Michael Alan Peck won the Illinois Library Association’s 2015 Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Contest for his contemporary fantasy novel The Journeyman (The Commons Series, Book 1). The Journeyman is recommended for fans of fantasy and magical realism, both teens and adults. It was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon.
In The Journeyman, three unlikely heroes board a doomed bus. Destination: the afterlife. Their mission: to save forever. But first they have to save themselves.
“Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.”
And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America—stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead.
Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.
Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever.
But first they have to save themselves.
Praise for The Journeyman:
“The Journeyman is a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy adventure that’s as profound as it is profoundly entertaining. The multilayered plotline follows a central cast of characters as they forge their paths across a highly imaginative landscape pocked with ancient wisdoms, mindboggling puzzles, and sci-fi surprises that will keep you turning pages until the very end. Peck’s writing style is fluid, eloquent, and easy to read, yet highly structured and infused with insight, understanding, and knowledge that’s sure to leave readers pondering the basic questions at the foundation of this compelling novel, which is the first in a forthcoming series that promises to be well worth the read.” – Reviewed by Red City Review
“Combining metaphysics, fantasy, psychology, and mystery, The Journeyman will have something for everyone.” – Reviewed by Star at The Bibliophilic Book Blog
“This novel combines the best of magical realism and quest genres. The characters are richly drawn and the plot is tight and suspenseful… I inhaled this book in two sittings, and can’t wait for future installments!” – Reviewed on Amazon
“In The Journeyman by Michael Alan Peck, it’s a land where, in the Beatles’ words, ‘nothing is real’ and where a talking mummy, a man with a slot-machine handle for an arm and a woman with zebra stripes and a tail are just ‘everyday people’… The Journeyman is a fantasy book, but it’s also a work of humor. Many of the strange creatures you’ll meet in the book may be frightening, but they’re also very entertaining.” – Reviewed on Readers Favorite
Excerpt from The Journeyman:
CHAPTER ONE – The All-Seeing Eyes
Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.
“Don’t worry,” he said to Mike Hibbets, the only adult in New York City who’d ever cared about him. “I’m coming back.”
Pop Mike ran the New Beginnings group home, where Paul lived. He didn’t believe the lie. And Paul told himself that it didn’t matter.
“Does your face hurt?” The old man leaned on his desk in the New Beginnings main office.
Paul twisted his pewter ring, a habit that announced when something was bothering him. His face did hurt—especially his swollen eye.
As did the ribs he hadn’t been able to protect two days earlier, when he hit the ground, balled up, in a Hell’s Kitchen alley while four guys stomped him until they tired of it. He’d tried to shield his face, where damage might show forever. But he fared just as poorly at that as the afternoon sun cast a beat-down shadow show on a brick wall and a girl stood nearby and cried.
Paul had little to say, and no one worked a silence like Pop Mike. His nickname had once been “Father Mike” due to a talent for sniffing out guilt that rivaled any priest’s. He asked the New Beginnings kids to drop that name so potential donors wouldn’t confuse his shelter with a religious operation. There’s no God to lift us up—we rise or fall together, he taught them. So they compromised and shortened it.
“Five foster homes, three group homes, some street life in between,” Pop Mike said.
“So?” Paul couldn’t look him in the eye.
“So no one makes it through that without survival skills, which you have. And you’ve found a place here for four years, and now you’re just up and leaving.”
The desk was a relic of the building’s days as a school, a general hospital, and before that, a mental hospital. Its round wood edge was uneven and worn, as if the many kids trapped in this chair over the years had stared it away, varnish and all.
Paul shifted in the chair, his side one big ache. He hated hearing his life recited as if it were recorded and filed somewhere, which it was.
The winter wind forced its way through the gaps between the cockeyed window sash and its frame. A storm was due.
Outside, the fading daylight illuminated the wall of the adjacent building. A cartoon-ad peacock, its paint battling to hang onto the decaying brick, peddled a variety of Pavo fruit juices.
“New Beginnings matters to you.” Rumor was, Pop Mike could go weeks without blinking. “Look how you tried to save Gonzales.”
“I told him to run for help. He just ran.” Paul had practiced this conversation— how it would play out. Pop Mike wouldn’t mind that he was leaving. If he did, Paul wouldn’t sweat it.
Yet he was unable to face the man.
The painted peacock smiled despite its sentence of death-by-crumbling. Its tail, gathered in one fist, bent outward in offering. The feathers ended in a once-vibrant assortment of bottles spread above the Pavo slogan like leaves on a branch of a shade tree: “Wake up to the rainbow! Wake up to your life!”
Decades of sun and rain had rendered the flavors unidentifiable in the grime and washed-out hues. Paul could only guess at grape, apple, orange, and watermelon.
“You could apply for our Next Steps program—work your way to an equivalency credential.”
Paul didn’t bother to refuse that one again.
Pop Mike followed his gaze. “The all-seeing eyes.”
“The peacock. In some Asian faiths, it’s a symbol of mercy and empathy. In others, it’s the all-seeing eyes of the Almighty. What that one sees, of course, is a customer.”
“It’s time for me to go.” Paul touched his fingers to his eye, which flared in protest. “This is how New York chose to tell me.” He prodded the bruise to see if he could make it hurt more. He succeeded.
Pop Mike reached across the desk, took hold of Paul’s wrist, and gently pulled his hand away from his face. He didn’t let go until he was convinced Paul wouldn’t do it again. That was the only way he could keep Paul safe from himself.
“Please,” he said. “That’s the one word I have left. It won’t work, but I’m saying it. Please.”
Paul twisted his ring.
Pop Mike took in the beaten-up backpack at Paul’s feet, the military-surplus coat thrown over the back of the chair. “Where are you going?”
“Away. I’ll let you know when I get there.”
Wake up to your life, said the peacock.
About the Author:
Michael Alan Peck tells tales big and small. Life’s magical, but it isn’t always enough for a good story. So he makes up the rest.
He’s made his living writing about TV, its celebrities, and its past. He’s also put food on the table reviewing restaurants and writing about travel.
He has a godawful memory, so he focuses on the written word. He likes to think that over time, he’s gotten better at it—the writing, not the remembering. He forgets important dates. He’s pretty good with movie lines. But after several years, he tends to tweak them. He prefers his versions over the real ones.
Funny goes a long way with him. Probably further than it should.
He grew up outside Philadelphia and has lived in New York, L.A., and San Francisco. His current home base is Chicago.
To learn more, go to MichaelAlanPeck.com.
For further information, to request a review copy of The Journeyman, or to set up an interview or appearance by Michael Alan Peck, contact Kelsey McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 807-9027.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney who enjoys writing crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He has handled everything from DUI to murder.
Eric’s latest novel The Victim was released on August 13, 2015, published by Zharmae. The Victim is a tense, fast-paced, legal thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt him.
In the spring of 2003 on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, Anton Mackey’s life was changed forever. A reckless decision to get behind the wheel when he was in no condition to drive spawned a moment that threatened to destroy everything the 21 year-old had spent his life working toward. In an instant, Anton made a decision to save himself. A decision that claimed the lives of two people.
Eleven years later, Anton is a rising star in the Miami criminal defense community. He is married and has an infant daughter. He is earning a good living and steadily building a name for himself as an aggressive advocate for the accused. Anton shares an office with veteran defense attorney, Jack Savarese. A mentor of sorts, Anton strives to model his practice – and career – after Jack’s. A Miami criminal defense legend, Jack’s accomplishments in the courtroom are second to none. However, Jack remains burdened by the conviction of Osvaldo Garcia, a mentally-ill client from ten years earlier found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of a troubled teen.
When Daniella Avery, the beautiful wife of a man accused of a heinous act of domestic violence, comes into Anton’s office seeking his services, Anton thinks he’s landed a great case with a great fee. But when he succumbs to temptation, he realizes that Daniella is a figure from his past.
Anton finds himself caught between the possibility of being exposed and the fact that his client – Daniella’s husband – may be an innocent pawn in the victim’s attempt to carry out her revenge against Anton. As Anton struggles to balance defending his client while concealing the secret he has sought to forget, he uncovers the truth behind what really happened on that highway eleven years earlier. The truth that may be connected to the conviction of Osvaldo Garcia.
Praise for The Victim:
“The Victim by Eric Matheny has a fast moving pace and a skillfully conceived plot with quite a few twists and turns… A page turner, this legal thriller has all the elements to hold reader interest from the first page to the last.” – Reviewed by ReadersFavorite.com
“An astounding legal thriller that is full of surprise, mystery and moral dilemma. Matheny may well be the next Scott Turow.” – Reviewed by BestThrillers.com
March 16, 2003
He thought he was dead.
Steam hissed from the crumpled front end of the RV that had folded accordion-style against the guardrail. His face stung from the punch of the airbag. His lungs burned from that awful talcum powder that drifted through the cabin as the bag deflated. The chemical dust, suspended in the air, seemed to be frozen in time.
His nose was numb and swollen. He tasted blood trickling down the back of his throat like a cocaine drip. He peered through the cracked windshield, his eyes adjusting to the reddish glow of a desert sunrise. The crushed-in hood had jarred upward. The chassis was off balance. The whole vehicle wobbled as he shifted his weight in his seat.
Oh my God.
He cranked the door handle and heaved his shoulder into it to pop it off the jamb. He hopped down onto the highway. The winds were heavy and dry, rustling the sage and scrub oaks that dotted the rugged landscape along the Beeline Highway. A sliver of fiery light barely illuminated the peaks of the Mazatal Mountains, which rose and fell against the horizon. Giant saguaros stood like sentries.
The back half of a red two-door sedan lay beneath the shredded front tires of the RV. Flattened like an aluminum can. On impact the RV must have bucked forward, rolling up onto the rear bumper of the smaller car, coming to rest on its roof. The significant weight of the RV crushed the sedan into something you might see stacked in a junkyard.
The highway was quiet. Just the rush of hot wind crackling the delicate spines of the sagebrush. He got his bearings quickly, the initial shock of the crash having passed. A sobering experience. Literally. Half a handle of Jack Daniels coursing through his veins had been replaced by something stronger.
He saw long hair, a young female’s. How he could tell her age by the back of her head, he would never know. Maybe by its length and sheen—bright, yellow-blond. Slick with blood. Her forehead propped on the steering wheel. The driver-side window blown out. The windshield was a shattered web.
The man beside her—or boy, he was arguably young—was out cold, his body positioned in the passenger’s seat in a gimpy, off-kilter fashion. The passenger side had been thrust into the guardrail, which molded itself to the frame of the car. His head lolled against the door. Blood leaked from his ear and ran down his neck.
“Are you okay?” he screamed, although he knew he would get no reply. His voice resonated throughout the valley. “Hello?”
He braced himself against the ruined front end of the RV. He felt a surge of bile and whiskey come up in the back of his throat. He heaved forward but held it in. He was lightheaded.
Oh God, please let this be a dream. Oh God, please…this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening…
Eric Matheny was born in Los Angeles, California, where he lived until he went away to college at Arizona State University. At ASU he was president of Theta Chi Fraternity. He graduated with a degree in political science and moved to Miami, Florida, to attend law school at St. Thomas University. During his third year of law school, he interned for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, where he worked as a prosecutor upon graduation. In 2009, he went into private practice as a criminal defense attorney. He is a solo practitioner representing clients in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Broward County, Florida. He has handled everything from DUI to murder.
In his free time, Eric enjoys writing crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He published his debut novel Home in 2004, which centers around a successful drug dealer catering to the rich in Orange County. His second novel Lockdown, published in 2005, follows a law student trying to prove that an inmate serving a life sentence in one of California’s toughest prisons might actually be innocent. Eric’s latest novel The Victim, is a tense, fast-paced, legal thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt him. It was published by Zharmae in August 2015 and is available for sale on Amazon.
Eric lives outside of Fort Lauderdale with his wife and two young sons.
To learn more, go to EricMathenyBooks.com
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Eric Matheny, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at email@example.com or 805.807.9027.
Becoming Famous, by Natalie Scott, is the long anticipated sequel to Rules for Riders. It was published in July 2015 and is available for sale on Amazon. Genres: Young Adult / New Adult / Romance
Bebe Barkley has never released a sex tape. She’s not America’s Next Top Model. She didn’t get pregnant at 16, and has never auditioned for American Idol. In fact, she’s holed up in a hotel room at the Waldorf in New York City, totally depressed. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s about to become famous. A former equestrian rider, Bebe had a bright future until a tragic accident changed everything. Now she’s unable to return to her old life, yet incapable of moving forward.
Follow her as she ventures from New York to LA, the City of Broken Dreams, where she will find everything she’s ever wanted, only to risk losing the things she truly loves. Join Bebe in her heart-stopping journey in Becoming Famous.
Excerpt from Becoming Famous:
My name is Bebe Barkley. I’ve never released a sex tape. I’ve I’m not America’s Next Top Model. I didn’t get pregnant at sixteen and I’ve never auditioned for American Idol. In fact I’m holed up at the Waldorf totally depressed. But, even though I don’t know it yet, I’m about to become famous. This is my story and how it all went down.
Let’s face it: At the moment I’m a hot mess. How do I know this? I haven’t showered or gotten out of bed for three days. I’ve been watching reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and a lifetime marathon about women who kill. I know how they feel. Thank God for room service or I would’ve starved to death by now!
In order to figure out my screwed up life, my mother’s best friend Georgie is letting me use her suite while she’s in London. But without her here getting on my case, and her eccentric husband Harry walking around half-naked, it just doesn’t seem like home.
I guess the best thing about modern technology is that you don’t actually have to talk to anyone. Unfortunately, the worst thing about modern technology is that you don’t actually have to talk to anyone! I’m so damn lonely I could cry. Still, I keep texting everyone back home, telling them I’m just fine.
My life wasn’t always like this. I was a champion equestrian rider with a bright future, before tragedy struck. If only they hadn’t shot king—things might have turned out differently. He was my horse, and I loved him more than life itself. I don’t know how to move forward, but I can’t go back.
Thinking about it, I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m having a major anxiety attack. Maybe I need to go outside and get some air. I throw on a white tank and some jeans. I’m about to leave when a card falls out of my pocket.
The last time I was in New York, I met this hairdresser, Antonio. Thank god for small mercies—his number’s still in the pocket of my jeans. After I’m fully dressed, I walk outside, pull out my cell phone and call him.
It goes straight to voicemail, story of my life! But as I start walking, my cell phone rings.
“Hey there,” Antonio says, “who is this?”
“Hi, it’s Bebe,” I say. “Remember me? Georgie Astor’s friend?”
“Hey sweetie! How are you? What can I do for you?”
“I’m holed up at the Waldorf and Georgie’s gone back to London. I don’t know what to do with myself.
“Oh my God! White girl problems! You know what, doll? You’re probably just lonely! You need some company.”
“Hey Antonio?” I ask, “I was wondering—do you know if anyone needs a roommate?”
“Well, I’d let you stay with me, but I have this really jealous boyfriend. You know how that goes.”
I smile to myself. “Only too well.”
“Wait a minute,” he says, “I have an idea. I finish work at around six tonight. Can you meet me?”
I laugh. “Let me check my hectic schedule. Sure!”
“Girl, you’re so crazy!” he says. “I’m not working at the salon on Fifth Avenue anymore. I’m at Frederick Fekkai in Soho between Bloom and Spring.”
“No worries, I’ll Google it!”
I meet Antonio at the salon at six o’clock on the dot. I’d forgotten how handsome he is. He looks like a coffee-colored genie from the Mr. Clean commercial.
“So, where are you taking me?” I ask.
“It’s a surprise!” he says, smiling. “You’ll see.”
We walk a few blocks till we reach the building. I flashback to the party with Georgie and the night I’d met Luis—my drug-dealer ex-boyfriend who convinced me to go to Puerto Rico and then tried to kill me. God, my life sucks!
Antonio looks concerned. “Are you okay, Sweetie?”
“I’m fine,” I say, trying to feign enthusiasm.
“Well, come on then, girl! You’ll love Blue. Everybody does.”
We take the elevator to the top floor. The door’s open, so we walk in. Immediately, I’m assaulted by the beautiful paintings displayed on the wall. The last time I met Blue I fainted. How embarrassing! Today, he has his back to us while he furiously works on a large white canvas in the middle of the living room.
“Hey Blue, we’re here!” he calls out.
When Blue turns around, I’m once again facing the spitting image of my dead brother. Except he smiles at me this time—the kind of smile that lights up a room. It’s both comforting and disturbing—my brother hardly ever smiled.
“Hi,” he says, walking over, “Blue Benson. We met briefly at my party just before you passed out.”
“Oh my God I’m sorry,” I say, averting my eyes. “It’s just that you remind me of someone I used to know.”
Antonio cuts in, taking charge of the situation as usual.
“Bebe’s looking for a place to stay; I instantly thought of you.”
“That’s great,” Blue says. “I’ve got plenty of room. Stay as long as you like.”
“Just like that?” I ask.
“Just like that,” he says.
Natalie Scott enjoys writing young adult contemporary romance novels. She published her debut novel Rules for Riders in August 2014. Rules for Riders is a fast paced coming-of-age novel set in the competitive world of equestrian riding. Becoming Famous, the long anticipated sequel to Rules for Riders, was released in July 2015.
Natalie is originally from Australia and has lived in New York and Los Angeles. She currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.
To learn more, go to NatalieScott.com.
For more information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Natalie Scott, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805.807.9027.
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