Top Books Worth Reading

News About Independent Top Authors on Amazon Kindle

Top Books Worth Reading - News About Independent Top Authors on Amazon Kindle

“How to Become a 3D Printing Entrepreneur” by Yoni Binstock

In the last few years everyone has become more and more curious about 3D printing. Slowly, this curiosity changed into new business ideas as entrepreneurs realized there is money to be made with the help of this emerging technology. If twenty years ago the personal computer changed the lives of average people, some years from now the 3D printing technology will probably do the same. Currently, this technology is not available for everyone and it hasn’t reached everyone’s households, but it is quite clear that this will happen in the near future. Until then, entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business in this field will find everything they need to know about 3D printing in Yoni Binstock’s book – “How to Become a 3D Printing Entrepreneur”.

This concise and easy-to-understand guide is very well structured, and the author covers all the aspects of 3D printing in five sections. In the Introduction, Yoni Binstock offers a brief history of this new, exciting technology, and tries to give a definition that would help readers understand exactly how it works. He compares it with the traditional method of creating objects, thus offering a clear view of what a 3D printer is and what it does. The author explains that the object is “printed” by a multi-dimensional process which adds layers upon layers which are placed on top of one another to form a 3D object. Also, he mentions all the types of 3D printing that are currently used, which he will later detail in the following chapters.

Each section of the book focuses on an important part of this technology and how it can be turned into a source of income in various ways. For instance, there is a chapter especially dedicated to designers, which covers software choices, expected salaries, and opportunities for freelancing. Yoni Binstock also offers advice on how to purchase a 3D printer, explaining the features of different models and listing the different objects they can print. At the end of the book, there is a list of over 50 resources readers can check to learn even more about 3D printing. For more encouragement to start a business, there is also a collection of words of wisdom from other 3D printing entrepreneurs.

“How to Become a 3D Printing Entrepreneur” is one of the most complete books on the subject. It is ideal for beginners who don’t know anything about 3D printing and want to learn, but it is also a great resource for those who already have some ideas and simply need more information to make a decision. The truth is that this new technology offers an incredible opportunity for business success, so it is at least worth taking into consideration.

Find it on Amazon.

“The Malevolence of Evil” (“I, Human”, Part 5) by Vito Veii

Those who have followed Vito Veii’s science-fiction series “I, Human” and read the books in order already know what to expect from the fifth installment. “The Malevolence of Evil” is even more powerful and complex than the previous novels, as it reveals more about the darkness that threatens to swallow the entire galaxy. Captain Magnusson, the android Vlen, Padre, and the entire fleet go through new, exciting adventures and make incredible discoveries that may well change the fate of humanity. Once again, Vito Veii proves that his imagination and creativity have no boundaries, and invites his readers to explore the world he created and draw their own conclusions.

The Captain is taken by surprise when Scrollos, a Homo Superior, appears on his ship. The entire crew of Veda knows that the Homo Superiors are not to be trusted, but the Captain decides to listen to what Scrollos has to say. It seems that the darkness at the edge of the galaxy has also scared the Homo Superiors, and Scrollos needs the Captain’s help to protect his own small ship. He says that he has sixty-one adults and some children on board, and he needs all the help he can get to protect them. The darkness is generating negative waves of energy, and he is afraid that this energy will affect everyone in the most unexpected ways.

It is very important to read the books in the “I, Human” series in order. Fans of Vito Veii will see how the characters grow and how the plot becomes more and more complex. One of the most exciting developments is the alliance between the Homo Sapiens and the Homo Superiors. Even though these two races are enemies, they eventually understand that they will have to work together if they want to save the galaxy from an even greater evil: the darkness that spreads negative energy. After all, the galaxy is the home of all races, and the war between the factions falls on second place.

“The Malevolence of Evil” is a brilliant science-fiction novel that raises thought-provoking questions and challenges readers to come with their own answers. The characters are believable and well-developed. There will be readers who will easily relate to Captain Magnusson, who is doing his best to keep his crew safe, and there will be readers who will root for Scrollos. They will also like Vlen, the android who can have human feelings, and relate to his curiosity and desire to learn. Together with Padre, they make a great team.

Find “The Malevolence of Evil” on Amazon.

“Bloodlines – The Quest” by Jon McDonald

It doesn’t matter if you like vampire novels or not. You will love Jon McDonald’s novel “Bloodlines – The Quest” if you know how to appreciate a well-told story set apart by its fine satire and polished humor. This genre-bending book takes the vampire myth to a whole new level, juggling with the well-known clichés in a clever, unique way. Those who are already familiar with Jon McDonald’s work will see that he manages to make his readers laugh out loud even when he’s writing horror.

The small town of Brampton, Ohio is terrorized by a cold-blooded killer with a mysterious agenda. Because of these terrible murders, the people of Brampton find out that there is a vampire colony that is hiding among them. These vampires, however, are not dangerous in the least because they are still half-human and they only feed on animal blood. They are also called “night sleepers” or “mutants”, and some of them are respectable citizens who have done Brampton a lot of good. But, if the mutants are not responsible for the murders, does this mean there’s a pure vampire on the loose?

Volter is a renegade European vampire who is determined to turn the people of Brampton against the mutants in order to eliminate all of them. This “day sleeper” is cruel, vicious, and he will stop at nothing to reach his goal. What does he have against the mutants? The idea that they are not real vampires who feed on human blood is unacceptable to him. Volter has to kill them all and then make sure that only pure vampires are left in the world. What he doesn’t expect is for the humans to help the mutants get rid of him.

“Bloodlines – The Quest” is a fun, compelling read. Even though it has some very descriptive scenes, they are balanced out by humorous, lighthearted parts. The characters are well-developed, and the way they interact is sometimes so funny that readers will forget about Volter and his gruesome acts. Jon McDonald brings his own contribution to the vampire myth by playing a bit with how a vampire can be killed. It seems that in his universe vampires can regenerate from the smallest portion of cellular tissue, and that’s why the humans and mutants have to come up with a very good plan to destroy Volter completely.

Find it on Amazon.

“Divas in Cahoots – A Comedy of Murder” by Jon McDonald

Those who have read Jon McDonald’s “Divas Never Flinch” will be delighted to know that their favorite characters, Sonora Livingston-Bundt and Connye Andreatos, are involved in new, fun adventures in “Divas in Cahoots”. This time, however, they are dealing with a murder mystery, which makes the book much more than a social satire and a light read; it is a hardboiled crime novel filled with twists and turns that will take readers by surprise. The fact that no one will ever be able to guess the ending before it happens makes “Divas in Cahoots” a must-read.

The rivalry and competition between Connye and Sonora is interrupted by the murder of Bella Harrington-Crenshaw, a new diva who arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico with the intention of taking control of the social scene with her money, manipulation, and intrigue. It seems that things didn’t go well for her, and now the police are looking for the murderer. But there are incredibly powerful forces at work. When international spies are involved and there are senatorial murder, blackmail, art theft, and hidden identities, will Sonora and Connye be able to solve the puzzle and come out of it alive?

Jon McDonald has outdone himself with this compelling, edge-of-your-seat novel. Readers will love the complex, well-developed characters, and they will root for them until the end. To make the story even more interesting and unconventional, there’s also an intriguing detective who has his own secrets. Throw in “another Bella” who may be the key to solving the murder mystery of Bella Harrington-Crenshaw, and what you have is a complicated story that will keep readers glued to the pages, challenging them to figure out the solution.

“Divas in Cahoots” is a brilliant novel that fans of both the mystery and comedy genres will enjoy. There’s also a lot of romance going on, just to spice things up. Sonora and Connye are two women in love, and their feelings do nothing but complicate things even more. However, they are two powerful divas who cannot be distracted from their ultimate goal: to maintain their positions as the “Queens of Santa Fe”.

The novel is available on Amazon.

“Divas Never Flinch – A Comedy of Manners” by Jon McDonald

There’s no better way of spending a nice, peaceful evening than with one of Jon McDonald’s books. He is well-known for his fast-paced, fun, satirical stories that delight and amuse his readers from the very first pages. No doubt, “Divas Never Flinch” is yet another proof of the author’s great skill to entertain and captivate anyone who is looking for a light read. This comedy-romance novel introduces some uniquely compelling characters that readers will not easily forget.

Jon McDonald begins his story by describing the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the action takes place. His carefully chosen words build a vivid image of a place where culture is very important, and where people are passionate about art, film, dance, museums, and good food. This is the world that the two main characters, Sonora Livingston-Bundt and Connye Andreatos, want to conquer with their luxurious soirees and charitable work. They will stop at nothing to impress and seduce everyone around them. Santa Fe becomes the battlefield of two divas who are fighting for supremacy through their contributions to charity, artistic institutions, and ostentatious social events.

Readers will find Sonora and Connye very interesting and amusing. Their struggle to take control of the social scene causes funny situations that will make anyone laugh out loud. It’s easy to see that the author is criticizing this kind of lifestyle, at the same time delivering an enjoyable story supported by a cast of complex, believable characters. Eventually, readers will find themselves rooting either for Sonora or Connye, and they will follow their adventures breathlessly. “Divas Never Flinch” is one of those books that you can’t easily put down once you started reading it.

Things get even more complicated when the two queens of Santa Fe are faced with a new threat. Amanda Beor-Bink is new in town and she’s a world-class fashion designer. Her celebrity and money can easily bring her the crown of “Queen of Santa Fe”, and Amanda is determined to use them against Sonora and Connye. This is a challenge that the two divas accept. They’re not sure how, but they know that they have to defeat Amanda.

“Divas Never Flinch” is available on Amazon.

“The Psychology of Change” by Cyle Chapman – Free on Amazon on September 30

Life Coach and Faith-Based Therapist Cyle Chapman has figured out what makes people give up so easily on their plans, and he explains everything in his book, “The Psychology of Change”. After years of working with different people who were trying to make various changes in their lives, he understood that the reason for which most of them didn’t succeed was that they forgot to change one important aspect: their mindset.

To be able to start a new life you have to make sure that you are ready for it. Too often we overlook the fact that it won’t be possible for us to live in the new context that we have created for ourselves having the same thought patterns and behaviors we had before we made the change. Our mind is a powerful tool, but it can also become our greatest enemy if we do not learn how to control our thoughts and attitudes. This is why Cyle Chapman decided to write this guide. His goal is to explain to his readers exactly how the human mind works and how their behavior can lead them to failure. He helps people come to their own understanding of their own mind, and then he offers them the methods and techniques that will help them change exactly what needs to be changed in order to achieve success.

Those who are currently going through a process of change will gain a lot of insight into what this process truly implies. After reading Chapman’s book, they will be able to identify the thought patterns that kept pulling them back. The whole process of change will become more focused and more effective, which means that people will see results more quickly and will realize that they are on the right path and that their dream is achievable.

“The Psychology of Change” has just been released, and it will be on promotion on Amazon on September 30, 2014. You will have the opportunity to download it for free, so make sure you mark the date in your calendar.

Find it on Amazon.

“Chasing Lightning” by Rachel York to be released on October 1, 2014

Love is complicated, especially when you feel like you’re not exactly like everyone else and you know you might be judged for it. This is one reason for which Scarlett Turner, the main character in Rachel York’s coming-of-age LGBT novel, hasn’t had much luck in relationships. She lives in a small town where people tend to talk a lot, and all she wishes is to go somewhere far away and live her life the way she wants. Scarlett is in her senior year, so what follows is college and a new life. She’s looking forward to it, but then she meets Gina Jamison and her world is turned upside down sooner than she expected.

“Chasing Lightning” is a sweet romance story that has everything it needs to keep the readers glued to the pages. It focuses on Scarlett and her journey of self-discovery, as she finds true love in Gina’s arms, and then is forced to go on her own way and build the life she always wanted to have. The book is full of romantic encounters and hot, steamy scenes. The moment she goes to college, Scarlett discovers a whole new world. She is determined to enjoy her freedom and live her life to the fullest, so she goes through a succession of lovers and gets to travel around the globe. From West Virginia, she then reaches the magical desert of New Mexico, and the romantic Paris.

Rachel York is amazing when it comes to character development. Readers will immediately fall in love with Scarlett and Gina, and they will find it easy to relate to them. Both characters are very complex and realistic, and they have strong, unique personalities. While Scarlett is romantic and a bit dreamy, Gina is sexy, wild, and full of life and enthusiasm. They complete each other perfectly, and readers will find themselves rooting for them and hoping they will eventually end up together.

The novel was originally published in 2003 by Kensington Books, and the author has recently got the rights back from the publisher. This New Release Edition will be available on Amazon and other retailers starting October 1, 2014. With an updated content and a new, eye-catching cover, “Chasing Lightning” will be published under Susurrus Publications imprint.

Find it on Amazon.

“The Millionaire Within Us” by Chris Carley

Sometimes life can be terribly unfair, throwing at us problems and obstacles that are too heavy to carry. There are people who give up, thinking that, for some reason, they don’t deserve to be happy or successful. Fortunately, however, there are more and more people who refuse to let themselves defeated, and fight until they reach their goals. They might fail once or twice, but, eventually, they prove that if you believe in your dream and never give up fighting, you obtain the success, money, and happiness you’ve always wanted. Chris Carley is one of these people.

In 1987, Chris Carley was living a nightmare. She was working the Grave Yard night shift, which involved moving heavy tools and breathing in toxic air because the equipment she was given was almost worthless. And all that for $10.50 an hour, from which she also had to pay her taxes. When she was fired, she didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. What she did know was that she had to come up with a plan. At that moment she had terrible health issues, low self-esteem, and no idea what she was supposed to do next. So, Chris took a loan of $79 from her father and started a business in network marketing.

“The Millionaire Within Us” is the inspirational story of Chris Carley, but, make no mistake, it is not a book that will teach you how to become rich overnight. That kind of magic does not exist. Chris Carley failed a couple of times before she started seeing the results of her hard work. Even worse, for a long time people didn’t believe in her. She didn’t have the support of family and friends, so she also had to fight a battle with her own negative thoughts and low self-esteem. Every time she failed she knew that she had to get up by herself and keep trying, because no one would ever help her accomplish her dreams.

When she started on her journey to success, Chris Carley had a $30,000 debt. Now she is a millionaire and she wants to teach all those who are willing to learn how to make it in network marketing, a niche that few people truly understand. “The Millionaire Within Us” is filled with great advice, principles, techniques, and tips that can help anyone become a marketing expert. Her personal story is very motivational, especially because it is written in a simple, humble style, thus showing that financial success didn’t change Chris Carley in the least. This also sends an important message: people should never let themselves changed by success, they should simply keep working and then helping others by showing them the right path.

“The Millionaire Within Us” can be found on Amazon.

The Stone of Blood by Tony Nalley Free Chapter

 

One
The Ghost of the Confederate Soldier


I sat up there on that old fence post like a modern day Tom
Sawyer of sorts, at least wise in my mind and all and except for
I was wearin’ shoes. I sat up there contemplatin’ on life like I
was a King or somebody important like that, chewin’ on a
piece of tall grass I’d picked up from out of the field.

The shadows from Mr. Roberts’s red barn were playin’ catch
with the lights comin’ in from the other side of it. The sunlight
was dancin’ back and forth across the yard like sparklin’
diamonds on the water, the grass still bein’ damp from the
early mornin’ rains and all. The sunrise had been a particularly
beautiful mixture of bright oranges and yellows that mornin’,
and there was just the faintest scent of honeysuckles blowin’ in
on that warm summer wind.

I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I growed up then mind
you. And I don’t reckon as I ever gave it much thought
actually. At twelve years old, growin’ up to me was like bein’
in a whole other place and time entirely. I figured I’d be
somebody else by the time I got there anyways, so I’d have
plenty of time to be thinkin’ about stuff like that later on. From
right where I was sittin’ at, right there on that fence post, life
for me was just fine. And as a matter of fact, it couldn’t have
gotten any better.

“Toby, where are you son? You alright out there?” My mama
shouted from the back porch.

“Yes Ma’am. I’m alright!” I shouted and waved back. “I’m
over here by the gate on the fence.”16

Mama stood outside holdin’ the screen door open with her hip
wipin’ her hands on a dish towel.

“Well, the weather man says there’s a storm comin’ in. So
don’t you be out there too long. You hear me?” she asked and
then she nodded.

Mama was always lookin’ out for me and stuff. She said it was
her job. But I don’t think she ever got paid for it.

“Okay Mom!” I shouted back just before the screen door
slammed shut.

My mom and dad named me Toby, they said it was my
nickname, but it wasn’t my real name. I was supposed to have
been named Tobias, meanin’ “God is good” or somethin’ like
that and they were gonna call me Toby for short. But when I
was born, they just up and decided to name me after my dad
instead, so they just kept the nickname I reckon since they
already had their minds set on it. I only ever heard my real
name anyways when they were mad at me for somethin’.

We lived out in the country, in the heart of the bluegrass state.
None of us knew exactly why it was called bluegrass mind
you. That’s just what they called it we guessed. The grass
really wasn’t blue, it really wasn’t. It was just as green as
everybody else’s.

Sometimes the grass grew so tall that we could play hide and
seek out there in the fields. But mostly we weren’t allowed to
play in it because of snakes or for some other reasons. It didn’t
mean that we didn’t play in it; it just meant that we played in it
until we’d get caught.

Not rememberin’ was always a good excuse when Mama
would catch us, and that ‘other kids got to play in the tall
grasses’ worked as a reason too. But Mama said that she,
didn’t raise those other kids.” and if she had, then “they
wouldn’t get to play out there in those tall grasses neither!”

So there you go.

Our farm was every bit of three acres big. Big enough for the
four of us: my mom and dad, my sister Tami and me. We had
great views from our front porch swing when the weather
would permit. We had views of fields, views of corn and grains
outlined by trees at nearly every point of horizon.

I always kind of imagined it lookin’ out across those fields, that
God himself must’ve placed an invisible bubble around our
home so that no kind of troubles could ever happen there. It
was kind of hard to explain, yet in my mind’s eye that’s just
how I saw it. It was a safe place.

We had a garden just this side of Mr. Roberts’s field. It wasn’t
a big garden but it was more than enough for us, anyways I
didn’t like most of what came out of it. We had a fenced in
field behind our house, with a hen house an outhouse and an
old barn in it. The barn was located way out there by the pond
and the woods, but the hen house and out-house were closer to
us, just on the other side of the gate that exited our backyard.
The hen house was always full of chickens and eggs. And the
outhouse, well …you don’t want to know what it was full of.

We had to check them regularly, the chickens in the hen house
I mean.

Our dog named Candy was a white Jack Russell terrier, and she
would run around and round them chickens up at nights. She
would herd em’ up while my mama would shoo em’ into the
chicken coop to keep em’ safe.

On the left hand side of our hen house, we kept an old beagle
hound. His name was Mr. Whiskers, named for self
explanatory reasons. And the field all around us was just big
enough for a few cows and a pony to run around in.

My pony’s name was Prince and he was about thirty years old
or somethin’.

I’ve been told he was pretty old for a Shetland pony, but he
sure did run around like a young colt out there in the field.
Grandpa gave him to me when I was five I think, once we’d
moved out to the country.

Our house was completely surrounded in the back by woods
and brush. It made it very private, so that nobody would be
lookin’ at you every time you’d come outside or if you had to
step out behind the shed or some tree somewhere to relieve
yourself or somethin’. That’s just how it was out in the
country. We didn’t have an inside bathroom, like we did in the
city. It was different. And you couldn’t be doing stuff like that
up there in town, no sir!

And Bardstown, well it was even a small town and all, as far as
towns go, known as the Bourbon Capital of the world.

Bourbon is a special kind of whiskey that is made from corn.
Not that I’ve ever had any. My dad worked at Barton’s
Distillery about five miles from where we lived. They made
Bourbon whiskey there. The name Bourbon comes from a time
when Kentucky was originally a part of Virginia. And because
the French had helped us defeat the King of England in the
Revolutionary War, the Virginian government named several
of their new counties after em’. One of em’ was called
Bourbon, named after the French royal family, the House of
Bourbon.

Bourbon whiskey was made in Kentucky and was different
because it was the first corn whiskey most people had ever
tasted. I ain’t ever tasted any myself, but when Dad would
come home from work he would always smell of whiskey. And
I don’t know that it smelled nothin’ like corn.

But like I said, Bardstown was a small town and all. Big
enough for growin’ up in I reckon’, full of history and stuff, at
least wise according the stories I’ve heard. Mostly true stories,
at least wise I never found a reason to doubt any of em’.19

My daddy’s daddy I never got to meet because he went on up
to Heaven before I was born. But I knew my mama’s daddy
real well. He was a storyteller. I guess maybe that’s where I got
it from. He was born here in Bardstown just like me, only back
in nineteen and thirteen.

Mama told me that when she was little, Grandpa used to gather
up all of his kids and tell stories to em’ around the coal oil
lantern or old wood stove at night before bedtime, or at least
the smaller kids who still lived at home. She said that ‘this was
back before they had TV and radio, when folks would gather
around in the nighttime and talk to one another like civilized
folks’.

Grandpa told me tales of how things were when he was a kid.
But mostly, he told me stories about witches. I really never saw
a witch before nor nothing myself personally. At least wise I
don’t ever think that I did.

Witches gathered in dark places, keepin’ their rituals and
surnames secret. Like stories of old they’d catch children
found, who’d wandered too far from their homes. Fairy tales
disguised the truth in plain sight, with unbelieving mortals
unable to ascertain the difference.

Witches were real. They turned themselves into animals and
such, my grandpa told me, castin’ spells upon would be
travelers who crossed their paths along lonely roads and amidst
the darkened shadows.

I don’t think that I have ever seen a witch before, at least no
witch that I could have ever recognized. But I have seen a
ghost. And right out there in broad daylight too! It appeared in
that window loft yonder in the old barn sittin’ out in our back
field by the fence. The ghost looked down at me, directly into
my eyes. Me and this girl that I knew, we both saw that ghost.
She was my witness. Her name was Mary.

She was a girl who I hung around with when I was younger.
Her mama and my mama were friends from way back when
they were in high school together. Mary and them had come
over to visit. And we were out there in the back field together,
walkin’ around near the woods.

“You know? You could hold my hand if you want to.” Mary
said to me.

“Well I reckon I would if I had a mind to.” I answered. “I just
don’t reckon I have a mind to is all.”

“Well then …what’d you bring me out here for then?” she
questioned.

“I didn’t make you follow me!” I replied. “You came out here
all by your own self!”

“So you don’t want me to be here?” she said while placin’ her
hands on her hips.

“I never said them words Mary.” I said as I reached down and
picked up a stick for breakin’. “Why is it that talkin’ to girls is
always so complicated and stuff?”

“So now you’re calling me complicated?” she said, all actin’
like she was gettin’ mad at me.

I was startin’ to get flustered.

“See! That’s exactly what I was talkin’ about.” I stated.

“And just how many other girls have you been talking too?”
she questioned me further.

I just rolled my eyes around in my head, because I just didn’t
see much point in answerin’.

The old barn stood ominously before us, cold and grey. The
darkened stalls and beacons of light summoned us from within
its empty belly. Its door swung loosely upon its hinges and
creaked loudly as it moved in the wind, like a mast swinging to
and fro on a wavering ship. The old boards were weather worn,
broken and rotted, as it was with the ladder nailed to its front
that led up into its darkened eaves.

We stopped for a moment, becoming silent …as beams of light
penetrated the barn and as a ghostly apparition illuminated in
its hold before us. With solemn stride the spirit walked through
the darkness of the loft. And as it knelt by the window’s edge, it
stared down upon us, lights emanating from within. I felt a cold
chill run down my spine and the blood drain from my face as I
looked upon its form, the ghostly manifestation of a
Confederate Soldier. My heart pounded rapidly as my eyes met
its gaze.

Voices filled my mind then, haunting words of forewarning
and whispers telling me to run.

So we RAN!

We ran through the field as fast as our legs would carry us
…runnin’ forward …fallin’ down …gettin’ up and runnin’
forward again.

Faster! Faster! Faster we ran …poundin’ dirt beneath our feet
…with adrenaline coursing through our veins. And all rational
thought leavin’ our minds. It was like a horrible dream we were
never to awaken from!

“Mary stop, hey wait for me!” I yelled.

Mary ran faster than me and I wasn’t too happy about that
neither. But I reckoned that gettin’ away from that barn and
that ghost made my losing a race to a girl not seem so all fired
important at the moment. I was powerful glad that there
weren’t no boys around to see it though. Because I would never 22
have been able to live it down. Me gettin’ whooped in a race by
a girl! And with her wearin’ a dress and all!

Mary ran through the field, climbed over the fence and
continued to run straight into our backyard. She ran up to our
moms, fallin’ down before em’ as they sat in the shade
underneath the leaves of a huge maple tree. Heartily excited,
she told them of what had happened and of what she’d seen.

She told them of the apparition in the window.

We hadn’t had time to speak about it, we’d been runnin’ to
save our lives.

But the stories we told were identical.

“It was a ghost of a Confederate Soldier!” Mary told them.

“And it looked down at us from the window loft!” I said as I
pointed to the old barn with one hand as I held my side filled
with pain with the other. It was hard explaining everything
while I was all out of breath and all.

“He had a long grey beard that kind of came down to here.”
Mary stated as she held her hand about a foot down below her
chin.

“And he was wearin’ a hat with rifles crossed on it on the
front.” I said making a sign of an X.

“And there was no color in him at all except for a kind of
bluish grey.” Mary interjected. “I could see right through him
too!” she continued while looking scared. “And I could see his
cold grey eyes!”

“I could see the back of the barn loft through him too.” I stated
as back up. “And I could see the light from the other side of the
room comin’ in through those old boards up there.”23

The grownups went out to the old barn and they looked around.

By now my dad had even been told of the story and he’d come
out and looked around too. He climbed right up into that old
barn loft all by himself. He wasn’t afraid at all. No sir. Not my
dad! And he searched the whole place as we stood outside
watchin’. He searched all over, both upper and lower levels of
the barn, inside and out as we continued lookin’. But he said
that ‘there wasn’t nothin’ or no one in the barn loft that he
could find, and that there wasn’t any evidence or nothin’
showin’ otherwise.

I know the grownups believed we saw somethin’. But what we
had saw I believe they just dismissed as kids imaginations.

I mean, we were kids after all. And sometimes, well …kids will
just make stuff up, you know? Not all of us mind you, but there
are those of us that do. And because of it, those of us that tell
the truth have to suffer for it. We get a bad name. And take the
blame for it.

But if ya think of it, I mean really think about it …a kid’s word
is all he has. He doesn’t own nothin’ …all he has is his word.
So he ought to be believed no matter what. At least that’s what
I gotta say about it. I know I believed us. It wasn’t a figment of
my imagination. And it wasn’t so of Mary’s neither.

If it was, then how could we have imagined exactly the same
thing? You tell me that!

But I can understand how hard it is for grownups to believe.

So I won’t go holdin’ it against em’.

I’ve looked for the ghost to appear many times since then, but I
haven’t ever seen him again. And I’ve searched for clues
around the old barn too, but I haven’t found nothin’ there
neither, at least nothin’ that has led me to the answers anyways.24

I even went to the library once and I checked out a book on the
Civil War, a book detailin’ the battles that happened around
here. And I discovered that soldiers from both the North and
the South traveled up and down Hwy 31E through Kentucky
durin’ that war. It’s the same road that runs not more than a
mile east of my family’s farm. As the crow flies, our mountain
would’ve been seen from that road just as it can be seen from it
today. And I’ve been told that we are located on one of the
highest points in all of Nelson County. So they would’ve seen
us.

I’ve also gone through some old documents and maps, to detect
any changes that may have occurred in the placement of that
road. I guess maybe to see if there could have been any
changes made, because it could’ve been that 31E south once
connected by way of Cardinal Hill down there by that bridge
near the Beech Fork River. And if it did, then our farm would
have lain directly along that path.

Both armies would’ve marched right past here if that had been
the case. But even if it didn’t happen that way, they could’ve
taken that route anyways, if nothin’ more than just to keep off
of the main road. Our mountain could’ve been used as a
gathering place, a place to scout for oncoming troops or a place
for wounded to be doctored on …or even for use as a cemetery
to bury the dead.

“Toby! Did you hear what I told you young man?” Mama
shouted as I jumped at her voice. “Now you get down off of
that fence and get up there on the porch like I said! It’s starting
to rain!”

“Okay Mom!” I answered as I regained my composure and
jumped down from the fence. And then I walked across the
graveled driveway to the front porch.

I picked up a rock along the way and I skipped it across the
driveway just for fun. And then I hurried up on the porch and
sat down in the swing.25

It was a comfortable old wooden swing that screeched and
groaned when you swung in it. The view from which was an
awesome sight, as we were all high up on a hill facin’ eastward
towards the sun, with wide open views that went on for miles.

It was a great place for thinkin’, if there wasn’t nothin’ else for
ya to do.

I waved at Cricket as she rode her horse through the fields
across the way. She was a girl who lived just down the road a
ways. And I watched her as she trotted her horse faster, just as
the skies opened up with larger sprinklin’s of rain. And then as
a small clap of thunder broke before the heavy rains began to
fall, with dark clouds blocking out the light.

The rain fell in long strands like curtains of beads, like you
could just reach out and part it with your bare hands. I always
liked the rain. It made me feel like I was alone on a tropical
island somewhere with nobody comin’ over to visit and
nowhere that I needed to be.

The sound of water splashing upon the ground was really
peaceful. It could lull you off to sleep if you weren’t careful
about it.

Mama came to the screen door then and looked out and
checked on me as I was swingin’ back and forth. I guessed she
just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t still out there in the yard
gettin’ wet.

Like I’ve said before, Mama was always lookin’ out for me and
stuff.

It was really rainin’ hard now.

So I sat there in the swing for a while and I watched it fall.

June 1864

The night was dark and wet as the rider rode the back country.

He traveled fast …as fast as his horse could carry him.

They were chasing him. He could feel it.

A cold chill ran down the base of his neck as his horse
trembled beneath him.

He crossed the creek to cover their scent, but still they
followed. Closing fast.

The rain was unrelenting as he made his way home.

“Pa!” he shouted to the house as he brought his horse to a
stop and dismounted. “Pa! They’re coming!”

Obadiah and his grandson came out of the house, with rifles
loaded and lanterns lit and ushered Caleb and his horse across
the field and out back into his shed. Once inside Obadiah hung
the lantern up and pulled open a door that lay beneath the
floorboards. And he helped his injured son climb down into the
chamber.

“You stay put now. You hear me?” Obadiah demanded. “No
matter what you hear boy, you don’t come out for nothin’.” he
stated as he shook his head and looked down upon his son’s
wounds. “We’ll be back to doctor ya up once it’s over.”

“I’ve got it Pa.” Caleb said excitedly as he patted his
haversack. “I’ve got the stone.”

His father’s eyes welled up with wonder, but there was no time
to discuss it now. The riders were coming.

“Stay down. Stay low.” Obadiah said as he closed and
concealed the door.

The thunder rumbled across the darkened sky with blinding
warm summer rains. But for the lightning of the storm one
could all but see.

“Hey there!” A rider called out as two darkened figures
crossed the grassy fields. “We’re lookin’ for a’ Grey Back’
that just came ridin’ through here. Have you seen him?”

Jeremiah and his grandfather raised their rifle barrels,
pointing them squarely at the one who had spoken with an
arrogant tone of familiarity.

“You’d better ‘toe the mark’, Nate.” Obadiah said. “You’ve
got no right to be on my land. Be gone with ya, or these’ll be
the last words you’ll ever hear.”

“Well look at what we have here!” Nathanael exclaimed
sarcastically. “Are you boys seein’ what I’m seein’?” He said
in amazement as he looked around at his men. “It looks like
this might turn out to be an interestin’ evenin’ after all.” He
remarked as his men smirked and began dismounting their
horses.

Nathanael sat in his saddle for a moment as his eyes met
Obadiah’s gaze. And then he spoke again, this time in a foreign
tongue.

“Je pensais que vous étiez mort vieil homme.” Dit-il basculé
son chapeau et ajusté son bord avec la pluie battante hors il de
chaque côté. “Je pensais que quelqu’un avait sûrement vous
découpé en petits morceaux ou monté votre tête sur un mur en
maintenant.”

“I thought you were dead old man.” Nathanael said as he
tilted his hat and adjusted its brim with the rain pouring off it
on either side. “I thought somebody had surely carved you up
into little pieces by now or mounted your head on a wall.”

“Les rebelles your’n est-il pas?” At-il demandé tout en plaçant
sa main à son menton. “Et l’Ordre’, il existe encore?” Il 28
secoua la tête et sourit, puis. “Et ici, je pensais que je”’était le
dernier.”

“The rebel’s your’n ain’t he?” He asked while placing his
hand to his chin. “And ‘the Order’? It still exists?” He shook
his head then and smiled. “And here I had thought ‘I’ was the
last.”

Nathanael gestured then towards the guns and chuckled as he
dismounted from his horse.

“Ce que le garçon porte est le mien Abdias, et je vais l’avoir.”

“What the boy carries is mine Obadiah, and I will have it.”

“Allez-y et nous tirer dessus si vous devez.”

“Go ahead and shoot me if you will.”

“Car vous savez que je ferai ce que je dois. Et rien, pas même
vous va m’arrêter.”

“You know that I WILL do what I must. And nothin’, not even
you are going to stop me.”

Lightning flashed. And then …all of them changed.


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The Seed by Jon McDonald Free Chapter

 

Prologue

The Planting

Tous tightly clutched the tattered leather pouch to his side. As he had been torn from his mother at the age of fourteen, it was all he had left from his family. It held little more than some rough sacred stones to ward off the evil eye, and a stash of fruit from the Monkey Bread tree that had sustained him on the journey, but was now almost depleted. The slaves were regularly fed yams, and oat stew – hardly a substantial diet. However, Tous’ Monkey Bread fruit was a whole food that had kept him in better health than most of the other slaves. He had cleverly concealed his pouch from the masters, even though it meant sequestering himself in the foulest part of the ship to avoid detection during the horrendous trip over from Africa to the shores of Brazil.

Now the slaves were being forced from the bowels of the ship’s hold – those who were still alive. They were herded onto flat-bottomed boats, and transported up a wide river valley, where the rain forest came down to the edge of the river. It was the slaves’ job to clear the forest and prepare the soil for the planting of sugar cane. How very different from the dry savannahs that had been Tous’ home. Many of his fellows came down with fever in this mosquito ridden climate, and as there was little that could be done for them, many died. The cemetery was growing faster than the cane fields.

How ugly the clear-cut land. The animals and birds grieved and fled. The waste from the burned slash clouded the river. The rains created flooding and erosion. But slowly the land was forced to yield, and the sugar cane fields were established. Barns, sheds, and a mill were built. The master’s house rose on the high ground, and finally simple shacks were erected for the slaves.

When Tous turned sixteen he was baptized and given the last name of Braga – after the name of the master’s home district in Portugal. He was given a wife – Graça, and on their wedding day, having bribed the overseer with a pencil he found behind the Master’s house while gardening, he took her up to his favorite spot on a high rise just down river from the plantation. It was dryer there and reminded him of his home. As a wedding present he gave her the very last remnant of his homeland – his sacred stones having been stolen from him after he first settled on the plantation. The gift was a seed from the Monkey Bread fruit that had sustained him on his journey across the Atlantic. It was his most precious possession, but as she held it in her hand she was puzzled, not understanding the significance the gift held for him. She looked up with questioning eyes.

He smiled and took the seed from her hand and put it in his mouth. The seed had dried during the two years that he had been in Brazil and he wanted to moisten it. He leaned in towards her, and as he kissed Graça, he transferred the seed to her mouth. She was startled, but also aroused. As they kissed, they played the game of pass the seed. And soon they found themselves seeking a bed of grass to consummate their nuptials.

Graca pushed the seed into the soft earth at the margin of the grasses as Tous conceived her baby. She was establishing a new line on a new continent. This would mark the spot where history would play out in many unexpected ways that could not yet be foreseen. Just as the seed germinated in her, the seed of the tree sprouted and began to grow into a tall and majestic sentinel that would oversee this spot for centuries to come.

 

PART I
A New Dawn for America

The President Elect

Mid November after the Presidential Elections

Edward Perez, the President Elect of the United States of America, was clearing out his office and desk at Perez Petroleum in the heart of downtown Chicago. It had been a long and grueling election campaign, and while he was elated at his personal victory, he was also exhausted, and desperately needed a week or two without the media pounding after him every waking moment. Elena, his new, late-thirty-something, campaign perfect wife, was nagging him to take a Caribbean cruise, but the Secret Service had nixed that idea immediately, as the new president-to-be would be way too exposed and vulnerable. Edward would have to remind her that he was no longer an ordinary citizen, and she would need to get used to this new way of living – restricted and under constant Secret Service surveillance.

The family had a summer estate on the Michigan upper peninsula right on the lake, surrounded by vast acres of unspoiled mixed conifer and maple forest. It was the perfect location because Edward, once he was inaugurated, could take Marine One and, in no time at all, be at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport if he needed to catch Air Force One to get back to Washington in a hurry. So instead of a cruise, it would have to be a working vacation at the summer house in Michigan, even though it was now late autumn and there was always the danger that they might become snowed in. Elena’s fantasy of a tropical paradise vacation had to be put aside as pressure was now on for the president-elect to select his cabinet, and not even all of Elena’s pouty pleading could dissuade his decision.

But today it was time to turn Perez Petroleum over to his Board of Directors, and consign the Chicago house to his son, Diego, and/or his daughter, Carmella, for caretaking for at least the next four or eight years.

It was not an easy task for him to relinquish control of the business that he founded in a parched Texas town over forty years ago. He had started out with nothing but a rusted Ford pickup, a few hired hands, and his native smarts – building Perez Petroleum into the second largest, privately held, gas and oil exploration company in the United States with many additional overseas contracts.

But Ed had been a hard worker, and while his hair was thinning, he had maintained his shape, and macho Latin good looks. He inspired confidence on a campaign poster or on the cover of Time Magazine. And by cleverly leveraging his humble beginnings, the exploding world-wide energy crisis – and with the help of major Republican backing, and corporate money – he had overcome all opposition to his candidacy – despite the heroic efforts to defeat him by the environmentalists and (what Ed called) the dippity-do liberals.

“Mr. President-Elect, AmVista’s Chairman Terrance Geiger is on line one,” Ed’s secretary announced, poking his head through the office door.

“Kevin, you know I’m not taking any more calls here. I’m done. My transition team is now handling all my communications.”

“I explained that, sir, but he says it’s very urgent. He asks as a personal favor.”

Ed pondered for a moment. He figured, as he was still in transition, that it wouldn’t make a big difference to mix a bit of the old with the new.

“Okay, I guess it won’t hurt just this once.” Ed picked up the phone. “Terrance, you old dog, what’s up?”

“Ed…sorry…I mean, Mr. President-Elect…”

“Ed’s fine.”

“I know this is probably not the way these things should be handled now, but I need you to know something very important that might well affect your presidency.”

He had Ed’s full attention.

“Just a moment.” Ed went to the office door and closed it. He didn’t want anyone listening in – neither his business staff, nor his presidential team. “Go ahead, Terrance. What is it?”

“My sources in Venezuela tell me there is a major military build-up taking place that could adversely affect the global energy markets. Casados is such a wild card, as we both know. I regret we had to use him to help us with that Brightway business. And by the way, Ed, I’m sure you know this, but I just want to remind you to be certain you have erased any trace of your involvement with Brightway.”

“I am aware of that Terrance, believe me. I have taken all the necessary precautions.”

“Good. And Ed, just want to be sure you understand, I have a terrible feeling this Venezuelan situation could potentially escalate into a major conflict. Please keep an eye on Casados. He’s a wily critter.”

Ed was silent for a moment. He suddenly realized this was what it was going to be like to be president. He had a brief moment of panic, and realized he would need to surround himself with the very best people as close advisors. “Terrance, let me have some of my people get back to you for a briefing on the Venezuelan details. I will give your report my fullest attention. And thanks for giving me a heads up.” Ed made a mental note to consider Terrance Geiger as his Energy Secretary.
◘ ◘ ◘

Diego refused to use the dictionary when he was in bed on a Sunday morning doing the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle. He accused Brandon of cheating when Brandon consulted the dictionary he kept surreptitiously tucked under his pillow. Chaquita couldn’t care less. The Chihuahua scratched an urgent itch behind her left ear, curled up again between the two of them on the bed, and immediately dozed off again.

“What are we going to do about the apartment when we have to move into your dad’s place?” Brandon asked, contemplative, after he got stuck on forty-nine down.

Diego responded with a combination of an “Um” and a cough.

That was not a comprehensible answer for Brandon. “What?”

“I’ve already told you we can’t discuss that just yet. I don’t have all the details about the house. I don’t know what Carmella’s plans are. I don’t know what Dad’s plans are. And I need to have this fucking Secret Service briefing before we have any idea about what we can or cannot do.”

“Am I gonna have a Secret Service detail, too? That would be so cool.”

Diego shook his head. “I doubt it. I can just see my dad’s Nazi supporters having a shit-fit over his gay son using tax payer dollars to coddle his male lover.”

“Hey, that’s it,” Brandon yelled, grabbing his puzzle page.

“What’s it?”

“Forty-nine down – coddle. Perfect. There’s my last word.”

“Yeah, but you cheated.”

“I don’t think so.”

Diego looked nothing like what you might expect a president-elect’s son to look like. At age thirty-two, with his long black hair, his scruffy beard, and his somewhat wild expression, he looked more like a mountain man than a president’s son. However, that was because he had just returned from a two month trip to Bhutan, and had not yet re-acclimated to the wilds of urban Chicago after the rigors of meditating in a monastery. He would need a haircut and a shave to be all spiffy and presentable tomorrow morning when he returned to work at Gardner, Chappell and Banks – a leading Chicago law firm that had taken on Diego as a junior associate, but only after his mother’s urgent and insistent pleading – she was one of their top billed clients, after all. Not that he wasn’t bright and well qualified for the position, but rather his reputation somewhat preceded him, as he was considered fiercely anti-establishment and politically ambitious.

He identified himself as a Terraist – derived from the word Terra meaning Earth. It implied that he was a radical environmentalist. He had worked for several years with a number of different mainstream environmental groups, but had become frustrated with their inability to accomplish anything of significance. So he decided he needed to work from within the system, closer to the heart of darkness – hoping to subvert corrupt power structures like a Trojan virus growing stealthily inside an infernal machine, and he had pleaded with his mother to help him find the right firm to take him on. He relished the idea of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His renegade mother, long divorced from his father, happily complied.

“I’ll be very pleased when I can see your face again. You look like a wilderness wolf-man,” Brandon commented, as he stared at the bushy Diego.

“I’ll shave the beard if you cut my hair. I have to be bright and shiny as a new penny when I go back to work tomorrow.”

“Well, maybe,” Brandon hesitated. “But I’m not at all sure I like you going out there again to work for The Man.”

“But how else can I subvert the system? I have to do something to counteract my father’s dastardly deeds.”

“I still don’t understand how you two can get along as well as you do. He must hate what you do.”

“He does, and I certainly hate what he stands for too, but it doesn’t get in the way of our personal relationship. And he does accept that I live with a crummy, lowlife homo, so he can’t be all that bad.”

Brandon threw the sports section at Diego, and bounded out of bed to be the first in the shower. Chaquita sprang from her sleep in shock and consternation at the disturbance, and charged out of the room to her supper bowl, seeking solace after the rude interruption of her nap.
◘ ◘ ◘

Three a.m. along the upper west side of Central Park in New York City. The desperate figure was out alone, stalking along the almost deserted street. Only the occasional cab or melancholy car cruised by. Who would take the risk of exposing themselves at this hour, in this neighborhood? Someone who was crazy? Upset? Suicidal? Were they in danger or were they, in fact, themselves the danger? What could be going through their mind? Could their thoughts no longer be contained within the confines of a single room, a single apartment, a building, or a block? Were they consumed by thoughts of fear, anger, or exploding creativity? Of course, no one could tell by simply looking at this solitary figure rushing along the park, wrapped in a down coat, knit cap, and muffler – hiding all but their eyes and nose – visible breath gushing forth like ghostly blossoms. Little could anyone know that they were in fact witnessing the tormented birth of a troubled subversive. What events could have transpired to transform this individual into a person contemplating the destruction of a new presidency? It certainly was not evident by observing this charging figure. But deep are the wounds and agonies that can transform a simple individual into a national sensation.

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