Audio Blitz

STAR REVELATIONS

 

Title: Star Revelations
Author: Steven Paul Terry
Genre: Science Fiction
Narrators: Lessa Lamb & Curt Bonnem
Audio Producer: The Audio Flow, LLC
Publication Date: June 30th, 2022
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

Get their attention before it’s too late…the Quiet War has begun….

 

Acclaimed journalist and media celebrity Diana Willis can snag the inside scoop and truth on any story. But when her helicopter mysteriously malfunctions and plummets to the ground, everything changes, sending Diana down a maze of murderous intrigue and confusion. Waking up from a coma eight weeks after the crash, she struggles with the recurring dreams that reveal an extraordinary past life. Now, Diana’s hell-bent on uncovering the secrets about those past memories.

 

Delving into a world of mind control and past lives, the truth is more terrifying than she ever imagined as she travels back in time to face the perpetrators of America’s most confidential and sinister projects. Teaming up with an unlikely ally, an elusive interdimensional mentor from her other life, Diana is able to restore her psychic and telepathic powers. Suddenly, they’re in more danger than ever before as their enemies seek world domination through mind control and media manipulation.

 

Can Diana use her powers to expose the truth, learn who she is, and bring a message of faith and freedom from another world, hundreds of Earth years in the future?

 

“I returned from your future and there is no fear. I am courageous and free…”





Steven Paul Terry was born in London, England, and educated there and in Australia. As a professional speaker, he spent three decades traveling the globe. He splits his time between Colorado and Mexico and enjoys writing by the ocean, where he also swims and dives.

 

Visit his website at StevenPaulTerry.com

 

“The hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell

 

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Release Blitz

MATCH

 

Title: Match: An ABCs of Love Novel
Author: Chelle Sloan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Editor: Amy Maranville
Cover Designer: Indie Sage
Publication Date: June 30th, 2022
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

In the ABCs of Love, M is for Match…

 

I need a fake boyfriend. He needs money for his garage. It’s the perfect business arrangement. Or so I thought.

As the CEO of the dating app Left for Love, I’m the best at helping other people find love. Just not myself. I don’t need love, not when I have a world to take over.

See, I wasn’t your average girl growing up. Girls I knew used their dolls to play house, while I was using them to form my first board of trustees. In college, my roommates were planning their weddings when I was forming my first company. That company has now made me a billion dollars. Those other girls? They are now using my dating app to find their second husbands.

Life is great; who cares if I’m a little lonely at night? Great, that is, until my biggest competitor decides their newest ad campaign is to smear my app, and me, in the process. How could Left for Love possibly be the best dating app on the market if the founder still hasn’t found her soulmate?

Enter Knox Calhoun. The small-town mechanic with a southern twang that could melt ice in Antarctica is the perfect man for the job. We’re complete opposites. No way the lines could get blurred.

Until he kisses me.

Except relationships aren’t easy—whether they are real or fake. If the truth comes out about us, I could lose everything. And for the first time in my life, I have a lot more than money to lose.

 

Match is a complete stand-alone in the ABCs of Love series where one author a week will deliver a brand-new story for you to rediscover your ABCs.




Known for her witty sense of humor, Chelle Sloan is a former sports reporter who recently completed her Master’s in Journalism, and is now putting that to good use — one happily ever after at a time.

 

An Ohio native, she’s fiercely loyal to Cleveland sports, is the owner of way too many — yet not enough — tumblers and will be a New Kids on the Block fan until the day she dies. She does her best writing at Starbucks, where you can usually find a Pink Drink within reach. Oh, and yes, you probably saw her on TikTok.

 

As for her own happily every after? Maybe one day…

 

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Release Blitz

IMMORTAL THRONE

  

Title: Immortal Throne
Author: J.C. McKenzie & Harper A. Brooks
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Infinity Designs
Publication Date: June 30th, 2022
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

Some crowns are worth fighting for…

This one is worth dying for.

 

When I find out I have less than a year to live, the last thing I want to do is take up some birthright left by my estranged father. Or have anything to do with the jerk who delivered the message.

 

But it looks like my bucket list will have to wait.

 

Not only does Hell exist, but I’m half demon and the heir to the Immortal Throne. Ruling the Underworld is key to saving my life, but taking my rightful place means surviving deadly challenges, fighting terrible monsters, resisting devilish competition and making incredible sacrifices.

 

The demons expect me to fail, but they’re in for a nasty surprise. I won’t just survive, I’ll rule.

 

Travel to Hell and back in this action-packed and uniquely fiery urban fantasy by bestselling authors J. C. McKenzie and Harper A. Brooks! 1-click today!

 

**Immortal Throne is a standalone.**




Harper A. Brooks lives in a small town on the New Jersey shore. Even though classic authors have always filled her bookshelves, she finds her writing muse drawn to the dark, magical, and romantic. But when she isn’t creating entire worlds with sexy shifters or legendary love stories, you can find her either with a good cup of coffee in hand or at home snuggling with her furry, four-legged son, Sammy.

She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

RONE Award Winner

USA TODAY Bestselling Author

International Bestselling Author

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J. C. McKenzie is a book loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She predominantly writes urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic dystopian fantasy with strong romantic elements. When she’s not spinning tales, she’s in the classroom sharing her passion for science and mathematics while secretly warping the young impressionable minds of our future to carry out her evil plans for world domination. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and a feisty dog named Angus who believes rules were made to be broken.

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Cover Reveal

Hollywood Humbug: A Christmas Anthology




Title: Hollywood Humbug
A Christmas Anthology
Genre: Holiday Romance
Cover Design: Clover Book Designs – 
Elle Christensen
Release Date: December 6, 2022


BLURB

Get ready for sexy snowball fights and enough steam to melt your snowman in this collection of all new holiday stories.

Everyone loves a Heartwarming Christmas Movie…

Snowball fights in the fresh fallen snow, steaming mugs of cocoa, you’ve seen the movies. Boy meets a girl, they work together on a festival or the tree lighting, sometimes things get a little steamy…and love wins in the end, no matter how impossible it might seem.

But when the president of Heart and Soul Studios calls this particular cast and crew in for one last movie before Christmas, it’s humbug all the way.

They’d rather do Scrooge impressions than holiday romances. Despite their grumpy moods and bad attitudes, Christmas magic still happens.








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CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS

ELLE CHRISTENSEN
KAT BAXTER
KARLA DOYLE
ANDIE FENICHEL
FERN FRASER
ELYSE KELLY
KYLIE MARCUS
MATILDA MARTEL
VIOLET RAE
NICHOLE ROSE
STELLA LANG



Book Blitz

Love Burns Bright

Title: Love Burns Bright

Series: Fatal Fidelity, Book Three

Author: Rien Gray

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/15/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: F/NB

Length: 54100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, romantic suspense, nonbinary, queer, bisexual, interracial, light D/s, bondage, established couple, assassin, artist, dark, Mafia, revenge, PTSD, family issues, #ownvoices

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Description

Love always comes with a price. No one knows that better than Justine. Her freedom has cost two bodies and counting, but now that she’s back in the United States, the only thing she can think about is seeing her parents again. After an abusive marriage kept Justine away from them for ten years, she’s returning to New York City a changed woman—and with the assassin she loves in tow. Campbell lost what little family they had years ago, and their cover as a killer relies on never attracting attention. Publicly playing Justine’s rich lover risks stripping that mask away, but Campbell is willing to give her anything, no matter how dangerous. Everything comes to a head the night Justine and Campbell touch down in New York. Their friend Sofia is kidnapped by her Mafia relatives and held for ransom. The trade? Her life for that of a vicious mob boss. And the clock’s ticking. As Campbell plans the kill, the lies they share with Justine start to strain their relationship, and even a second’s exposure will destroy everyone they care about. It only takes one spark to start a blaze, and this fire could bring the whole city down with them.

Excerpt

Love Burns Bright Rien Gray © 2022 All Rights Reserved Justine “All rise. The Honorable Judge Matthews presiding.” I stand, but my heart doesn’t come with me. It lingers in my stomach like a lodestone, every beat a nauseous pulse as the judge walks into the room. Matthews looks to be in his sixties, white and heavyset, trapping a pair of sharp blue eyes behind too-small glasses. He takes his high seat with the reserved poise of a man who has done it a thousand times before, and that should comfort me. People come to this courthouse every day—there’s nothing strange about it. They just don’t do it for the same reasons I am. “Good morning, everyone,” he says, plucking the first file off the stack on his bench: mine. “Relax, sit down. Let’s get our petitions going for the day. Starting with Ms.…Cattaneo. I don’t think I’ve seen you in my court before.” “You haven’t, Judge.” Sofia stays standing, reflecting his early-riser cheer with her own, utterly at ease. I’m glad to be in the chair again, one hand under the desk and gripping my thigh tight, grounding myself in the moment. “I’m from New York, like my client, so I’m only serving in an advisory capacity. Mrs. Fortin asked me to attend as a favor.” Actually, Sofia offered representation pro bono. She said it was an olive branch, extended after mistaking my intentions. Her phrasing was both far too loaded and far too vague to be anything but Campbell’s intervention. I’m used to their bloodless reserve, but Sofia is a paragon of serpentine charm, warm as the sun one moment and venomous the next. The two of them are close friends, so if she wants to be on my good side, this is a pretty clever way to go about it. I wish Campbell could be in here with me, but bringing a gun into the courtroom is out of the question, and ever since I was kidnapped in Paris, they’ve refused to go unarmed. At least I know they’re waiting outside, ready to drive Sofia and me away the moment this is over. I tighten my fingers again, nails biting through the black drape of my dress. Sofia said to dress as if I was in mourning, which meant a conservative length and high collar, concealing the marks Campbell left in bed last night. The garter belt I’m wearing isn’t standard funerary issue, but it’s not like the judge will know any better. “Very well,” Matthews murmurs, flipping to the next page in the file. “This is a petition to change your client’s surname?” “To restore her maiden name,” Sofia corrects, tone light. “The paperwork should already be in order.” The judge nods, only to frown as he starts reading through the forms. “I see a marriage certificate here. Did you file for divorce from your husband, Mrs. Fortin?” Instinct clenches my jaw; I have to steal a breath, force myself to relax. “No, Your Honor.” He raises a gray brow. “Does that mean you’re still married?” The phrasing was “till death do us part,” so I certainly don’t consider myself to be married anymore. “No, Your Honor.” What I want to say is he’s rotting in the ground, Your Honor. Richard abused me in every way he could think of for a decade, and I knew the so-called justice system would see a successful man cast against an ungrateful woman, despite the fact that I’d funded everything from his master’s degree to the particular brand of bourbon he liked to drink. So, I took matters into my own hands and hired the best assassin I could find to cut him out of my life. Who I found was Campbell—a consummate killer. They’re the poison slipped into your favorite cup of coffee, the knife cutting brake lines in perfect silence, a fire started in the house while you’re peacefully asleep. Fluid and deadly as mercury, quicksilver gorgeous. The person who saw their own pain reflected in the broken mirror of my life and stepped closer to help pick up the pieces. I love them more than I’ve ever loved anyone else. Which is why I look Judge Matthews in the eyes, calling up the first hint of tears to my own, and lie without an ounce of guilt. “Richard committed suicide last year.” It’s so easy to say, vindication outweighing the truth. I’ve been free ever since, no one the wiser, save for this last important detail. “Ah.” He clears his throat, suddenly awkward. “My condolences.” “Richard Fortin’s death certificate is at the bottom of the file,” Sofia adds, breezy in her helpfulness. I barely stifle my surprise—she must have done that on purpose. “Justine has experienced undue grief and no longer maintains contact with his side of the family. She would be far more comfortable using her maiden name on documentation and ID.” “I see you filed a motion to waive the publication clause.” Matthews gestures with the form. He has the entire file spread across his desk now, clearly keen to avoid a second round of embarrassment. “Is there a reason your client doesn’t want her name change to become public record?” “Illinois law requires three weeks of publication in a newspaper with the declaration, Judge. That’s three more weeks of stress for Justine and could attract reporters or other media attention, especially when you consider the circumstances of her husband’s unfortunate passing.” Sofia slips a note of sympathy around the word “unfortunate,” pitch-perfect yet utterly false. Damn, she’s good. “If Justine had divorced him, the court wouldn’t require any public notice to restore her maiden name.” “A fair point.” The judge acknowledges it with a tilt of his head before his attention recenters on me. “Do you have a criminal record, ma’am? Have you ever been convicted of a felony in this state or any other?” Committed, yes. Convicted, thankfully not. Conspiracy comes with the territory while dating someone like Campbell. “No, Your Honor.” “Then this appears to be in order.” Matthews picks up his gavel and strikes it once. “Petition granted. File these forms with the circuit clerk, and you’ll have the legal right to reclaim your name.” God, I can breathe again. “Thank you so much.” “Have a good day, Ms. Zhang.” His eyes fall to the bailiff. “Next case!”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Rien Gray is a queer, nonbinary writer who has worked in ghostwriting, TTRPGS, and video games. They have a treasured (and ever-growing) collection of LGBTQ+ history books as well as a deep, abiding love for Greek myth. Rien has an upcoming short story in Neon Hemlock’s Baffling Magazine. They live in Ireland.

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Ashes to Ashes

Title: Ashes to Ashes

Series: Aubrey Blake Thrillers, Book One

Author: Rachel Ford

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/28/2022

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 93800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, murder mystery, crime, lesbian, private detective, cleric/priest, guns, violence, anger issues, Action/adventure, bartenders, pets, religion, revenge, slow burn

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Description

A private eye and a vigilante priest face off to bring down a corrupt band of evildoers—by the book, or off the books. Her way, or his. Years ago, Aubrey Blake joined the police force to make a difference. She almost lost everything in the pursuit of justice. Now she’s about to do it again. Disillusioned with her former career, she makes a living as a private detective. A living, but not a life. Then the killings start. The police are on it. But Blake can’t let it be. She can’t walk away. She’s not wired that way. Then again, neither are the killers…

Excerpt

Ashes to Ashes Rachel Ford © 2022 All Rights Reserved Chapter One The old man glanced at his watch. Thirteen minutes after nine. He was behind schedule. He should have been at the halfway mark already. He should have passed it thirteen minutes ago. He gritted his teeth and pressed onward, pumping his legs as fast as they’d go. Not so fast these days. People might say age was only a number, but those people didn’t understand numbers. Numbers weren’t just innocuous lines on a page or a reflection of self-image. Numbers made the difference between success and failure, on time or too late, life and death. One hundred and forty-five beats per minute. Eleven hundred feet per second. One round. One shot. One kill. If you dug deep enough, everything was a numbers game. And right now, he was losing. He’d covered just about two miles. That meant he still had over two miles left. And forty-seven minutes to do it in. Numbers, again. It all came down to numbers. Twenty years ago, those numbers wouldn’t have made a difference. But age understood the numbers game, even if people didn’t. Arthritic knees and old lungs and stiff hips understood the difference twenty years could make. He puffed as he walked, drawing in one short, quick breath after the next. He hit the two-mile mark about three minutes later. Two miles. Halfway. Forty-four minutes left. He hit the nine-thirty mark a little closer to schedule. He still had over a mile to go, but he’d been making up lost time. He was close now. Nine hours. Thirty minutes after the hour. There’d be meetings and doctor appointments and lawyer appointments and business openings happening all over town right now. But that wasn’t what those numbers meant to the old man. He was contemplating an entirely different set of figures. Eleven hundred feet per second. One round. Tyler Morehouse was already dead. If everything had gone according to plan, he would have been dead about five minutes earlier. One shot. One kill. And if it hadn’t? Well, the old man had bigger problems to worry about than his heart rate. And that was certainly higher than one hundred and forty-five beats per minute. A hundred and forty-five beats per minute was the maximum recommended heart rate for a guy his age, according to something he’d read online a long time ago. American Heart Association, or John Hopkins Medicine, maybe. He didn’t remember at the moment, but he remembered the formula: two hundred and twenty beats per minute, minus your age. One hundred and forty-five, in his case. Another set of critical numbers. He was feeling the impact of ignoring those numbers. His breathing had grown more laborious, and his lungs burned. He felt mild tightness in his chest. Six. That was what he would have rated himself on the pain scale his doctor liked to use: six out of ten. Which, he decided, pun not intended, left him a little breathing room. He still had four out of ten degrees of pain left before he was either immobile or dead. Four degrees and thirty minutes to go. He’d faced worse. He could tough that out. And he did. Half an hour and two minutes later, he made the rendezvous. The bench was occupied, as per the arrangement. He took a seat next to the other man and didn’t say anything. He just sat there puffing with exertion and slipped a smartphone out of his pocket. The other guy didn’t speak either. He took the phone and slid it into his own pocket. They sat there for three minutes, until five after ten. Then the other guy got up. The old man stayed seated, stayed puffing long breaths of air into old lungs that weren’t used to that kind of exercise. The other guy said, “It’s done.” The old man nodded, but he didn’t speak. Not because it was some predetermined code or anything like that. He was still wheezing for breath. “You okay?” He nodded. “You better go. You’re on a schedule.” “You sure you’re all right?” “Just not used to that kind of pace.” The other guy smiled, the kind of smile that writers would say “didn’t quite reach his eyes.” The old man hadn’t always understood that phrase, but once he’d lived long enough, he did. Age was more than just a number, after all. “Been a long time, hasn’t it?” He nodded and said again, “You better go.” And then the other guy did go. The old man sat on his bench alone, no longer counting the minutes as he collected his thoughts and caught his breath. Tyler Morehouse was dead. It was over.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Award-winning author Rachel Ford is a software engineer by day, and a writer most of the rest of the time. She is a Trekkie, a video gamer, and a dog parent, owned by a Great Pyrenees named Elim Garak and a mutt of many kinds named Fox (for the inspired reason that he looks like a fox).

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Blog Tour

Stronger Than Passion. 


Title: Stronger Than Hope
Series: Chesapeake Days, #2
Genre: Gay Romance
Release Date: June 11, 2022
Cover Designer: BookSmith Design

 NOW LIVE! 

Hudson West is the enemy. Nico Shah is trouble. However, when they’re forced to collaborate on a town project, they can’t stop the passion from burning. 

Hudson West is the enemy.

The calm, arrogant, stupidly hot owner of the rival restaurant in town never fails to push Nico Shah’s buttons. So when he and Hudson are invited to collaborate to cater the Chesapeake Days festival, he wants to say hell no. But with his mother’s upcoming transplant, he needs that money.

Nico Shah is trouble.

Hudson’s noticed the gorgeous, witty flirt and has veered far away. He’s looking for commitment while Nico’s looking for his next flavor of the night. Except now that they’re working together, neither can ignore the chemistry that’s one spark away from burning down a forest. And when they finally collide, the connection is beyond anything either has experienced. 

But with Nico still terrified of the word “boyfriend” and Hudson needing someone who belongs to him, this can only end in heartbreak. 



The footsteps stopped behind him, and a shadow fell. Not like Nico needed any other signals that Hudson stood there when he could feel the man’s presence a mile away. His fingers settled on the butter-soft fabric of the tee, finally one in the right size.

“Here,” Nico said, plucking the shirt from the box. He rose from his crouch and pivoted around.

Hudson waited inches away, tugging his Henley over his head in a fluid motion. This close, Nico got an eyeful of just how defined Hudson West’s chest was—droolworthy abs, smooth alabaster skin, and a few freckles in all the right places, including one right next to his left nipple. Nico caught a whiff of his cologne, all bay rum and spice, the scent sending a shiver through him. His cock stiffened in his tight jeans as his veins sparked with desire. Fuck. The man had no right looking like that.

Hudson’s eyes landed on his, those blues dancing with amusement. “Are you going to pass me a shirt, or are you going to stand there staring?” 


CHESAPEAKE DAYS SERIES

Stronger Than Hope
(Book 1)

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—and there’s an equally high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women. 


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Book Tour

MEDITATION the ULTIMATE SUPERPOWER Virtual Book Tour


 

How to defeat the villain inside you


Nonfiction

Date Published: 04-22-2022


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Sometimes the whole world seems to be against us, we feel ourselves surrounded and chased by evil villains that mess with our head, with our minds … they attack us through advertisements, rules and limitations, social media, telephones, they make us waste our money, our time, our life; they distract us, they make us lose our balance and disconnect from our inner world, from our mind. They start to control us.

But, are those villains really out there? Well… No, the villains are only inside your head, that’s right, these villains live in your mind and control your behavior and your reactions to those external temptations, they want you to have unhealthy and destructive thoughts, they talk to you and control you, they weaken you, make you feel less, make you feel insecure, or make you feel that your life is meaningless and maybe, make you think that you do not deserve to be happy; comparing you with others, crushing your dreams, your desires, your real happiness. Have you heard them? Of course you hear them, they all speak to us, they are always there. These villains are our wild, out-of-control thoughts, that sometimes are just there and we can’t make them disappear or silence them!

ENOUGH! It is time for you to take control, for you to decide either to ignore them or to send them away, to weaken their power in you, you are stronger and you have the super power to get rid of them. You have the superpower to control your thoughts, to control and decide your reactions, to choose how to live your life by being aware, being present and being true to yourself… how? Through meditation.

This is not just a book, is the beginning of your journey. I wrote it for you to find a way to understand your power, to understand how important your mental health is, this is a priority now. I’m showing you different ways of meditation for you to choose and to like it, I want you to find your own way of meditation that you can feel engaged, that you can feel motivated. Meditation is not boring, is not a waste of time, and no, is not a religion or part of any religion itself , and is not a trending fashion, meditation is a mind superpower. And you have it. Why you are wasting it!?

I have a mission: I want you to learn meditation, practice meditation , I want you to like it, to enjoy it, to make it part of your daily life to make it part of your priority healthy habits. I want you to have a healthy mind and to always THINK HEALTHY. One single person can’t fix the world, but we can start with each one of us, with our children, to learn to think healthy, a healthy mind culture is the beginning of a better world.

If you are reading this, means you need this, means you want more in your life. Are you ready to be the master of your own life? You are in the right place. Welcome. Let’s built a community of healthy thinkers, follow me, join me, let’s learn together how to do it and how to apply and use it in our daily lives to keep our mind healthy, to reach our goals and to have the life we have always wanted.

 
      

About the Author

Rei Vila is an Entrepreneur, Author, Designer and a Mental Health advocate and activist. To THINK HEALTHY is his priority and major purpose, promoting meditation as the GYM of the mind, and as a tool to keep you sane and balanced.

He is a lover of all the arts, he have studies in architecture, art history, design, music, performing arts and literature. Traveling the world and learning about other cultures is his other passion and it has led him to live, study and work in various countries such as Mexico, Canada, the United States, Spain, India and China, for which he has studied at least 5 languages.

In 2012, he decided to travel to India to become a certified yoga teacher. It was there in Rishikesh, north of India, where he knew deeply the world of meditation and from there, his purpose, his mission has been to share it with the world, so he began to give workshops where he realized how needy we all are of find inner peace and this inspired him to write his first book: Meditation – The Ultimate Superpower.

He recently founded “The Mind Conservatory” a site where people will be able to learn different styles of meditation and many other techniques, exercises and workshops to improve their mental health; also a place for people to find tools to create and sustain their own mental health routine and improve their quality of life by thinking healthy, and learning how to deal with the unpleasant thoughts and feelings. He will soon launch my own meditation technique and mobile APP to keep helping people to get closer and more engaged and interested on this amazing superpower and to promote mental health as a priority.

He lives in Shanghai, China with his wife and son since 2014, and he is currently the Art Director at Shanghai Disneyland.




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Port Anywhere

Port Anywhere by J.S. Frankel

Word Count: 67,877 Book Length: NOVEL Pages: 256

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE FUTURISTIC FUTURISTIC AND SCIENCE FICTION SCIENCE FICTION SWEET ROMANCE YOUNG ADULT

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Book Description

A restaurant in space, a waystation for all those who need a meal. When one of the guests turns out to be forbidden cargo, everything changes. Rick Granger, seventeen, is the sole human occupant of Port Anywhere, a floating restaurant in space. His parents are dead, and he is aided by an alien called Nerfer—a pink alien that looks a lot like Spam. They journey throughout the galaxy, making a precarious living by offering meals in exchange for whatever their alien guests can pay. As well, Port Anywhere, while powered by ion engines, has one unusual feature. It can suddenly jump from place to place, although Rick doesn’t know why. It simply happens. His mundane existence changes when a warlike group of aliens led by a man named Kulida ask Rick to guard a possession of theirs. Upon further examination, Rick finds out that the cargo is a young alien woman named Merlynni from a planet called Kagekia, who carries a secret inside her—a mini galaxy. The tiny galaxy was placed inside Merlynni by her father, a genius scientist, in order to hide it from hostile forces. As Port Anywhere continues its journey, Rick finds himself falling for Merlynni, and he will not give her up. When Port Anywhere shifts to various galaxies with various aliens in pursuit, they manage to escape time and again, but there comes a time for the inevitable showdown, and Rick has to use all his wits in order to save Merlynni and solve the riddle of the power she carries inside her. Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and murder.

Excerpt

Randorran Galaxy. Sometime around noon. Earth Year, 2134 “Is that griddle clean, yet?” Nerfer’s call emanated from the storage room, a question that went past impatience but stopped just shy of outright anger. Deep and harsh, his voice sounded like it belonged to a giant, but he stood on the short side of one-hundred-sixty centimeters. His actual height was contentious at best, as he was essentially pink jelly encased in a clear plastic containment suit. But the commanding tone was unmistakable. In days gone by, people would have called him Spam-In-A-Can. Perhaps calling him ‘crushed fruit in a suit’ would have been more appropriate. But after thinking about it…no. It wouldn’t have worked. With a sigh, knowing he wouldn’t believe me, I answered, “Yes, it’s clean. So are all the other tables. Come see for yourself.” I doubted he’d take my word for it. Nerfer was notoriously difficult to please. “I will. Give me a second.” He could have a second—or ten. My journey to spotlessness on the bridge continued. The bridge itself took up a third of the total space, with a captain’s chair and a console in front of the main viewing window, an interstellar communicator, which sat on the console to the left of the captain’s chair, and helm controls to the right. Behind the helm was the other two-thirds of the bridge. That was the restaurant. The glass that made up our main window to the stars was spotless, and it offered an incomparable view of the heavens. If the view was incredible, so was the restaurant, in its own way. My late father had designed it after looking at countless vid-photos of diners from the mid-twenty-first century. For some reason, he’d had a fascination with that era. Our restaurant had plush leather booths—ten in all—a counter with eight stools and a syntha-fridge that could synthesize any kind of food, but only in its raw form. I still had to cook it. We also had a combo grill-fryer where the food got prepared by me, Rick Granger, co-captain of Port Anywhere, our ship’s name. This place was where I belonged, where my focus was. As the co-captain of this ship, I had a duty to guide our ship among the stars as well as to be on guard for anything that might threaten the safety of— “Coming out,” Nerfer said, interrupting my dreams of a full captaincy. The door to the storage room opened. It housed numerous old food crates and doubled as his sleeping quarters. He came toward me, his semi-solid body undulating in his containment suit as he moved along. From what he’d told me, he was a member of the Gliddod race. His people came from a distant galaxy, one so far away that no one really knew where it was. He’d shown up here six months ago in a spacecraft that had fallen apart after he’d docked with ours, and he’d asked my father for a job. My father, being the decent person he had been, had given him the position of running this restaurant while he went off to attend to the daily mechanics of operating this ship. Oh, and he’d also made him co-captain. Did that piss me off? There was an old saying—‘Did a one-legged duck walk in circles?’ In a private moment, I’d asked my father, “Dad, why’d you hire this guy? You don’t know where he’s been or if anyone’s chasing him or what. Weren’t you training me to be the captain and the head cook?” “When it’s time, you’ll be both,” he’d answered. Thanks for your confidence in me, Dad. After a while, though, I had to admit that our new pink crewperson had proved to be an excellent cook, and after my father’s death from Bridorran Fever, Nerfer had also ended up being a more than capable captain. It still bothered me at times, though, being relegated to the ‘also-ran’ position. In a quick, economical motion, Nerfer moved around to check each table. Finally, he finished his inspection with a grunt that sounded like a bubble popping underwater. “Good job, kid.” Finally, a compliment. A pseudopod shot out from his suit—the suit was porous in a sense, and it allowed him to do that—and he pointed to a table. “Number six has a spot on it. We got Janoorians comin’ in soon, and they hate dirt.” Compliment given, compliment withdrawn—and with that, he went back to the storage room. Fine, I’d clean the table—again. We had only ten, but he’d spotted a tiny imperfection one-fifth as large as my pinky fingernail on one of them. In days past, people had called it being anal. These days, people called it attention to detail. Our vessel, an Earth-class freighter, had been converted from a freighter-slash-exploration vessel to an exploration-vessel-slash-interstellar restaurant. So, when we entered a new galaxy and if some alien life forms contacted us, once they found out we weren’t armed, they’d either drop in for a meal or tell us to keep moving. Usually, they partook of a meal with us, we chatted, then they departed after paying us whatever they could. You could call it a precarious living, because we never knew who’d come our way. My parents had always believed in randomness, and my existence here was as random as it got. We called our ship Port Anywhere, mainly because we went everywhere, to every galaxy and beyond. We had self-sustaining ion-conversion engines, and the great thing was that they left no radioactive residue upon the stars, unlike other ships. Recycling was cool. ‘Go green,’ the old saying went. We were in space, so, ‘go non-radioactive’. Our journey had started two years before, just after I’d turned fifteen. We’d lifted off on a bright, sunny day in June from a flight field located near Salt Lake Flats, Utah. A sudden surge, the G-forces had pulled me back, and soon, we’d been in space. After that, our voyage to wherever continued unimpeded. The ship didn’t have a wormhole device, not exactly. Unlike other, newer ships, it couldn’t go very fast, but it had a recyclable fuel supply, it was safe and from that point on, I’d learned almost everything there was to learn about spaceships and fixing them. My parents were first-rate engineers as well as designers, and they’d willingly taught me everything I needed to know about the ship, save the engines. “They’re self-sustaining,” my father had once said. “All you have to do is keep the place clean.” Of course, I learned about other things, such as basic repairs to the hull, space walking, electrical wiring and more, but, by and large, my parents handled things. The first six months had been cool. Outside of my cleaning and service duties, charting the stars and training against battle droids had taken up most of my time. On occasion, we’d touch down on distant worlds, but like desert nomads, we were always on the move, except we moved among the stars and not sand, although the grains of the universe were always there. On the surface, everything was wonderful—up until my mother had died from cancer a year ago, just after I’d turned sixteen. Modern science could cure a lot of things, but it still hadn’t gotten around to curing that. The picture in my cabin showed a tall woman with long, flowing brown hair, a pretty face and a pleasant smile. My father had also been tall, around a hundred and eighty-two centimeters, with an aquiline nose, short brown hair and brown eyes, traits which I’d inherited, although I wasn’t quite that tall—yet. In all honesty, I’d never thought much my looks. After all, there were no girls here to date, and the closest I ever got to female companionship of my age was watching old holo-vids. Decades back, they’d been called movies. “I’m sorry about your mother,” my father had said to me after her funeral. He’d encased her in a metal coffin, we’d said our goodbyes then he’d pressed the button that ejected her into space. “She was a good person.” Yes, she had been, and from that point on, he’d rarely spoken of her. Grief was a powerful thing. Still, we’d soldiered on, and our lives had continued among the stars… “Rick, you wiping those tables down again?” Nerfer had poked his head out of the storage room to ask me that question. I gave him the standard answer. “Yes, captain.” His standard grunt came my way. “Fine.” He moved to the captain’s chair while I finished doing the tables and gave the grill another touch-up job as well. We’d been in the Randorran Galaxy for three days. It was the home to Janoorians, Melattans and Sillosians, among others. They were traders, they got along with each other, but they didn’t keep company very often. Something about a guild operating here… “Rick!” Nerfer’s voice—loud and stern—made me jump. I’d been spacing out—literally—and while it made me laugh silently, it also confirmed that I had to pay attention more. A good captain paid attention to everything. “What?” “Check the computer. Company should be coming soon.” Sure enough, the interstellar com-link device crackled to life. “This is Vadda, of the Janoorian people. We have a reservation. Your Captain Nerfer agreed to this.” Captain Nerfer. Captain. What about me? However, I had to act professional. “Acknowledged. Co-captain Rick Granger speaking. How many in your party?” “Three. We requested that you prepare one of our planet’s delicacies. We will bring the raw form of it. Can you make it to our satisfaction?” If there was one thing I could do, it was cook. I checked our onboard computer’s database. They’d asked for tenlos, a plant of sorts. “I’ll do my best, sir. Sending coordinates for docking procedures.” “Acknowledged.” The com-link fell silent. Nerfer swiveled around with a grunt. “Was that Vadda?” “Yeah. They’re bringing tenlos aboard. That’s what they want for lunch.” He nodded. His version of a nod was to bob back and forth, his semi-solid body making a swishing, squishy sound. “Good. You’d better let me handle it first, though. I know about tenlos. It’s alive.” Nerfer had to be kidding. “Alive?” Bob-bob. “Yep. You have to kill it first. After that, fast fry it with oil, then slice and dice it. Trust me. I been around,” he said in his usual not-quite-correct way. Aw, whatever, already! I went to the airlock and waited. Vadda and his friends would be coming soon, and…there! Their ship, a small vessel maybe twenty meters in length, was inching its way over to the landing dock. Seconds later, a tiny thump accompanied by a vibration indicated a successful docking procedure. I punched the airlock intercom. “When you’re ready, please enter the airlock for decontamination procedures.” “Acknowledged,” a deep voice said. The door on their side slid open and three blobs squiggled their way in. One of them carried a sack slung around its neck—or was that its waist? I couldn’t tell. The sack was wriggling. Nerfer would have to be right. Anyway, I started the decontamination procedure. Ten seconds later, a beep signaled that everything was clear. Once the door opened, three black semi-solid puddles of ink roughly fifty centimeters in height and around sixty centimeters in circumference faced me. A low thrum of a voice spoke from the middle puddle-blob. “I am Vadda. You are the one we spoke with before?” I nodded. Ordinarily, communicating with an alien species—weren’t we all?—would have been difficult. However, my father had designed a universal translator that operated on interpreting sounds and breaking them down into something understandable. The device was tiny, roughly the size of a pinhead. It was implanted behind my left ear. “Uh, yes, sir. My name is Captain Rick Granger. I’ll be preparing your meal. This way, please.” I gestured for them to follow me to the dining hall. They didn’t walk, just squidged along, sort of like a snail moving at a faster pace but leaving no slimy trail behind. Inside the restaurant, I waved my arms at the seats. “Any booth is okay.” Vadda and one of his crew immediately went to the closest table to our position. The third member of the party, the one that carried a sack, went to the grill area where Nerfer was waiting. The sack was writhing furiously, and the puddle said in a high-pitched voice, “Be careful. The tenlos must be killed first by crushing its root.” “Got it,” Nerfer said. Two pseudopods shot out of him and took the bag. He opened it, and immediately, a gray plant around a meter long leaped out and hit the ceiling—literally. It hung there, waving numerous spindly branches around and screeching an unearthly sound. Well, if I were about to be roasted or grilled, I’d scream, too. “C’mere,” Nerfer said, and his pseudopods quickly grabbed the plant and crushed its root. It gave one final shrill cry then let go. “You’re on, kid,” Nerfer said as he tossed it on the griddle that already had a coating of oil on it. “Start ’er up!” Showtime, and I went to the griddle to take out a knife and a spatula and start cooking the mess. A horrible odor came from it, and why couldn’t alien plants or meat smell decent like bacon and eggs…or grilled cheese? Rhetorical—they couldn’t. While I suffered through a stink that was a combination of wood alcohol and crap, the Janoorians went wild over the odor, undulating their squishy bodies this way and that. “Ah, the young man is a master chef,” one of them said. “He knows our tastes!” They could have their tastes and keep them. Once it was done, it resembled fried rocks. I divided the portions just so, slid them onto plates then served our guests. Did they use utensils? No, they simply bent over the mess and ingested it…noisily. Once they’d finished, Vadda leaned back. “A fine meal! The tenlos is a foul plant on our world. It attacks our people from time to time, so please, do not feel bad for killing it.” I didn’t feel bad for cooking it up. I would have felt bad, though, if I’d had to eat it. Vadda then got up and pointed to the door. “We are sorry not to spend more time here, but we must be on our way. We are delivering cargo to another sector in the galaxy.” “Not a problem,” I said, attempting to keep my stomach’s contents inside. His friends also rose, getting ready to leave. Vadda slid a pseudopod inside his body, took out a red jewel and handed it over. “Take this as payment, please. Should you visit this sector of space again, we will most certainly partake of a meal with you.” Oh, please don’t. But I said nothing and led them to the airlock. While I waited for it to pressurize, I asked him about the jewel. “It is called energa,” he said. Energa? “What does it do, exactly?” “It has the property of reflection and is considered valuable on our world. Please use it as you see fit.” Reflection? Maybe it was a mirror. It was shiny, anyway, and I bowed, out of respect. “Thank you.” They departed, and once they were free of the ship, I checked out the jewel. It sparkled, but that was about it. Out of curiosity, I walked into a storage room nearby, found a small hand-laser and did my best to slice off a tiny piece. The beam simply deflected away and burned a hole in the door. “Oh, so that’s what it does.” Interesting…and a call that came over the ship’s intercom interrupted my thoughts. “Prepare to shift. Prepare to shift.” Why now? The computer never gave a reason, although the sensors detected another vessel approximately four thousand kilometers away, its purpose, unknown. No communication came from it, so… “Shift occurring. Shift occurring.” With all haste, I ran to the restaurant where Nerfer was in the process of putting all the dishes and cutlery away. “Get ready,” he said. “Shift’s in forty-five seconds.” “Right.” I parked my butt in a booth, wrapping my legs around the table support. The shift was simply the interspatial move of this restaurant-vessel from one quadrant of space to another. I had no idea why it happened, and neither did Nerfer. It simply did. After my father had died, the shifts had begun. And when we shifted, talk about massive! The energy of the movement flung us far and wide, and if I weren’t sitting down, I’d end up on my back or head at the far point of any room I was in. Good thing we had our interstellar computer. It held all the information on the various galaxies we’d visited thus far. Our ship had no weapons, but it had powerful sensors that could map out any planet’s dimensions and details almost instantaneously, and while it couldn’t tell us about the inhabitants’ culture, it gave the basics on what to expect. It could also translate any language instantly. Still, face-to-face communication had to be done, and in my almost two years on this interstellar barge—a flying brick that was one-hundred-twenty meters in length by seventy-five meters in width—I’d seen sludge, rock-people, lizards and other life forms that were too difficult to describe. I’d spoken with them all, and it was interesting to learn their ways. But I still missed Earth. Nerfer’s race—so he said—could learn languages much faster than humans could, within a couple of hours. Very useful for him… “One,” the computer said, bringing me back to reality. Then it came, that great heave from here to wherever. I kept my head down on the table and waited it out. “Hey, Nerfer, how are you doing?” “Still in one piece.” When we stopped shaking, I asked the computer for more information. “We are currently in the Madlia Galaxy,” it said in its tinny voice. “Scanning. We are orbiting a planet known as Rattan One.” “Display information on the planet.” Whir…click. “Displayed.” A hologram popped up with the pertinent information. The planet was similar in size to Earth, with approximately fifty percent of its surface covered by water. Oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, suitable for breathing. Rich vegetation. As for the people, they were around two meters in height, slender yet muscular, with oversized hands and feet. Hairy all over, they resembled the cavemen on Earth that I’d studied when I had been younger. Two mouths, one on top of the other. Tiny ears. A slit for a nose. Gray-skinned. In a word, ugly. I wondered if they were warlike and if our entrance into space would provoke them… “Unidentified vessel, respond.” The crackling of the interstellar com-link and the voice—deep, raspy, and unfriendly—made me jump. “This is Port Anywhere,” I answered. “What is the nature of your vessel and your visit?” “We’re a, uh, a restaurant ship. My name’s Rick Granger, and I’m in charge of—” “You are in orbit around our planet. We have the right to inspect any alien spacecraft or repel it if we wish.” Jerk. If I’d had a space cannon, I would have decimated that slime, but we had nothing to defend ourselves with. “Understood,” I answered, striving to enhance my inner calm. “I’ll send the coordinates for our docking site.” “Does your ship not have a landing bay?” It did, but it had only enough room for one of our ships, a reconnaissance vessel. “We do, but it’s probably too small to accommodate one of your ships.” Silence…then, “Very well. Send your coordinates.” The voice cut out, and I dutifully sent the coordinates to our—ahem—hosts. Nerfer was hard to read, mainly because he didn’t often form expressions. He invariably relied on his voice to make his thoughts and intentions known, but now, his mushiness formed itself into a frown and his voice was full of grave misgivings. “Rattanians don’t take no for an answer. Deal fairly with them and they’ll be nice, but if you cross them in a deal, then you won’t be worth vellora spit.” In space, vellora were akin to maggots, the lowest of the low. “I’ll be careful.” He bobbed back and forth. “Good. Did they tell you what they wanted to eat?” “No, they only wanted to look around.” That was what bothered me. Nerfer grunted. “Fine, they can look around, for all I care.” Yeah, that reminded me. “How do you know everyone, Nerfer? You never told me, and you’ve been in charge here for six months.” His frown deepened. “My world no longer exists,” he said after a time. “A plague hit us. It broke down our cellular matrixes.” “Which means…what?” “It means we dissolved into organic ooze. There is no treatment, no cure.” Geez, no wonder he was impatient and angry much of the time. Even though I hadn’t seen Earth since I’d been just past fifteen, at least I had a home. He didn’t. Nerfer continued in a voice devoid of self-pity. “I got out, just in time. After that, I became a courier. I delivered goods and sometimes arms to other worlds. Had my own ship, did well, but then I pissed off a warlord and he blew my ship out. I managed to make it here, and…” The com-link crackled. “Alien vessel, this is Commander Kulida, leader of the Rattanian space forces. We are nearing your space dock.” Nerfer shut down his bio, formed a finger and punched the intercom-link button. “Understood. Our representative will meet you at the airlock. You are welcome here.” He clicked off, and had he had eyes, he probably would have rolled them. Instead, he only muttered, “Welcome like hell. I don’t like this one bit. Kid, you be careful.” Kid, it was always ‘kid’. I’d turned seventeen about a month before, and he still thought of me as an infant. It was enough to make me scream in frustration. A few seconds later, a dull thud signaled that Kulida’s ship had docked with ours. I ran to the airlock and punched in the command for the airlock doors on the visitor’s side to open. Three tall beings wearing gray containment suits entered. Two of them carried a large metal crate. They looked around the eight-by-eight-meter room with interest. There wasn’t much there, only the walls and some shodokutan lights which used concentrated light to destroy any possible pathogens from alien races. I pressed the button to start the decontamination process. Their world may have been similar to Earth, but pathogens were pathogens. “Activating decontamination procedures, Captain Kulida,” I said. “Just a few seconds.” “Acknowledged,” he responded. After ten seconds, the process finished, and the readout showed no pathogens. I opened the door to my side, and three massive men stepped out. “Thank you for allowing us aboard your vessel,” said the person who didn’t have his hands on the crate. He took off his helmet to reveal a gray skull of a head with deep-set black eyes and a visage so gaunt that it appeared that he was suffering from malnutrition. Perhaps everyone on his world looked like that. With a sniff, he examined the ceiling of the hallway then turned his gaze upon me, as though he were viewing a particularly ugly species of insect. “I am Commander Kulida. I come bearing cargo. We need to talk.”

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About the Authors

J.S. Frankel

J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto, Canada, a good number of years ago and managed to scrape through the University of Toronto with a BA in English Literature. In 1988 he moved to Japan and started teaching ESL to anyone who would listen to him. In 1997, he married the charming Akiko Koike and their union produced two sons, Kai and Ray. J.S. Frankel makes his home in Osaka where he teaches English by day and writes by night until the wee hours of the morning. You can check out his blog and follow J.S. on Facebook and Twitter.

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