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FREE Audible Audio Book Codes for Dead Man's Hand

Dead Man's Hand: Monster Mysteries, Book 1 Audible Audiobook Do you have a teen or tween middle grade or early high school reader in your family? I’m giving away free Audible gift codes for Dead Man’s Hand, read by 14-year-old professional actor Zane VanWicklyn.
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Frankenstein Lives!

A Peek Into the Birth of Book Six in the Monster Mysteries Series

Nick CadenMy name is Nick Caden. I’m fifteen and live in Savannah, Georgia. We moved to Savannah because a few months back, on Halloween night, a zombie snatched my sister. You might have read about it. It was all over the news for a while. The zombie who kidnapped my sister (not a real zombie – there’s no such thing) pinned me to a mud flat and waited for the tied to rise, but I held my breath long enough to escape.

When I am not in school or working at the boat yard near our apartment, I write for the Cool Ghoul Gazette. That’s a publication that focuses on paranormal and supernatural events. The Cool Ghoul is why I ended up solving a vampire murder, ghost town murder, and helped capture a werewolf. (Not a real werewolf, ghost, or vampire – there are no such things.) Which brings me to today’s “Breaking Noose” article.

The below news alert just arrived in my inbox.

“Hi. I am a Contract Specialist with the FDA. I am tasked with the purchase of tissues suitable for H.M. research. I would like to request a quote. Please review the Statement of Work and quote your pricing as outlined.

"fresh and never frozen"

Statement of Work

The supplier will provide human fetal tissue with the following characteristics:

    • Age range 16-24 weeks
    • Liver and thymus tissue from the same donor unless liver only is requested.
    • Tissue must be fresh and never frozen.
    • No tissues where the mother is known to be positive for HIV or for Hepatitis A, B, or C viruses.
    • No known chromosomal abnormalities.
    • Testing for HIV, Hepatitis B & C will be completed on maternal blood for all tissues procured and results provided when available.

Period of Performance

Twelve months from the date of award of the contract.

In order to expedite the services required please return your quote to me by 3:00 pm Eastern Time. If you do not wish to submit a quote on this requirement, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.


My editor wants me to investigate this human fetal body parts smuggling ring that is using human tissue to create a new species of . . . Well, that’s where the mystery comes in. We’re not sure what the biotech company, Enhanced Bioscience Regeneration, is up to, but I’ll find out and report back. – Nick Caden

Call and Cost of Duty

The Brief Life of Henry Lawson Wyatt

August 21, 1858Abraham Lincoln “I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses North and South. Doubtless there are individuals on both sides, who would not hold slaves under any circumstances; and others who would gladly introduce slavery anew, if it were out of existence.

“When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it, in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia,–to their own native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible.” — Abraham Lincoln, First Lincoln / Douglas Debate at Ottawa, Illinois

April 6, 1859Abraham Lincoln “This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.” —  Letter to Henry Pierce

On April 15, 1861Secretary of War Simon Cameron to  North Carolina Governor John Ellis “Sir:—Under the act of Congress for calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union to suppress insurrection, repel invasion, &c., approved February 28th, 1795, I have the honor to request your Excellency to cause to be immediately detached from the militia of your state, the quota designated in the table below to serve as infantry or riflemen for three months, or sooner, if discharged.”

April 15, 1861North Carolina Governor John Ellis to Secretary of War Simon Cameron “Your dispatch is received, and if genuine, which its extraordinary character leads me to doubt, I have to say in reply, that I regard the levy of troops made by the administration for the purpose of subjugating the states of the South, as a violation of the Constitution, and as a gross usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.”

April 18, 1861 — In response to Governor Ellis’ call to repel the anticipated invasion of Federal troops, Henry Lawson Wyatt, age 19, enlists with the Edgecombe Guards for a period of six months.  — NC Department of State Archives

May 9, 1861 — “By General Orders No. 7, Adjutant General’s Office, six new companies, including the Edgecombe Guards, are to be assigned to 1st Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers.” — NC Department of State Archives

May 20, 1861 — After the fall of Fort Sumter, in South Carolina and the secession of North Carolina’s northern neighbor, Virginia, North Carolina seceded. On May 21, North Carolina was admitted to the Confederate States.

June 10, 1861Henry Lawson Wyatt of the Edgecombe Guards was killed in action at Bethel, Virginia. — NC Department of State Archives

August 1862Abraham Lincoln “If I could save the union without freeing any slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” — Letter to Horace Greeley

September 24, 1862Abraham Lincoln “What I did, I did after very full deliberation, and under a heavy and solemn sense of responsibility. I can only trust in God that I have made no mistake. — Reply to Serenade in Honor of [Preliminary] Emancipation Proclamation

December 1, 1862Abraham Lincoln “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.” — Message to Congress

January 1, 1863Abraham Lincoln “And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. — Emancipation Proclamation

June 20, 2020 —  Crews remove Henry Lawson Wyatt monument from the North Carolina Capitol grounds.

June 20, 2020North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper pays final tribute to Henry Lawson Wyatt “Monuments to white supremacy don’t belong in places of allegiance, and it’s past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way.”

Growing Up With White Privilege

Growing Up With White PrivilegeI grew up in a black neighborhood; I grew up in a white neighborhood. To the left of our house lived the Moore’s. Their small home sat on a rise overlooking the creek that separated the two properties. To the right lived Dwight, Mark, Pat and around the corner, where Mount Vernon Church Road met Six Forks, Yvonne. Four whites to the right, five blacks to the left.

The dads got together one summer and built us a bus stop at the corner of Mount Vernon and Six Forks. Walking to the bus stop became something of a parade. Today such an occurrence may be mistaken for a protest march but for us, in the mid 60s, we were simply eleven kids heading off to school.

After our stop, the bus would pick up Richard and Wilbert Dunn. The Dunns lived in a home that stood across from what is now Taylor’s Wine Shop (Taylors also sells fishing worms.) Next, also on the left side of Six Forks, we’d stop for the Holding kids. True story (as I remember it), Chester Holden was a short, muscular boy, a few years older than me. When I tried out for football in high school, Chester was already on the team. The players called him Tree Stump. Except because Chester’s legs were so short, each year when players were required to run—I forget how far it was—Chester failed to run within the time necessary to make the team. His legs moved faster than all the rest of us, but he didn’t run fast enough. Each year Coach Shirley would hold Chester back after practice and give him another shot. And each year, miraculously, Chester made the team.

During summers we would play pickup baseball in a field across from what is now New Life Camp. What was then Mount Vernon Church was a pop fly from the field. We’d arrive on bikes or foot and divide teams evenly to keep things competitive. None of us cared about the color of a boy’s skin. We simply wanted a good game of ball.

I played organized ball on Bayleaf’s Little League team. Later we became Six Forks, but changing the name did not improve our record. We were county boys playing city kids who drew from a larger pool of players. During practices Arthur Thompson would hit, catch, throw with us. Arthur was easily one of the best players at practice. His younger brother, Boo Boo, showed up at practice too, but Boo Boo was more of a cut-up and didn’t take things as serious. Given that we lost most of our games and Arthur could hit farther, run faster, and throw harder than most of the boys on the team. I once asked Dad why Arthur never played with us during real games.

Dad explained that Arthur was black. Like somehow that fact had escaped me. I asked why that mattered. I don’t remember Dad’s explanation. Only thing I recall is that whatever he said still made no sense. If you are getting trounced by K-Mart, Brentwood, Millbrook Church, the Teamster’s, St. James Church, Carter’s Seafood, New Hope Church and pretty much every other team you play, you want help. Arthur would have definitely made us a better team. But as I mentioned, he was black.

Once Mom, my sister and I were in the K-Mart at the corner of Six Forks and Old Wake Forest—the one that used to flood every time Crabtree Creek overflowed its banks. I spied Arthur and his family in the store, called to him, and Mom shushed me. Turns out it was fine to know Arthur on a baseball field but not in a store where people might see.

In first grade Eleanor Rodgers wore glasses. I wore glasses. She was black; I was white. When you’re called “four-eyes” in the first grade, you’ll be friends with anyone who keeps masking tape and Elmer’s glue in their desk. Eleanor and I were best buds.

My freshman year at Millbrook, Jeffry Harris kicked my butt outside a trailer as I was leaving English class. No kidding. He actually kicked my backside. He wanted to fight. I explained I didn’t want to fight. Had I fought Jeffry he could have not only kicked my butt, but probably broken my glasses and nose. Three years later, on the night we graduated at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Raleigh, Jeffry came over and shook my hand. We’d hardly spoken the four years at Millbrook. Only thing I could figure was, not fighting back had somehow let Jeffry know that I wasn’t his enemy.

I was not then; I am not now.

I grew up with the white privilege of having black friends — and I thank God for it.

Call To Arms!

How Those Who Fail to Study History Are Destined to Repeat It

Call to ArmsWashington, June 2, 2020

President Trump’s call to deploy active-duty military forces to suppress violent riots in cities across the country harkens back to another dark period in America’s history. Should — and will — rank-and-file troops obey the commander in chief if ordered to round up and arrest American citizens for acts of violence? We only need to look back in history to gain a glimpse of how this might end.

Washington, April 15, 1861.
Secretary of War Simon Cameron’s communique to the various state governors

Sir:—Under the act of Congress for calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union to suppress insurrection, repel invasion, &c., approved February 28th, 1795, I have the honor to request your Excellency to cause to be immediately detached from the militia of your state, the quota designated in the table below to serve as infantry or riflemen for three months, or sooner, if discharged.


Will today’s soldiers obey orders of the commander in chief to attack family and friends? Or will they do as some prominent veterans and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have suggested and lay down their arms in defiance if President Trump invokes the 1807 Insurrection Act? And if soldiers disobey a direct order would you consider them traitors or patriots?

After the Fall of Amazon

After the Fall of AmazonRecently I asked friends on Facebook if they would buy from Barnes & Noble IF B&N offered:

* Amazon book pricing

* Amazon same-day or next-day delivery

* Amazon Prime-like subscription service

Thus far all have said yes, they would buy books from B&N IF they ran B&N online store with efficiency the of Amazon. I asked the question because for more than a decade B&N has run their company as if they expect the Internet to go away: like it was a fad. I have no connection with B&N and I have never worked for the company, but this I know: there are thousands of consumers of books waiting for B&N, Indie Bound, and other bookselling companies and groups to compete on equal terms with Amazon.

The opportunity is there. Will anyone take advantage?

Currently due to COVID, receiving a print book from Amazon can take a week or more. Why? Because Amazon has placed greater importance on COVID-related products and books apparently are not necessary when you are sheltered and shut-in.

Amazon is not a bookstore; Amazon is a network of retail warehouses. There is no customer service at Amazon, not really. Customer service implies there are people available to serve customers. Amazon can issue a refund, issue a credit, investigate an order, but the one thing Amazon cannot do is point you towards a book you may like. Amazon has algorithm bots that track your browsing habits, but this AI (Artificial Ignorance) does not know you and does not wish to know you. Legitimate booksellers seek relationships with their customers and want to please.

  • What if B&N, Indie Bound, … others offered an in-person, in-video chat feature with a real book-lover helping to guide you?
  • What if authors could set up a profile page and each time a customer logged into B&N, Indie Bound, … that customer’s zip code was mapped to local authors in their area so that in addition to that customer’s preferred genres a “Local Authors” category would appear.
  • What if a customer could also ask to have the book shipped to a local store for pick up and in return receive a gift card or credit on their next purchase?

In other words, what if B&N, Indie Bound, … others ran their online presence like a virtual bookstore, one that catered to and appreciated readers?

We seem to forget that Amazon is a retail infant: a self-absorbed big baby.

Before Amazon people shopped and bought goods just fine.  If Amazon were to implode tomorrow consumers and retailers would adjust — and probably do so quickly.

To learn more about the future of Amazon and its pending demise check out DOUG STEPHENS article from 2018. Retail giants do rise and fall. One day – perhaps soon – Amazon will fall, too.

Wide Asleep

Wide Asleep

When leading others, we are never called upon to display our doubts publicly. Doubts are best shared in private. To publicly express doubt when others need your vision is to confirm their worst fears; and their fears seldom become reality.

“Comfort” = “with strength.” When we comfort others we add our strength to those who are weak.

In comfort we can rest our eyes while wide asleep.

For those in Christ this is a gift from God.

Who needs your strength and confidence today?