Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Week on Books Direct - 30 June 2013

This Week on Books Direct - 30 June 2013

Here's a list of the articles you may have missed this week:

"Buy Links Simplified" - Article by Indies Unlimited.
Purchase links can be hideous long disasters. So, which part of that link do you actually need to give someone?

"Health and Fitness" - Brought to you by Bundle of the Week.
Every week Bundle of the Week presents 5 related ebooks for only $7.40. Are you looking to lose weight, take control of your health or get stronger? If so, this week's bundle is for you! With 5 unique guides to health and fitness, you'll discover recipes, exercise tips and motivation to make real, lasting changes in your life. Get this bundle for more than 85% off this week only.

 All good writers think what they're doing sucks – and this is what drives them on to get better. It happens because of the inevitable problem of turning the perfection of concepts into something mundane – the written word. So, do you think your writing sucks?

What do you think?

"Is It Possible to be a Great Artist and a Good Person?" - Article by Mason Currey for Powell's Books.
Mason talks about his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work and comes to the conclusion that, if you're looking for guidance on how to be a better person, more connected to your family or peers, healthier, or more even-keeled, history's great artists are pretty much the last people you want to emulate.

A great infographic on how to create a successful ebook. You can get more information about each step here.

"5 Tips on How to Run a Writing Group" - Article by Mark Nichol for Daily Writing Tips.
You've got your writing group up and running. All the hard work's over, right? Wrong. Just like any smooth-running machine, a writing group requires maintenance. Here are some tips for tender, loving care. What are your tips?

"Press Release Tutorial" - Tutorial by K. S. Brooks for Indies Unlimited.
Are you one of the authors and entrepreneurs who are not taking advantage of this free opportunity? All it takes is a little legwork (and a lot of clicking). Once you've gotten your distribution lists together, it's just a matter of sending emails.

"You're Too Stupid to Build a Platform" - Article by Nick Thacker (The Golden Crystal) for LiveHacked.
Nick wrote this blog post calling out someone whom he believes think we're all too stupid to build a successful platform. If you know anything about Nick, you'll know that he truly believes anyone - with dedication, hard work, and perseverance - can build and launch their own successful online platform.

As an indie author, it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to learning how to market your books. There is so much information on the internet - lists upon lists of indie book reviewers, paid promotions, free promotions, etc. - that at times it seems like you spend more of our time researching marketing strategies instead of writing the actual books! Rachel has compiled a list of the top 50 best websites that allow you to promote your book's free days. Books Direct has been included! Thanks, Rachel!

Have you ever panicked while looking at the blank page? Do you start writing but you feel blocked soon after that? So, what causes writer's block and how can you fix it?

Authors need to use every tool possible to market their books.  One tool that is often overlooked is the email signature.

"The Do's and Don'ts of Self-Published Book Promotion" - Article by Shawnassey Brooks on Yahoo! Voices.
If you're going to self-publish, you've got a lot of work ahead of you. While producing a great manuscript can feel a lot like giving birth, the hardest part about the process isn't the hours of writing, re-structuring, more re-writes and proofreading. It's the promotion.

"How Do I Claim My Vanity URL on Facebook… and Why?" - Article by Scott Ayres for PostPlanner.
Claiming a custom-branded "vanity" URL for your Facebook page is a no-brainer. It gives your page an easy-to-find and easy-to-share URL that looks professional and branded. Go claim your page's URL right now! Scott shows you how.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Judging Nicky" by Inara Everett

Judging Nicky
by Inara Everett

Nicky Vieira, mom of two, has always wanted to be a photographer. She even thinks in photo images. She signs up for a college photography program – and falls in love with Savvy, a beautiful young lesbian. When Nicky’s husband Paul discovers her affair, he demands a divorce and, to her horror, custody of their children.
Nicky’s lawyer fails to warn her about Paul’s dirty tricks, so Nicky fires him, hires a better lawyer and sets up a successful photography business to pay all the bills. But Paul begins alienating the children from Nicky. Her daughters become sullen and withdrawn. Nicky must find a way to manoeuvre around Paul’s sneaky tactics before the custody trial – or face losing her children.
This intimate look at the intersection of parenting and sexuality will keep readers thoroughly engaged right to the harrowing conclusion.

MY DAUGHTERS attached all sorts of dangling decorations to their new knapsacks on the long weekend before school started. Jasmine added a beaded heart, a fuzzy basketball and a plastic banana to hers; Julia fastened on figurines of Tigger, Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh. Then they clipped a plastic smiley face on my new school knapsack when they thought I wasn’t looking.
The girls were eager to leave on the first day of school; I steeled myself to head out the front door for my first day at Centennial College. They say the hardest part of any journey is taking the first step; as I considered this, I wondered, who makes this crap up? I began chanting the expression to myself in a silly, sing-song tone.
I looked in the mirror – for the fifth time – before putting on my knapsack. I examined the crow’s feet wrinkles around my eyes, and reminded myself that people often told me I looked young for thirty-six. Being tall and slim helped me on this, and I admit I was proud of my curly auburn hair without a hint of grey. But joining a bunch of kids just out of high school now seemed like a stupid idea. As a wife and mother of two school-aged girls, I was certain I would seem light-years older than the other students.
I calmed down as we got outside in the bright summer sunshine, and I told Jasmine and Julia that I would be home by the time they got back from school at 4. They looked momentarily concerned, having forgotten that I wouldn’t be at home all day as I usually was. I gave them both a hug.
“It’s going to be fine! Love you tons!” I said, trying to sound more confident than I felt, and they hugged me back, reassured.
My husband Paul pulled out of the driveway at that moment, on his way to work.
“Hey Jas and Julia, have a great first day,” he called out from the car. He looked good in his navy suit – tall, dark and handsome, people always said; his aquiline nose and nearly black hair and eyes revealed his Italian background. I looked after him expectantly. He gave me a thumbs-up and drove off down the street. That was good enough for me. Paul wasn’t happy about my return to school, but he was trying to be supportive, and I had to take what I could get.
Paul and I had been married for twelve years. We met at a pub when we were at university; I was there with a group of friends, and he was there too, with his rowdy soccer team. He noticed me right away and when he caught my eye, pretended to swoon at my beauty. Then he took a flower from one of the vases on a table, gave it to me and asked me to dance. I blushingly agreed. I was flattered that someone so good-looking – such broad shoulders, such handsome features – was interested in me. We started going out after that. He was so much fun then.
Just before graduating from university, I discovered that I was pregnant. Paul and I had talked about marriage, and I wanted to have kids, but the pregnancy was unexpected and too soon – and I hadn’t completely made my mind up on how I felt about Paul. When I told him about the baby, he wanted to get married right away; he’s Catholic. I was scared so I agreed to marry him, even though I knew he expected me to be Lady Guinevere to his King Arthur, and sit at home demurely worshipping him while he went off on adventures – and we all know how that story ended. Then Jasmine was born and I fell in love with her right from the start. Julia followed soon after.
Jasmine and Julia ran ahead as we walked to the elementary school down the street from our house on Lynde Boulevard. Jas was tall for her age at twelve, with an athletic build, blonde hair and blue eyes, and a happy and outgoing personality. She sometimes bossed people around, including her sister, but was still just a kid underneath the grown-up act. Until she was nearly ten, she used to cry whenever I left her with a babysitter – although the sitters always claimed she would cheer up as soon as I was out the door.
Julia, at nine, was a slender, pretty girl with shoulder-length dark hair that she usually wore in a ponytail. She drew and painted beautifully and got very good grades in school, but wanted to be more popular and athletic like her sister Jasmine. Once after Paul and I took her to one of Jasmine’s basketball tournaments and Jas scored the winning point, Julia sneaked into Jasmine’s room and stole her basketball shoes. Paul accused Jasmine of losing them, which she hotly denied. Julia was hailed as a heroine when she “found” the shoes. When she finally confessed to hiding them, Paul and I grounded her for two weeks.
Kids and assorted parents filled the sidewalk as we got closer to the school, and I chatted with a few mothers I knew. Both Jasmine and Julia raced into the schoolyard of the sprawling red brick building once we arrived.
“Bye, mom!” they called. They wanted to find their friends and to avoid being seen lingering with their mother in front of the other children.
“A small amount of clinging might have been nice,” I joked to another parent. She was prying a sniffling six-year-old off of her leg.
“Believe me, it’s for the best when they run off like that,” she said, laughing.
I walked down several streets and got on a bus, which took me to the subway station. The bustle of the other commuters soothed my jangled nerves, and I closed my eyes and relaxed after studying the map of Centennial I had received along with my acceptance into the college’s one-year photography program.
I’ve always loved to take pictures, ever since I got my first Canon camera back in high school. In Grade Eleven, I won first prize in the Streetsville Examiner’s Young Artists Photography Contest for a photo I took of Canada geese flying in a V formation over a farmer’s field – a close-up of the geese that highlighted their strong wings. My proud parents made me the family photographer after that, and I created scrapbooks of photos every year. I try to capture the little things at family events that no one else sees – like my brother-in-law admiring my pretty cousin Ellie’s figure in her low-cut sweater, or Jasmine surreptitiously feeding the dog a forbidden treat. Everyone loves leafing through the scrapbooks – although they are sometimes fearful of what I might have captured.
I’m such a shutterbug that I even think in photo images; they pop into my head at random times. For example: when I was a nerd in high school, sometimes getting teased for my good grades, one boy – his name was Mike Buller – really liked to make fun of me and it bothered me a lot. But one time, a Norman Rockwell-type photo came into my head when Mike was picking on me, of him in the corner of the classroom wearing a dunce cap, head hanging down. The photo made me understand his motivation – he thought he was stupid and was jealous of me. His teasing didn’t bother me anymore, and when he saw this, he stopped.
It was then that I knew that I had to become a photographer.
I signed up for Centennial’s photography program on the day after Julia’s ninth birthday, on April 16, 2000. I had been a stay-at-home mom for over a decade, and I needed to follow my dream. I had time on my hands now that the girls were established in school, and let’s face it, I wasn’t getting any younger. It felt like a now-or-never kind of thing. I knew I would meet resistance from Paul; I’m not sure how I found the courage to change the course of our relationship after all that time. Maybe it was because I noticed Paul surreptitiously staring at younger women as my looks started to fade; maybe it was because I felt the call of forty just around the corner, with all the regret for things not done that that milestone birthday brings. It was not hard to do once I made up my mind; I went online, found Centennial College’s photography program and began filling out the forms.
But now, on the first day of school, the reality of actually attending the program hit me. What if I couldn’t manage the workload? What if I didn’t fit in? I started chanting “the hardest part of any journey” expression again.

By Avid
I really liked this book. I got caught up in Nicky's dreams of becoming a photographer and her ability to think in photo images. I liked her strength of character in the face of a devious husband and an uncaring court system - she fought back in every way she could.
And, I think that I may have a crush on super-cool Savvy!
I highly recommend Judging Nicky. The book's bittersweet ending left me thinking about it for days.

About the Author

Inara Everett is a Canadian lawyer and writer with a passion for all things jurisfictional. Jurisfiction describes the genre of legal fiction - fiction with a law-related theme. Inara's blog,, covers her e-publishing experiences and thoughts about life in this crazy, infuriating, uplifting, exciting world.


Friday, June 28, 2013

"Ice Diaries" by Lexi Revellian

Ice Diaries
by Lexi Revellian

It's 2018 and Tori's managing. Okay, so London is under twenty metres of snow, almost everybody has died in a pandemic or been airlifted south, and the only animals around are rats. Plus her boyfriend never returned from going to find his parents a year ago when the snow began - but she's doing fine. Really.
She lives in an apartment that's luxurious, if short on amenities, in a block which used to be home to rich City bankers. A handful of fellow survivors are her friends, and together they forage for food and firewood, have parties once a month and even run a book club. The problem is they have no long-term future; eventually provisions will run out. Tori needs to find transport to make the two-thousand-mile journey south to a warm climate and start again.
Enter Morgan, a disturbingly hot cage fighter from a tougher, meaner world where it's a mistake to trust people. He's on the run from the leader of the gang he used to work with. And he has a snowmobile.

As soon as Claire got pregnant, Paul brought home all the books he could find in the Barbican library on pregnancy and childbirth, and has been reading up on the subject. I’m not sure this has helped. He now knows in great detail every possible thing that can go wrong. Armed only with a St John’s Ambulance course he took six years ago, he’s not equipped to cope if they do. Now I was there to sit with Claire he went off to make a cup of tea.
An elderly stove made the bedroom smell of paraffin. Claire was sitting up in bed, pale, her hair clinging damply to her forehead. She wore a thick sweater over a nightdress, socks and legwarmers. For a moment she looked pleased to see me, then she shut her eyes, her face scrunched up and a moan escaped her gritted teeth. She inhaled deeply and breathed out through her mouth. I sat by the bed, trying to look relaxed and confident. A positive attitude was all I had to offer. I know nothing about childbirth. I had chicken pox when my school showed the mother-giving-birth video; afterwards my friends told me about it in gruesome detail and I was quite relieved to have missed it. The sum total of my knowledge picked up elsewhere was:
● You have to push but only when you get the urge
● In African tribes they put charcoal on the child’s navel as it’s a natural antiseptic
● If you can’t get to hospital in time, you should sit up with your back against something and your legs apart
● You tie the umbilical cord in two places and cut between the threads with sterilized scissors (I suppose you should boil the thread too)
● It’s important to get all the afterbirth out
And I know there are breathing techniques which allegedly lessen the pain. Claire has been doing breathing exercises religiously for months with the help of a book Paul gave her. I’m sceptical about this except as a distraction, because if it worked then they’d tell you to breathe to combat the pain of a headache or a broken bone, and they don’t. If you have a headache or broken bone, you take aspirin, paracetamol or morphine because unlike breathing, they actually work. But I kept this opinion to myself.
“How are you feeling?”
She grasped my hand, her eyes wide. “Don’t ever have a child, Tori, it’s terrible.”
“Chance would be a fine thing. Fond though I am of Greg, he’s not quite –”
Understandably in the circumstances, Claire interrupted my comment about the desert that is my love life. “I didn’t realize, last time they gave me an epidural. What was I thinking? I must have been crazy. I thought a brother or sister would be nice for Gemma…”
I patted her hand. “So it will. It’ll be over in a few hours, then you’ll have a new baby and you’ll forget all about it. Probably decide to have six more.”
“Paul wanted to get Nina here. Can you imagine? I told him over my dead body.”
“Oh my God. Well, that’s something to be cheerful about.”
Nina is okay I suppose, but she has a view on every topic and expects you to agree. If you don’t, she assumes you haven’t understood her, and explains all over again, more slowly and in greater detail. Sometimes I want to brain her with a brick. I was really pleased when a bad back stopped her coming on our group forages, because without her, dividing the spoil takes no time at all, and it used to take the best part of an hour with Nina present being nitpicky. She’s the last person in the world you’d want to split a restaurant bill with – if there still were any restaurants. Me and the guys, Paul, Greg and Archie, have a swings and roundabouts approach to share-outs. So do Charlie and Sam.
Claire began another contraction. I glanced at my watch and wondered if I should time them – was it a good sign when they got more frequent? The pain must have been worse because she yelled. Afterwards I wiped her face with a flannel from the bedside table, feeling inadequate.
“Tori…supposing I can’t get the baby out?”
There were tears in her eyes. A stab of fear went through me – what an appalling way to die, and poor little Gemma would have to manage in this hostile new world without her mother. Women often died in childbirth before the invention of modern obstetrics; Mary Wollstonecraft died of septicaemia, slowly and agonizingly over days…I spoke robustly.
“You’ll be fine. Loads of women do this every day – well, not the same women, obviously, different ones. But it can’t be that difficult. Anyway, they say it’s easier the second time, and you’ve been practising the breathing, and you’re healthy. Plus you’ve got me here, and I won’t let anything bad happen. Hey, I’m really good at boiling water…”
Claire smiled a scared smile and gripped my hand.

I came across this book from the Indie Book Bargains site and I'm really glad I did. I like anything post-apocalyptic and this just fit the bill. It was a clear read and easily engaging and the characters were really interesting.
The story revolves around two catastrophic events, a pandemic and London is under several meters of snow. We join a small group of people who live and scavenge what is left of London and life continues in their little community as best it can, until a strange appears in the snow.
I really liked the two main characters, they were very human and contemporary, I felt that they were people I might know. I liked that there was a mix of personalities and that they weren't that different to what people are like now. The familiar landmarks were fun and the tension in the story was gripping.
Sequel please, I hope there's more to come!

From the Author
For years, I resisted writing because I knew I'd never be as good as Jane Austen. Finally I realized no one is as good as Jane Austen - I started writing and couldn't stop. I've sold over 60,000 ebooks.
My first two novels are fantasy (Torbrek and the Dragon Variation and Trav Zander). The third, Remix, is contemporary fiction with elements of crime, investigation and romance, and tells what happens when Caz Tallis finds a strange man asleep on her roof terrace. He turns out to be - no, I'm not telling you, you'll have to read it to find out... My fourth, Replica, is a thriller. Beth Chandler is unknowingly replicated in a flawed experiment, and falls for the man who is hunting her double. The latest is Ice Diaries, a post-apocalyptic story with romance and humor.
My day job is designing and making jewelry and silver under my real name, Lexi Dick. I've made pieces for Margaret Thatcher, 10 Downing Street, and Her Majesty the Queen.


"Interrupting Infamy" by Inara Everett

Interrupting Infamy
by Inara Everett

Dylan finally lands his first job. His boss, Larry, steals Dylan's ideas and pretends they're his. Dylan angrily protests – only to find himself unceremoniously sacked.
Unemployed once again, Dylan burns for revenge. To please his family, he consults a lawyer and starts a lawsuit – all the while secretly plotting a workplace massacre.
Will Dylan go through with his brutal plan? His life spins in and out of control – and he must confront his violent past – as he wrestles with his desire for vengeance.

Dylan examined his appearance in the full-length mirror at the end of the hall. He disliked the spikiness of his newly cut hair, and thought for the millionth time about how he detested his large, rounded nose. But when he smiled at his reflection, to his surprise, he looked almost handsome.
In the eight months since graduating from high school in 1999, Dylan had sent out hundreds of job applications, and received exactly one offer – for the job he was starting today. As he finished getting ready, he wondered if he’d meet any hot chicks at his new place of employment, his face brightening at the thought. He had never had a real girlfriend – only friends who were girls – and desperately hoped this was about to change.
Dylan called out a goodbye to his Uncle Jack and Aunt Marcie, who were eating breakfast in the kitchen of the ranch bungalow where they all lived. Jack and Marcie weren’t really his aunt and uncle but good friends of his family, as well as his godparents. Dylan’s own parents had recently decided to take an eighteen-month “voluntourism” trip now that all their children had graduated from high school, and they were in Sri Lanka, helping a local community build a school. Jack and Marcie had no children of their own. Dylan knew they thought of him as the son they never had, which he appreciated, but also frustrated the hell out of him – too many questions, too much nagging.
“Good luck at your first day at work,” Jack said. “Remember – be polite.”
Dylan wondered what his uncle thought he planned on doing at work – telling his boss to shut up, or screaming at his co-workers for some minor infraction? Geez, he wasn’t a kid anymore. He was a man with a job.
A few patches of snow covered the ground and Dylan shivered as he walked down the driveway. Jack and Marcie’s home, in the same suburb as his parents’, had a spectacular view of the Rockies and backed onto a forested area, giving the place an isolated feel. It gave off a sense of loneliness that Dylan didn’t like – he preferred to have more people around, and he planned on getting his own place as soon as he could afford it. But on a minimum wage salary, that was going to take a while.
Dylan got in his car, a used BMW his parents had given him in high school. His breath quickly fogged up the interior windows. He turned on the ignition and let the fan blow for a while, and once the windows had cleared he backed out and drove out of the subdivision. He passed by empty fields with occasional patches of tall grasses before he reached the highway, where he merged with the other traffic.
Surrounded by commuter traffic, on his way to his first real job, Dylan revelled in his new feeling of independence – he was a working man now, not an unpopular kid in high school. Thank God the misery of high school was over – particularly the six months of probation he had suffered through for owning an illegal handgun. He would never forget the judge yelling at him to get his act together, and a cop telling him that if he didn’t watch out he’d be on his way to hell in a handbasket. What a jerk, Dylan thought, and just what is hell in a handbasket anyway?
But now, Dylan had a full-time job. He’d proven the judge and cop wrong. He would get a steady paycheque. Soon he’d be able to buy a new computer, video games, clothes and maybe a new car – and best of all, eventually get his own place. Oh man, it was going to be great. He turned on the car stereo and put in a CD; the sun was shining and he turned the music up loud.
As Dylan rounded a curve on the highway he saw his workplace: an eight-storey building with a stylized checkbox and arrow logo and the name “LOGIN” affixed to the exterior. LOGIN, short for Logical Solutions International, provided office management technology, including both software and hardware, for the business community. The company had branch offices in fifteen countries; Dylan’s job, as an IT support representative, was at the company’s head office in Denver, Colorado.
Dylan took an exit ramp and then inched through stop-and-go traffic for a mile or so. In spite of the slow traffic, he reached the LOGIN building about ten minutes early, having built in some extra time to his trip. He parked in the front lot, turned off the car and decided to wait a few minutes before going in. But then he began fidgeting, tapping his thumb on the dashboard and shifting his feet as nervousness overwhelmed him, so he got out of the car and walked toward the building. Its exterior was made entirely of gold-coloured glass and Dylan could see the clouds reflected in its upper storeys.
LOGIN’s front entrance was attractively tiled with interlocking stones surrounded by gardens with euonymus and evergreen bushes, as well as river stones and the odd small pine tree. Dylan made his way through the revolving doors and into the spacious marble lobby, which soared three stories above him. Thriving palm trees stood in tall planters at the edges of the lobby, surrounded by exotic-looking flowering plants. The sun streamed in the gold-tinted windows. Pretty impressive, Dylan thought, feeling pleased with his new place of employment so far.
He walked toward the guard at the front desk, anticipating a cheerful greeting. But the guard, who wore a stiff suit and tie, peered at Dylan suspiciously through heavy-framed glasses. His ferret-like face had a yellowish tinge and his slightly greasy hair had a short, unflattering cut.
“Yes?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. His look suggested that Dylan’s status was only slightly above that of an insect.
Well, well, well, isn’t he Mr. Friendly, Dylan thought. Great choice for reception.
“It’s my first day at LOGIN,” he said.
The guard nodded his head abruptly and showed him a list of names.
“Please check off your name and write your licence plate number in the space provided. Then you can take the elevator to the fourth floor,” he said. Dylan did as he was asked and handed back the list, which the guard took without even a thank you. Dylan hoped the other employees at LOGIN would have more people skills than this guy – although he acknowledged that his own people skills weren’t exactly outstanding.
He walked over to the elevators. The ceiling was lower in this area of the lobby and there were no palm trees, but the walls glittered with black marble and the elevators had elegant brass trim. He joined the two other people who were waiting for the next elevator to arrive, checking them out surreptitiously. One was a slight young Asian man with acne and glasses, wearing jeans and a white dress shirt – probably a computer nerd, Dylan thought – and the other looked somewhat like his aunt, plump and friendly with iron grey hair. No hot chicks so far.
When the elevator doors opened, Dylan stepped in after the other two and pushed the fourth floor button. As the elevator moved soundlessly to the next level, his earlier feelings of euphoria left him. Doubts about his new job crept in. What if he couldn’t do it? He and his friends in high school had always mocked the idea of working in an office 9 to 5, and now here he was. What if his skills were all wrong for the position? What if no one liked him?
Dylan brushed these thoughts aside as the elevator doors opened on the fourth floor. He walked across the marble floor to glass doors that opened into the reception area. He gave his name to the receptionist, an attractive woman in her forties with long dark hair that fell in waves, and she smiled and asked him to have a seat. Then she paged Dylan’s supervisor over the intercom.
“Larry Roach, please come to the front desk,” she announced.
Dylan sat down in one of the armchairs in the waiting area and picked up a magazine. Larry Roach, he thought as he leafed through the magazine, what the hell kind of a name is that? Sounds like he should have a carapace and pincers, for God’s sake. Or maybe he smokes a lot of joints – ha ha. He told himself to shut up and be polite as his uncle had advised.
Larry approached Dylan a few moments later.
“Dylan?” he asked, and when Dylan nodded his head, grabbed Dylan’s hand and shook it hard. “Come with me, young man.”
Larry turned to Dylan as they walked down the hall.
“A word of advice,” Larry said. “You gotta work on that limp handshake. You don’t want people to think you’re a pansy, do ya?”
Dylan hid his irritation at Larry’s criticism. He studied his new boss. When Larry smiled, he revealed yellow, snaggled teeth. He stood as tall as Dylan, but was far broader, barrel-chested with a big paunch, and his wire-rimmed, outdated glasses revealed pale blue eyes. He wore navy dress pants and a light blue dress shirt which strained against his large stomach and beefy arms.
“This is your first job, isn’t it? Still wet behind the ears – you’ve got a lot to learn,” Larry said with a superior-sounding chuckle.
Dylan gave a small nod. He detected a hint of mockery in Larry’s tone. Great, it’s only been two minutes and I don’t like my boss already, he thought.
“Let me show you the kitchen first. You can grab a coffee if you want,” Larry said.
They stopped in front of a room at the end of the hall. It held a table and chairs, fridge, stove, sink and dishwasher. Larry pointed out the coffee pot and showed Dylan the cupboard where he could get a mug.
“Your mug has to be put in the dishwasher at the end of the day, or Sylvia, the floor monitor, will have your hide,” Larry said, evidently taking it very seriously.
God, he’s worse than Uncle Jack and Aunt Marcie, Dylan thought.
As Dylan poured himself a coffee, two workers, a young man and woman, came into the kitchen. Dylan and Larry overheard them chatting about a meeting with one of the LOGIN managers.
“Don’t forget to send your reply to the meeting request you received. I already did,” Larry interrupted them. “It’s important to reply so that the meeting agenda lists everyone attending it.”
The man nodded his head and gave Larry a forced smile. When Larry turned to pour himself some coffee, Dylan saw the man and woman laughing at him behind his back.
“Hi, I’m Will,” the man said. “You must be the new IT guy. Just ignore Larry and his obsessive rule-making or he’ll drive you crazy.” Larry grunted and rolled his eyes in reply.
Will was very thin, with a scraggly beard and a friendly grin; his shirt had come untucked in the back. The woman’s long, dark hair hung below her shoulders, framing the Asian features of her delicate, pretty face. She appeared to be in her twenties and smiled shyly at Dylan, introducing herself as Mandy. Now this is getting interesting, Dylan thought as he shook her hand. He gave her an admiring glance as she left the kitchen with Will.
Dylan picked up his coffee mug and followed Larry past a bank of cubicles and down another hall. The hall opened into a large, fluorescent-lit room filled with rows and rows of grey cubicles and after winding his way through the maze of desks Larry showed Dylan his workspace. The cubicle had just enough room for a chair and two drawers.
“Your name’s already up,” Larry said, pointing to a placard on the exterior of the cubicle. Dylan smiled weakly. The hive-like aspect of the rows of cubicles, with all the worker bee employees tap-tap-tapping away diligently on their keyboards, was just like what he and his friends had laughed about in high school. And not only that, Larry seemed like a loser.
Just my luck to get Weird Larry as a boss, Dylan thought, and I’m going to have to look at his ugly mug every morning. He tried to put a positive spin on it, noting that Larry had taken the time to show him around a bit, but wasn’t able to force down a feeling of gloom.
“You’ll have access to email soon,” Larry said, revealing his yellow, snuggle-toothed smile again. “There’s an online presentation for new employees you can review for now. We’ve got a meeting at ten thirty and I’ll introduce you to a few of the managers. They always like to meet new employees.”
He pointed to Dylan’s computer screen, which flashed Welcome to LOGIN! with an icon labelled “Click here to begin” below. Larry told Dylan to ask him if he had any questions about the online presentation. Then he walked to a cubicle across from Dylan’s, sat down and began working.
Dylan jammed himself into his cubicle. At six foot four, his long legs barely fit under the desk. He clicked to open the online seminar and was surprised by its rudimentary technology. There’s no interactivity and way too much text, he thought. He debated whether to mention this to Larry and decided against it, concluding it would be best to keep his opinions to himself on his first day.
After half an hour, Larry stood up.
“Ok, let’s go to our meeting,” he said. “We can get a snack at the vending machines on our way.”
As they walked, Larry told Dylan he had worked at LOGIN for six months, after leaving his previous job at a tech company in Michigan.
“I was the team leader in IT sales back in Michigan,” he said, going into a long, boring ramble about his sales duties and some award he had won. Dylan noted that Larry’s prior job seemed to involve the sale of computer equipment rather than actually working with software – he didn’t seem to have much real IT experience. Dylan also noticed that Larry wore no wedding ring and didn’t mention anything about a wife or kids in discussing his move from Michigan. With that paunch and great personality, I’m sure Weird Larry’s a real chick magnet, Dylan thought. Not.
Larry stopped in front of one of the vending machines that stood in a row at the end of the hall. He fished around in his pocket for change, put a bunch of quarters into the machine and punched out a number and letter on the grid on the front of the machine. There was a brief whirring noise and then the clip at the front of one of the rows of food items behind the glass opened to release a large Danish pastry into the trough of the machine. Larry pulled the huge, greasy-looking pastry out of the trough and peeled back its plastic wrapper. He took a big bite out of the pastry and began chewing noisily.
“Want one?” he asked Dylan, who shook his head.
Larry and Dylan continued walking until they came to a small room with a frosted glass door labelled 105. Larry went in and plunked down in one of the chairs surrounding a large table which nearly filled up the room on its own. Dylan sat down in another chair. As they waited for the others to arrive, Larry continued to chew his Danish noisily; a ridge of crumbs formed at the side of his mouth. Dylan tried not to stare but found his eyes returning to the glued-on pastry flakes with morbid fascination.
To distract himself from Larry’s chewing, Dylan studied the room. The table had a black surface and the metal-framed chairs had burnt-orange polyester padding, a change from LOGIN’s ubiquitous shades of grey.
“You know, you could add a few black cat decorations and we could hold a Halloween party here,” Dylan said, to make conversation and to drown out the sound of the chewing. He desperately wanted the chewing to stop – and it did, as Larry stared at him with a puzzled expression.
“You know, the colours in here – black and orange for Halloween,” Dylan clarified.
“Oh yeah,” Larry replied. “Whoever chose the colour scheme must’ve had their sense of decor up their ass.”
Dylan laughed. At least they agreed on something.
A woman came into the room and sat down at the table.
“Hi, you must be Dylan,” she said, reaching over the table to shake Dylan’s hand. “I’m Nora Balodis, Senior IT Manager. I’ll be chairing today’s meeting.” Middle-aged, short and plump, she had slightly frizzly blond hair and very blue eyes, with round, owlish glasses. She gave Dylan a friendly smile.
Next, a young man entered the room and introduced himself as Carl Colacicco, IT support manager. Tall and muscular, with handsome features, dark hair and smooth skin, he was maybe ten years older than Dylan. He looked confident and capable.
“Hi, Dylan,” he said, giving him a firm handshake.
Carl and Nora seem okay, Dylan thought, his mood picking up.
A few more men and women entered the room, and then Nora asked Dylan to tell everyone a bit about himself. Never good in front of a crowd, Dylan felt his mind go blank. It felt like a barrier coming down inside his brain, preventing the synapse from retrieving the desired words. The more he panicked, the blanker his mind became.
“I…I…it’s like, um…” he gabbled. Finally he closed his mouth, took a deep breath and forced himself to start talking. Mercifully, the blankness dissipated.
“I’ve had experience as, like, an IT tutor in high school,” Dylan said. “I’ve also designed video games and software programs.”
Carl asked him about the video games and Dylan launched into a discussion about KAOS, his most popular game. Nora smiled and nodded encouragingly as he spoke.
“Thanks, Dylan. We’re all looking forward to getting to know you better,” she said when he finished speaking. He felt good about the introduction in spite of his awkward beginning.
Nora looked at her agenda and began discussing the first item – something from her department’s budget. The managers reviewed it at length and went on to talk about a number of other topics that didn’t sound too interesting to Dylan, but when Nora mentioned the marketing department’s work on email sales notifications to clients, he listened closely. He knew a lot about this, having created a program himself in high school that handled automatic emails.
“Larry, can you help us out with this?” Nora asked.
“Nah, it’s a new area,” Larry replied. “I’ll see if I can hire a consultant to give us some advice.”
“I was involved with email notifications at my high school and set up a program that sent automatic emails to everyone on various lists,” Dylan piped up. “I could help out on that project if you want.”
Everyone looked at Dylan in surprise. Carl asked Dylan for details about the program, which he happily provided, talking enthusiastically for several minutes. This was a subject he knew thoroughly – no blank-outs here.
“Dylan, I’m really impressed with your know-how on this,” Carl said. “Maybe you could help us develop our program.”
Larry shot Dylan a stay-off-my-turf look which startled Dylan, but he forgot about it as he continued discussing the automatic email program.
“Dylan, you really know your technology,” another manager said. A murmur of agreement filled the room.
“I’ll send you an invitation to attend the next meeting on the notifications,” Carl said. Dylan smiled and nodded an agreement. “Larry, there’s no need for you to come, since Dylan seems to know so much about it.”
Larry didn’t reply. Instead, he glowered at Dylan across the table.
“That’s it for today’s meeting,” Nora announced. “Thanks for coming. And I’m sure everyone will agree that it’s been a real pleasure meeting Dylan.”
The managers gave Dylan a round of applause before they left the room, chatting and joking with each other as they walked down the hall. Larry and Dylan walked together in the opposite direction as they headed back to their cubicles. Once they were alone, Larry turned furiously to Dylan.
“Okay, you little bastard, don’t you ever show me up like that again,” he said, his voice low but very sharp. “If you pull another stunt like that, I’ll make sure you regret it.”
“But…but…I was just helping out,” Dylan replied, his forehead furrowing in shocked puzzlement.
“Oh, I get it. You think you’re better than me, don’t you?”
“I never said that.”
“I could tell you were a smart-assed punk as soon as I saw you, but the hiring committee insisted on bringing you in. I’m warning you, stay in your place or you’re gonna be real sorry.”
Larry gave Dylan a look of disgust and walked away at a rapid pace, leaving Dylan standing in the hall in open-mouthed astonishment.

By Avid
I really got into the main character Dylan. He really suffered when his boss fired him, and his pathetic love for his imaginary friend Elvie fascinated me.
I found the book's alternate reality approach to the Columbine killers intriguing. I've always wondered what would have happened to them if the police had stopped them before the massacre - now I have a thought-provoking answer. We all need to hope that evil can be purged or else give up to defeat.
I read this book because I enjoyed reading I.Y. Everett's prior novel - Judging Nicky. These two books are very different - and both very good. Everett has a great range.
This book got my attention and kept it from beginning to end. A great read!

About the Author

Inara Everett is a Canadian lawyer and writer with a passion for all things jurisfictional. Jurisfiction describes the genre of legal fiction - fiction with a law-related theme. Inara's blog,, covers her e-publishing experiences and thoughts about life in this crazy, infuriating, uplifting, exciting world.