#Excerpt from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ICE by @TheobaldSprague #AmReading #Climate

One of the main objectives for the trip and documentary was to come away with a fairly precise understanding as to the state of environmental affairs. I’m sorry to say that in this I failed. But I have an excuse. The heft of Mother Nature’s intentions was introduced to us far sooner and to a much larger degree than ever anticipated and became a very large part of our daily lives. By the time we got to The Passage, the scope and aim of the trip was simply to finish in one piece. The time planned for interviews and casual observations had turned into a race against the seasonal clock and we had to be satisfied with the few interviews that we got. Quickly the story of the trip changed focus from overview and observation to not getting hampered by the elements.
To have missed some planned interviews and time spent among the various communities in exchange for surviving the ordeal was fine with me. There’s a saying that in the 1800s, those hearty souls who took a stagecoach journey across the United States started off with great excitement and anticipation of all that they would see and encounter. By the end, they were just happy to reach their destinations alive. Never was it as true as with our trip to and through the Northwest Passage that summer.
The second area I wanted to investigate and learn from was the potential of commercial shipping through The Passage. What I learned from those I interviewed was more focused and defined compared to their beliefs on global warming. While some small commercial shipping does currently exist and some more will certainly start up, all of whom I spoke with felt that the large-scale supertanker-type of shipping would never happen.
I was told that when the area is frozen, perhaps more than three-quarters of the year, it provides not only migratory routes but ice roads as well. To one extent or another, all of the communities from the smallest fishing camps to larger ones like Cambridge Bay depend on these ice roads in and out of their area. Any interest in larger commercial shipping would meet great resistance.
The Northwest Passage is, for the most part, an uncharted area. When we were able to take soundings in some locations, the bottom would be ten- feet deep, then drop to perhaps a hundred feet, then come back up again to ten feet, all in the stretch of perhaps a quarter-mile.
It’s my feeling—as well as that of many of those who live in the Nunavut Territories—that if commercial concerns want to use this shortcut between the two major oceans, there would have to be extensive surveying and dredging to accommodate their needs, perhaps negating some of the immediate profits to be found. In dealing with the ice, shipping will find it to be completely unpredictable and each year it would present its own grave challenges.
Without the promises of immediate profits, I don’t see these concerns to have a large concentration span. Again, these are just my thoughts based on observations by the few who live up there and are by no means steeped in feasibility studies and corporate research.
One area that doesn’t seem to grab the headlines as much as global warming or potential shipping, but to me holds a far more frightening potential for disaster, is that of the natural resources to be found in and around The Passage.
The exploration of lucrative natural resources just under the surface is something that I feel could destroy one of the most delicate and pristine ecosystems on our planet. There are five Arctic powers vying for dominance: Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States. Unlike Antarctica, there is very little paperwork in place delineating which nation has what claim to which area. Far too complex to try to break down in this writing, suffice it to say it’s a bit like the Old West, all trying to stake a claim via interpreting antiquated laws and rulings to their benefit.
A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.
What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
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Anna's Secret #Excerpt by @MargaretWestlie #HistFic #Mystery #BookClub

Angus trudged toward home after accompanying Sam to his own gate. The moon had risen and the countryside around was a shifting panorama of shadow and light. Presently he reached his own gate and stood for a moment gazing across the fields that were his farm. It’s a shame that this land’ll likely grow up in trees when we’re gone. I regret not having a son. I have no one to leave my property to, and the fields that I stopped farming two years ago are already going back to woods. I had thought to leave it to young Donald, him being my closest relative after Ian, but I don’t know anymore, the way he’s behaving. The gate clicked shut behind him and he started down the lane, his pace quickening as he caught sight of the soft glow of candle light from his kitchen windows. He could picture Mary there, darning a sock or hemming a winter shirt for him and humming one of the old songs, and he felt warmed by it. He slipped quietly into the candle-shadowy kitchen and stood for a moment watching her work. She sensed his presence and looked up from her mending, and smiled.
“You’re home, then,” she said with satisfaction. 
Mary looked at him keenly. “What’s troubling you?”
Angus met her bright gaze. “I was just thinking about all the unhappiness that Anna’s death has caused us, and we’re no nearer to finding out who did it than the day it was done.”
“Did you see Ian this evening?” Mary picked up her work again.
“No, but I saw the work of Donald, and it wasn’t good.” The chair squeaked as Angus shifted his position. “D’you know that young rascal paid Little Rory and James tuppence each to tie up Catherine’s cats together by the tails and hang them over the clothesline?” Indignation filled his voice. “The poor beasts were that frantic by the time I got there to free them! They’ll never be the same again.”
“Oh, dear-o! And she always made such pets of them. They were like her children. She’d have them in the house and everything. She’ll be heartbroken if they were hurt. … I wonder where Donald got four pence to give away? I didn’t know Ian paid him.”
“Well, that’s just it, where did he get the money? I’m wondering myself if I should tell Ian about this. He’s got enough to contend with now. What d’you think, Mary?”
Mary considered this in silence for a few moments, her hands idle in her lap. “It’s true enough that he’s got his hands full, but he can’t remedy the situation without all the facts. I don’t think it would be a kindness to keep this from him. It may be something that needs nipping in the bud. Donald may be heading for some real trouble that perhaps could be prevented if his father knew.” She took up her mending again, and settled her glasses more firmly on the end of her nose.
Angus looked across at her as she bent her grey head to her task, her work-roughened hands always so capable, neatly hemming a patch on his trousers that would make them serve another year. A great love for his wife filled his heart and he leaned over and kissed her wrinkled cheek, a rare expression of caring from an undemonstrative man. “You’re a good and wise woman, Mary,” he said.
She smiled back at him. “And I’m married to a good man.”

Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
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Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
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The Galatia Series by @CDVerhoff #AmReading #SciFi #Fantasy

In this excerpt from chapter two, in the middle of the night Josie has been shaken awake by a loud rumble. It’s happened before, so she’s only mildly concerned. Unable to get back to sleep, she shuffles has shuffled off to the kitchen for a snack:
As she sat at the kitchen counter, spooning pudding into her mouth, the bowl on the counter started to vibrate. Dishes rattled in the cupboard. Knickknacks fell off the shelf. Another tremor?
There had been dozens of them over the last two years. Sometimes the damage was a big deal, but most of the time everything was back to normal within a few hours. Last week, a tremor had caused the entire facility to go offline for two days. Nobody was allowed to shower. The temperature hovered around fifty degrees. No videos to watch, no computer games to play, no ebooks to read. Horrible. No way did she want to live through that again. The lights blinked on and off again, leaving her suspended in darkness with a chocolate pudding in her hand.
“This is not good.”
Alarm bells began to ring throughout the facility.
The sound of people running down the public corridor made her drop the spoon on the floor. She flung open the front door. The sound of chaos instantly increased tenfold. Dim emergency lights cast everything in an eerie blood red glow. Entire families were running down the hallway, dressed in heavy clothing, carrying their emergency backpacks, fear etched across their features.
“This can’t be for real,” she whispered. Her bladder wanted to faint. Her sister lived in the pod across the hall. Its door swung open and there was her brother-in-law, Dante Armstrong, standing there in his boxer shorts. Dante was of African descent—somewhere near Ghana was all he knew. Until just now, she had never seen him without his shirt. His impressive height and muscular build made him an imposing-looking man. His five-year-old son, Nicholas, stood behind him and peeked around his father’s hip, while Dante held three-year-old Shasta on his hip.
“Do you know what’s going on?” Josie yelled across the hall. “Where’s Jo?”
“She was called to an emergency meeting a few hours ago.”
“Mom was too.”
“Jo just called me,” Dante spoke rapidly. “She said this is the big one. The bunker has split in two and there are hundreds of secondary fissures. It’s total chaos below. The main control room is on fire and the entire city could crumble at any second.” His words were like ghostly punches to the gut, taking her breath away. “They’ve done everything they can, but it’s not going to be enough. She’s going to meet us at the main hatchway.”
The acid taste of bile coated her throat. She took a step back into the pod where things used to make sense.
“We have to evacuate,” Dante said.
“To where?”
“The surface.”
“We’ll die up there,” Josie said.
“We’ll die down here.”
Josie shook her head vigorously, retreating further into the pod.
“Jo made me promise to get you out of here.” Dante’s eyes were sympathetic, but his voice strained with impatience. “I’ll carry you over my shoulder if I have to.”
She’d debate the matter more, but Dante was the kind of man who meant what he said. If she refused to leave, he would stay, putting himself and his children in grave danger.
“Okay,” she said, feeling weak all over. “I’ll go, but let me grab a few things first.”
“I’ll give you three minutes,” he said. “I need to get a few things, too. We’ll go up to the Pringle exit together.”
The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers. Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence. 
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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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Richard Parry's #WriteTip for Defeating Procrastination Demons @TactualRain #WriteTip #Thriller

Breakfast was a mash of overly bright post-dawn light and harsh jarring sounds.  He’d choked back some dry white toast, using black coffee syrupy with sugar as a chaser.  After he kept that down, he brushed his teeth twice before leaving the house, jacket slung over his shoulder.  He was already sweating through his shirt by the time he almost made his bus, watching it pull away from the stop as he rounded the corner.
The driver of the next bus was a man sitting proud behind the wheel, stamping with binary control at the gas and brake pedals, lurching and cursing his way through the crowded morning streets with nausea inducing irregularity.  The only blessing was that no one wanted to sit next to him — even Val could smell the Bacardi sweating through his skin.
He spent his time before his meeting surfing the Internet and drinking bad coffee and stale water.  He avoided his co-workers, taking refuge in his cubicle.  The office hummed with the gentle background of cloistered productivity, phones and conversations overlaying each other into white noise.  All except Werner in the cube next to him; that man shouted into his phone like he was trying to raise the dead.  Maybe he was — he worked the marketing angle of the project they were on.
By the time he had his meeting with Davies, the shaking in his hands had stopped, the world returning to normal levels of brightness and colour.  He was still sweating through his shirt.
“Sit, Val.”  Davies’ tailored suits were a thing of office legend, fitting a frame that spent a lot of time eating healthy food and doing whatever it was they did down at Gold’s Gym.  He stood behind a baroque desk, a screen, keyboard, mouse, and cellphone laid out just so.
Val’s personnel file was open on the desk too, a couple pages marked with cheerfully coloured Post-its.  A gold pen, Cross brand embossed on the clip, sat ready on a legal pad.
No notes, yet.
Val shut the office door behind him and settled into a chair designed for thinner men.  “Hey, Pete.  Look —”
“Hear me out, Val.  It’s not what you think.”  Davies shuffled a few of the pages of the file, as if he hadn’t already read each page twice.  “You’ve been with the company a while.”
That was a bit unexpected.  “Uh, sure.  Since —”
Davies held up a hand.  “Almost five years.  Done some good work for us.  Really saved our asses in that coding war with Unisys.”  He chuckled to himself, as if it was some beachhead victory they were remembering together.  “Top performer three years in a row.”
Val shifted a bit.  The padding on the chair was worn thin, and he felt like was sitting on raw plywood with sackcloth nailed over the top.  “…Right.”
“There’s not really a delicate way of talking about this.”  A smile that was more a grimace sat on Davies’ face.  “Since Rebekah passed, well, we’ve noticed some changes.”  Davies looked at Val’s gut, then picked up the Cross, tapping it on a paragraph in the file.  “Fact is, we still need you.”  The clock on the wall ticked by a few more seconds, the sounds of the city outside the open windows gentle.  “But we need the old you.  You’re a wreck —”
“Hey Pete, c’mon.  I crank out the code like you need.  I’m the first guy to punch in every morning…”
“And the first guy to hit the Blues at lunch.  After lunch, you’re back at your desk, but you’re thinking about your next drink.  When was the last night you didn’t knock back even just a few?”
“Everyone has a pint after work, Pete.  Be serious.  We work in computers.  And our clients are assholes.”  Val tried for some easy camaraderie.  “Who wouldn’t drink on a government contract?”
“It’s not like we work in the ER, Val.  And if it was the work that was the problem, we could fix that.  You work in a team of what, ten guys?”
“Yeah, and they come down for a beer at lunch too!”
“They don’t all go down.  With you.”  Davies examined a perfectly manicured nail.  “At the same time.  Fact is, they’re going down to make sure you’re ok.  A few of the guys — and I’m not naming names, it’s confidential — are worried about you.  They said they want to keep an eye on you.  They’ve come to see me, to ask me to … intercede.”
He grabbed a sheet from the file — this one suspiciously laid out in corporate style — and spun it on the old wooden surface towards Val.  “It’s a leave form, Val.  It’s on the house. But it’s got conditions.”
Val didn’t lean forward to look at the form.  “You’re getting rid of me.  Gardening leave.  I don’t know if I should be flattered or pissed off.”
Davies tapped the paper again.  “Maybe you should just be…  Well.  I think we both know ‘happy’ is a bit of a stretch, considering.  Get your house in order.  Drive up the coast.  See some friends.”  He paused, as if the idea had just occurred to him.  “Get some help, Val.  See someone.”
Val reached forward to get the sheet, seeing his hand shaking with either anger or the memory of the hangover. Maybe a heavy salting of both.  The form was straightforward — a month of leave, but with a small catch.
“The company wants some return, of course.”  Davies looked down in carefully constructed abashment.  “We want the old Valentine Everard back.  We want you a productive member of the family again.  We’re going to … invest, shall we say … a few weeks.  What’s a few weeks?  That’s on us.”  Nodding, Davies replaced his expression, looking Valentine right in the eye with an affable smile.  It was like watching a super marionette, as if all those management courses had taught him which emotions to try and fake, and when.  “But you’ve got to do your share.  A part of the bargain.”
It was there in black and white.  They’d even helpfully supplied a phone number and a website — probably one of the narcissists in HR.  Those fuckers thought of everything with their saccharine sincerity.   They wanted him in an alcoholics group of some kind.
“If I don’t sign?”
Davies swapped the grandfatherly smile for a look of grandfatherly reproach.  “Well Val, then things might have to get formalised.  You know how it is.”  As if it was out of his hands.  Just one of the boys, Val and him in this thing together.  “But we — well.  I don’t want it to get formalised.”  He handed the Cross to Val.
After he’d signed — like there’d been a choice — he walked out to collect his jacket.  He felt as if the entire office watched his walk from Davies’ office to his cube, the air heavy with the silence of funerals.  The hessian partitions were covered with the same old crap, charts jostling for supremacy next to Dilbert cartoons.  The odd slice of fake humanity was shown with photos printed in cheap colour on the office laser — corporate functions, team building.  Outside his own cube, he saw a photo of himself peeking out from under layers of project charts and productivity estimates.  It was like growth rings on a tree, those layers — the closer to the heartwood of the hessian backing, the older they were.
He remembered that shot, pulling it out.  The photo showed him sprawled on the ground, the thick rope for tug-o-war draped over him and his team buddies.  He’d been thinner then, the grin cracking his face one of delight.
It was probably about the time when Rebekah had first told him she was pregnant.

Valentine’s an ordinary guy with ordinary problems. His boss is an asshole. He’s an alcoholic. And he’s getting that middle age spread just a bit too early. One night — the one night he can’t remember — changes everything. What happened at the popular downtown bar, The Elephant Blues? Why is Biomne, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, so interested in him — and the virus he carries? How is he getting stronger, faster, and more fit? And what’s the connection between Valentine and the criminally insane Russian, Volk?
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Genre – Action, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Rating – R16
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 Connect with Richard Parry on Facebook & Twitter

EMERGE: A Galatia #Novel (Galatia Series) by @CDVerhoff #AmReading #Fantasy

Josie and Lars had known each other forever, but had never been more than acquaintances. Luke, however, was in her grade. Lars’s impression was that the girl wasn’t very popular at school. She was really cute though, so he didn’t understand why.
“Hey, Luke, what do you think of Josie Albright?”
“She’s super smart—wants to be a chemist—probably just so she can blow up stuff.”
“What I mean is she nice, is she stuck-up, or what?”
“She’s a whackadoodle.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Josie’s not like the other girls.” Luke shrugged. “I mean, she’s into weird things.”
“You mean like her questionable taste in literature?”
“No, well, that might be part of it. She actually tries to be geeky. She thinks it’s cool to be the outcast, I went to a party where she sat in the corner reading a book and smoking a cigarette, like a nerdy girly James Dean or something.”
“I’m not following.”
“She acts like the popular kids are shallow and stuck up, so they’re beneath her. But she’s being just as stuck up. Josie’s not as good-looking as Feenie or Jo, but she’s definitely an Albright—as in not ugly, so the geeks find her too intimidating to hang out with. It’s her own darn fault that she only has a couple of friends. Had. I think they both died in the bunker.”
“I think she looks a little bit like Vivian Leigh.”
“That lady in Gone with the Wind?” Luke’s eyebrows arched. “Oh, man, Lars—don’t tell me you’re crushing on weird Josie Albright?”
“It’s not a crush exactly—let’s call it mild interest.”
“Mild interest.” Luke rolled onto his back, holding his belly, as he laughed. “Is that what they’re calling lust these days?”
“You heard about how she saved that little girl from the river crocs?”
“Yeah, that was pretty cool.” Luke thoughtfully stroked his pretend mustache. “Superhero Vivian Leigh?” he teased. “Maybe I ought to reconsider my stance on dating whackadoodles.”
“Don’t even think about it.” Lars scowled at his brother. “If you try to steal her out from under me, I’ll be really pissed.”
“If this is how you react when mildly interested in a girl,” Luke scanned Lars sardonically. “I’ll hate to see what you’re like when it’s true love.”
“Shut up and help me figure out if I should ask her out.”
“How are you going to take her out somewhere? It’s not like there’s a theater or a café around the next corner.”
“I thought maybe I could ask her on a picnic—what do you think?”
“Rumor has it that Josie Albright only likes girls. Short hair? Hoodies? What are we supposed to think?”
“You mean she’s a lesbian?” Lars felt his stomach sink in disappointment. “Are you sure?”
“There’s only one way to know—ask her out, bro.”

 The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. 

Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers. Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with C. D. Verhoff on Facebook & Twitter