Saddle up for adventure and discover some good books

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Armchair adventure anyone?

What you, the followers of this blog have told me, is that you really love two things: finding out about new books, and hearing from the authors, so have I got a treat for you today! This one is jam packed with both of those, and more!

If you’re anything like me, summertime beckons a good old-fashioned adventure. But when you just can’t get out there yourself, there’s always a way to live through others, right?

Or course I’m talking about reading a well-told adventure book, and boy have I got three gems for you! They’re all a bit different: one’s on horseback, two are on foot, but all three tackle iconic trails most of us would never have the opportunity to experience except through reading about them. Stay tuned to the end because there are some additional books you won’t want to miss finding out about from my guest author, Jackie Parry.

A penniless adventure

The first, Free Country, A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain, is by George Mahmood. George and his buddy set off only in their underpants (the British Union Jack pattern makes an eye-catching cover, y’all) to prove that A) Brits have a dry, hilarious and often unexpected sense of humor, and B) their fellow countrymen can be willing to go along with even the most off-beat requests, such as offering up a spare pair of trousers, a bicycle and/or some hot pub grub. “Tricycle with that cup of tea, fella?” Yes, this is NOT a hike I’d recommend to just everyone, especially with the bare, and I do mean bare…minimum. But George and Ben, who set out to cycle the “End to End”, from England’s Land’s End to John O’Groats in Scotland, accomplished it. So toss off your clothes and join the fellas, and I promise you won’t regret reading along.

Barley Mow

A typical pub where George and Ben might have washed dishes in exchange for a meal. (They would have been wearing pants by now.)

Next is Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, by Ben Montgomery.

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I stumbled on, see what I did there… this gem that wasn’t written by Emma Gatewood herself, but compiled by Ben Montgomery in a page-turning recount of the first woman who walked the Appalachian Trail alone. He read her cryptic journal, postcards and letters and newspaper articles, and interviewed her children and grandchildren. He weaves in her early years, and wow, now I know why she sought solitude in the woods. Yikes.

Emma packed less than $200, a blanket, some bouillon cubes and a few other items. One day, Grandma Gatewood, as she was called by the media, got up one day, told her 11 kids she was “going for a walk,” and disappeared into the woods. She was eventually tracked down by some journalists who got wind of her…yeah…so she began sending postcards home to a not-so-surprised family because as you can surmise, they already knew she was built of some strong stuff. Well, you’ll have to read the rest for yourself. Like the part where she wears tennis shoes instead of hiking boots and sleeps on piles of leaves instead of sleeping bags. (“too heavy” she said) OMG. Just read this.

DW Garden path

Only a few miles was this well-groomed when Emma walked the ACT. An article she’d read made it sound like this was what she could expect. Not. That’s why they say she saved the ACT. Her journey led to a huge overhaul for which we can all thank her.

In case you missed it, Bill Bryson’s iconic, A Walk in the Woods is a hilarious and honest account of his time on the ACT. Now a movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, we have many ways to armchair experience this hike on steroids.

And the final one, and most HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book of this trifecta is:

A Standard Journey, 5 Horses, 2 People and 1 Tent, by Jackie Parry, who along with husband Noel, adopted, trained and conditioned five former race horses to ride the Australian Bicentennial Trail.

ASJ cover

A Standard Journey is more than a story of a couple adopting horses and deciding to tackle the Australian bush, it shows how we continue to discover new strengths in each other through the most dire circumstances.

Strength, determination. Yep, it’s all there. I’m the MOST excited about this one because, as you know, I grew up riding, and would have given my first bridle to go on this trip with Jackie and her husband Noel. I was so fascinated when I finished that I immediately contacted Jackie and asked her if she could stop by and visit with us, as she’s quite busy and already off on another madcap adventure, of which I’ll let her tell you about in a bit. This isn’t her first book and she promises me it is NOT her last, because she is not only out there killing it, guys, she’s a terrific writer.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet Jackie! (from here, Bev’s comments in red) 

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Jackie Parry, tacked, packed and mounted up, ready for Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail. “Be an encourager, there are far too many critics in the world already.” JP

What’s your latest news, and how has the book been received?

It’s all happening at once. I released A Standard Journey in June, and I’m thrilled to be sharing it with readers worldwide.

I donate 50% of my profits from this book to horse/animal charities, but more importantly large charity organisations around the world are buying up my book (at a reduced rate) in order to sell at fund-raisers.

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All “the boys” as Jackie calls them, were former Standard Bred race horses, which had to be retrained for packing and trail riding.

Win-win! Who will enjoy this book?

This story will resonate with anyone who enjoys reading about ordinary people achieving truly extraordinary things, it’s also for adventurers (whether armchair or not!), and animal lovers too.

There’s plenty of humour and humbleness in there too, I’ve written it with searing honesty, and pull no punches when it comes to talking about the mistakes we made.

Hey, I resemble that armchair adventure remark! What are some favourite lines?

“We won’t even have a sink!’ I said, clutching the metal sides of our kitchen basin lovingly.”

‘That’s okay, we’ll use a billabong.’ My bearded bush-husband said.

and

“Are you kidding?’ said Noel. ‘You want me to take on a horse called Psycho Stevie?”

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L-R: Spirit, Dom, Stevie, Charlie and Ned. (and Noel astride…Stevie the Pyscho?)

“I waded in, knowing I was in danger, if Dom panicked I’d end up under him. But that didn’t stop me. I grabbed his head and tugged his nose out of the water so he didn’t drown.”

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That’s trust. Or exhaustion. Both?

“My scared boy was no longer a coward, he was leader.”

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The boys ready for the trail.

How long did it take you to write ASJ?

I took many notes during the journey – horrid, scribbled, shaky notes. I managed to decipher these, and I suppose all up it took about a year to put together into a coherent story. I wanted to craft the story just right – as perfect as I could get it. Horses are a great passion of mine, the boys in the story won my heart, and this story is incredibly important to me.

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The boys had frequent vet checks and the best of care along the way, as you can tell by how sleek they were.

How would you describe your writing style?

Honesty is my first thought. I don’t think about it too much, how I write is who I am, ie how I sound every day. There’s no pretense. I like to show the good and the bad, and reveal who I am – warts and all! I think we all have our own demons and mine are readily revealed! I find the line between sanity and insanity is a fine one. Not everyone will admit that.

Tell  us what else you’ve written and what’s in the future.

Of Foreign Build – From Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman was launched at the end of last year and I am incredibly proud of how well it is doing and the wonderful reviews. My story has won the 5* Readers’ Favourite Award and many excellent write ups in 5star-shiny-webinternational magazines. This is the story of losing one man and falling for another, while trying to figure out who I am, and sailing around the world.

Cruisers’ AA (Accumulated Acumen) was the first book I published(with my husband Noel). It is for anyone who wants to set sail – runaway – live on a boat; or, indeed, if you are already cruising and want to learn more. It covers every aspect of living on a boat, from health, to beauty, to maintenance, to pirates, to navigation…..

Next: The title is still to be determined: After we sailed around the world on our thirty-three foot boat, and before the horse-trail riding, Noel and I purchased a sailboat in America. We wanted to experience the bejewelled Pacific Ocean again. This time we sailed further south to Easter Island, Pitcairn, The Gambiers, etc. It should have been an easier trip in a bigger boat, and with many miles experience under our belts. Instead the oceans were a struggle, and tested our fortitude. I had one of my most terrifying nights on that trip and many struggles to overcome.

Here’s Jackie in front of a canal boat she and Noel recently refurbished. OK, now we want to read about THAT.

What’s great about being an author?

Connecting with like-minded people; the readers who have made contact, are amazing. My first memoir, Of Foreign Build has inspired so many people to write to me with beautiful letters about their lives and experiences. My story has helped many people too, and it’s wonderful to hear about it.

Of Foreign Build is a deeply personal story about life in general and how to survive it, and steer the path you want – that resonates with a lot of people. I love hearing from readers.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at school. Yes, we had to, but I loved it! During my ‘office-based-career’, I helped put together the corporate magazine. When Noel and I were sailing I wrote thousands of articles for magazines and naturally progressed into books. Being an ordinary woman who’s living an extraordinary life inspired me. Plus, I just can’t seem to stop writing.
What books have most influenced your life most?

A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, not just because of their titles. (Note the similarities to mine!) I study books as I read them. These two books influenced my writing career. I learned from these authors, writing does not need to be flowery and tricky – it needs to be concise and clever.

What book are you reading now?

A Capable and Wide Revenge by Glen Barrera; it is leaving me short of breath, so much happens. Not only is it a thrilling read it is smart writing too. He has characters you are happy to invest in, scenes which are as vivid as if they are playing out in front of you.

Are there any new authors that have your interest?

Yes, lots!

Mark Fine, author of The Zebra Affaire, an incredible story of a thrilling fusion of suspense and romance in exotic, yet brutal apartheid South Africa.

Rachel Amphlett, she’s on her fourth or fifth book now, I recently read her latest Mistake Creek, it kept me up all night, completely breathless!

Val Poore has written Harbour Ways and African Ways amongst others, I have read one of her books and can’t wait to read more.

Rochelle Carlton caught my eye with a beautiful romantic story set in New Zealand. Romance isn’t my usual choice, but this book is so beautifully written I couldn’t put it down.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep at it. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. It is a marathon not a sprint and the entire process will take longer than you think. Try to write every day, if you can’t then read, learn, research (that part never ends!). Remember too, once you have published your book, you then have to learn to become a marketing professional! People won’t buy your book unless they know about it.
Anything else to share with you readers before you have to go?  

Thanks for all your support, it is amazing and so appreciated. Please do write (contact information is below) and tell me what you think. Can I help you? Let me know, I am happy to discuss marketing, writing, life!

Also, take a look at the links there to photo albums of our travels on the horses and on board our boats. Plus all the goodies from Cruisers’ AA on navigation etc.

Jackie it’s been so much fun, thanks for visiting. Your projects and words of  encouragement are so inspiring. I hope you keep entertaining us and seeking new adventures. You’ve definitely inspired me, and expanded my TBR list, that’s for sure! I hope you’ll visit again when the next book is published.

Bev out!

Jackie’s bio:

Addicted to travel, adventure and writing, Jackie doesn’t sit still for very long. Originally from the UK she is now an ‘adopted’ Australian. She’s sailed around the world one and a half times and trekked in the bush with five rescued horses for several months. She has also trained to become a professional maritime captain and teacher. Currently she is exploring the European canals on a 1920s Dutch barge with her Australian husband, Noel. She’s written about her sailing and horse trekking escapades, and there is still more to come. Jackie donates 50% of proceeds from her horse trekking book A Standard Journey5 horses, 2 people, and 1 tent, to help rescue more horses.

Contact information to Jackie Parry links to her books and blog.

Author blog: www.jackieparry.com

Travel blog: www.noelandjackiesjourneys.com

Horse Charity/Donations: http://helpinghandforhorses.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackie.parry.7543

Travels: https://www.facebook.com/NoelAndJackiesJourneys

Horses: https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-the-love-of-horses/1048526295173146

Amazon book links

A StandardJourney: http://geni.us/1j9w

Of Foreign Build: http://geni.us/ipq

Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) – http://geni.us/3sKJ

Twitter

https://twitter.com/NandJJourneys

https://twitter.com/StandardJourney

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7157763.Jackie_Sarah_Parry?from_search=true

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jackieparry7543

Full photo album of A Standard Journey: http://goo.gl/1QgMp2

Full photo album of Of Foreign Build: http://jackieparry.com/of-foreign-build-photo-album/

Full photo album of Cruisers’AA: http://jackieparry.com/pics/

InD’Tale Magazine Reviews “The Kaleidoscope”

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Five gold stars

“Harold Donaldson is brilliant with computers and at a complete loss as to how to deal with people. Separated from his wife, he decides to prove to her that he is not the boring, unambitious man she thinks he is. In his attempt to be promoted at work, he starts interacting with those around him by following a step-by-step guide that somehow results in him becoming the custodian of a beautiful kaleidoscope. It changes his life in a way he never expected: the kaleidoscope is no ordinary toy. It can allow the user to catch a glimpse of their future, and soon Harold’s simple attempt at a promotion stirs up an old conspiracy involving his father and sends him on a journey of self-discovery that will change everything.

A rare combination of philosophical, mystery and thriller, with “The Kaleidoscope” author B.K. Nault has created some of the best character growth this reader has seen in a long time. Harold is disconnected from people, unable to understand them or be understood because of his family and his past tragedies, and yet by the end of the novel he goes from flat and boring to deep, friendly, loveable, and interesting. The mystery that unravels around the Kaleidoscope is well written and unravels in a way that leaves the reader both thinking and guessing. The bit of romance Harold finds as well, will make the reader smile and cheer at the end. “The Kaleidoscope” should be on every reader’s must-read list!”

Sarah E. Bradley

Crowned Heart

Ind’Tale Magazine awarded “The Kaleidoscope” the Crowned Heart of Excellence

Would you dare look?

If you haven’t already, find me on Facebook! Here’s the latest post. We’re talking about what you hope for the future. Find out what others are saying.

 

Everyone's been talking about "The Kaleidoscope," my new suspense/mystery/thriller from Wild Rose Press because of its…

Posted by Beverly Nault on Sunday, June 7, 2015

Winning Cover Design – before, during and after

Update! The Kaleidoscope was just named the winner of InD’Tale Magazine’s  Creme de la Creme cover contest!

 

Many of you have asked about the design of The Kaleidoscope‘s cover, which is getting a lot of attention because it’s so pretty. It actually came out better than I’d ever imagined. Here’s a fun step-by-step look at how award winning cover artist Diana Carlile of Wild Rose Press and I approached it. Here are some before and after pictures.

First, let’s look at the after and then I’ll break it down.

The Kaleidoscope cover

Cover by Diana Carlile

Description: The elements on the cover evoke the storylines that weave throughout this suspense thriller full of intrigue and mystery. The graphic of the Los Angeles skyline including Hollywood, downtown, and iconic palms reflect the setting. The tree of life represents a crucial spot where many of the story’s pivotal moments take place, including the turnover of the kaleidoscope to the hero who must discover what gives it power. The jewel-toned backdrop are the colors seen by anyone brave enough to look into the ‘scope. The title’s whimsical font hints at the light-hearted tone despite dark moments, and the teaser line entices the reader to step inside for a page turning suspenseful romance full of old fashioned good vs evil adventure.

The Tree of Life

We searched through tons of pictures of trees, and once you read the book you’ll know why the tree is SO important. Here’s the one we chose.

tree of lifeSkyline

I wanted to suggest Los Angeles because most of the story takes place there. This graphic is not too overpowering and you have to really look, but once you do, you realize why it’s also important to the story…hint hint!

Jewel-toned backdrop

Finally, the background. This probably gave me more trouble than the other elements. Sometimes pictures are too “on the nose” and as the colors were important and the suggestion of what you’d see inside a ‘scope change, it wasn’t as important what shape they were in, because your mind can arrange them in your imagination. But it was important to suggest the colors and changeability. Is that a word?

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We played around with putting the purple at the bottom, but the yellow gave the illusion of a sun rising behind the skyline so we settled on this orientation.

One more element completed the look. When you don’t have people on the cover, I believe it’s important it’s not dull, so we added a star burst effect using this graphic to draw the eye and add some energy.


And then Diana brought the yellow “bleed” from the stained glass image into the text. It’s subtle, but draws the eye down to the title. She chose the whimsical font, which at first seemed a little steampunk to me, but really grew on me. Since the tone of the story is a bit lighthearted, it really works and now I love it.

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I hope you liked this look at how the sausage is made and I really hope you’ll take a look into The Kaleidoscope for yourself!

 

Click here to read a Sample of The Kaleidoscope

The Kaleidoscope - paperback 3D

Bev out!

UPDATE: July, 2015 The Kaleidoscope‘s cover won the InD’Tale Magazine Creme de la Creme Cover contest!

“The Kaleidoscope” Reader’s Favorite Review – Five Stars!

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Here’s a sneak peek at a 5 Star Review soon to be made public over at Reader’s Favorite!

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite (link will be provided when the review is made public)

The Kaleidoscope is a work of suspense and intrigue by author BK Nault. Mixing genres between speculative and science fiction, the plot centers on the kaleidoscope of the book’s title, a powerful device which is able to produce life-altering visions of the future when any human being looks through it. Whilst the device itself seems to be an exciting new form of enlightenment, it is inevitable that there will be certain parties in the world who’d like to use it to achieve their own sinister ends. This is where our anti-hero, the hermit-like Harold Donaldson, realises that in order to save the human race, he might actually have to truly become part of it for the first time in his life.

Multi-genre fiction has always been a favourite of mine to review, and BK Nault did not disappoint me with this excellent feat of storytelling. Social ineptness, wariness about the future, and the most basic of human fears underlie every delicately crafted element of The Kaleidoscope’s plot, turning what could have been a rather interesting sci-fi story into a richly human and character-driven novel. Nault’s prose is full of vivid description and delightful wordplay, and her formation of an unlikely hero in Harold Donaldson is witty, bittersweet, and thoroughly endearing. I feel that even readers who dislike speculative fiction will be hard-pressed not to enjoy the realism and credibility of this tale. Overall, I’d highly recommend The Kaleidoscope to readers who are looking for a unique and highly accomplished new read.

 

Meet The Kaleidoscope Cast- Pepper

TK cast Pepper

Pepper’s a spunky survivor still a bit wobbly from her recent chemo treatments, a disappointing past love life, and unsure about the future until the ‘scope shows her something that changes everything. Her kick-butt philosophies and skittish mutt called Glenda send Harold reaching for the pause button, but neither of them can stop events that send them on an adventure they never imagined facing together.

Here’s a scene featuring Pepper:

Ruddy complexions were like skywriting, a girl in high school had told him (Harold) once. The message may appear slowly, but everyone can see it for miles around and remember it for days. “I have to get back to work.” He gathered up his trash and headed for the can. When he turned around, Pepper was standing close, nose to his chin. “Tell Glenda hello.” Before he could go, she grabbed his arm.

“Harry, I really mean it. I am glad I saw…what I saw. Where did you get it again? Could I get one like it, or is that a one-of-a-kind thing?”

He told her about the encounter in the park with the homeless man. “It’s a mystery why he picked me.” He pictured the day of the handoff, the police hurrying the old guy away before he could explain himself. The police responding to his own complaint about the vagrants camping out. She was the first person he shared this with.

“You have been given much responsibility in many areas.” With that, she stood on tiptoe and pecked him on the cheek. “You have been given a gift. Thank you for sharing your magical looking-piece with me.”

“Um. You’re welcome. And thanks.” He demurred, dropping his hand from her grip. “But I don’t believe in magic.”

“A man of science and numbers, I get it.” She tipped her head sideways, considering him. “The mysteries of the universe reveal more than we see with our eyes or hear with our ears. If we slow down and really absorb what it’s trying to teach us, we might be surprised and delighted.” She poked a slender finger at his chest. “I choose to keep my mind open to the possibilities. What about you?”

She yanked off the scarf and dropped it into his lap, climbed up on the bench and began leaping from one bench to the next, her sandals slapping the concrete.

Harold was afraid she would slip and fall, and wondered whether he should first call someone, or check her for ABC’s if she did. But she jumped lightly, a sprite among the forest of potted birds of paradise. Airway, breathing, c…what was the C for?

“I’ve always wanted to do this! Haven’t you?” Where the benches were too far apart, Pepper scissor-kicked to the ground and danced. Harold could breathe as long as she was safely on the ground, her arms aloft, her body swaying. Then she would leap up again, the sun reflecting off bald spots between shags of spirally hair. And she laughed. Not a scary, maniacal sound, but a child-like whiffle that whisked Harold back to the elementary school when Edna Velasquez had tried to jump around the lunchroom but fell and broke her arm when she slipped in pudding. Harold was the only one Edna didn’t pester to sign her cast. Circulation. That was what C stood for.

Pepper collapsed next to him, panting, her caramel skin aglow. She was a china doll with kewpie lips and taffy-pulled earlobes. “That felt good, Harry.” She dabbed at her upper lip with the scarf, a tiny rattle in her breath. “You should dance more. We should all dance more.”

The warmth from her body awoke something in him that had long been dormant. Confused emotions tangled somewhere in his soul, and he met her gaze.

“What makes you dance, Harry? What stirs your soul?”

She’d dared to pull at the thread he’d buried underneath years of proving himself worthy, smart. Sane. “I find satisfaction in my work.”

“And what is that? No, wait. Let me guess. You’re a Pez-head designer. No, a sign spinner for discount plastic surgeons. I could use one of those by the way.”

He knew better than to acknowledge her cosmetic surgery remark. Honest answers to conversations beginning with “Am I pretty enough?” and “I’m thinking of getting work done” had never gone well with Georgia. “I’m a fraud investigator.”

The Kaleidoscope – paperback and e-reader.

Bev out!

Meet “The Kaleidoscope Cast” – Walter

TK cast Walter

 

Here’s a scene featuring Walter:

One more piece of the puzzle, and the technology anticipated, even feared, would be born. If he’d calculated correctly, and Walter was meticulous about calculations, the day’s mail should contain the gem he’d saved and scraped for. Every tip, handout, or penny literally scraped from the gutter had gone into a jar, and last week he’d exchanged the sum for a cashier’s check and placed the order. If this final trial didn’t work, he’d lose everything he’d slaved over. His ideas were running out, his home was about to be razed, and what made the urgency even more crucial, he sensed “they” were about to discover his hiding place.

Flipping the wall calendar over his workbench, Walter circled a date two weeks hence. That would give him sufficient time to install the final part, to test, and make note of his achievement. Perhaps even enjoy it himself before he turned it over to the one who would carry it to the world, who could safely deliver the technology where it would do the most good. It was time to plan the handoff.

The sun’s rays pouring from a high window warmed and loosened Walter’s back muscles. The glint on the shaft of metal, as thick as a Cuban cigar, the length of a number two pencil, gave him more than a few moments of pride he’d not felt since the birth of his long-lost son.

He held the eyepiece up and sighted, spinning the dial. It caught and stuck in place. He wrapped it once again in the cloth, gently rested the device between the jaws of the vise and slowly cranked it shut, stopping at precisely the point where the Kaleidoscope would be held firmly in place, but not harmed by the firm grip. He filed and sprayed, working over the delicate prize until the dial spun like butter and the magnificent colors fell into place.

And…scene. What is he up to? Is he crazy? Genius? Dangerous?

 

The Kaleidoscope releases!

perf5.000x8.000.indd “I love how the novel hits different chords; being at times inspirational, metaphysical and scientifically speculative even while following a thriller-like narrative.” EA, Reader’s Favorite reviewer

Wild Rose Press/Crimson is pleased to announce the release of

The Kaleidoscope

Here’s a sneak peek:

Harold turned over the Kaleidoscope, inspecting the precision detailing and excellent workmanship. Whoever had crafted it had an eye for beauty, a talent for working with metal and glass. He sighted down the shaft, admiring the tessellations of hues that fell into place. Then when he turned a dial, new images appeared. Green, gold, blue, teal and purple. It was stunning.

Could an object have magical powers? Harold had to believe otherwise. Every bone and sinew fought against any other possibility. But already the mysterious device he turned over, that now warmed in his palm, had begun to change his life. Where did this mysterious object come from, and what made it tick? What did it want from him?

Los Angeles city skyline silhouette background

Buy your copy in paperback or e-reader now from Wild Rose Press/Crimson or Amazon  and remember to tell your friends, and leave a kind remark on your favorite review sites Word of mouth helps an author tremendously.

Bev out!