Science fiction/fantasy author Laurence St John tackles action-adventure in his third novel in the Metatron series. In his new release, Metatron: Dagger or Mortality, he creates a young adult hero who “sustains constant action.” Superhero-in-training Metatron, 15-year-old Tyler struggles to stop the relentless animosity of a demonic figure and his accomplice.
People today are all-too-familiar with terrorism and fake news. St John uses a similar scenario to place his protagonist in a situation as the suspect of a mass murder. A headline reads “Terror on the East Coast – Two Million Dead!” Fake or real (in the book)? St. John quickly grabs the reader’s attention, then poses the ultimate question: Can superheroes really be killed?
Tyler believes a Superhero’s responsibility is to make the right decision, then follow it through to the end. But what if the outcome results in his death? He’s been in isolation for eight months so he could focus on completing his superhero training. Not even one day after his completion, Master Pat Tanaka urgently summons Tyler to help him.
Kelltie, an evil girl, is threatening Tyler’s destiny of being a superhero by framing him for what will be the largest mass killings in American history. She also teams up with Black Shadow, a ruthless demonic figure with his own agenda — to use the Dagger of Mortality and kill Metatron.
Feeling vulnerable, Tyler gets inspiration one last time from his Master instructor. He faces the Black Shadow, who seeks revenge for an unknown reason, and Tyler must render the most arduous choice of his life. He’ll save himself, save his beloved girlfriend Kendall, or save millions of helpless people and hinder Kelltie’s plan The story is set in New York, Nevada, and Massachusetts, where the action-packed adventure opens your mind’s eye.
Author Kenna McKinnon said, “Teens and adults alike will identify with Tyler and his all-too-human angst as he executes superhero feats in a way only St. John’s hero can accomplish, with many twists and surprising turns of events in this young adult thriller.”
St. John hails from just south of Toledo, Ohio. He’s currently working on book four and five in the Metatron Series. During the day, he works for Precision Strip, a company dealing with processing of raw material. During his off-hours he creates his novels.
In my newly released thriller, Gun Kiss, the protagonist falls in love with the co-protagonist, a common occurrence in books of all genres. As I sought reviews for the novel, I queried a book blogger who agreed to read it, but it didn’t turn out well for me. The blogger was abusive in her review of my book, highlighting nothing positive about it. In fact, she even went so far to say it wasn’t a book she would recommend to anyone. Yet she cared enough to publish the review on her blog, book cover and all. Why bother if she hated it that much?
That blogger was just one of the many reviewers I had contacted. Of course, I didn’t agree with the reviewer’s unsubstantiated comments. Like other authors, I have enjoyed my fair share of positive reviews. Gun Kiss was no exception as it also received praise from some renowned critics.
I could have responded to all her nitpicking, but I didn’t see the need because other reviewers and readers didn’t have problems with them. However, the blogger complained that “like instantly” after seeing her once. She added: “Had seen her once, when he rescued her and now he [sic] in love.”
It seemed to me the reviewer’s closer attention to my words would have revealed the depth of the story. I had explained the protagonist’s reaction when he first sees the co-protagonist, a famous Hollywood movie star, despite the circumstances in which they were both embroiled. I explained his excitement and infatuation amidst chaos, then later some reflection of thoughts when the protagonist was in a better situation.
But really, why shouldn’t a character in a book fall in love instantly? It’s not unnatural. I knew someone who fell in love with his wife in a heartbeat at university, then proposed to her after two weeks. I also know cases of men who got married within a day’s notice. Some people might surrender to love slowly, but others experience it at lightning speed. What has time got to do with the human heart?
An important realization for authors in order to reach readers is that the story must sound believable. It must sound authentic. To do that, all writers know that they must control their imagination while infusing information or facts that sound realistic, albeit in the realm of fiction. While writing Gun Kiss, I didn’t stray from the lessons I’ve learned. I did no wrong in creating scenes where the protagonist expressed his love for the co-protagonist. In fact, I wrote those scenes reinforced by fact.
ABOUT GUN KISS: A Hollywood movie star is abducted by an obsessed drug lord. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake Deco, a former US soldier, mounts a daring rescue across the border. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for the actress—or that a killer is hunting them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former magazine journalist and public relations practitioner, Khaled lives in Singapore. His journalism stint included a three-year stay in Egypt. The author is a member of the International Thriller Writers. Gun Kiss is his third novel.
There’s something about trees that makes me feel good without thinking. I might believe I’m as low as the soles of my shoes, worrying about car payments, anxious over diplomatic relations with North Korea, fuming about my flopped soufflé, but let me walk by a spruce, aspen, maple or oak, and that mood starts to dissipate. The day seems sunnier, the air, fresher.
Doesn’t matter the season. Every season brings its own joys and discoveries. Last winter a frost would hit, and leafless trees would be iced with the most delicate coating of crystals. In spring tiny green buds push through the protective scales as if sampling the climate to decide if the temperature warrants further growth. Trees seem to pulse with life itself.
Arbor Day is coming up, the last Friday in April in most states. I remember planting a sapling with great ceremony with my class in elementary school, as well as sporadic similar activities over the years hosted by community groups. Why did we bother? When with typical human irrationality, for centuries we’ve cut down and decimated trees by the millions. England, Scotland, and Ireland used to be covered with forests, but mankind happily thwacked its way down to the earth to use the resources for more urgent needs.
Now Arbor Day, as well as additional activities like the Tree City USA program, are trying to make amends by encouraging natural tree and plant life in this country. However, this is not a global trend. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean is the conversion of forests to other land uses, such as agriculture. In Brazil alone, 78 million acres of rainforest are lost every year! More than 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest is already gone. Perhaps they need a huge horde of elementary school students swarming into the region to plant seedlings.
Unfortunately, do-gooders’ enthusiasm may outstrip scientific knowledge. Planting the wrong type of tree may do more harm than good if we’re discussing global warming. The New York Times reports using conifers where broad-leafed once flourished might increase global warming, while in colder regions, trees absorb more sun heat, again raising ground temperature.
We can’t win, at least until we learn there are no simple answers to complex problems, no matter what the issue. Until we can figure out the solutions for the dilemma of trees and global warming, we can treasure the trees currently in our lives. Parks, thoroughfares, pots, farms, mountains, forests–trees are everywhere. Let’s take note by celebrating the low-key, simple, friendly observance that’s Arbor Day.
The rule in our house for travel has always been the same. Each person’s responsible for toting personal luggage. Unless I was eight months pregnant or in a full leg-cast with crutches, I knew my porter would be me.
This wasn’t a problem when we were young and usually schlepped backpacks. We traveled Europe with one each plus a tote bag. Even when we set off on cross-country car trips, we followed the rule. Small children were exempt, of course, but by about age eight, our kids quite competently managed their things.
However, a number of years ago I noticed the space for my clothes was contracting. I had to remove a pair of shoes here, an extra jacket there, first a swimsuit cover-up, then a fluffy bathrobe. What was happening? Was my luggage shrinking? Did my increased poundage result in enormous, space-eating outfits?
Then as I laid out the items I was packing in orderly heaps, I noticed an especially large mound. The load I mentally labeled “Health & Beauty,” ever since my time as a saleswoman at JC Penney’s decades before, surpassed all my clothing. What had happened? I knew I neither was using more makeup nor carrying additional beauty equipment.
More health items. More medicines. More paraphernalia to have on hand in case I threw a muscle out or strained a joint. Age had caught up with me. A short list:
Glucose for low blood sugar episodes.
Vitamins of all sorts
Prescriptions for me and my husband
Special washes and creams for skin conditions
Herbal and naturopathic supplement designed to reduce impact of viruses
A circular pillow that fit around my neck to ease naps while traveling
Elastic supports for knees
Several specially designed implements to keep decay and gum disease at bay
At least 9 pairs of glasses: reading, reading back-up, reading sun; same three for medium distance and far. Maybe some bifocals.
As I surveyed the piles, I realized I’d reached an age-stage. Just as babies need lots of extras, so do aging folks. One method to approximate someone’s age is to survey his luggage. If his health and beauty pile is larger than his clothing, he must be approaching 55 or 60. Ditto women even if their hair and lips appear like youngsters’.
I’m not alone in packing more items. My sister sometimes takes her sleep apnea equipment, which is at least the size of a shoe box. A woman I know can’t sleep unless she packs her special large pillows to cushion her body.
So what does this mean? Another example of age discrimination. Why can’t luggage limits be based on age and the amount of necessities? If the privilege of affordable housing can be given to those above a particular number of years, certainly airlines, trains and buses can waive the restrictions on baggage for us.
As for the practicalities of body strength, if we get tired of toting the extra weight, we can reduce the number of items we lug. To disguise the need for extra makeup we can wear concealing scarves, droopy hats, or extra-long bangs. To hide physical disabilities, opt for obscuring baggy clothing. Squint instead of packing extra glasses. Or just suffer discomfort without our extras.