Excerpt #5 from GATEWAY TO THERA

Below, find the next excerpt from Book Three of the ADVENTURE CHRONICLES. As before, please understand that this is an unedited excerpt.

Dave climbed to his feet and walked over to Laura’s table as Amy walked over to join Pete, and Jack in their card game.

Sitting down next to his girlfriend, Dave said, “Hey, gorgeous. What’s a good-lookin’ babe like you doin’ in a dump like this?”

She smiled shyly at him. “I’m waiting for a good-lookin’ guy to sweep me off my feet.”

Dave chuckled. “Well, wait no longer, dudette.”

“Why?” laughed the cheerleader. “Are you going to take me to him?”

“Funny,” muttered the big teen as he took her hand in his.

Laura looked him in the eye. “Why are we here, Dave? Haven’t we hurt the Renegade’s enough?”

Dave returned her gaze. “Laura, I love you, but before you came along, I guess that the person who I cared ’bout most wuz Jamie. He and I used t’be like brothers. Before he started learnin’ that ninja-stuff, I used ta take up for’im. I mean,” he added, “we were only kids then, but other kids could be mean.

“But, once he started gettin’ good at that stuff, he didn’t need me ta defend’im, anymore.” He looked down at the table. “S’pose this is the last chance I’m gonna get t’do it.”

The big teen looked her lovingly in the eye. “Don’t worry. When this is all over, we’ll go home and try an’ put things back ta the way they were.”

Laura looked over Dave’s shoulder and her eyes widened. He turned to see Sean Wilson leading nine Renegades into the arcade. “Please don’t fight tonight, Dave,” she pleaded with him. “Just give me this one interlude.”

“Okay,” mumbled Dave as he kissed her on the lips.

“Oooohhh,” squealed Sean as he approached the table, “Traci’d be so jealous.” Then he thought for a moment. “Maybe I should go an’ tell her. Make’er get outta Ben’s room long enough ta come here and gut this rival.”

“Laura’s not a rival, dude,” muttered Dave between clenched teeth. “Traci gave up her chances a long time ago.”

Sean leaned upon his arms over the table. “Up for a little fight?”

“Not t’night,” replied Dave angrily.

Sean looked genuinely shocked. “Wh . . . what?”

“Got a promise t’keep.”

Sean looked at Laura, his smile returning. “Oh, I see. This ball’n’chain here has you whipped.”

Dave glared at the Renegade. Looking back at Lauraa, he found her glaring at the delinquent, as well. “You have my blessing,” she proclaimed to her boyfriend.

Dave smiled and looked back at Sean. “Know somethin’, dude?”

“What’s that?” asked the Renegade.

“Props can be dangerous!” chimed the leader of Adventure as he grasped both of the delinquent’s arms and pulled straight out on them, dropping his face onto the table with a loud THUD!

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Review of THE BLACK STILETTO: STARS AND STRIPES by Raymond Benson

The third book in the Black Stiletto series dropped to ninety-nine cents during a promotion on Amazon and I swooped in the pick it up. Having enjoyed the first two books in the series, how did I feel about this one?

In a word . . . disappointment.

Like the previous entries in the series, this one was told from differeent points of view. We have Judy’s diaries, telling us about her life as a costumed vigilante in the late 50s and early 60s (this one takes place in 1960). We have her son, Martin, telling his story in the present and stressing about keeping his mother’s secret. And we add a third voice . . . Maggie, who is the doctor who is caring for Judy in a nursing home where she lives due to her Alzheimers disease. Maggie is also dating Martin.

First, the pros: The Black Stilettto is a heroic figure. She goes out of her way to protect the innocent, even at great threat to her own safety. Her fearlessness shows again and again as she puts her life at risk to protect a Chinese boy and his widowed mother. She even offers them financial help when they need it. Martin loves his mother and struggles to keep her secret. He also is obviously a loving father, worried for the saftey of his daughter after she was assaulted in New York in the second book. And Maggie desperately wants to love him, despite her (rightful) feeling that he is hiding something important from her.

Now, the cons: Judy is more naive in this story than before. She gets drunk and seduces one of the men from her gym. This is compounded by the fact that she later finds out that he’s married. Granted, he has severe remorse and refuses to do it again, but he should have had the strength to stop to begin with. Judy also sleeps with another man who is wining and dining her.

This story also throws politics into the mix. She volunteers for Kennedy’s campaign. Her superhuman intuition tells her, when she looks at Kennedy’s Republican opponent, that Nixon can’t be trusted. The Republican is villified and the Democrat romanticized. Surprise, surprise . . ..

I’m not saying that Kennedy was a bad president. I’d put him in the top ten presidents that we’ve ever had. But he had just as many faults as Nixon.

I’ve already picked up the next book (or downloaded, as the case may be). Hopefully, it’ll be better than this one. I’d give this one three out of five stars.

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Excerpt #4 from GATEWAY TO THERA

Below is the fourth excerpt of the upcoming third book of the ADVENTURE CHRONICLES series. Please remember, this is an unedited excerpt:

The teens had entered the edge of Tarent’s barony at dusk. As Elvara pointed out, there were only three villages in his barony, and only one of those villages stood in their path. The group had decided to stay at an inn here and purchase the rest of the necessary equipment for their journey.

“Careful,” mumbled Jamie as he and his friends climbed from their horses in front of the Wayward Inn. “As that . . . monkey-thing . . . pointed out, Tarent knows that we followed him here and, since this is his realm, we’re outlaws here.”

“Cool!” exclaimed Alexandria. Looking at Max, she chimed, “Just like a good Bonnie and Clyde!”

“Tarent makes the laws here,” explained Elvara. “If he finds us, he will have us put to death.”

“That’s not so cool,” muttered Alex.

The group entered the inn to find that there were ten patrons sitting at three different tables, and two more patrons sitting at the bar. The innkeeper was whistling some strange tune as he cleaned some kind of mugs with a white cloth. Everyone within stared at the adolescents and their two adult friends as they entered the building.

“Friendly people,” whispered Jamie to Yoshi as the group made its way to the bar.

“Considering the law here,” commented the young kunoichi in the same whisper, “I would assume that the people mistrust any strangers.”

The eight each took a seat at the bar. “What’ll it be?” inquired the barkeep, still eyeing them suspiciously.

“Rooms,” answered Deck.

“Two gold a night, per room,” muttered the man. “Baths included, meals an extra gold.”

Elvara paid for eight rooms and meals for each of them. The food was good, a wild boar having been killed by a hunter earlier that day. Jamie, Buster, Max, Alex, and Deck had each drank water, while George, Yoshi, and Elvara each drank ale. After inquiring about the reason Deck had refused ale, the elf was surprised to find out about his ulcer, caused by too much drink when he was learning his trade in Scotland some years before. Apparently bored by the quiet chatter, Max began looking around at the other patrons. Looking to his left, he noticed that one of the customers at the bar was an attractive, young adult woman who was sitting two seats away from him. She had long black hair, and a frame similar to that of Yoshi’s. A short sword hung at her side. But what caught his attention the most was her flute.

“Are you a musician?” he asked her, hoping that she was more friendly than the rest of the patrons.

“Among other things,” she replied with a smile. “I entertain for pay, although nobody seems interested tonight.”

“I am,” stated Alex. Handing her two gold pieces, she said, “Play something.”

The girl smiled and picked her flute up from the bar.

“What’s your name?” asked George.

“Drielle,” replied the entertainer as she brought the flute up to her mouth. “Drielle Nightsinger.” She began to play.

At first, although lovely, none of the group recognized the melody. But, then Max apparently caught some similarity to an earth tune and started singing. Alexandria’s jaw dropped. He sang beautifully. Looking around, she noticed that the rest of her friends seemed just as shocked as she was.

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Excerpt #3 from GATEWAY TO THERA

Below is the third excerpt from Book Three of the ADVENTURE CHRONICLES. As always, please be aware that this is an unedited excerpt:

Yoshi performed a back flip, bringing both feet into the creature’s chin. The creature stumbled backward, but still remained standing. Looking around, Yoshi noticed that her friends had already dispatched all of the creatures that hadn’t fled. They were now watching her battle. “Great, you guys!” she exclaimed as she slammed her right foot into the creature’s knee, causing it to howl in pain, but still not taking it down. “I have enough to worry about without having to perform for an audience!”

The creature attempted a downward stroke, but Yoshi narrowly dodged to her right and avoided the creature’s blade. She started to swing one of her own swords upward, but the creature was too quick and sliced her across the right leg. She gasped in pain and fell to the knee of her left leg.

“Now, you die, human!” exclaimed the creature as it reared back with its sword.

In a last ditch effort to stop the creature from ending her life, Yoshi shoved both of her ninja-tos into its gut. A look of surprise registered upon her opponent’s reptilian face as it dropped its sword, her blades dislodging from it as it fell backward.

Looking down at the creature, she said, “I believe that you were mistaken.”

Jamie rushed to his clan-sister’s side, putting his arm around her and helping her to walk back over to the rest of their friends.

“He was pretty good,” remarked the young kunoichi with a chuckle.

“The best swordsman of the crechaw,” stated the young woman who had been on the altar. “I would say that you are very good!”

Yoshi looked up at her with a smile. “Some have said so.”

“What’s a crechaw?” asked Max.

“A magically altered human,” replied the girl. “They were a creation of Tarent of Skull Keep.”

“Tarent!” boomed Jamie. “He’s the one who has Shawna! Where can we find this Skull Keep?”

“Oh,” stated the girl, “you don’t wish to go there. Tarent is the baron of a small area about two days’ march to the south. He has proclaimed that anyone who enters his tower without permission will be put to death.” She looked around suspiciously at the tattered teens and their adult friend. “Everyone knows about Tarent. What is your story?”

“All I know is that this Tarent-guy has taken a person who is very dear to me,” said Jamie, “and I intend to get her back.”

“I see,” muttered the girl.

“What’s your name?” asked Alex.

“Oh, my word!” exclaimed the girl. “How rude of me.” She composed herself, straightening her robe and the pouches upon her belt. “I am the prophetess, Elvara Winterbreeze, daughter of the weapon smith Darian Winterbreeze.”

“I’m Alexandria Rhee,” said Alex as she shook Elvara’s hand. “And this cutie,” she gestured at her boyfriend, “is Max Adams. These are our friends . . . Jamie Raleigh, Yoshi Funakoshi, Buster Goodman, George Tanner, and . . .”

” . . . Deck Pendragon,” interrupted big man as he took her right hand and kissed it, “at your service.”

Elvara smiled shyly and used her left hand to stroke her blonde hair behind her ear, which the members of Adventure could now see was pointed.

“What is the matter?” she asked, blushing as she noticed them staring.

“Your ear,” stuttered Max. “It’s . . . it’s . . . pointed!”

Her eyes narrowed in confusion as she folded her arms across her chest. “Haven’t you ever seen an elf before?”

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Review of WHERE THE DEVIL DWELLS by J.L. MacDonald

I try to keep up with the writing of J.L. MacDonald on Facebook. She has a witty personality that endears her to her readers and that wit translates into her written work. Thus is the case here.

Where the Devil Dwells is the second Nightcat novel. The story picks up a month after the last book. Dana and Detective David Rayner have moved their relationship along. Dana is back working at NyTech when she finds out that the man who was responsible for her mutation somehow survived the first novel. Paige, Kurt and Trinity return, along with Dana’s brother and his daughter. We are introduced to Dana’s parents. Old characters are nicely fleshed out.

We also see the man-bat, Raphael, go from a villain to more of an anti-hero, ala the Punisher. Well, sort of.

But Nightcat still has her moral core. Unlike Raphael, she wants to help people and uses her powers to do so. She has become so accustomed to her alter-ego that she becomes melancholy when she thinks she’s lost it. On the other hand, when she begins to lose control of her ability to change, she worries that her intimacy with David could put him in danger as she could get a little . . . too excited.

The book, like the last one, reads like a comic story arc. Several plot points are touched on and I could almost point out places where issues of a comic would end and begin.

Though I loved the book and feel that, as usual, the author uses an easy to understand style, I must comment on the maturity level. Unlike the other stories, the sensuality level is pumped up a bit in this book, though the sexuality between Dana and David almost needed to be in the novel in order to work in the plot point of her losing the ability to control her transformations. There’s also an F-Bomb at one point. It’s not a children’s book. However, if you watched the Blade movies and enjoyed them, then you would be comfortable here. But it’s a bit more mature than the Avengers or any of its component prequels.

Other than that comment, I would say that the writing is definitely five-star.

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Cape Comic-Con 2014

Well, this past weekend was the ninth annual Cape Comic-con in Cape Girardeau, MO. It was the first comic convention that I’ve ever attended, on EITHER side of the table. I truly enjoyed the experience.

I got to meet Andy Borders of 7X70 Studios, the man behind the artwork for the cover of the upcomeing GATEWAY TO THERA: Book Three of the Adventure Chronicles. I met Brian Rhodes, creator of the hilarious Mike and the Ninja comic strip. I also met Nathan Bonner, the incredibly friendly creator of Indavo and Shamus Stone. Helock Comics, spear-headed by the talented Jamie Hickson, was there. Becky Brown-Clements, a baker, was there with the most amazing cupcakes I’ve ever had. Costumers for Christ was there, passing out free Christian comics and materials.

I had a blast. My daughter won a deck of My Little Pony cards from the collectible card game. My stepson got a deck of Pokemon cards from that game. I saw an old friend, Rik DeSoto, who I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades. I sold some books and made some new friends. You can see pictures of the event on my Facebook Author’s Page.

But the first year of my attendance is a learning experience. Some things that I’ll do different in the future:

HAVE A BETTER BANNER
My banner was pretty cheap this year. I designed in in Publisher and printed it off at Office Max, putting in on two pieces of poster board for added strength. It lasted the whole time and even survived taking down the display. But I want to look more professional next year.

BRING MORE PENS
I bought an Inkjoy pen and took it with me and it broke halfway through Saturday! These are supposed to be good pens! I actually had to borrow a pen from some of the people who bought books to sign. Ugh . . . how humiliating!

SOME BIBLES TO GIVE AWAY
After seeing the amazing Costumers for Christ using the event for evangelism, I want to get on board next year.

FLYERS
For the people who stopped at my table but didn’t purchase, there wasn’t anything tangible for them to take with them. I had no mention anywhere that the books are available in ebook format. More opportunities lost.

CASH BOX
This is relatively inexpensive and I felt stupid making change for people out of my wallet.

COPIES OF LILY’S REDEMPTION
I decided to not take any copies of my treatise on pornography and forgiveness, since I assumed that the book would be out of place at a comic convention. BIG MISTAKE!!! When I discussed my testimony with people, they were open to the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any copies to sell to them. Later this year, I’m planning a re-release of it with the same cover that TW Johnson designed for the ebooks. I’ll try to have a few copies on hand next year.

MORE TO SELL THAN JUST BOOKS
Brian Rhodes sold ninja masks that his wife had made from his booth. Only a dollar each, it was an interesting item that tied in with his book. I don’t want to repeat what he did, so I’ll try to come up with something different.

PICS OF MY CHARACTERS
Everyone else had physical depictions of their characters. By next year, I hope to have some commisions done of Dave Isaac, Buster Goodman, Yoshi Funakoshi and George Tanner to go along with the depictions that I already have, from Joel Underwood, of Jamie Raleigh and Shawna Weston. Also, I’m working on a new character for a series of superhero stories, one of which I submitted to the next “Metahumans vs.” anthology. More on this character later . . ..

COPIES OF GATEWAY TO THERA AND QUEST FOR YOSHI
I had truly wanted to have BOOK THREE finished by the convention, but it was not to be. I expect to have BOOK FOUR finished by the end of the year (hopefully much sooner).

Well, that’s it for now. If you have a comic convention in your area, I highly recommend that you visit. It was great fun.

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Excerpt #2 from GATEWAY TO THERA

Here’s another excerpt from Book Three of THE ADVENTURE CHRONICLES. Please remember that this is an unedited excerpt:

Steve, Jeremy, Pete and Dave sat upon a picnic table in Dave’s front yard. The former three huddled over the big teen’s shoulder as he held the coin, examining its strange inscriptions.

“Looks valuable,” commented Pete.

“I should say that there’s something special about it,” replied Steve. “It survived an explosion that destroyed all the other metal in the building.” He shook his head. “There’s not even a char on it.”

“But if there were two . . .” started Dave.

” . . . I think that the Renegades probably came back to the building to examine it and to be sure of our comrades’ demise,” stated the young genius. “They probably found the other one.”

“And if we find this other coin,” asked Jeremy, rolling his eyes, “we can open this door of yours and bring them home?”

“Precisely,” returned Steve.

Dave shook his head. “I can’t believe this, dude.” He handed the coin back to the genius.

Steve took the coin, closing his right hand around it into a fist. “As I stated over the phone, you don’t have to believe me. The way I see it is that we’re going to be fighting the Renegades, anyway. I will personally look for the coin. If I find it, and it doesn’t work, or if I simply don’t find it, then at least we’ve taken care of our antagonists.” He smiled. “But, if we do find it, and it does work, then we’ll have my brother back, your cousin back, and all of our friends back.”

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