Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Windless Echo by Oliver Kaufman


Short Stories, Fiction
Date Published: January 20, 2017

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The Windless Echo is a collection of stories that delve into the minds and feelings of characters as they struggle to resolve, understand, and uncover the realities of their experiences.

Joy and emptiness, rest and effort, meaning and madness - these and other themes weave their way into the tales and the problems these characters seek to unravel.

Contents: 18 Short stories, 178 6''x9'' pages, ~62k words.

Preview on Amazon contains the first story, "The Ashen Heart", and 3/4 of the second, "The Woodchopper's Son".

Two of the stories, "The Woodchopper's Son" and "The Prisoner of the Ashen Lake", have been put into audio form, read by the author, and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw9MjSFObAc2D1Jwi-JOIZ7ZiJtzZ6iUl



About the Author


Oliver Kaufman is an author and the founder of theworldwithin.org, a website dedicated to self-awareness, self-healing, growth, and the exploration of one’s own inner, conscious world. He currently lives in Redmond, Washington, in the US.


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Starshine by Melody Winter


Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 29th May 2017

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Film student Ella Summers can’t believe her luck when she is selected to work on the set of the most anticipated film release of the year—STARSHINE. For the next four weeks, she’ll be in the studio with heart-throb and leading man Alex Denton, and his co-star—and recent ex—the stunning Amy Strickland.

But her first day on set has her questioning the true character of the enigmatic and sexy Alex. The charming celebrity she’s adored on screen disappears before her very eyes—if indeed he ever really existed.

Off-camera arguments between Alex and Amy become difficult to ignore, and when Ella uncovers layers of deceit and closely guarded secrets between them, she becomes involved in a battle that has far-reaching implications.

With the paparazzi hounding her every move for the most sensational story they can get, Ella becomes deeply embroiled in Alex’s life. Can she break down his seemingly impenetrable walls, or will he remain the arrogant ass she first met?

STARSHINE is set in London, England. Beware though—Alex Denton has a crude mouth, and an equally wicked smile.

  

Excerpt

The silence was suddenly broken by the thud of distant music and the roar of a car engine. I glared at the car as it sped along the road toward the bus-stop, and inwardly cursed the idiot behind the wheel.
My glare turned into a worried frown when the silver car slowed down and stopped at the bus-stop. The dark tinted passenger window slowly hummed down, and the thud of music turned into a deafening roar.
The driver of the car was revealed—Alex Denton.
He raised his eyebrows, before lowering his gaze and taking in the sight of my dress clinging to my legs. I was glad I had a cardigan on, no matter that it looked like a wet sack now. At least he couldn’t see my bright pink bra, one that would be very visible underneath a practically transparent wet dress.
Alex licked his bottom lip as he stared at my legs, and I realised that the relief I had felt that he couldn’t see my bra due to my cardigan, had been misplaced. The modest woollen covering wasn’t long enough to cover my lower half. My matching pink pants would be very visible and I suspected that they were what Alex Denton was looking at.
“You’re wet!” he shouted above the relentless thudding of the music.
“You noticed!” I yelled back, wondering why he hadn’t turned the music down if he wanted to talk. I toyed with the idea of whether to accept a lift or not if he offered me one. The thought of being trapped with him in a car had always been a dream of mine, but after everything else that had happened today, I didn’t know whether I had the strength to spend even one more second in his scintillating company. But I was tired and I wanted to get home as quickly as possible. The thought of racing through London in his very expensive sports car, or trudging through traffic on a crammed public bus for a good thirty minutes made my mind up. I’d accept the lift if he offered. If he was sarcastic with me, I could just ignore him. Maybe he’d even mellow a little and I’d get to see what he was really like when he wasn’t in the same room as Amy.
He slowly lifted his hand, curling his finger to beckon me toward the car.
I took one step forward, stopping abruptly as he held his hand up in a halt position. Now what was he doing?
“You really are very wet!” he said before reaching forward and flicking a small silver switch on the central console. The music died, leaving the sound of the engine idling.
“No shit, Einstein. It has just poured down,” I said, my voice edged with sarcasm.
His jaw tightened at my response, and his eyes drifted down my body again.
“Hot pink?” he said, although it sounded more like a question.
I knew exactly what he was referring to. My cheeks heated as I pulled at the front of my cardigan, but it was no use. It wouldn’t stretch to cover my lower body. Knowing there was nothing I could do about my see-through dress, I gritted my teeth and offered Alex a stony stare. One that dared him to continue with his next response.
“I like it,” he said.  “Not as slutty at red.”
My body tensed. My nostrils flared as more heat flushed my face. Did he just refer to me as being slutty?
He smiled before pulling a sudden poker face. I was so wrapped up in thinking of a response to his somewhat undisguised insult that I didn’t see the bus approach.
“Shit,” I murmured, as it rumbled past Alex’s car. The next bus wasn’t due for another hour.
Alex watched the bus as it disappeared down the road and then turned to face me.
“See you tomorrow, Work Experience Girl.”
He grinned and winked at me as the car window hummed shut. The loud music started again and the engine revved several times before he sped off in the same direction as the bus.


About the Author

Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in finance. Melody is convinced that the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two teenage sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or listening to 80’s music on her IPod.

Melody has a tendency to fall head-over-heels in love with her main characters, even when they frustrate her and refuse to act the way she wants them to. She is a romance writer at heart and loves reading and writing about anything mythological or magical, as well as exploring the gritty side of love affairs and the complexities of being in love.

SACHAEL DREAMS was her debut novel, (REUTS Publications, USA) and the first in the New Adult Romantic Fantasy series—the ‘Mine Series’. The second book in the series, SACHAEL DESIRES’, was released in November 2015, and the remaining books in the series, SACHAEL DELUSIONS, and, SACHAEL DESTINY, are due to be released in the near future.

Melody has also self-published two books, INIQUITY, the first book in a Dark New Adult Romantic Fantasy series— ‘The Ascent’ (The second book in the series, ADVERSITY, is due for release later this year.) and STARSHINE, Melody’s first contemporary romance,  released 29th May 2017.

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The Buddha Made Me Do It by Marla Martenson


Spiritual Memoir
Date Published: 5-25-16
Publisher: Cupid’s Press

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What starts as a search for a decorative Buddha statuette leads one woman on a spiritual journey that will change everything.

Marla lives the good life in Los Angeles—house, pool, her own business helping Cupid find love for LA’s most discriminating singles. Her handsome and ardent hubby Adolfo performs at an exclusive steak house in Beverly Hills. He tends to scoff at Marla’s green juice, vegan diet, yoga, and daily affirmations and can be a teensy bit of a control freak.

A discarded Buddha statuette that Adolfo suddenly can’t live without sends Marla searching through New Age boutiques along with her skeptical friend Julie. They are soon schooled by a charismatic “Goddess,” delving ever deeper into self-realization, conversations with angels, pendulums, candle “Magick,” Reiki, crystal healing, and more. Attend a Hindu Bajan? Sure. Orgasmic Meditation? (Wait, what…?) Maybe not that one. 

Growing in her spirituality, yet exceedingly frustrated with some of her persnickety clientele—aging men who see themselves as Dorian Grays, worthy of exquisite young women—Marla’s world is shifting. She achieves certifications as an energy healer and encourages Julie to sample the concoction Julie calls “green gunk” and other healthy practices to help her conquer an addiction to unavailable men. Marla deepens her communication with the Beyond while Adolfo, always so practical, asks, “Have you lost your mind? Are you hearing voices? Angels aren’t real, come on!” Matters grow worse when certain psychics warn of “dangerous low-vibrational entities” and rabidly disagree with each other. 

Her alternating universes give Marla spiritual whiplash, yet she discovers the LITE way to balance the human carnival with a transformational spiritual journey.


Excerpt

Glad that I wore a cozy sweater on that cold November evening, I walked with Julie down the long driveway. The temple was set up in a garage, carpeted and adorned with altars, statues, paintings of various saints, and candles, transforming it into a Hindu shrine.
We stopped at a sign posted on the wall outside. Women were informed that if they happened to be on their period, they should please sit outside in the driveway whilst partaking in the bhajan.
SERIOUSLY?
Julie and I gave each other a look that conveyed our mutual assessment: this is fucked up.
We seemed to be the first ones to arrive, and a wholesome-looking guy of about forty introduced himself as Ken and invited us to enter the garage/temple.
“Have a seat,” he said, gesturing to the floor. He and his wife would be leading the bhajan, he explained, adding that they had lived in India for many years, becoming enamored with the Hindu faith. Julie and I selected a spot near the giant statue of Shirdi Sai Baba and sat cross-legged on the floor. “We also lead fire pujas once a week. You must come.”
Julie and I were definitely interested in attending a fire puja, a ritualistic form of worship that has been used throughout the temples of India for thousands of years. The word puja comes from two Sanskrit words which together mean an act of purification of the mind, drawing in virtuous qualities while removing bad qualities or karma, essentially attracting positive energies and dissolving negativity.
Ken told us that Shirdi Sai Baba was one of the foremost sadgurus (a true guru) in India and lived in Shirdi, located in the state of Maharashtra, India for sixty years. It is said that though Shirdi Sai Baba is not alive in flesh and blood, he still lives and blesses his devotees wherever they may be. A large black and white framed photograph of the guru, sitting on the ground barefoot intrigued me. His hands, feet, and simple clothing looked filthy, a piece of cloth covered his head and tied in the back. His expression was serious and his eyes penetrating. The photo evoked someone who needed nothing, but had everything. I made a mental note to find out more about this guru.
A few other people finally arrived and took their places on the floor next to us. We chatted with a cute guy who was originally from Bulgaria and was a regular there.
“It’s very powerful to chant and sing with other beautiful souls,” he said. “I come every week.”
Ken and his wife, Lida took their seats in front of us, and passed out some instruments along with sheet music with lyrics so that we could sing along. I chose a tambourine, and Julie selected maraca made out of a gourd. Ken and Lida started the bhajan, Ken on the guitar and Lida on the harmonium, a reed instrument with a sound similar to the accordion. I was surprised at how small the group was, only half a dozen of us. We all chanted and sang in Hindi.
Om Guru Om Guru
Paragpara guru omkara guru tavasharanam
Sukhakarshubakar hey parameshwara
Brahma paraparta vasharanam
Om Guru Om Guru
After an hour, Julie gave me the look. It clearly said, okay, how much longer is this going to go on for?
I glanced at my watch and whispered, “Should be only another half an hour.”
We struggled on for another forty-five minutes as an Indian couple arrived, baby in tow, plates of food in hand. They placed the food at the feet of Shirdi Sai Baba and joined us in the chanting. Ten minutes later, three more Indian people arrived, bearing plates of food and placing them at the altar. Fifteen minutes later, four more with more food. Julie’s stomach growled. We squirmed. My butt was sore, and I longed to stretch. I was not feeling the uplifting love I’d come for. Seated right smack in front of Ken and Lida, Julie and I had to communicate with our eyes, strained looks, and subtle nods. The place was lovely, as well as the people, but this was definitely not our thing.
I finally mouthed to Julie, “I can’t take it anymore.”
Julie stifled a laugh, and rolled her eyes.
Ken shot Julie a look of disapproval.
I felt like I was fourteen again and back in Miss Judy’s dance class. My BFFs, Joni and Tracy, and I had smoked a joint in the parking lot before tap class and couldn’t stop giggling as we shuffled off to Buffalo. All the while a frustrated Miss Judy shot scowls of disapproval.
The memory triggered a giggle, which also set Julie off. Uncontrollable laughter welled up, and we buried our faces in our hands, attempting to stifle the guffaws and giggles. Ken was glaring at us. Some people just don’t get the Laughing Buddha.
I poked Julie in the side, “Come on, let’s go!”
We jumped up and flew out the garage door like Aladdin on his magic carpet.
Still giggling as we sped away towards Ventura Blvd., Julie turned to me, her face flushed. “Okay, Marla, that was painful.”
One more round of laughter burst forth, completely uncensored this time.
“It was truly not our thing, but I really want to go to the fire puja.”
“Are you kidding? We can never show our faces over there again.”
“I suppose not.”
And yet it had proven an excellent modality—the laughter, actually; the meeting, not so much. I felt spiritually juiced, happy, and terrific. I like to think our angels and guides were enjoying themselves with us as well. That bhajan was the epitome of the confusion of spirituality with serious disciplined self-control—even though we were sitting on the floor shaking gourds and singing what to us were mostly nonsense syllables. There should have been all kinds of laughter and light-heartedness at that session. The Buddha loves to laugh.

About the Author


Born in Tacoma, Washington, “The City of Destiny,” Marla was destined to move to Los Angeles where she shoots her arrow of love on a daily basis as a professional matchmaker, helping countless couples connect with their soul mates.

She is the author of three memoirs, Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, Hearts on the Line and The Buddha Made Me Do It.

Marla has been interviewed on the Today Show, WGN Chicago Morning News, San Diego Living, Urban Rush, CTV Calgary, Better TV, KUSI San Diego Morning Show, and over 100 radio shows including Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.

Her husband Adolfo has asked her, “Marlita, do you want to go to the moon too?” referring to her many interests—a true Gemini. Yet nothing has fascinated her like her profound adventure far beyond the moon and into the vastness of cosmic spirituality.

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