Category Archives: Not a Review

Spotlight on Searching for Vivian by Babette Hughes

About Babette Hughes

Babette HughesBorn in Cleveland Ohio, Babette Hughes grew up in the time of Prohibition and bootleggers. Her father was one of the first bootleggers in the country, and was murdered by the Mafia in a turf war at the age of 29. Babette was just two at the time.

Writing has allowed her to draw from her unusual life experiences to create her characters and tell their stories (and sometimes cautionary tales) in vivid detail.

Now 93, she writes every day with fluidity and grace.  “The truth is liberating, but sometimes elusive.” She explains. “I’m always looking for it and how to best write about it, and I probably always will.”

About Searching for Vivian

Searching for VivianIn 1966, seventeen year old Vivian Russell disappeared like smoke. The seemingly senseless murder of her parents in their home in Cleveland, Ohio was as unexplainable as her vanishing act in its aftermath. Her younger sister, Emma-traumatized by the horrific event- grows into a capable and relentless investigator who decides to do whatever it takes to find her. Her search takes her through the turbulent sixties- Viet Nam, The Black Panthers, dead ends, and bank jobs. Along the way, she finds herself and, whether she is prepared for it or not, the truth.

Links:

Website: http://www.babettehughesbooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/babettehughes/?fref=ts

Find it on Amazon

HuffPost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/babette-hughes/

SEARCHING FOR VIVIAN

By Babette Hughes

Chapter 1

1966

The Cleveland Press called the murders senseless because the Russells had no known enemies and lord knows there wasn’t much to steal; all they had was a pickup, an old black and white TV with one snowy channel and little else. A detective was quoted in the article speculating that perhaps the killers had gone to the wrong house in some kind of a tragic mistake. But the baffling part was that the murdered couples’ oldest daughter, Vivian, 17, home from school with a cold that day, had vanished like smoke.

But events like that, tragic and bizarre as they are, are soon forgotten, except perhaps when someone passes the house and wonders whatever happened to Vivian Russell. Sometimes someone hints knowingly that the Russells were drug dealers, or fences, or Russian spies. (The more years that transpired the more exotic the theories.) But for the most part people went on about their lives and, of course, as the years passed there were those too young or too new in town to have even heard of the murders or of Vivian’s disappearance.

Even her sister, ten-year-old Emma, seemed to leave it behind. Even from the beginning. Even from the first day when she came home from school on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and found neighbors staring behind yellow police tape. Her parents’ bloody bodies were being carried on gurneys into an ambulance. Her big sister was gone. Struggling with her own grief, her Aunt Eleanor couldn’t understand the child’s stoicism and as the weeks and months passed she worried about her more and more. It isn’t natural, she complained to her husband–it isn’t normal for a ten year old not to cry and carry on, not to grieve. The child acted as if she were just visiting her aunt and uncle as she sometimes did when her parents were alive; as if she hadn’t just lost her mother and father; as if her own sister hadn’t vanished into thin air. Although Thad Fisher was as shocked as anyone else over his in-laws’ murders, the truth is that he never really liked them and was secretly rather pleased to have them out of his life. They were damn hippies as far as he was concerned and it infuriated him the way Ellie ran over there all the time when they were alive. He had no objection to taking Emma in— where could the kid go? She was a quiet, well-behaved ten-year-old, a bit dull for his taste, but a small eater and so quiet you forgot she was around—actually an easy kid for a childless couple past middle age to raise. And she was someone Ellie could chatter to and leave him in peace.

Still, it annoyed him the way the child refused to let Ellie out of her sight, following her from room to room, even coming into their bedroom at night in her white nightgown like an undersized ghost. After he locked their bedroom door she wailed and beat on it until she fell asleep on the floor and Thad carried her into her own bed.

Ellie had eagerly welcomed Emma’s arrival. Like many childless women she envied her friends who had children; she even envied the problems and commotion and mess they complained about. She thought of her sister’s murder and Emma’s sudden arrival as a kind of terrible deal from God; she lost her sister but received the child she had prayed for. Quiet and small, transparent almost, Emma seemed to take up less room than the beautiful big doll Ellie had bought her the day after she arrived, which Emma ignored. So she offered her a puppy and then a kitten, but the child merely shook her head.

She tried to get her to talk about what happened. She tried to get her to ask questions about that terrible day. She wished the girl would grieve so she could comfort her. Or just cry. Something. Anything. But it was as if her family had been mysteriously wiped from Emma’s mind like an eraser on chalkboard leaving the same cloudy, formless residue.

Ellie took Emma to a psychiatrist who specialized in treating traumatized children; a Doctor Isabelle Dryer. She drove her to her office on Fairmount Boulevard twice a week until Dr. Dryer told her that although Emma came dutifully, she simply would not talk about the loss of her family and that after almost six months any further sessions would be a waste of Mrs. Fisher’s money and her time.

Her aunt went to PTA meetings and teacher conferences and Home Room Nights like a mom and bragged to Thad about Emma’s A’s. (Who didn’t seem very impressed at this information; his disapproval of Emma’s parents hung in the air like fog.) Emma always hurried home after school to be with her Aunt Ellie. She liked her quick hugs and jokes; she liked seeing her in the shining, good-smelling kitchen in her high heals and sheer hose that she wore even around the house, even to the super market. (Ellie had beautiful legs the way some heavy-set women do.) She liked the way she sat down with her at the round yellow kitchen table while they talked and ate her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Evenings, as Ellie prepared dinner, Emma followed her around the kitchen, putting lids back on jars, returning milk to the refrigerator, wiping the counter, sweeping the floor as the Mixmaster whirled, driving Ellie crazy.

She put up with Emma’s constant presence wondering if the child associated disorder with the blood and violence of her parents’ deaths. The child lived in a state of discipline and order, doing her homework, volunteering to clean blackboards and empty trash at school, cleaning her room, pressing her blouses. Where there were no rules, she made them up as if she had to be this perfect child or she would get lost in the world like Vivian.

Her room was always in perfect order, clothes hung according to type, (school, gym class, dressy for dinners out with her aunt and uncle) color and season; the hangers all uniformly plastic, her shoes lined up by season and color (and later heal height although they didn’t exceeded an inch and a half). She catalogued her aunt’s recipes by soups, appetizers, entrees and desserts, and then alphabetized them within each category. She began to arrange them again by calorie and cholesterol count until her aunt stopped her. She organized and indexed the Fishers’ record collection according to type (classical, jazz, show tunes, operas, soloists.) She arranged books on their shelves not only by fiction, non-fiction and authors, but also by genre’s: mystery, horror, biography, (separated from autobiography) science fiction, politics, literary classics. She even created a section of books made into films. Her aunt and uncle shook their heads at each other and refused to let her into their closets or Thad’s den.

Emma did her best to act like a normal kid so everyone would leave her alone; still she refused to sign up for extra-curricular activities at school, her fantasy life more interesting than any chess club or work on the school paper. In a favorite daydream Uncle Thad died of a mysterious illness leaving her Aunt Ellie all to herself. When the telephone rang she imagined it was Vivian calling to say she was back from a trip to San Francisco or New York. Sometimes it was England. She pretended that her parents were divorced and that one of them would come back for her, or that they sailed to England on the Queen Mary like Patricia in her Social Studies class who stood up and bragged about her parents’ trip. Sometimes she pretended that her parents were both killed in a respectable car crash that wasn’t their fault. Half aware that her daydreams were an excessive and neurotic substitute for reality, they were so sweet and satisfying that if they also made her a bit strange she didn’t mind.

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An Interview with Collette Yvonne, the author of The Perils of Pauline

Collette Yvonne, the author of The Perils of Pauline, was kind enough to agree to an interview. I’m glad that I was able to get to know her a little better. I hope that you enjoy it too. Don’t forget to go to the bottom of the post. There is an excerpt from her book. This will allow you to get a feel for her writing. Thanks again, Collette.

Author Interview

What is your typical writing day like?

Usually I try to carve out a full day for writing. If I have something pressing to do—work, a kid’s dentist appointment, a weedy garden, a sick friend who needs soup— I find it tough to concentrate knowing I will have to break my focus too soon. I find it painful, disorienting and tiring to transition in and out of my creative flow, so I am reluctant to work for short spurts of time. I try to clear my schedule first.

On a writing day, the coffee is poured first thing. Since I tend to be easily distracted I prefer to have the house all to myself. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated writing space of my own so that is where I go to write: in front of my desktop, steaming coffee mug at my elbow. I usually begin with answering email to focus my brain a little before I open my work in progress in Scrivener.

When I’m on a roll, I will work for hours without a break. At some point my dog usually demands a walk. Sometimes I stop to do some yoga stretches or grab a quick bite. I quit for the day when my family rolls in from school and work. My process is unremarkable: no charming boulevard cafés for me. Just butt in chair. All day.

Authors project parts of themselves into their main characters. Does your heroine have any of your qualities?

Yes and no. I always tell my friends and family not to think of The Perils of Pauline as an autobiography but usually people confess that they see me as the main character when they read the book. This is actually a little horrifying as Pauline is a bit wild and out of control. She is impulsive and bold and fearless, which can be a good thing unless you tend to act first and think later, which is what my character tends to do. As the author, I can safely explore impulsive choices and bad behavior when I write Pauline’s story. I can let her take all the risks and face the consequences while I remain safe in my writing chair, laughing at her—or crying with her—when everything falls to pieces and begins to circle the drain.

If you had three words to describe your main character, what would they be?

Impulsive. Irrepressible. Bravehearted.

Would you call your protagonist a truth-seeker or a thrill-seeker?

Contrary to popular impressions, Pauline is a truth-seeker. She is trying to figure things out. She likes a thrill as well as the next girl, but she is in it to win answers.

What themes did you visit in your book?

Relationships. Parenting. Family. Marriage. Adultery. Adult ADHD. Conflict. Love and romance. Separation. Career. Civilian life after active service. Single parenting. Post traumatic stress disorder. Forgiveness. Humor.

How do you find/make time to write?

I have to be disciplined about it. Since I work part time as a yoga instructor and have many outside interests such as volunteering, gardening, photography, reading, visual arts, and gadding about, I need to find ways to keep writing squarely on the agenda. Membership in a writing group helps as the members will chew me up and spit me out if I don’t produce new writing regularly.

How did you come up with the title?

The original The Perils of Pauline was a 1914 American melodrama film serial. The main character, Pauline, is the original damsel in distress who often finds herself hanging from a cliff or tied to a set of train tracks. The 1914 Pauline was smart and resourceful, rather than helpless and needing to be rescued by a man (but there’s a dashing lover on scene willing to lend a hand). I loved the idea of recreating the plucky Pauline and placing her in a modern context. Like many woman today, who find themselves juggling work, marriage and children, the modern Pauline still feels as if she’s hanging by a thread. She faces her challenges with intelligence, courage and sheer force of will plus a large dash of eccentricity. She has to figure out how to save herself. She needs to be smart and fearless. And then of course there’s a dashing lover.

What’s the hardest part about writing? The easiest?

The hardest part is to ignore that mean little voice that says, “You have nothing to offer. You suck.” The easiest part is the comfy chair.

How do you keep your written world from encroaching on your life?

Why would I want to do that?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I hope that readers will pick up on the theme of forgiveness. In this age of high divorce rates, it is considered to be normal and acceptable to cut loose from a marriage when everything goes off the rails. Of course, in some cases, filing for a divorce is absolutely necessary but, in other cases, a marriage may be saved with hard work and a very large reset button. Very few novels explore the situation of a couple who make huge mistakes and manage to patch things up, although in real life this happens, probably more often than we realize, given how tough staying in a relationship can be.

Book Description

The Perils of Pauline For ex-army vet Pauline Parril, life marches along in an orderly formation now that she is happily married, raising three kids, and ascending a promising career ladder. But the handles of her safe and comfortable world soon turn upside-down when a termination letter lands on her lap and her husband, it turns out, isn’t the person she thought she knew. Things get even more complicated when Pauline returns to school and meets Michael Fortune—a handsome and exciting poetry professor who threatens to get out of hand. Pauline once endured a long deployment to a war-torn country, but can she survive the front lines of her fraying household?

Purchase Links

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About the Author

Collette YvonneCollette Yvonne was born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada where her father served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She has many fond memories of growing up as a military brat. Now married with three children, she lives in Ontario where she is a part-time yoga instructor, as well as writing. She also enjoys volunteering in the community. She graduated from Toronto’s York University, majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in the Humanities. In her first year, she toyed with the idea of becoming an anthropologist and also considered being a computer scientist! However, following the opportunity to study under well-known Canadian authors such as Don Coles, Susan Swan, Elisabeth Harvor and Bruce Powe, she decided to stick with writing. Collette’s first novel, ‘The Queen of Cups’, was published in August 2006 and was a finalist within its genre in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. Other publication credits include many articles, stories, reviews and interviews in various Ontario local newspapers, and national Canadian publications including ‘The Toronto Star’, ‘The National Post’, ‘The Globe and Mail’ and ‘Canadian Woman Studies’. Her subjects tend to be personal journalism with pieces on a wide range of topics and she also likes to write in her blog, along with writing guest posts for other bloggers. She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR), and has developed skills as a photographer, speaker, website designer, editor, and writing workshop facilitator. Editorial contributions have been made to several published works, along with short non-fiction pieces. Indeed, she is equally at home writing both fiction and non-fiction. One of her short stories was made into a short film ‘Snapshots for Henry’, which was screened in numerous film festivals around the world. The film received a nomination for a Genie Award in 2007.

Here is an excerpt from The Perils of Pauline

I step out my front door to find my next-door neighbor standing at the edge of his lawn, staring across at our yard, his lips compressed into a frown.

“Is everything okay, Lewis?”

“Your water sprinkler is too close to my property line.”

“How so? It’s on my lawn.”

“When you water your lawn, my driveway is getting sprinkled.”

I know better than to argue with Lewis. “Okay, no problem, I’ll position the sprinkler further away.”

I better not mention the sprinkler issue to Donald or he might freak out. Over the years, Lewis has complained about the height of our grass (too long), the color of our grass (yellow) and the condition of our grass (weedy). He also demands that we cut down our shady maple and repaint our porch.

The mature maples lining our street are the best feature of this old sprawling suburb with big front porches and quiet cul-de-sacs. Lewis chopped down all his trees last year, citing the aggravation of leaves choking his gutters.

Our grass is admittedly scruffy but that’s because last month Donald spot-sprayed it with a home-brew of salt and vinegar to kill the crabgrass and clover, and ended up pickling the grass instead. He dug out the worst scorched areas and laid pieces of new sod, so now the lawn has bright green patches interspersed with the weedy yellow parts and the dead brown bits. Now all the neighborhood kids like to come over to play The Floor is Lava on our front lawn. The green bits are safe. Step outside them, you die.

I hurry down the sidewalk to Bibienne’s where boring lawns go to die and reincarnate as boisterous perennial gardens full of day lilies, climbing honeysuckle and chrysanthemums. Hummingbirds chase butterflies through pink and purple peonies as I go around the side to her garden doors only to find an abandoned wheelbarrow. Odd. Usually Bibienne is outside pruning her roses on a day like this.

One of the doors is ajar so I rap on the frame and step inside. I love Bibienne’s roomy kitchen: an inspired mix of antique cabinets fitted with granite countertops. A cook’s dream but nothing’s cooking here. Beyond the kitchen, in the family room, I spy Bibienne reclined on the couch watching TV, legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles on the oversized ottoman in front of her. Without taking her eyes from the screen, she frowns at me while laying her palm on top of her head, as if to hold down her thick auburn hair, which is gathered away from her face in a hasty French twist. She raises a warning finger to her lips. Camilo Villegas and Adam Scott are playing so I know enough to remain silent until the next commercial break, when she turns her cool green eyes on me. I’ve interrupted men’s tennis so this better be good.

“I’ve been fired. My assistant, Daria, stole my job.”

“Oh. Okay.” She gets up from the couch and pats my shoulder. “I’ll make you a drink.”

I nod and follow her to the kitchen. I’m safe. I can stick around and watch tennis with her as long as I don’t make too much noise.

“I have ChocoLee chocolates too.” She drops ice cubes into tall glasses and fills them with red wine and lime soda. What luck. Bibienne always drinks Spanish wine cocktails and breaks out the chocolate when Villegas is winning.

Bibienne watches the end of the match with her lips parted and her hand across her heart. After the final point, she turns off the TV, fans her cheeks and sighs. “Él está bueno. Oh well, come see my new laptop. You can try it out while I top us off.”

The connection is lightning fast. I wish I had ripped-speed access to the Internet. Bibienne sets my glass at my elbow and peers over my shoulder. “Career Search Australia?”

“Yeah. Look. They need a snake wrangler in Canberra. Wait a minute, there’s an opening at the Bikini Car Wash.”

I click around. There are a zillion postings for jobs all around the world, from San Francisco to Shanghai. Even Kalamazoo has a raft of listings. Here, in the greater suburbs of the Boston Commonwealth, not so much. Unless I want to commute all the way into the city, like Donald does when he isn’t at the branch office here in town. Since Doubles got so busy, he has to go into the city more often than not these days.

Forget job searching for now. Bibi has a collection of fun apps on her desktop. I click on a Tarot icon. “Is this site any good?”

“Yes, it’s one of the best,” she says. “If you want a quick reading, try the Celtic Cross spread.”

Bibienne knows a lot about tarot. She’s so sharp and perceptive, her massage therapy clients are always asking her to read their cards for them.

I type in my question: What does the future hold for me?

The results show the Queen of Cups, seated in the auspicious Position One, which represents the “Questioner in Her Present Situation.”

“The Queen of Cups is the good woman card,” says Bibienne. “She’s loving and kind. A bit of a dreamer, distracted. But see? She sits on a throne, which means she wields power and makes the rules. The suit of cups represents emotions. Overflowing emotions, hidden emotions, secrets maybe. Who knows what’s in her cup?”

“Bra cups, cups of laundry detergent, cups of wine.”

Bibienne points to my glass. “Your cup of wine is empty.”

Position Two shows the Three of Swords: a lowly card suggestive of trickery and betrayal. “That would be Daria and WiFi-Robes,” I say as Bibienne refills my glass and sits beside me.

“Could be.” She examines the spread. “The Three of Swords usually represents sudden heartbreak or betrayal. But look over here. Your Three is countered by the Two of Swords, which is about the difficulty of making decisions. That’s a double whammy. See the blindfold on the woman in the picture? She can’t see her way. She may not want to see, in fact, she may be in denial.”

It all makes sense. I’ve been betrayed, lost my job, and now I have to make choices about what to do next, right? More curious though is the appearance of the powerful and authoritative Emperor standing in opposition to my Queen. Donald perhaps? But, if the Emperor is my husband, who is the Knight of Cups occupying the near future position? The Knight of Cups is a man of high romance, poetry and passion. Here, Donald doesn’t spring to mind. How intriguing: the card drawn for the position representing Final Outcomes turns out to be The Lovers. As I wander back home I can’t help but note that two cups makes a couple.

© Copyright 2015 Astor+Blue Editions

I’ve had a very rough December

There has been a lot of sadness around our household this past month.

I haven’t felt like writing any reviews. I’ve read quite a few books, since I was spending time in hospital rooms and other such places. I will get around to writing a couple full reviews, but may just summarize my thoughts for a few of them.

I am going to try to be back in “full speed ahead” after New Years.

Merry Christmas and Happiest of Holidays to everyone.

And the winners are…

Contest Winners for

Power Surge by Ben Bova

Power Surge_coverMy lovely wife, Norma Jean, drew the two winning entries tonight, and here they are!

Susan V. from NM

Rose W. from MI

I have sent your names and mailing address to Laura Etzkorn, a Publicity Assistant at Tor/Forge Books. Thank you Laura for letting me host this Giveaway.

#Giveaway for #PowerSurge by #BenBova extended until Oct. 8th!

My email account was spammed!

Yesterday afternoon I received a TON of spam emails. It filled my mailbox. So I am extending the contest for TWO days. If you tried to enter the contest, please enter again so that your entry will be included.

The contest will end October 8th at 11PM EDT!

Giveaway for Two Copies of Power Surge by Ben Bova (US and Canada Only)

2 (maybe 3) chances to win! Contest ends 10/8

Power Surge_coverTOR/FORGE Books would like to invite you to enter a contest to win a copy of POWER SURGE, a new political thriller at the forefront of science and technology written by six-time Hugo Award-winning author Ben Bova. As the 2016 elections rapidly approach and the debate over sustainable energy continues to heat up, this new fiction presents an all-too-real political landscape that I think would really intrigue you. Booklist says “those with both a passion for climate science and the politics surrounding it will find POWER SURGE meticulously fashioned out of all their hopes and fears.”; details about the book are below.

Contest Details

UPDATE Oct 1st. If I get 20 more entries, I will send someone the copy that the publisher sent me.

Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:

Send an email to contest at mackela dot com.
In the subject line, enter “Power Surge“

In the body of the email, please provide a mailing address (no P.O. Boxes) so the prize can be sent as soon as possible. (The winning address is used only to mail the prize. All other address info will be purged once the giveaway ends.)

Geographic restrictions: This giveaway is open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

The giveaway will end Tuesday October 8th (11:00 PM U.S. Eastern Daylight time). The TWO Lucky winners will be selected at random. Winners will be announced here on Oct 9th. I will also send an email to the lucky winners.

Good Luck!

Book Description

POWER SURGE (ISBN 978-0-7653-3497-8; $24.99; August 11, 2015) follows Dr. Jack Ross, the science advisor to a freshman senator in Washington, D.C. He’s introduced a comprehensive energy plan employing cutting-edge technology that would not only establish America as the world leader in energy production, but boost the economy and protect the environment. Yet, despite being an expert in facts and data, he isn’t quite up to speed on the workings of Washington, and his plan is dismissed by well-funded lobbyists, cynical bureaucrats, pork-barrel politicians, and one very powerful U.S. Senator. Ross won’t accept defeat that easily, and becomes more resolved to implement his plan of action – even if it kills him.

About the Author

Ed Chappell
Ed Chappell

Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award “for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature.” He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction’s Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova’s writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.

Giveaway for Two Copies of Power Surge by Ben Bova

Giveaway for Two Copies of Power Surge by Ben Bova (US and Canada Only)

2 (maybe 3) chances to win! Contest ends 10/8

Power Surge_coverTOR/FORGE Books would like to invite you to enter a contest to win a copy of POWER SURGE, a new political thriller at the forefront of science and technology written by six-time Hugo Award-winning author Ben Bova. As the 2016 elections rapidly approach and the debate over sustainable energy continues to heat up, this new fiction presents an all-too-real political landscape that I think would really intrigue you. Booklist says “those with both a passion for climate science and the politics surrounding it will find POWER SURGE meticulously fashioned out of all their hopes and fears.”; details about the book are below.

Contest Details

UPDATE Oct 1st. If I get 20 more entries, I will send someone the copy that the publisher sent me.

Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:

Send an email to contest at mackela dot com.
In the subject line, enter “Power Surge“

In the body of the email, please provide a mailing address (no P.O. Boxes) so the prize can be sent as soon as possible. (The winning address is used only to mail the prize. All other address info will be purged once the giveaway ends.)

Geographic restrictions: This giveaway is open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

The giveaway will end Tuesday October 8th (11:00 PM U.S. Eastern Daylight time). The TWO Lucky winners will be selected at random. Winners will be announced here on Oct 9th. I will also send an email to the lucky winners.

Good Luck!

Book Description

POWER SURGE (ISBN 978-0-7653-3497-8; $24.99; August 11, 2015) follows Dr. Jack Ross, the science advisor to a freshman senator in Washington, D.C. He’s introduced a comprehensive energy plan employing cutting-edge technology that would not only establish America as the world leader in energy production, but boost the economy and protect the environment. Yet, despite being an expert in facts and data, he isn’t quite up to speed on the workings of Washington, and his plan is dismissed by well-funded lobbyists, cynical bureaucrats, pork-barrel politicians, and one very powerful U.S. Senator. Ross won’t accept defeat that easily, and becomes more resolved to implement his plan of action – even if it kills him.

About the Author

Ed Chappell
Ed Chappell

Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award “for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature.” He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction’s Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova’s writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.

Giveaway for Two Copies of Power Surge by Ben Bova Starting Friday!

Here is an excerpt from Power Surge by Ben Bova

 

Senator Tomlinson’s Office

The room smelled new. Jacob Ross hesitated at the door to the senator’s inner office and looked around at the light walnut paneling, the wall-to-wall carpeting, the pearl gray drapes on the long windows. Not standard government issue, he realized. The senator had spent his own money on his office’s décor.

Why not? Jake thought. He’s got plenty to spend.

Outside the private office, the senator’s suite was almost empty; hardly anyone had shown up yet. And Jake was almost an hour late for this meeting. Washington was blanketed with three inches of snow from the first storm of the new year. In his home state of Montana, nobody would even notice a paltry three inches, but here in DC the city was practically paralyzed. It had taken Jake more than an hour to drive from his newfound apartment to the Hart Senate Office Building, crawling through skidding, slow-moving traffic and stalled cars. He had narrowly missed being sideswiped by a city bus.

“You made it, Jake!” called the senator, from behind his impressive wide desk. “We were beginning to worry about you.”

Power Surge_coverAnother man was sitting in one of the bottle green leather chairs in front of the desk. Jake stepped across the office and took the empty chair. He saw a gleaming new nameplate on the desk: SEN. B. FRANKLIN TOMLINSON, in gold letters, no less.

Tomlinson glowed with the kind of youthful vigor that comes with family money. In his shirtsleeves and fire-engine red suspenders, he was smiling handsomely.

“Jake, I want you to meet my chief of staff, Kevin O’Donnell. Kevin, this is Dr. Jacob Ross, my science advisor.”

Jake was one of the few people that Tomlinson had brought to Washington with him from Montana. Most of the office staff were local talent, knowledgeable Beltway insiders who had stayed home because of the snow.

The senator’s chief of staff was thin, edgy-looking. Suspicious dark eyes peering out of a pinched face. His light brown hair was thinning badly, and he had it combed in an obvious flop-over that accentuated his incipient baldness more than hid it.

O’Donnell put out his hand. “Hello, Dr. Ross,” he said, in a reedy, sharp voice. “Jake,” said Jake as he took the proffered hand. O’Donnell’s grip was surprisingly strong.

Beaming and relaxed, Senator Tomlinson leaned back in his swivel chair and said, “Jake is putting together the energy plan I told you about, Kevin.”

O’Donnell muttered, “Energy plan.”

“I’ve gotten onto the energy committee,” Tomlinson said, “and I want to make an impression.”

Smiling knowingly, O’Donnell warned, “New senators usually keep pretty quiet until they learn the procedures, make a few friends, get accustomed to the Senate.”

Brushing that aside with a wave of his hand, Tomlinson repeated, “I want to make an impression. I got elected to help make new energy technology boost my state’s economy. I don’t want to waste any time.”

The staff chief’s smile turned wary. “You want to make a name for yourself.”

“Damned right.”

“That could be dangerous, Senator. You don’t want to be too pushy right off the bat. You don’t want to get known as a glory hog.”

“Me?” Tomlinson looked surprised, almost hurt.

O’Donnell fell silent, but the expression on his face was cautious, guarded.

Jake took up the slack. “Energy is a key issue, Mr. O’Donnell.”

“Kevin.”

“Okay, Kevin. Energy is important to everything we do. It affects our economy, our balance of payments overseas, it impacts the global climate-”

“Hold it right there,” O’Donnell said, raising a hand in a stop signal. “You’re one of these guys who thinks he’s going to change the world, make everything better. Well, it just doesn’t work that way.”

“But it should,” Jake snapped.

Turning back to the senator again, O’Donnell explained, “A brand-new senator can’t go barging into this town trying to change everything. It’s political suicide.”

“We’re not trying to change everything,” Jake countered. “We just want to put the nation’s energy policy on a solid, sustainable, comprehensive basis.”

“Why do we need a comprehensive energy plan? We don’t have an energy crisis anymore. We’re doing pretty well these days.”

Softly, Tomlinson asked, “For how long, Kevin? How long will it be before we fall into another disaster?”

Shaking his head, O’Donnell said, “Look, Senator, I can understand that you want to push the energy issue for your constituents back home. What’s your new technology called? MHD, isn’t it?”

“Magnetohydrodynamic power generation,” Jake said, feeling some resentment at the chief of staff’s obtuseness. “MHD power generators can burn the coal we can’t use now because of its high sulfur content, without polluting the atmosphere.”

“Fine.”

“And MHD generators are more than twice as efficient as today’s power generators. We can lower people’s electricity bills.”

“That’s wonderful,” said O’Donnell, without a trace of enthusiasm. “Stick to that and you might be able to get it through.”

Senator Tomlinson shook his head. “No, Kevin. I’m not going to allow myself to appear as a man who’s only pushing for some pork-barrel legislation for his home state. I want to push for a comprehensive energy plan that can make the United States the world’s leader in energy production and in new energy technology, as well.”

Frowning, O’Donnell asked, “That’s what you want?”

“That’s what I want,” Tomlinson replied.

With a reluctant sigh, the staff chief said, “Okay, you’re the boss. But take it slow. And don’t go making any public pronouncements until you’ve talked to me about it. I’m here to protect you, you know.”

Tomlinson broke into a bright, easy smile. “Fine. No problem. Jake, you coordinate everything you do with Kevin.”

“Okay,” said Jake, warily. “Okay,” said Kevin O’Donnell, equally unenthusiastic.

They chatted on for more than half an hour. Then, when Jake left the senator’s office and headed for his own, his cell phone buzzed.

Pulling it out of his pocket, he saw that the caller was from back home in Montana. But he didn’t recognize the name.

“Dr. Ross?” a woman’s strained voice asked.

“Yes,” said Jake.

“This is Amanda Yañez, at Mercy Hospital. Dr. Leverett Caldwell has been admitted here, with a cerebral ischemia.”

“A what?”

“A stroke. We found your name-”

“A stroke? How bad is it?”

A hesitation. Then, “He probably won’t last the night.”

Copyright © 2015 by Ben Bova

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