Monday, May 24, 2021



It's 1966, and young Heywood Gould, a Brooklyn boy with literary ambitions, has his dream job. He is a reporter at the ultra liberal (that's right liberal) New York Post, alongside young writers like Nora Ephron, Pete Hamill, and Anthony Scaduto. New York is a newspaper town, six dailies trying to beat each other to the big story. He revels in the action and competition.  In this comic memoir of his early life, screenwriter, director and novelist Gould cuts back and forth between vivid scenes of childhood as early as age 2, and coming of age in New York City in the '60's. Fighting anti-Semitic bullies in the neighborhood. Collecting corpses for a Brooklyn funeral home. Dropping acid in Greenwich Village and dropping out of college for a year of sleazy encounters and one bittersweeet love affair in the down and out world of left bank Paris. Possessed of uncanny recall for details, an unparalleled ear for dialogue, and disarming candor about his foibles, young Heywood is great company. Reader will be treated to a ride to another era, not so terribly long ago.

Book Details

Title: Drafted: A Memoir of the '60s

Author: Heywood Gould

Genre: memoir

Publisher: Tolmitch Press ( June 21, 2021)

Print length: 376 pages


A few of your favorite things: George Simenon novels. Spaghetti with anything. Any Michael Curtiz movie. Blueberries. My new favorite writer, Yenta Mash.
Things you need to throw out: nothing. I keep everything.
Things you need in order to write: a good idea that I feel I can execute
Things that hamper your writing: social obligations. Family obligations. Medical appointments. Anything that keeps me away from the desk.

Things you love about writing: nothing. It's torture.
Things you hate about writing: seeing something you should gave changed when the book is already published.
Easiest thing about being a writer: not having to punch a clock.

Hardest thing about being a writer: rejection. It's not the tragedy it once was, but it still stings.

Things you love about where you live: the insanity of the city.
Things that make you want to move: nothing. I've tried other places, but always come back to New York.

Things you never want to run out of: peanut butter. Ideas. USB sticks.
Things you wish you’d never bought: I try not to buy anything.
Favorite foods: I eat everything.
Things that make you want to throw up: nothing. I worked in a funeral parlor for three years so I have a pretty strong stomach.
Favorite music: Jazz.
Music that make your ears bleed: Rap.
Favorite beverage: coffee.

Something that gives you a pickle face: wheatgrass.
Favorite smell: my grandson and granddaughter.

Something that makes you hold your nose: male cologne.
Something you’re really good at: bartending.

Something you’re really bad at: flipping omelets.
Something you wish you could do: dunk a basketball.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: write a Hollywood ending.
Something you like to do: hike.

Something you wish you’d never done: that's classified.

Last best thing you ate: s
ausage and peppers last night.

Last thing you regret eating: bad mushrooms. I was sick for days.
Things you’d walk a mile for: exercise.
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: cable anchor people.

Things you always put in your books: new twists I hope
Things you never put in your books: anything I wrote before.
Things to say to an author: a page turner. Couldn't put it down. You're a genius.
Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: I just felt he/she wouldn't have done that.
Favorite places you’ve been: Paris. Anyplace on Hawaii.

Places you never want to go to again: Boca Raton.
Favorite things to do: hang with my grandchildren.

Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: have a notes meeting with a producer.
Things that make you happy: too many to list.

Things that drive you crazy: politicians.
Proudest moment: watching my kids excel.
Most embarrassing moment: being caught in a bad mistake.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: I never took drugs. (Said to my kids.)

A lie you wish you’d told: none. Lies have never worked out well for me.
Best thing you’ve ever done: I'll leave that for others to decide.

Biggest mistake: not kissing up to producers.
Most daring thing you’ve ever done: hitching buses on Coney Island Avenue.

Something you chickened out from doing: ice climbing.
The last thing you did for the first time: had my ninth and tenth ribs removed for a biopsy.

Something you’ll never do again: have my ninth and tenth ribs removed for a biopsy.


Born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, Heywood Gould got his start as a reporter for the New York Post when it was still known as a "pinko rag." Later he financed years of rejection with the usual colorful jobs-cabdriver, mortician's assistant, industrial floor waxer, bartender, and screenwriter. He has written fourteen books and nine screenplays, among them Boys From Brazil, Fort Apache, the Bronx, Cocktail and Rolling Thunder.  In addition, he directed four features, One Good Cop starring Michael Keaton, Trial by Jury with William Hurt, Mistrial with Bill Pullman and Double Bang with William Baldwin.

His novel, Leading Lady, was a finalist for the 2008 Dashiell Hammett Award and Foreword Magazine Award for literary excellence in crime writing and was a Bronze Medal winner for the Independent Book Publisher's Award.  His novel Greenlight for Murder was praised as the “blackest of screwball comedies," and it was also nominated for a Hammett Prize. Heywood Gould lives in New York City.

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Friday, May 21, 2021



“Please Mommy, can Tessa and I go play on the swing by the creek?” the little girl begs, pushing a blonde curl from her eyes. “We’ll stay together, and we promise to be safe.” Hours later, their mother waits anxiously for her darling girls to arrive home with a list of reasons why they are late. But the front door never opens . . .

When the bodies of eleven and twelve-year-old sisters, Tessa and Megan, are found at the bottom of a ravine—dressed in matching pastel summer outfits, their small bodies broken from the fall—Detective Katie Scott is called to one of the most shocking and heartbreaking crime scenes of her career.

Carefully picking through the fragile remains, Katie makes the first of many disturbing discoveries: the girls were not biological sisters. The youngest, Megan, is a DNA match to a kidnapping case years before. The tiny number burnt into her skin the mark of a terrifying killer intent on keeping count of his collection.

Her PTSD from the army triggered, Katie is left reeling as she maps other missing children in the local area. Has this twisted soul found a way to stay nearby his victims? Could he be watching now as Katie hits one dead end after another? 

A wild storm building, matching a fiber found during the autopsy to a nearby boatyard is the break Katie needs. But when another girl goes missing, just as lightning strikes and the power goes out, Katie only has her instincts, her team and her service dog to rely on. As time runs out for Katie to finds the stolen child alive, who will become the next number on this monster’s deadly list?

Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine, and Melinda Leigh, you better buckle-up for the ride of your life! BEWARE – this gripping crime thriller is guaranteed to keep you up all night!

Book Details:

Title: The Fragile Ones

Author: Jennifer Chase

Genre: crime thriller    

Series: Detective Katie Scott

Publisher: Bookouture (March 8, 2021)

Print length: 300 pages


    1.    Where is your cell phone? Off.

    2.    Your hair? Unruly.

    3.    Your workplace? Quiet.

    4.    Your other half? Supportive.

    5.    What makes you happy? Beach.

    6.    What makes you crazy? Noise.

    7.    Your favorite food? Italian.

    8.    Your favorite beverage? Soda.

    9.    Fear? Nope.

    10.    Favorite shoes? Boots.

    11.    Favorite way to relax? Sunset.

    12.    Your mood? Inspired.

    13.    Your home away from home? Mountains.

    14.    Where were you last night? Movies.

    15.    Something that you aren't? Hateful.

    16.    Something from your bucket list? Travel.

    17.    Wish list item? Acreage.

    18.    Where did you grow up? California.

    19.    Last thing you did? Clean.

    20.    What are wearing now? PJs.



“Please can we go?” whined Tessa as she followed her mother through the living room and into the kitchen. “Please,” she said again, pushing her blonde curls away from her eyes. “I really want to go to the swing by the creek.”

“Not by yourself,” countered Mrs. Mayfield, ignoring her daughter’s angry stare. “We’ve talked about this before.”

“Yes, and you said I couldn’t go alone, and I’m not. Megan will be with me.” Tessa’s older sister was barely a year older and her best friend. Her mother began emptying the dishwasher, putting plates and glasses away in the cabinet. It was unclear if she was thinking about what Tessa had said or not, so she tried again. “I’m almost eleven and Megan is almost twelve. We’re practically teenagers,” she said. “Besides, Janey and her brother will probably be there.”

Mrs. Mayfield laughed. “You know, you would be a good lawyer the way you make your case.”

“I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a vet,” Tessa said, grinning.

“Well, I know you are going to be whatever you want to be.” Mrs. Mayfield laughed to herself as she slipped the last piece of silverware into the drawer and turned to face her daughter. At the sound of her name, Megan had joined Tessa in the doorway and they both stood quietly waiting for an answer. Glancing at the wall clock with a sigh, she said, “You both have to be back by four thirty, not a second later. Understand?”

“Thank you! Thank you!” Tessa said, grabbing her sister’s hand in glee. Both girls were in denim shorts and pastel T-shirts with their favorite matching blue sneakers.

“Be home on time,” their mom called after them.

“We will,” chimed the girls.

Mrs. Mayfield heard the front door shut, followed by the sound of running footsteps.

She smiled and went back to her chores as the afternoon ticked by.

At 4:45 p.m. Mrs. Mayfield was waiting impatiently to hear the girls enter the house with a list of a dozen reasons why they were late—but the front door never opened. An hour after that, unable to wait any longer, she looked outside, thinking that the girls might be in the yard.

Debris from a croquet set littered the lawn; the wooden mallets abandoned and colored balls scattered as if the girls had been playing only moments ago. The trampoline in the corner had one of the girls’ bright blue sweatshirts hanging on the edge. It swayed slightly in the breeze.

There was no sign of them.

She ran through the house to the backyard, but it, too, was deserted. No whispers. No giggles. No shrieks of laughter. The wind was picking up and whistling through the branches and leaves of the surrounding trees—almost whispering a warning.

Mrs. Mayfield pulled off her apron and reached for her coat, deciding to walk to the creek and bring the girls back herself. At this point, she was more angry than concerned, knowing how they could be forgetful when they were having fun, and often lost track of time. But surely they would be on their way home by now? she thought to herself as her pace quickened from a fast walk to a jog. Against her better judgment, and knowing that she couldn’t shelter them forever, she had crumbled and let them go down to the creek where one of the neighboring boys had constructed a swing that they loved to play on.

And now fear ripped through her body. “Tessa!” she yelled. “Megan!” Terrible scenarios shuffled through her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep her emotions on an even keel.

“Tessa! Megan!” She yelled their names over and over until her voice went hoarse. Her chest felt strangely heavy and her vision blurred as she ran, but her strength and mother’s instinct pushed her forward, down the trail leading to the creek. The trail was well-worn by local kids looking for adventure and fun. Stumbling as she ran, she frantically turned left and then right. There wasn’t a soul around… She was alone. She kept moving.

Looking up at the tall pine trees, everything spun in a dizzying blur of forest and darkening sky. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and open again, then stopped for a moment to listen.

The swing was only visible at the bottom of the path just above the creek and she could hear the water rushing below. Peering over the edge, there was no sign of them—or anyone. She kept turning, expecting to see her girls everywhere she looked. They weren’t there. All around her were discarded candy wrappers and remnants of fast food containers. Proof that children played here often.

There was no sound apart from the whisper of the trees. No children laughing nearby. “Megan! Tessa!” she yelled again, but there was only silence. She ran all the way up the trail to the street, still calling their names in a full-blown panic.

Mrs. Mayfield turned her attention up the road, her mother’s instinct in high gear. Something blue lying beneath a bush caught her eye and she ran towards it.

She leaned down and her hand trembled over the light blue canvas before she forced herself to grab the abandoned blue sneaker.

“No,” she said, barely breathing.

Written on the side tread of the shoe with a thick black pen was one word: Tessa.

Excerpt from by .  Copyright © 2018 by . Reproduced with permission from . All rights reserved.


Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master's degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

Connect with Jennifer:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Book trailer

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Thursday, May 20, 2021



A megalomaniac god is pursuing a millennia-old vendetta, and Leif must learn to wrangle a newly awakened power to either become a hero or a villain. He will leave his old life and run from creatures he believed were reserved for myth and legend. He travels across the realms while struggling to tame the blinding rage that comes with his new demi-god like power. Will Leif survive the intra-realm quest and prevent Ragnarok or will he fail to control his awakening.

Book Details:

Title: Awakening
Author: Kevin D. Miller

Genre: high fantasy, dark fantasy, mythology, action and adventure

Series: The Berserker Chronicles, book 1
Publisher: Bifrost Books (December 5, 2020)

Print length: 336 pages


Where’s home for you?

I live in Redlands, California.  

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Palm Desert, California.

Who would you pick to write your biography? 

Jim Butcher, he is one of my favorite author’s and a truly amazing writer.   

Have you been in any natural disasters?
I don’t know if this counts, but all my life I have lived near the San Andreas Fault. Due to being so close I have been in numerous earthquakes, some of them quite big on the Richter scale.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I would change several of the college courses I took. Instead of choosing  easy classes, I would pick those courses that would better help me in my adult life.

What makes you nervous?
The thought of undiscovered typos in my book Awakening. 

What makes you happy?
Spending time with my girlfriend, Amy and our two dogs Pepper and Riley.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, I am a practicing attorney.

Who are you?
That’s a deep question. I am still learning who I am. Up until three years ago, I didn't even know I wanted to be an author.

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?

My dogs.

What’s one of your favorite quotes? 
This isn’t exactly a famous quote or anything, but I always ask myself “Why not,” when I am considering doing something new. Why not writing a book. Why not write a series. Why not learn a new skill.  It helps reinforce for me the notion that no one is stopping me from doing what I want to do. I just have to push past the initial nerves of trying something and possibly failing. But the possibility of failure shouldn’t stops me from trying. So, why not?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
Kyoto, Japan. I absolutely love Japan and Japanese culture. I’ve been to Japan twice and plan to go again next summer. I studied Japanese history in college and even wrote my college thesis on ancient Japan. I loved being there. The food is delicious, the country is beautiful and everyone is so nice. If I could, I would sell all my stuff and move there tomorrow.

How did you create the plot for this book?
I came up with the initial idea for Awakening while watching the opening scene from the first episode of The History Channel TV show Vikings. After the initial inspiration, I mentally story-boarded my idea until I felt that I had worked out all the kinks, then started writing.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
None that were inspired, but I did include several of my friends and girlfriend’s names into small roles within the book. Just as fun littler Easter eggs for them to come across when they first read Awakening.  

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Garon Whited, Terry Mancour and Robert Kirkman. They are all amazing authors and creators. Getting the chance to pick their brains and ask for advice would be amazing.

Who are your favorite authors?

Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Garon Whited, Terry Mancour, Christopher Palolini, Michaelbrent Collins, Craig Alanson, Anthony Ryan, Brent Weeks, and Brandon Sanderson.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I am reading Homeland by R. A. Salvatore in e-book format and listening to Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton on Audible.

Do you have a routine for writing?
My typical routine is to write for 45 to 60 minutes during my lunch break at work.    

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Typically during my lunch break in my office. I shut my door, turn on my music and can write free from distraction.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
That they thought Awakening should be turned into a Netflix series. I got chills when they told me.

You can be any fictional character for one day.

Harry Dresden from The Dresden files.

What would your dream office look like?
A comfortable chair, a stand up desk, framed paintings of nerdy scenes from my favorite movies along the wall. There would be two computer monitors so I can have my notes up at the same time. One wall is a floor to ceiling whiteboard so I can mind map and keep a running list of notes on it, with the final wall has a large window so I can procrastinate by staring out it.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
I researched reaching out to the major publishing houses and from everything I read, it made me feel like it would be a colossal waste of time to try and get published in the traditional sense. So I figured, why not do it myself.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish?
Yes, I like have complete control over my book and writing.

What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?
I wrote Awakening along with spending several months reviewing and editing it myself, but I can only do so much. I felt it was necessary to hire a professional editor. My editor performed two developmental edit read-throughs along with copy and line-by-line editing. I then hired a digital artist to draw my cover and back page. Once all of that was done, my editor then went the extra mile by compiling everything together and uploading onto Amazon, Draft2Digital and IngramSpark.

What are you working on now?

I just turned in Ascension to my editor last week, and I'm now working on my first draft of book three, Ragnarok.



Alexander never thought that he would live long enough to enjoy quiet nights like this. He noted it was a particularly cold night as he stepped onto his back porch. His breath sent out a little fog, and he marveled at how peaceful winter could be in the Icelandic forest. The freshly fallen snow sparkled as the Northern lights flashed through the night sky. Alexander never grew tired of watching their fiery dance. He only wished his wife, Helga, was still around to enjoy the peace and quiet. Sighing contentedly, Alexander reached down, grabbed a bundle of firewood, and turned to head back inside. Suddenly he froze. He felt it, a tingling he hadn’t felt in a long time, danger. Scanning the surrounding forest, Alexander couldn’t see anything out of place, but the feeling that something was out there, something that didn’t belong, still pulled at him like the tide. Alexander stared into the darkness for a few more moments, but the forest remained silent, unwilling to give up its secrets. Alexander shrugged and went back into his house. For the first time in years, he locked the door behind him.

As Alexander sat by the fire, the warmth failed to chase away the feeling that someone or something was out there roaming his forest. A familiar howl rang out from deep within the forest, pulling Alexander out of his thoughts. A second later similar howls answered. Alexander could identify each individual wolf by their howl; he had known this pack for years. Settling back in his chair, he envisioned the wolves in full force. The howls continued to ring across the forest. In all his years living in the forest, Alexander had never heard so many wolves at once. They sounded agitated. They must sense it too, he thought.

Alexander groaned as his knees popped and his old bones protested the sudden movement of getting to his feet. It was as if his body knew what he was planning to do and was voicing its discontent. It had been decades since he had been in a fight, but it seemed he was being called out one last time. Hell, Alexander thought, I may see Helga sooner than I thought. Pulling on his thick wool parka, Alexander grabbed the double-bladed ax he used to chop wood. The weight felt comfortable in his hands. The ax had been his weapon of choice from the time he was strong enough to swing one. His mother had pushed him to branch out and learn to use other weapons, but it wasn’t meant to be. The ax was the weapon of his ancestors, and he honored them by using it. The cold hit Alexander like a hammer, clearing his senses and waking him up to the world around him. The Berserker had laid dormant inside of him for decades now, but Alexander could feel the old battle lust stirring within. The forest had gone too quiet, the howls of the wolf pack had died down. Goosebumps speckled Alexander’s body as the tension in the air thickened. Alexander knew why. A predator not of this realm stalked his forest.

Alexander silently crept through the forest. The snow crunched lightly beneath his weight; his senses screamed at him to turn back, but he ignored them and pressed on. It had been decades since he had felt the thrill of a fight, and he relished the feeling.

A bird pierced the silent forest with a loud squawk. He peered through the tangle of trees and branches; he could barely make out a blotch of darkness that seemed to be darker than the surrounding forest. As he moved closer, the air blew warm breaths on his face with each step. Alexander was within ten feet of the odd black blotch when he noticed that the snow had completely melted away. Steam rose from the freshly uncovered earth in a circle around the object. Thick drops of water splashed down from the tree branches above, puffing into steam upon hitting the forest floor.

Alexander continued to move slowly around the dark object but didn’t see anyone or anything. Creeping ever closer, his feeling of unease intensified. As Alexander stepped around the inky darkness, the heat had him sweating through his clothes. He stopped dead in his tracks. His blood ran cold. From the back, the round black object drank in all the available light, but now that Alexander was in front of it, he could see it opened up to a world of fire and lava. Alexander knew what he was looking at; he just couldn’t figure out why it was here. The dark blob was a bridge to another realm. However, it differed from any bridge he had used in his youth. This thing

was more like a rip in the fabric of reality. Whoever did this was immensely powerful. Peering into the gateway, memories from a lifetime ago came flooding back to him. Muspelheim, the realm of fire and lava. The home to an unimaginable evil. It was a place he had hoped to never see again.

As if in answer to his thoughts, something rose out of the molten river that lay beyond the bridge. Alexander’s stomach backflipped as he recognized the creature that was steadily stalking towards the bridge. It’s the beginning of the end, Alexander thought. Ragnarok is here.

As the being stepped through the bridge and into Alexander’s world, the frigid forest air hissed and steamed in protest to the fiery monster’s trespass into Midgard. Alexander stared up at the molten giant and thought he looked even taller than he had appeared decades ago. Alexander backed up, making sure he was out of range of the monster’s hulking sword. He knew a fight was inevitable. Alexander closed his eyes and freed the dormant Berserker, embracing the longforgotten thrill of the fight. Icy fire burned along his veins as his muscles grew and strengthened. Alexander knew, even in his enhanced state, that he was no match for the force of nature that stood before him. He only hoped to fend the giant off long enough to create an opening and run for help. Hopefully, with luck, he could lose the creature in the forest.

Alexander opened his eyes, filling his old frame and flooding his veins with the familiar icy burn of the Berserker. Any thoughts of running vanished as a thin red haze of rage colored the edge of his vision. Fear and doubt evaporated and was replaced with excited determination at the chance to cross blades one last time with a worthy foe. Who gives a damn that I’m well into my sixties? Alexander thought. “I am the last of an ancient and powerful Berserker clan, bestowed with the power of Thor, chosen to defend Midgard from invaders such as you. How dare you step into my realm, Surtr,” Alexander growled. “You aren’t welcome here. I will say this one time; return to Muspelheim or face my wrath.”

Surtr’s molten eyes studied Alexander. A voice Alexander had hoped to never hear again thundered in the clearing. The fire giant’s voice washed over Alexander like an oncoming forest fire. “You arrogant and foolish Midgardian. Do you have any idea who you are speaking too? Face your wrath? Don’t think I don’t remember you. You are one of the few beings who was lucky enough to escape me the first time we fought. You will not be so lucky this time. By Hel’s will, I have been given a second chance to finish the fight you started many years ago.”

“You think I’m afraid of you, giant?” Alexander boasted, “I have faced hundreds of enemies and killed them all. Last time we faced, we were in your realm, but now,” Alexander gestured around. “You are far from Muspelheim. I have the advantage here.”

Surtr laughed and pointed his massive sword at Alexander. “You truly don’t know what I am, do you? I cannot be killed by the likes of you.”

Surtr blurred, moving with a speed no normal human could track. But luckily for Alexander, he wasn’t a normal human. This also wasn’t his first fight. Alexander had been waiting for Surtr to make the first move and was ready for him. Surtr’s burning blade slashed through the air mere centimeters from Alexander’s face as he dodged out of range. A blast of scalding air washed over Alexander as Surtr’s blade sliced through the air.

Alexander rushed forward, relishing the speed his Berserker state granted him. Alexander hoped to throw Surtr off by attacking him head on. Slashing upward, Alexander attempted to split open Surtr’s unarmored stomach. Before the ax hit, Surtr lashed out, kicking Alexander square in the chest, causing him to fly backward. He slammed into a tree trunk with a bone crunching crack. Alexander felt the ancient pine sway back and forth from the impact. Snow rained down from the branches above, pelting him in wet kisses. Alexander struggled to catch his breath. Damn, that hurt. I can’t afford to take too many hits like that, Alexander thought. Struggling to his feet, Alexander felt every cell in his body struggle with the pain. He suspected a few of his ribs cracked, but nothing felt permanently damaged or out of place.

Luckily, years of training had taught Alexander to never let go of his weapon in a fight. Even in his old age, he still had the wherewithal to keep hold of it. Alexander used his ax as a crutch and looked up at Surtr. His enemy hadn’t even bothered to follow up his attack; he just stood there studying Alexander. “You’ve grown old, Berserker. You weren’t a match for me decades ago. You certainly aren’t one now.”

Alexander eyed the giant, “Ha, I’m just warming up, Surtr. Before long I’ll have you running back through that bridge, crying to whoever sent you here,” Alexander boasted. However, deep down he knew he was finished. That kick had hurt him more than he cared to admit. His back was ablaze with pain and his legs felt like wet noodles. I must have damaged my spine when I hit the tree, Alexander thought. “This fight will be over before I get a chance to heal,” Alexander grumbled.

Alexander eyed the fiery giant and quietly thanked the gods he had the foresight to leave a letter to his Berserker heir. He had wished he could have had more time with his daughter and grandson. He’d wanted to introduce them to the idea of realms, gods, and supernatural creatures slowly, but as with all great plans, it fell apart. Alexander could only hope they would find the journals.

There is no way this attack is random, Alexander thought. A being such as Surtr doesn’t leave his realm unless provoked, and for a bridge to open right in his backyard, linking Muspelheim to Midgard - it was too much of a coincidence. The gods were moving against each other; he could feel it. Wincing in pain, Alexander steeled himself.

Whispering reverently, Alexander breathed into the icy wind, “Odin, Allfather, my time on this mortal plain has come to an end. I, one of Thor’s anointed, choose to die with an ax in hand, and can only hope to be welcomed into the halls of Valhalla.” A raven cawed an answer to Alexander’s prayer somewhere in the trees. Even though Surtr was far stronger than him, Alexander couldn’t just roll over and die. That wasn’t the Berserker way. Taking a deep breath, Alexander took a two-handed grip on his ax, feeling the smooth grip of the handle form perfectly to his weathered and calloused hands. He charged, bellowing a war cry. Surtr moved in as well, sensing the fight was coming to an end. Surtr brought down his massive sword in an attempt to split Alexander in two, but Alexander saw it coming and blocked the attack with his ax. Sparks flew in all directions as the two blades met. Alexander’s ax blade chipped and bent along the edge where it met Surtr’s sword, but that didn’t faze Alexander. Quick as lightning, Alexander swung for Surtr’s outstretched forearm. Alexander thought he had scored a hit, but it merely bounced off Surtr’s thick hide. Alexander, unwilling to relent, swung a horizontal slash meant to take the giant in the knee, but Surtr’s burning blade materialized and Alexander’s ax slammed edge first into the flat of Surtr’s broadsword with a loud clang. The resulting tremor ran up Alexander’s hand and arm, causing them to momentarily go numb. Dodging to the left, Alexander averted a savage punch aimed for his head.

Alexander ducked and dodged Surtr’s onslaught. He never gave up, always looking for an opening to attack. Spinning the ax between attacks, Alexander continued to duck and dodge, waiting for the giant to make a mistake. Alexander knew he couldn’t keep this up for much longer, but he couldn’t waste his attack either. Alexander backed away. Overconfident, Surtr grew bolder with each attack and was swinging wildly. Just as he had hoped, Alexander’s opportunity came as he ducked under a slash meant to take his head off at the neck. Ducking under the smoldering blade, he stepped in as Surtr’s blade slammed into an ancient pine tree. The force of Surtr’s blow nearly cut the massive tree in half, but luckily for Alexander, the blade stopped three-fourths of the way through.

It only took him a second, but that was all the time Alexander needed. Alexander knew this was his only chance, and he swung with all his might. His blade hit Surtr in the stomach. Sparks fluttered to life as Alexander’s ax impacted Surtr’s hardened skin. A look of shock crept across Surtr’s face; Alexander’s blade carved out a shallow cut. Surtr blurred, attacking faster than Alexander thought possible. Not knowing where the attack was coming from, Alexander flung himself backward, but it wasn’t fast enough. Surtr’s blade buried itself deep into Alexander’s right shoulder.

Alexander crumbled, falling to his knees as Surtr pulled the blade free in a spray of blood. Alexander’s vision blurred. Through the pain, Alexander focused on a thin trickle of molten orange blood seeping out of the cut chiseled into Surtr. Surtr followed Alexander’s gaze and looked down. He dabbed lightly at the bleeding wound.

In his grave voice, Surtr intoned, “You are the first to injure me in decades. Be proud as you go to your death.” He heaved the sword above his head, “Give my regards to the Aesir. Their rule over the realms has ended. Ragnarok begins.” Reverently, he brought his sword down for the killing blow.

Alexander, broken and bleeding, moved on reflex, brought up his ax in an overhead block, but it wasn’t enough. Knowing that his time had finally come, Alexander hoped he had made his ancestors proud and that his family would be ready for what was to come. The Berserker mantle that he had held for so long would finally pass on.

A flutter of wings and a caw from the onlooking raven were the only sounds in the silent forest as Alexander slumped back, dead. Surtr took a long moment to stare down at his fallen foe before turning and disappearing through the bridge.

Excerpt from by .  Copyright © 2018 by . Reproduced with permission from . All rights reserved.


Kevin D. Miller is an attorney in Southern California who spends his two hours a day commuting to work either listening to science fiction or fantasy books on Audible or plotting out the storylines for his future books. When he isn't working, Kevin can be found spending time with his girlfriend Amy and their two dogs Pepper and Riley. Kevin enjoys writing, playing video games, kayaking in Big Bear, and enjoying the ocean air in Newport Beach

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021



Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow will provide the resources necessary to help create the ideal you by focusing not only on the body but on the mind and the soul as well. Dr. Kiltz applies a holistic approach to medicine, working collaboratively on his patients’ physical being as well as their emotional and spiritual selves. In his book, Dr. Kiltz provides guidance on various self-help techniques such as the power of mediation, eliminating stress, the benefits of yoga, and listening to your inner voice.

Book Details

Title: Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow

Author: Dr. Robert Kiltz

Genre: nonfiction, health and wellness, mental health, motivation, self-help, holistic lifestyle, nutrition, diet

Publisher: Waterside Productions (April 21, 2021)

Print length: 252 pages


A few of your favorite things: my guitar, my potter’s wheel, but also my partner, my relationship, and my dedication to the work I love to do as a physician, artist, and father.

Things you need to throw out: somedays I think I need to throw out most everything in my closet for sure, but old clothes and stuff in drawers and on my desk that I haven’t touched or seen in way too long.

Things you need in order to write:
a quiet space, but mostly inspiration—thoughts and ideas that I learn from reading, listening to, and watching others. Then I can conceive of ideas that might be a little different or I can just twist and turn them around a little bit. 

Things that hamper your writing: distractions and being tired. When I’m tired, I’m a little distracted also. I just need to lay down, take a nap and rest and relax. Quite often even then I need to listen, watch or read something else to re-inspire me.

Things you love about writing: freeing my thoughts and ideas and expressing them help me to better understand myself and life in general. It’s like any other piece of art—my pottery and my painting—it’s an expression, but it lets those feelings flow and gives creativity to my life. 

Things you hate about writing: writer’s block and the fear and worry that my thoughts and ideas have little value and maybe won’t be liked. But I’m working on getting over that one.

Easiest thing about being a writer: nothing. Being a writer isn’t easy because there are all of those fears and worries we carry. But it’s not really a difficult job. It’s not digging a ditch or fighting in a war zone. 

Hardest thing about being a writer: the hardest thing may be conveying the real thoughts and feelings and finding the right words and ideas, but learning through practice and patience, those skills come too.

Things you love about where you live: I live on a lake in Upstate New York in Skaneateles. It’s the lake and nature that draw me. I think it’s the quiet nature of the area. Growing up in Los Angeles, there were (and still are) a lot more crowds, traffic, smog, and concrete. Although I did spend time at the ocean. I grew up in Newport Beach and in LA. I guess you take all of the good and the bad and learn from it. The beauty is all there in everything. But what I really love about Upstate New York is the greenery, the lakes, and the land.  

Things that make you want to move: not much, because I really love where I live. At times the winters can be a little cold and long, leaving me aspiring for a little sunlight and warmth, which is why I go down to Florida for a little bit in the winter too. So we can solve those problems quite easily.

Things you never want to run out of: life and enthusiasm, but I think we never really run out of any of that stuff. It’s always there.

Things you wish you’d never bought: that’s a hard one. I’m not sure I know of anything I wish I never bought. I typically don’t have any regrets of anything I’ve done or bought or experienced.

Words that describe you: energetic, enthusiastic, joyful, hardworking, and focused.

Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: selfish and egocentric. But really that part of me is always focused on finding thoughts and ideas to help others, so that’s the conundrum.

Favorite foods: rib-eye steak. Pittsburgh blue sliced. The fattiest one you can find. Ice cream. Kiltz’s Ice Cream. Cream, egg, vanilla, a little bit of sugar. It’s the very best. But fresh is best.

Things that make you want to throw up: a merry-go-round. Spinning motion. I’m not good at that. And maybe a little goulash. Maybe it’s the word. I’ve never actually had it.

Favorite music: I love jazz, flamenco, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. I love most music, but I really love most music without words. I love the repetition of the guitar, piano, trumpet, and the wind sounds. Mostly when it’s positive and uplifting. Occasionally the sorrow and sadness of a song or music can get to your heart and help you dig deep into the feelings and bring about the understanding of our human-ness, our faithfulness, and our connection to the vibrations and energy of the universe.

Music that makes your ears bleed: I don’t particularly like heavy metal, but maybe it’s just the loudness and it’s just not my vibration.

Favorite beverage: coffee has been my favorite beverage for a long time, but I’ve been off coffee for a few weeks now trying to detoxify, so sparkling water or plain water.

Something that gives you a pickle face: pickle juice and tart lemonade.

Favorite smell: jasmine. The night-blooming jasmine that sat right outside our front door at our house in Los Angeles in Silver Lake. My mother loved that plant. I loved the smell. From time to time it comes to my mind and brings back fond memories of growing up in LA.

Something that makes you hold your nose: I don’t hold my nose for much because I have to get into some dirty stuff as a physician, but rotten eggs is a good answer.

Something you’re really good at:
pottery, flying, and being a fertility physician. Those are the things I’m good at, but I always say I need more practice and learning. There’s nothing we are perfect at. We need to keep working to be better at the thing and that takes practice, practice, practice.
Something you’re really bad at: in-the-line drawings. That means staying in lines. Most of my painting and pottery is kind of throwing mud or paint, not in the lines. Any time I try to draw something exactly how it looks, I go very abstract.

Something you wish you could do: singing better and reading music. I just need to decide to put my time and energy to it. Anything you really want to do, just do it. 
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: drink alcohol is about the only one.

Something you like to do: sit at the potter’s wheel making pottery and also in front of a canvas making paintings or free-writing in my journal, listening, reading, and being inspired by others. The thing that gives me the most meditative joy is sitting at the potter’s wheel making pottery.

Something you wish you’d never done: complained about anyone or anything. I’d like to get rid of the complaints I’ve lived in life.

Last best thing you ate: steak, lobster with butter and salt, and some really crispy French fries (fried in duck grease) and dipped in mayonnaise.
Last thing you regret eating: I don’t typically eat things I’m going to regret, but I guess it might have been the salad and vegetables I ate at the restaurant Tia and I went to over Easter. It was one of those six-course meals, and they had all of these fancy vegetables. I promised Tia I would eat everything on my plate, and I did. But it caused me a little ogida the next day. It’s all good. I survived and thrived.

Things you’d walk a mile for: to spend time with my partner, Tia, and my daughter, Pilar.

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: too much loud noise and distractions.

Things you always put in your books:
stories of success.

Things you never put in your books: stories of failure, but only because I look at stories of failure absolutely as stories of success. The more you do, the more you learn and get creative, you find those stumbling blocks are really stepping stones.

Favorite places you’ve been: Cabo San Lucas with Tia or traveling through Paris, Rome, and London with all of the amazing life, art, people, and creativity in all of these inspiring places.
Places you never want to go to again: I don’t really have many places like that. There are great people in the Dominican Republic, but we just had an experience in an all-inclusive resort that wasn’t the greatest. I typically don’t think about things that way though.

Favorite things to do: fly my plane or jet, sit at the potter’s wheel, paint a canvas, and spend some time with Tia or Pilar.
Things you’d run through a fire wearing gasoline pants to get out of doing: maybe making the bed?

Things that make you happy: seeing others happy, seeing others succeed, seeing those patients suffering from infertility conceive and deliver that beautiful baby, and building families.
Things that drive you crazy: not spending time with my daughter or Tia.

Proudest moment: becoming a doctor and seeing my parents’ pride in that and, of course, becoming a father.
Most embarrassing moment: 
when I didn’t match for my residency in OB/GYN in my fourth year of medical school, that was an embarrassing moment, but I think I took it in stride and ultimately it was one of the best things that happened to me. It gave me the gift of something different that I learned from and grew from. It created even more for me. So, I don’t look at it as truly embarrassing because the more I’m embarrassed, the more I grow and learn and let it go.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told: ultimately, I am less or I am imperfect or I am a failure. And I realized that lie was always perpetuating what I thought about. But it was part of the energy that brought me to the truth that I am everything, God is everything, and we all are here doing our best every day.
A lie you wish you’d told: maybe it’s the part that God is all of us. But in fact, I recognize that it’s not really the lie, it’s the truth. But our brain still has a fighting nature with all of that. And so all things essentially in the lies I told are all perfect in the way they were told, but you’ve got to understand the truth when it comes for whatever reason.

Best thing you’ve ever done: become a father.
Biggest mistake: I make mistakes every day, but none of them are ultimately the “big one.” They are all small in the nature of the universe. We make them “big” or we make them “small” in our thinking.

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: learning to fly an airplane and a jet.
Something you chickened out from doing: dedicating my life to doing a better job when I was younger. And understanding the power of God. Had I begun to listen and learn when I was much younger, then maybe I would have learned new and different things at a younger age. But maybe my big “chicken out” thing today was to get in a helicopter and jump off onto a skill hill [heloskiing]. I’m staying away from that one!


Daily Inspirations

The Fertile Feast


Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Founder and Director of CNY Fertility, one of the largest and most dynamic fertility centers in the country, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, and CNBC for helping shape the future of fertility medicine. Dr. Kiltz has earned recognition outside of the fertility world for pioneering the holistic health movement and the keto lifestyle. He is the author of several books including The Fertile Feast and Daily Inspirations, and his latest, Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow which released April 2021. In addition to his own media outlets, Dr. Kiltz appears regularly on numerous popular blogs and has shared his views as a TEDx speaker.

Connect with Dr. Kiltz:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Youtube  |  Goodreads 

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Sunday, May 16, 2021




A devastating explosion.
Three best friends are at the venue to hear their favorite band. Only one makes it out alive.

A trunk full of evidence.
When police stop Dustin Webb with a warrant to search his trunk, he knows there’s been a mistake. He’s former military and owns a security firm. But he’s horrified when the officers find explosives, and he can’t fathom how they got there.

An attorney who will risk it all for an old friend.
Criminal attorney Jamie Powell was Dustin’s best friend growing up. They haven’t spoken since he left for basic training, but she’s the first person he thinks of when he’s arrested. Jamie knows she’s putting her career on the line by defending an accused terrorist, but she’d never abandon him. Someone is framing Dustin to take the fall for shocking acts of violence . . . but why?

Book Details:
Title: Aftermath
Author: Terri Blackstock
Genre: suspense
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 11, 2021)
Print length: 332 pages



1.     Where is your cell phone? Nearby.
2.     Your hair? Blonde.
3.     Your workplace? Home.
4.     Your other half? Ken.
5.     What makes you happy? Finishing.
6.     What makes you crazy? Distractions.
7.     Your favorite food? Waffle Fries.
8.     Your favorite beverage? Diet Coke.
9.     Fear? Covid.
10.  Favorite shoes? Ankle boots.
11.  Favorite way to relax? Doodle.
12.  Your mood? Content.
13.  Your home away from home? Daughter’s.
14.  Where were you last night? Home.
15.  Something that you aren't? Unopinionated.
16.  Something from your bucket list? Empty Nest.
17.  Wish list item? Healing.
18.  Where did you grow up? Air Force, then Mississippi.
19.  Last thing you did? Ate.
20.  What are wearing now? Pajamas.


Chapter One

Taylor Reid’s phone flashed as she snapped the selfie with her two friends, their heads touching and their backs to the stage. The shot from the third row, with the lead singer in the background and the three of them in the foreground, was perfect. No one would believe their seats were so close.

They turned around to face the band, dancing to the beat of the song they’d been listening to in the car on the way to Trudeau Hall.

Taylor quickly posted the pic, typing, “Ed Loran targets nonpoliticals for his rally with band Blue Fire. Worked on us!”

She put her phone on videotape and zoomed onto the stage.

“I don’t want it to end!” Desiree said in her ear.

“Me either!” Taylor yelled over the music.

“Maybe they’ll play again after his speech,” Mara shouted.

The song came to an end, and the crowd went crazy, begging for one more song before the band left the stage.

But an amplified voice filled the auditorium, cutting off the adulation. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the next president of the United States, Ed Loran!”

The crowd sounded less enthusiastic as the band left the stage and Ed Loran, the Libertarian celebrity magnet, made his entrance. Taylor kept cheering and clapping, letting her enthusiasm for the band segue to him.

It happened just as the candidate took the stage. The deafening sound, like some confusing combination of gunshot and lightning bolt, a blast that blacked out the lights and knocked her to the ground. Smoke mushroomed. Screams crescendoed—shrieks of terror, wailing pain, shocking anguish . . . then sudden, gentle silence, as if she were underwater. A loud ringing in her ears filled the void.

She peered under the seats, choking for breath as dimmer lights flickered through the smoke. Even from here, she could see the fallout of whatever had happened. Blood pooling on the ground, people hunkering down as she was, feet running . . . What was happening? An explosion? A crash? She looked around and couldn’t see her friends.

She clawed her way up and looked over the seat. Smoke and fire billowed from the stage into the crowd, and heat wafted over her like some living force invading the room. Muffled, muted sounds competed with the ringing.

Get out! Now! She dropped back down and crawled under two rows of seats until she came to someone limp on the floor. She felt herself scream but couldn’t hear her own voice. Scrambling to her feet, she went to her left to get to the aisle, but her foot slipped on something wet. She grabbed the seat next to her to steady herself, then launched into the frantic crowd in the aisle. The room seemed to spin, people whizzing by, people under her, people above her, people broken and ripped and still . . . She stepped and fell, crawled and ran, tripped and kicked her way to the bottlenecked doorway, then fought her way through it.

The ringing in her ears faded as she tumbled downstairs, almost falling into the lobby below. The sound of crying, coughing, wretching, and the roaring sound of pounding feet turned up as if some divine finger had fiddled with the volume.

She set her sights on the glass doors to the outside and pushed forward, moving through people and past the security stations they’d stopped at on the way in. She made it to the door and burst out into the sunlight.

Fresh, cool air hit her like freedom, but at first her lungs rejected it like some poison meant to stop her. At the bottom of the steps, on the sidewalk, she bent over and coughed until she could breathe.

After a moment, the crowd pushed her along toward the parking garage until she remembered that her car wasn’t there. She had parked on the street, blocks away. She forced her way out of the flow of people and ran a block south. Where was it?

She turned the corner. Her car was here, on this block. Near the Atlanta Trust Bank. Wasn’t it? Or was it the next block?

Sweat slicked her skin until she found her silver Accord. There!

She ran to it and pulled her keys out of her pocket, wishing she hadn’t lost the key fob. Her hands trembled as she stuck the key into the passenger side lock and got the door open. She slipped inside on the driver’s side, locked it behind her. Instinctively, she slid down, her head hidden as if someone were coming after her.

What just happened?

One minute they’d been taking selfies and videotaping the band, and the next they were on the floor . . .

Where were Mara and Desiree? She hadn’t even looked for them! Should she go back for them?

No, that would be insane. She could smell the smoke and fire from here. They would know to come to the car when they got out.

Call the police!

She tried to steady her hands as she swiped her phone on.

“911, what is your—”

“An explosion!” she cut in, her voice hoarse. “At the Ed Loran rally at Trudeau Hall!”

“Where are you now?” the woman asked in a voice that was robotically calm.

“I got out. There’s fire . . . People are still in there. Please send ambulances!”

“Ma’am, did you see what exploded?”

“No . . . the stage area, I think. I don’t know where my friends are. Please . . . hurry!”

“We’ve already dispatched the fire department and police, ma’am.”

She heard sirens from a few blocks away and cut off the call. She raised up, looking over the dashboard for the flashing lights. She couldn’t see any, but the sirens grew louder.

She knelt on the floorboard, her knees on her floormat and her elbows on her seat, and texted Desiree.

I’m at the car. Where are you?

No answer. She switched to a recent thread with Mara and texted again.

Got out. At car waiting. Where are you?


She dictated a group text to both of them.

Are you all right?

They were probably running or deaf, fighting their way out like she had. She tried calling them, but Mara’s phone rang to voicemail. When Desiree’s phone did the same, she yelled, “Call me! I’m waiting at the car and I’m scared. Where are you?” She was sobbing when she ended the call.


Excerpt from Aftermath by Terri Blackstock.  Copyright 2021 by Terri Blackstock. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.


Terri Blackstock is a New York Times and USA Today best-seller, with over seven million books sold worldwide. She has had over thirty years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five and has had a successful career ever since.
Connect with Terri:
Website  |   Facebook  |   Goodreads
Buy the book:
Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble

Monday, May 10, 2021



What’s the next nightmare after the coronavirus? An NCIS agent and British scientist must stop an AI-controlled Russian submarine from exposing hundreds of millions to a deadly fallout far worse than any virus.

Deep beneath the Arctic Ocean, a covert team of Chinese operatives uses stolen U.S. technology to capture Russia’s newest attack submarine. Loaded with massive torpedoes carrying city-destroying payloads, the sub is headed west. The Americans want to sink her, the Russians want her back, and the Chinese claim they’re not responsible.

NCIS Special Ops agent Jon Shay is a former SEAL Team Two operator. Activated for a mission in the Arctic, he pairs with British scientist Kate Barrett to battle a ticking clock, trained operatives, and three naval armadas. Together, they must find and stop the world’s most lethal submarine. The stakes are raised when they learn that the Russian sub is controlled by an infected AI system bent on completing its mission to annihilate hundreds of millions.

Book Details:
Title: Status-6
Author: W. Craig Reed
Military Thriller
NCIS Special Ops Thriller series, book1
Published by:
Post Hill Press (April 13, 2021)
Print length:
256 pages


With his legs sore and lungs burning from the cold, Jon arched his back and stretched when the group finally stopped marching thirty minutes later. To his right, about a quarter-mile distant, the bright blue stripes covering the mess tent signaled the location of the ICEX camp. Two holes, three feet in diameter, had been carved into the ice a few feet from where the group now stood. Jon surmised they were the spent practice torpedo holes drilled by Navy Divers. Liang and company must have parked the ASDS nearby and used the holes as infiltration points. Also, Liang must have had some inside help to deactivate the intruder detection system surrounding the holes. But who? Rinaldo? When would she have had access to that system? More unanswered questions.

Rinaldo approached and said, “Since you’re the former Navy SEAL, why don’t you help our female guest suit up?”

Jon crossed his arms. “This has gone far enough. Time for some answers, Rinaldo.”

Rinaldo pointed her M-16 at Kate’s head. “How’s this for an answer—she suits up or dies.”

Jon uncrossed his arms and fought to quell the ire-stoked coals in his chest. He turned toward Kate. “Are you a certified diver?”

Kate’s nose and cheeks were red. She shivered. “I hate water.”

“Drinking or swimming?” Jon said, hoping to diffuse Kate’s angst.

It didn’t work. Kate looked like a small child being forced to brave a dark alley. “I can’t do this.”

While donning a dry suit, Rinaldo cocked an ear. “What’s the problem?”

Kate stared at the hole in the ice. Frigid blue water lapped against the sides. She backed up and turned away.

“I think she has a water phobia,” Jon said.

“Get her over it,” Rinaldo said.

Jon bristled. The muscles in his face tightened. He grabbed Kate’s suit and brought it to her. Facing her back, he said, “Turn around.” Shaking, Kate remained facing away.

“Please, turn around.”

Kate turned.

“Good,” Jon said. “Now look at me.”

Kate’s eyes met his. Though full of fear, they were riveting, like a blue morning sky touching the edges of a Nebraska corn field. Jon felt his heart flutter. He tried to hold on to the feeling, but it refused to linger. A year had come and gone since he’d lost his wife, but the pain in his chest still held the high ground.

“I’m not setting a foot in that water,” Kate stammered. Her eyes burned with defiance.

“What about a toe?”

Kate crossed her arms and said nothing.

“Just put on the suit to keep the witch happy while I think of something,” Jon said.


“Yeah, something.”

“Like what, mate?”

Rinaldo called over from the other side of the ice hole. “Five minutes, Shay.”

Jon held up the suit. “Just put it on, please. I promise I’ll think of something.”

Kate rolled her eyes and held out her arms. “Fine, but you’d better not be lying to me.”

“Who’s your colleague?” Jon asked as he moved in close to help Kate don the dry suit.

“Bobby Ruppert. He’s a bit rough around the edges and goes into panic mode in stressful situations, but he’s a brilliant engineer.”

While Jon zipped up Kate’s dry suit, the scent of her perfume conjured a memory. He shivered.

“Now what?” Kate said. Her bottom lip quivered. Annelia had also done that when she was frightened.

Jon pulled on his suit. He stepped toward Kate and said, “Let’s just put on our SCUBA gear and then I’ll make my move.”

“Your move?” Kate shot back.

Jon said nothing as he helped Kate into a BC vest, saddled up her tank, and held a Kirby Morgan diving mask in her direction. “Put this on.”

Kate’s tone turned urgent as she grabbed the mask. “You said you’d think of something.”

“Just follow my lead.” Jon pulled on his tank and ran through a system check. The action felt like a visit from an old friend and reminded him of dozens of missions survived.

Kate shook her head in defiance as she sucked in a breath. The hiss of compressed air echoed off nearby shards of ice pushed skyward by Mother Nature.

One by one, Liang’s men entered the water. Jon watched Kate recoil with each splash.

Rinaldo approached. “Ready?”

Kate’s eyes widened. She held her palms up as if to say, “Something?”

Now fully suited, Jon led Kate toward the water. He had to drag her the last few feet. He turned toward her, lifted up his mask, and said, “I’ll hold your hand all the way. This will all be over in five minutes.”

Her eyes still wide, Kate tried to step backward but Jon held onto to her hands and gently kept her in place.

“Just follow me,” Jon said. “I’ve done this hundreds of times.”

Kate shook her head as she dug her heels into the ice.

Rinaldo slapped Jon’s back. The gesture did not feel friendly.

Jon slowly guided Kate toward the hole’s edge. She fought to pull away. He held on tight and looked into her eyes, assuring her in silence that she could do this. Tears streamed down Kate’s face and dripped onto the mask’s rubber lining. Her breathing was erratic. Jon’s heart ached with compassion and guilt. He felt like a jailor forcing an innocent victim into a torture chamber. The bitter taste of choler filled his mouth as he stole a glance at Rinaldo. The beast in his gut grumbled and demanded to be set loose. Jon closed his eyes and slowly breathed in and out to quell the angst.

He opened his eyes, lifted his mask again, and focused on Kate. Softening his voice, he said, “Close your eyes.”

Kate stared at him through her mask. Jon could tell she wanted to trust him, but fear remained her master. He had seen this kind of panic before on the faces of green wannabe SEALs learning how to dive the Navy way. None of them had ever made it through training. For sure, none of them would have survived a dive in Arctic waters.

“Close your eyes and trust me,” Jon said. “Don’t open them until we’re out of the water.”

Trembling, Kate closed her eyes. Jon pulled on her fins and helped her into a seated position with her legs dangling into the water. He did all this with slow movements so as not to make a splash. Rinaldo stood by and watched with impatient indifference. Jon slipped into the hole…


Excerpt from Status-6 by W. Craig Reed. Copyright 2021 by W. Craig Reed. Reproduced with permission from W. Craig Reed. All rights reserved.



William Craig Reed is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers and non-fiction military and business books including Spies of the Deep: The Untold Story of the Most Terrifying Incident in Submarine Naval History and How Putin Used The Tragedy To Ignite a New Cold War and the critically acclaimed Red November (HarperCollins). Also, The Seven Secrets of Neuron-Leadership (Wiley), an award-winning business book, and Tarzan, My Father (ECW) co-written with the late Johnny Weissmuller, Jr.

Reed served as a U.S. Navy submariner and diver during the Cold War and earned commendations for completing secret missions, some in concert with SEAL Team One. Reed’s military experience and inside contacts help infuse his writing with intrigue and realism, and inspired his next non-fiction book, Also, this novel: STATUS-6 about a former SEAL Team Two operator turned NCIS agent that teams with a British female scientist to stop a Russian submarine controlled by an infected artificial intelligence.

Reed holds an MBA in Marketing and was a former vice president and board director for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association. Reed is the co-founder of Us4Warriors, an award-winning Veterans Non-Profit and serves on the Board of Aretanium, a wellness firm that leverages the neuroscience he wrote about in his leadership book to provide personalized wellness and professional development programs to accelerate brains, careers, and relationships.

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