#BookTour “Plague of Flies (Revolt of the Spirits, 1846)” by Laurel Anne Hill

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Alternate History Science Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction

 

 

Date Published: October 16, 2021

Publisher: Sand Hill Review Press

In 1846 Alta California, Catalina Delgado daydreams about her future: roping cattle, marrying Angelo Ortega and raising children. But now, invaders from the United States-the Bear Flaggers-have declared war against Mexico, her country. Bear Flaggers have imprisoned one close friend of her family and murdered others. What fate might befall her parents, grandfather and younger brothers? And what about her best friend, a Costanoan servant girl? How can Catalina, only sixteen, help protect all those she loves?

An old vaquero once predicted a mysterious Spirit Man would someday ride off with Catalina. This has clouded her reputation as a chaste young woman, one reason why Angelo’s father doesn’t want her for a future daughter-in-law. Now Catalina learns another reason. Her mamá is not her natural mother. Catalina is a mestiza, the daughter of her papi and a former servant woman.

Catalina prays for guidance, then dares to leave her bedroom at night to seek a spiritual vision. She ends up riding into the sky with Spirit Man. They remove gold nuggets from a river to prevent Bear Flaggers or anyone else from discovering the treasure. Will this be Catalina’s duty for the rest of her life? And is Spirit Man good or evil?

For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina risks what is left of her reputation, her future with Angelo, her life and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.

For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina risks what is left of her reputation, her future with Angelo, her life and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.

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EXCERPT

From Chapter Six:

A horse with a lofty gallop races beside mine, as if he charges into battle. This animal is larger than Fandango, over a full hand higher, and black as obsidian. I blink over and over. My eyes water. An abundant ebony mane flows over the horse’s arched neck. The forelock whips between well-placed ears. Madre de Dios. This horse is no common mustang, no Spanish barb. It is an Andalusian, like the one in the prophecy.

A man leans out of the Andalusian’s saddle, his arm stretched out. The wind billows his white sleeve. Fingers hidden by short, black leather gloves grab Fandango’s reins. His exposed wrists are as pale as those of the dead.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Plague of Flies (Revolt of the Spirits, 1846)” by Laurel Anne Hill

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Alternate History Science Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction

 

 

Date Published: October 16, 2021

Publisher: Sand Hill Review Press

In 1846 Alta California, Catalina Delgado daydreams about her future: roping cattle, marrying Angelo Ortega and raising children. But now, invaders from the United States-the Bear Flaggers-have declared war against Mexico, her country. Bear Flaggers have imprisoned one close friend of her family and murdered others. What fate might befall her parents, grandfather and younger brothers? And what about her best friend, a Costanoan servant girl? How can Catalina, only sixteen, help protect all those she loves?

An old vaquero once predicted a mysterious Spirit Man would someday ride off with Catalina. This has clouded her reputation as a chaste young woman, one reason why Angelo’s father doesn’t want her for a future daughter-in-law. Now Catalina learns another reason. Her mamá is not her natural mother. Catalina is a mestiza, the daughter of her papi and a former servant woman.

Catalina prays for guidance, then dares to leave her bedroom at night to seek a spiritual vision. She ends up riding into the sky with Spirit Man. They remove gold nuggets from a river to prevent Bear Flaggers or anyone else from discovering the treasure. Will this be Catalina’s duty for the rest of her life? And is Spirit Man good or evil?

For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina risks what is left of her reputation, her future with Angelo, her life and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.

For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina risks what is left of her reputation, her future with Angelo, her life and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.

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#BookTour “Born in Salt” by T.C. Weber

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Alternate history

Date Published: May 1, 2021

Publisher: Freedom Thorn Press

 

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Fifty years after a coup replaced President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a fascist dictatorship, America is a land of hopelessness. Ben Adamson, a 19-year-old farm boy in southern Illinois, wants only to spend his time fishing and hunting. But when his dead brother demands justice for his suspicious fate in a colonial war, Ben and Rachel, his brother’s fiancée, are drawn into an underground revolutionary movement.

After staging a rally against the war, Ben and Rachel are arrested by the Internal Security Service, who have perfected the science of breaking people. Ben is given a choice: betray the rebels, including his best friend from childhood, or Rachel will be lobotomized.

Although traumatized and addicted to a powerful drug, Ben refuses to doom anyone he cares about. Can he find a third option? Can he free Rachel and strike back at the dictatorship, while dodging the suspicions of police and
rebels alike?

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EXCERPT

The New Bethany Town Square was a small grassy space in front of the county courthouse. The year after I was born, 1965, was the twentieth anniversary of retaking the Philippines from the Japanese, forcing them into an armistice. Every town got a statue. In New Bethany, the government erected a marble Marine in the middle of the town square, rifle held high in triumph. It wasn’t an ideal spot to call for an end to war, but it was the only public space in town.

Rachel lived only a few blocks from the square, but I insisted on picking her up. The police would have seen the flyers by now, and might want to arrest her before we even started.

I was late again. Rachel stood on her front porch, wearing her funeral dress and tapping a foot. She carried a paper shopping bag in one hand, and scowled at me.

“Sorry I’m late.” At Rachel’s insistence, I’d put on my suit, and it took me forever to get the damn tie right. “Are you sure you want to do this? Talking to people one on one is a lot safer.”

Her face tightened even more. “It’s a little late to back out now. Besides, God blesses the righteous and Jake will be with us.”

I led Rachel to the truck and opened the passenger door for her. “Let’s get it over with, then.”

I parked on Lincoln Street, just off Main, and we hopped out into chilly gloom. Dark clouds gathered in the west, threatening rain. I focused on the task—swung down the tailgate and pulled out the mike and amp I’d borrowed from Jesse, the band’s bassist. He’d kill me if they got wet.

The amp had a power inverter so you could run it off a car battery. Together they weighed at least a hundred pounds, so I’d strapped them to a stand-up dolly. No mike stand, but I had enough to carry as it was. I handed Rachel the black microphone case and cables and she slipped them in her bag.

A couple dozen people were in the square, wearing coats over Sunday suits or dresses, the women’s hats sprouting feathers of near-extinct birds. I recognized Alyce and maybe half the others.

Rachel’s face fell. “I was expecting a lot more.”

“Maybe they’re afraid,” I said. “Or it’s the weather.”

“Or they don’t care. The weather is fine.” She straightened. “We’re early. More will come.”

My stomach seized. Figures squatted or lay on rooftops around the square, pointing guns and cameras.

Atop the three-story law office building, a suited man held a long-lensed camera. Next to him, a man in black body armor braced a high-powered rifle on a tripod while another peered through binoculars. Opposite the courthouse, on the First Consolidated Bank roof, more of the same. On the east side of the square, city police aimed guns out the second-floor windows of the column-fronted City Hall.

The courthouse itself had a peaked roof. After the coup, the government had added a wooden bell tower on top, from which, I supposed, you could see the whole town. Beneath the purely decorative bell, half hidden by white columns, a dark-suited man stared at us through binoculars. A sheriff’s deputy pointed a rifle with a fancy scope.

I’d never seen anything like it. Security for visiting politicians, sure, but nothing like this.

The clock on the bottom of the tower read 12:18. We had twelve minutes to prep or escape.

“Do you see the snipers?” I whispered to Rachel.

“Yes.” Her voice quivered. “But we’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just trying to intimidate us.”

She was probably right. They wouldn’t actually shoot us. Or would they? We were easy targets, standing still in the open. They could take their time and go for a head shot.

Past the bank, I spotted Paul standing outside the New Bethany Diner, sipping soda or something from a jumbo-sized paper cup. No sign of the others. Not surprising, since the group hadn’t approved our rally. And it was better Sarah wasn’t here—that would just add to my worries.

Rachel hugged Alyce and other people she recognized, then reached in her bag and pulled out my brother’s portrait, the one that had been propped on his casket at the funeral. She leaned it against the base of the soldier statue.

Behind the picture glass, Jake smiled at me. I plugged the mike into the amp and clipped the amp to the car battery. I flipped a switch and the power light turned green. I tapped the mike, and the speaker thumped.

I wanted to hurry this up and waved Rachel over. I handed her the mike. “You’re on.” The battery would last at least an hour, but I doubted we would have that long.

Rachel examined her filigreed watch. “Let’s let the crowd grow.”

More people arrived. But half were cops—city police, county police, state police, and eight men wearing silver long-sleeved shirts, black pants, and matching ties. Their caps bore a perched eagle clutching a saber and whip. Internal Security.

New Bethany’s gray-haired police chief paced back and forth, carrying a megaphone. The Internal Security troops stared at us, long batons and compact sub-machine guns fastened to their belts.

My knees shook. “Rachel, I’ve got a bad feeling. Really bad. We should go, right now.”

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About the Author

Ted Weber has pursued writing since childhood, and learned film-making and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics. His first published novel was a near-future cyberpunk thriller titled Sleep State Interrupt (See Sharp Press).

It was a finalist for the 2017 Compton Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel. The first sequel, The Wrath of Leviathan, was published in 2018, and the final book, Zero-Day Rising, came out in 2020. He has other books on the way as well. He is a member of Poets & Writers and the Maryland Writers Association, and helps run writing workshops and critique groups. By day, Mr. Weber works as a climate adaptation analyst, and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys traveling and has visited all seven continents. For book samples, short stories, and more, visit https://www.tcweber.com/.

 

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#BookSale “Wild Seed (The Patternist Series Book 1)” by Octavia E. Butler

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As the acclaimed Patternist science fiction series begins, two immortals meet in the long-ago past—and mankind’s destiny is changed forever.

For a thousand years, Doro has cultivated a small African village, carefully breeding its people in search of seemingly unattainable perfection. He survives through the centuries by stealing the bodies of others, a technique he has so thoroughly mastered that nothing on Earth can kill him. But when a gang of New World slavers destroys his village, ruining his grand experiment, Doro is forced to go west and begin anew. He meets Anyanwu, a centuries-old woman whose means of immortality are as kind as his are cruel. She is a shapeshifter, capable of healing with a kiss, and she recognizes Doro as a tyrant. Though many humans have tried to kill them, these two demi-gods have never before met a rival. Now they begin a struggle that will last centuries and permanently alter the nature of humanity.

Hugo and Nebula award–winning author Octavia E. Butler’s sweeping cross-century epic places her “among the best of contemporary SF writers” (Houston Chronicle). This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.

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#BookBlitz “God of Small Affairs” by Olga Werby

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Alternative History, Magical Realism
Published: September 2019
Publisher: Pipsqueak Productions
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We are great at little things, at manipulating tiny threads of life. We are the gods of small affairs…until we are not.
“God of Small Affairs” is a creepy and slightly twisted mystery tale of a small mid-Western town, struggling to survive, told from the perspective of man who is culturally a stranger there and yet learns to find comfort and gives back love to people in need…his and those that reside in the town of Wilkins.
It’s a bit of a horror story, a bit of fantastical science fiction, and a take on what the world would be if one could talk directly to a god…even a god who is only interested in micro-management of human species.

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 Excerpt
Chapter One: Derailed
Jon Uolan
The sharp sound of ripping leather disturbed Jon’s reverie. He looked down with a start; they both did. Ay-Tal’s knee-high black leather boots had split along the inside seam. With bated breath, Jon watched as the boot started to swell, letting the gray flesh squeeze out like stringy putty between sheared strips of leather. He of course knew about the metamorphosis—the Change—but it had all been very theoretical up till now. He inhaled subtly though his nose so as not to appear rattled and then looked up and caught Ay-Tal’s eyes. This was why he was here with her, right now, on this journey home.
Jon sat across from Ay-Tal in a small but private train cabin. She was almost thirty years his senior, but he thought she was still very beautiful. There was a severity to her features: a strong chin, a slight widow’s peak, dark, thick hair cut short with a few stray grays but not too many, full lips and dark gray eyes, long face and slim figure, very light skin. In short, she was everything he wasn’t—except for her eye color. Gray eyes were common among his tribe. There didn’t seem to be a trace of Inuit in her. And yet Jon knew her tribal roots ran far deeper than his own. His own great-great-grandmother was English, he was told, one of those who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush all those years ago. Ay-Tal was pure…
“How bad?” she managed to ask. Even under duress, her voice was deep and velvety—a perfect oration organ. It had been beautifully designed by his grandfather.
Jon bent down to examine the boot. In some places, the leather polish was thicker than the remaining leather. Even with extra care and regular repair, thirty years was just too long for city boots. He hoped they would last all the way to the little village hidden on the shores of Alaska’s National Coastal Conservation Area, but one didn’t always get all that was hoped. Jon’s father had made these boots to last the duration, and now it was Jon’s job to make them endure these last four thousand miles. Seal fur with a whale hide foundation would have been more durable, but it wouldn’t have been appropriate, not for Boston, not for Washington, D.C., and certainly not in front of the Supreme Court.
He lifted Ay-Tal’s legs onto his lap for a closer inspection and grabbed his tools. Pressing the sides of the ripped leather together, he started to carefully wrap the specially made leather tape over and over the boot’s perimeter to repair the damage. He felt the pressure ease a bit; the gray flesh composed of millions of intertwining threads retreated and resumed the shape of a human leg. The repair wouldn’t last long, but perhaps long enough to get home? He pulled the hunting knife to cut the tape and scrape away the frayed edges.
“Tickets!” The compartment door slid open, and the conductor stared at Jon.
Jon looked down at Ay-Tal’s legs bound in tape and the long blade in his hand and back up at the horrified face of the conductor. Ay-Tal tried to talk; it came out like strange whalesong moan. She waved to the conductor, but her muscular control was still off, and what should have been a friendly hello turned into spasmodic jerks. She came across as terrifying even to Jon, and he understood what was going on. “It’s not what it—” he started to say.
The conductor dropped his pad and whipped a pistol from behind his back. “Stop right there!” he ordered.
Jon dropped his knife and tried to straighten out. Ay-Tal let out a loud howl, more animal than human. It would take some time before she would be able to speak again; too much of the transformation had been triggered by the ripped boot.
“Don’t move!” screamed the man.
“It’s not what it looks like,” Jon tried to explain. But he could guess what it looked like to this uniformed man: a dark-skinned man with a scar above his eye (an old hunting accident) threatening a white woman in a business suit with a big knife after binding her legs together. How could he explain it away? And Ay-Tal wasn’t helping. “Officer,” Jon tried again. “I was just trying to help Ms. Blue with her—” He reached for Ay-Tal’s legal case to pull out some documents.
A shot rang out. Jon felt Ay-Tal twitch and push his body out of the path of the bullet. With horror, he watched a hole in Ay-Tal’s chest start to pulse blood. The conductor dropped the gun, terror twisting his face. Jon sprung up and pushed the man out of the cabin, shutting the door with a click of the lock. He picked up the gun and hid it in his own waistband in the back, just like the conductor. The gun was still hot.
Jon looked at Ay-Tal’s ashen face. She was losing blood fast. She was his responsibility, his god, his reason for existence. And he owed her his life now too. He felt sick from panic. She blinked and blinked again, but then her eyes rolled back, closed, and didn’t open again.
“Aguguq take me!” Jon grabbed the knife and started to cut the boots off Ay-Tal’s feet. Cut and pull, cut and pull. It got harder with each incision. Ay-Tal’s fibrous flesh started to expand and push out again. But the bleeding ebbed and then stopped. Ay-Tal only bled in human form, Jon was told. Remove the boots, remove the humanity. That’s how his grandfather shaped her; the whole tribe had worked on finding the right form for those boots. When Jon was done cutting them off, he stood over a gray, twined blob covered in bloody clothing. Well, at least Ay-Tal was alive. It was time to get off this train.
Jon pulled down his backpack, his only piece of luggage, and grabbed Ay-Tal’s briefcase full of documents that solidified the tribe’s position on legal ownership of its land and mineral resources. Fifty years of work couldn’t end just because some white man misunderstood what he saw on the train. Gathering the synthetic blankets that came with their cabin, he wrapped Ay-Tal as securely as he could and stuffed the bloodied clothing under the seat with her suitcase. He wasn’t sure why he bothered—the place looked like a murder scene. Blood everywhere…
With the backpack on, Jon put his ear to the door. There were the usual noises of the moving train but no additional screams or suspicious shuffling. He dared to crack open the door and look out. The long corridor, running from one end of the train car to the other between the cabins, was empty. He had already considered jumping out of the window, but he wasn’t sure Ay-Tal was strong enough to survive the awkward fall. And he wasn’t too sure he was. Too high a risk. That meant carrying Ay-Tal through the train, out to the gangway connection between cars, and jumping from there. Jon deemed that safer. No more than a minute had passed since the gunshot, and Jon expected the authorities to return at any moment, guns blazing. It was now or never.
He felt a slight change in the motion of the train; they were slowing down.
“Ay-Tal,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I see no other choice.” With that, he hoisted the gray body wrapped in the Pacific Railroad blankets over his shoulder, grabbed the briefcase, and ran down the corridor.
Jon made it to the back of their train car without incident and slid open the door. Once between cars, only flexible walls separated him from freedom. He carefully lowered Ay-Tal onto the floor. Using his knife, he twisted and jammed the locks to each of the adjoining cars. It wasn’t much but it would buy him a little more time. A few quick motions with his knife and he opened a hole in the flexible siding big enough to push through. All those years of practicing on whales, seals, and reindeer…
He picked up Ay-Tal like a baby with one hand, pressing her…it to his chest, and with a briefcase in his other hand, he rushed for the opening and jumped.
He rolled over and over down the steep incline away from the train tracks. The early snow somewhat softened the impact. At least he hoped it was the snow and not Ay-Tal’s body protecting him yet again. The briefcase, unfortunately, was slapped from his hand when he hit the ground.
“Are you okay?” Jon asked as soon as he was able; the fall knocked the wind out of him.
The gray, twisting blob that used to be a beautiful woman purred. Jon wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. His father and grandfather had told him stories, but even they only saw the Change once. And he didn’t think it was this dramatic back then. From what he was told, he imagined it was more like going into a room as one person and coming out as another…after many hours. He didn’t know if anyone in his tribe’s living memory had seen Ay-Tal for what it was…like this. It wasn’t revolting or anything. Jon wasn’t repulsed touching the soft, fibrous gray flesh, but he did find it difficult to look at it directly. He needed Ay-Tal to assume a human form again. Fast. Soon. The boots were gone. Ay-Tal would never again have the look of a highly educated lawyer from Harvard, arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court. That person was dead, just like the conductor and the rest would assume…jump to conclusions. Jon knew he would have too if he saw what that man saw. There will be a murder investigation, he realized.
“We need to get out of here,” he said. He stood up and looked for the briefcase. It wasn’t visible. He would have to come back for it once Ay-Tal was safely hidden. Even if the Union Pacific train was far in the distance now, Jon wasn’t naive enough to think they were out of trouble. There was going to be a search. He gently gathered Ay-Tal in his arms and carried her—he felt uncomfortable thinking of her as it—farther away into the shelter of the thick low boughs of the evergreens growing on the edge of the forested strip of land surrounding the train tracks. Tucking Ay-Tal out of view, Jon left to look for the briefcase.
All along the railway, there was garbage strewn about among the vegetation, trash snagged on craggy branches and caught among the barren bushes, tall, dead grasses, and exposed rocks of the late fall. Civilization slithered through nature, leaving its slimy discards. Jon felt disgusted and experienced a strong urge to pick the crap up off the forest floor. But that wasn’t what he was here for. He scanned the ground for the briefcase; it couldn’t have landed too far from where they hit the ground. It was well made so unlikely to have opened and spilled its precious contents all over Wisconsin…or was it Minnesota already? Jon wasn’t sure, but he had a map and a satellite phone in his backpack; normal smartphones were not very useful out in the far northern country of his people. Although all the kids had smart tablets and shared educational materials by linking those directly. Technology had changed his people in the last few decades, but far less than Ay-Tal had when she joined their tribe. There might not even have been a tribe without Ay-Tal.
He spotted the brown leather of the briefcase in a ditch off to the side. He rushed over and almost tripped over a kid’s Dora the Explorer backpack. It was so covered in mud that Jon almost didn’t recognize the friendly face from his childhood. He bent down and picked it up. Probably fell from the train, he thought. It felt heavy; he took a quick look inside. Girl’s clothing, a coloring book, and…Yes! A pair of little pink boots! An idea formed in Jon’s head. It was crazy, but it just might work. He grabbed the muddy briefcase in his other hand and rushed back to Ay-Tal.
Jon had never seen the Change ritual; he was only a few months old for the most recent one. He had been told about it, of course, but hoped never to have to personally put into practice the legends of his fathers. There were chanting and singing and some drumming, but Jon believed all that was for his people’s benefit and not strictly necessary. He knelt before the gray form that was bundled in the ugly blankets and maneuvered the child-sized pink boots under the soft flesh. It almost felt like the gray tendrils burrowed into the earth beneath the Ay-Tal’s body, merging with networks of tubular filaments of mycelia that Jon knew naturally permeated the ground under the tree.
“Ay-Tal?” he said softly. “I know this is not what you would want. And I will help you with…with something else later.” He felt uncomfortable even talking about the Change, much less requesting Ay-Tal to become a child for him. But he saw no other way. The authorities would be looking for him and a woman. An injured woman. Perhaps if he posed as a father of a little girl… “Please?”
Slowly, oh so very slowly, thin tendrils snaked their way into the tiny boots. His father told him it took over a week for Ay-Tal to become the woman he met. How long would it take now? Back then, his grandfather spent several years designing the person Ay-Tal would need to become to win the tribe’s case in front of the Supreme Court. Ay-Tal knew what was required of her and helped shape that person. But now? How would it work now? Jon sat and watched and prayed to Aguguq that the metamorphosis didn’t take too long.
He woke up with a start. It was dark and very cold. The moon was out; he could see its light shining through the branches of their tree. A small hand touched his cheek.
“Jon?” The voice was very high. A small child was staring at him from inside a nest of blankets. “Will this work?”
“Ay-Tal?” It was one thing to know about the Change, but to witness the transformation? Jon was shaken. The child in front of him was no more than five, perhaps even younger. A skinny little arm was attached to a tiny little hand with miniature fingers. The eyes staring at him were deep blue, with just a hint of gray around the edge. A bit of red hair poked out from under the dirty cloth. That and those pink boots.
“Will this work?” the child asked again.
Jon forced himself to focus. “Yes. That’s very good, Ay-Tal.” It felt strange complimenting a god. “Thank you.” He quickly looked at the child’s face and then had to look away—too strange. “I have some clothing here.” He pulled out the Dora the Explorer bag and gave it to Ay-Tal. “If you could dress, we should try to get out of here as quickly as possible. They will be looking for us.”
The child nodded and took the bag. There were some pink tights, a t-shirt with another Dora print on it, and a sweatshirt. The clothing was covered in mud and blooming with spots of mold. Not enough to keep a child warm, Jon noted to himself. Ay-Tal wiggled out of the blankets and started to put on the clothing, slipping off only one boot at a time.
The child was male, Jon noticed in shock.
When done, Ay-Tal smiled at him. “Ready?”
“Y-yes,” he stammered. “Are you cold or anything?”
“I will be,” the boy answered. “But not yet. It takes time to adjust to the Change.”
“Yes, of course.” Jon had no idea what that meant. “Can you walk?”
“Only for as long as a kid my age can,” the boy said with a smile…a very adult smile. “And call me Al. I think it works better for this body, don’t you?”
“Al. I can do that.” Jon tried to smile back, but it didn’t work—his face refused to make it. So he gathered their meager possessions, rearranging his backpack so he could carry all of the legal documents on his back and tied the rest into a bundle made from one of the blankets. Ay-Tal…Al put on the dirty little backpack and tried to bury the briefcase under the many seasons of pine needles and other detritus surrounding the base of their tree hideout.
“Let me help you with that,” Jon said and with just a few movements of his wide hands finished the job of concealing the bag. It would be found, of course. But anything to give them additional time to melt into the American landscape was worth it.
The child that was Ay-Tal watched him cover the now empty briefcase and strip a dead branch to make a stick to tie up their bundle for ease of carrying; a hobo stick. They climbed together from under the tree. Jon swung the bundle over his shoulder, resting the stick on the strap of his backpack. Al gave him his hand, like a child would. And they walked into the woods, away from the tracks. Jon hoped to find some shelter before the moon set. In this part of the country, they were really never too far from civilization…for better or worse.
A few hours later, Jon was carrying the sleeping child over his shoulder, wrapped in a blanket like a burrito. He walked on the shoulder of US-12, a highway he had located on his map, pegging their position near the town of Wilkins, Wisconsin. It was still dark and there was no traffic, but Jon was ready to jump into the trees along the side of the road if he spotted any headlights. He was sure there was a manhunt on for him and didn’t want to take any chances.
They would need to stop and buy more appropriate clothing for Al. He almost said “Ay-Tal” in his head but stopped himself. That name was dangerous now—too memorable and too easily connected to current events. How many Inuit lawyers named Ay-Tal Blue that just won an argument in the highest court of land were there? She was all over the news last week and would be again now, for totally different reasons. Jon shifted his shoulders, and the child gave a soft sigh. Poor kid tried to walk by himself, and only after Jon pointed out that he was slowing them down did Al allow himself to be carried.
She doesn’t just mimic the attributes of the person she changes into—she fully inhabits that person, he remembered his father telling him. For good or bad, Al was a little kid now. Jon wondered if Al remembered all her…his previous lives. He must. Or it just doesn’t work. He decided to ask later, the next time it was convenient to have such a conversation.
Jon also needed to let his tribe know what happened. He was wary of using phones, but there was an email account set up that he could use to draft a message in code. Messages from that account were never sent, in order to avoid interception in transit. Someone back home checked the account several times a day and read all of the unsent email drafts. Nothing was ever addressed to anyone; nothing ever moved across the network. Ay-Tal had set up the message drop system when the Internet came online, decades ago. Now the whole tribe used this spy-craft stuff. Encryptions, codes, secure passwords, cyber currency, anonymous accounts… It had all been fun and games until now. But Ay-Tal taught them well; clearly, she foresaw it might become necessary someday.
He needed papers for Al. There was no easy way to get over the Canadian border without passports. And the kid didn’t look like his son. A shame, that. It would have been so much easier if Al was a dark-haired, dark-eyed, dark-skinned little boy. People would ask questions, the way Al looked. Perhaps they could use hair dye and sunglasses; it would work at a distance, but not at the border inspection or during any other interaction with authorities. Jon felt cold sweat run down his back as he thought of the police arresting him for murder and taking Al away. They would accuse him of child trafficking, too, and put Ay-Tal in foster care. He needed to stay away from people as much as possible and come up with a good cover story. He could change his appearance somewhat; he could shave his head and grow a beard, perhaps. Would that confuse any face-recognition systems? He could use skin-lightening creams. He could dye his hair red to match Al’s. But then his passport… He was never into the cloak-and-dagger stuff; he was a traditional Inuit artisan, just like his father and his father’s father before him.
A squat building with white walls and a dark-shingled roof surprised Jon out of the early morning mist. “Wilkins Nite Club” said giant letters across the entire facade. On one corner of the building, there were signs of fire damage that were patched up and covered with two giant flags, Wisconsin’s and the Stars and Stripes. Jon looked around. There were no other structures close by and no cars parked in the gravel-covered parking lot. He dashed into the lot and behind the nightclub. He needed to rest a bit and change his own clothing. All this mud and blood would attract attention. Back on the train, Jon never got to the point where his and Ay-Tal’s tickets were actually checked—the conductor never learned their names. Would the conductor remember what they…he looked like? People were notorious for being lousy eyewitnesses. And he still needed to dispose of Ay-Tal’s IDs; it would not be good to be found with those.
He lowered Al, still wrapped in the Pacific Railroad blanket, onto the back porch. The ground was wet and cold, covered in a silvery frost. “These blankets have to go too,” Jon mumbled under his breath, which came out as a small silver cloud about his face. “Should have left ’em under that tree for the police to find.” But the kid was cold. “Aguguq. So much to do.”
Al was sleeping peacefully. He looked like a little cherub from one of those greeting cards. And that was a big problem. Jon actually didn’t look like a typical Inuit—those English genes. He was taller than average for his people, just under six feet, and his eyes were an unexpected dark gray, not brown. But who would take the time to check his eye color when looking at Al’s wide blue-as-a-clear-March-sky eyes? Aguguq, help me.
And looks like a girl too, Jon continued his train of thought. A little white blue-eyed boy…or girl traveling with a guy like him raised eyebrows as well as questions. He needed to get the kid sex-appropriate clothing, something dark and grungy. But those boots… He looked at the shocking patch of pink sticking out from under the drab navy-blue blanket. Those had to stay. So more raised eyebrows, more questions.
He pulled out Ay-Tal Blue’s wallet and passport. Keep or destroy? As far as Jon knew, Al would never be able to take on that identity again. If they were discovered with these… Jon stuffed the papers deep into his backpack and lay down next to the child, pressing the little body close. The kid was still cold and made pathetic little snorts in his sleep. A child who is not a child. How do I keep him safe? And with that thought, Jon fell fast asleep.

About the Author

Olga Werby got her B.A. from Columbia University in Mathematics and Astrophysics and worked at NASA on the Pioneer Venus Project as a programmer. She received her masters from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology and went on to earn a doctorate in education. Together with her husband and business partner, Olga conceives, designs, and creates products, ideas, websites, and exhibits. Along the way, she writes science fiction.

Olga is an indie author. Her stories have won awards and got some nice reviews (thank you, readers!).
Contact Links

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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“Everfair: A Novel” by Nisi Shawl

Everfair cover

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From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo.

What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier?

Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Shawl’s speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Amazon

#BookTour “The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones” by Elizabeth Crowens

A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowenson Tour October 1-31, 2019

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Synopsis:

  In 1914, the war to end all wars turns the worlds of John Patrick Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West and Harry Houdini upside down. Doyle goes back to ancient China in his hunt for that “red book” to help him write his Sherlock Holmes stories. Scott is hell-bent on finding out why his platoon sergeant has it out for him, and they both discover that during the time of Shakespeare every day is a witch-hunt in London. Is the ability to travel through time the ultimate escape from the horrific present, or do ghosts from the past come back to haunt those who dare to spin the Wheel of Karma? The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES, sequel to SILENT MERIDIAN, combines the surrealism of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with the supernatural allure of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell set during WWI on the Western Front.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES was the First Prize winner of the Chanticleer Review’s Paranormal Fiction Awards.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir

Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC

Publication Date: August 1st 2019

Number of Pages: 334

ISBN: 9781950384051

Series: The Time Traveler Professor #2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One: Kitchener’s Call to Arms

August 1914

“Have you ever killed a man before?” I had, but close to three hundred years ago. So, I lied and just shook my head. “Your name, son?” the recruitment officer asked. “John Patrick Scott,” I said, with pride. The officer handed me a card to fill out. “Write your date of birth, where you live and don’t skip any questions. When finished, bring this over to Line B.” Born during the reign of Queen Victoria, somehow or other I managed to travel to the 23rd century, feudal Japan, and ancient China long before the Great War started. The army wanted to know all the places I had traveled, but it was doubtful that much information was required. Since the war to end all wars commenced, recruiting centers sprang up like wildflowers. This one took over an Edinburgh public library. If unaware as to why the enthusiastic furor, one would’ve guessed the government gave away free land tracts with titles. “Let’s see how clever you blokes are. Tell me the four duties of a soldier,” another enlistment administrator called out. An overeager Glaswegian shouted, “Obedience, cleanliness, honesty and sobriety, sir!” The chap next to him elbowed his side. “Takes no brains to read a bloody sign.” Propaganda posters wallpapered the room with solicitous attempts at boosting morale. Kitchener wanted us and looked straight into our eyes. Proof of our manhood or perhaps stupidity. Queues of enthusiasm wound around the block. Impatient ones jumped the lines. We swore our allegiance to the King over a bible. As long as the war lasted, our lives were no longer our own. Voices from men I’d never see again called out from the crowd. “It’ll be over in six weeks.” “Are you so sure?” “Check out those men. All from the same cricket team. Play and die together. Medals of Valor in a blink. Local heroes with celebrations.” “I’ll drink to that.” A crusty old career soldier yelled out to the volunteers, “Does anyone speak Flemish?” Suddenly the place got quiet. Then he looked at me. “Soldier, do you know anything besides the King’s English? French?” “Fluent German,” I said. “That should be helpful.” “Since when were you with the Bosches?” “Fourteen years, sir. Before the war.” “And what were you doing in enemy territory?” “Worked as a teacher. A music professor and a concert pianist when I could get the engagements and sometimes as an amateur photographer. They weren’t our enemies then, sir.” “Have you ever shot a rifle, son?” “Actually, I have…” “Find a pair of boots that fits you, lad. Hustle now. Time’s a wasting.” The Allied and German armies were in a Race to the Sea. If the Germans got there first, then England was in danger of invasion. Basic training opened its arms to the common man, and it felt strange to be bedding alongside Leith dockworkers and farmers, many underage, versus the university colleagues from my recent past. Because of the overwhelming need for new recruits, training facilities ran out of room. The army took over church halls, local schools and warehouses in haste. Select recruits were billeted in private homes, but we weren’t so fortunate. Except for acquired muscles, I slimmed down and resembled the young man that I was in my university days except with a tad more gray hair, cut very short and shaved even closer on the sides. No more rich German pastries from former students as part of my diet. At least keeping a clean-shaven face wasn’t a challenge since I never could grow a beard. Wearing my new uniform took getting used to. Other recruits laughed, as I’d reach to straighten my tie or waistcoat out of habit despite the obvious fact that I was no longer wearing them. While still in Scotland during basic training, I started to have a series of the most peculiar dreams. My boots had not yet been muddied with the soil of real battlefields. New recruits such as I, had difficult adjustments transitioning from civilian life. Because of my past history of lucid dreaming, trips in time travel and years of psychical experimentation I conducted both on my own and with my enthusiastic and well-studied mentor, Arthur Conan Doyle, my nightmares appeared more real than others. My concerns were that these dreams were either actual excursions into the Secret Library where the circumstances had already occurred or premonitions of developments to come. The most notable of these episodes occurred toward the end of August in 1914. In this dream, I had joined another British platoon other than my own in Belgium on the Western Front. We were outnumbered at least three to one, and the aggressive Huns surrounded us on three sides. Whistles blew. “Retreat!” yelled our commanding officer, a privileged Cambridge boy, barely a man and younger than I, who looked like he had never seen the likes of hardship. We retreated to our trenches to assess what to plan next, but instead of moving toward our destination everyone froze in their tracks. Time was like a strip of film that slowed down, spooled off track, and jammed inside a projector. Then the oddest thing happened to our enemy. For no apparent reason, their bodies jerked and convulsed as if fired upon by invisible bullets over the course of an hour. When the morning fog lifted, the other Tommies and I broke free from our preternatural standstill and charged over the top of the trenches with new combat instructions. Half of our platoon dropped their rifles in shock. Dead Huns, by the thousands, littered No man’s land long before we had even fired our first retaliatory shot! I woke up agitated, disoriented and in a cold sweat. Even more disturbing was finding several brass shell casings under my pillow — souvenirs or proof that I had traveled off somewhere and not imagined it. I roused the sleeping guy in the next bed and couldn’t wait to share this incredible story. “Shush!” he warned me. “You’ll wake the others.” Meanwhile, he rummaged inside his belongings and pulled out a rumpled and grease-stained newspaper clipping that looked and smelled like it had originally been used to wrap up fish and chips. He handed it to me with excitement. “My folks sent this me from back home.” The headlines: “Angels sited at the Battle of Mons” Almost as notable was the article’s byline written by my best friend from the University of Edinburgh, Wendell Mackenzie, whom I had lost track of since the war started. He begged me to read on. “Hundreds of witnesses claimed similarities in their experiences. There were rumors aplenty about ghostly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt where the Brits fought against the French back in 1415. Inexplicable apparitions appeared out of nowhere and vanquished German enemy troops at the recent Battle of Mons.” “This looks like a scene from out of a storybook.” I pointed to an artist’s rendition and continued. “Word spread that arrow wounds were discovered on corpses of the enemy nearby, and it wasn’t a hoax. Others reported seeing a Madonna in the trenches or visions of St. Michael, another saint symbolizing victory.” “Now, I don’t feel so singled out,” I said and handed the newspaper articles back to my comrade. For weeks, I feared talking to anyone else about it and insisted my mate keep silent. Even in wartime, I swore that I’d stay in touch with my closest acquaintances, Wendell Mackenzie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was easier to keep abreast of Arthur’s exploits, because of his public celebrity. On the other hand, Wendell, being a journalist, could be anywhere in the world on assignment. * * * Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie, I regret having missed Wendell when he never made it over to visit Scotland, and you wonder if someone up above watches over us when we make decisions where to go and when. In my case it was when I decided to take a summer vacation and travel to Edinburgh before the war. Those without passports or proper documentation endured countless detours and delays getting back to their respective homelands. One of Mrs. Campbell’s lodgers had been detained in France. With nothing to return to back in Germany, I joined the Royal Scots. Military training commenced in Edinburgh, and at least they had us wearing uniforms of pants tucked into gaiters as opposed to the Highland troops who wore kilts. Although I was born and bred in Scotland, as a Lowlander that’s one outfit you’d have to force me into with much duress. Our tasks would be in the Scots Territorial units deployed on our coastline in case of an enemy invasion. Potential threats could come from spies or submarines, but most say that the worst enemy has been the frigid wind blowing off the North Sea. As there is always talk about combining forces and transfers, my aunt can always forward letters. It would mean more than the world to hear from Wendell saying that not only is he all right, but also in good spirits. Yours most devoted, Private John Patrick Scott * * * Dear Arthur, In our last correspondence, I conveyed that I was unable to return to my teaching post in Stuttgart. With your tour in the Boer War as my inspiration, I joined the military. We learned the basics: how to follow commands, first aid, march discipline and training in all matters of physical fitness. My feet have been in a constant state of rebellion, since my previous profession as a pianist was a sedentary occupation. Deployment was supposed to be along the coast of Scotland, but the army reassigned me despite first promises because of too many staggering losses on the Western Front. I requested to be part of the air corps and a pioneer in new battle technology, but my recruiting officers had other plans. Our regiment left for Ypres in Belgium. None of the Tommies could pronounce the name of this place, so everyone called it Wipers. You’re no stranger to war, but everyone has been surprised that it lasted longer than anticipated. Yours Most Devoted, Private John Patrick Scott * * * Troops from all over under the wing of the British Expeditionary Forces piled on to ships to sail out to the continent. The locals from Edinburgh didn’t expect to leave bonnie ole Scotland. They told us we’d defend our shores from foreign invasions. I’d crossed the North Sea before, but then it was a sea of hope and a new life full of opportunity when I got my scholarship to continue my musical studies in Germany, now the enemy. I turned to the nearest stranger, hoping that a random conversation would break the monotonous and never-ending wait until we set anchor in Belgium. “How was your basic training?” “Three months at an abandoned amusement park,” the soldier replied. “We trained for the longest time in our street clothes and were told they ran out of uniforms. Probably sent recycled ones after the first troops died. Used wooden dummy rifles until the real ones arrived. What about you?” “We used an abandoned dance hall. Never could get used to waking at 5:30 a.m.” “Word got around that in Aldershot soldiers had luxury facilities with a billiards room, a library, private baths and a buffet. I suspect that was for the regulars, the old-timers, not new recruits like us.” “I should’ve enlisted elsewhere,” I grumbled, not that it would’ve made much of a difference if we’d all die in the end. He pointed to my face and examined my flawless hands. “You don’t look like much of an outdoorsman. Pale, hairless complexion. No scars.” “I’m a concert pianist.” “Not much use on the Front.” “Probably not. Excuse me, I need some air.” I bundled up in my great coat, wrapping my muffler a wee bit tighter. Wasn’t sure which were worse — the soldiers with their asphyxiating cigarettes or numbing sleet turning into ice pellets. Hadn’t gotten my sea legs, yet. Stormy swells churned my stomach. Sweet Scotland. Lush green grass and the sky the color of blue moonstone. Never thought I’d be so sentimental. Continued staring until brilliant hues of the shoreline merged into dismal grays of a foggy horizon. In the transition from civilian to soldier, I stepped through a door of no return unless I desired to come back home in a coffin.

Chapter Two: The Other Lost World

Ypres, Belgium Late fall, 1914

A sea of strange men, but all comrades-in-arms, all recent transplants marched to their assignments and followed orders without question to who-knows-where on the way to the battlefield sites. We sallied forth, anonymous troops with a distorted sense of time and distance through the streets of has-been cities, once thriving communities. Poetry in ruination. As we marched through the Grote Markt (Grand Market) heading out toward the Menenpoort (or Menen Gate) I didn’t expect to get an education. The soldier to my left kept talking out loud and compared notes of local tourist attractions. He was probably unaware that anyone else had overheard his comments. “That long, distinctive building with the church hiding behind it must be the Hallen… or their Cloth Hall. There were impressive paintings on the interior walls of the Pauwels Room depicting the history of this town and its prosperous textile trade.” “How do you know this?” I asked, trying not to attract too much attention. “I’m a historian. Used to teach at a priory school in Morpeth.” Perhaps I was naïve, but I asked, “Why would the armed forces recruit someone with a background in history?” “That didn’t influence my enlistment although I’m sure it’ll come in handy somewhere. Before the war, I traveled all over Europe when time permitted. I brought original postcards with me as to what this town used to look like. It’s frightening to see the difference.” “Your name?” I asked. “Private Watson. What about you?” “Not John Watson, by any chance?” “No, Roger Watson, why?” I shook my head thinking about Arthur and bit my lip to hide a slight smile. “Oh nothing… My name is Private Scott, John Patrick Scott.” “What brings you to this dismal corner of the earth?” “Ich war ein Musiklehrer. Pardon me, sometimes I break into German. I’m from Edinburgh but was living in Germany as a music teacher. Can’t be doing that sort of thing now.” “I suppose not.” “Roger, sorry to have eavesdropped, but it sounded so interesting. Then you are familiar with the area we just marched through?” “That was the central merchant and trading hub of Ypres and has been since the mid-fifteenth century. On the north side over there is St. Martin’s Cathedral. You can already see the damage from German attacks.” There was no escaping the needless destruction by aggressive enemy bombing. We continued marching forward in formation. A little way beyond the city gate, we passed by the remains of a park and children’s playground. The soldiers took a rest break and snacked on portable rations. Many of them took off their boots and massaged their feet. Not too far away, I found a shattered brick in the rubble of what had been a schoolhouse and brought it back to where everyone was having his makeshift picnic. Watson noticed that I kept twirling the small fragment in my hand while intermittently closing my eyes. “Scott, what are you doing?” “Pictures form in my mind similar to movies. It’s the art of psychometry,” I replied. “Psycho — what?” Another soldier overheard us talking. “Sounds like something from Sigmund Freud,” one called out. “Not at all, it’s like a psychical gift or talent. It has nothing to do with psychoanalysis.” “What’s the point?” the first one asked. I felt under pressure to put my thoughts into words. “I can understand what building this brick was part of when it was intact and what was here before it was destroyed.” “That’s incredible!” Watson exclaimed. “If you are able to uncover bygone times by psychical means, I am all ears.” When everyone else discounted my talent, Watson gave it full praise. Others became impatient and weren’t interested in our sidebar history lesson. “Can you use those skills beyond inanimate objects?” one soldier asked. “Find me an object, someone’s former possession,” I said. Another soldier found a broken pocket watch not far from a trampled garden. He tossed it over, and I caught it with both hands. When I closed my eyes, the images materialized in my mind’s eye. “A loving grandfather was reading to his grandchildren from an illustrated story book. He was balding. Wore spectacles. Had a trimmed white beard. “‘Time for bed,’ he said, looking at his watch. Tick tock, tick tock. It was a gift from his father. “He kissed each grandchild on the forehead as they scampered off. Two girls, one boy, all in their nightgowns. The tallest girl was a redhead with… pink ribbons in her long, curly hair. Then the bombs dropped. Fire. The roof collapsed. All was lost. Then… then… Oh my God!” “Scotty, what’s wrong?” Watson asked. I looked at the blank faces around me. “You don’t see him?” Watson was baffled. “See who?” “That grandfather,” I said, horrified and clutching onto that timepiece. His ghost was standing right in front of me! Then I realized that no one else was capable of seeing him. Inside, I panicked until my frozen fingers let go of the watch, and it tumbled into the dirt. That’s when his phantasmal form vanished, but there were still indelible memories impressed upon the ether that refused to fade with the passage of time. Warning bells tolled from a nearby church. “Quick, run for cover!” our commanding officer shouted. Double-time over to shelter. Incoming bombs whistled and boomed in the distance. Civilians followed, carrying their most precious possessions, also fleeing for their lives. The sanctuary already suffered from shell damage that left large gaping holes in its roof. Birds nested above the pulpit. Cherished religious statuary had been knocked over and broken. Several nuns rushed up and motioned the way for us to take refuge in the basement. We joined the crowd of scared families, members of the local community. “Isn’t Britain giving them haven?” I asked Watson. “I thought most of the civilians evacuated by now.” “There are still the ones who want to hold out,” he explained. “Wouldn’t you if your entire life and livelihood were here for multiple generations? That’s why they’re counting on us, but the Germans are relentless. Ypres is right on the path of strategic routes to take over France.” When several farmers brought over their pigs and chickens, our retreat began to resemble a biblical nativity scene. From inside the cellar, we could hear the rumble of the outside walls collapsing. “We’ll be trapped!” People yelled out in panic. A group of sisters prayed in the corner. Our trench diggers readied themselves to shovel us out if it came to that. One terror-stricken woman handed me a screaming baby. “I found him abandoned.” At least that’s what I thought she said in Flemish, but none of us could understand her. Confused and without thinking, I almost spoke in Japanese, but that would’ve been for the wrong place and an entirely different century during a different lifetime. “What will I do with him?” I said to her in German, but she didn’t comprehend me either. I couldn’t just place him down in a corner. We’d be marching out in a matter of minutes. I approached a man with his wife and three other children. First I tried English, then German, random words of French, and then I tried Greek and Latin from my school days. Finally I resorted to awkward gestures to see if he’d take the child. But he shook his head, gathered his brood and backed off. Troops cleared a path out of the cellar. We needed to report to our stations before nightfall. “Sister, please?” I begged one nun, interrupting her rosary. To my relief, she took the infant. “Oh Mon Dieu!” I cried out in the little French that I knew. “Danke, thank you, merci boucoup.” Then I ran off to join the others. Watson slapped me on the back. “Looked like you were going to be a father, mate.” “Not yet. Got a war to fight,” I replied. *** Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.
 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Catch Up With Our Author On: elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. There will be 8 winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. Seven (7) winners will each receive A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through November 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

#GuestPost “The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian” by Elizabeth Crowens

Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens Banner

on Tour August 18 – September 21, 2019

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Topic:  Your book is a movie! Who’s in your dream cast?

Book: The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian

If The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian were a movie, there would have to be a whole bunch of them — similar to the Harry Potter films, because that’s how the series is constructed. Silent Meridian, however, has often been compared to Doctor Who. Therefore, I could totally visualize it as a Netflix or Amazon Prime series with approximately eight one-hour episodes per season and a season assigned to each novel. Originally, there were going to be seven novels in the Time Traveler Professor series, but I’m trying to cut it down to four.

Since I worked in various capacities of the entertainment industry for over twenty years, I’m very good at spotting facial similarities of actors to famous people. There’s no question I’d cast Hugh Jackman as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For a Victorian gentleman, Doyle was unusually tall at 6’5” and an athletic man. Jackman has pumped up for roles and is a hearty 6’4”. Some of his best roles are when he plays historical characters and does the Victorian era well. If you compare photos of Doyle and Jackman side by side, the shape of Jackman’s eyes and his broad forehead are similar. Add the signature mustache and voila!

H.G. Wells is tougher, but I think Edward Norton could pull it off, and it’s ironic they both starred in films set in the 19th century where they both played stage magicians, The Prestige and The Illusionist. As long as there aren’t any contractual issues, for Harry Houdini, I’d cast Michael Weston who played Houdini in the ill-fated television show, Houdini and Doyle. Personally I didn’t think the writing on the show was up to par and I don’t think the directors did Houdini’s character justice, but Weston certainly had the look.

Sasha Baron Cohen or Rami Malek could play Francois Poincaré depending on how old we want to make the character, because Poincaré has a Freddie Mercury-type of charm. Once that is determined, we’d have to cast the role of his wife, Sophia, although I’m not sure who would be the best fit. Possibly Marion Cotillard if Sasha Baron Cohen is cast because the similarities in age. Also, if she could do a German accent. Wendell Mackenzie’s character would also be up for grabs. In the novel, I describe him with dark hair and a beard and with blue eyes, able to speak with a Scottish accent and around the same age as the actor cast as John Patrick Scott.

Finally for John Patrick Scott, our protagonist, I’ve had my eye on Irish actor, Robert Sheehan and think he can pull it off as long as we color his hair auburn. That was before he got his role in The Umbrella Academy. Depending on the timing, I’m not sure if he’d be available for another series. I also have concerns about the similarity of the roles.

Read The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian and see if you agree. Similar to the Harry Potter series, I’d suggest reading the first book before picking up any of the others in the series. That’s why we’re discounting the eBook for only $1.99. Also, if you sign up for my monthly newsletter at elizabethcrowens[dot]com/contact/ you’ll get updates on my book tour and free eBooks several times a year exclusive for subscribers.

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Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert pianist, but a paranormal investigator and a time traveler professor to a select few.

Like Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery, together they explore lost worlds and their friendship is tested to the limits when they go back in time to find it. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. First Prize winner of Chanticleer Review’s Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction and First Prize for Steampunk in the Independent Press Awards. Stay tuned for A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES; Book Two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir

Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC

Publication Date: June 12th 2019

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN: 9781950384 (ISBN13: 9781950384044)

Series: The Time Traveler Professor #1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

Edinburgh, 1898

Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever. “John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said and approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table of the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune finally brought us together, but we were both nervous. “Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I was unsure how to address him. Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur.” “Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.” I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation. “Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked. “Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading. “Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.” “Rent?” I choked in disbelief. “We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew he was dying and therefore needed to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.” “That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you need to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit.” Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice. “John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is the mystic was aware he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business, which couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.” “Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied. “Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.” I sensed he had a secret agenda. Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject — the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.” Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement. “Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.” I became silent for a moment, stalling for time as I slowly raised my glass of ale to my lips. As soon as I fished a small red book out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table in front of us Arthur eyed it intently. It had been the source of intrigue, which led me to Doyle in the first place and piqued his curiosity as much as it did mine. “Could I have done something terrible in my youth that caused this to happen?” “You have no recollections, John?” “I remember so little of my childhood. I wish I could.” “You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll come up with a clever deduction.” Mr. Doyle paused to relight his pipe. He had an unnerving look in his eye, which I vainly tried to read into, but he took me for a spin when he brought up the next topic. “On another note, John, have you ever considered that people are capable of communicating without speech, and I’m not talking about writing letters?” “Pardon me?” “Imagine communicating by mere thoughts. I’ve always wanted to experiment with someone open to these concepts. God knows — my brothers at the Society for Psychical Research certainly talk enough about it. My wife, Touie, has been an unwilling subject and is not the most objective choice.” I looked at him, somewhat perplexed. “Are you asking me to accurately guess what you’re thinking?” “Come now. We’ll play a game. I’ll form an image in my mind, and for the next minute I will try to project it into yours. Clear your thoughts of any distractions and be as receptive as possible,” he explained. As much as I tried, I couldn’t have been more preoccupied. Images of that fateful event flashed through my brain. My recollections revealed my rain-soaked train ticket. I kept arguing with the steward about putting me in the wrong cabin. An erroneous judgment had been made when three strangers insisted I was Arthur. We were so different in physical appearance. He was a large, athletic man with a distinguished moustache. On the other hand, I had baby smooth skin and couldn’t grow facial hair to save my life. I was nearly twenty years younger and much shorter with wild auburn hair that resembled Maestro Beethoven’s with the exception of premature strands of gray. So why was I singled out? Was there laudanum in my brandy? Details spun like a whirlwind. I must’ve been in a drug-induced stupor but I was initiated into some secret Masonic-like society, and when it was all over those mysterious men were gone. What remained were an engraved silver ring on my finger and an ominous red book on the seat beside me. “Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” Arthur broke my trance and realized my thoughts had been elsewhere. “I felt like I had.” Barely able to articulate, I tried to tame my wild mane in place. Visions faded in and out. Timelines jumped. So I gulped down another swig of ale to focus on the present. Arthur leaned in closer. “I can see you’re still worried about that event on the train. Those men have been after me for some time. Why? It’s hard to fathom. I’ll dilly dally with notions here and there about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Watson, who fancy themselves as detectives. Me? I’m just a simple doctor and writer with interests in Spiritualism trying to find scientific explanations for the unknown.” “Arthur, what would anyone want with an unassuming music student like me?” “Personally, I don’t think this was A Case of Identity,” Arthur replied with a smile. Obviously he meant to say my dilemma was not a case of mistaken identity, not the name of one of his famous Sherlock stories. He was pleased I caught the humor of his play on words. “Perhaps it has something to do with that book,” he said pointing to the one I brought. “I’m concerned it’s dangerous, that it’s a curse. I wish I had never found it.” I shoved it back into my pocket and drained my glass. * * * One week later as I was returning home from school, my landlady, Lydia Campbell, yelled from the kitchen as I trudged my muddied shoes through the front door of her boarding house. “John, a letter from Undershaw arrived for you today! I wonder whom it could be from? You don’t know anyone from Undershaw, do you?” Oh, yes I did. I grabbed the letter and ran upstairs so fast I nearly tripped on my muffler and fell on my face. I poured myself a glass of port to calm my nerves, doffed my wet garments and sank into my most comfortable brass-studded leather chair I affectionately named my thinking chair, where I created many a melody in my head, could think deep thoughts, and drift off to dreamland. * * * Dear John, I wholeheartedly enjoyed our conversation at the Deacon Brodie and kept my promise of a prompt reply. By now, you are well aware of my passion to explore the realms of Spiritualism and related paranormal phenomena far surpasses any personal interests involved with Sherlock Holmes. Public demand for my writing, however, exerts a strain on how much I can overtly reveal to even my most trusted colleagues. Whenever I indulge in any activity, be it a simple séance, investigating a revered medium or attending a meeting of the British Society for Psychical Research, it never fails to raise the eyebrows of my wary publishers and critics. It’s God’s honest truth that I believe in many of these inexplicable accounts. Even my father painted beautiful renditions of fairies, which I trust he witnessed with his own eyes. The betterment of mankind rests on embracing such theories once they are proven to exist by the scientific community. Thus, I’ll have to continue more controversial and debatable endeavors in utmost secrecy, or at least for the time being until more evidence can be brought to light. Since you seem to be an open-minded young man who has already experienced some effects of the preternatural, this is my proposal: At midnight every night, we should conduct a variety of remote operations with the primary purpose of communicating through means of telepathy. Since I have a tendency to travel, we’ll have to make some sort of adjustment to take into account the different time zones. Of course, you must share this secret with nobody. Besides us, only my wife will know, although she will not participate. When you shared the account of the strange commuter train incident that was enough to convince me that you would be the perfect partner for this private undertaking. Most assuredly, there was something you did in the past in the realm of the arcane to warrant such a chain of events. That was not mere happenstance, and now since you possess that enigmatic red book, I’m sure it will affect your life in ways you’ve never imagined. My intentions have been to perform similar trial and error enterprises with Harry Houdini, a rising star whose stage performances have been astounding audiences, but his busy schedule has made it nearly impossible to coordinate such engagements with any sort of regularity. One of these days we’ll catch up. Meanwhile, I collect whatever news comes from across the herring-pond. At one point, he and I will develop a special relationship based on mutual interests. Regarding the two of us, however, we’ll back up our observations with letters or telegrams as often as possible as proof of results, but those must be destroyed as soon as they are read. Once again, I cannot over emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, we must keep a faithful agreement, as skill will come with practice. If you are willing to put aside any apprehensions regarding trains, I’ll pay for you to travel down to Undershaw and visit me on weekends whenever possible. My driver can meet you in London at a pre-arranged time. You’ll stay in one of our guest bedrooms, and as long as you don’t mind the children and can tolerate what our kitchen staff provides, you’ll be well taken care of. That’ll give us the opportunity to expand our repertoire and commence further psychical experimentation with ectoplasm, spirit photography and astral projection. And bring the red book. I’d like a chance to look at it. I’ve also desired a partner to accompany me for ghost sightings and occult investigations. For all we know with the knowledge gained, we might even break through the barriers of time. That would certainly give Bertie (H.G. Wells) a shock to the senses, proving his imagination does not merely dwell in the realm of fiction. We’ve been at odds on this topic for years. Regarding telepathic technique, I can only suggest you conduct yourself in a way as you see fit. Personally, I don’t give credence to things like magical amulets, but if it helps to have an etheric link, use this letter you hold in your hand, as it contains my heart, soul and signature with a drop of blood, which I added to the ink. You might wish to reciprocate. Let’s raise our glasses to honor the quest of conquering the unknown. Arthur Conan Doyle * * * So, Arthur was serious when he first brought up the subject. When he and I left the pub, I really didn’t know what to think. After all, he was a famous author, and I was merely a student. What possessed him to choose me for such an engagement? I shuffled through my schoolwork to find my pen and ink and a fresh sheet of paper. Blood, I needed blood. Ah, my razor! That would work. I fetched my shaving kit and winced as I drew a few drops. I scribbled a swift, affirmative reply with the blood-tainted ink, mailed the letter the following day and looked forward to our first otherworldly encounter. *** Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Catch Up With Our Author On: elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook

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Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. There will be eight(8) winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and seven (7) winners will each receive Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 23, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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“His Majesty’s Dragon: A Novel of Temeraire” by Naomi Novik

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“His Majesty’s Dragon: A Novel of Temeraire”

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk

Release Date: March 28, 2006

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Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

“Outbreak Mutiny (The Novel Comics)” by Jay Sandlin


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“Outbreak Mutiny (The Novel Comics)”

Author: Jay Sandlin

Genre: Superheroes/Fantasy

Release Date: April 19, 2017

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ALTERNATE HISTORY. WITH SUPERHEROES.

December 31, 1929, was a Day That Lived in Infamy. A war between extraordinary beings with superpowers ended in DEFEAT for the United States and her Allies. Darkness fell on a Golden Age of heroes at the hands of the REICH.

Ten years later, all still mourn the anniversary of the day the Reich seized control during Operation TripleReich. Life is a struggle for the Remnant States occupying the middle of the Old US.

A virus in the Chicago Zone reignites the conflict between good and evil as the Outbreak Mutineers gather to stop the plague’s deadly origins.

Join the Outbreak Babies: – Buccaneer, Clockwork, Atlas, and more- as they battle the Warlords of Reich. Their adventures stretch across the years and through the sewers, high-seas, and even a city park.

No Matter the Time or Place, their Choice is Clear:

Die Free or Live in Chains.

 

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