Tired of American politics? Author Eslynn Smith has a remedy in the character of Sharmin Smith, the former first female President of the United States in the book Taming the Tida. The story launches with the strange disappearance of Smith, now in her elder years, when a lightning flash signals the tragic event at the White House and her assumed passing to the other side. The news devastates the country.
Across The Pond by Michael McCormick is the story of a young American who fights for his country during the war in Vietnam, only to be rejected when he returns home. The author, based the book on his personal experience as an infantry squad leader who served in combat. In the foreword for the book, author Ron Kovic wrote, “This little book grips the reader from the very beginning and does not let go.”
Michael McCormick is the author of Across The Pond. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps just out of high school at the age of 17. Soon after, he found himself in battle in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. He was nearly killed on several occasions, but managed to survive and return home at age 19. After the war, Michael earned his B.A. in psychology and his M.A. in clinical psychology. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife Gina. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Across the Pond: An emotional story of a young soldier in the Vietnam War
“Across the Pond” by Michael McCormick is not just another book about the Vietnam War. The author puts us in the shoes of Shawn McBride, known as Mac, an enlisted man in the U.S. Marine Corps. We get a first-hand account of what it was like to actually be there.
Not enough has been written in book form about this particular war, as very few, if any, veterans are willing to tell their tale. Students of all ages could benefit greatly from this short readable story.
Heart-wrenching moments when a soldier cannot tell if a boy is just a child or Vietcong, are almost unbearable. And some of the violence and inhumanity are hard to take. But, this is a story that needs to be told and is well worth the read.
The book begins in the heat of war in Vietnam and takes us through the first chapters detailing what happens to Mac. A quick flashback to the family farm reminds the reader of how simple life can be. As dangerous as farm work is, it is a world away from the jungles and rice paddies of the front.
Mac was a driven young man and yearned to get out into the world. So much so that he signed up with the Marines just for a chance to “cross the pond,” known as the Pacific Ocean and do his part in Vietnam.
Anyone with a father, grandfather, brother, or other loved one who served in Vietnam would enjoy this book.
The background of the author adds much weight to this tale. Like the protagonist, he also served in Vietnam and hailed from rural Ohio. Michael McCormick also earned a Purple Heart and a Silver Star Medal at the ripe old age of nineteen upon returning home.
All this is packed into an easily readable 54 pages. The tale will make the reader experience a range of emotions, but likely reduce any feeling person to tears by the end.
McCormick literally takes us to hell and back in this book. Readers will live and breathe this war as a shared nightmare. The detailed storytelling puts a genuine human touch on the events that occurred, making this a very important read.
“I think war is a crime, if you don’t believe me, ask the infantry, ask the dead.”
“With this work, McCormick takes his place among the other important chroniclers of this period.”
“Sean McBride had survived his war in Vietnam. At the age of nineteen, he was about to be decorated with the Silver Star Medal, the third highest military award for gallantry in action.”
“His experience in war had shaped his thinking in unique ways. He knew he was different from other men.”
The author is giving away a paperback copy of ACROSS THE POND to one winner of the Rafflecopter. a Rafflecopter giveaway
When John was seven, he found Candy dancing in the neighboring yard wearing a yellow polka-dot bikini and red rain galoshes, splashing and dancing and singing at the top of her lungs. She saved his throat from getting ripped out by her grandma’s guard dog. Good thing she did, too. It was John who raised the alarm that day, when the man who smiled with his mouth but not his eyes drove off with Candy in a cloud of dust. The police stopped whatever might have happened next in a seedy motel—a place Candy doesn’t dare remember. John rescued her, creating a bond between two friends strong enough to awaken…something.
Years later, John and Candy begin to suspect something more sinister lurking amidst the days of football glory and the nights of clandestine rendezvous. John discovers disturbing symbols from the ancient tribes indigenous to the area in his history textbook, in a local cave system, and in his very dreams. Candy uncovers a family history that is more colorful than she knew. If shades of black are colorful.
If only the two friends could foresee the danger looming before them. For another something, one much more dangerous than the first, is waking up to continue the cycle.Murder forces everyone out of sunny valley torpor, and Candy realizes that more than acquaintance connects her with the killer. When a corpse is found, gutted as if for ritual, she knows that whatever evil has overtaken her hometown is moving forward. She will have to exorcise the haunting herself—though she has no idea how—and she will need John’s predestined help to do it. Candy will have to face the memories of that seedy motel room first. At least she finally understands the power she never knew she had—a link to her departed mother and a line of healers shrouded in pre-history.
About the Author
Sarah Wathen is an artist turned author. She was trained in Classical Painting at the University of Central Florida, and received her Master’s in Fine Art from Parsons School of Design in New York City. If Florida was where she discovered her passion, New York was the place she found her voice. “Writing a book was my obvious next step, once I realized I’d been trying to tell stories with pictures for years,” she says about transitioning from visual artist to novelist. “Painting with words is even more fun than painting with oil.” Sarah lives in Florida with her husband, son, and at least a dozen imaginary friends from her novels. A painter at heart, her books incorporate art judicially, both in narrative content and supporting materials. Her characters are derived from the people and places that have influenced her own life—at least one beloved pet makes it into every book—but the stories they live will take you places you have never imagined, and won’t want to leave.
We’re all busy. It’s almost a competition these days, talking about how much you have going on and how little sleep you get.
So, if you’re living life and working a job and raising a family, adding something else to the mix – like, say, writing a book – might seem impossible. And, sometimes, it’s true: there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But, for a lot of us, a lot of the time, we can find that little bit of extra energy and focus to devote to a creative project if we make it a priority to do so.
I’m incredibly lucky to have honed my writing skills as a newspaper reporter with a daily deadline. There is nothing better for building the muscles you need to write quickly (and, eventually, maybe even well) than the simple necessity created by the blank screen in front of you and the ticking clock over your shoulder. The thing you learn this way is that, like so much in life, the key to writing is to just do it. You just have to get words on the page. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t even have to be good. But they have to be there. You have to have a place to start. As a reporter, I’d start with my notes. If I couldn’t think of anything better to write, I’d begin by just transcribing the handwritten scribbles from my spiral-bound reporter’s notebook, typing them out and reading them back to myself as they appeared on the screen. Inevitably, a phrase or a quote or a really interesting fact would reveal itself and I would know I had something. Anchoring my hopes on that single scrap, I’d bite my lip and start really writing.
Today, as a novelist, I try to apply that same method to writing fiction. Almost everything I do begins with longhand notes – ideas, observations, snippets of overheard conversations – that I jot down in a little composition book that’s always in my bag. That way, when I find the time to actually sit down at my computer to really work on my manuscript, I always have a place to start. I begin by just typing my notes. Sometimes, the best I can do with them is to find “homes” for them within my very detailed outline. (I use Storymill software for maintaining a database of scenes, keeping a plot timeline and tracking details of my characters’ lives. There are lots of tools out there to buy or make that can help you do the same.) Other times, I can take some little moment and begin to craft it into an entire scene. Either way, when I do sit down at my computer for writing time, I still hold myself to a deadline: I will work on this until 5:30.
For me, planning and measuring out my writing time is essential to being productive. I keep a ridiculously detailed calendar that includes my work commitments, my kids’ activities, personal appointments, social plans, my husband’s travel schedule, dedicated blocks of time for running and exercise and even the two TV shows that I consider to be required viewing (The Good Wife and Parenthood). When I have a realistic and comprehensive view of how my time will be used in a given week, I then identify a couple of blocks of time that I can take for writing. These precious hours need to come when the rest of my family is occupied and when I’m not completely exhausted. Some weeks, I can only manage to find 90 minutes like this. That’s not a lot, but it’s not zero, either.
As I said, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had a chance, in my journalism career, to develop the kind of discipline it takes to write when you have very limited time. For those who haven’t had that chance, I think there are a few ways to cultivate the same mindset and skills.
First – and, in my experience, this was the very hardest thing – you have to give yourself permission to do this. Writing a novel and having it published was a lifelong goal for me; truly, what I’d dreamed of doing since I was a little girl. But, somehow, on a daily basis, other things always seemed more important. I was either working a job (first as a journalist and then as a media consultant) or building my business (the legal PR firm I now run) or taking care of my kids or spending time with my husband or managing our house or running or cooking or cleaning up …. Well, you get the picture. The idea of walking away from any of that in order to work on a creative hobby like writing felt just utterly selfish to me. I have 3 kids less than 3 years apart in age. There were several brutally sleep deprived early years when I simply could not fathom having “alone time” or “me time” that did not involve also getting the groceries. Still, at a certain point, something clicked with me and I recognized that I was really losing myself in all those responsibilities. I needed to write creatively again to find myself. And, ultimately, I believe that my family is better off for having me happy, fulfilled and (not least) a role model for following your dreams and ambitions.
Second, it’s important to be realistic and clear about your goals and priorities. Sit down and honestly assess the amount of time you can devote to writing. For most of us, there is some amount of “lost” time we can reclaim for things that are important to us: the time we spend zoned out on the Internet or in front of the TV or flipping through magazines. It’s important, though, to recognize that you do need some of this down time, just to give your brain a break. For most of us, a plan to write for three hours each night after the kids go to be just isn’t going to work. If writing is important to you, try to start by finding 1 or 2 hours a week to devote to it. Maybe it will be your lunch break one day a week or maybe you’ll declare one night a week as “pizza night” and use the recovered cooking time for your project instead. Or maybe you’ll escape to a coffeehouse on Sunday afternoon. The point is: find some time and start there.
Third and finally, finding some kind of external accountability for being productive in your writing is key. Whether you sign up for a course, join a writing group with weekly meetings, or try something totally off the wall, like NaNoWriMo, having other people invested in your work, and waiting to see what you produce, is a tremendous motivator. If these options feel too social, you might also find an online forum or a personal writing coach, with whom you can agree on a schedule to deliver a certain number of words (of any quality) or a certain amount of time to devote to your project.
The one confession I have heard over and over from authors as I moved around the country is, “I hate doing book signings and personal appearances.” One in particular labeled it, “The horse and pony show.” We all know writing is something we do primarily in seclusion. Why? Because other people walk through our creative flow, pulling and dragging our juice through the house for one reason or another that has nothing to do with our process. Retrieving the flow is next to impossible. Most times, we have to wait for another cycle that may not even come close to the real meat of our original thoughts, and our creative voice changes. (Writers know what I mean by that.)
I am only speaking for myself here, and you can feel free to add your thoughts later; but, I am a diagnosed agoraphobic who has a major battle with my own psych to make every personal appearance. Getting out of my pajamas, bathing and combing my hair to talk to real people face-to-face is one of the most intimidating things I do. Not because I can’t speak or answer questions without sounding like I need to be committed immediately, but because I simply am not inclined to do it. However, once I get started . . . someone might be sorry. I have lots of opinions.
This piece is being offered because I understand your plight. We write to communicate our thoughts to others and we really want them to read them. In order to do that, we have to do all of the advertising things that bore us to tears. Yes. Repeating yourself irritates you. Yes. You will have to do it over and over because people tend to ask the same questions about your work. Yes. They will challenge you about characters you created, and you will wonder how on earth they could possibly know that. Don’t argue . . . God has the same issue. Learn to nod and say, “Really?” If someone asks a question you haven’t been asked already, while welcomed, it might throw you for a loop. If you’re fast on your feet you can respond coherently. If not, you might make a faux pas. The truth is it won’t be the end of the world either way. In case you did not know it, people expect writers to be a bit quirky (You know . . . spending all of that time alone). So, don’t be afraid to throw your shoulders back and speak up. Have you heard some of the things actors say? You can’t sound any stranger than some of them. They actually depend on you to tell them what to say. Go figure.
Anyway, promotion of your work is a necessary evil you have to conquer intermittently to share your gift with the world. Reveal yourself. Let others do as much for you as you can get away with, but press on. It might cost a few bucks, but it’s worth it in the long run. Let them help point you out. Diamonds and gold in a hole are worthless.
Bernadette Y. Connor
“He’s Mine! is a gripping tale of love, dysfunctional relationships, deceit, passion, infidelity and unrequited love. Bernadette Connor writes unapologetic, in your face prose with her searing human touch. Connor’s seventh novel is a must-read and will keep you guessing about the fate of Patrice Mays and Miles Alexander, until the last page.”
– Thelma Balfour, author of Black Love Signs and Black Sun Signs (Touchtone/Simon & Schuster)
“Using passion and intrigue as her thread, Ms. Connor has woven a fascinating story. HE’S MINE! is a tale you’ll remember long after you turn the last page!”
– B. Berry, author of Clothesline Blues and Cold Crazy(series)
“Love, murder and mayhem. It is a love story after all!”
– Lori Bryant Woolridge, Emmy winner and author of Can’t Help The Way That I Feel
About The Author
Bernadette Y. Connor is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was born at home in a one-room apartment in North Philadelphia; the fourth of five children. To help her family financially, she sang rhythm and blues in many of the local nightclubs until she graduated from Dobbins Vocational Area High School in 1969 and was hired as a secretary by Sun Oil Company.
Bernadette’s first love was music, but she found herself writing poetry. Some of her earliest writings were published in SCLC monthly magazine. Both singing and writing had to take a back burner to caring for her family, butmidnight often found her doodling. A divorced mother of three, Bernadette saw that all of her children graduated from college.
Bernadette found her niche’ at AT&T as a communications technician. With the merger came a lay-off and she saw as an opportunity to begin a new career, but that was put on hold by a series of medical problems and finally the devastation of the brutal murder of her eldest son on Christmas Eve of 1991. Her zest for life, travel and adventure were nearly extinguished. However, Bernadette’s thoughts slowly returned to writing.
The literary fire was stoked by reacquainting herself with her earlier poems. Bernadette embarked on yet another adventure. She wrote a simple love story called “Finally” that opened the gate to an avalanche of works . . . 13 novels and 7 screenplays. Bernadette’s published debut novel, “Damaged!”, the first psychological thriller ever written and published by an African American garnered her a spot in “Who’s Who In America 2004”. Publishers Weekly dubbed her the “genre-crossing writer” and she loves the distinction.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I come from a background of 30+ years of technical and business operations management. I’ve run multi-location companies with up to $80M in sales and 250 employees. I didn’t really get into education until I was in college. I trained as an engineer and excelled at technical writing.
My writing style today is conversational. My goal is to inspire future achievers by wrapping the elements of business success in stories that make it easy to remember and apply key principles. I also use my technical writing skills to create easy, step by step systems for people to follow.
Which writers inspire you? I have been inspired by writers and speakers like Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey, Jim Rohn, and Tony Robbins. I appreciate their styles and have learned a great deal from them.
What was your life like before becoming an author?
I was a successful business owner. I started writing blog posts and then moved into writing books. I just completed my third publication. My goal in all of my writing is to share my knowledge and experience with a broader audience.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I considered being an author for many years, but finally made the commitment in 2009. I wrote blog posts for about 4 years and published my first two books in 2013, and another book in October of 2014.
Why do you write?
I write to share my knowledge and experience and to help develop the next generation of personal and business leaders in the world.
So, what have you written? /*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest/
I have written two weekly blogs, one on personal development and one on business success, for the past five years. I’ve also been a guest blogger on several websites, including YourPayHub.com. I’ve published three books:
The Customer Conundrum: 9 Crucial Steps for Winning Customers and Outsmarting Your Competition
The Shepherd and the Princess: 7 Keys to Conquering the Goliaths in Your Life
Achieving Unusual Greatness: Timeless Lessons from the Trail Already Blazed
1. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters? David would beplayed by Mark Wahlberg and Goliath by Andre’ the Giant.
2. How important are names to you in your books? I don’t write fiction, so I use actual names.
3. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Raising three of the most amazing daughters in the world.
4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Happily retired and still writing.
5. Were you already a great writer? Have you always like to write? I think my writing style evolved over the years with a lot of assistance from my wife, who I affectionately call the “grammar nazi”.
6. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors? Start small and work your way up. Practice makes perfect.
7. If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living? Writing is a part of what I do as a consultant and coach.
8. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? Yes, I read and respond to reviews. I haven’t had a bad review yet.
9. What is your best marketing tip? Never give up. If you touch one life, it’s worth it.
10. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process? Marketing and self-promotion.
11. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? Sex.
12. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) This was my first book, but I have written two more since then.
13. What are you working on now? What is your next project? I am not sure what my next project will be. I am considering writing a book on transformational leadership.
The Shepherd and the Princess is a book about learning to dream and then systematically removing the barriers standing between you and the life you’ve always wanted to create for yourself and your loved ones. This ancient story is full of true gems and “nuggets of gold” that will propel you toward the attainment of your deepest desires!
Best Selling Author of: The Shepherd and the Princess: 7 Keys to Conquering the Goliaths in Your Life
Achieving Unuasual Greatness: Timeless Lessons from the Trail Already Blazed
The Customer Conundrum: 9 Crucial Steps for Winning Customers and Outsmarting Your Competition
Ataxia is one of those weird conditions; even the effects cannot be fully explained, but it arrived with me slowly when I was around the age of 40. A very easy way of (partly) explaining it is: While walking, my feet will only rarely land on the exact spot my brain tell them to, therefore the brain will attempt to compensate – but how much? In which direction? For how much pressure? So the brain very often gets it wrong too. Walking would normally be in an automatic mode, but I have to concentrate… Also, one of the many side-effects is that much of my memory of my younger life has randomly disappeared and co-ordination is a thing of the past.
Now that’s done with, I’ll talk about my writing. Many years ago I read the classic ‘The Time Machine’ by H. G. Wells and sometime later the early James Hebert books, (‘The Rats’ and other gory stuff), I became hooked and thought, ‘I can do that.’ But I was busy and unfortunately it became ‘mañana thing,’ then the Ataxia arrived – forcing a stop to my work, (at the time I was a photographer) and suddenly my ‘tomorrow’ came! I tried other work before accepting early retirement. While typing from a seated position (!) it took a long time to write a book with a one fingered style of typing (the co-ordination required in typing loss was almost immediate), to explain: My left hand forefinger clicks all the digits – except one – my right hand forefinger hovers over the capitalization button, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, like a coiled spring!
The aim in my writing was to produce a new style, featuring an everyday item having a totally unrelated result of unpredictability. My book “A Disturbance in Time” spilled out of me at an exciting rate and gives a new slant on time travel – without it being the main subject of the book. The foremost character is Elizabeth and the story is telling how her fate twists and unravels in an entirely unexpected way. All three main characters have an inner strength, but their slight vulnerability turn them from book characters to real people, adding a lot of warmth to the unpredictable story.
In this disturbing, exhilarating debut novel, three apparently unconnected events and places are all mysteriously bound up across time and space… In 1668, in an isolated community in the wilds of Exmoor, a poor peasant family is terrorized by a crazed witchfinder. More than three-hundred years later, the crew of HMS Leopard welcome on board two distraught young girls, the survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of East Africa. And at the beginning of the new millennium three geeky lads build an experimental computer (during their summer school holiday), and end up with much more than they bargained for. Part fantasy, part thriller, this is a powerful novel that asks profound questions about the nature of destiny and responsibility, power and love.
I’d like to say well, but the truth is they don’t really know who I am anymore, and I can’t risk telling them.
My mom treats me more or less like I might break at any moment. That’s understandable, since four years ago my parents thought I had a breakdown. I can’t tell them that what really happened was that I started to remember all of my past lives, and it took me awhile regain control over that flood of hundreds of years’ worth of memories. She thinks I’m more fragile than I am, that I might flip out again at any moment. Unfortunately, if I told her the truth, she’d be sure I’d already flipped out.
As for my dad, he can’t figure out why I’m different now. He noticed that my interests had changed after I came back from the hospital, but he wants things to go back to the way they were before. That isn’t going to happen, of course, but I can’t explain why. We’re just stuck in a perpetual state of uneasy denial, and there is no obvious way to get out of it.
With all of those problems with your parents, is there anyone you can rely on for support?
Stan is the only friend who didn’t more or less abandon me after the “breakdown.” Actually, he stayed at the hospital all the time, except when his mother ordered him home. Otherwise, nobody could have pried him out with a crowbar. He would support me if I needed it…well, except for the fact that I can’t tell him who I really am, either. Maybe someday. I’d like to; I just can’t figure out how to break that kind of news, and I have the instinctive feeling that telling anyone would seal my doom. Why I think that I couldn’t tell you, though.
Who do you most want to emulate?
I wish there were someone else in my situation that I could model myself on, but I’m not aware of anyone else in all of human history who has been in the same situation. Sure, every so often someone will claim to remember past lives, but not all of them, and not every detail. Frankly, as far as I can tell, most of the people who make that claim are just looking for attention, anyway. I doubt most of them really remember.
I suppose the only person who comes close in any of my lives is Merlin. He didn’t have past life personalities floating around in his head, but he did have to deal with being half-demon, which couldn’t have been easy. As I recall, the situation made him kind of a loner, a little bit like me now. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarity between us ends. Over the course of hundreds of lives, I’ve known many people with big problems—King David and Alexander the Great come immediately to mind—but again, they didn’t have to deal with the same situation I’m in, so I’m still stuck.
What do you want from life?
Right now, I’m ready to settle for staying alive until tomorrow. Knowing that someone is trying to kill me but not knowing who it is or how to stop that person—or thing—pretty much dominates my waking life and quite a few of my nightmares.
What do I want if I manage to survive? I don’t know anymore. The magic I have makes me very good with people and with music. I could become a rock star if I wanted to, I guess, but that feels kind of like a kids’ dream now. Of necessity I’ve had to utilize my past life skills to become good with weapons, but I don’t want to make a career out of being a mercenary. I’ve been told I have the potential to become a wizard greater than even Merlin, but to do that, I would have to give up the life I know, and I don’t want to do that. So where does that leave me in terms of future goals? Exactly nowhere.
If you were granted three wishes, what would you ask for?
Eva, Eva, and Eva. She was my girlfriend when I had my “breakdown,” but she drifted away while I was in the hospital. I think the whole experience was too intense for her to handle at that age, but by the time I got out and worked up the courage to talk to her, she was already with someone else and still is. Come to think of it, if I used two of those wishes, one to turn back time four years and the other to keep me from remembering my past lives, I wouldn’t need the third wish because Eva and I would still be together.
The way my life has been working, getting three wishes might actually be a possibility, but there would still be two problems. First, I don’t have any idea why my past life memories came back in the first place. Nothing would prevent the same thing from happening later on in life if I didn’t know how to prevent it. Second, I have no idea who is trying to kill me or why. It could be my secret enemy would have had no interest in me if I had stayed ordinary, or it could be that he or she would have come after me anyway, only as an ordinary guy I would have had no way to defend myself.
In a weird kind of way, maybe my past life memories will be what saves me in the end.
What three things would you take to a desert island?
I suppose if I said Eva, that would make me sound “stalkerish.” Since I can’t guarantee my enemy wouldn’t come after me on the island, I’d have to say White Hilt, my sword, and a couple of musical instruments. My magic is stronger with a little music to help it along.
How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?
I’ve really only fallen in love once, as you probably have guessed. Eva and I have known each other as long as I can remember. I’m sure exactly when friendship transitioned to love. I think it was in middle school, at least for me. I can’t speak for her.
What parts of loving come easy for you? Hard?
It’s been four years since Eva…well, “broke up,” doesn’t exactly capture the experience, since there was no neat, clean break-up. “Drifted apart” sounds too peaceful. “Ripped apart” might be more accurate. Anyway, loving someone from afar isn’t the same thing as having a relationship, so I can’t really comment—unless you want to talk about past life experiences, and then we would be here all day.
When you walk into a room, what do you notice first? Second?
Since I knew someone wanted to kill me, I make sure I know where all the exits are. Then I scan the room for any unusual things, supernatural or otherwise. Particularly with shape shifters in play, a guy can’t be too careful. Anyone could turn out to be an enemy.
When you walk into a room, what do you expect people to notice about you?
Unless we’re talking about Eva, hopefully as little as possible. Keeping in mind that I need to keep secret who I really am, I try to be as inconspicuous as possible. In fact, I often use a spell that causes people not to notice me. Gliding around town under everybody’s radar may be lonely, but it’s also safer than the alternatives.
Describe yourself to me.
Where do I even start? The physical part is easy. I’m pretty ordinary, actually. I’ve been told girls find me attractive, but given the way I feel about Eva, I haven’t encouraged any other interest, so it’s hard to tell how much there might have been. I’m brown haired, medium height, slender but pretty muscular. (I was always athletic, but the weapons training necessitated my buffing up a little).
A personality description is much harder. There is who I was four years ago: the happy, social, soccer playing, bad musician. Then there is who I am now: the brooding, isolated, secretly sword-swinging, concert quality musician. I guess I liked music either way, but almost everything else is different. Sometimes I think that earlier me is still alive in me somewhere. Other times I fear I am just a compromise among my past life personalities and that who I was supposed to be in this life is pretty much dead. I think I am that person, but I’ve long since lost track.
Did you turn out the way you expected? The way your parents predicted?
Isn’t that kind of obvious? I’m not who anyone expected me to be, myself included. I’m…out of place, sort of like an intruder in my own life. I’d like to say I’m a work in progress. Now, if I just knew what I was progressing toward, that would really be something.
What do you consider are your strengths?
As I’ve said, I’m a pretty awesome musician these days, thanks to the original Taliesin. I’m a better swordsman than he was. I sort of have to be if I want to survive. I’m easily the top of my class in magic…which is my subtle way of reminding you that no one else in my class can do magic. I’m best at manipulating people’s minds, though I only do that when I absolutely have to in order to keep my secret or to protect somebody. No, really! If I ever gave into the temptation to do what I really wanted, I might just enchant Eva into loving me again, and that would be bad…really bad.
What do you consider are your weaknesses?
I feel helpless most of the time. I don’t know who is trying to kill me or how to stop that person—if it even is a person. (There are several other possibilities, some of them pretty nasty.) I don’t really know what to do about most of my problems. I know there must be solutions, but if so, I can’t see them.
I guess part of the problem is that I can’t find a way of moving on, as you must have guessed from the Eva situation. In more than one way, I’m a prisoner of the past.
What is one physical attribute you are proud of? I don’t really know. I’d say ask Eva, but I bet she wouldn’t know what to say either at this point.
What one physical attribute would you change?
I’d like to be even stronger, mostly for survival reasons. I work out as often as I can. I could probably speed up the process with magic, but I’m a little afraid to do that since the original Taliesin left me no experience in that area to guide me. Magic can be powerful, but precisely because of that, it can be dangerous if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
If you could be an animal, what would it be?
The funny thing about that question is that I actually could be an animal. Celtic spell casters can typically shape shift, and the original Taliesin was certainly no exception, though he didn’t use that ability frequently. Frankly, the whole idea scares me. I’d rather stay in human form. Fewer things can go wrong then.
Bill Hiatt has been teaching English at Beverly Hills High School since 1981. Although teaching has been and remains his first love, he has also been drawn to creative writing of various sorts. From high school on, he wrote short stories, a little poetry, and an earlier novel, finished in 1982. Then the demands of teaching kept Bill away from writing for many years, but the stories within him eventually could not be denied any longer, and Living with Your Past Selves, is his first published novel.
Bill’s ancestors came from a wide variety of European backgrounds, with Celtic groups (Irish, Scottish, Breton, and, as you might guess from this novel, Welsh) being the most well represented. His ancestors settled in America long ago, though, some of them as early as the colonial period. He is a third generation Californian who grew up and still lives in the state.
“The echoes of those scars can clearly be heard in Edge of the Known’s music. But one can also discern, quite distinctly, that other inexplicable thing that is within us all, the undying flame that transcends our wounds and sufferings…”
Brandon Chane had always seen life through the eyes of an outcast, a misfit, a young man at odds with the world and with himself. Now they’re calling him a wounded healer; a shamanic Pied Piper for the throngs of alienated youth; a thief of fire.
He wonders if he and his band can escape the claims that the world has suddenly laid upon them. But what about the cherished dream that he’s struggled so desperately to fulfill, the dream that finally seems to be coming to fruition?
Knowing that I’d be much more capable of getting in touch with my real feelings without a crowd around me, without the tug of their thoughts, expectations and invested conceptions of me, I returned to the grave site later that night. The rain had stopped by then, but there were no stars and the ground was soaked. Janie let me go on ahead at first, so I could be alone with the memory of my father.
Turns out it’s not so difficult for me to speak to a stone plaque, especially when I’m addressing a guy who’d scarcely given me space to finish my sentences during life. “It seems to me now that probably the thing you wanted most towards the end of your life was just forgiveness,” I said. “And I can really relate to that, now that my band’s on the cusp of actually ‘making it’ – whatever that really means. I can see how I’d long carried around this fantasy in my head, that if we were a success then I’d find forgiveness for myself too. If you can just get big enough, this world will forgive you for damn near anything.”
About the Author
Seth Mullins has been writing since his teens, inspired initially by Stephen R. Donaldson’s eloquent fantasies and later by the jagged poetical reflections of the Beats and the Surrealists and the metaphysical works of Jane Roberts. He studied creative writing at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico and Lane Community College in Oregon. Seth has lived in Maine, Connecticut, New Mexico and Oregon, and currently resides in Vermont.