Thursday, May 30, 2019

Do No Harm: Fatal Limit by @IngeGoss

The late September drizzle turned into a downpour. Umbrellas knocked into each other as their owners pushed through the crowd to get into the best position to cross the street first when the light changed. A few teetered on the curb, ready to spring at a moment’s notice. Horns erupted in the rush-hour traffic. The drivers had no intention of slowing down despite the weather. A woman slipped on the wet sidewalk and grabbed the arm of the closest passerby to prevent her from falling on the hard cement. The stranger gave her an indignant sneer, pushed her hand away, and hurried to the bus shelter to get out of the rain. In the process, he bumped into me as I sat on the dry bench, watching the mayhem unfold. Without giving even a hint of an apology, he bent his head toward me. His steely gray eyes bore into me as if the whole incident was my fault.
Ignoring him, but determined not to move closer to the edge of the bench to give him enough space to sit down, I gazed across the street, searching for Sheila, my best friend’s aunt, to emerge from the hospital. Her shift should have ended thirty minutes ago. I’d intended to wait in my car, but couldn’t find a parking spot with a view of the hospital’s employee entrance, so I’d parked in the lot behind the bus stop, walked to the bench to avoid the rain, and watched for her.
More people poured into the bus shelter, blocking my view. I stood and peered between the heads of two women just as a bus cut to the curb. No longer able to see the other side of the street, I moved away from the horde of people, opened my umbrella, and headed toward the crosswalk. 
I saw Sheila emerge from the hospital and waved my hand in the air. With the rain and people scurrying about, I doubted she could see me in the crowd. Continuing along the sidewalk, I kept my eyes on Sheila and noticed she wasn’t wearing a raincoat or making any attempt to cover her head. That seemed odd. Her dripping wet hair clung to the top of her nurse’s uniform, and she was staggering, her body swaying with each step she took. Keeping her in my sights, I made my way to the crosswalk. Sheila stopped walking and looked back toward the hospital. A few seconds later, she swung around and moved in a zigzag path to the street. Sheila didn’t stop when she reached the curb. 
Standing on my side of the street, I screamed. “Stop!…Stop, Sheila!”
A woman next to her gripped Sheila’s arm and said something to her. 
Sheila violently pushed the woman away, sending the helpful stranger into the crowd behind her.

Excerpt from Fatal Limit by Inge-Lise Goss

No Longer Available
Do No Harm

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Which Paper Dragon do you prefer?

When I create my paper sculptures, I love the whiteness of the paper, because it allows me to perceive the gradation between light and shadows. But in this case, I painted my dragon. Which version of my Paper Dragon do you prefer?

A figure wearing a mask

My charcoal drawing titled
A Figure Wearing a Mask

Monday, May 27, 2019

I think nothing of spirits, evil or divine

No one has seen the king in public during the last four weeks, and rumors are that he is possessed by an evil spirit, or something. I am skeptical of what cannot be touched, plucked or squeezed, so I think nothing of spirits, evil or divine. Perhaps I will one day, when I am old, like him. 
At this point I cannot wait to play before him. All I crave is applause. Back on my father’s farm, in the outskirts of Bethlehem, I can make even the most hardened men soften, somehow, to the sound of my music, which convinces meperhaps foolishlythat I am destined for fame.
Now I knock at the palace doors, and prick up my ears. There seems to be some commotion inside, after which the doors crack open, ever so slightly. 
I sense someone looking up and down at me, studying me through the hairline gap.
At last, “Let the boy in,” says a voice. 
“You searched him, did you?” growls another. 
“It’s fine, he’s been cleared,” says the first, with a lazy drawl. “They done him at the front gate, already.”
There is some exchange of words behind the doors, which is hard for me to figure out, because of the foreign accent. Of course, at this time of civil unrest, none of the locals from Judea or from tribes other than the king’s own would ever be hired to guard the palace. 
After a while, two guards step out with a heavy thump. They look like apes in uniform. 
One says, “Hey you! What’s that thing here, in your hand?”
And the other butts in, “You can’t bring weapons in here.”
“This?” I chuckle. “My flute? You never seen one?”
They study the thing, even poke their hairy fingers into each of its holes, crinkling their noses as if expecting it to explode in their face. Finally they step aside to let me in. 
These stone walls play back a quick beat, which answers the clip-clop of my worn-out sandals. They have been kicked down the line to me after each one of my seven brothers used them, each in his turn. The crinkled leather smells of their flesh, but also of the grassy fields back home. 
Now I dash eagerly through the long corridor whichto my surprisehas a musty stench. At the far end I spot an arc, which is where a hall opens before me. 

Historical Fiction with a Modern Twist...
The complete series:

Volume I: 

This a rich, vibrant story but unlike most novels based on Biblical figures, David is accessible and human. The reader is drawn into his head, into his heart, and into his world." 
Barbara Silkstone, Author

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Who knows if we shall meet again

Unsure how to overcome the distance between my son and me, I wonder at the apparent ease with which my father seemed to communicate with me, starting at the time when I was drafted to the Army, nearly thirty years ago. 
At the time, this ease surprised me, because back home, talking to the old man had become next to impossible. He had been growing hard of hearing and—even worse—refusing, in his own stubborn manner, to admit it. 
“Can’t you raise your voice?” he would ask. “Why d’you keep whispering like that? What’s the matter, you afraid to speak out?” 
And when I repeated my words, louder this time, he would respond by cupping his ear and blurting out at the top of his voice, “Eh?”
But then, once the conversation was transferred to paper, it started flowing. I found myself waiting eagerly for his letters and care packages, but would never admit it to him, which is something that today, I regret.
In 1940, the idea of the United States getting involved in WWII was unpopular, yet it became real overnight, when Congress passed the Selective Service Act. A year later, in October 1941, I became one of the lucky recruits. To me, it felt like an opportunity for adventure. 
I boarded a Long Island train, and when it pulled with a whistle into the large brick station at the induction center, I was eager to begin my three months basic training. It was intensive: march, drill, read manuals, tend to your rifle. The instructor was all muscle, and the first thing he said was, “I’m your mother, father, and uncle, and you’d better respect me. Anybody who doesn’t believe me, step out!” 
I didn’t believe him, but stayed in line. So did the others. 
“The Marine Corps,” he said, “is one of the most elite fighting forces in the world.”
More or less in unison, we said, “Yes, sir.” 
“We serve on U.S. Navy ships, protect naval bases, guard U.S. embassies, and provide an ever-ready quick strike force. You know why?”
Not one of us dared to ask, “Why, sir?”
So he went on to say, “To protect U.S. interests anywhere in the world. That’s your mission. And as for mine, you know what that is?”
“No, sir.”
“To beat you into shape.” 
“Yes, Sir.” 
After that, we had to get our uniform tailored. Your blouse had to be form fitting and your pants should not be hanging. I was issued my new uniform and equipment, which made me wish, “If my dad could see me now!”
Meanwhile, my father rushed one care package after another to me. Looking now at the shoebox where I stored all of his letters, it’s easy to figure out what connected them, what connected us. 
Knowing my fascination with the stars, and especially with movie stars and with performers of both classical and popular music, he sent me a constant stream of news and magazine clippings. Among other things there was a tape of a song titled I’ll be Dreaming You. Being bashful at the time, I had no girlfriend at the barracks, nor did I have one left behind—but even so, the lyrics evoked a painful longing as if I had one, as if I recalled the sweetness of her lips: 

The magic of your kiss. your eyes
And now like then, the bells do ring
Was it the spell of sunrise
Or the scent of spring?
The fading tremor of the train
Who knows if we shall meet again

Ms. Poznansky's characters are well developed, excellent plots and this is a truly outstanding collection of 3 novels. Most highly recommended 
~Serenity, TOP 100 REVIEWER

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Do No Harm: The Savant of Chelsea by @suzannejenkins3

Surgical services are often hidden away at the core of a hospital. Isolated from the rest of the facility, OR staff members work in anonymity. They come into the building dressed in street clothes, unlike the other employees who are uniformed, changing into garb that covers all their identifiable parts, including their sexuality in some instances. Hair is covered with a hat, face with a mask, and everyone wears the same color scrubs.
Alexandra Donicka fit the example to a tee. During surgery while wearing a cover gown, she appeared asexual. Very tall for a woman and painfully thin from continuously running long distance, at first glance distinguishing her gender was difficult, and since she didn’t wear makeup, so you couldn’t tell by looking at her eyes. New employees or sales reps who had access to a room while a case was underway often didn’t know until she pulled the sterile gown off that Dr. Donicka was a woman. 
“I can’t stand her.” It was not an unusual proclamation by the nursing staff and others who had to work closely with Alexandra. Many of the anesthesia staff felt the same way.
“If I had to work with her every day, I’d quit,” a young nurse said. “I don’t know how Grace does it.”
“How Grace does what?” Grace Hendrix walked into the staff lounge for coffee while her room was being cleaned between cases.
“How you work with Donicka. She makes my skin crawl,” the nurse replied.
“She’s okay,” Jeff Albertson said. He was a nurse anesthetist assigned to the neurosurgical service. “My problem with her is that she’s nuts.”
“Stop,” Grace said. “She’s fine.”
“She’s nuts,” Jeff replied. “Certifiable.”
“Shush, here she comes,” another nurse said. Everyone turned back to their coffee or newspapers or iPhones as Alexandra pushed the door to the lounge open. She walked over to Grace and stood next to her, silently.
“Would you like a graham cracker?” Grace asked.
She nodded her head.
Grace opened the package and gave it to her, like offering a toddler a snack.
“I’ll order your lunch now,” Grace said, looking over at Jeff. “Is that okay with you?” The next patient was in the holding area, and as soon as the room was clean, they’d prepare to bring him in for his surgery, a tumor dissection that often held surprises. It was a good thing the surgeon was going to eat now. She might not get another chance for hours.

Excerpt from The Savant of Chelsea by Suzanne Jenkins
Included in Do No Harm

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

The hand is invisible


Norma Miles

Virtually Lace

 The hand is invisible 

Overall  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
5 out of 5 stars
Performance  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
5 out of 5 stars
Story  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed: 03-03-19

There was a murder. Michael found the body of a lovely young girl, hanging over a rock in the sea, her throat slashed. He told no one. He'd seen her before, the girl in a white dress, in fact he'd been following her. His company was a creator of virtual reality and he decides t h o try to solve the crime by creating all of the instances he'd observed in the area before he found her. His girlfriend and erstwhile business partner was still recovering from a vicious rape of one year ago and she feels personally the attack on the woman.
There is a feeling of unreality which suffices the entire book. Beautifully written, the action swirls past as it in a dream. Sounds and images sparkle as Michael inches forward to the solution whilst trying to protect his dearest friend with whom he is in love, ever mindful that he had failed to protect her before. A stunningly visual and near magical book, perfectly performed by Don Warwick. His delivery is soft, little more than a loud whisper, which captures the strangeness of the atmospheric text. It is also bordering on slow, again matching the textual content, and each protagonist is given clearly differentiated and appropriate voicings: that of girlfriend Ash is especially good. An excellent performance.

I was very fortunate in having been freely gifted by the rights holder, at my reqjest, with a complimentary copy, via F.A.F.Y. Thank you so much. I have not previously read any books by this author but she has now been added to my 'look out for' list. A murder mystery with a difference and one it was a sheer pleasure to read. Recommended.

Coma Confidential: The audiobook is out!

Doing the happy dance! The audiobook edition of Coma Confidential is out! Beautifully narrated by Heather Jane Hogan. 
Check it out:

(Volume I of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
Audiobook: Amazon US Amazon UKiTunes
Paperback: Amazon

Ash finds herself in the ER diagnosed with coma. She has no memory of what has happened to her, but what she can do--despite what everyone around her might think--is listen to the conversations of her visitors. Will she survive the power outage in the hospital and then, being kidnapped out of it? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Do not come into my presence unless you bring my wife

As a poet I play with flowery expressions. As a politician I arm myself with them to achieve my goals. The more difficult it is to overcome my opponent in the war of words—the more I enjoy sharpening my weapons. 
All morning I have been recounting the reasons why Abner, the general of the other side in this uncivil war, should defect to our side. I have been turning words around, deleting and adding phrases, to suggest an idea that at first—without the power of expression—may seem absurd: his treason towards his puppet king, Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, would be cast by my court historians into a winning combination of wit and courage. 
But before I can seal the note and send it to Abner, his messenger arrives at my door, with an urgent plea. Which tells me one thing: the general is far more desperate than I have suspected. 
My victory is at hand. This time it is coming with barely any effort. Alas, it is all too easy. What a letdown!
The Benjamite messenger bows before me, while removing his hat with a fancy, flamboyant move. I note that it is not too dusty, and neither are his shoes, which means that he has come here, to my compound in Hebron, from a nearby place. Perhaps his master, Abner, is waiting there for him, eager to get word of how I would react to what he has to offer.
“Well?” I say, in my most commanding voice. “Speak quickly, will you? I don’t have all day.” 
And the messenger—a young fellow chosen, perhaps, because of his flair for acting—strikes a pose, the overly confident pose of a general with his hands tucked behind his back so as to thrust his breast forward, and his chin held so high as to risk falling backwards. 
“I speak for a great commander, famous for his unparalleled military mind, a fighter who is a worthy opponent, and an even worthier ally,” he says, in a splendid, grandiose tone. 
To which I say, tersely, “Cut it short.”
“He—not his king, Ish-Bosheth son of Saul—is the one who holds real sway over the eleven tribes of Israel, who are fighting against you.” The messenger claps a hand, ever so theatrically, to his heart. “I speak for my esteemed master, Abner son of Ner. He sent me here to ask you this: whose land is it?”
“That,” I say, in a firm voice, “is a question that needs not be asked at all. This is, without a doubt, my land! It belongs to me and to my rule alone, and to no one else’s. Your master knows it.” 
Which confuses the messenger. Shifting uneasily from one foot to another he gulps air once or twice and waves his hands about, flailing to find the words, just the right words for his prepared speech. They escape him for the moment. To baffle him even more I turn my back on him and start walking away. 
“Here’s my advice to your master,” I say, casting my voice at him over my shoulder. “You mustn’t fight too often with me, or you’ll teach me your art of war, which is why your side is suffering heavy losses.”
“Wait!” cries the messenger. 
But I keep my pace, and increase my distance.
So he runs after me, throws himself at my feet, and catches his breath long enough to say, “I beg you, wait! My master says, ‘Make an agreement with me, and I will help bring all of the tribes of Israel over to you.’” 
“Ah!” I exclaim. “Now you’re talking!”
Then I control myself. Why should I betray any sign of excitement? No one should suspect how badly I need Abner. 
I must have him on my side, so I can divide military power between him and my own first in command, Joav, whose ambition is starting to manifest itself. I must cross one sword with another, so not one of them will threaten me. Only then will my throne be stable.
So I say, with coolness in my voice, “With or without his support, I shall prevail against your master. Abner knows it, and so does anyone watching this war. The tribes of Israel will join my own tribe, the tribe of Judah, with or without him. It’s just a matter of time.”
For lack of a comeback, the messenger stutters, “But, but... Are you prepared to wait?”
“Is he?” I counter. 
His face is contorted with bewilderment. By now the messenger must have realized that his script is faulty, because it is lacking enough prepared arguments for a chance to win this discussion. 
I tell him, “Time is dear—and so is blood.”
Then, to help him out of his misery I add, “All the same, coming to an agreement with your master is an interesting idea—but it has its price.”
He holds his breath, so I press on. “Tell your master: I demand one thing of you. Do not come into my presence unless you bring my wife, Michal daughter of Saul, when you come to see me.”

Historical Fiction with a Modern Twist...
The complete series:

Volume II: 

Do No Harm: Two Hearts Unspoken Targets by @Tammysdragonfly

Their squadron was finally going home. 
Air Force Lieutenant Josh Logan watched his fellow crewmen begin assembling, climbing into their one-man cockpits as he stepped into his own. After the bombs had been dropped on Kobani, each flight team had returned to the isolated air field serving as temporary headquarters for their hand-picked elite unit. They were in a protected zone, and the Iraqi government had sanctioned the U.S. occupation of the former air base.
“Begin to assemble flight team one,” blasted out through the intercom set up near the run-down control tower. Slightly smaller than usual, the twelve-bomber squadron had been divided into three flight teams for this special mission. Each bomber would be departing from the field in fifteen-minute intervals. Now that their primary mission had been completed, pilots from another squadron would be arriving later in the day to take their place.
“Flight team two be ready,” Captain Jason Matthews called out to his other men.
Manned by Hawk Benton, Team One’s first F-22 Raptor made it down the runway safely and was easing along the short-ragged strip in preparation for take-off before disaster struck. Gunfire echoed suddenly through the air, and the insurgents seemed to be attacking the base from all directions.
Listening through headphones, Zach sat waiting in his cockpit, watching several members of base security rushing across the field as, one by one, they contained each of the five offenders before they could reach the runway. It all happened so fast. In less than five minutes three men were killed and two were taken into custody, although not without a fight.
And then chaos ensued. Fire erupted from Hawk Benton’s bomber that had been ready to depart, and moments later, after hearing another explosion, Zach realized he’d apparently been hit by gunfire as well.
“Hold back! That’s an order,” Captain Matthews roared, as Zach noticed other team members moving away from their planes, everyone ready to jump into action. 
Captain Matthews must have decided it was too dangerous of a situation, Zach figured. The last thing they needed right now were more casualties after losing Hawk Benton, the pilot of the raptor that had just blown up. 
Airman Luke Bryant, who’d been next in line after Zach to depart, obviously had been unable to hear Captain Matthews’ orders, because after climbing out of his raptor’s cockpit, he was working frantically to open Josh’s cockpit door. 
The fire seemed to spread in a heartbeat. As Josh’s bomber became caught up in flames, Captain Matthews came rushing across the airfield while Josh kept attempting to escape from the cockpit.
But the temperature inside the plane was becoming scalding hot, and when the instrument panel failed to work, probably due to the heat, Josh pounded at the door, trying to get the jammed controls to respond.
 “It’s the heat,” Luke shouted, continuing to pry at the door with a crowbar one of the mechanics had brought over in his hand. 
As Captain Matthews arrived at the scene, Zach heard Luke screaming, “It’s screwing up the instrument panel, and Zach’s stuck inside.”
Excerpt from Two Hearts Unspoken Targets by Tamara Ferguson
Included in Do No Harm

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The real shame—now I know—is to consent to silence

The doors of my chamber open before me. Supported by my son I labor one step after another, till I make my way out. This is like no sunrise I have ever seen before. A sphere of fire, in which I spot innumerable flames of orange, red, and purple, rolls over the dark hills, setting their outline ablaze. 
Below, somewhere in the women’s quarters, children are starting to awaken. I hear their voices: some cry, others call for their mothers. One of them, a young girl, runs out to the courtyard, then stops and turns her head back. 
I squint against the light, which allows me to recognize her: she is my grandchild, Absalom’s child.
Now she waves at me. Her laughter is so pure, so melodic. It is full of silvery notes, which reminds me of my own daughter, Tamar, and the way she used to laugh, before silence overtook her. 
I want to go down to the child and put my arms around her to keep her safe, now and in the future—but I know that it is not in my power. Even so I murmur to her, across the distance, “Let you never surrender to silence, because if you do, it would leave you with the rusty, poisonous taste of shame.” 
The child has opened the gate. Like me, she is watching the sunrise. I wonder what it means for her. Perhaps, hope.
One day my daughter, Tamar, will stop listening to the dictates of those who wished to hush her. She will no longer obey the words, ‘Shut up,’ which she must still be hearing in her mind, in the voice of Amnon, who raped her. Nor will she obey the words, “Be silent for now,” in the voice of Absalom, who sought to protect her. 
The real shame—now I know—is to consent to silence. A day will come when she will transform her suffering into meaning, into words. 

Historical Fiction with a Modern Twist...
The complete series:

Volume III: 

The Edge of Revolt

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"Ms. Poznansky gives voice to her characters, with rich emotions while etching their actions into our minds. Each scene is painted into existence by her words with a clarity that causes reality to fade." 
Dii, Top 500 Reviewer

Saturday, May 18, 2019

I touch my belly and feel the beginning, the very beginning of change

Staring at that corner I know one thing, and I know it real clear, at once: this lovely dress, made of heavy satin and trimmed with lace and beading and what not, which I’ve dyed, the morning after the wedding, orange at the top and purple at the bottom, so it can still be used in the future—like, at dances and parties and stuff—this dress isn’t gonna to fit me no more. 
Up to now I’ve pictured it in my head, shining awful brilliant, just like a rainbow, and swirling all around me; and with every step, billowing between my legs, and like, making me adorable, so adorable in Lenny’s eyes—but now that I touch my belly and feel the beginning, the very beginning of change, right here around my waist, what’s the point of all that.
On the floor, under the hem of the dress, I can see two pairs of shoes: one is my new, white satin shoes, which Lenny’s bought for me, like, two weeks ago, just for the wedding. 
When he wants to, he can be real kind. He knows so well how to spoil a woman. He gave me a ring with a pink sapphire. I bet you it’s real! Also, a gold chain with a locket, which at the last minute—like, just before saying, I do—I decided not to wear. I wanted to look classy, and worried that it’s gonna be a bit much.
And the other pair? Now, that’s my very first pair of high heel shoes. They’re worn out, but still kinda bright, and chipped only a little. To this day I’m totally crazy about the color: hot pink! 
Ten years ago I spotted them up there, in a store window, and for a whole month I stared at them every day, on my way home from school, and my heart sank, knowing I didn’t have no money to buy them. I liked how the side of the strap was like, spruced up with a plastic rose, which has since fallen off. Awful cute, it was! 
Then I found a job at this ice cream place, down there at the Santa Monica pier. I got my first week’s pay, and was so happy, so thrilled to rush in and buy them, because they wasn’t only pink—but glossy too, and because now I was just like an adult. Ma took one look at them and slapped me, which made me figure that now, I was gonna have no choice but to apply plenty of makeup, so that this side of my face, which was flaming red, won’t stand out all that much. 

Excerpt from My Own Voice

★ Love reading? Treat yourself to a family saga ★
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Volume I: 
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"After having read and reviewed several fictional novels by Author Uvi Poznansky, I continue to be a huge fan of her writing style. She has the mesmerizing and enchanting effect of drawing her readers into the heart and soul of her characters." 
Dolores Ayotte, Author