The #1 Software for Authors to Promote their Books is Now Available

I am so excited to announce that our innovative software EZBookBlaster is now available for our authors. We have spent over nine months developing this software which allows authors to have control of driving organic traffic to their book’s URL buy now link, their website, podcast and more. Take a look at our software at http://www.ezbookblaster.com. This is the only software made by authors for authors. Get a jump on marketing your book. This is the exact system we us to launch our books as #1 New Release on Amazon.

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ABSOLUTE AUTHOR PUBLISHING HOUSE ANNOUNCES THE ABSOLUTE YOUNG AUTHOR CONTEST

 

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While the Corona virus pandemic spreads and schools close across the world, Absolute Author Publishing House is Conducting a Writing Contest for School Children to Become Published Authors

New Orleans, La. – USA – March 14, 2020 – The world is facing a pandemic like we have never seen before. As schools close around the world, Absolute Author Publishing Company (AAPH), announced a contest for young authors. “The Absolute Young Author Contest” begins on March 17, 2020 and will end May, 1 2020. This contest is open to all Pre-K – 12 grades in public and private schools as well as to homeschoolers with the winning authors to be published in a book. There are a variety of categories that children can enter their literary work, including short stories, poetry, and essays.

According to Dr. Carol Michaels, co-owner of AAPH, the contest grew from her deep commitment to celebrating young authors as a way to allow our youth affected by school closures and quarantines to express themselves and to become a published author. “I recognize the need to keep our children engaged in activities during this critical time. What better way than to provide them the opportunity to write and create art to express themselves and then to become published authors. We want to encourage young writers and artists to express themselves and use their creativity.”

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“The Absolute Young Author Contest” is open to any child in grades Pre-K – 12 grades in public and private schools and to homeschoolers. “We don’t want to exclude any child and want to encourage their writing and expression,” says Dr. Carol Michaels. “We are looking for young writers you love to write poetry, short stories and novels. The difference between our contest and others is that we will not only be offering a cash prize to the winners in each category but also, all runner up and honorable mentions in each category will have their submission published in a book. The Master Absolute Young Author who submits either a collection of stories or poems or a completed novel, will have their book published by us.”

A panel of distinguished judges, led by bestselling author Dr. Melissa Caudle, will decide which submissions will be included in the book. There is no fee for any young author to enter and prizes include gift certificates from Barnes & Noble, publication in a book, and a frameable certificate to the winners. Most notably, the Master Absolute Young Author who submits the winning collection of either short stories, poetry, or a novel, will have their book published by AAPH along with free professional editing, cover design, ISBN by AAPH, a flipbook trailer, and a feature in their blog.

To be eligible entrants must:

  • Between the ages of 4-17 in Pre-K – twelfth grade in public, private, or home-schooled
  • Entrants can submit only once in each category, but will have to complete a different submission form for multiple submissions.
  • Story submissions can be both fiction and nonfiction
  • All submissions must be original and not copyrighted or included in another book.

Prizes will be awarded according to age range and categories of submission.

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AGE RANGES WILL COMPETE ACCORDINGLY

  1. Pre-K through Fifth Grade
  2. Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
  3. Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade

CATEGORIES

Novel or Collection of Short Stories, or Poems – For young authors who have a complete work of short stories (10 or more), poems (15 or more), or a novel, any genre, over 30,000 words.

Short Story – Fiction or Nonfiction – For young authors with one story not to exceed 3,000 words. There is no minimum word requirement.

Essays – Any topic – For young authors with one story not to exceed 1,500 words. There is no minimum word requirement.

Poetry – Any Style (No maximum or minimum word requirement.

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PRIZE FOR COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES, POETRY, OR NOVEL

Master Absolute Young Author – The winner of this category will compete with each other and will maintain all copyright and distribution rights as well as one-on-one consultation to help  distribute book on KDP. Author, through their parent(s) will keep all royalties according to KDP terms. This is a value of services totaling $2500 from AAPH. The winner in this category will not eligible for Grand Prize for the Master Absolute Young Author as this is a special category.  The prizes for this category include:

  1. The publication of the book by Absolute Author Publishing House.
  2. Professional editing of manuscript.
  3. Formatting of manuscript (both eBook and paperback).
  4. ISBN assigned by AAPH.
  5. Cover design.
  6. Flipbook trailer.
  7. 50 mock up ads.
  8. Featured on our blog.

PRIZES FOR A SHORT STORY, POEM, OR ESSAY – PRIZES WILL BE AWARDED BY AGE GROUP

Grand Prize

  • $100 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble – Overall winner of “Best of the Best” from all short stories, essays, and poetry NO MATTER THE AGE GROUP. Only one winner from all age groups will be given to the best of the best from all submissions.
  • A frameable certificate sent to the winner along with a feature blog post.

First Place in Each Age Group – Three Winners to be Announced

One winner from each grade group will be selected and each receive the following prizes

  • Work will be professionally edited.
  • Included in a special collection book published by AAPH, title TBD.
  • $30 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble.
  • A frameable certificate sent to the winners.
  • Announcement in a feature blog post that will inlcude the other winners.

Second Place in Each Age Group

One winner from each grade group will be selected and each receive the following prizes:

  • Work will be professionally edited.
  • Included in a special collection book published by AAPH, title TBD.
  • $20 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble.
  • A frameable certificate sent to the winners.
  • Announcement in a feature blog post that will inlcude the other winners.

Third Place in Each Age Group

One winner from each grade group will be selected and each receive the following prizes:

  • Work will be professionally edited.
  • Included in a special collection book published by AAPH, title TBD.
  • $10 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble.
  • A frameable certificate sent to the winners.
  • Announcement in a feature blog post that will inlcude the other winners.

Honorable Mention in Each Age Group

Multiple winners from each grade group will be selected and each receive the following prizes:

  • Work will be professionally edited.
  • Included in a special collection book published by AAPH, title TBD.
  • A frameable certificate sent to the winners.
  • Announcement in a feature blog post that will inlcude the other winners.

NOTE: Part of the proceeds from the publication of all winning entries into one book will be used to send the book to libraries in third world countries to help promote reading and writing of young authors. The number of books sent, will depend on the proceeds from the sale of this book.

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SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

You must submit your child’s work in a Word and PDF document formatted correctly with the follow information/

  1. Title Page with the title of the submission
  2. Name of Author
  3. Grade Level
  4. City, State, and Country

See sample below.

SAMPLE OF TITLE PAGE

The next page or pages should be the work and must me the original work of the author.

  • No plagiarism or copyright material accepted. Any entrant who submits copyright material or plagiarizes will be automatically disqualified.
  • Please note that lined pages may be included for the stories and handwritten, but must be submitted in either a word document or PDF. Original papers will not be accepted and will not be returned.  However, any illustrations, which are encouraged, must be on unlined paper.
  • If handwritten, text must be written legibly and submitted in a PDF format.
  • Error free spelling, and grammar.
  • Any artwork or illustration must be original art from the student and digitally submitted. If a copyright image is submitted, the entrant will be disqualified.
  • If a nonfiction work is based on research, a list of sources must be included.
    Prior to submission entrants are allowed to get feedback from their peers, teachers, and parents.

When you submit your child’s work, you agree that if he or she are chosen as the winner or for inclusion in the book, you agree and understand that you give permission to Absolute Author Publishing House to include the work in the final book (title TBD), they will receive the prizes outlined in the contest and there will be no financial compensation to you or your child from the sale of the final published book. However, if chosen as Grand Prize winner, first, second, third or honorable mention, they will receive the prizes outlined in the contest.

All Entries must emailed by May 15, 2020, midnight EST in a Word or PDF Document to: carol.absoluteauthor@gmail.com . AAPH is not responsible for late, lost, misdirected, damaged, incomplete or illegible entries. No entries will be returned.

AAPH reserves the right to cancel the contest or to extend the entry deadline if not enough submissions are received. We sincerely hope this is not the case.

ENTRY PROCEDURES

  1. Complete the following entry form below.

 

 

 

EZ BOOK BLASTER

Absolute Author Publishing House is on the verge of launching a brand software to help authors promote their books, blogs, podcasts, and websites. That’s right, for the first time you will be able to promote your book in a matter of minutes. Do you want to know more?

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What is EZ BOOK BLASTER?

EZ Book Blaster is a software program developed by Absolute Author Publishing House for authors to increase their SEO rankings by sending real visitors to search engine results pages and drive organic traffic to fiction or nonfiction book sales link, an author’s website, a book’s trailer, or blog.

Do I need any special skills to use EZ Book Blaster?

Not at all. You don’t need any special skills or experience. To use this revolutionary software, once you purchase and register the program, you log in. Here is the log in screen. Pretty simple to use, don’t you think?

login screen

Once logged in, you fill out the following information:

  • The Book’s Title
  • Copy and past your Url you want to drive traffic to.
  • Click to find your genre.
  • Choose how much traffic you want to send to the link.
  • Then activate the campaign and let EB Book Blaster do the rest.

Here is the application screen.

APP SCREEN

What can I do with EZ Book Blaster?

  • Increase visits to your website or blog
  • Automatically generate quality traffic to your book’s sale’s Url on any platform including Amazon and Ingramspark
  • Increase leads that turn into buyers who turn into readers

Is EZ Book Blaster for PC or Mac?

At this time, we are only for PC. We are in the developmental stage to offer a Mac version.

Wait! EZ BOOK BLASTER is a software. Where can I get it so I can promote my books myself?

We are glad you asked, but currently, the software is in the Beta Testing process. As soon as it is ready, we’ll let you know. However, if you are interested in beta testing the software, reach out to carol.absoluteauthor@gmail.com.

 

BECOME A BETA TESTER TODAY!

Have it Your Way or Not

GUEST BLOGGER – EMMANUEL OGUNJUMO

Have it Your Way or Not

               AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Don’t Live A Burger King Life

Burger King used the slogan ‘Have it Your Way’ to advertise its business for 40-years until 2014 when it scrapped it for a new slogan ‘Be Your Way’.
As you can see, the words ‘Your Way’ are common to both slogans. Regardless of which slogan resonates with you, the message from Burger King is clear: It Is All About You. While this message may be good for selling burgers, I caution you about using this tagline for the way you choose to lead your life.
When life becomes all about you, your world becomes smaller. As your world becomes smaller, it becomes more difficult to see beyond yourself. When you can’t see beyond yourself, you lose the ability to understand and empathize with other people. The moment you start to lose the ability to understand and empathize is the moment you start to drive a wedge between you and other people. When you drive a wedge between you and other people, you will start to live a separated and isolated life.
If you have to have it all your way in life, then you won’t have much of a life
Consider the words of King Solomon: A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment (Proverbs 18:1). Another way of saying it is this: If you are only looking out for what you desire, you will end up isolating yourself. And if you isolate yourself, you are not wise.
If you isolate yourself, what will happen when you need help? Who will be there to lift you up when you are down? If you isolate yourself, you are more likely to open yourself to crazy thoughts and believe them. Who will warn you that your ideas are crazy? If you isolate yourself, who will promote you at work? Who will want to work with you? If you isolate yourself, you are more likely to feel lonely and depressed!
If life is all about you, you will end up by yourself in life
I once counseled a man who failed to realize his marriage was not about him. He told me he was perfectly content with how things were going in his marriage. He said he did not understand why his wife was so unhappy at the onset of their marriage.  He said he was shocked when his wife asked for a divorce after five years of marriage.
When I asked him why he did not seek help when they first started having issues, he told me he was happy and so saw no reason why he should have wasted money seeking help. He thought she would come around! He was wrong both about her and the money. She did not come around. And now he is spending more money in alimony and child support payments than he ever imagined! He did not think his attitude would cause him to lose his family!
If you are wise, you will learn from this man and learn from King Solomon. Make life about others and not solely about you. Here is how Jesus puts it: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.
While it is okay to think of yourself, you shouldn’t forget to think of others
 
 

101 NO FRILLS RELATIONSHIP LESSONS

GUEST BLOG BY EMMANUEL OGUNJUMO
downloadIn 2012, I was invited to be a member of a panel at a Christian singles conference. After speaking about living a purposeful life, and remaining pure in singleness, the topic of marriage invariably came up. A woman stood and poured out her heart about how she desired a husband. She was in her late thirties and did not want to be alone anymore related that she was on the verge of ‘settling’!
In an attempt to comfort her, an older woman whom we will call Sarah stood and proclaimed that she was single at 60 AND had never married. Sarah started to encourage the younger lady. She said, look at me, I am 60 and not married but I will not settle. I want what God wants for me and will not settle for less. I have had many counterfeit men come into my life. Sarah then went ahead and started to rattle off about the men that had been potential suitors and what was wrong with them. As she spoke, somethings that seemingly escaped her started to become clear to those of us on the panel. She was to blame for being single at 60.
Here are some of the things we realized about Sarah that kept her single.
Sarah wanted Jesus…not a disciple of Jesus…but Jesus Himself. Many women, like Sarah, are looking for the perfect mate. They want someone who is going to complete them and be their everything! If this is you, then my question to you is this: If a man completes you and becomes your everything, then what position is Jesus taking in your life? Jesus is the one that completes you and is meant to be your everything. So, to look for completeness in a man is to make that man an idol in your life, it is to have put man above God! This will only lead to ruin because no man is perfect! Try as he might, he will disappoint you! So stop looking for someone who will not disappoint you over the lifetime you wish to be married…you will not find it. Even you, yes you…have and still disappoint many people…whether you realize it or not…whether you meant it or not. Instead of looking for perfection, look for someone who is striving towards perfection. This is a person that loves God and does not want to be conformed to the world but whose life’s purpose is to be transformed into the image of Jesus.
As my mom says, if you meet a person who is perfect, run away, for you will make imperfect whatever is making that person seem perfect.
Sarah saw herself as a princess, but she did not care to prince her man. There are many women who see themselves as awesome and incredible royalty. Many women say I want to be treated like a princess! The issue is that they do not want their man to be a prince. They do not want to share any power or give up any control. Instead, they want their partners to take the position of a slave while treating them like a princess. The reason many women cannot let go of control is because of fear – perhaps due to not dealing with the hurts of past relationships. The moment the man does not give her the power she craves, she takes it as he not treating her like a princess and so searches for greener pastures. Conversely, many men see that while they are giving all they have, the woman is not following suit! Many women think that this is part of being pursued; many men simply see it as being disrespectful.
As a princess, you have to make sure you prince your man. Compliment him and let him know that you appreciate that he is being led by the King. Let go of the control. Taking a chance at love means you take a chance with your heart. This is because only the heart can feel love, not your head.
Sarah liked being pursued but did not want to be caught.
In the bible, the servant of Abraham went to a land far away in pursuit of a wife for Isaac. When he got there, it was Rebekah that came to the well. When he approached, she did not play games and dilly-dally. No, she said that she would not wait as her family had requested but would follow Eliezer immediately back to Isaac. When Boaz pursued Ruth, Ruth decided to show her interest by laying at his feet. See, both Rebekah and Ruth showed interest. They did not play games or play hard to get.
Ladies, if a prince has found you, then admit it and go forward as long as you have God’s blessing. I am not saying be easy, but at the same time, do not be hard to get. Just as you are a gift to him, he is also a gift to you! If a man is pursing you, do not run him away with games.
Sarah was way too picky. Sarah did not want God to decide whom she should marry but decided on who she wanted to marry. In essence, she said: God, forget about who you desire for me, this is the person I want to marry…now make it happen! It was no longer God’s will for her life but her will for her life!
But does God not want to give us the desires of our heart? Yes…as long as it glorifies God. In fact, the scripture says: delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. As you delight yourself in the Lord, you will find that His desires become your desire…thus your desire will glorify God!
You must believe right now that what God wants for you is better than what you could ever want for yourself in the long run. If he is not giving you your hearts desires, it may be because you are not ready to handle your heart’s desire. It may be because what you desire is not desirable!
Sarah wanted Boaz but wanted to remain a Delilah. Do not be like Sarah! Every potential suitor she met had some flaw that was fatal. One could not provide. Another could provide but was not attractive enough. A third was attractive and could provide but did not pay her enough attention. Yet, another paid her too much attention. She forgot that she has filled with flaws herself! She was so busy finding fault with everyone that she had no time to look at herself. She was so busy trying to find the speck in someone else’ life that she forgot that the log in her eyes was blinding her vision of the truth about herself. The truth that just like everyone else, she is imperfect and needs a savior as well!
Sarah could not understand why the ones she thought were ‘perfect’ for her were not interested. Sarah, perhaps it is because they are not willing to ‘settle’ either.
I thank God that he did not wait for us to be perfect but settled for us. He wants us to settle for nothing less than Himself. This means that we have to take the reins off our own lives and surrender completely to His will. It seemed that Joseph settled for Mary when He married a pregnant girl…but He became immortalized in history because of it. Are you willing to settle for God’s best for you?

NEW BOOK RELEASE

Absolute Author Publishing House is proud to add Emmanuel to our growing authors. His new book, 101 NO FRILLS RELATIONSHIP LESSONS YOU NEED TO LEARN BEFORE YOU MARRY is now availble on Amazon. Get your copy today.

ABOUT THE BOOK

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BUY NOW ON AMAZON

What you don’t know about marriage can’t only hurt your marriage; it can destroy your marriage. In “101 No Frills Relationship Lessons You Need to Learn Before You Marry,” Emmanuel Ogunjumo takes a deep dive into the lives of twenty people in the “Bible” to reveal powerful and practical relationship insights from their lives.

“A wise person learns from their mistakes. A wiser person learns from other’s mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from the successes of others.” – John C Maxwell

If you want an exceptional relationship, then you must choose to learn from other people’s mistakes and successes. Fun to read, easy to digest, and simple to understand, this book gives you fresh, essential, and powerful perspective on what it takes to make your relationship thrive as it navigates the mistakes and successes of your favorite Biblical men and women.

In the book you will find:

• 101 Life Lessons to strengthen your relationship
• Scripture Meditations
• Guided Prayers about each life lesson
• Life Application exercises

Marriage is a commitment, use the lessons in this book to strengthen yours.

 

The Pitfalls When an Author Converts Their Book to an Ebook Kindle Format

The Pitfalls When an Author Converts Their Book to an eBook Kindle Format

by Dr. Melissa Caudle

Smooth Ebook reading experienceWrite. Edit. Publish. Distribute. The process every published author goes through. Sounds simple enough, but in reality, that four-step process could take months to years for an author to complete. There is one problem with this four-step formula — authors are thinking as writers and not publishers. Nowadays, authors must think like publishers because there are so many books available on just about every topic in the world. For your book to sell, it must meet publishing standards. It isn’t enough for an author to only write, publish their paperback, and then publish their eBook by uploading straight to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). There is so much that goes into formatting; so, why would you skimp when it comes to formatting your Kindle eBook? Don’t you want it perfect like your paperback? You hire editors, you hire cover designers, and sometimes you hire someone to market your paperback book. Why wouldn’t you hire a professional Kindle eBook company to format your manuscript? Don’t you want the best eBook possible?

     When an author attempts to format their eBook for Kindle Direct Publishing, several pitfalls happen to a manuscript — you stand the chance of:

  • not embedding the proper chapter tags,
  • not creating a clickable table of contents,
  • not embedding sections,
  • not embedding proper page breaks,
  • not having your images equally proportioned,
  • not embedding links in the front and back matter, and
  • not having your eBook compatible with all eReaders.

     Ebook formatting process frustratedThen, when the author uploads the file to KDP, they get error messages, and the formatting interior is jumbled. It becomes a vicious circle as you attempt on your own to fix the issue only to cause another. Frankly, it is a headache. Sometimes, the eBook gets approved, although it is a mess, and when your eBook goes on sale on Amazon, viewers can look inside of your book before they buy. If it is a jumbled mess, they pass on your book and move to another, which means you left money on the table. Why would an author risk so much when there is an affordable solution to the eBook Kindle Format sorrows?

    e1 Luckily, there is help for authors who desire a perfect Kindle format eBook that will be compatible with all eReaders. So take a look at Ebookifi, a company that offers Kindle formatting for your eBook. They have converted hundreds of books and they guarantee their work. They want you happy with your eBook, and they bend over backward to make that happen. As a company that focuses on Kindle eBook formatting, they keep up to date on eBook publishing trends including being able to convert eBooks into multiple languages. Face it, readers are used to professional industry standards when they read an eBook, and that is what Ebookifi does. What I find particularly valuable is that every manuscript submitted to Ebookifi is reviewed by one of their professional eBook formatters who are trained. They never use any automation services that turn up junk codes for your readers, and because each manuscript is reviewed by a staff member, they take into consideration your book’s tone and platform. All the hassles go away for you in formatting your eBook, and you get a professionally formatted Kindle eBook.

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MISS IZZY RECEIVES RAVING REVIEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 American Authors Sue Zook and Mary Lazarski Debut Novel “Becoming Miss Izzy” Receives Five-Star Reviews

 

A coming of age story for middle-school summer readers, “Becoming Miss Izzy” a rare book for children

New Orleans, LA – June 11, 2019 – American authors, Sue Zook and Mary Lazarski debut their new novel, “Becoming Miss Izzy,” for middle-school students, on June 17, 2019, just in time for summer reading.  Published by Absolute Author Publishing House, “Becoming Miss Izzy” is a powerful story with a moral message. “This book is inspiring, and anyone who reads it will be touched,” Caudle said. “Both Mary and Sue are in touch with children’s needs.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

Elizabeth Ann Tantin, dubbed Miss Izzy, by her grandmother, Momo, is a ten-year-old girl like most others who suffer from being overweight and bullied at school. She copes in the most unusual way.

RAVE REVIEWS

With more than a dozen reviews, “Becoming Miss Izzy” has received five-star reviews across the board.

Becoming Miss Izzy” is a book for all ages even if written for children. Excited to hear that there will be more Miss Izzy adventures. Fun and fast read. Kudos to the authors. Sheran Mattson, PsyD

What a breath of fresh air and a wonderful read Becoming Miss Izzy is. I personally love the honest approach to feelings and emotions that are felt within the book, a skill that needs to be nurtured in our children.” Annemarie Sampson CPT

becoming miss izzy sell sheet

Purchase BECOMING MISS IZZY

HOW TO CALM DOWN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

American Author C. J. Kruse Announces His New Self-Help Book “A Guide on How to Calm Down”

 J. Kruse is set to debut his new self-help book in time for National Panic Awareness

New Orleans, LA – June 11, 2019 – American author and self-help guru C J Kruse is set to debut his latest self-help book, “A Guide on How to Calm Down: Quickly. Effectively. Before You Do or Say Something Stupid!,  published by Absolute Author Publishing House on June 18, 2019. “I chose this date for my book launch because it is also the National Panic Attack Awareness Day,” Kruse, told Dr. Melissa Caudle, author and senior editor with Absolute Author Publishing House, who had the pleasure of editing Kruse’s book.

BUY NOW

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ABOUT THE BOOK

You have a split second to decide how you’ll react. In this book you will learn:

  • 30 strategies for calming down.
  • Real-life stories and helpful, practical examples.
  • Insights as to WHY we get worked-up, and why it’s SO HARD to calm down.
  • Inspiration and incentives to CALM DOWN (when you’d rather stay upset).
  • The benefits of being able to stay calm.
  • The disadvantages of NOT being able to stay calm.
  • Fun commentary and opportunities for personal discovery.
  • Guidance to GET BACK IN CONTROL of your situation, your happiness, and your life!
  • Much, much more!

View Book Trailer

ABSOLUTE AUTHORS SHINE

 

Summer is here! That means that Summer Reading programs are in full swing for children out of school and for parents. Here at Absolute Author Publishing House (AAPH), we are proud of our authors and love to spread the word about them and their books. AAPH has had a lot of success with our authors and several of them have launched their books as the #1 New Release and others are listed as the #1 in their category months after their release. That isn’t an easy task to accomplish.

SUE ZOOK AND MARY LAZARSKI

Our author base is growing and we first want to welcome three new authors to AAPH.  First up is Sue Zook and Mary Lazarski and their new children’s book BECOMING MISS IZZY. (Launches June 17, 2019). This book is fabulous and a must-read summer book for middle school children. We have received more than a dozen reviews — all five-star. Here are two of the latest.

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“Becoming Miss Izzy is a coming-of-age story about a fifth-grade girl, Elizabeth Ann Tanlin—or, as her grandmother calls her, Izzy—making the transition from elementary to middle school and coming to terms with the changes and challenges that accompany this significant transition. A running issue that this book explores is Izzy’s relationship with her health, in particular, being overweight. Embedded in the narrative are practical, research-based recommendations for a young person (really, for everyone of all ages) to enact to become healthy in terms of eating, movement/exercise, and emotional wellbeing. To me, an incredibly important aspect of this book is that while adults may particularly approve of its positive messages and instructive elements, middle-school readers will connect with Izzy herself. She will captivate them. She’s a multidimensional protagonist, who has good days, bad days, setbacks, and successes—just like they do. For anyone with an upper-elementary or middle-school child in their life, give them this book, so they can feel heard and seen at this particularly rocky period in their young lives. And you’ll know that at the same time your child is enjoying Becoming Miss Izzy, they are receiving solid instruction on how to navigate this period of their lives in positive, healthy ways.” Nancy Pile, MAT – Former Middle and High School Teacher

“Becoming Miss Izzy was delightful to read. As a woman who has struggled with weight issues since childhood, a teacher for 30 years and the mother of 4, I really appreciate the insight and excellent way in which the author has approached this topic. Through the caring mother character, she has provided the tools to cope with these issues. Not only for the young people facing the challenges but for those who see others going through it.” Fiona Eckersley

You can read more about Sue and Mary on their AAPH subpage where there is an interview or visit http://www.MissIzzy.us. Be sure to follow them on their blog for all things Miss Izzy.

 

C. J. Kruse

Our next new author is C. J. Kruse and his book HOW TO CALM DOWN. Kruse is not a first-time author by any means; however, he is publishing for the first time with AAPH. Kruse is a father, author, and musician who writes self-help books. We are elated that he has chosen to publish under our banner.  Stay tuned as this book is formatted and made available in the pre-launch stage.

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ABSOLUTE AUTHOR HIGHLIGHTS

where are you my children - #1 New Release

BUY NOW

AAHP wants to congratulate L.A. Davis and Dr. Melissa Caudle on a job well-done. Davis teamed up with Caudle not only on the editing and formatting of WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?! but also on marketing the book. Davis’ book launched as the #1 New Release on Amazon. On the same day that Davis’ book launched, Caudle’s new novel A.D.AM. THE BEGINNING OF LIFE did too.

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Within three hours, Caudle had a total of 9,000 sales for A.D.A.M. THE BEGINNING OF LIFE and her book HOW TO LAUNCH AND MARKET A BOOK rose to the #1, #2, and #6 in three categories and NEVER STOP RUNNING made it into the top 100. That is nothing to sneeze about, now is it?

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The third book on our list of summer reading is SCARS OF A MAGICIAN by Robert B Herring Jr. This is a wonderful fantasy tale that I had the honor of editing and publishing with Absolute Author Publishing House last spring. I loved it.

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SCARS OF A MAGICIAN SYNOPSIS

Magic, Werewolves, Spies, Drama. . . Deep in the Old Creek Mountain exists a large village called Seven Moons. It was cloaked by powerful wizards years ago to protect the folks who live there from prying eyes of the world. A young, talented magician named Derrick Blackwell spends a large part of his life with his grandma Sabrina, who is trying to raise him to be respectful and to use better judgment in his everyday life. His parents cared more about work and being undercover spies than being with their own son. Derrick attends school at Seven Moon High, a school for magic and potions. He becomes friends with a girl named Reign Hungry, and soon develops romantic feelings for her. He also befriends Charles Redder, a new transfer student, who’s mysterious at times. A boy named Barrett Bloodstone is always competing against him and sabotaging Derrick’s magic performance from his death-defying and up-close stunts. One day in October, Derrick was walking through the woods and came across an old woman passing through on her carriage. Derrick finds the Mythic Red Wizard Book in the rear of the carriage, which he took without paying for it. From then on, Derrick’s decisions would change his life forever.

DR. MELISSA CAUDLE

Dr. Melissa Caudle has been very busy and launched her new novel A.D.A.M. THE BEGINNING OF LIFE with huge success. Also available for summer reading is NEVER STOP RUNNING, and THE KEYSTROKE KILLER TRANSCENDENCE. You can’t go wrong with reading all of her books as her style is magical and brilliant. With five-star reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub and more, her novels are a must-read for adults during the summer. Caudle is currently penning her next novel entitled SECRET ROMANCES: A FORBIDDEN THIRST FOR LOVE. In a Hallmark from book to movie tradition, this romantic comedy is sure to please all. To stay up to date on all things Caudle and her upcoming novels, go to http://www.drmelmessage.com.

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Using a Rubric Assessment Tool for Narrator Auditions

Using a Rubric Assessment Tool for Narrator Auditions

By Dr. Melissa Caudle

copy__2__of_mexico_missions_028One of the most challenging things for an author to decide is who will narrate the audiobook format of their novel or book. I am speaking first-hand, of course, from my perspective. When I started the audio narration auditions for my novel, “The Keystroke Killer: Transcendence,” I thought I knew everything about the process considering I had auditioned hundreds of actors for my films and helped to cast numerous others for various projects. Whoa! Not the same. Now what?

At first, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of narrators who auditioned for my first audiobook – a total of two hundred and fifty-six. My script wasn’t an easy one, and it was longer than usual, because of the diverse voices that a single person would have to have to make this book come alive. As I started listening, it was easy to tell quickly the narrators I liked and didn’t like. The ones I liked, I marked as my favorite. After I listened to all submissions, I had marked fifty-three as my favorite. That is a lot of favorites, and I had to find a way to isolate who and why I liked one over another until I eliminated forty-three narrators from my favorites. At this point, I felt like one of The Voice judges listening to blind auditions.

I met with my casting team, and we discussed what each of us was listening for in each audition and that’s when it occurred to me that we needed an assessment tool that we could use to rate and score each narrator objectively. After twenty years in the educational field, as a teacher, principal, and adjunct professor, I returned to one of the essential assessment tools – a rubric assessment. In education terminology, rubric refers to a scoring guide used to evaluate the quality of constructed responses based on pre-determined evaluative criteria at particular levels of achievement. In essence, a rubric is a scoring strategy often presented in a table format. Rubrics, when used for formative assessment purposes to pinpoint something subjective, can aid in assessing something the same way giving everyone equal ground. It is a way to communicate expectations around a task, in my case, evaluating potential narrators fairly.

After a lengthy discussion with my casting team, we identified several areas that were important for us as we listen to each audition. From there, I developed our rubric audition assessment tool and included the following areas:

  1. We scored from 1-10 how the reader narrated the narration parts of the script provided.
  2. We highlighted critical dialogue statements from each of the character’s in the script. When a reader would read those key dialogue statements, we rated each from a 1-10 on how well they interpreted the sentence, and if they portrayed the character’s voice, we could quickly identify them.
  3. We rated an area called, “Transitions,” to determine on a scale from 1-10 how each reader transitioned from one character’s voice to another.
  4. Did the narrator follow instructions and complete the audition? We awarded an automatic 10 points if they did and zero if they didn’t.

Sounds easy enough, but wait. What it showed to us as a casting team, was the top three narrators who stood out above the rest. It was right in front of our eyes in a score – or scores based on pre-determined criteria. We averaged the scores from the three of us, and ultimately, we had our top three. From there, we began a new rubric assessment for only the top three, and the final narrator surfaced.

Here is where objectivity versus subjectivity played a key role. Several potential narrators were knocked out of the running because they did not follow our directions. This is what I mean. We sent a script with specific instructions to follow. Those that didn’t follow them were eliminated. Why would we want to hire a narrator that in the beginning couldn’t follow directions? What would they do once they were contracted to produce? Some of the problems of not following instructions were they didn’t narrate the entire audition script. When they did that, they received zero points for those dialogue lines they failed to narrate. Others decided to rewrite the dialogue, which was a huge mistake. Narrators are there to narrate and not rewrite a script. The last error was not thoroughly studying the script and missing a character’s personality. By this, when an author writes, “Matthew’s face turned crimson as his clenched his jaw.” His dialogue that follows should not be soft and friendly but angered.

Now you might be thinking how does this all work and whether as a casting member or author will you get confused. The answer is, “No.” When you have a defined script and you hear it over and over again, you pretty much know what is coming next. As the author, you already know; therefore, it is not confusing. In fact, it is the opposite because you have guide points and assessment criteria in order to evaluate each narrator fairly.

Below is my rubric for A.D.A.M., the current novel I am holding auditions for over on ACX. Below the rubric assessment is the excerpt that the script came from. If you are a narrator/producer, the auditions are still open and before you submit your audition, you will at least know what my casting team will be assessing you on.

A.D.A.M RUBRIC ASSESSMENT FOR NARRATORS

            Name of Narrator:_________________________________

            Casting Team Member: ____________________________

                                                           

A.D.A.M. THE BEGINNING OF LIFE

Rubric Requirement Points

Assigned

Points

Earned

Did the narrator record the entire script? 10
Rate the quality of the reader’s narration of the descriptions, settings, etc. –

The blue moon lit the monolith crystal formations in Mono Lake, California. The tufa, limestone columns, towered over the glassy surface as they reflected onto the calm water. A canoe, filled with three passengers, followed the moon’s reflection toward the island in the middle of the lake as shelf storm clouds approached filling the ominous cloudy sky.

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“We’re almost to the spot where I’d prefer to gather the samples.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“I didn’t know this lake had fish.” Jessica gagged and shivered. “I just thought I hated it; now I know I do.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson rolled his eyes. “You have nothing to worry your overloaded brain. We’ll be in and out of the water before the lightning gets close.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

Jessica squinched her nose. “I’m going to throw up. This smell is nasty. How can anything survive living in this water?”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

Dr. Bradford glanced toward Jessica. “Since you asked, rumor has it that sometimes trout fish dart in from the freshwater streams to eat the brine shrimp. The lake is full of them. Then, it’s a death trap because of the saltwater.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

“That sounds like two things.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“I’m glad we have wetsuits this time. Last time I thought those bitey shrimps were going to eat me for lunch.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“Not likely, keep on imagining Alice.” Dr. Bradford pursed her lips.

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“Just sort the gear, Jessica.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

“We’re about thirty feet from the island. That’s the same distance as last time. By all indication, it is about fifty-six feet deep, and the water temperature is seventy-one degrees.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“Thanks for trusting me. I wouldn’t be able to continue my research without obtaining more samples. That means I would be up against the creek without a paddle if it weren’t for both of you.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

Jessica dug through the gear at her feet. “Me too. They have no right. Who do they think they are? The government or something?”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“That’s enough Jessica, just sort the gear; which by the way, was until you dropped them all getting out of the car.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“Yes, ma’am, but he won’t keep quiet.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“Jessica!”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

“For once she has a point.” Dr. Peterson glanced toward the nefarious sky. “Rain is approaching faster than I thought it would.” His eyebrow raised with concern as he rubbed his chin.

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

Jessica jumped as she tossed a purple fin to Dr. Bradford. “I don’t like the way that sounds. We could get struck by lightning and die.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“The sky looks like it belongs in a scary film. At any minute, I know something is going to jump out of the water and eat us. This is exactly how a horror film starts. The next thing you know, a large lizard or alien creature like the one in The Shape of Water is going to flop into this canoe on top of us.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson snickered toward Jessica. “You look ridiculous. You don’t need that, yet. Wait until you’re in the water.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson rolled his eyes concerned as he gawked toward Jessica. “How in the hell are you going to see? Your blind as a bat.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“Guns?” Jessica hyperventilated as her eyes flashed and her chest heaved. “Who said anything about guns? That wasn’t part of the plan, Dr. B?”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“It’s okay Jessica, just breathe slow and easy.” Dr. Bradford digested their current situation. Her chest constricted. One team member is already deadI can’t let it happen again.

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

Jessica took a deep breath. “I know what to do. Auh ommm. Auh ommm.” She used her right hand, touched her fingertips and her thumb to her mouth and nose and pulled slowly back as if meditating a mantra chant. “Auh ommm. Auh ommm.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dismayed, Dr. Peterson patted Jessica’s shoulder. “Jessica, if you don’t calm down, you’re going to run out of oxygen when you get below.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“Then, then, I might drown.” Jessica’s body trembled, and her voice cracked.

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson rubbed his chin. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Okay, Jessica. Do what Dr. Bradford said and breathe in, and then out.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

“Auh ommm. Auh ommm.” She motioned with her fingers again as if she pulled air from her mouth and nose. “I’m there. I’m good. Really, I can do this.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

Dr. Bradford studied Jessica’s body language and facial expression. “Okay, Jessica, move with me at the same time and sit backward on the edge of the canoe. Are you ready?”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

Dr. Bradford glared at Jessica. “Forget about the shrimp. One, two, and three.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“Likely I’ll forget Peterson; I’m not Jessica.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson shook his head, gawking directly at Jessica. “Now you look like a creature from outer space.” The boat on the horizon quickly gained distance on them. “Be safe and be quick. By the looks of things, we don’t have much time.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson swallowed hard. “Excuse me, if you’re looking for Dr. Bradford, she’s camping in Canada right now. I’m just out here fishing for brine shrimp and relaxing on my vacation.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

They removed their masks and air pieces. Dr. Bradford pointed to the watercrafts. “We’re on our own.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Jessica.

Scared, Jessica glanced around. “What do we do now? I’ve got to pee, and I can’t see. My glasses are in the canoe.”

10
Rate the following Critical Dialogue interpretation for Dr. Bradford.

“One problem at a time.”

10
Rate the overall transitions from narration to character voices. 10
CASTING MEMBER COMMENT:
                                                  TOTAL POINTS SCORED: __________      

 A.D.A.M. EXCERPT SCRIPT FOR AUDIOBOOK NARRATION

CHAPTER 1 – SAMPLES

The blue moon lit the monolith crystal formations in Mono Lake, California. The tufa, limestone columns, towered over the glassy surface as they reflected onto the calm water. A canoe, filled with three passengers, followed the moon’s reflection toward the island in the middle of the lake as shelf storm clouds approached filling the ominous cloudy sky.

     “We’re almost to the spot where I’d prefer to gather the samples.” Dr. Sandra Bradford rowed from the bow. Her shoulder-length platinum hair shone beneath the moonlight.

     Thunder in the distance reverberated as the clouds pushed passed the moon.

     “Good to hear.” Dr. Peterson paddled aft in sync with Dr. Bradford. “I don’t like the way the weather is looking.”

     “I don’t like the way that sounds.” Jessica Parker, Dr. Bradford’s twenty-six-year-old undergraduate student sat on the middle bench. She wore pink horn-rimmed glasses as she prepared a five-gallon sample container marked “Biohazard.” A small twelve-volt battery-powered siphon pump with a one hundred foot clear one-inch hose attached to it, an assortment of scuba gear, a small net and two diving mesh bags with several plastic test tubes with caps rested up to her knees at Jessica’s feet preventing any leg movement without her tipping the canoe. Jessica’s nose flared. “I don’t think I could ever get used to this smell. What is that? Pew.”

     Dr. Bradford glanced over her shoulder toward her young graduate assistant. “That is rotting fish and a combination of ammonia causing the sulfurous smell.”

     “I didn’t know this lake had fish.” Jessica gagged and shivered. “I just thought I hated it; now I know I do.” A clap of thunder jolted Jessica as she tossed the flipper in her hand and it smacked into Dr. Bradford’s leg.

     “Will you be careful?” Dr. Bradford grabbed the flipper and eased it back to Jessica.

     “Careful! That’s a strange thing to say since we could all get electrocuted if those things hit the water.” Jessica shivered; her lips spread into a thin line as she pushed her glasses higher onto her squinched nose. “Did you know that lightning strikes forty-five million times a year, and about fifty people a year are killed that way? Thousands are injured.”

     Dr. Peterson rolled his eyes. “You have nothing to worry your overloaded brain. We’ll be in and out of the water before the lightning gets close.”

     Jessica squinched her nose. “I’m going to throw up. This smell is nasty. How can anything survive living in this water?”

     Dr. Bradford glanced toward Jessica. “Since you asked, rumor has it that sometimes trout fish dart in from the freshwater streams to eat the brine shrimp. The lake is full of them. Then, it’s a death trap because of the saltwater.”

     “I learn something new every time we come here.”

     Dr. Peterson shook his head. “Okay, Jessica, name one thing you learned the last time.”

     “That’s easy. All of these towers were created when rainfall couldn’t keep up with the lake’s evaporation allowing the minerals to build up like that.” Jessica pointed to the largest tufa in the area.       “They grow one inch a year.”

     “That sounds like two things.”

     “I’m glad we have wetsuits this time. Last time I thought those bitey shrimps were going to eat me for lunch.”

     “Not likely, keep on imagining Alice.” Dr. Bradford pursed her lips.

     “Why did you call me Alice?”

     “Jessica, ever heard of Alice in Wonderland? Forget it; start sorting the gear.”

     “What do you think I’ve been doing?”

     “Just sort the gear, Jessica.”

     The murky lake water splashed against the side of the canoe as Dr. Bradford and Dr. Peterson paddled; a low rumble filled the air.

     Jessica attached the clear hose to the siphon pump.

     “This is the area I retrieved the original samples.” Dr. Bradford released her grip from the oars.      “I’m certain of it.”

     Dr. Peterson freed his oars and retrieved a Hawkeye DepthTrax hand-held sonar depth finder from his small black duffle bag that rested at his feet. He fiddled with the device and studied the results.           “We’re about thirty feet from the island. That’s the same distance as last time. By all indication, it is about fifty-six feet deep, and the water temperature is seventy-one degrees.” He picked up the small eight-pound black mushroom-shaped anchor and tossed it overboard. “That should keep us in place with these winds.”

     A loud clap of thunder caused Jessica to jump. “I don’t like the way that sounded.” She bit her bottom lip.

     With her hands above her head, Dr. Bradford took a deep breath and sighed. She carefully maneuvered her body to face the others. “Thanks for trusting me. I wouldn’t be able to continue my research without obtaining more samples. That means I would be up against the creek without a paddle if it weren’t for both of you.”

     “No pun intended; I presume.” Dr. Peterson grinned as he returned the depth finder to his duffle bag.

     With an aw-shucked shrug, Jessica flashed a grin. “It’s my pleasure, Doctor B; besides, it’s exciting even with the thunder and bolts of lightning.” She tossed a blue dive fin to Dr. Peterson.

     As Dr. Peterson caught it, he dodged it as if it were a bullet. “Not so hard, Jessica. I’m not that far away.”

     “Sorry, I’m a little anxious.”

     Dr. Bradford’s eyes narrowed. “Jessica, just focus and be careful.”

     “Like I’m not.”

     Dr. Peterson cleared his throat. “Sandra, I’m glad you included me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get this research back on track.”

     “Glad you think that way because I’m still furious over NASA confiscating everything.” Her voice laden with emotion and intensity indicated her sheer frustration.

     Jessica dug through the gear at her feet. “Me too. They have no right. Who do they think they are?    The government or something?”

     “That’s exactly who they are.” Dr. Bradford huffed as her brow furrowed.

     “How can they take it from you? It isn’t right! You discovered that microbe, not them.” Jessica pouted her lips. “It’s not fair. If they believe for one second that Stephen Stone Diamond is going to keep his mouth shut on this one, they have another thing coming. Mark my words, he’ll blast this over and over again on his blog radio show.”

     “That’s enough Jessica, just sort the gear; which by the way, was until you dropped them all getting out of the car.”

     “Yes, ma’am, but he won’t keep quiet.”

      “Jessica!”

     Jessica disappointedly continued to sort the scuba gear. “I think it’s about to pour cats and dogs. Look at the sky.”

     “For once she has a point.” Dr. Peterson glanced toward the nefarious sky. “Rain is approaching faster than I thought it would.” His eyebrow raised with concern as he rubbed his chin.

     Dr. Bradford glanced upward. Large dark shelf clouds covering the once blue moon created an eerie sight as lightning crashed toward the tufa followed by loud claps of thunder. “We need to quickly retrieve the samples because weather like this is so unpredictable.”

     “That’s what I’ve been saying since we got out here.” Jessica huffed exasperatedly.

Another bolt of lightning jetted from the sky, followed by a thunderous clap.

     Dr. Peterson’s eyes widened. “I agree. We don’t want to be used as lightning rods.”

     Another massive crack of thunder escaped from the clouds above. Jessica jumped as she tossed a purple fin to Dr. Bradford. “I don’t like the way that sounds. We could get struck by lightning and die.” She broke into tears and buried her face into her hands.

     Dr. Peterson smirked. “Then, if that happens, we won’t have to worry about our careers, now will we?” His sarcasm to relieve Jessica’s troubled state of mind had the opposite effect.

     “Did you have to remind me of that too?” Jessica whimpered as she tossed Dr. Peterson his second blue dive fin.

     Dr. Bradford exasperated by the pair intervened. “Both of you listen to me. Retrieving another sample is the only way any of us are going to have a career. I was on the verge of a major discovery.      We’re pretty much ruined if we don’t get these samples.” She looked sternly at Jessica. “Pull yourself together and focus.”

     Jessica forced a smile, removed her glasses, and dried her tears. “I got this.”

     “What can I say other than I do owe my career to you.” Dr. Peterson presented a grateful-heartfelt nod toward Dr. Bradford.

      “That would be the government you owe, not me.”

      Jessica took in a deep cleansing breath. “Hell, I don’t even want to imagine what I’m going to owe between tuition and taxes. I hate paying taxes.” She tossed a purple scuba fin to Dr. Bradford hitting her leg with it.

     “Please be careful. We can’t afford any mistakes or mishaps.”

      “Sorry, I’ll be extra careful.”

      Another bolt of lightning hit the water making Jessica jump and almost toss a dive mask out of the canoe as she looked upward. “The sky looks like it belongs in a scary film. At any minute, I know something is going to jump out of the water and eat us. This is exactly how a horror film starts. The next thing you know, a large lizard or alien creature like the one in The Shape of Water is going to flop into this canoe on top of us.”

     Dr. Bradford’s eyes tightened as she pursed her lips. “Relax, the largest living creature down there is likely a brine shrimp. As alien as they look, they are not creatures from the Black Lagoon. Although, maybe they’re from outer space.”

     “What! Stephen Stone Diamond is right. We do have aliens from outer space here on earth.”

      “You just keep sorting gear and get ready to collect the samples.”

      Dr. Peterson chuckled. “Amen to that!”

     Jessica glanced toward Dr. Bradford with a scowl. “I got this Dr. B.” She held up two small mesh dive bags that contained several small vials with lids. “Look, I took the liberty and marked each vial.” She proudly grinned. “Sample A, sample B, and sample C. I used a black Sharpie and labeled them before we left the lab.”

     “Good job on that one; but there are six vials.”

      “I’m not stupid. I used a hot pink Sharpie to label the samples I’ll collect.”

      “Of course, you did.”

      “I told you, I’m smarter than I look.”

      “We know.”

       Dr. Peterson chuckled. “Having intelligence isn’t your problem, you lack common sense. Just like you don’t think we should have to pay taxes.”

       Jessica waved her finger at both professors. “Let me tell you something. Taxes are part of a government conspiracy, and the government is full of conspiracies. I know this for…”

       “. . .Jessica!” Dr. Bradford’s reprimanding tone darted straight toward her young assistant. “The gear, just focus on the task at hand.”

      Jessica pouted her lips, took a deep breath, and conformed to Dr. Bradford’s last demand.

      Dr. Peterson winked at Dr. Bradford with doubt as he shrugged his shoulders.

      As if Jessica wasn’t in the canoe, Dr. Bradford winked back and jetted a thin-lipped grin. “I was just like her at one point in my life.”

     Dr. Peterson chuckled again as he shook his head. “Just think, her generation is our nation’s brightest and our future.”

     “We have no hope for survival.” Dr. Bradford’s tone teased Jessica.

     “I’m right here, you two. I may not see well, but my hearing is fine.”

     The professors ignored Jessica’s comments. Dr. Peterson blew air from his lips. “Hell, I wouldn’t have joined the astrobiology institute much less research if…”

      “. . .No ifs.” Dr. Bradford’s tone filled with authority reinforced her no excuse policy. “You provided the scientific skill I required.”

      “I can’t find one of my fins.” Jessica dug fast through the pile of gear at her feet.

Dr. Bradford shook her head in disappointment and stared directly at Dr. Peterson. “Who said to bring her along?”

      “I believe that one is on you.”

      “Don’t remind me.” Dr. Bradford sighed.

       Jessica extended her left arm as far as she could barely able to reach her pink fin. “I got it. I got it. I just can’t reach it.” Jessica stretched and began to stand as she grabbed for it. The canoe tilted to one side and almost tossed Jessica from it.

      Dr. Peterson grabbed Jessica’s left arm and pulled her to safety. “Sit down, Jessica!”

     The canoe rocked and almost flipped over. Jessica flopped down with the flipper in her hand. “Got it. That was close.”

      Dr. Peterson rolled his eyes. “I’d say.”

      A stern glare from Dr. Bradford revealed more than any words could, and Jessica recognized it immediately. “I’ll get my own. You sit still.”

      Jessica flopped her hands onto her lap and bit her lower lip.

      Dr. Bradford eased toward the pile of gear and tossed Dr. Peterson his mask. She zipped her diving suit, grabbed her air tank, put it on over her shoulders, and then secured it.

      Jessica struggled with the weight of her air tank as she noticed boat lights flicker in the distance.    She managed the maneuver and grabbed her hot pink full-face diving mask and put it on over her glasses. She pointed to a small boat in the distance. “We have company.”

      Dr. Peterson snickered toward Jessica. “You look ridiculous. You don’t need that, yet. Wait until you’re in the water.”

       Jessica lifted the mask and rested it on the top of her head as Dr. Bradford, and Dr. Peterson continued to put on the remainder of their scuba gear.

      “You know Sandra; now I’m older, I realize no one took me seriously about any of my research.” Dr. Peterson zipped his diving suit.

     Jessica, using her fin pointed at the boat in the distance. “Hey! Does anybody but me care about the boat heading our way?”

     Dr. Bradford slipped her fins onto her feet. “You were attached to the crazy list for your theories about alien lifeforms here on earth.”

     “You apparently have decided to join me.” Dr. Peterson grabbed his face mask. “Even I found it hard to believe a lifeform used arsenic to reproduce.”

      “I’m honored to be in such prestigious company.”

      The boat approached at a faster rate. Jessica waved her fins high into the air to get both professor’s attention. When that didn’t work, she tossed one fin to Dr. Peterson and then pointed at the boat. “I don’t like the way this looks. Yep, just like a horror film; one of us is going to die.”

      Dr. Peterson glanced over his shoulder. “Expecting company?”

      “Finally!” Jessica sighed. “I hate it when you two ignore me. Sometimes, I have something really important to say. You know I’m not just another pretty face.”

      A concerned frown twisted Dr. Bradford’s brow. “I say we get the sample and get out of here.”

      Dr. Bradford and Jessica quickly put on the remainder of their scuba gear.

With a discerning frown, Dr. Peterson glanced toward Jessica. “Don’t turn the canoe over when you go overboard.”

     “I am a licensed scuba diver. I know how to dismount from a boat.”

     “That’s my point, a boat; a canoe is different. How many canoes have you gone overboard wearing diving gear?”

     “Ugh, none; but I practiced in Dr. B’s pool.”

      “Don’t worry Peterson. She’s got this, I hope.”

      “Well, I do.” Jessica proudly nodded. “Are we going in or staying here? There’s a research sample down there waiting for me.”

       Dr. Bradford carefully stood, adjusted her stance, and gained her balance. She reached for Jessica’s hand and with Jessica’s assistance, made her way to the center of the canoe and sat next to her.

       Jessica took off her glasses and put them in her small pink duffle bag.

       Dr. Peterson rolled his eyes concerned as he gawked toward Jessica. “How in the hell are you going to see? Your blind as a bat.”

      “Aquawear dot com. This prescription mask is the best available. I’m smarter than I look. I’m not just another pretty face.”

      It is all Dr. Peterson could do to keep from laughing. He noticed the boat ramped up its speed and retrieved his handgun from his backpack.

      Puzzlement shrouded Dr. Bradford’s face. From her expression, she didn’t have to ask the question on her mind as she stared at Dr. Peterson.

      “I’m better with a gun. I’ll stay on top. You two retrieve the samples.”

      “Guns?” Jessica hyperventilated as her eyes flashed and her chest heaved. “Who said anything about guns? That wasn’t part of the plan, Dr. B?”

      “It’s okay Jessica, just breathe slow and easy.” Dr. Bradford digested their current situation. Her chest constricted. One team member is already deadI can’t let it happen again.

      Jessica took a deep breath. “I know what to do. Auh ommm. Auh ommm.” She used her right hand, touched her fingertips and her thumb to her mouth and nose and pulled slowly back as if meditating a mantra chant. “Auh ommm. Auh ommm.”

     Dismayed, Dr. Peterson patted Jessica’s shoulder. “Jessica, if you don’t calm down, you’re going to run out of oxygen when you get below.”

     “Then, then, I might drown.” Jessica’s body trembled, and her voice cracked.

      Dr. Bradford looked Jessica straight into her eyes. “Girl, just calm down. Breathe.”

Jessica used her right hand, put it over her mouth and nose as she pretended to pull air with her fingers again. “Auh ommm. Auh ommm.”

     Dr. Peterson rubbed his chin. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Okay, Jessica. Do what Dr. Bradford said and breathe in, and then out.”

      “Auh ommm. Auh ommm.” She motioned with her fingers again as if she pulled air from her mouth and nose. “I’m there. I’m good. Really, I can do this.”

     Relieved, Dr. Bradford smiled and nodded at Jessica. “Fantastic news. Let’s do this. You take the right side, and I’ll take the left. Remember Jessica, we have to go into the water at the same time, or we’ll tip the canoe.” Even through her calm words, Dr. Bradford felt her nervousness. She forced her breathing to remain in control.

     “I got this. I can do it.” Jessica took inventory of her gear as she visually scanned for each item. “Fins. Check. Wet Suit. Check. Air tank. Check. Mask…”

      “…Check.” Dr. Peterson tapped Jessica’s shoulder. “You’re good. It’s all there.”

      Dr. Bradford studied Jessica’s body language and facial expression. “Okay, Jessica, move with me at the same time and sit backward on the edge of the canoe. Are you ready?”

      “Ready, I got this. Auh ommm. Auh ommm.”

       Dr. Bradford and Jessica moved in unison as they slowly stood. Together like a perfect choreographed dance, they sat on opposite sides of the canoe ready for their backward entry.

      “Great job, ladies.” Dr. Peterson nodded and smiled.

      “Okay, Jessica. On the count of three, just like we practiced in the pool. One. Two. Three.”

      “I got it. I’m good. Really, except for the shrimp.”

       By the look on both Dr. Bradford’s and Dr. Peterson’s faces, they weren’t too confident in Jessica’s ability to go overboard backward.

       Dr. Bradford glared at Jessica. “Forget about the shrimp. One, two, and three.”

       Both women bailed backward into the lake and almost tipped over the canoe. Dr. Peterson grabbed each side of it and maneuvered his weight to prevent it from flipping.

       Dr. Bradford and Jessica floated to the top of the water and doggy-paddled. Jessica screamed paddling her finned-feet as she swooshed hundreds of brine shrimps away from her. “Oh my God. Shrimp! Shrimp! I hate shrimp.” She gagged and took in a small amount of salty water which choked her. She quickly spat it out and coughed several times.

     Dr. Peterson glanced down at Jessica. “Remember Jessica; the shrimp are a part of this lake. They belong here. You’re the intruder. You’re the alien in these waters. Forget them. Trust me; they’re more scared of you than you are them.”

     Jessica huffed as she doggy-paddled toward Dr. Bradford.

     Dr. Peterson handed Dr. Bradford the tip of the hundred-foot hose and the two dive bags containing the marked sample vials.

     “Thanks, Peterson. Just give us a couple of minutes to retrieve the samples before turning on the siphon pump.”

     “When you’re ready, jerk the hose three times, and I’ll turn it on. Then, when finished, jerk five times, and I’ll secure the samples.”

     “Likely I’ll forget Peterson; I’m not Jessica.”

      “Just reviewing the plans. Initially, I was going below with you two.”

      “Good point. Stay close Jessica. Just like we practiced.”

      Jessica acknowledged with a fist pump and put her thumb up. “For the third time, I got this.” She secured her dive mask over her face.

      Dr. Peterson shook his head, gawking directly at Jessica. “Now you look like a creature from outer space.” The boat on the horizon quickly gained distance on them. “Be safe and be quick. By the looks of things, we don’t have much time.”

      Another lightning bolt jetted across the sky as Dr. Bradford, and Jessica disappeared beneath the water. The clear hose began to unwind from the bottom of the canoe.

      “Good luck, you two.” Dr. Peterson stuffed his gun beneath his left thigh. He nervously observed the boat gain distance as he retrieved a beer from a small ice chest. The boat stopped about six feet away from the canoe as a bright spotlight shone onto his face.

       The Zodiac Boat with two Navy Seals floated closer to the canoe powered by a small electric outboard trolling motor. Stationed at the bow, Petty Officer Mendez glared toward Dr. Peterson while Ensign Devon Ray steered the craft.

      As they approached the canoe, Petty Officer Mendez stood. “You’re trespassing on a restricted area. What are you doing here?”

     “Taking a break from fishing and having a cold brew.”

      “I doubt that, Sir. Not much survives in these waters. I’m afraid we’re going to have to ask you to leave.”

      “I’m trying to catch brine shrimp.”

      “Without a fishing net?”

      He grabbed a net and held it up. “You never know what could be lurking in the water below.”

Ensign Ray held a satellite phone as he spoke into it. “Dr. Bradford isn’t with the professor. She’s nowhere to be found.”

      Dr. Peterson swallowed hard. “Excuse me, if you’re looking for Dr. Bradford, she’s camping in Canada right now. I’m just out here fishing for brine shrimp and relaxing on my vacation.”

Chief Petty Officer Mendez lifted his Beretta M9 and fired the kill shot right between Dr. Peterson’s eyes propelling him backward onto the switch of the siphon pump. He collapsed as a pool of blood formed around him.

      Navy Seal Mendez, who held a rope, transferred into the canoe. “Ready, let’s get out of here.”

      “What about Dr. Bradford?” The young Ensign seemed dismayed and confused.

      “Not our problem.” He immediately retrieved the anchor and flipped the switch off from the pump. “Our orders were to kill anyone on this canoe after finding out what they were doing here. Do you see anyone else?”

       “Negative, Sir.”

        Once seated securely in the canoe, Chief Petty Officer Mendez signaled with his index finger toward the horizon. “Forward. Move out!”

       “Copy that.” Ensign Ray steered the Zodiac with the canoe in tow. As the watercrafts left the area, the clear siphon hose pulled out of the canoe and floated in the water. The Zodiac and canoe faded into the distance as they headed back to the shore.

     Within a minute, Dr. Bradford and Jessica emerged to the water’s surface.

     They removed their masks and air pieces. Dr. Bradford pointed to the watercrafts. “We’re on our own.”

     Scared, Jessica glanced around. “What do we do now? I’ve got to pee, and I can’t see. My glasses are in the canoe.”

     “One problem at a time.”

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