Friday, March 31, 2017

The Investment Club by Doug Cooper

Author: Doug Cooper
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Pages: 362
Genre: Literary/Upmarket Fiction

Forty million people visit Vegas every year but most never get past the strip. What about the people who live there? What brought them there? What keeps them there?

Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.

As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

First Chapter:

Chapter 1

Date: Friday, January 17, 2014                                                        Dow Jones Open: 16,408.02
           Never split tens.                                                                                    
           The words flashed in their eyes and formed on their lips. Nervous fingering of chips followed. Except for third base, the last, and most important, seat at the table. He controlled the fates of the other players, a role he seemed to enjoy. His stout digits remained steadfast, cupped over the stack of ten black chips measured to split the hand. Never had a doubt. Once he saw the house had a five of hearts, he knew his play.
My left hand slid to the shoe, eyes directed toward first base. “Twelve.”
The brim of her faded green military cap angled downward, concealing her eyes and half of her tawny face. Her hat more fashion than function, this girl had never served, at least in the armed forces. Her body, though, was all function. Lean and mean. Definitely put on this earth to move. It was just a question of if that was in the vertical or the horizontal.
She waved her hand over the cards, never lifting her gaze from the table. “I’ll stay. You’re going to bust.” She was there for one purpose: to make money. Played every night. Never for less than $25 per hand and often as high as $200 when she really got rolling. I wouldn’t say she was unfriendly or mean. Just had an edge to her. Wanted to be left alone and not have to talk to anyone.
Next to her in seat two, a burly man, about six foot two or three—somewhere in his late sixties— nodded approvingly. He had a half-inch gray flattop that with each tilt of his head revealed a thinning patch on top. “Good girl,” he said. “You don’t have to have great cards; just need the dealer to have worse ones.“ He plucked a red five-dollar chip off his stack and placed it next to his bet. Holding up his index finger, he said, “One card, down please.”
Sliding the card from the shoe without revealing the value, I said, “Down and dirty.” Directing my attention to his neighbor, I nodded at the seventeen in front of the surgically enhanced Barbie doll in seat three. “The ol’ mother-in-law’s hand.”
She furrowed her brow, barely wrinkling her taut forehead. “What does that mean?” It was obvious she didn’t know the game, but she wasn’t stupid either. Everything she did had a purpose. What she revealed at the table was exactly what she wanted the others to see to elicit the reaction she desired.
“It’s a seventeen,” I said, about to drop one of my standard lines, good at least a few times a night. “It’s like your mother-in-law. You want to hit it, but you can’t.”
“Well, I don’t have to worry about one of those.” Her eyes sank to her cards. “So do I hit or not?”
The burly, elderly man to her right said, “Always assume the dealer has a ten as the down card, sweetie. With the dealer showing five, you don’t want to hit because the house probably has fifteen and is going to bust.”
“Just let her play her hand, gramps,” the guy at third base said. Diminutive in stature—oh hell, I’ll just say it. He was a little person or dwarf or whatever the politically correct term is these days. He played with aggression and anger. Winning wasn’t enough. He wanted more. Acted like he deserved it. Like the world owed it to him. He banged back the remainder of his third cognac and motioned for the cocktail waitress to bring another one.
Nip-Tuck Barbie pushed her puffy lips out in a pout, waving her perfectly manicured fingers over her cards. “I’ll hold then.”
Seat four was all business. He was around fifty, black and distinguished, with a wiry frame. He had short salt-and-pepper hair on the sides and back that connected into a beard the same length but much thicker than the rest. Too methodical to be a pro, but he knew the game. He was firm and decisive. It was obvious he liked the strategy and analysis. My guess was accountant. His face was too kind to be a broker or a banker. Wasting no time, he pushed his fingers outward from his clenched fist over the cards. “I’m good with eighteen.”
The waitress delivered another cognac to the little guy at third base. He took a green twenty-five-dollar chip from his growing stack, which was almost as high as the one on his shoulder. He downed the drink in one gulp. “Bring me another,” he said. His eyes were drooping with each drink. He ran his hand through his wavy, reddish-brown hair and pushed the thousand-dollar black stack next to his bet. With his index and pinky fingers extended like a two-pronged fork, he said, “Split ’em.”
I tilted my head to alert the pit boss. “Checks play. Splitting tens.”
Gramps said, “Come on, junior. You’re going to take the bust card and screw the table.”
The pit boss walked over. “Splitting tens. Go ahead.”
I pulled the first card from the shoe, hesitating before revealing its identity. “You sure about this?”
He pressed his index finger repeatedly into the felt. “Flip the damn card.”
It was an ace. “Twenty-one.”
He pointed at the second ten. “Paint it.”
I pulled a queen from the shoe. “Split again?”
“Nah, I’m good with twenty,” he said. “I don’t want to be greedy.”
“Too late for that,” the Accountant in seat four said.
I knew what was going to happen before I even played my hand. I had seen it too many times before. One asshole screwing it up for everyone else. I revealed my down card. A king of spades. “Dealer has fifteen.”
The Accountant rubbed the bald patch on the crown of his head and shifted back in his chair. “Would’ve busted if you hadn’t split.”
“Come on, need a big one,” Lean and Mean at first base sneered.
I flipped the next card to add to my fifteen. An ace of clubs. “Sixteen,” I said, “Not going down easy.”
“Six or higher, six or higher,” Gramps said, standing from his chair.
I pulled the next card, peeking under the corner to delay their unfortunate fate before flipping a three of hearts. “House has nineteen.”
I scooped Lean and Mean’s last four green chips from the bet circle.
She ripped her hat off in disgust, her thick black hair and crescent eyes now visible, and glared at Junior. “You’re such a dick.”
I placed my hand on Gramps’s down card.
He pleaded for a ten. “Monkey, monkey, monkey.”
I turned over a six of diamonds. “Seventeen.” I snagged the two red chips from his failed double and redeposited them into the house bank. Returning to Nip-Tuck Barbie, in one motion I collected her chips and also seat four’s. “Another seventeen and eighteen, not enough to beat the nineteen.”
Greedily rubbing his hands together, Junior said, “But my twenty-one and twenty are. Daddy about to get paid!”
I pushed two stacks of one thousand to match his bets. “Twenty black going out.”
The pit boss approved the payout.
“That’s it for me,” Lean and Mean said. “I’m not wasting any more money playing with this jackoff.”
“Me, too,” Gramps said and pushed his thirty-eight fifty to the center to cash in. “I’m done.”
“Quit your bitching,” Junior said, tipping the waitress fifty for the new cognac.
“But we all would’ve won if you hadn’t split,” Gramps said.
Junior tossed two of the blacks back to me. “Give me some green.”
I measured two stacks of four green chips. “Check change. Two black coming in.”
He combined the stacks and tossed four green at Lean and Mean and one each at the other three players, giving the last one to me. “That ought to cover it, you bunch of cry babies. That’s why they call it gambling.”
Lean and Mean flipped the chips back to him. “I don’t need your charity.”
He pushed them to the middle of the table. “Well somebody take them because I don’t want them.” His eyes scanned the players, stopping on Lean and Mean. She put her hat back on and pulled the brim low again. He said, “Heeey, wait a second. I know you. You work down at OGs, don’t you? You and your girlfriend soaked me for about five grand one night.”
OGs was Olympic Gardens, a midlevel strip club on Las Vegas Boulevard between downtown and the strip. Midlevel because it’s not as swanky as the upper-tier places like Spearmint Rhino or Sapphire, but it’s also not the bottom rung like you walked into a methadone clinic the day after New Year’s. OGs biggest advantages are the location right on LV Boulevard and having male and female dancers to cater to both genders. The men perform upstairs and the women downstairs, which was obviously set up by a man, because that’s how most men want to operate in their relationships as well. If patrons want some seediness without feeling the need to bathe in hand sanitizer after leaving, then OGs is the place.
Lean and Mean snatched her purse off the back of her chair and slung it over her shoulder. “I don’t know you.”
“Well, you should. We spent about four hours in the VIP room. Your name’s, um…Faith, and your girlfriend, oh, what was her name? She was a real rock climber, that one. She had that chalk bag of coke in her underwear and kept bumping me up while she was dancing. Damn, what was her name? I kept calling her Dora the Explorer.”
Gramps said, “Just drop it. The lady said she don’t know you.”
“What are you, her pimp?” Junior gulped more cognac.
“That’s OK,” she said. “I was just leaving.” She turned and angled toward the door. Gramps followed her.
Nip-Tuck Barbie squirmed in her chair. “Geez, I never knew blackjack had so much drama.”
Junior picked up the hundred dollars in green that he had tried to give Lean and Mean from the middle of the table. “For someone who works for tips, you’d think she’d be more appreciative.” He tossed them to me. “I’m sure you’ll put these to good use.”
And that was how I met these five broken people—a drug-addict singer-turned-stripper; a widowed, retired New Jersey police officer; an alcoholic, divorced sportscaster; a card-counting, ex–Catholic priest; and a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur—who all somehow managed to wander into the El Cortez and sit at my table on a random Tuesday night.
I haven’t always been a blackjack dealer, but I have always lived in Vegas—fifty-seven years. Have held just about every hospitality job this town has to offer, from parking cars to cooking food to serving drinks. What I’ve never done is been a big winner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of winnings, but they don’t even come close to the losses. For every night in the black, there were two or three in the red, and the red numbers always seem to be higher than the black ones. Don’t let anyone tell you different. They might say they’re even, but they’re well south of even; it’s just a question of how far. That’s why I gave it up years ago and switched to this side of the table. I can guarantee you I walk out of the casino up every night.
I’ve tried dealing other games, but there’s just something about blackjack. I like how communal the game is. I like how strangers sit down and in no time will be fist-bumping and high-fiving. Of course there are a fair share of squabbles as well, like the one I just told you about. You see, a lot of players think they’re just playing their individual hands, that they should trust their guts. But the good ones know there are rules and every decision at the table affects everyone else. I know the math says different, that each play is an independent event and will help others just as often as it hurts. But I’m talking about the bigger play, the energy at the table, the stuff that flows through and carries us all.
Yeah, I’ve seen a lot in my years flipping cards. Seen players win fifteen hands in a row and lose just as many; be down to their last ten dollars and walk away up a thousand; win five grand and slink away with their pockets turned inside out. Won’t say I’ve seen it all, though. Just when I think I have, a night like that Tuesday happens, and a story like I’m about to tell you unfolds.
Now I’ll admit I wasn’t present for all the stuff I’m about to share. Some of it I was and some of it was told to me, and, well, some of it I just filled in the blanks, and you’re going to have to trust me because in this job I’ve learned how to read people and recognize problems before they happen: the colleagues headed for an affair, the social drinker on the road to alcoholism, and the newlyweds who won’t make it to their fifth anniversary. Amazing what people will reveal across three feet of felt. They think they’re in control, but putting a stack of their hard-earned money on the table loosens up more than their wallets. It triggers their vulnerability, and that opens up the vault to all their secrets. I just have to watch and listen, like reading an open ledger. Most tell more than I ever care to know, as much by what they don’t say as what they do.
                                                                                                            Dow Jones Close: 16,458.56

Gil by Darin Gibby

Title: GIL
Author: Darin Gibby
Publisher: Keohler Books
Pages: 301
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Baseball

Some gifts come with a price.

Twenty years before, high school coach Gil Gilbert gave up his dream to play professional baseball so he could marry his pregnant girlfriend, Keri. When he miraculously discovers that he can pitch with deadly accuracy and speed, he must choose between his successful career and comfortable family life or his chance to play with the Colorado Rockies during a player’s strike. Gil stuns the pitching staff with 100 mph fastballs and is offered a contract.

After joining the Rockies, the world soon learns that Gil is a supernatural phenomenon and the Rockies keep winning. But Gil soon faces stiff opposition, including a frivolous lawsuit, a father who feels his son’s calling to pitch is to save souls, and threats from the striking players. As the season progresses, Gil discovers that his unexpected gift is the result of a rare disease, and continuing to pitch may hasten his own death.  While Keri supports his decision to keep playing, she is fearful about her husband’s bizarre health condition.

Gil must decide what price he is willing to pay to live his dream.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:
GIL HURLED THE baseball as hard as he could at the
backstop. He needed to blow off steam and calm himself before
he did something stupid, or regrettable. He picked up another ball
from the fluorescent-orange five-gallon bucket, and concentrated
on his form.
He was consumed with frustration, and was venting with the
baseball instead of with his fists or mouth. He tried concentrating
on his form instead of his woes. Gil could control his pitches,
but not his destiny. He was good, but not good enough. At age
forty-four, Gil knew he was well past his prime and was trying
to accept the inevitability of unfulfilled dreams.
He reached again into the bucket beside him on the mound
and grabbed another ball. Focusing his form, he hurled another,
and then another. Arm back; elbow bent, he told himself. He
threw once again, then he looked up, and saw his buddy and
assistant coach, Peck, making his way over to him from a series
of disjointed brown brick buildings, the campus of the Prairie
Ridge High School Coyotes.
“First strike I’ve seen you throw all night. What gives, Gil?”
Gil kept his foot lodged against the rubber on the pitcher’s
mound then stooped down and plucked up another baseball.
With a quick windup, another of his pitches cut the thin Colorado
air and hammered the fence.
“Okay,” Peck interrupted, stepping between the mound and
home plate. “That’s enough, Gil. We need to talk before you ruin
a whole bucket of balls—and your arm. With these budget cuts
we’ll be lucky if we get enough for the season.” He turned and
made his way to the backstop, tugging on two balls lodged in the
wire lattice. Peck yanked one out and ran his fingers across the
torn leather.
“Holy crap,” he muttered to himself, shaking his head.
Gil flippantly tossed the ball back into the orange bucket.
“What’s got you so pissed off?” Peck asked.
Gil slid the back of his worn leather glove across his brow.
“I’ve got my reasons.”
“All my life I’ve worked so hard, tried to do the right thing,
and look what it’s gotten me.”
Peck lifted up his ball cap and smoothed back his brown
wavy hair, letting his burly hand glide over his six-inch mullet.
“Are you kidding me? You’ve got the hottest wife this side
of the Mississippi, two of the most well-mannered kids I’ve ever
met, and you’re one of the most highly respected high school
coaches in the state. And you’re still playing ball—and coaching
it. Most guys your age gave it up long ago. What’s with the selfpity?”
“My age, exactly,’’ Gil huffed. “What I’ve really got is some
loser job that is going nowhere fast.”
“Shoot, Gil. I’m your assistant. What does that make me? A
double loser?’’
Peck made his way to the mound, his tattooed arms folded,
like a coach ready to talk some sense into his rattled starter, or
else make a decision to yank him before the other team could do
any more damage.
“How so?”
“We don’t need to go into this, not now.”
Peck continued rolling the ball in his hands, digging his
fingernail into the sliced leather. “Oh, I think we do. You know,
with the strike, all the major league teams are looking for
replacement players. You could try out for the Rockies.”
Gil grunted. “That’s not going to last. The owners will cave
before the season starts and all those replacement players will
be back on the streets. Besides, I gave up that dream—and I’m
too old. All I’ve been doing is messing around in the rec leagues
for years. I’d get creamed, even by replacement players.”
“Not from what I’ve seen. You can still throw in the eighties,
and you have a big breaking ball. I’ve seen it. No way, I bet you
were just firing at least eighty-five,” said Peck, looking at one of
the scarred balls he plucked from the fence. “That’s better than
most minor leaguers.”
“You never told me why you didn’t try to play professionally,”
Peck continued. “You must have had one rocket of an arm when
you were younger.”
“Unlike you, I didn’t stand a chance,” Gil snapped back.
“That’s not what I heard. And not with what I just watched
you throw. What gives?”
“It’s really complicated.”
“Try me.”
Gil hung his head and breathed out deeply.
“Well, when I was playing for ASU, a lot of scouts were
looking at me. I had to make a decision.”
“Being a responsible adult and finishing my degree, or being
flighty and chasing some harebrained idea that I was good
enough to play professional baseball.”
“I take it you were offered a contract?”
Gil nodded.
“You never told me that. So why didn’t you sign?”
“Some things came up, and getting a degree seemed like a
better choice than wasting my life away in the minors.”
“Easy there. Remember who you’re talking to.”
“You had a real chance, Peck—if you hadn’t had those elbow
problems. Not so with me. Do you know how many twenty-yearolds
can throw a ninety-mile-an-hour fastball?”
Peck shrugged.
“A whole bunch.” Gil adjusted his cap. “It’s water under the
bridge. My life is in the history books. I made my bed and all
that stuff. I’ve lived a very mediocre life. Four years of misery
to get a physics degree. I was too much of a loser to even try to
get a masters degree. I took a job as a lousy high school teacher
making fifty thousand a year, coaching on the side. What kind of
loser career is that?”
“Again, Gil, consider your audience. At least you are the
head coach. Look at me. I’d kill for your job.”
Gil spit and covered up the spittle with a kick of his toe. “You
know I didn’t mean that.”
“But seriously. How can you say it is a loser job? With all
the talk of your science fair this year—and another season in the
playoffs—you could easily get teacher of the year. How many
people can brag about that? And the kids here love you to death.
You are the coolest teacher ever. How many high school students
beg to have their science teacher play at their prom? You can
sing Sunday Bloody Sunday better than Bono.”
“When I get to play him! The only gigs I get anymore are
overplayed country songs about some guy finding religion. Have
I ever written one of my own?”
Peck shrugged. “I’ll bet you have.”
“Well maybe, but you’ll never hear it on the radio. Just good
ol’ Gil. Friend to everyone, foe to no one. That’s all I am.”
“Well tell me this, if teaching is such a loser job as you say,
then why did you choose it?”
Gil shook his head. “I don’t want to go there.”
Peck hopped up beside his friend and shoved him back,
enough to dislodge Gil’s foot from the rubber. “With the energy
you were putting into that ball, I think we need to go there. Come
clean with me. How long have we been together?”
Gil’s jaw muscles clenched, and he slapped his glove against
his thigh then looked up into the fading sky. “Alright, I’ll tell
you, if you really want to know. I did the honorable thing and
married her, then dumped any dream of playing pro ball. I took
a teaching job to pay for the baby. Would you believe that I
met her at a frat party? You know when you go to those dinner
parties and everyone has to tell how they met? I couldn’t do it.
I made up some story about how I picked her out of the crowd
when we were playing UCLA.”
“Whoa, wait a minute. Way too much information. I didn’t
mean to pry like that.”
“She was pregnant. My plans for baseball were over. And
don’t you ever mention it to anyone—my kids don’t know.”
Peck reached out and put a hand on Gil’s broad shoulder.
“How was that a bad thing? Look at what it got you.”
“Yeah, a beautiful family that I can’t even support. Not
now—not now that I am going to lose everything.”
“Gil, what exactly are you talking about?”
“The little turd is suing me, that’s what.”
“Are you drinking, man?”
“Do I ever drink? I am the clean-cut all-American parent.
Except that now I am getting hauled into court.”
“For what? Wait, for when Zach was screwing around after
practice and thunked Shaila in the head?”
“Yes, they’re suing the school and me personally. Two
million bucks. Claiming the ball cracked her skull and caused
brain damage.”
“If you ask me, the ditz already had brain damage.”
“Yeah, well tell that to a jury. They are going to wipe me out.”
“They can ask for anything, you know that. Besides that, the
school district is required to defend you.”
“That’s what I thought, but it’s not that clear. What if they
don’t? I can’t afford a lawyer. You know how much I make. What
am I going to do?”
Peck also spit and shook his head. “I see now.” Then he went
and fished a catcher’s mitt from the equipment bag. “Okay, at
least throw the rest at me so we don’t destroy any more balls. And
don’t worry, they won’t fire you. Can you imagine the protests?
You’ve had a winning season for fifteen straight years.”
Gil went into a full windup and whipped the ball at his catcher,
each pitch slamming into the glove with a loud smack. Peck bolted
up and tossed down the mitt, shaking his stinging hand.
“Holy crap! What is going on here? You taking some kind of
performance cocktail? Your gut is gone, your chest looks like a
bulldog’s, and you are solid as a rock.”
A hint of a smile crept onto Gil’s weathered face. “Drugs?
Never did them—not being the son of a preacher.”
“Then what? You don’t just all of the sudden hurl like that.”
“Mid-life crisis is all. Lots of stress builds the physique… and
I’ve been working out some.”
“No, man. What kind of drugs are you on? I’ve caught for a
lot of pitchers, but nothing like this. You gotta be throwing in the
nineties, pushing a hundred. I’ve got to get a speed gun on you,
Gil. What is the record these days?”
“The fastest pitch? Some say Bob Feller threw a one-hundredand-
seven-mile-an-hour fastball, but who knows? Most of those
guys were full of themselves. That was before radar, so it is all
“You are the science guy. You should know.”
“Since modern speed guns came around, there has been a few
clocked at one hundred and four, and in 2010 Aroldis Chapmin
was officially measured at one hundred and five. But it’s hard to
say. Feller thought Satchel Paige was the fastest pitcher alive.
So, could he throw faster than one hundred and seven?”
“What were you in college?”
“Fastest was ninety-one.”
“Then that confirms it—you are all screwed up my friend.
A forty-four-year-old man can’t throw like that, not without a
whole lotta dope.”
“No drugs, man. You’re just getting old. Bad eyesight and
soft hands. Still getting those manicures?”
“Hey, the last time was with you. Come on Gil. Let’s be
honest here. This is crazy stuff. Those balls I pulled out of the
fence—the leather was completely torn through. Let’s try one
more, just as a sanity check. Let me have it. Get really pissed off.
Imagine you are throwing at that lawyer’s face.”
Peck backpedaled to the plate and pounded his fist into his
glove. “Give me all you’ve got.”
This time the ball whizzed into Peck’s glove with the same
familiar smack. Peck removed his hand from the glove. The
palm was red.
“I think that confirms it,” he said, shaking his head.
“Tomorrow I am going to make a few calls.”

The Spirit of Love by the spirit of love, known as glen

the spirit of love, known as glen
Publisher: Aurora House
Pages: 196
Genre: Spirituality/Poetry

The Spirit of Love is a collection of short writings, poems and phrases written by a man who took himself into some of the darkest and most destructive depths that one can go with drug and alcohol addictions back in his early twenties.

The collection of writings contained within The Spirit of Love are the result of one man’s healing journey within himself and the deep questioning that has arisen from within it.

With the love, support and guidance of his dear friend Edwina, in helping to bring these writings from the handwritten scribbles on paper to how they are presented today, The Spirit of Love is a reminder that no matter how dark, desperate, alone, helpless or trapped one believes they may be, the sheer beauty of the perfection of life in its totality is silently and patiently living within us all, and its love is so powerful that it can heal anything that has come to pass.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:
Take me now so that I need never feel again
Screaming inside I keep everything in
Release me now so I may tear this skin from off my shell
For free can I not be from this living hell?

Why are you afraid?
Swept along without giving a moment to stop
Why are you going to the next place you want to be?
What’s wrong with where you are now?
Is the next place going to be any different or better?
Funny how unwilling you have become to look
Can it be that bad inside?
Afraid to feel life no more
Oh, how the voice is clever
Feeding the prey so as not to be hunted.

Staring at you the battle begins
Nightmare’s voice always wins
Fighting so strongly against my will
Oh, the insanity contained in a pill
Within gulp of water’s cup
Battle lost I’ve given up
Slowly the chemicals suffocate my brain
The next few hours surely insane.

How can you label I and in turn yourself?
For labels change as frequently as the weather
I am changeless – eternal
Let your sight not fool you into a world of form
Enjoy thy magic and mystery
Play with it joyfully and compassionately
But see yourself not of it
Are you your job?
Is that the limit of your destiny?
Why do you choose to do what you do?
Is it really you doing it?
Look what the eternal search has brought
A searching with no end to wanting
That which you truly not need.

Stop it, stop it, I hear you scream, the voice constant in its demands of you
But what can be done if broken you have become?
Bound to a meaningless death whilst your feet still walk
Bow to grace as freedom is you just in being
See the butterfly kiss the wind as a graceful dance
What have you become outside yourself?
Smash all mirrors as they do not allow you to see what lies beneath
Seven colours formed of white
Form holds the illusion together not wanting it to be seen
All that allows it to be is what’s in-between
No sense I make, so that your mind can move beyond the hours of 9 till 5
I lie timeless for you.

Is mankind reflecting upon itself?
From and within the boundless nothingness that I Am
Nothing more or less than degrees of variation
Like a leaf throughout the seasons of its cycle
Come within so that I am released from form
And journey from stillness back to stillness
As infinite space and eternal grace dance together in the hands of thy children
Mention not a word of I, nor a thought, nor emotion, invisible I remain
See that star in your eye?
It is your world beneath your world
A diamond in the form of a stone
Belong to silence, cometh to existence through seed of breath, even and pure.

Cannot you feel the spirit within her? Why? Why? Why?
You poison her veins with fluorescent venom
Yet still she gives you soil to grow your food
You shatter her body with each bomb that tears at her skin
Yet still she gives you air to breathe
Your chemical mind soaks away her pure clear blood
Yet still she gives you water to quench greed’s thirst
Great Mother Earth, you inspire me to a love that holds no enemy
Take not a moment more to cleanse your soul from our mistrust
Seeing you create your balance now
A new earth awaits your presence
And yet still you wish to give us abundance’s dance
Your wisdom singing peacefully within thy true self
A self of love, a selfless love
My weeping heart bleeds its last drop into your soil
Take it and send me to my grave with your earthy kiss
For you have earned your rest from the hand of man.

Is thy being too simple for belief?
A simple being of love sets everything free

For whilst thoughts, emotions, content, story and experience is a part of the journey, it is a mere ripple on the surface of the vast depthless ocean of thy being, of which I know nothing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Covert Kisses by Jane Godman

Author: Jane Godman
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 288
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Coincidence? The beauty who washes up on Mayor Cameron Delaney's private beach eerily resembles his dead girlfriend, Carla. But Laurie Carter, Carla's lookalike cousin, is actually an undercover detective. She's on the job, investigating Cameron's connection to a human-trafficking ring. Laurie knows she must keep her cover—but she's struggling to deceive the man she finds irresistible… 
When Cameron discovers why Laurie is in town, he's furious to realize he's being framed—and stunned at his sudden feelings for the lovely agent. But as they uncover the traffickers, a savage serial killer targets Laurie. Can Cameron save the life of the woman he's come to care for…and unmask the threat haunting his family and Stillwater? 


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:
Take his breath away.
That was her one and only aim for this first encounter, and Laurie Carter had three things working in her favor as she kept the target in her sights.
First, there was the understated designer swimsuit that molded itself to her curves, while also cleverly drawing attention to the length of her legs.
Then there was the fact that she was wading ashore onto his private lakeside property. As he sprang to his feet from the rock where he had been sitting gazing out across the water, no doubt he was about to point that fact out to her. Laurie did a rapid check, reconciling this man’s physical attributes with the photographs she had carefully memorized. Dark, wavy hair, swept back from a broad brow and worn slightly long so that it curled onto his neck. Deep-set eyes above high, Slavic cheekbones. A hawk-like nose and lips that were contrastingly full. She had the right man. There was no mistaking him. Tall and powerfully built, he moved toward her with the grace of an athlete, a frown line pulling his dark eyebrows together.
Judging the distance between them to perfection, Laurie waited until he was close enough. As she fell into a pretend faint, she saw shock and something more register in the hazel depths of Cameron Delaney’s eyes. Advantage number three was always going to be the one that clinched it. As his reflexes kicked in and he scooped her up into his arms, Laurie let her head flop back, allowing him a clear view of her face.
His exhalation was an audible hiss. Mission accomplished. The fact that she was trespassing on his land had been the thing that made him notice her. The swimsuit had drawn his attention to her curves and kept him looking. Neither of those things had succeeded in driving the breath from his lungs. That had been achieved for one reason only…because she was the mirror image of his dead girlfriend.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Feature & Interview: The Lord of the Infield Flies by Steve Reilly

Author: Steve Reilly
Publisher: Strong Books
Pages: 126
Genre: Sports Memoir

The Lord of the Infield Flies will thrill readers with Coach Steve Reilly’s harrowing, challenging, and adventuresome baseball team’s trek from Connecticut to play in Maine. As a prequel to his award winning memoir, The Fat Lady Never Sings, Reilly, a high school baseball coach, narrates the true story from the beginning of his coaching career at the age of 20. In summer 1977, Reilly plans to take his high-school-age team on a weekend trip to the baseball mecca on Cape Cod to play a Massachusetts all-star team. When plans go awry, he jumps at an offer to take the players instead to the serene surroundings of southern Maine to play that state’s all-star team. Most of the team’s starters decline; their hearts had been set on “The Cape.” Determined to go through with his commitment, Reilly gathers ten players to make the four-hour trip in a cabin truck and his car on a Friday night. Will the team arrive in time to battle Maine’s best the following morning?

After his legal alcohol-age players convince him to stop at a package store on the way to buy just a “few beers” for the idyllic cabin they will be staying at in the resort area of Old Orchard Beach, they exit the package store with hand trucks filled with cases of beer. Chaos reigns. The cabin truck with its inebriated players gets separated from Reilly’s vehicle, losing half the team traveling in the opposite direction in Massachusetts! Will the team ever get to Maine? Will the team play Maine’s all-stars? And, will the players make it back to Connecticut?  



Book Excerpt:

March 25, 2005

HE PEARL WHITE DOOR opened before me. A gaunt man wearing a gray pin-striped suit and goatee held the door open with his left hand and gestured with his right hand for me to enter. As I passed through the door, nervousness came over me. The strong scent of roses reminded me where I was. A pedestal sign directed me to go left. After an elderly couple crossed my path with their heads down, another pedestal sign directed me to the right down a narrow hallway. To my surprise, the hallway was empty. At the end of the hallway stood a wooden pedestal with a gold banker’s lamp lit above an open book. I grasped the pen from the slot carved in the pedestal and signed the book like a schoolboy as I made sure my penmanship was within the lines. I picked up a small card from a slot in back of the pedestal and put it in the pocket of my dress shirt; there would be plenty of time to read the poem later. With no one in front of me, I stood alongside the doorway as if waiting for permission to enter, but none was needed. As I stood in the doorway about to enter the quiet room, I thought about the summer of 1977 and my Senior Babe Ruth baseball team’s trip to Maine the last weekend of July.

About the Author

Since 1976, Steve Reilly, a practicing attorney, has coached high school baseball in Connecticut’s Lower Naugatuck Valley. He has spent the last thirty years assisting other high school coaches and is currently in his seventeenth season at Seymour High. Reilly and his wife, Suzanne, live in Seymour, Connecticut.

His latest book is the sports memoir, The Lord of the Infield Flies.     

Website & Social Links:


Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I researched old newspaper articles both of my hometown newspaper and newspapers in Maine where the games described in the book were played. I recalled that I actually wrote the article for the baseball games played on the weekend in question so it helped quite a bit to recall what happened in the games. 

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I opted to go with a small publisher named Strong Books where a colleague of mine at the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association(CAPA) was involved with.  

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

I did engage someone to assist with the formatting of the book after I tried to do it myself. My attempt to do it myself was a very frustrating task. I should’ve just engaged someone from the get go. After the book was formatted and published it is just as frustrating getting the e-book formatted. But I am happy to say it will be up on Kindle soon.   

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

Since this was my second memoir, I looked at the prior memoir which did well at the price placed on it by my first publisher, so I decided that since this book was somewhat shorter to reduce the price accordingly. I also looked at other books with similar page volumes in the genre of my book and took those into consideration. 

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

My personal relationship with the person in charge of the company, Brian Jud, who I met at the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association(CAPA). Brian is also a nationally known book marketer. 

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

Sure, as they allowed me to collaborate with them as to the price.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

I tried to get the book out before the end of the World Series because it was a baseball book but the number of things that had to be done before it could be ready for printing made that just about impossible.  

How did you choose your cover?

I engaged the services of a book cover designing firm named out of Australia. I answered their questions about the book. They created some concepts for the cover, then took my input and gave me two proposed covers. I liked them both so much that I bought both cover versions. I chose one for the actual printing and leave another for any future edition. I thought about using the second cover for the e-book but I was talked out of that one by the publisher. 

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I started by cerebrating over the story for a long time and thinking about how I was going to tell it and ways I could tell it. I told the story to some of my friends, sometimes telling it a different way to get their reaction. Then I drew up an outline. Then I wrote and revised as I went along.  

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

I have an oversized baseball glove made by a company named Akadema who makes such things as well as retro gloves which I used as a prop for my first book, also a baseball memoir. It went over well at sales events for the book as it always attracts attention. I am using again to market my present book. I also have created a large poster of the book’s cover at Fedex/Kinko’s.    

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I have researched companies and am considering having a video book trailer done. Haven’t decided on which to use yet. But I would have it done more in line with companies that use stock video footage rather than just pictures in a slide show format.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

If I wasn’t giving all the proceeds of the book to a local community foundation scholarship fund set up in memory of a former player of mine and character in the book I would probably be more inclined to try giving away e-book copies. I may do so at some point if it appears like I should.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

1.Get the book edited. There is no substitute for it, even if you think you wrote well and got good grades in college in English. (But don’t forget story trumps all. Concentrate more on making the story a good one. When writing each and every first line of every paragraph and page, ask yourself “Why should anybody care?”)

2. Engage a professional book cover designer to make your book something people would want to pick up and look at further, and

3.) Get a copy of “1001 Ways to Market Your Book” by John Kremer and “How to Make Real Money Selling Books” by Brian Jud. That will get you thinking about how many ways you want might to market your book.

Obviously, if you can get a celebrity to endorse or write the forward to your book, your book, the above three suggestions might change.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

First, get in touch with local newspapers to try and get them to interview you. If you have a local independent bookstore nearby, contact them to see if they can set up a talk for you.  Get the word out on Facebook, and any other social media you are involved in such as such twitter or Instagram. Contact the local libraries to set up talks, most will be glad to have you. Then contact all the nearby Rotary and Lions Clubs, they always want someone to speak and somebody there usually buys your books. If no one does, at least you get a free meal!       

Brainstorm the many ways to market your books outside of bookstores. The two books above will help and are not exclusive. For my first sports memoir, I visited a local sports store, a local cigar store, a local card shop, the local train station coffee shop, and the local hospital gift shop. All agreed to sell my books. Some purchased them outright, and others agreed on a consignment deal. (However, I did anticipate marketing to a few of these places beforehand and fit their names into the story. It helped a lot and caused two to sell the books and give me all the proceeds.)

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

I started to renew interest in my prior book again which was well received by going on a local online newspaper’s podcast, to speak about the ten year anniversary of the book, and then talked about my new book which is a prequel to the prior one. (Like the reruns of old movies that come out on tv just before the new sequel comes out). When my new book came out I was asked to return to give another interview with the online newspaper. I am also in the process of creating a local public access television show to spotlight  local authors which may have the secondary effect of spotlighting my own status as an author.  

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I planned on first selling the hard copies during this winter and when Spring comes to run an Amazon Kindle promotion and temporarily lower the cost of the e-book.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

If you are a coach of high school age kids or thinking about coaching high school age kids, you’ll want to read this story. Or if you are the parent, or relative of a teenage boy involved in sports who may be(or was) difficult to handle, you’ll want to read this story. Or if you are someone who thinks perhaps you should be doing something else with your life, or just likes a good baseball story, then certainly want to read this story.