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Love in the Cretaceous – Blitz

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Literary Fiction
Date Published: May 2017
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Love in the Cretaceous akes place in a dinosaur park in Oregon a hundred years in the future. Ted Beebe has lost the love of his life and must suddenly find his way alone in old age. He finds young people to take the place of his wife and himself in assuring the survival of Cretaceous World, the park his wife and he created. Global warming has proceeded as predicted, and the fate of Homo sapiens has become obviously uncertain. People come to see the genetically engineered recreations of dinosaurs and are made more aware of humanity’s own vulnerability to extinction. Ted succeeds in creating a new family structure whose three generations will guide the park through the immediate future. He also keeps alive his wife’s memory while coping with the challenges of the uncertain future.
Excerpt
 
Love in the Cretaceous: [chapter 3]
Tumtum
by Howard W. Robertson
It takes your breath away to see a Brontosaur run.
Bud sees the two of them thundering towards us though and has plenty of breath
left to holler, “And down the stretch they come!”
We know from fossil thigh-bones that Brontosaurs were capable of a slow run,
so we designed our pair to do about a dozen miles per hour. To see an animal 70 feet
long and weighing 50,000 pounds move that fast seems nothing less than miraculous.
Lana has used the giant crane to drop a couple tons of mixed ferns, horsetails,
and gingko and araucarian leaves into the Brontosaur area. The crane is 50 feet high
with a long arm so the two sauropods won’t bang their heads on it, since they can only
reach up to about 25 feet with their long necks.
It’s May 2117, and the angiosperms are in bloom all around these two colossal
creatures from the end of the Jurassic. We called it close enough and just sort of rolled
them into Cretaceous World, our magnificent dinosaur park. Brontosaurs flourished
around 150 million years ago, well before the rise of the flowering plants about 30
million years later in the Cretaceous period. When our genetic engineers designed the
genome for our pair, they tried to make them as authentic as possible, so the two of
them really prefer the kind of food they would have eaten way back when. That’s why
they come running at feeding time when we give them the ancient gymnosperms that
they like best. There’s actually a large nursery in the neighboring town of Dewberry
that’s dedicated to supplying our herbivores with food from the time of the dinosaurs.
Lana gets down out of the crane and walks over to me.
She says, “I’d sure like to see a whole herd of these moving together.”
Lana has a Ph.D. in paleontology from SUNG and knows full well why we
couldn’t handle that. Our pen of seven miles by four miles is barely big enough for the
two Brontosaurs we do have. By the way, I’m so glad the alternate name has died away
over the past hundred years: “thunder lizard” is so much more appropriate for these
giants than “deceptive lizard.”
I say, “Wouldn’t that be grand?”
She smiles and tosses her long blonde ponytail. Then she goes over to Bud and
gives him an assignment to do.
Lana is actually Bud’s supervisor, though her youthfulness and the flecks of
grey everywhere in Bud’s hair might suggest the opposite. Bud drove a big rig longhaul
for over a decade before joining our staff here at Cretaceous World. He’s happy as a
clam here. We offer generous salary, great job security, comprehensive health benefits,
a month’s paid vacation, and a rock-solid pension. Not bad for a high school graduate
from Roseburg.
Lana returns to my side and says, “Really, I love imagining the whole herds of
these guys that roamed around Western Laurasia.”
I enjoy it that she knows it’s Laurasia still and not yet Laramidia, since the
Brontosaur was in the late Jurassic, 50 million years before Laramidia formed.
She says, “Have you ever heard them crack their tails like bullwhips? It’s
amazing. You can imagine that they could knock over an Allosaur with their tails and
then just stomp on it with their huge clawed feet. Once they got big like this, they really
didn’t have much to fear from predators.”
I say, “I understand they grew very fast when they were young, and then once
they were full-grown, they could live well past a hundred years.”
She says, “Yeah, some paleontologists speculate about three hundred years as a
reasonable guess for how long a Brontosaur could live.”
I say, “I spent the early part of my career studying the smallest of single-celled
life-forms who could basically live forever if conditions were right. Bacteria had no
programmed cell-death. It wasn’t until the larger nucleated cells came along that death
from old age became possible.”
She says, “You started out with the tiniest living beings who began around four
billion years ago. Bruce and Phyllis here must seem like giant newcomers to you.”
I enjoy her use of the nicknames the crew gave the Brontosaur couple.
I say, “The Cambrian explosion changed everything. Between 600 and 500
million years ago, life got larger fast. In a few blinks of geologic time, the sauropods
were leaving their footprints all over the landscape of the Morrison Formation not so far
from here.”
She says, “You’ve covered all of life on Earth in your career, from tiny
beginning to the recent hugeness. Nice.”
We pause and watch Bruce and Phyllis enjoy their meal.
She asks, “Do you think we mammals would’ve taken over from the dinosaurs if
the big asteroid hadn’t hit the Gulf of Mexico?”
I reply, “I doubt it. We were just scurrying around the margins and doing things
at night when our fully warm-blooded metabolism gave us an advantage. The dinosaurs
were the most successful animals ever to stride the Earth and would’ve continued to
dominate us. Their demise was our golden opportunity.”
She smiles and goes off with Bud, who has finished his task and returned.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
After watching the feeding of the Brontosaurs, I return to the residence. It
always makes me childishly happy to come home to the palace that Becky and I are
privileged to inhabit. I don’t like to think of myself as a superficial person, but in this
one regard, I’m really quite shallow.
Chandler greets me at the entrance in his usual cheery way.
I say, “I’m going up to the tea room. Please bring me a bowl of fresh
strawberries and a big pot of tea with lemon.”
He says, “Yes, sir, as you wish. Will there be anything else?”
I say, “No, just the tea and strawberries. Thank you, Chandler.”
The tea room is how we refer to the large semi-circular area on the second floor
at the rear of the edifice. It faces north away from Cretaceous World and overlooks
Tumtum Creek. The entire curved wall of the tea room is made of sheets of shatterproof
glass. They’re fitted together so artfully that you can only find the seams if you
get close and inspect the surface of the glass very carefully.
Outside, the temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit on this mid-afternoon in late
May, but the air conditioning keeps it cool and refreshing in here. The half-acre of solar
panels on the roof of the residence give us plenty of electricity for all the conveniences
we fancy.
I ascend the spiral staircase and make my way to the tea room. I park myself on
the antique Stickley couch and gaze out at the dense forest. Red alders and vine maples
are leafing out along the creek, as are the oaks up the hillside. The endless pines are
green as ever.
Chandler soon brings the tea and strawberries and sets them on the small table in
front of me. I enjoy his style and politeness. It’s very soothing.
I say, “I’d like to hear the creek, please.”
Chandler turns on the sound from Tumtum Creek. A microphone has been
hidden at a spot where the rushing water passes over a series of three small waterfalls,
none of which is more than a foot high. The gorgeous natural music floods the tea room
from surrounding speakers. It’s complex and simple at the same time.
Chandler discreetly leaves the room.
I say to myself, “Tumtum,” remembering its meaning in the Chinook Jargon:
heart, mind, will.
I sip the delicious Earl Grey tea with two lemons fresh-squeezed into the pot. I
pick up a luscious strawberry and take a big bite out of it.
I think, “Tumtum. Perfect.”
At this moment, Becky appears. She’s been to the doctor in New Geneva for
her annual checkup.
She quietly says, “Hey.”
I answer, “Hey.”
I immediately sense something’s not right.
She says, “The creek sounds nice.”
She says it as if she’s remembering how it sounds, not actually hearing it right
now.
I ask, “Care for a strawberry?”
I lift the bowl and hold it out to her.
She says, “No, thanks. I don’t think I could eat anything right now.”
She sits down beside me on the plush maroon couch.
I say, “Tea, then?”
Chandler thoughtfully brought two cups when he delivered the tea.
She says, “No.”
I ask, “Something the doctor said?”
She says, “Yeah, you could say that. She definitely said something.”
I put my half-eaten strawberry down on a coaster and wait.
She says, “My lab work turned up a problem. They found positive indications
for Stander’s disease.”
I say, “Heard the name. Not familiar.”
She explains, “It’s a new virus that’s come along in the last couple decades, now
that the climate’s changed so much. It’s a kind of dementia accompanied by a physical
wasting away. You lose your mind and your body. You lose it all. You lose yourself.
You’ve got two to three years from the time it shows up in the tests to when you’re still
alive but you’re not you anymore.”
I don’t know what to say. I’m not prepared in any way to deal with this. It’s the
last thing I was expecting to hear her say.
I say, “You look so healthy. You look so well.”
I’m looking at her, and she turns her head and looks at me with her beautiful
green eyes. Tears begin to trickle down her cheeks, and I put my arms around her. My
own eyes fill with tears and overflow.
I ask, “Is there any doubt about the diagnosis?”
She says, “She’s repeating the tests just to make 110 percent sure, but she
doesn’t hold out any false hope. She says the diagnosis is clear. The lab results are
unambiguous.”
She utters a single sob, and I hug her harder.
She says, “It’s difficult to accept that it’s true. It doesn’t seem possible.”
I agree, “No, it doesn’t seem real at all.”
She asks, “I’d like to go down by the creek: can we?”
I reply, “Of course.”
There’s a door off the tea room opening onto stairs down to Tumtum Creek.
We’re both a bit wobbly as we descend. I hold onto the railing, and Becky holds tightly
onto me.
It’s muggy outside. The temperature is at least fifteen degrees cooler in the
shade down by the creek.
I say, “There’s supposed to be a thunderstorm tonight.”
She says, “It feels like it.”
We stop beside the rushing flow of the creek.
She asks, “Do you ever wish we’d had a child?”
I lie, “No.”
She comments, “I suppose this whole place, Cretaceous World, is our child. It’s
why we’re alive. It’s our purpose in life.”
I agree, “Yes, I suppose it is. I hadn’t thought of it that way exactly, but I
suppose it’s so.”
She says, “I’m glad we don’t have a child who has to face this, my dying, his or
her mother’s dying.”
I agree, “It would be hard to tell a child.”
We’re silent thinking about breaking the news to a child we don’t have.
She says, “I don’t want you to have to face losing your wife before she’s
actually dead. I don’t want to live past the time when I’m still myself.”
I ask, “What do you mean?”
She says, “You know what I mean.”
I say, “You mean assisted suicide.”
She confirms, “Yes, I want to consider it in a year or two when the time comes,
when it’s obvious that I don’t have much longer before I don’t know who you are or
anything we’ve done together.”
I embrace her.
I say, “Of course. However you want. I’ll be with you whatever comes.”
She says, “I don’t want you to remember me like I’ll become if I let it happen. I
want you to remember me like this.”
We kiss tenderly, and all the love and joy of all our life together is in this kiss.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I’m standing in the tower at night. Lightning flashes and crashes outside the
panoramic glass windows.
I think, “Like the late Jurassic.”
We have a whole crew of forest workers dedicated to maintaining a 300-yard
firebreak around the dinosaur areas. It’s in effect a circumambient meadow. Deer
graze there. We also have dinosaur-sized, cave-like fire shelters in every area. We
humans have our cars and our roads in case we need to flee. There’s never been a forest
fire here at Cretaceous World, but we’re ready for what’s probably the inevitable.
The flashing and crashing continue outside the windows of the circular fourth
floor.
I suddenly notice I’m not alone. There’s a plump, slope-shouldered fellow in a
nice suit standing beside me.
He says soothingly, “Never fear, my friend, all is well.”
I find I know his name.
I turn toward him and say, “Diablo, my nemesis, what brings you here tonight?”
He winks and says, “You know.”
I find I do.
I say, “Becky.”
He says, “You find you wish Stander’s Disease were an enemy, a villain you
could face and kill with a knife-thrust to the navel, do you not?”
He’s not wrong.
I say, “When cellular life on Earth began around four billion years ago,
immortality was possible. It wasn’t until the nucleated protists came along much later
that death became inevitable.”
He says, “You call me Diablo, but you know I’m really just entropy.”
I say, “You’re the inevitable death of the Universe.”
A titanic bolt of lightning flashes across the sky, and at least fifteen seconds

About the Author

Howard W. Robertson lives in Eugene, Oregon, where his ancestors arrived as members of the Lost Wagon Train of 1853. He has previously published two books of fiction and ten books of poetry. He has won the Sinclair Poetry Prize, the Robinson Jeffers Prize for Poetry, the Bumbershoot Award, and numerous other competitions. His work has been published in Nest, Literal Latté, Nimrod, Fireweed, and many other journals. His poetry has been anthologized in many collections, including The Clear Cut Future and The Ahsahta Anthology: Poetry of the American West. His work has been deeply influenced by a lifelong love of Russian literature. For more about Howard W. Robertson, see his webpage: www.howardwrobertson.com.
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SKYLINE – PROMO BLITZ

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Literary Fiction
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In SKYLINE: TALES OF MANHATTAN, award-winning playwright and author William Ivor Fowkes presents stories of New Yorkers—gay, straight, and confused—making startling connections and discoveries. On the West Side, a man approaching his 60th birthday tries a new haircut, with disastrous consequences. On the East Side, a Park Avenue Republican gets a taste of life on the “down low” in Central Park. In the East Village, a struggling writer papers his kitchen wall with rejection letters. In SoHo, a graphic designer takes drastic steps to get the attention of her editor. At MOMA, a woman physically attacks a man examining a sculpture she doesn’t like. Downtown, a transplanted New Orleans cabaret singer deals with life and love in the aftermath of 9/11. There are 19 stories in all—enough to demonstrate that Manhattan’s residents are just as striking as the city’s celebrated skyline.
About the Author

William Ivor Fowkes is a playwright and author based in Manhattan and Connecticut. His short fiction has been published in many literary journals. His plays have been presented in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Several have been published. Several have been broadcast on the radio. His full-length plays include ALL IN THE FACULTY (Dramatists Play Service), SUNSHINE QUEST (Fresh Fruit Festival), PRIVATE PROPERTY (The Players Ring), THE BEST PLACE WE’VE EVER LIVED (Love Creek Productions), COUPLE OF THE CENTURY (Downtown Urban Theater Festival), THE GERMAN LESSON (Great Plains Theatre Conference Playlabs), and others. His short plays include THE DAKOTA (Best Short Play, Downtown Urban Theater Festival), THE BRAZILIAN DILEMMA (First Prize, McLean Drama Company; film version by Collective NY Films), THE NEXT MOVE (Best New One-Act Play, Brevard Theater), THE SESSION (Pushcart Prize Nominee), TABLE MANNERS IN CHICAGOLAND (Winner, Nor’Eastern Play Writing Contest), AN ACCIDENT IN THE PARK (William Inge Theatre Festival), A REMARKABLE MAN (Gallery Players, Brooklyn), and others. He has been a FINALIST for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award (Bloomington Playwrights Project) and the W. Keith Hedrick Playwriting Contest (HRC Showcase Theatre) and a SEMI-FINALIST for the Playwrights First Award (National Arts Club), the Promising Playwright Award (Colonial Players, MD), and the Princess Grace Playwriting Award. He is a graduate of Yale University (B.A., magna cum laude) and Northwestern University (M.A., PhD) and a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Pulse Ensemble Theatre Playwrights’ Lab. He was formerly a philosophy professor and a marketing executive at several media companies, including Showtime and HBO. He is married to Stephen Michael Smith, a music conductor. His daughters, Laura and Julia, work in the fashion industry in New York City.

 
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THE OTHER LA BOHEME – BLITZ

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Literary Fiction
Date Published:  April 2017
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The Other La Bohème is literary fiction that depicts the lives and loves of four friends who pursue opera singers’ careers in present-day New York City. Jennifer (soprano), Stephanie (mezzo-soprano), Henry (tenor), and John (baritone) met in music school in Manhattan, where they performed Puccini’s famous opera La Bohème at their graduation concert. After graduation they banded together as a group called the Dolci Quattro, pledging to support one another in their professional pursuits. Several years later, they have landed the roles of Mimi, Musette, Marcello, and Rodolfo in the nearly forgotten opera La Bohème by Leoncavallo—known as “the other La Bohème”—which is to be produced by the New York Bel Canto Opera.
Alluding to the opera form, the novel opens with an Overture, a hymn that leads into Act I. Scene 1 begins with arias and a duet sung by Henry and Stephanie in the Café Momus. Jennifer and John come in, and they congratulate each other on their new roles. Immediately, though, the thoughts of the current state of their personal lives cool their enthusiasm.
Each Scene that follows is narrated alternately by one of the four members of the Dolci Quattro. As the story unfolds, Jennifer discovers that her fiancé, Richard, an investment banker and a fiction writer, is having an affair with another woman. Stephanie struggles to find a steady love, while perturbed by a strained relationship with her father, a billionaire hedge fund manager, who abandoned her late mother. Henry faces a pressure from his family to renounce his bohemian life for a more respectful career as he meets his new love, Christine, a poet. John receives a summons for divorce from the lawyer of his wife Michelle, a painter.
Set in the rich artistic backdrop of New York City, as the novel proceeds from Act I to Act II, Act III, Intermezzo, and Act IV, the Dolci Quattro’s lives and loves go through ups and downs in joy and despair, while true to their pledge they give one another much-needed moral support. As the opening night nears, the Dolci Quattro make their utmost efforts to perfect their singing for the opera that will determine their future.
Other Books by Yorker Keith
Publisher: BookBaby
Published: April 2016
Literary Fiction
Remembrance of Blue Roses follows a man and a married couple in New York City, whose intricate relationship oscillates among friendship, love, love-triangle, and even obsession. Its romantic ambience is interwoven with classical music, opera, art, family legend, and international affairs, illuminating the lives of international civil servants at the United Nations and the UN peacekeeping mission in Sarajevo, and those with direct experience of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the Holocaust.
About the Author

Yorker Keith lives in Manhattan, New York City. He holds an MFA in creative writing from The New School. His literary works have been recognized four times in the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition as a finalist or a semifinalist.
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THE ORPHAN OF MECCA – PROMO BLITZ

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Literary Fiction
Date Published: 9/17/2014
Publisher: America Star Books
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America Star Books Presents The Orphan of Mecca, Book One by Harvey Havel
Frederick, MD October 16, 2014 – America Star Books is proud to present The Orphan of Mecca, Book One by Harvey Havel from Albany, NY.
A brief synopsis of the book: “Amina prepares for college on what is expected to be an exciting first day of higher learning. When she steps onto the university campus for the first time, however, she bumps into Raja Gupta, a young, persuasive, and hot-headed university intellectual who lures her into joining a student group whose cause is the liberation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan. What follows is a stormy and passionate romance detailing the lives of both Raja Gupta and Amina Mitra as they both attempt to survive from one of the worst genocides of historical record—a genocide that ultimately leads to the birth of the poor and crippled nation known today as Bangladesh. This novel is written with historical accuracy and is Book One of a trilogy that charts the rise and fall of these two characters, as well as the son that is orphaned after Amina Mitra is forced to abandon him in the Great Mosque of Mecca.”
Visit us online at www.americastarbooks.com, Facebook and Twitter.
About the Author

Harvey Havel is a short-story writer and novelist. His first novel, Noble McCloud, A Novel, was published in November of 1999. His second novel, The Imam, A Novel, was published in 2000.

In 2006, Havel published his third novel, Freedom of Association.  He has published his eighth novel, Charlie Zero’s Last-Ditch Attempt, and his ninth, The Orphan of Mecca, Book One, which was released last year.  His new novel, The Thruway Killers is his latest work.  The Orphan of Mecca, Books Two and Three, will be released next year as well as a book, An Adjunct Down, which he just completed.  His work in progress is called In the Trenches, about a Black American football player.
He is formerly a writing instructor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey.  He also taught writing and literature at the College of St. Rose in Albany as well as SUNY Albany.
Copies of his books and short stories, both new and used, may be purchased at www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.com, and by special order at other fine bookstores.
 
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PLAY FOR ME -PROMO BLITZ

Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Date Published:  April 2015
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It happens without warning: At a folk-rock show at her son’s college, Lily becomes transfixed by the guitarist’s unassuming onstage presence and beautiful playing—and with his final note, something within her breaks loose.
After the concert, Lily returns to her comfortable life—an Upper West Side apartment, a job as a videographer, and a kind if distracted husband—but she can’t stop thinking about the music, or about the duo’s guitarist, JJ. Unable to resist the pull of either one, she rashly offers to make a film about the band in order to gain a place with them on tour. But when Lily dares to step out from behind her camera, she falls deep into JJ’s world—upsetting the tenuous balance between him and his bandmate, and filling a chasm of need she didn’t know she had.
Captivating and provocative, Play for Me captures the thrill and heartbreak of deciding to leave behind what you love to follow what you desire.

Céline Keating is the author of two novels, Layla and Play for Me. Play for Me was a finalist in the International Book Awards, the Indie Excellence awards, and the USA Book awards. Her short fiction has been published in many literary journals, and she was the first-place winner in the Hackney Literary Awards for short fiction for 2014. Keating is also a music journalist and plays classical guitar.
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