The Making of a Sensational Best Seller – London Tracy

The Making of a Sensational Best Seller

It should warm every writer’s heart knowing that even if he or she does not obtain an agent, or find a publisher to publish their work, that they can self-publish for FREE and set the world on fire with their sensational work of fiction.

Since “50 Shades of Grey,” there have been other authors trying to copy the style and flavor, by attempting to write even more intriguing porn, but the boom has yet to happen, and the reason is simple. No one really knows what the secret is to sensational success. Even if there was such a formula, every book published would be a sensation, and we know that is not going to happen.

Even if there was a formula, it would probably only work the first time because if it were duplicated, it would no longer translate into a sensation. Case in point: Several years ago, a founder of a nonprofit organization wanted to get the attention of Oprah Winfrey so he paid for a billboard sign a block from where Oprah worked, thinking that she might see it. He was right. She did see it, and he was invited on the show. A month later, another person tried it, paid for a billboard sign and absolutely nothing came of it. You have one time to make your mark.

Back to the subject at hand, based on a book such as “50 Shades of Grey,” I theorize that there are three characteristics of a sensation.

(1) Dynamic lead character. When I say, dynamic, I mean original and eccentric. This is a character like no one we have met before. Think Christian Grey. How many men do you know who requires that his female partner sign a contract before they engage in the sexual act. Like I said, original.

(2) Intriguing story that resonates with millions. Think “Eat, Pray, Love.” How many women identified with the premise of a woman taking a year off to find herself.

(3) Memorable scenes that demand to be shared with the world. Think “The Help.” How could you not tell people what Minnie did to her ex-employer’s pie.

A sensational story is like interviewing for a job by millions of people and having at least one-half of them love and adore you. How hard is that? How do you get that many people to love and adore you? Two words: New and different.

I think about books that come out every day. Most books are seldom read by millions of readers and have a very limited audience, even some best sellers. It takes a very special kind of book to attract millions of readers. And the reason is simple.

Most books are similar to all the others on the market. The stories and characters are basically the same. However, “50 Shades of Grey” gave us something new and different, a character we never met before and water-cooler scenes galore.

If a book cannot deliver new and different, then there is no sensation.

London Tracy is an author, screenwriter and freelance writer. She is the author of “Your Life Story Could Be a Best Seller” and “The Curse.”

The Curse

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Genre – Comedy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://londontracy.wordpress.com

Lori Ryan – Character building for writers @loriryanauthor

Character building for writers

One of the hardest parts about writing fiction is being able to step out of yourself and create characters that feel authentic to your readers. Here are five ways to help get your characters right.

  1. Know every detail of your character’s life. What is your character’s birthday? Where did he or she go to school? Does your character have siblings? What, if any, traumatic experiences have they had in life? How many times has your character moved in life? Favorite color? Favorite food? Favorite flavor of milk shake? Favorite book? Favorite music? Favorite restaurant? Favorite television show? Favorite movie?
  2. Know how your character speaks. Accent? Swearing? Short, clipped sentences or overly verbose? Favorite sayings? Do they joke around or are they serious?
  3. Know what your character does with their time and who they spend time with. Who are your character’s best friends? Who do they work with? What do they like to do for fun on weekends? What things do they feel obligated to do in life but don’t truly enjoy? What does a typical workday look like? What does a typical weekend include?
  4. Know how your character dresses. How does your character dress? Do they spend time making sure their clothes are not wrinkled and look presentable or do they grab the cleanest thing from the laundry pile and call it good? Does your character have a sense of fashion? Can they afford to buy anything they want to wear or do they shop at big box stores or thrift shops?
  5. Know what they drive and where they live. What kind of car does your character drive? Is this their first car or have they had others? Did they buy it new or used? Where does your character live? Do they own or rent? Is this the first home they have owned? Can they pay the mortgage easily or is it a struggle?

Another key to good character building is to be sure there is a different “feel” and “sound” to each of your characters in your book. If all of your characters sound the same and think the same, your book won’t seem authentic.

Good characters can sweep you into a story and make you get lost in the book. Keep working on your character building!

Lori Ryan writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She is frequently ranked in the top 100 romantic suspense authors on Amazon.com. To find her work, visit http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CFUKD1E.

NegotiationTactics

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Genre –  Romantic Suspense

Rating – R

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Bio:

Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. She lives with an extremely understanding husband, two wonderful children, two mostly-behaved dogs, and a lone little cat in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.

Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has written three more books since then. Each of Lori’s books have made their way to the Amazon bestseller list and she quickly climbed the Amazon bestselling author list, as well. In November, 2013, Lori and a group of romantic suspense authors landed on the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists with an anthology only eight months after the release of Lori’s first book. Lori loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog. Oh, and if you’ve read Lori’s books and loved them, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.com. Writers live and die by their reviews and Lori promises to do a happy dance around her office every time you write one!

5 Writing Tips by Ben Galley @BenGalley

Tip 1: Write a great book

The future of any author rests on none other than a great book, as it always has.

Of course – ‘great’ means many different things to many different people. Not every bestseller is a work of genius, but they sell because they are popular with masses of readers. They could be popular great because they engage, or challenge, or cross boundaries, or inspire. That is the mark of a great book – not just its literary quality, but what it does to the reader. Great books make people talk, and those are the books that sell and will keep selling.

So how exactly do we write a great book? Well, that’s the hard part. Firstly, through practice. Even the best writers on the planet are still writing and practicing, every day. And when you write, you should always strive for the best quality of writing that you can, and strive to engage the reader. Aim high. Do something different. Have a solid and airtight plot. Create deep and varied characters and worlds. Spend time thinking about what you want your book to do and say.

Tip 2: Get a great cover:

So once you’ve finished your book, it’s time to start polishing it – making it into a professional and sellable product.

The cover is the packaging of your book, and therefore the first point of contact for a reader. Contrary to the old adage, readers will judge books by their cover. They make up their minds about a book’s genre, price, quality, and therefore whether they want to buy it, in the first few seconds. This is why it is important to get not just a good cover, but a great one. You want it to match all the effort you’ve put into its contents.

Cover design is an area where many indie, or self-publishing, authors fall down, mainly due to the fact that good graphic design costs money, and also due to the fact that people assume they can DIY it. Unfortunately, unless you are a professional designer, this simply isn’t true.

I always recommend outsourcing a professional. Anything less simply won’t cut the mustard. In today’s market, indie books need to be indistinguishable from traditional books, both to shrug off any preconceptions and also to rise above the huge volume of poor-quality books now on the market.

Tip 3: Editing it to perfection:

Editing is as important as cover design, and another area that a huge amount of indies get wrong. What’s vital about editing is that it affects your marketing.

Unfortunately, there’s a certain stigma about indie books. A large amount of readers expect them to be full of errors and mistakes, due to the fact they haven’t been through a publishing house. We need to shrug off that stigma. Bad editing can mean bad reviews, scuppering your sales. As with cover design, we should be aiming for a professional standard. You need to do that great book of yours justice.

There are two ways to edit your books – either hire a freelance editor, or DIY. The first is expensive, while the second is difficult, as few authors are professional editors. I would always recommend the first – shelling out for a good editor. Or, like me, if you don’t want to shell out for an editor, you can use beta readers.

Beta reading, or crowd-editing as it is sometimes known, is a way of using multiple semi-pro editors. You ask a number of people (I recommend avid readers, honest fans, English teachers, professionals etc) to proofread and give detailed feedback on your manuscript. You get your book edited to a professional standard, and in return your betas get a sneak peek of your book, a free copy, perhaps even a mention in the dedication – whatever you want to offer!

Tip 4: Market it, and then market it again:

So, you’ve published yourself a great product, now you need to sell it. How? Well, gone are the days (if they even existed!) when simple availability resulted in sales. Due to the sheer volume of books now in the market, a book (even a great book!) that isn’t being marketed will be drowned out and make few, if any, sales. Marketing is a must for today’s indie author.

As we discussed, people spread the word about a good book, and this is the biggest key to marketing – Word of mouth.

A good website is paramount, followed closely by good blurbs, bios, and a professional appearance. Next up is getting readers. Social media is a good place to start. Twitter and Facebook, don’t convert very well into sales but are good for being, you guessed it – social. By following and engaging with people on a social level they will be more likely to read and recommend your books.

Customer reviews are also very important. Readers put a lot of stock in reviews, so having a lot of positive reviews will really help sales. Source as many as you can from the readers you meet on Twitter on Facebook, and also contact book blogs and ask for reviews. Comments from respected and well-known sites will also add a little validity to your book.

Basically, get talking!

Tip 5: Give it time and effort:

Lastly, you need to give it time and effort.

Simply having a book on a shelf will not make you millions overnight. Skill can gain you some success and income, but effort and time is also needed, as we’ve seen above.

Perseverance is needed too, and I urge everyone to keep working and keep trying. It will seem like you’re getting nowhere fast at first. It may seem overwhelming, but marketing is a day by day, reader by reader process. Keep at it, attack from every angle, and trust me, you will have a shot at success.

Good luck out there.

Ben Galley is a young indie author from sunny England. The author of the epic and dark fantasy series – The Emaneska Series, he has published five books so far, and has many more on the way. Ben is very zealous about helping other indie authors, and provides self-publishing advice and services via his website Shelf Help, which can be found at http://www.bengalley.com.

theWrittenj

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Genre –  Epic Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://www.bengalley.com

Peter Simmons & the Vessel of Time by Ramz Artso @RamzArtso #Excerpt #YA

Michael – New York City

October 22nd – Nighttime Hours

The gutters of the megalopolis gurgled softly. Pounding sheets of rain washed down the darkened, sewage-stinking pavement as I scrambled silently for cover. Finding none, I rolled over on my back, doing the very best to steady the constant rhythm of my burning lungs.

‘Well, well, well,’taunted my assailant. The sound of his glistening Italian shoes breached my ears. My bleeding nose detected the stench of his cigarette’s burning tobacco. There was no need to use my special abilities to know that he carried a loaded gun in his gloved hand. ‘What am I to do with you, Michael?’

It was a rhetorical question. Both of us knew perfectly well what it was that he planned to do. What Victor had been sent to do.

He kicked aside a heap of malodorous refuse matter.

‘It’s a pity that you and I have to end our friendship on such an ugly note, Mikey. Really is. I wish you would make this easier on yourself and disclose the location of those flipping documents. But you’re one of those die-hard types. You always have been. I can ply you with questions all night long, but I won’t get to hear a single word out of your mouth, will I?’

Concentrating hard, I tuned out his voice, summing up the last reserves of my strength as I did so. Although it was immensely difficult, considering my horrid physical condition, I managed to glance into the future for a few short seconds.

Nothing there.

Nothing to help me trick death or buy time, Only Victor leveling the gun to my head and squeezing the trigger. Nothing could be done to ameliorate the situation.

My heart accelerated with his every nearing step. Every cell in my body was fraught with rising alarm.

Click.

His golden lighter made a faint sound as he flicked away a cigarette and lit another. A crooked grin spread below his pencil thin moustache. He chuckled to himself, euphorically inhaling the poisonous fumes. He was going to enjoy this.

‘Ah, what a pity,’he said dramatically. Victor had always been an artist. Since the moment we’d met, I had always opined that he would have been better off freelancing as a dramaturge. ‘This is my last one. I guess I’ll just have to get some more on the way back.’He crumpled up the empty pack of smokes and chucked it away carelessly.

I knew that I was running out of time. Before Victor was done having his last cancer stick I would most definitely be dead. He took a long drag, carefully and patiently attaching a custom-made silencer to his deadly revolver. He made sure to take his time, savoring every moment.

Click.

This time it was him unlocking the safety catch on his handgun.

That damned revolver had always been his only weapon of choice, the reason probably being that it left no shell casings at the crime scene.

Pure panic washed over me, my mind began to race, injecting fresh waves of adrenaline into my veins. I commanded my exhausted brain to foresee the future. But again, all I managed to extract was a gloved finger pulling at a smooth, vicious trigger.

‘Not trying to play your little tricks on me, are you, Mikey-boy?’Victor asked. He sounded like he had just caught a small child red-handed in the process of stealing candy. I still didn’t answer, trying to look past the barrel of his gun in order to grasp something, anything which would help me escape the dratted lunatic.

In my mind’s eye, I foresaw a black feral cat scamper across the dirty, empty alley where I lay and Victor sneered. It appeared to be headed our way, looking to scavenge the nearby scuffed garbage cans for food residue. Somewhere in the immediate vicinity, an angry, severely inebriated derelict mishandled his one and only bottle of wine. It slipped from his hands and exploded all over the cold pavement just like a child’s water balloon. Then police sirens undulated in the night, but they were too far off to safely see me out of the quagmire that I found myself in.

My heart sank like a stone at that realization.

All of those readings were useless. With an aching head and unsteady hands, I was about to withdraw and accept defeat, when it suddenly dawned on me exactly how I had to act in order to turn the tables on Victor. Working under pressure, my mind quickly concocted a course of action that couldn’t even be called a plan, for its multiple flaws and drawbacks. All I needed was a touch of good fortune, which was a gamble, really, as I seemed to be out of luck for the day. Victor’s deadly revolver was a testimony to that.

Pulling it off would be a long shot, but despair galvanized me into action. I hesitated a tenth of a second, then filled my chest with air and yelled as loud and cheerily as possible. ‘Money! Money falling from the sky! I can’t believe this! Hundred dollar bills! Lots of them! They are everywhere!’

Victor’s bushy, raven-black eyebrows knitted together in confusion. ‘What? What the heck are you saying? Have you gone mad with fright?’

‘Money! Lots and lots of cash!’ I kept shouting zealously, perhaps sounding like a complete moron, which I dearly hoped only added realism to the note of exuberance in my voice.

‘Good God, man, pull yourself together and summon enough courage to die with dignity!’

My trick had worked.

The homeless drunk I had previsioned came careening into the alley, with a hopeful, out-of-this world expression on his smeared, bulldog-ish face.

‘Wha?’ he demanded.

‘Hundred dolla bills?’ He looked around quizzically, tucking away tufts of disheveled hair behind a pair of begrimed ears, and expecting a heavy shower of promised cash.

‘Where? Where’s the money?’ His eyes glinted with recognition and reason at the unexpected sight of Victor’s gun. Victor, without thinking twice, pulled the trigger before the man had even managed to fully lift his hands in a defensive gesture.

The silencer flashed, whistled and disembogued a trail of white smoke into the dank air. The wino stumbled forward, legs all rickety, one hand clutching at the expanding stain on his grungy old jacket, and the other greedily wrapped around the half-empty bottle of alcohol. With a bloody cough, he fell face forward, shattering the long-neck into glittering slivers and several larger fragments of sharp glass, in close proximity to where I lay sprawled on my back. Victor sneered, the police sirens came into life, probably chasing down some juvenile delinquent – the city never slept. It was an improbable stroke of luck, but the black tramp cat from my recent vision produced a loud yowl, and acted in exact accordance with my calculations. It was scared off a large, silver trashcan by the sound of the breaking bottle, and during its blind flight, had managed to get itself tangled up in between Victor’s feet. Caught by complete surprise, Victor lowered his gun to execute the unexpected guest, not a dreg of pity in his dark eyes.

Using the distraction to my advantage, I snatched the biggest shard of dark, shattered glass glinting close-at-hand and jumped to my feet. With my arm stretched out before me, I accelerated right into Victor like greased lightning. Overcome by a blinding surge of energy as well as the natural instinct of survival, I slashed at his stomach, instantly splitting it open. His neck cords strained and his face became a mottle of red and white shreds as he tried to raise his armed hand for protection, but I grabbed it with my own, and drove the sharp glass into his shoulder.

He misfired a couple of rounds and cried out in pain. The formal black fedora, which had been nestled on his head at a rakish angle, seesawed to the ground in a manner analogous to a falling feather. He himself sagged to his knees, shivering spasmodically as if from ague. For one brief moment, I stared down at him, my bloody hands and the defunct vagrant’s face, which was frozen in a horrible rictus of stunned horror. Being caught up in the moment, I seriously contemplated administering the coup de grace. But then my anger simmered down, and I reevaluated my thoughts, deciding that Michael Fleming wasn’t a murderer. At least, not yet.

My heart thumped with shock, every muscle in my body trembled, every nerve in my system burned. I dropped my makeshift weapon, then doubled back and turned around before floundering over to a concrete wall. I felt sick and waited for the nausea to pass. Once that was out of the way, I broke into a sudden and purposeful sprint. I left the dark alley running like a madman through the driving rain, never daring to look back.

I was worn out, but there was still some urgent business I needed to attend to. And time was of the essence. A person’s life was at stake. All that stood between them and eternal rest was me, and on the dot punctuality.

However, the person in question had no idea of the impending threat to their life.

Ramz_cover_3_blueBG_1800x2560

Peter Simmons thinks he is an ordinary boy, before he is abducted by a man with certain special abilities, learns of his inescapable destiny, befriends immortals and becomes famous worldwide. Why? Because Peter Simmons is mankind’s last hope for survival.

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Genre – Young Adult, Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Sci-fi

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Hanna @RachelHannaBook

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Hanna

by: Rachel Hanna

1. I love dogs. I have two dogs now, but I can’t imagine ever living without dogs in the house. If I had land, I’d probably be taking in stray animals all the time. My family calls me Dr. Doolittle because I seem to attract all kinds of strange animals to our house!

2. I’ve never lived anywhere else but the state of Georgia. While I love Georgia and many of my stories are situated here, I would love to live closer to a beach somewhere!

3. I hate spiders! I think anything that has that many legs shouldn’t exist, except maybe octopuses. Any kind of spider, big or small, will send me screeching out of the room.

4. As a child, I loved to write stories but also poetry. I won many poetry contests all throughout elementary school and middle school, but then I gave it up for some reason. I haven’t written poetry since I was probably in early high school.

5. One of my hobbies is selling items on eBay. In fact, I am in eBay Powerseller which means that I used to make a very substantial income when I did it part time. I don’t have as much time for it these days, I still enjoy going to garage sales and thrift stores looking for that treasure.

6. My favorite movie in the world is Gone With The Wind. I have loved it since I was forced to watch it in history class in the eighth grade. My room was always decorated with memorabilia, bedroom door. Even now, I watch the movie when it’s on. Strangely enough, I’ve never read the book!

7. I hate seafood and fish. I won’t eat any kind of seafood at all. For some reason, the smell and the texture just grosses me out. I’ve tried so many times over the years to like fish, but I just can’t do it. The only exception might be canned tuna fish, but even that bothers me sometimes.

8. One time, I had to beat up a girl in the woods at the park. These girls tried to attack me, my friend and her little sister when we were only in elementary school. We were simply walking a nature trail when these teenage girls came out of the woods. That’s the first and only time I’ve had to fight in my life. As soon as I got a chance, I grabbed my friend’s little sister and ran out of the woods.

9. We homeschool all three of our children and have since our oldest was in kindergarten.

10.I was a sports reporter in college. That meant that part of my job was to go into the locker room and interview players. I’m not talking about college players, but professional ones. I was in and out of locker rooms for famous football, baseball and hockey teams. I was the only woman at the time in the locker room, so it always made for an interesting time! Let’s just say that when a woman is in the locker room, the boys tend to show off and walk around wearing very little clothing. :)

Ruined 

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Genre – New  Adult Romance

Rating – R

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Website http://rachelhannaromance.com/

Hindsight by Owen Banner @OwenBanner

Five

I, nervously, thumbed the coins in my left hand as I made my way down the sidewalk towards the payphone.

In my right hand, I flipped over the piece of paper that I’d pulled off the suitcase the night before. I had been flipping over the whole idea of this thing since waking up that morning.

As the coins bounced around like pinballs inside the payphone, I asked myself, Shirley, what are you doing?

I couldn’t come up with a straight answer. Money, that’s all I could think of. There was money in that briefcase. This guy, Isaac, had it, I needed it and money can make you do some crazy things.

“This is Isaac,” came the voice on the other end.

“I wanna know what’s goin’ on.”

“Ah, Mr. O’Shea, I was hopin’ you’d call. I take it that you opened the briefcase. You didn’t open the package, did you?”

“No.”

“That’s a good lad.”

That wasn’t exactly true. You see, I had found a package inside the briefcase, wrapped in brown paper. The paper read, “Mr. Lyndon James McAfee, 7 South Juniper Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107.” I scratched the bottom of it just to see what was inside. Nothin’ but an old watch box, but damn, it was heavy for a watch.

“I’ll tell you what, Shirley. There’s a grand Chinese restaurant called ‘The Beijing Duck’ just off of Market Street in Philadelphia. Why don’t you meet me there tomorrow at eleven o’clock in the morning?”

“You better bring some answers.”

“I will, and I’ll see you then, Shirley.”

I pushed the receiver down with my fingers to end the call. Then I replaced them with the phone. What are you doing, Shirley? I asked myself again.

Hindsight

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – R

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Website http://www.owenbanner.com/

Infernal Gates by Michael J. Webb @mjwebbbooks

Chapter 5

After searching his home, verifying his wife and children had packed and taken clothes with them for their vacation to St. Thomas, Ethan had frantically called Quest Airways.

They’d confirmed what he already knew.

Flight 1485, his flight, had crashed shortly after take-off.

No other details were available. The woman he’d spoken with had asked if he had family or friends on the flight. Still in shock, he-d muttered, “Family—”

Now, he sat on the couch in the living room, his eyes glued to the big screen T.V. He knew he’d get more information from CNN than from Quest Airways.

“. . . this is Joan Archdale, live at CNN Center in Atlanta, with a Breaking News Update. Quest Airways Flight 1485, on its way from Charlotte, North Carolina to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, crashed yesterday morning, approximately twenty-five minutes after take-off. Investigators are still—”

The anchorwoman paused. “We’re going now to CNN’s Don Reichert—”

Ethan sat forward as the scene on the TV switched to a middle-aged, balding man dressed in a short-sleeve shirt and Khaki pants.

“This is Don Reichert, reporting live from the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Georgia, approximately twelve miles from the town of Folkston, just north of the Florida state line. Behind me is the blackened, still smoldering, crash site of Quest Airways flight 1485—a huge crater at least forty feet deep and about three times as wide. It’s been a little over twenty-six hours since the A-320 Airbus, carrying one hundred forty-two passengers, and a crew of five, plunged nose-first into North America’s largest swamp. Although the cause of the crash is still unknown, an anonymous source told me that the residue of an explosive material has been found on a rectangular piece of metal tentatively identified as part of the door to the baggage compartment.”

“Does that mean investigators think this might be an act of terrorism?” the Atlanta-based anchorwoman asked.

“My source wasn’t willing to go that far,” Reichert replied. “I can confirm that the FBI has sent one of its top anti-terrorism experts to the crash site to work with the NTSB.”

“Any news about survivors?”

“From what I’ve seen it seems highly doubtful anyone on Flight 1485 made it out alive—”

The scene changed back to the news room in Atlanta.

Ethan hit the mute button.

The words “explosive residue,” “FBI,” and “criminal activity” raced through his mind—a harsh, threatening echo. He remembered, in stark detail, the sounds of the explosions, the terrified screams of his daughter, the panic in his son’s normally inquisitive eyes, the violent shaking of the aircraft, his desperate, unsuccessful efforts to hold on to his wife and calm her, and the last thing he saw before he blacked out—the gaping hole where the exit row had been.

He stood up and paced.

He needed rational, sensible answers—and he needed them now.

But who could he turn to?

The airline had set up a hotline, but they’d only give out limited information. The woman he’d spoken to over the phone recommended he come down to the Charlotte-Douglas airport. That option didn’t interest him. Hundreds of people would be demanding information the airline didn’t have, or wouldn’t release until it felt it was in their best interest to do so.

That could take days, or weeks.

Besides, as soon as the airline discovered who he was, they’d start asking questions he couldn’t answer.

He stopped pacing, stared at the TV, lost in thought.

As the reality of his situation sunk in, he cried out in agony, “Oh, God—not again,” then slumped to his knees.

When Ethan roused himself, it was dark.

He glanced at his watch. Six hours had passed since he’d fallen to the carpet!

He sat up, rested his back against the couch, and looked around the darkened room. The only light was that of the television screen. CNN was still on, but there were no further images being broadcast about the crash.

He hit the mute button, and the sound returned.

Another newscaster, this one a man, was interviewing an astronomer about the possibility of a rogue asteroid hitting the Earth. The anchor’s guest looked to be in his early thirties and had dirty- blond hair and sparkling grey-green eyes. “So, Professor Sharpe, you’re saying that we’re overdue for a strike by a killer asteroid—”

“We in the scientific community have come to realize the danger to humanity from asteroid or comet collisions is comparable to other natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods. However, where comet and asteroid collisions are concerned, we talk in terms of frequency of occurrence, rather than fatalities per year.”

“How often do these collisions occur?”

“About every half million years.”

“It’s been that long since the Earth was hit by a large asteroid?”

“Considerably longer. We’re way over due. It’s not a matter of if—but when. There was a near miss just over four thousand years ago, when a very large interloper—what we now believe was a rogue comet—came within fifty thousand miles of the Earth. We have a record of it in ancient Sumerian and Egyptian texts. If that happened today, we’d have less than ten hours notice to prepare for the end of life on Earth as we know it—”

Ethan sighed, stood up, turned on one of the lamps, then used the remote to turn off the TV. He had a lot more to worry about than a rogue comet hitting the Earth.

During his time on the floor an idea had come to him.

He headed for the kitchen and wondered if he could find something to eat.

He also wondered if tomorrow he’d find the answers he desperately needed.

Jeremy Sharpe stared up at the star-studded night sky above New South Wales, Australia. For the hundredth time in the past two weeks he was grateful he’d persevered through myriad difficulties and finished what he’d started nearly eight years previously.

Fourteen days ago he’d been awarded his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Cambridge University. Tonight, he was about to embark upon his first research project, in conjunction with members of the AAO—the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Four hours earlier, he’d finished an interview with CNN and his head was still spinning from the sudden interest in his controversial theory.

He picked up his backpack and headed for the three-story domed building in front of him.

After a prolific letter-writing campaign, coupled with a highly complementary reference letter from his mentor, Dr. Antoine Levy, his request for seven nights use of the UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory had been granted. Getting time on this particular telescope was no small accomplishment. Only thirty-five nights a year were allotted for visiting astronomers. This was the first time someone whose ink on their degree was still drying had been given twenty-percent of that time.

He opened the door at the first floor entrance, stepped inside.

He glanced around and noticed four pairs of eyes staring at him. Although he’d never met any of them, he knew the four astronomers in the room by reputation.

On his left were Chris Hawthorne, an Australian whose specialty was the origins of life, and Quentin Mallory, the boy wonder from Caltech who had set the astronomical world aflame three years earlier with his radical theories of red dwarf formation. To his right, were Russell Hathaway, who studied globular clusters and carbon stars, and Ian MacGregor, the Scotsman whose mathematical calculations had revolutionized the study of star formation in galaxies and shed new light on the origins of galactic halos.

Chris Hawthorne said, “Well, well, well—if it isn’t Dr. Levy’s star pupil. The Yank who thinks he’s a Brit and who’s come to set us mere mortals straight about the reality of the existence of Nemesis.”

“Don’t mind him,” Quentin interjected. The Cal Tech graduate reached out his hand. “When I first came on board six years ago, Hawk called me the Yank who’d come to set him straight on red dwarfs. He’s got a thing about letting all the ‘newbies’ know he’s the Alpha wolf.”

“Hawk?” Jeremy echoed as he shook Quentin’s hand.

“We gave that nickname to him because he watches the night skies like a hawk, searching for anything that will give him a clue to the origin of the universe,” Ian said, his voice thick with a Scottish brogue.

“Come on, I’ll show you the way to your cubicle,” Russell said.

Jeremy spent the next half hour unloading his backpack and setting up his desk. He only had a week here and he wanted to make every minute count.

By the time he’d finished he still had thirty minutes before his first shift on the telescope began. He intended to use that time to check out the new multi-object, fiber-optic, spectroscopy system before he got started. The new technology replaced the decommissioned FLAIR system that had been in place for the past thirteen years. It would cut down the time he needed for his research from months to days. Although the mathematics for his project had been around for years, the technology to prove his calculations was only just now catching up.

“You really think you’re going to find Nemesis?” Quentin asked, startling him.

Jeremy turned and faced the gangly astronomer. “I’m going to give it my best shot.” He frowned, then added, “Although, to be completely honest, part of me wants to fail.”

Quentin’s eyebrows shot up. “Come again?”

“If I do find Nemesis, it means we Earthlings have a lot more to worry about than global warming, or planetary overpopulation.”

“The other guys think you’re on a fool’s errand using valuable time on what most astronomers think is a wild goose chase—”

Before Jeremy could respond, Chris Hawthorne came around the corner. “Okay, Yank, it’s my responsibility to make certain you don’t mess up our multi-million dollar facility. Follow me and I’ll give you the run-down on how we do things around here.”

Infernal Gates

Ethan Freeman, ex-Special Forces Ranger, wakes up to discover he is the sole survivor of a fiery commercial airline crash that killed his entire family. His nightmare is only beginning when he becomes the FBI’s prime suspect. Only Ethan knows he’s not a cold-hearted murderer, but he has no idea what happened to him–and why he alone survived.

He finds an unlikely ally in Sam Weaver, the NTSB Chief Investigator. An ex-military pilot, Sam senses Ethan is innocent. She tries to remain dispassionate in her investigation of the crash even as she finds herself attracted to the man who may be America=s worst homegrown mass-murderer.

Neither Ethan nor Sam realize that shadowy spiritual forces are at work which will alter their lives forever.

A monstrous evil, imprisoned since the time of the Pharaohs, has been released by The Nine, a sinister group of powerful men and women who believe they are the direct descendants of the Anunnaki, ancient Sumerian gods. The demon they have unleashed intends to free The Destroyer from The Abyss, the angelic prison referred to in the Book of Revelation, and unleash a worldwide reign of terror and annihilation.

Facing impossible odds, time is running out for Ethan and all of humanity as he is drawn into an ever-deeper conspiracy–millennia in the making–and learns that he is the key to stopping The Nine. Will he overcome his deepest fears and find reserves of strength he never knew he had as he confronts pure evil in order to save himself and an unsuspecting world?

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Genre – Christian Thriller, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating – PG-13

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