Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Details of My Reality by Katie L. Oslin


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Katie L. Oslin will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Amy Thatcher is full of despair since her best friend is no longer by her side. Known as the ice queen, Amy is quick to dismiss people and barricade her sweet and beautiful soul. Although young, she’s wise beyond her years. And nothing and no one is going to get in the way of achieving her goals; or so she thinks.

Life soon shows Amy that it has other plans. She’s suddenly thrust into a world full of difficult circumstances and even more difficult decisions.


Read an excerpt:

He hugged me tightly for so long I wondered if he’d ever let me go. Our cigarettes developed the longest ashes I ever saw. As mine finally fell to the ground, I was reminded of how quickly I fell for Johnny and how our relationship had been burning for the last three years. Eventually, we, too, like that ash, would fall. We would end up a memory of something that burned so deeply into our souls and it too would eventually turn to ash.

Such thoughts swirled through my mind, as I drove without a destination. Eventually, I found myself at the park where Johnny and I went that fateful night when he showed me the secret overlook and took my virginity and my innocence. I decided to park the car, then I grabbed my emergency blanket, flashlight, and cigarettes and walked toward the precipice where it all began.

A tear fell down my cold wet cheek. I sighed and gave him my heartbreaking answer. “Honestly?” I held back my tears as best I could. “I want you to leave me alone, Johnny. I want you to love me enough to let me go. I want you to help me finally get over you by staying the hell away from me. I want you to stay out of my life and let me be. Please, Johnny, I’m begging you.

“I want to be happy. I deserve that, and you of all people know it. Since I can’t have it with you,” I said, crying a little harder, then I deserve to have it with someone else. So, please, Johnny, if you love me like you say you do, you’ll let me go.”


About the Author:
Katie L. Oslin is a Midwesterner who started writing diaries, poetry and many short stories at a very young age. As a newly published author THE DETIALS OF MY REALITY is her first novel.

She is also a wife, mother and bachelor’s prepared registered nurse. Living on the coast of North Carolina, she frequents the beach and finds inspiration in the sound of the waves and the solitude of her surroundings.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katieloslin
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/katieloslin
Instagram: http://www.intstagram.com/khaoos1982
Website: http://www.katieloslin.com

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Man of Honor by Chris Malburg


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Chris Malburg will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

There is a unit buried within the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Unit 61398—the cyber warfare unit. Li Yong prepared his entire life for command of Unit 61398. Li Yong believed this was the ultimate honor and service to the State.

Then America’s airliners started plunging from the sky. There is no honor in being the world’s worst mass murderer. How do you right the most terrible wrong? How do you prevent the State from slaughtering your entire family if you fail? How do you balance a moral imperative against a lifetime of homeland allegiance? How does Li Yong stop the unstoppable?

From Chris Malburg, author of God’s Banker, comes the Enforcement Division Series’ next riveting installment--Man of Honor.

Read an excerpt:

“Getting colder,” Jack said and shuffled his boots over the icy turf. “By the time this is over all these people will be half frozen.”

Helen Kaito turned toward her husband and into the onslaught of wind and snow. Snatches of live broadcasts from breathless reporters floated on the wind and swirled around the crowd 200 strong. Just his way of preserving that stoic reserve, Helen thought. She pulled her scarf tight around her neck and stuffed both hands into her jacket pockets. Around them people stamped their feet in the snowy field hard against the banks of Elkhart’s St. Joe River. “How much longer?”

She watched Jack look around the field. Police officers stood in small groups talking quietly among themselves. Firefighters stayed near their rigs waiting to put their exhaustive training to work. The silence spoke volumes. No celebration here. “They told me it should happen about 4:10 pm.”

“My God, Jack...”

Jack nodded slowly. “I know, hon. It sucks.”

Helen watched the crowd searching the northeastern sky. Some pointed. At what? She checked her watch. Not yet. Too soon.

Jack unzipped his backpack and pulled out binoculars. Helen had given him the heavier items when they geared up back home. She took water—frozen by now—energy bars, extra gloves, socks, and the knit cap she knew Jack probably wouldn’t wear. Summer or winter, he liked the feeling of the breeze on his shaven head. “What?”


About the Author:
Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with over 4 million words published in 22 popular business books and four novels. Simon & Schuster, Putnam, Wiley and McGraw Hill all publish Chris' work which is consumed in most western countries. 

After Stanford Writers School, Chris began the fun side of his career. He has crossed the chasm into fiction with the fourth installment in his Enforcement Division series. Man of Honor is a cyber thriller about the storied Chinese PLA's Unit 61398—the cyber terror division.

http://twitter.com/#!/ChrisMalburg
http://facebook.com/chris.malburg
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrismalburg
CRM@WritersResourceGroup.com

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Daughter of Aithne by Karin Rita Gastreich


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Karin Rita Gastreich will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

As an author, I love the challenge and freedom of fantasy. The genre allows us to stretch the limits of reality, exploring the human condition inside entirely imagined worlds. In addition, I believe there’s a lot of magic in real life, but many of us are blind to that magic. Fantasy brings magic to the forefront and makes it a central part of every character’s story, allowing all of us to better recognize the magic in our own lives.

What research/world-building is required?

Solid characters form the core of any fantasy novel, so the most important thing authors must understand is human nature – how we respond to challenges, disappointments, triumphs and failures in life as well as in love. If you can master that, you can write a fantasy set in any world. Everything else (technology, wardrobe, battle scenes, ecosystems, architecture, etc.) is just logistics.

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

Stay faithful to your path and to your own personal truth. Fight for what you believe in. Always act from compassion. Never say no to love.

Oops. That was more than one!

Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I’m not all that familiar with the habits of other writers, so I don’t know if any of my habits are quirky. I’m a fairly disciplined writer; I think about story telling all the time, and whenever I have a chance, I sit down at the computer and write.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

Both. I generally have an idea where a story is leading when I start writing, but I listen to my characters and if they decide to take the plot in a new direction, I follow their lead.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

At the table next to me in the coffee shop, there is a young woman at work on her computer. She has a big smile on her face and she’s wearing awesome winter boots with a bold floral pattern. Seems like the kind of person I’d like to have as a friend.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

Yes! If I weren’t responding to this interview, I’d be working on a contemporary dark fantasy called The Hunting Grounds. Set in my hometown of Kansas City, it is the chilling yet moving tale of one woman’s confrontation with her own death, and the power of love to carry us through the darkest nights of the soul.

Do you have a question for our readers?

What’s on your reading list for 2018? In lieu of that, tell me one special wish you have for the new year!

Betrayed by her own prodigy, Eolyn stands accused of treason. As power-hungry nobles dismantle her life's work and honor, the desperate queen forges a risky alliance with the ruthless and cunning Mage Corey. Determined to defend her son's claim to the throne of the Mage King, Eolyn prepares for her last and greatest battle, this time against her own sisters in magic.

Across the Furma River, Taesara of Roenfyn is drawn out of seclusion and into an ever-more vicious game of intrigue and war. Subject to the schemes of a shrewd uncle and the mysterious ambitions of the wizards of Galia, Taesara struggles to assert her own destiny, even as she takes up arms to defend her daughter's inheritance.

In the climactic finale to The Silver Web trilogy, threads of love, honor, betrayal, and vengeance culminate in a violent conflict between powerful women, opposed to each other yet destined to shatter a thousand-year cycle of war.

"An enticing and elegant series finale, filled with magic and turmoil." -KIRKUS REVIEWS

Read an excerpt:

Eolyn shifted in her seat. A thousand words stood poised upon her lips, of which only a handful could be chosen and delivered. Each conversation in the coming days had to be undertaken with great care, especially when it came to this mage.

“Why did Thelyn come for us, and not you?” she asked.

“I was needed to track down the magas still residing in the City,” Corey replied. “Besides, Thelyn was the better mage for that task.”

Mariel, she thought. He would not have had the heart to bind Mariel.

A small sign, perhaps, that Mage Corey could yet be counted among her friends.

“I understand you are to oversee their interrogation,” Eolyn said.

“It is true, my Lady Queen.”

“I have expressed my concerns about this to the King. He assures me that you and your mages will not be permitted to—”

“My Lady Queen, if there is one thing you have learned in the years of our friendship, it is that I will do whatever must be done in the moment at hand, and I will harden my heart to see it through.”

“That may be the case, Mage Corey. Yet I also know that words are your most effective tool. You have never resorted to violence to obtain what you require.”

Corey let her statement hang in the air.

Eolyn averted her gaze, suddenly aware of the icy tension in her hands.

I, too, am being interrogated.

“You did not bring a scribe,” she said quietly.

“What need have I for a scribe, my Lady Queen?” He softened his tone. “We are, as of yet, simply conversing.”


About the Author:
Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands all her life. Her pastimes include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

Website: http://krgastreich.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EolynChronicles
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Eolyn-110814625640244/

Purchase link for EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB: http://www.amazon.com/Eolyn-Silver-Web-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01B8F4G50
Purchase link for SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Shadows-Silver-Web-Book-ebook/dp/B01G5L1GEG
Purchase link for DAUGHTER OF AITHNE, Book Three of THE SILVER WEB: https://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Aithne-Silver-Web-Book-ebook/dp/B06WCZYRNW

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Dark Child by Miriam Newman


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Miriam will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Born at a royal banquet for King Conor MacNessa of Ulster, Deirdre is predicted by Conor’s own druid to be blessed and cursed with a beauty that will make kingdoms contest over her. He names her “Deirdre of the Sorrows” and urges the king to slay her. But Conor, unwilling to murder a babe, takes her under his protection only to fall prey to the curse when she is nearly grown. Captivated by her youth and beauty, the aging king will go to any extreme to possess her.


Read an excerpt: Once inside, the king and his guests found beef and mutton and pork…fowl and venison and fine, firm pink salmon borne on ice across the sea from Alba where ice was often to be found. Curds and whey they had, and all else that a dairy might supply. There were breads and cakes, pies and pasties of every sort and great quantities of wine, honey mead and ale both light and dark. Yet so deep went Conor’s unease that he had no appetite for them. Singers, dancers and musicians both foreign and native performed, male and female alike, but the crash and roar of the storm drowned out the sounds of their merry-making. Men marked that never had such a storm visited Ulster. Irishmen all they were and accustomed to the rains and gales of their island, but even Conor agreed it seemed no natural storm and that he, too, had a feeling of doom.

“Nonsense,” Felim insisted stoutly as the king merely nibbled at his food, for he saw all his plans dashed to destruction and the favor he wished of Conor turned to stone. “’Tis but a storm!”

Hardly had the words left the storyteller’s mouth than a terrifying scream split the air, a sound to raise the bristle hair on a hound’s back.

“’Tis only my wife, who labors,” Felim insisted, but the king took not a bite further of his food and sat with a pale and ashen face.

“’Bring her here,” Conor ordered, “that I may see if that is the scream of any mortal woman, for I much doubt it.”

And so the unfortunate woman was required to present herself to the king.

“Tell me true,” Conor demanded, “was it you who screamed?”

Felim’s haggard and trembling wife, fearing for her life, nonetheless shook her head, for she knew her maidservants would give her away if she lied to the great king.

“Nay, my lord,” she replied. “’Tis the child that screamed from inside my womb.”

“This is a thing I have never known!” Conor exclaimed, while beside him his druid Catha stood abruptly to lay a hand upon the mother’s belly, his expression dire.

“’Tis the scream of a girl child,” he predicted, “and her name will be Deirdre, the call of alarm, for she will bring war.”


About the Author: Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug. I bring that background to my writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where I nurture my muse. My published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance. Currently I live in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals.

http://www.miriamnewman.com
http://www.thecelticroseblog.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMiriamNewman
https://twitter.com/miriamnewman

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fire by Sam Rook


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sam will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The thrilling conclusion to the Knights of Av’lor trilogy!

Trapped on Av’lor and left for dead by her betrayer, Kathryn’s unrelenting determination is the only thing that might overcome the invading Zahkrinon army.

With the portal destroyed and the Zahkrinon army fast approaching, Kathryn and Lanclor have no choice but to focus on the survival of the Knighthood before they can consider rescuing Rachel. Unexpected events threaten their victory and the combined Av’lorian and Earth forces struggle to survive as their numbers dwindle.

They find the Zahkrinon are more dangerous than they had ever imagined.

Read an excerpt:

The momentum of her flight drove the sword completely into the back of the Zahkrinon’s neck along with her hands, up to her wrists. She felt pieces of bone cut through her gloves and she clenched her teeth from the pain. A dark wave of energy left the creature’s hands just after impact and drove into the dark elves instead of Hal’s group. Kathryn forced her spell through the blade and felt the Zahkrinon’s muscles tighten under her as it screeched in pain.

She clung to her sword for dear life as the Zahkrinon’s arms struggled to rip her from its back as it twisted back and forth in an attempt to throw her. Tucking her wings, she made herself smaller and poured more power into the fire spell. The smell of burning flesh made her gag, but she didn’t relent.

The bastard took forever to die and it was bound and determined to take Kate with it. With an agonized scream, it fell from the building and tried to turn itself in midair so it fell backward. Kate let go of her sword and pushed herself to the left before they hit the ground. Her effort was enough not to get crushed, but failed to dodge the Zahkrinon’s wing which caught her body and thrust her against the ground.

Nidira threw herself at her brother’s side and intercepted the knife meant for Lord Alextor’s heart. All around the table, the bare-footed servants randomly attacked the members of the meeting. Blood splashed across the table, a startling contrast against the white slices of bread. Hal jumped to his feet and looked behind him just as a servant prepared to attack.


About the Author: Sam Rook lives in Vermont with her husband and two children. Her passion for fantasy novels began in high school with her desire to write following shortly thereafter. Software engineer by day, fantasy author by night, she strives to give her readers a chance to enjoy worlds that transport them away from the stress of everyday life.

Website: http://www.samrook.com

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Friday, December 22, 2017

One Too by Sherrie Cronin



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sherrie will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Telepathy creates as many problems as it solves, as most of the members of the secret organization x0 would admit. When new member Lola discovers another group of telepaths with a completely different approach, those problems multiply at the speed of thought.

Soon, Lola’s family and friends are in danger. Lucky for her, she’s not your average budding psychic. Each person with whom she is close has a special gift of their own. That’s good, because it’s going to take every power they possess to keep this other group from succeeding with their plan to eradicate x0.


Read an excerpt:

They all turned as a motion caught their eyes outside of the window. A blur of something vaguely human-sized popped out of the bushes, exploded over to the tray, paused a fraction of a second and almost became visible in the mist, and then burst back again into the shrubs. All eyes turned to the tray, where the furry orange body of the cat was gone.

The hooded figures began jumping around in jubilation, chanting words of thanks to the Zeitman family for accepting their offering. Lola got the clear impression that the entire performance was scripted and rehearsed. She was certain of it once she saw the reporter and cameraman on the other side of the fog.

“I think we might have played right into their hands,” Maurice echoed her thoughts.

“Ariel said we almost certainly would, no matter how,” Nell said. “She was sound asleep when I left the room.”

“Well, she can sleep through anything,” Teddie said. “Who grabbed the cat?”

“I did,” Xuha called to them from the kitchen. Everyone started to move toward his voice and they found Xuha sitting in a kitchen chair petting the neighbor’s groggy pet. “I was watching from upstairs and I thought, I can’t let this little guy die. I figured that I could move so fast that no one would see me.”

“You did, but it doesn’t matter,” Lola said. “Xuha, they got footage of a cat disappearing into thin air at our house. That’s plenty.”

“Even I couldn’t sleep through this racket,” Ariel said, coming into the kitchen. “Don’t worry about it, Xuha. If you hadn’t saved the cat then somebody else here would have, and it all pretty much ends the same way.”

Xuha gave Ariel a wary look. “Did I make things worse? For myself? For the rest of you?”

She shook her head. “Look, I’ve got a personal aversion to middle-of-the-night fortune-telling. Let’s get some sleep. Please.”

Lola poured a tiny bit of milk out for the cat, while Alex opened the front door. The costumed crew had vanished, as had anyone recording or reporting on their presence. The last bits of dry ice were disappearing, giving off tiny puffs of mist as they did. The cul-de-sac was silent, and the stars sparkled in the night sky.

Alex shrugged. “Some years you get Santa, and others you get ‘what the hell was that?’”

He held the door open as the fluffy orange cat licked up the last bit of milk then puffed his tail up straight and walked back out into the night.


About the Author:
Sherrie grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.

She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.

The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well-paying The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.

Apparently she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. "It's about time," were his exact words.

Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book collection. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She's been wide awake ever since, and writing away.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cinnabar01
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Number46Ascending
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5805814.Sherrie_Cronin
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-Cronin/e/B007FRMO9Q
Blog: http://www.46ascending.org

The book is available for pre-order for $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Saving Nary by Carol DeMent


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Carol DeMent will be awarding $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The author has graciously stopped by to share five things we might not know about her. Thanks for sharing with us today!

1. I once rode a bicycle 204 miles in one day! I did train for it, of course, for about five months. It took thirteen hours of riding. I completed the ride with two other friends, and it was a wonderful, life affirming experience. We finished just behind a thirteen year-old boy and ahead of an eighty year-old man, so enough said about that! The route was from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon on a ride that a regional bike organization sponsors every year. Most people do it in two days.

2. I have sky-dived twice. For fun. Uh huh. The first time I was unprepared for the force of the wind when I stepped out onto the wing of the plane and was blown unceremoniously off in an awkward and graceless tumble. The second time I launched properly but was blown a bit off course (dang wind) and landed in a field and then was dragged along the ground by my billowing chute for thirty feet or so (did I mention the wind?) before I could get my feet under me and my chute under control. Enough fun for me!

3. I used to interpret for Laotian refugees when they arrived in America. I became fluent in Thai while I was a Peace Corps volunteer and the Lao and Thai languages are very similar, so I was able to help out in some pretty interesting situations. When your client has never had a formal education, it can be challenging to explain complex medical procedures. I had to try to explain things like doctors running little balloons up your veins from your leg to your heart to people who feared giving blood because they didn’t know the body would make more blood. Or that a doctor was going to put you in a pool of water and shoot soundwaves at your kidneys to break up your kidney stones. Tough work, but very rewarding.

4. I make a mean apple pie. I won’t share my secret, and I do use frozen pie crusts, but the filling, oh my!

5. I crave good conversation about serious topics. The art of deep conversation is being lost in America. We are so beset by our devices and besotted with simple soundbites that our ability to hold a reasoned conversation, in which participants share views and learn from one another, is greatly diminished. People often argue a point and take a defensive stance against opposing viewpoints, but courteous, civil and illuminating discourse has fallen by the wayside. And there are so many things to discuss! Politics, religion, the meaning of life, art, artificial intelligence, climate change, medicine, history and science!! Give me a dinner party with interesting and talented people with whom to exchange ideas and I am a happy camper!

A Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Saving Nary explores the losses, loyalties and secrets held within families broken by war and genocide. This compelling novel presents a palette of unique characters who struggle to make sense of the events that led them to America, even as they ponder the bewildering culture and lifestyle of their new homeland.

Refugee Khath Sophal lost everything when the Khmer Rouge swept into power in Cambodia: his livelihood gone, his family dead or missing; his sanity barely intact from the brutality he has been forced to witness.

Now resettled in the Pacific Northwest, Khath treads a narrow path between the horrors of his past and the uncertainties of the present. His nights are filled with twisted dreams of torture and death. By day he must guard constantly against the flashbacks triggered by the simple acts of daily living, made strange in a culture he does not understand.

Then Khath meets Nary, a mysterious and troubled Cambodian girl whose presence is both an aching reminder of the daughters he has lost, and living proof that his girls, too, could still be alive. Nary’s mother Phally, however, is another matter. A terrible suspicion grows in Khath’s mind that Phally is not who or what she claims to be. A split develops in the community between those who believe Phally and those who believe Khath. And those, it seems, who don’t really care who is right but just want to stir up trouble for their own personal gain.

Khath’s search for the truth leads him to the brink of the brutality he so despises in the Khmer Rouge. His struggle to wrest a confession from Phally ultimately forces him to face his own past and unravel the mystery of his missing daughters.

Read an Excerpt:

“Go back to Cambodia?” Pra Chhay stared at Khath with puzzled eyes.

Khath nodded. “What choice do we have, brother?” he said. “Our people are being forced back across the border into the arms of the Khmer Rouge. My daughters will have no chance now to get into Khao I Dang. We must go back to continue our search for them.”

Pra Chhay, dressed in saffron monk’s robes and cracked rubber sandals, stood framed by the setting sun outside the open doorway of the bamboo and thatch shelter he shared with Khath and five other families. The odor of too many human bodies crowded into a small living space hung heavy in the air spilling across the threshold.

The rectangular shelter was partitioned by side walls into six open-faced cubicles, three to a side, facing a center corridor running the length of the shelter. There was no privacy other than what could be attained by turning one’s back to the open side of one’s cubicle or crawling inside a mosquito net hung over the thin kapok sleeping mattresses on the floor. The shelter’s only doors were located at each end of the central corridor, opening directly to the outside.

With no way to secure themselves or their meagre belongings, the refugees lived in helpless fear of night visits by bored Thai soldiers, whose transgressions ranged from theft to rape. Pra Chhay and Khath occupied an end cubicle by the door, making them even more vulnerable to unwanted attention from the soldiers, but because of Pra Chhay’s position as a monk, they were usually left alone.

As Pra Chhay slipped his calloused feet out of his sandals, stepping barefoot into the corridor, a gentle breeze puffed out the hem of his robes and blew camp dust into the shelter.

Khath motioned to Pra Chhay to shut the door. Careful not to waste a drop of the day’s ration of precious water, he barely moistened the corner of a rag and ran it over random surfaces in their cubicle that might attract and harbor dust: the wooden altar in the corner, the cracks and edges of the bamboo slats that formed the walls of the hut, the straw mats that covered the floor. A squat wooden bench, left behind by the prior resident, completed the amenities of the living space.

Pra Chhay took off his outer layer of robes and hung them on a sliver of bamboo pulled out from the wall to serve as a peg for clothing. Turning, he watched Khath rub his cloth over the wooden bench, back and forth, back and forth, harder and harder, the knuckles gripping the cloth turning white with effort.

“Khath, stop it. You will polish our only seat away to nothing,” Pra Chhay said. “Tell me exactly what you heard today that makes you say we must return to Cambodia.” The monk settled himself comfortably on the floor.

With an effort, Khath slowed his rubbing and carefully folded the rag and laid it on his lap. His eyes followed the tiny particles now dancing in the single ray of golden sun that slipped through the crack between the outer door and its frame. He laced his fingers tightly together to stop their reaching for the rag as, mesmerized, he watched the motes settle onto the areas he had just cleaned. The sight of dust on surfaces where it ought not to be was still intolerable to Khath, though nearly six years had passed since his obsession was born on the day the Khmer Rouge killed his wife and son.

“Silence that boy,” the soldier had said to his wife on that awful day. Khieu gathered their son Bunchan into her arms, but how is one to soothe a toddler who cries from hunger when there is no food? Khath, Khieu and their three children had been walking for three days in the heat and humidity, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other refugees inching their way out of Phnom Penh by order of the Khmer Rouge. Already hunger, thirst and exhaustion had thinned their ranks: the elderly and the ill simply dropped along the sides of the road, patiently awaiting the mercy of death.

Given only minutes to prepare for their exodus, the food Khath and his family carried was gone in a day. After that, they bought, scavenged and bartered for whatever nourishment they could find along the way. Now, they stood next in line before a table of grim-faced cadres in the simple uniform of the Khmer Rouge: black cotton shirts and pants with kramas, red-checkered scarves, wound around their heads or necks. The cadres were checking identity papers and quizzing the refugees about their prior occupations.

Bunchan’s incessant crying enraged the soldier. “Silence him or I will,” he warned Khieu.


About the Author:Carol DeMent worked in the field of South East Asian refugee resettlement for seven years, and completed master's level research into international refugee resettlement policy. She lived for two years in Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer and has traveled extensively in South East Asia. Her first novel, Saving Nary, was a Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

https://www.amazon.com/Carol-DeMent/e/B01CRJ1EVA
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15089080.Carol_DeMent

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