EMBRACED – book 3

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Now, see what’s happening in book 3 of the series EMBRACED

 

BLURB Curtis says the clickings in the fillings of my teeth are messages from aliens. He’s 14. What does he know?

The writing paper by my bed is another thing. I didn’t put it there. Curtis says I have to write letters to the editor and ask for things that will make the world a better place. Okay, I’ll humor the kid. Can’t do any harm.

Oh My God! Everything I’ve asked for is coming true. I’m so scared, I can’t breathe. Now what do I do?

Teachers beware for when aliens come calling with their secret codes, mind reading, magic powers, and reincarnation, who knows if gods’ promises can save you?

EXCERPT

“More drawings?” Curtis gestured at the papers she held.

Abby looked down at the pages and willed her hand to stop trembling. The three pages of code drawings seemed to shimmer and shiver with a life of their own. “Yes. Three pages. From Friday, Saturday, and last night. They’re pretty … they’re … pretty well done, I’d say.”

But Curtis was no longer listening.  He waved the papers she’d just handed him and almost shouted with excitement. “These are amazing. Way better than the first drawing you brought us.”

Abby stifled a small grin, but she had to agree. The drawings outclassed her scratches a million times over. “My friend developed instant artistic talent.”

“I’ll say.” Curtis shuffled the pages back and forth. He shook his head slowly and muttered “wow” over and over. Finally he looked up at her. “Miss D, thanks for getting so many. Now we have four to compare. We’ll see if there are any repeated patterns or sequences of symbols. Your friend is great to share these with us.”

“No problem.” Oh God, I’m such a liar. Of course there was a problem, and not just because she was lying to Curtis. My friend. How lame was that? The mere existence of the pages was the real problem. Some nights the clickings chattered incessantly in her fillings, almost driving her crazy. Those were the nights of very little sleep. The weekend had been eerily silent. That was a new phenomenon since Friday, no clickings, instead Coder Guy had begun leaving the pages filled with drawings. Either way—no escaping the code.

A while back, she’d grown tired of sharpening the pencil she used each night and replaced it with a pen, which was now almost out of ink. She’d have to remember to get out a new one tonight. Or maybe not? What would happen if there was no writing utensil?

“What’s so funny?” Curtis asked. Abby hadn’t realized she’d laughed out loud. The lack of pen wouldn’t stop her night visitor. She stifled another burst of laughter she knew bordered on hysteria. Truth was, much as the pages of code scared her, she’d be devastated if no more came. The person—being, alien, Coder Guy—was an integral part of her life now; his existence had established a rhythm that kept her balanced. Or so she thought. Maybe she was completely off her rocker.

Whatever the case, she didn’t want to lose that contact. Coder Guy’s presence warmed her, kept her from feeling alone and lonely. Oh, man, I am losing it here. Really losing it.

 

EMPOWERED – book 2 – free when you sign up

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BLURB My face is on every television, in every newspaper. They say I’m saving the world. I know better. I’m a school principal not a superhero.

Of course that doesn’t explain the blood on my hands. Or the strange languages coming out of my mouth. Or the feel of swinging a machete. Or the sensation of lifting off the ground before I lose all memory.

Someone or something has hijacked my life. How do I get it back?

Alien contact leads to adventure and love as the characters involve themselves in world affairs in this science fiction novel series. But are humans given second chances after our superhero fights war or will the gods decide our fate?

Subscribe and get book 2 EMPOWERED FREE   emandyves.com

BLURB I do what I do to make the world a better place because of these visions I had when I was a kid. I’m sort of invincible too. Crazy, huh? And I’ve found my promised soulmate. Victor doesn’t believe he’s the one. Not yet, anyway.

Damn, damn, damn. I’ve been kidnapped. Victor will find me. He has to. Doesn’t he? The visions can’t be wrong.

With her bodyguards in the hospital it’s up to her watcher, the ex-cons, her dad, and friends to save her. Will they and her soulmate come to the rescue in time or will her delusions be her ruin?

EMPOWERED EXCERPT

“Okay, Unc, I’m dying of curiosity. What do you need?”

“Anything and everything you can find on Brian Berdin.” Maria’s eyebrows rose.

The Mr. Berdin!”

“Yes.”

“Jeez, what’d he do? Rob a bank or something?”

“Nothing like that.” Nick grinned. “If I tell you why, can you keep it a secret?”

“From Mom and Grandma too?” Nick nodded. He could see the wheels turning. Maria loved subterfuge and wanted to be a police detective like him. He was confident she would keep his secret when many adults wouldn’t.

“He offered me a job.”

“What?” she squealed and then clapped a hand over her mouth. “Sorry Unc. I better be quiet or the boys will be in here and you know how they blab everything.”

“The chief recommended me for the job and I met with Mr. Berdin yesterday morning.”

“Were you nervous?” Maria asked. “I mean it being Mr. Berdin and all.”

“Yeah,” Nick admitted. “Who the hell wouldn’t be, Kiddo?”

“So when do you start?”

“I’m going to say no.”

“But, a chance to work for Berdin? Are you sure you want to give that up? I know you love being a cop but jeez, couldn’t you take a leave from work or something and try it anyway?”

“It’s tempting but, no.”

“But …” Maria stopped when Nick frowned at her. “Okay, okay, but if you’re not going to take the job, why do you want the info?”

“He made me an offer and I feel that I have to at least do the research to be fair before I give him my answer.” Maria nodded agreement. Nick knew that would make sense to her moral code too. What he didn’t tell her was just how tempting the offer was. He could buy a place for his mother, send her on a holiday to visit family in Italy, and ease the financial strain for Angie, Maria, and the boys. God, to do all that; to have real cash flow, no money worries. Much to his chagrin, he hadn’t been able to put the financial side of it out of his mind. “Also, see what, if anything, you can find on Jasmine Wade.”

“His sleepover?”

“Maria!”

“Give it up Unc. I know all about that stuff.”

“You kids grow up too fast,” he muttered as he studied the little girl become woman. How had that happened? Just yesterday she was a miniature of her mother.

Maria groaned. “I’m almost fifteen for heaven’s sake, not a baby. You sound just like Mom.”

“Okay, okay.” Nick held his hands up in surrender.

“Did you see Miss Wade? What’s she like? What was she wearing? Are her eyes really that green? I mean, in pictures they look brilliant. Is she as beautiful in real life as in her pictures?”

 

Finding a Good Book

haystackFinding something to read has become little more than hunting for that proverbial needle in the haystack.

In the “old days” we searched the shelves in the library for a title or cover that attracted our attention and then read the blurb. The hunt could take hours, followed by the trek home with an armload of books, only to cart several back unread as they just didn’t appeal.

Now, we face another haystack as we receive emails from publishers and Amazon, from book groups like The Fussy Librarian and bloggers we follow with a multitude of suggestions for our reading pleasure.

With each book that captures our interest, we first read the blurb, then download the sample. Many of these too, will be deleted when the first bit doesn’t hold up to its initial promise.

In all of this time consuming search, it is perhaps the suggestions of fellow readers that hold the most promise for a good or great read.

With that in mind, here are a few books that I feel are worth your time.

The Iron Wire by Garry Kilworth who learned to receive and send Morse code at the age of 15. Recommended by my aunt who lives in Australia, this recounting of the construction of the Adelaide to Darwin telegraph line is much more intriguing than it sounds. No dull list of facts here. Kilworth imbues the story with drama and a love of the harsh beauty of the land traversed in the stringing of the line.

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle. A modern murder mystery, set apart from most by the fact that it is entwined with characters from WWII. Set in Florence we are shown a different side of the ravages of war as a senior policeman agrees to supervise a murder investigation, after it emerges the victim was once a Partisan hero.

Because We Are: A novel of Haiti by Ted Oswald. Harsh, gritty, and heartbreaking, this look at Haiti today will bring tears, but you won’t be able to stop reading. When ten-year-old orphan Libète discovers the bodies of a murdered mother and child, we are taken into the depths of the slums of Haiti’s most infamous slum.

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement. If you want to know what life is really like for the majority of Mexicans—that is the poor—read this. It is the most accurate account I have come across.

 

 

 

An American Stands Out in Mali

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The airport is small and crowded. We’re the only foreigners and are surrounded by Malians as we wait for out flight. The men could almost be in uniform as they are all dressed alike in khaki pants and short sleeved shirts.

We introduce ourselves to one of the men and ask where, in the US, he is from.

“How did you know I’m American?” He gestures to the crowd around us. “I’m dressed exactly the same as everyone else here and I’m black.”

“Well …” How do we put this delicately? “Your walk, your stance, your haircut all scream US.” We hesitate and then say, “You’re black, but your skin tone isn’t at all the same as the Malians.”

“You know,” he says, “I’m dean of the school of architecture at UofX. I came here to study the buildings, to see how they keep them cool in such extreme heat. I’m looking for ways to conserve energy back home, and in an ideal world, to eliminate the need for air-conditioners.” He smiles ruefully. “I thought that if I dressed like everyone here, I could blend in and travel unnoticed, so to speak, but I’ve been spotted as a foreigner every time. Now I know why.”

We nod, not at all surprised. “And what did you find out about the buildings?” we ask.

“Mud brick homes are built with two ceilings about three feet apart. The heat is trapped in between and the homes are surprisingly cool.”

Mud brick buildings in the US? Not likely, but we tell him we hope that he can find a way to create a natural air conditioning effect and wish him well as he heads for his plane.

 

 

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Blurb

 

My face is on every television, in every newspaper. They say I’m saving the world. I know better. I’m a school principal not a superhero.

Of course that doesn’t explain the blood on my hands. Or the strange languages coming out of my mouth. Or the feel of swinging a machete. Or the sensation of lifting off the ground before I lose all memory.

Someone or something has hijacked my life. How do I get it back?

Alien contact leads to adventure and love as the characters involve themselves in world affairs in this science fiction novel series. But are humans given second chances after our superhero fights war or will the gods decide our fate?

 

Excerpt

 

“Sue,” Tom called. “You here?”

“In the supply room. Gotta check the back-up tapes. What do you need?”

“The Boss in?”

“Haven’t seen her.”

Tom took a step back, and surveyed the office. “Her door’s closed. Coast is clear. Listen Sue, what’s up with her?”

Sue shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s been vague and forgetful lately. Not like her at all.”

“Loses her train of thought. Did you notice her struggling for words at the staff meeting? That’s not like her at all. Normally sharp as a tack.”

Sue glanced out the door. Two teachers were passing through the office on their way to the staff room. She waited until they’d gone and lowered her voice. “Do you think we should talk to her?”

“I tried. As diplomatically, as I could.” Sue arched her brows. Tom chuckled. “Okay, so I asked her outright if she was okay.”

“And?”

“I don’t know. It was like she didn’t hear me. Like she was someplace else.”

“Do you think we should call her family?”

“Yeah, you should.”

“Me!?”

She didn’t need to overhear that conversation to know she was slipping away. Away to that other world.

 

And later in the story:

 

She picked up the phone, dialed Tom’s room. “Can you come to my office please?”

“What’s up, Boss. You sounded worried and I don’t mind telling you, you look like hell.”

She took a deep breath. “Do you believe in extraterrestrial beings?”

“Whoa, girl. Where did that come from?”

She shifted in her chair. “I… Nothing. Sorry. It was a bad dream I had last night. Spooked me is all.”

Tom frowned. “Are you sure you’re not sick or something?”

She nodded. “Yeah, sorry to have bothered you.” She waved a hand at him. “Now get out of here. Back to the kidlets.” Her grin was wobbly.

Tom grinned back, but felt like cursing. He found Sue refilling her coffee cup in the staffroom. “She’s not okay, is she?”

“No, and I don’t mind telling you I’m worried sick. She asked me today if I believed in aliens and then seemed heart broken when I said no. I thought she’d burst into tears then and there.”

“So what do we do?”

“I’ve called her family like you suggested last time we talked. Waiting to hear back.”

Tom squeezed Sue’s shoulder. “Let me know as soon as you get word. I’ll go with you to talk to them.”

 

 

Bringing memories home

 

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Fajitas served with fresh tortillas

The old cliche holds true yet again, for no matter the wonderful sights we’ve seen, no matter the delicious foods we’ve enjoyed, no matter the new experiences, no matter the warm and generous hospitality of our relatives, home sweet home–there’s no place like it.

We’ll savor the memories and settle back into the routines and comforts of home, the place that we hold dear, the place of safety and comfort and love.

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Roadside vendor with his bank of piggy banks.

From Cuernavaca to the Beach

And it’s hot, hot, hot. 36⁰C (96.8⁰F) Real feel 41⁰C (105.8) Humidity 92%.

We’re dripping as we head into town wearing the skimpiest dresses we own—the ones we got especially for this trip knowing, from experience, what we’d encounter. And it’s not just us sweltering. The residents comment on the heat too, clearly finding it difficult to deal with daily.

But, this morning we’re determined to check out the market.

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During the winter, the town square is swarming with tourists eyeing and buying—tapestries, fabrics, jewelry. The artisans travel from town to town hoping to make enough money to carry them through the summer months.

Now the square is empty, but the stalls stretching for several blocks down the street are bustling with locals buying household goods, home remedies, spices, socks and underwear, toys, pirated DVDs, tools, and parts for almost anything you could think of—from blenders to stoves, to …

Vendors trundle their carts and wheelbarrows over the cobblestones hawking their wares—peanuts, candies, drinks, and fruit. Others carry their products such as carpets and toys on their backs.

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And those clothes that you donate for poor countries? Yes, they are for sale too, along with new items in a multitude of colors and sizes.

How many of these vendors make sales? Will they have a profit today? Or tomorrow, in the next town? Or the day after that in yet another town?

In an attempt to escape from the heat, we try the ocean after a siesta. The water is as warm as a bath. We retreat to the shady corner of the pool. This water is even hotter, so it’s back inside to sit under the fans.

Why are we here at one of the worst times of the year temperature wise? Because the opportunity to see our friends and family again is worth the discomfort.

Cuernavaca – the menu

“We’re definitely in Mexico now,’ says the Munchkin as our bus makes its way out of Mexico City headed for Cuernavaca. “How do you know?” I ask. “Because there are stands instead of stores, and old buildings, and bumpy roads.” The munchkin is right (although there are stores, of course), but she neglected to mention the food, which is quite different in Cuernavaca than in our little beach town. IMG_20150622_102721572 We arrive in the early afternoon and our Mexican relatives take us to a little market where we indulge in blue-corn gorditas. Mine is filled with beans and cheese. I sample the salsas and choose one that is not too picante. With that, we enjoy a licuado de mamay–a sort of smoothie made from the mamay fruit. Delicious. The next day we are treated to tacos al pastor, the meat cooked on a vertical spit. IMG_20150621_164706585 “Do we like it?” our relatives ask. To which we reply, “Can we come back tomorrow?”And let’s not forget the stuffed chicken breast served with Oaxaca cheese and cactus, and the flan, and the Pinguinos, and the coffee and …   PS:  I broke my rule of not being invasive with my camera to take these two pictures for you.