devil with cutting the second track. To devil with the money. He was going to get out of here as fast as this dozer could race. The treads were clanking at an accelerating pace as the beast slowly picked up speed. He disengaged the tree saw to gain a few more drops of power. He plowed through the top of a tree he’d cut earlier, then another. He was doing close to ten miles per hour. A man might run faster, but not through this brush and not for the miles that remained to the camp.

Without warning, he felt dizzy, an ill kind of dizzy. The fingers on his right hand went numb, then paralyzed. He tried to move the fingers, but they were limp. Coldness was spreading up from his hand. The more he tried to flex his fingers, the worse it got. In seconds, his entire right arm was hanging flaccid at his side. Whatever had gotten the birds was working on him. He knew it. The trees kept moving past him in a blur. He realized with an odd disconnect that he was having difficulty drawing breaths.

He thought about Carla and the baby. His jaw squeezed tight. His lips formed a grim line. He would make it for them.

The dozer glanced off a large tree and kept going. The impact rocked him. He wheezed, attempting to draw air into his chest. Maybe two miles remained until base camp. He began veering off the trail. The saw-blade snagged on a mahogany six feet in diameter. Diego was pitched from his seat. Dizzy and unable to hold on, he fell from the cab. His shoulder hit a moving tread-plate, which tossed him off the rig. He was like a paralyzed sack of meat.
“Umph!” He landed on the ground. He thought how odd it was that he’d bounced. He didn’t know people could bounce when they hit the ground. The tractor rumbled beside him. Without his feet on the pedals, the dozer had stopped. The left side of his face was a mix of blood and dirt. He tried to draw air into his lungs but failed. His mind felt like it was beginning to evaporate. His entire body tingled. He felt no pain. The muscles that worked his lungs were no longer responding. He thought of calling for help, but without his lungs he could do nothing. He gave up struggling and stared skyward at the treetops and thought of Carla. Moments later, his heart stopped beating. He felt calm as what was left of his mind faded into a warm nothing.

New Jersey: January

Sarah Mayfair opened her eyes. The nightmare was still around her. Her vision was not in this world but in some other. The nightmare was of underground water, great arteries of rivers and streams and lakes. Where the liquid pooled, it was cool and deep. She sensed this water was alive with thoughts, evil thoughts. A teaspoonful of it teamed with plans of death. She was floating deep under the water, staring as drowned people glided past her face sinking into the depths of a bottomless pool. Looking down, she saw a trail of countless tiny bodies slowly pirouetting as they drifted into the yawning darkness below her feet… Headlights from a car traveled across a wall of her room. The lights dwelled on a wooden credenza, then moved on. She followed the glow with her eyes seeing reality for the first time. The simple act of seeing began to clear the veils of her nightmare. Her breathing slowed. She realized she was covered in sweat.

Outside, a subzero wind was blowing unimpeded through a forest of leafless trees and ice crusted snow. The windowpanes rattled and hummed. Small drafts snuck through the rooms. She shivered as the drafts caressed her dampened skin. She was in the living room of her home. She recognized the shadowy details of furniture and walls. Her boyfriend Kenny was in the bedroom asleep. She remembered getting up and walking out here to be by herself to think. The nightmares had grown worse, more of them with each passing week. She was starting to see the faces of people she knew in these nightmares. She sensed it was some kind of horrible parade of those who would die. She remem- bered Kenny’s image from the dream.

Her body stiffened. A disembodied voice was whispering into her left ear. The words were unintelligible… garbled, but unmistakably evil. This can’t be happening. She screamed out in frustration and grief at the seeds of budding madness.