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The Stone of Blood by Tony Nalley Free Chapter


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 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

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

“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

“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

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

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

“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

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

“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

“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

“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

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



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.


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.

The Seed can be purchased on Amazon here.

“The Stone of Blood” (Book 1) by Tony Nalley

Few books manage to pull the readers into a world of magic and fairytales like “The Stone of Blood” does. Tales of witches and ghosts, myths and legends… this novel has everything it needs to keep the readers glued to the pages. But there is even more to it than that: 95% of it is real. It took Tony Nalley many years to sit down and write this book, but the result is, indeed, a unique experience. The story is based on his childhood in Bardstown, Kentucky and on his grandfather’s stories, which he recorded on an old cassette tape recorder when he was only nine. Fiction and reality work together to create a story which readers will never forget.

Toby is a 12-year-old boy who is full of energy, curiosity, and imagination. He lives in a small town and he enjoys everything that surrounds him, from nature, to the games he plays with his friends, and the fascinating stories his grandfather tells him. Brought up as a Christian, Toby knows that he can’t believe these incredible stories. Witches, ghosts, werewolves… none of these creatures are real. Yet, Toby can’t help but wonder. What if at least some aspects of these stories and the local legends held some truth? He has always been a curious child, so when he’s given the opportunity to investigate some facts, he jumps at it. What he discovers might change his perspective on life and reality forever.

Tony Nalley has a unique writing style that transports the readers to the time when all the adventures took place. He used all the ghost stories and legends of his hometown to create a compelling tale that can be equally enjoyed by teen readers and adults. Those who have lived in Bardstown, Kentucky will probably remember the ghost of Jesse James, the haunting of the Old Jail House, the Talbott Tavern, and the history of the paintings at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. There’s no doubt that for some readers “The Stone of Blood” will be like a trip down memory lane. The author combines all these old tales and myths with his own childhood memories and real experiences. He did see a ghost once, and he did discover that many legends were true after he researched his grandfather’s stories.

“The Stone of Blood” is the first volume in a trilogy, and it focuses on young Toby as he discovers an ancient secret. There is a mysterious stone for which many people died, and Toby is determined to find out everything about it. After all, there is a bit of fiction in this novel, and readers will enjoy it immensely.

Find “The Stone of Blood” on Amazon, and find out more about the author and the trilogy on the official website.

Storybook Illustrated (SI) Guides to Various Diseases by MD/PhD Brian Wu

A good children’s book will not only entertain children, but will also teach them important things that would later help them in life. Author Brian Wu took this to the next level and created a series of books that are meant to educate both children and parents on some serious health problems. There are children who suffer from diseases that make them feel different from their friends and classmates, and it is very important for them to understand their condition and learn how to take good care of themselves. Brian Wu started from a brilliant premise: “Knowledge is power, and kids with health conditions deserve to be empowered.” He has already written four books that deal with asthma, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and influenza.

The SI Guides have compelling covers and are filled with beautiful, brightly colored illustrations that will immediately draw children’s attention. Once they open a book, they will discover much more than a fun story: they will read about the disease the book deals with, then they will meet a character they can easily relate to. It is important for children who suffer from a certain health condition to read about characters that are in the same situation as they are, as they will understand that they’re not alone and that there are ways they can actively fight their disease.

All SI Guides respect the same structure, which means that they are divided into three sections. The first section is dedicated to adults and it contains information about the symptoms of the condition covered, preventing care, and treatment tips. Sometimes parents are not aware of the fact that their children might be suffering from something serious, so this first section will prepare them by providing them with basic knowledge. The second section contains the story itself, which is meant for children. At first, the character doesn’t know that he/she is sick. Once they find out, the next step is to learn about their disease and how to take care of themselves so that they would lead a normal life. In the third section the author offers a list of helpful online sources where parents and children can find more information about the condition.

The first SI Guide is about asthma – “The Day Jake Lost His Breath”. Jake is a little boy who loves playing outside. He is very active, so when he finds out that he is suffering from asthma, he is very sad because he thinks his disease would stop him from enjoying the games with his friends. Little by little, Jake learns more about his condition and how to control it so that he would lead a regular life. This amazing book is all about staying strong and being responsible. Children who understand that they must take care of their own health make things much easier for their parents, who don’t have to worry all the time. The book is also available in Spanish – “El Día Que Jake Perdió Su Aliento”.

“Estelle’s Winning Spirit” is the second SI Guide, and it is about a little girl who finds out that she is suffering from type 1 diabetes. This is a very serious health condition that can change a person’s life forever, so it’s only natural for Estelle to be afraid. However, she learns what diabetes is, and then she accepts the fact that she needs treatment to control the disease. Estelle is a winner, and this teaches children suffering from type 1 diabetes that they can win the fight against their disease as well.

“Joe vs. the CE-Monster” is an amazing book that teaches children about celiac disease in a very creative way. Joe discovers that his stomach problems are actually caused by celiac disease. What’s the worst thing is that now he isn’t allowed to enjoy foods that he likes. He must avoid everything that contains flour made from wheat, barley, and oats, which means that he can no longer eat macaroni or his favorite chocolate cookies. Thus, in his rich imagination, celiac disease becomes a monster he must battle each day. He imagines that in his stomach there is a village that he must protect from the CE-Monster, which he pronounces “sea-monster”. The book focuses on Joe’s struggle and how gluten-free products help him go back to his normal life.

The fourth book in the series is “The Zoo Flu Frenzy”, and it is a guide to influenza. Parents may think that it’s not that difficult to treat their children when they get the flu, and this is why the first part of the book is very important. Then, the story focuses on David and Paul, who are best friends. When one of them gets the flu, the other one must be explained why they need to stay away from each other. Influenza is a very contagious disease, and it is crucial for children to understand that. When one of their friends is sick, they must know that they can’t play with him or her until they get better, otherwise they would get the flu as well.

What Brian Wu does is to explain these medical conditions in such a way that children would understand them. At the end of each book there is also a glossary that parents can use to explain their kids some terms that are a bit more difficult. The SI Guides are all about teaching children how to deal with the diseases they are suffering from in a fun way, and showing them that they can overcome anything and enjoy life just like any other child who doesn’t have a care in the world.

Read more about the SI Guides on the official website. You can find out more about the author and his projects on the author’s website.

“Stop Losing Sleep: Establish Healthy Sleep Patterns to Improve Your Health and Energy” by Kyle Richards

Nowadays, it is very common to hear people say there aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything they have to. Most of us have a fast-paced lifestyle. We need to go to work, then come home and take care of the house and family, and all these things need to be done fast and in a productive way. The problem is that we don’t have enough energy to deal with everything day in, day out, and that’s the result of sleeping few hours a night. According to the National Sleep Foundation and the National Institute of Health, people need 7-8 hours of a good night’s sleep to be productive all day. The problem is that most people don’t get more than 5-6 hours of sleep, and that affects them greatly.

The author of the amazing guide “Stop Losing Sleep”, Kyle Richards, is suffering from a serious sleep disorder – sleep apnea. He knows that many people suffer from various sleep issues, and this is why he decided to write this book and offer them advice on how to re-balance their sleep patterns. Because the root problem is different for each person, readers will have to read the guide carefully and take some time to find out what works for them. However, the best thing about “Stop Losing Sleep” is that most of the techniques and methods the author suggests can help anyone improve their sleep. There are certain things they can do during the day, and right before going to bed, that will ensure a deep, relaxing sleep until morning.

Believe it or not, the brain can be “coached” to overcome insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Those who take medication to be able to get some hours of much-needed sleep at night might even reach a point where they won’t need pills anymore. The author suggests some great home remedies that people can try. They are perfectly healthy and easy to prepare, and readers don’t have to worry that they might cause addiction, like many pills tend to do.

Kyle Richards first explains why people today have trouble sleeping. Identifying the causes is an essential step in solving the problem. Then, he continues by offering a brief history about sleep, which readers will find very interesting and informative. He also talks about the important of sleep, the science of sleep, and gives sleep tips that are easy to follow and can have incredible results. Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders today, so he dedicates an entire chapter to discussing it and presenting different remedies.

No doubt, many people will find “Stop Losing Sleep: Establish Healthy Sleep Patterns to Improve Your Health and Energy” informative and very helpful. Those who have sleep issues must not waste a moment. Things will only get worse if they do not seek help or try to use Kyle Richards’s methods to re-set their sleep patterns.

Find it on Amazon.

“Pest Control for Organic Gardening: Natural Methods for Pest and Disease Control for a Healthy Garden” by Amber Richards

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Source: via Jo on Pinterest


Those who are lucky enough to own their own house with a garden always choose to grow their own fruits and vegetables instead of buying them from the supermarket. We all know how unhealthy chemically treated vegetables can be, and we don’t want our family to consume them every day. On long term, these unnatural products can have very bad effects. Not to mention that we also have to think about the environment and how synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can harm it. These are the main reasons for which Amber Richards decided to write “Pest Control for Organic Gardening”, a guide that teaches readers how to take care of their garden using only biological and natural means.

 First of all, organic gardening is safe for everyone. Your family gets to eat healthy, delicious vegetables, fruits, and herbs that contain all the nutrients the body needs, and the garden itself becomes a safe place for your pets. Yes, pets and different other animals that might wander around can be harmed by the chemicals used to fight diseases and pests that usually attack plants. The author comes with some great methods and ideas to get rid of these problems through some clever techniques and using only natural, homemade products.

 When it comes to insects that attack plants, there is even a better way of dealing with them: by making sure that your garden becomes the home of beneficial insects that fight the ones that are destroying your plants. Many people don’t know much about insects and they have no idea that some of them can actually be very useful. And if you don’t manage to get rid of all those terrible insects that keep attacking your vegetables with the help of this method, then Amber Richards offers another great solution: organic sprays.

 Plant diseases can sometimes be prevented simply by knowing how to plant them. This is discussed in the chapter “The Strategic Planting Approach to Pest Control”, which readers will find very interesting. The information the author gives is not easy to find, and it is even more valuable because it comes from her own experience. Amber Richards made sure that her gardening guide is concise and easy to understand. Even though it is perfect for beginners, those who have been growing their own vegetables for some time might also find some new, unique information in it.

 Find it on Amazon.

“For Sale by Divorce: The Experts Guide to Divorce and Property Division®” by Lou Rodriguez

We can all agree that divorce is one of the most terrible experiences one can go through, and, unfortunately, it is one that we often encounter today. It is not only emotionally and physically stressful, but it is also difficult when it comes to the legal issues it implies. If children are also involved, then it becomes an even worse situation. One of the main concerns when it comes to a divorce is how the two parties will divide the property or properties they own. Real Estate Divorce Specialist Lou Rodriguez decided to write a short, yet comprehensive guide in which he covers the basics of divorce law, and all the legal implications of selling the Marital Property during a divorce. His book, “For Sale by Divorce: The Experts Guide to Divorce and Property Division®”, can be read by anyone, as it is written in layman’s terms.

The author is more than a Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist (REDS) and a Sellers Representative Specialist (SRS); he is also a former divorcee. After two divorces and after going through financial devastation, Lou Rodriguez knows exactly how to avoid all the complications that come with the radical separation between two people. The whole process is traumatic enough, so the parties involved shouldn’t have to worry about all the legal issues as well. This is why Rodriguez insists that those who are in this situation should always allow professionals to help them and make sure property division is treated in a businesslike manner. The proper assessment of the Marital Property value is of extreme importance, as well as knowing all the options for selling it.

Lou Rodriguez has asked for the collaboration of two other specialists: Family Law Attorney Nancy K. Brodzki, and Certified Financial Divorce Specialist™ Carol Ann Wilson. Nancy K. Brodzki offers insight in the legal issues that arise during a divorce, and Carol Ann Wilson discusses the tax issues. It is important to take tax issues into consideration, because selling and dividing a property can sometimes result in financial losses. The goal is to sell the property or properties the two people own so that everyone would get the best financial outcome.

“For Sale by Divorce: The Experts Guide to Divorce and Property Division®” is the perfect guide for anyone who has to deal with a divorce. It might be the first step in understanding what a divorce implies and deciding to hire the best specialist to take care of all the issues that you cannot solve yourself.

Find it on Amazon.

“Benton: A Zombie Novel (Volume Two)” by Jolie du Pré

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Source: via Jo on Pinterest


Zombie novels still enjoy the attention of a large readership, with more and more books of the genre appearing on the market. Given the large number of such works of fiction, writing a worth-reading zombie novel has become a matter of literary craftsmanship and creativity, two key elements which Jolie du Pré controls admirably.

Jolie du Pré is the author of the “Benton: A Zombie Novel” series, which comprises two volumes so far, the third being scheduled for September 2014. In the first installment in the series, all members of the Benton family are killed by zombies, except for Jennifer. She is a woman in her twenties who luckily survives the zombie attack and joins a group of seven other young survivors. Led by Mark, a charismatic, handsome man, the group tries to reach Texas.

In the second volume of “Benton: A Zombie Novel,” the survivors experience a sense of safety, fragile as it may be. The situation becomes more and more dangerous: some of Jennifer’s newfound friends are killed, and on a ‘non-so-life-threatening’ level, she has a beautiful blonde rival who tries to win Mark’s heart. The protagonist thinks jealousy might bring Mark back, but that is surely not the case, and everyone is endangered.

“Benton: A Zombie Novel (Volume Two)” continues the story from where the first volume ended. When the survivors try to save themselves by moving to Tent City, new challenges arise and we have the opportunity to see Jennifer, Mark, and their friends in a different light. Each page reveals more about their personality, thoughts, weaknesses and strengths, and therefore, readers can easily relate to them.

Jolie du Pré managed to create likeable characters, whose dangerous journey of survival keeps you glued to the pages from beginning to end. Throughout the storyline, there are a few twists and turns which are bound to take the reader by surprise, thus maintaining his or her interest high at all times. Although some may ask themselves, “What else can be told about zombies after so many zombie novels,” Jolie du Pré proves that good writing skills put to use by a creative mind can work wonders in this respect.

If you want to learn more about Jolie du Pré and her work, you may visit the author’s site and blog. Also, you can find “Benton: A Zombie Novel (Volume Two)” on Amazon.

“My Self, My Soul” by James Debar

During our life, we all wonder if there’s anything beyond this existence. Death is probably the thing that scares us most, and for most of us it is difficult to see it as a natural transition. We still have unanswered questions about the soul, about our connection with it, and about what happens with it after death. Will we still exist in a different form and a different plane of existence? Some of us, however, have received the answers they were looking for. Those people who went through near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences have gained knowledge that cannot be achieved otherwise. James Debar is one of those people. After a terrifying heart attack, he came back changed. During those painful moments when he was sure he would die, he touched his own soul and managed to receive mind-blowing answers about life, death, and the connection between the “self” and the “soul”.

James Debar decided to write this book, “My Self, My Soul”, to share his experience with anyone who is interested in the subject. There are many accounts of near-death experiences, and many studies have been written on this topic. What makes this particular book stand out is the fact that it is the honest story of a man who went through a life-altering heart attack and experienced things beyond anyone’s imagination.

In the Introduction, the author remembers how he was taken to hospital, and how he felt himself slipping away while the doctors and the nurses were struggling to keep him alive. At first, he was scared, but once he closed his eyes, he realized that all the noises had disappeared and he felt more peaceful than ever. That was the moment when his “self” met his “soul” and started a conversation that would answer many of the author’s questions. It seems that his encounter with his own soul didn’t last too long, but it was enough for him to learn things that later changed his life.

One of the most interesting things about James Debar’s experience is the fact that it taught him the “self” and the “soul” are two separate entities that work together during lifetime. When someone’s life needs to end, these two entities are separated and go on different ways. It seems that the purpose of their collaboration was to experience humanity, and learn about the world together. Once this goal is completed, the soul moves on. However, after the conversation the author had with his own soul, he decided that there were more things to do in the world, so he chose to come back.

“My Self, My Soul” is an inspirational book that sheds light on many mysteries related to the soul and our existence. Readers might find answers to questions they have always asked themselves and others.

Find it on Amazon and Smashwords.