Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Allow Me to Introduce Myself


Fulfillment is the first novel I published but not the first one I’ve written. I’ve written five novels so far and you’ll be seeing more of my work in the coming years. I also am the author of two nonfiction books as well as a book of short “solve-it-yourself” mystery stories. Three of my short works of fiction are available on Amazon.com and other outlets.

And I’m no beginner. Writing is not something I just decided to do one day. I have a degree in English Literature and have served as a professional writer for more than 30 years. I was first paid for my writing as a journalist working as a “stringer” for a daily newspaper in suburban Philadelphia beginning my senior year of college.

I have been writing for businesses for decades creating newsletters, websites, brochures, press releases and the other marketing and communications materials companies need. I have written hundreds of scripts for industrial videos. I’ve worked on writing and marketing projects with more than 60 of the Fortune 500 companies plus hundreds of mid-size and smaller companies.

I also write videos for a major university that has achieved successful billion-dollar fund raising campaigns – not once, but twice – two multibillion dollar fund raisers – with my help as a script writer. This same university commissioned me to write a stage play honoring the 125th anniversary of their alumni association.

My entry into the world of fiction is a logical next move. I didn’t take this step lightly. Before releasing Fulfillment, it went through 16 drafts. It was vetted by members of two writing groups and several first readers.

Despite my long and successful career earning my living as a professional writer, I took the time to learn the craft of writing fiction and the time to hone my skills so that the book you will be reading is of the highest caliber.

During the past few years, I led two writer’s groups – one online and one that meets in person. Not only have I developed my skills as a fiction writer, but I also have helped other writers develop their craft, some of whom you’ll be hearing from in the near future as they present their work to the public.

Download Fulfillment free today for your Kindle
Click here to download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle. If you prefer, you may purchase the paperback version on the same Amazon page. The paperback "buy" link is below the book cover image. And you may click on the book cover to read a section of the novel for free before you download your copy. That's always a good idea to see if you like the novel before downloading it.

See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Read Fulfillment Now?


Fulfillment tells the age old story of the birth of Christ in a new way for a modern audience. Whether you attend church every Sunday and know the Christmas story by heart… or you never heard the story before… you’ll love Fulfillment.

You’ll enjoy experiencing the birth of Jesus in a new way that breathes life into the story. When people talk about the great love stories in literature, they rarely mention Joseph and Mary. Yet theirs is one of the most endearing love stories of all time. Think of Mary, betrothed to Joseph and then an apparent tragedy – Mary becomes pregnant. Joseph knows he isn’t the father. Mary must have cheated on him, right? What should he do? What would you do? How should Joseph respond to what he thinks is Mary’s betrayal?

You’ll marvel at Mary’s courage and the way she grows from a young teen into a woman ready to take on Satan to protect the child in her womb. You’ll wonder at her faith while the people around her call her a liar and worse.

You’ll laugh and cry through the events of Bethlehem, especially the adventure as seen through the eyes of the shepherds. And you’ll feel Mary’s terror as she deals with the ultimate evil bent on destroying her and her child.

At this point you may also be wondering about who I am to be writing such a story. Visit this blog tomorrow for the answer.

Download Fulfillment free today for your Kindle
Click here to download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle. If you prefer, you may purchase the paperback version on the same Amazon page. The paperback "buy" link is below the book cover image. And you may click on the book cover to read a section of the novel for free before you download your copy. That's always a good idea to see if you like the novel before downloading it.

See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Christmas Story As Never Told Before


The Christmas story appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in the Bible. As proper and fitting for scripture, the gospel writers deal with the birth of Christ in solemn, reverent terms.

And you may have seen some of the movies or read novels that depict the birth of Christ. They, too, treat the subject with awe and reverence. The only trouble is, when you hold Mary and Joseph in a high state of reverence, you lose sight of who they really were. As a result they often appear as flat characters with little or no more personality than a plaster statue.

Fulfillment will change the way you think about the first Christmas
My novel Fulfillment changes everything. I wrote the story by asking, “What was Satan up to while God was going about the business of sending his son to save the world?”

In my story, Satan sets out to stop the birth of Christ. Since Jesus is too powerful to take on directly, he decides to kill the mother before Jesus is born.

Of course you know how the story ends. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The suspense, horror and awe in my novel occur on the journey along the way.

If the idea of Satan hungering for your soul doesn’t keep you awake at night, read Fulfillment. It will.

Download Fulfillment free today for your Kindle
Click here to download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle. If you prefer, you may purchase the paperback version on the same Amazon page. The paperback "buy" link is below the book cover image. And you may click on the book cover to read a section of the novel for free before you download your copy. That's always a good idea to see if you like the novel before downloading it.

See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What does an unwed pregnant teenager say to her father?


The Christmas Story As Never Told Before

Like many others, you may be curious about what life was like for Mary, Joseph and the other people mentioned in the Christmas story. What did Mary say to her parents when she became pregnant with Jesus? How did her parents react?

What was it like for Joseph to be told his fiance was pregnant when he thought she was a virgin? How did it make him feel? He was in love with her and then she announced she was to have a baby.

Did anyone believe Mary when she said that God himself was the baby’s father? Or did her friends and family accuse her of blasphemy?

We may never know exactly what Mary said or did when she became pregnant other than what you can read in the Gospel account. But if we keep in mind that she was a real person, not a plaster saint, but flesh and blood, then you can begin to imagine that she wasn’t much different than any modern teenager. Can you imagine Mary after the angel’s visit as it sinks in that she is pregnant and unmarried? What will she say to her mother? How will her dad react? And remember, first century rules apply, including a death sentence for women who commit the sin of fornication.

While we’re on the subject of Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ, what do you suppose Satan was thinking about when he found out God chose Mary to become the mother of Jesus?

Free Fulfillment - for 5 days only beginning today
Click here to download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting today and running through Saturday, December 1st. If you prefer, you may purchase the paperback version on the same Amazon page. The paperback "buy" link is below the book cover image. And you may click on the book cover to read a section of the novel for free before you download your copy. That's always a good idea to see if you like the novel before downloading it.

See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

My Holiday Giveaway


My holiday gift to you really is a Christmas present this year. For five days beginning tomorrow, November 27th, 2012, you may download a free copy of the Kindle version of Fulfillment, my novel of the first Christmas.

Fulfillment will change the way you think about the first Christmas. One of my Amazon reviewers called it “… the most unique version of the Christian Nativity story ever written.” So far, it’s received one five-star and two four-star reviews. (For my Christmas present, I’m hoping Santa… and you… enjoy Fulfillment enough to give it a five-star review on Amazon.)

I wrote Fulfillment by first asking: What was Satan up to while God was going about the business of sending his son to save the world?

In my story, Satan sets out to stop the birth of Christ. Since Jesus is too powerful to take on directly, Satan decides to kill the mother before Jesus is born. Of course you know how the story ends. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The suspense, horror and awe in my novel occur on the journey. If the idea of Satan hungering for your soul doesn’t keep you awake at night, read Fulfillment. It will.

Free Fulfillment - for 5 days only beginning tomorrow
Click here to download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting tomorrow, November 27th and running through Saturday, December 1st. You may purchase the paperback version on the same Amazon page. The paperback "buy" link is below the book cover image. And you may click on the book cover to read a section of the novel for free before you download your copy. That's always a good idea to see if you like the novel before downloading it.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

Here’s another novel idea…
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Crone


New to this series? Read from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
“I have been waiting for you two,” cackled the crone in Greek, but with an accent hinting of ancient days. “You are one of the king’s guards. I know the king. I have told his fortune many times. But you are not here for me to read your fortune. And your friend is troublemaker for Rome. And clinging to you both, I see old fiends. You best leave now or your fortunes are at an end.”

“You tried to make a fool of our great king.” Bezalel drew his sword.

“He cheated me out of my fair payment. A few miserly coins for his fortune. Did I ask so much that he should cheat me?” The woman shooed several shadows out of her way.

“Don’t try any of your spell casting with us, woman.” Hillalel held his cloak out in front of him as if it could offer protection from a fiendish curse.

“You lied to your king,” said the military man.

“No. I told your king the truth. One arises to rule in his place. Mighty Rome shakes. Listen! He comes and Herod will be no more. ‘Kill the child,’ I told Herod. For this he throws me out. I sought refuge in the wilderness. ‘Give this child life?’ I asked the ruler of darkness. ‘No! Die! She must die’ he answered. To this place I come to find the one the holy one blesses.”

“Find who, you old witch? You’re not making sense.” Bezalel stepped closer to the hag.

“She who will be chosen to carry the king. She it is who must die.”

“Stop your nonsense.” shouted the traveler. “You cheated the king. His fortune is good, not evil like you.”

“For this, you die, woman.” Bezalel raised his sword.

“Kill me and one of you dies now. The other seeks death later, yet death refuses him.”

***
This completes To Dwell Among Us.Thanks for taking time to read it.

Free Fulfillment - save the date
Download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting this Tuesday, November 27th.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Travelers in the North Country


New to this series? Read from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
When the short, plump innkeeper opened the door, a thin man of medium height pushed his way in. The innkeeper attempted to close the door behind the rover, but a rush of raw spirit forced him back. An aroma of burned sulfur filled his nostrils. The hair on the back of his neck rose.

The innkeeper sought his voice. His mouth and jaw moved up and down, but nothing came out. He swallowed hard and found a weak, faded and stammering voice. “Do you wish food, wine, and a place to sleep? For these you must have coins.” He spoke in Greek tainted with bits of the Aramaic common to the townsfolk.

The gray cat at the innkeeper’s feet noticed the black demons drenched in brimstone. It stood with its hackles up and screeched. The innkeeper kicked the cat, and finding his normal voice, said to it, “Here, you, what’s this?”

The traveler reached into his cloak and pulled coins from a purse revealing a long knife tucked into his belt as he did so. He dropped a few coins in the innkeeper’s hands.

“These will do. Welcome, stranger, and eat. Follow me. Here is a place for you at table. Don’t mind the cat.”

The man checked the spot where the innkeeper indicated. Other travelers filled the table. A blind man wore rags so must have had a good day’s begging to afford a night of comfort. Another had but one leg and a stick nearby to lean upon. A third leaned his head on his hand and slept while two flies buzzed between his cup and a half empty plate. The traveler ignored the others at the table and strode off towards a man staring out the latticework window. That man wore a coarse cloth and leather outfit with a short skirt. His hand rested on the hilt of a sword.

“As you wish, sir,” called the innkeeper to the traveler. Nodding towards the man by the window, the innkeeper said, “He is of the king’s guard over there. A quiet man. You two are well met.”

The innkeeper shook his head as he turned towards the kitchen. He lifted one of the coins to his mouth and bit into it.

Across the room, the traveler addressed the military man in Latin-stained Aramaic. “She is here.”

The spirits gathered about the two men, some hanging from the ceiling, some crawling like roaches on the floor. The cat backed away from the specters towards the warmth of the kitchen.

The military man sniffed the air and winced at the pungent odor that followed the traveler. “She has been busy in the marketplace. We should act tonight,” he replied.

“You have your sword.”

“Herod said to wait for you. When he says ‘wait,’ I wait. When he says ‘act,’ I act. Let us act before the storm worsens.”

“Let’s eat. The road was long today. Uphill. Why this infernal town of all places?”

“She is here, Hillalel.”

“You are a simple man, Bezalel. I on the other hand am a hungry one. A bit of wine, some cheese, bread and a warm hearth. She’ll still be around in the morning.”

The dark fiends leapt upon the two men, with half digging their claws into their brains, while the others sank tentacles into their hearts, each encouraging the men on their journey.

“I feel twitchy. Shouldn’t we be about our business?” Bezalel scratched at his back.

“This place has an air about it. I don’t like it here. I feel... well, you are right, Bezalel. Let’s go.” Turning to leave, Hillalel shouted, “Innkeeper.”

The innkeeper came running. He could not see the black demons infesting the men, but he shook in their presence and stuttered. “Yes, sir, your food is prepared. The girl brings a hot stew, see?”

“Hold the food and wine” Hillalel waved off the innkeeper.

The two men trudged out, dragging with them an invisible army of evil clutching with their claws and tentacles.

“She is down this way,” said Bezalel.

“Yes, I know.”
***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

Free Fulfillment - save the date
Download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting on Tuesday, November 27th. That's the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Big Ears


New to this series? Read from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
On the way home from Sarah’s house, Mary stopped in the road and tugged Mother’s arm. “Papa’s coming.”

“Why is his face set so hard?” Mother folded her arms across her bosom and waited.

Mary gulped. I should not have let Joseph kiss me, but we are engaged. It is permitted. Why is Papa angry? When he came closer, Mary realized Papa was sad, not angry.

“What is wrong?” Mother asked.

Papa sighed. He stared at Mary before turning his watery eyes away.

Mary grabbed hold of Papa’s arm. “What is it?”

Papa turned back to her. “Big Ears.”

“Is he sick?”

“No, child, he is not sick. He’s been killed. I’m sorry.”

Mary buried her head in his garments.

“What happened to him?” Mother asked.

Papa hugged his daughter. “I found him this morning in the field behind our house. He had been attacked by something.”

“What something?” Mother asked. “You mean a wild animal?”

Papa shook his head. “A powerful animal tore him apart. It’s up in those hills. I must tell the elders.”

“What could it be?” Mary pulled back from Papa.

“I don’t know,” Papa said.
***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

Free Fulfillment - save the date
Download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting on Tuesday, November 27th. That's the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Conspiracy of Mothers

New to this series? Read from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Mary stared at the marriage bed. She turned to face Joseph. On the wall behind Joseph, Mary spotted wood supports for shelving.

“Hello, Joseph.” Mary folded her hands.

“Hi! What are you doing here?”

“Mother and I are visiting Sarah.”

“Oh.” Joseph dropped his carpenter’s plane.

“What does Sarah plan to do with shelves in her marriage room?”

Joseph bent down to pick up his plane. “I have no idea.”

Mary waved an arm in the direction of the shelves. “Was this a conspiracy to bring us together?”

Joseph rose to full height. “Perhaps.”

“Are you glad to see me?”

Joseph smiled. “Yes.”

“Good, because I’m happy to see you, too.” Mary ambled to Joseph and put her arms around his neck. “Soon we shall have our own marriage bed.”

“Yes.” Joseph kissed her lips gently. He then placed his hands on her shoulders and stepped back. “I can hardly wait, yet we will wait, won’t we?”

“Of course, darling.”

“It is a long time for the wedding celebration.”

“That’s because I am so young. If I were even a year older, Papa would permit us to marry right away.”

“Yes, you are my young love.”

“When my next birthday comes, you can speak to Papa about setting the date.”

“Your papa is a good man. He wants the best for you.”

“And you are the best for me, my Joseph, you wonderful carpenter, you.” Mary took Joseph’s hand and swung his arm leading him across the room towards the marriage bed. She sat on the blanketed bed and pulled him down to sit by her side. “Sarah told me to find a place to sit in this room. Here is a good spot. Here we can talk if you like.”

“I have my work, Mary.”

“Then work if you like, and I will watch, but first you have to kiss me.”

Joseph leaned over and kissed Mary. She put her arms around his neck. Joseph took Mary’s wrists into his huge carpenter’s hands and lowered them to her lap. He stood, smiled at her and returned to work. Mary looked on until her mother came for her.

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

Free Fulfillment - save the date
Download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting on Tuesday, November 27th. That's the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Visitors


New to this series? Read from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Mary and Mother held their skirts up as they trudged along the muddy road. Mary kept an eye towards the hills and byways for Big Ears, but spotted no sign of the missing dog. As they approached Sarah’s home, she clapped her hands at the site of several large pieces of lumber leaning against the front of the house and a familiar little donkey tied to a good sized rock on the ground.

Mother’s friend Sarah greeted them at the doorway and invited them into the main room of the little home. “Sit here, friends.”

Mother sat on the cushion offered to her, while Mary gaped at the covered doorway that led into another room.

“Do you not wish to sit, Mary?” Sarah asked.

Mary turned away from the closed door. “I’m sorry, what did you ask?”

“Mary!” Mother’s hands flew to her hips. “Why aren’t you listening to Sarah?”

“I’m sorry, Mother. Excuse me, Sarah, for not paying attention.”

Sarah smiled. “Would you prefer a seat in another room, Mary?”

Mary’s eyes lit up. “Mother, do you think it would be permissible?”

“Permissible? Of course, my dear. If Sarah says you are to sit in another room, it is her home, is it not? Who am I to contradict our hostess? Go in peace, child.”

Mother and Sarah laughed as a red-faced Mary ran over to the cloth covered opening. She peeked back at Mother and Sarah. Both women waved their hands to motion her into the room. Mary shrugged her shoulders, smiled, skipped once, remembered to be formal, and disappeared into the next room.

In one corner of the room, a large bed poked out from under a shroud. Mary turned beat red when she realized she was in Sarah and Alexander’s marriage room. On the other side of the room, Joseph smiled at her.

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

Free Fulfillment - save the date
Download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting on Tuesday, November 27th. That's the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

Here’s another novel idea…
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Storm Brewing

New to this series? Read from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Mother wiped the dishes. “Where’s your plate, Mary?”

“I must have dropped it with the food. May I take Big Ears to live with me, Mother?”

“Mary, you’re such a child. Joseph may not want a dog to feed. He wants a wife, not a pet.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to ask him. I think he likes dogs.”

“How would you know?”

“I hope he likes dogs. I will miss Big Ears if I can’t take him with me.”

“You’re not planning to take me along with you, too, are you?”

“Oh, Mother, of course not. You’re too old, and besides, Papa needs you here.”

“Thanks a lot, pal. Perhaps Papa needs Big Ears. Somebody has to eat the scraps and I suppose lick the plates if you don’t run outside this instant and retrieve that dish.”

“Yes, Mother. Where is Papa, anyway?”

“He’s sleeping. He’s had a rough day and needs his rest. He’s not as young as he used to be. So you’ll be quiet, won’t you, dear?”

“As you wish, Mother.”

Mary headed for the back door of the cottage, but stopped when a loud rush of wind exploded and the cooking fire flared with a whoosh.

“Mother, what was that?”

“It’s a storm brewing, child. We could use the rain.”

“Didn’t sound like any wind I ever heard.”

“The things you think about. Get the plate, now.”

Mary returned to the yard and grabbed the dish. A giant moonlit shadow crossed the stone wall behind her house. Mary gasped and ran inside.

“Big Ears never came for his supper. Do you suppose something could have happened to him?” Mary handed the place to Mother.

Mother patted Mary’s head. “Don’t be a worry-wart, child. He’s probably visiting his fiancĂ©e. Dogs get married, too, sometimes.”

Mary’s stomped her foot. “No they don’t. They pretend they’re married and make puppies.”

Mother raised her eyes. “Mary!”

“Well, it’s true.” Mary’s hands flew to her hips.

“You’re far too young to talk about such things.”

Mary grabbed a cloth to dry the dishes. “I’m engaged. I have to know about these things.”

“I suppose, but you’re still a little girl to me.”

“Mother.” Mary’s right fist dropped to her hip.

“I know, dear. Time flies on eagle’s wings while here below, we just get older.”

Mary sighed and raised her eyes to the ceiling. “I’m going to my room now.”

“Give your mother a kiss first.”

“Yes, Mother, I will.”

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

Free Fulfillment - save the date
Download a free copy of my Christmas novel, Fulfillment, for your Kindle starting on Tuesday, November 27th. That's the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

And if you can't wait that long, it's only a couple of bucks on my Amazon Author Page. See all of my Amazon books by clicking here.

Need a Kindle? Download the free version of the Kindle reader for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

Here’s another novel idea…
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Hill Country – Six Months Later


New to this series? You may begin reading from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Mary’s face reddened, her eyes flared, but she kept her voice polite, submissive and with a hint of sarcasm. “Yes, Mother. I will, Mother.” She pushed the vegetable skins, leftover scraps of bones and the crumbs of bread from the new wooden eating table onto a plate. She took them into the yard in back of the family cottage and dumped them on the ground.

“Big Ears! Come eat your supper.” Mary listened. Her skin crawled. Her eyes widened. She hunched her shoulders withdrawing into herself as she took in the gathering darkness. The burning stench of rotting fear crept up her nose dragging panic close behind.

“Big Ears!” A loud whoosh passed close behind her, rustling her skirt. She suppressed an urge to cry out, speaking instead a soft, “Oh.”

She turned around. In the distance beyond the village, the hills disappeared into the blackness of night.

“Big Ears!” she cried again, this time toward the hills behind her village home.

The response made her shake and almost lose her balance. It must be the roar of a lion, but no lions roam the hills nowadays. A wolf or a leopard? But wolves do not roar, do they? Must be a leopard. Or a jackal. She straightened her tiny back and shivered.

Her face, which had been smiling when she came out of the house, now bore a frown. A huge dark shadow passed along a stone wall in the yard in front of her. She opened her mouth while holding back the urge to scream as long as she could. When the roar came again, she released a suppressed huh and dropped the plate on top of Big Ears’ supper. She ran inside to the safety of the glowing oil lamp and the lingering warmth radiating from a fading cooking fire.

***
To Dwell Among Us continues Monday, November 19, 2012.

Jumpstart your holiday reading
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Who Did He See?


New to this series? You may begin reading from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Jaaziah raised his voice and pointed a finger to the ceiling. “Did you see our father Abraham?”

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Did you see Moses?” Jaaziah asked.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Did you see an angel?” asked Shelomoth.

Zechariah nodded.

“Ah, you met an angel, and the angel has struck you dumb?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah nodded.

Pethahiah stepped out from the wall. “Why did the angel strike Zechariah dumb?”

Zechariah moved his hands up and down shaping the curves of a woman’s form.

“What’s he doing?” asked Mahli.

“I don’t know” Jakin shrugged.

“It’s a woman,” said Shelomoth.

“Of course it’s a woman, Shelomoth.” Jaaziah turned to Zechariah. “Was the angel a woman?”

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Aaarph,” shouted Jaaziah.

Jakin pointed a finger at Zechariah. “The angel was pointing out that you should not be found in sin with a woman.”

Zechariah shook his head no. Then he began gesturing with his arms.

“What’s he doing now?” asked Pethahiah.

“I don’t know,” said Shelomoth.

“It’s a baby,” said Jakin. “He’s holding a baby in his arms and rocking it back and forth.”

Zechariah nodded.

Mahli pumped his right fist. “Zechariah has had relations with a woman out of wedlock. She has had a baby, and for this reason, Zechariah was struck dumb.”

Zechariah shook his head no and struck Mahli several times about the head.

“Ah, at last I get it,” shouted Jaaziah. “You glimpsed a woman angel holding a baby.”

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Aagggh!” shouted Jaaziah.

“What if he heard an angel who told him about a woman holding a baby?” asked Shelomoth.

Zechariah shook his head yes.

“Who was the woman?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah pointed at himself.

“You’re a mother?” asked Jakin.

“Don’t be simple, Jakin,” said Pethahiah. “He’s not saying he’s the mother. He’s pointing to himself for another reason.”

“Is he the father?” suggested Shelomoth.

Zechariah nodded.

“You’re to become a father?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah nodded.

“And who is to be the mother, old Elizabeth?” Jakin’s voice rose to a high pitch.

Zechariah nodded.

“You and Elizabeth are to have a baby?” asked Jaaziah. “At your age?”

The priests laughed.

Zechariah nodded.

“A boy baby or a girl baby?” Shelomoth asked.

Zechariah made a gesture with his hand.

“A boy baby,” laughed Jaaziah. “That’s good, Zechariah.” Turning to the other priests, Jaaziah repeated the gesture. “See, it will be a boy baby.” The priests laughed and began making the sign.

“But why did the angel strike you dumb?” Shelomoth asked. “A boy baby is great news if true.”

“Yes, but who would believe such a thing. Zechariah? At his age?” Mahli laughed and continued making the gesture.

“Ahhh,” said Jaaziah. “For your disbelief you have been struck dumb?”

The priests stopped laughing and gesturing and turned to Zechariah.

Zechariah nodded. He lowered his head and wept.

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gestures


New to this series? You may begin reading from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Jaaziah put an arm around Zechariah’s shoulders and led him into the priests’ chambers where the flame upon the lampstand waited. Zechariah handed his own oil lamp to Shelomoth and sank to the floor.

“Are you ill?” Jaaziah asked.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Then what is the matter?” Jaaziah rubbed his chin.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“You won’t tell us?” Jaaziah persisted.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“He can’t tell us” Shelomoth smiled when Zechariah shook his head yes.

“You can’t speak?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah nodded.

“You’re shaking your head yes meaning you can speak, but you won’t. Is that correct?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“You can’t speak? Shake your head yes if you can’t speak,” said Jaaziah.

Zechariah nodded, which was accompanied by a round of ahhhs from the priests gathered in a circle, and the priests, too, nodded.

“You can’t speak and you are not sick?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah nodded.

“Something must have happened in the Holy of Holies,” said Mahli.

“Yes, of course,” said Jakin.

“Have you seen the Holy One of Israel?” asked Jaaziah.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Then what?” Jaaziah smacked his hands together.

“What could it be?” asked Pethahiah. “He cannot speak, yet he is not ill. He has not seen a vision.”

Zechariah grabbed Pethahiah by the robes. He pointed at Pethahiah’s mouth and shook his own head yes.

“He’s possessed.” Jakin turned away.

Uzziel grabbed Jakin by the arm. “You cannot become possessed in the Holy of Holies.”

“Then he is demented,” insisted Jakin.

“No, it is a riddle. He did not see the Holy One, but he saw a vision nonetheless,” said Jaaziah.

Zechariah pointed a long bony finger at Jaaziah, pointed a finger from his other hand at his own nose and nodded.

“Ah, he has seen a vision, and the vision was such that he was struck dumb to prevent him from revealing the vision,” said Jakin.

Zechariah shook his head no.

“Aaargh,” shouted Jaaziah. “This is so frustrating. You observed a vision, is that correct?”

Zechariah nodded.

Jaaziah placed his hands on Zechariah’s shoulders. “And something happened during your vision and now you cannot speak?”

Zechariah nodded.

Jaaziah paced the room. “But you did not see the Holy One of Israel?”

Zechariah shook his head no.

Jakin raised his hand. “Did he shake his head no because he did not see the Holy One or no because he did see the Holy One?”

“Urrrrh!” Jaaziah stopped pacing. “Zechariah, shake your head no if you did not see the Holy One of Israel.”

Zechariah shook his head no.

Uzziel stretched his hands out from his side and shrugged his shoulders. “If he had seen the Holy One of Israel, he would have been struck dead, not dumb. Perhaps he has seen another spirit.”

Jaaziah slapped his hands on his hips. “Then shake your head yes if you encountered some other spirit.”

Zechariah nodded.

“Who did you see?” asked Jakin. As Zechariah pointed to his mouth and shook his head no, Jakin turned to the other priests. “Who did he see?”

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Glow


New to this series? You may begin reading from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
The crowd outside the Holy of Holies paced quicker now and murmured louder than before. “What takes him so long.” Jaaziah shouted.

Jakin raised his voice to be heard. “I told you he was too old. Pethahiah agrees, don’t you?”

“You said he was too old and I concurred,” said Pethahiah. “Jaaziah, you allowed him to take his turn. What do you say of your lot now?”

Jaaziah straightened his shoulders. “I stand by it. It’s our way. If we have to wait, then we shall wait.”

“Shouldn’t we pull the rope?” asked Shelomoth. “To see if he is all right? Aren’t we supposed to yank the high priest out if he cannot come out on his own? Isn’t that what the rope is for? No one can enter until a new high priest is appointed.”

Jaaziah glared. “Where were you when Zechariah began his work? His hair was thin and gray when I was your age. Zechariah not perform his duties? Who among us are more faithful? Or more righteous?” Jaaziah took the time to stare each of the priests in the eye. “Well, is there?”

Pethahiah placed a gentle hand on Jaaziah’s shoulder and rubbed. “We don’t question his righteousness, Jaaziah. Nor do we question the righteousness of Elizabeth. No man or woman in Israel is more righteous than these two. Nor do we say, like young Shelomoth here, that he can no longer do the work. He is old. It is time for him to allow others to burn the incense. He takes him too long.”

“Look.” Shelomoth pointed at Zechariah making his way from the Holy of Holies.
Zechariah trudged along past the priests and the crowd towards the priest’s room.
Shelomoth continued pointing. “His face glows.” 

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gabriel


New to this series? You may begin reading from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

***
Zechariah fell to the floor. His body shook. A sharp pain stabbed at his heart. Deep cold penetrated his body.

In front of him a creature floated barefoot a few inches above the floor. Zechariah swallowed hard and lowered his face to the floor. In his mind raced a thousand things thought and never said, things said and never meant.

A deep, gentle voice filled the air. “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. For God has heard your prayers. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son. Name him John. You will then have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. Don’t let him touch wine or hard liquor for the Holy Spirit will fill him, even before his birth. And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord. He will possess the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. He will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom.”

Zechariah’s jaw dropped. Son? In my old age? He gazed at the angel with sharp eyes. His hand shook when he raised it to shade his eyes from the blinding light. But the light did not blind. Instead, the angel cast a warm glow.

With his hand protecting his eyes, not wishing to reveal his unworthy soul to the angel, Zechariah surveyed the years of prayer and hope for a son pass through his mind. But Elizabeth was barren.

We are so old. Who is this angel to speak to me of a son? Son. What a wonderful word. He turned the word over in his mind. How he had dreamed from his youth that someday, like his own father before him, he would have a son to bring honor to his household. Son. It is a simple word, but can a single word change the world? Or does this angel think a priest of the most high is to be made the fool? Does Heaven taunt me with my own weakness like Jaaziah the priest?

Zechariah lowered his hand from his face to reveal piercing dark eyes. He shook his fist at the angel. “But I am an old man, and my wife is also well along in years.”

From the angel’s eyes flames flared to the ceiling. The deep voice reverberated through the Holy of Holies, shaking the incense dispenser. Smoking incense dotted the floor at Zechariah’s feet. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the very presence of God. He sent me to bring you this good news. And now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will come true at the proper time.”

***
To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Casting Lots


New to this series? You may begin reading from the beginning of the story by clicking here.

 ***

“Who will cast the lots?” Mahli asked.

“Let the new priest do it,” Uzziel, another of the older priests, waved a withered hand at the youth.

Jaaziah slapped Shelomoth on the back. “So it shall be, for he is no longer a boy. He is a man among men, a member of the priestly order of Abijah.” He took the stones out of a pouch and handed them to Shelomoth.

Shelomoth pressed the stones to his chest, closed his eyes, and bowed his head in a moment of silent prayer. He released the pebbles upon the floor where they bounced and spun before stopping.

“The dark one is closest to Zechariah. We must choose again,” said Jakin.

“I agree. He is too old,” added Pethahiah.

“No, the lot falls to Zechariah and so it shall be,” declared Jaazia. “Age is of no matter.”

“Perhaps I have seen a ghost.” Zechariah reached behind his back for the rope. He tied one end to his ankle and rose with his back bent over and stiff. Dragging the rope behind him, he shuffled off to the holy place carrying his little oil lamp.

Jakin sat back against the wall to be more comfortable. “We will have a long wait.”

“How long can it take him? He is old and slow, but the task is simple and will not take so long as you think,” replied Jaaziah. “Let us carry our end of the rope and join the crowd in prayer.” Jaaziah stood up, followed by Shelomoth and then the others except Jakin.

Jakin scrutinized the others, grunted as he stood up. “Let’s get on with it.”

In the empty chamber of the priests, the tiny flame upon the oil lamp hanging from its stand burst into a hot flare shooting to the high ceiling of the room. In the light of the flame, a dark shadow filled one of the walls. It vanished as the flame died down to nothing. The shadow dared stay no longer in this sacred space.

***

To Dwell Among Us continues tomorrow.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

To Dwell Among Us Begins Today


Today marks the beginning of To Dwell Among Us, my series of blog posts featuring the prequel to my suspense novel, Fulfillment.

In the City
A course, wrinkled man fell back against the stone wall of the interior Temple room with a thud. An onslaught of arthritic pain combined with the raising of what little hair remained at the back of his neck set him on edge. The small lamp he carried splashed oil on his blue and gold linen robe. 

The sudden gust of air extinguished the flame on the room’s other light, atop a tall iron lampstand. Before he could relight it, the lamp flared sending flame and smoke to the high ceiling. The flash settled down as quickly as it had exploded into life. It sat upon the lampstand waiting while flickering amidst the ominous glow and dancing shadows.

The old man leaned back against the wall for support and sank to the floor. He passed a wrinkled, swollen-knuckle hand through his thinning hair. In the damp coolness, he wiped the cold sweat from his forehead. He placed his tiny lamp on the floor in front of him, and like the shadows dancing in the flame of the oil lamp hanging from the lampstand above, he waited.

The other men drifted in, the elders before the younger. They sat upon the stone floor in a circle around the old man’s tiny lamp.

“You look as though you have seen a ghost, Zechariah,” said Jaaziah.

“Perhaps I have,” replied Zechariah.

“What does he mean?” asked Shelomoth the youngest among them. His voice trembled.

Zechariah’s face lit up as he came out of the shadows and into the meager light cast by the lampstand and his little lamp on the floor. “I mean what I say and I say I have seen a ghost.”

He pulled upon his beard, wrinkled his brow, and moved to within a locust’s length of Shelomoth’s nose. His broad smile revealed two yellow, plaque-encrusted, decaying teeth on his top gum and one stump of a molar on his bottom gum.

Zechariah rolled his tongue about as though in search of a word and then, finding the right one, whispered, “The wind nearly extinguished the flame.” He pointed up towards the faint light on the lampstand.

Young Shelomoth’s dark eyes followed Zechariah’s arthritic, bending finger.

“Then as the flame diminished…” Here Zechariah raised his voice to a shout, “…another wind came and the lamp flared into flame and fury…” Once again he lowered his voice above a whisper and placed both hands on Shelomoth’s shoulders, “Yet the lamp I used to light it, the very one sitting here on the floor, did not feel so much as a gentle breeze and did not flare or hardly flicker.” Zechariah released Shelomoth and settled back into the darkness.

Shelomoth swallowed hard and whispered, “But how… how could a wind come in here?”

“Zechariah brought it with him.” Jaazia laughed. “Do you understand, my young one? Zechariah makes the wind. Zechariah makes the ghost himself. With such a wind, we all will soon be ghosts.”

The others snickered at Zechariah’s expense.

***

Read the next installment of To Dwell Among Us on Monday, November 12, 2012.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Announcing Fulfillment


This holiday season I will be promoting Fulfillment, my suspense novel about the first Christmas. It’s the story of the birth of Christ but with a horror suspense spin to it. In this version, I ask the question: What was Satan up to while God was going about the business of sending his son to save the world?

Fulfillment Story Summary
Mary lived in happy ignorance. Then in the roar of the beast and the hideous faces of the angry demons scampering across her bedroom floor, she became the central figure in a drama beyond her understanding. Her engagement to Joseph should have been joyful, but instead the secret concerning the baby in her womb attracted evil spirits, a king, soldiers and a would-be lover all bent on destroying her. Mary’s journey, while steeped with betrayal and the foul stench of the ultimate demon, is a setup for an even bigger tale. She discovers a lost love found, the promise of a newborn king, and a wealth of new friends, from a dwarf with the heart of a warrior to the young mother whose husband and children are murdered in a bloody massacre.

Fulfillment is the first century suspense drama with a huge twist of horror when Satan discovers he isn’t messing with an ordinary teenage girl. This kid has moxie and connections in high places.

If the thought of Satan out to get you isn’t enough to keep you awake at night, how about reading Fulfillment? It will.

As one of my reviewers on Amazon commented: “This may be the most unique version of the Christian Nativity story ever written. Demons and people who are instruments of the Devil are primary characters.”

Read To Dwell Among Us, the prequel to Fulfillment for free on this blog starting tomorrow
If you are familiar with the original Christmas story as it is told in the Bible, you know it doesn’t begin with Mary. It opens with an elderly priest named Zachariah. He’s the father of John the Baptist. John grows up to become a prophet who prepares the people for Jesus’s ministry. To Dwell Among Us is the brief prequel to Fulfillment that tells the story of Zachariah using the same suspense novel style as Fulfillment. It makes a great companion piece for reading Fulfillment.

You may begin reading To Dwell Among Us right here on my blog beginning November 10th. I’ll add a new section every day for the next couple of weeks.

Read Fulfillment Now
To jumpstart the Christmas season, try reading Fulfillment. You may purchase the Kindle version now by clicking here. And if you want to wait a few weeks, I’ll be giving it away free on Amazon the week of November 26th, right after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Have you had a chance to read my modern-day horror thriller, Hags? Available for your Kindle reader by clicking here.  The paperback version is available by clicking here.

Don’t have a Kindle reader? Download the free version for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

Here’s another novel idea…
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Friday, November 2, 2012

First Responders Are Our Heroes


Once again in a time of national disaster, the firefighters, police, and other emergency workers have stepped up as our heroes. In this case, the first responders in the path of Sandy’s destruction have shown the courage and fortitude to follow in the wake of Sandy’s fury to save lives.

While I live in the Chicago area today, I grew up in the Philadelphia area and began my career there. I know firsthand many of the places mentioned in the news. At one time or another, I’ve done business in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chester, Baltimore and Washington. I’ve enjoyed vacations and holidays on Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Wildwood and other Jersey shore locations. Most of the people I have known through my first thirty years of life are or were East Coasters. So for me, the first responders are more than heroes because they have responded in places close to my heart. And they have helped family members, friends, former classmates and old acquaintances.

Here’s how you can be a hero, too!
1. Thank a first responder. How about you? Who do you know on the East Coast who has benefited from a first responder? We owe these heroes our gratitude for services rendered in the most difficult of circumstances. They deserve our support. And the people of the East Coast deserve our support. Fortunately, FEMA is there to help along with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other charitable organizations. I’m offering my thanks right now with this blog post. We can all thank the East Coast first responders through our postings on social media. It may not raise money, fix broken lives or restore a crushed business, but it will move hearts by showing we care. And while we’re being thankful, let’s include our own local first responders who serve in our community.

2. Volunteer. In the coming months, we can expect a repeat of the volunteer effort that followed Hurricane Katrina to cleanup New Orleans, except this time, it will be a call to cleanup and rebuild the East Coast. Volunteers from around the country will travel east to do what they can in the massive cleanup effort.  Obviously we all can’t get away from our jobs or other obligations, but those who can, should. Will you be among them? Will I?

3. Take an East Coast vacation next summer. If you are not able to volunteer your time to help in the cleanup, here is another suggestion. Next summer, the Jersey shore will reopen for the tourist season. By then, the boardwalks will be rebuilt and the attractions will reopen. Of course Atlantic City, with its bustling casinos, will be an obvious choice for many. But there are other places along the Jersey shore that are just right no matter who you are. For example, Ocean City was founded as a family-friendly Christian resort. Even today the town is dry and family-friendly. Wildwood is a delight for teens and  young adults. Each shore point has its own unique character and appeal. My suggestion is for you to invest your vacation budget on the East Coast next summer. If the shore isn’t your thing, how about the mountains of Pennsylvania? Or New England? Prefer an urban getaway? Choose an East Coast city. Let’s become the heroes who invigorate the East Coast recovery with our vacation dollars next summer.

And for your reading pleasure, may I suggest my new novel Hags where you’ll meet a different kind of hero. You may read a healthy chunk of Hags free by clicking on the book cover icon after you click over to the Kindle version on Amazon. Available for your Kindle reader by clicking here.  The paperback version is available by clicking here.

Don’t have a Kindle reader? Download the free version for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Discovering the Theme of the Novel


Your first job as a reader is to enjoy the story as a story. But noticing a theme as it weaves through the tale enriches your reading experience. It’s one way to rise to a higher level of reading. As you seek out theme in the novels you read, notice that the author rarely comes right out and tells you what it is. Theme is often one of the puzzle parts of the novel. You solve the puzzle with that “aha” moment of discovery. “This book is all about forgiveness.”

How do writer’s decide on a theme? Some authors start with a theme in mind. Others discover it the same way you do. As they write the novel, they begin to see recurring elements that in the end point to a certain theme. When this happens, the author will go back in the editing process and rework the story to bring out the theme more. A strong theme enriches the story, makes for a more interesting plot, and gives the reader a more satisfying story experience.

Have you had a chance to read my new horror thriller, Hags. You may read a healthy chunk of Hags free by clicking on the book cover icon after you click over to the Kindle version on Amazon. Available for your Kindle reader by clicking here.  The paperback version is available by clicking here.

Don’t have a Kindle reader? Download the free version for your computer, tablet or smart phone from Amazon by clicking here.

Here’s another novel idea…
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