08/21/16

The Crucible

Enter the mind of a brain surgeon!

It’s 1951 & this is a test.

Trevor Mott is a brain surgeon. Jimmy P. is eight years old and plays baseball. Today, the two of them will come together. One will be taken to the very edge of endurance.

The other will go even further.

The Crucible is a far surpassing tale of surgical suspense available on kindle today. Just 99 cents.

Click now to buy THE CRUCIBLE on Kindle.

The Crucible
A short story by Edison McDaniels, MD

October 3rd, 1951 

“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”  The announcer’s exuberance burst from the radio with the intensity of an artery geysering blood across the room. You couldn’t help but notice it. “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thompson hits into the lower deck of the left…” 

“Turn that damn thing off,” Mott said, putting down the loop cautery and motioning with his arm toward the radio. Jesus Christ, he said to himself, thinking of the damn Brooklyn Dodgers. How could the bums have a virtual lock on first, thirteen and a half games up with just forty-four to play, a month before the season ended, and still manage to rise to that particular level of mediocrity that is second place? It sickened him. 

Second place was an untenable position to Trevor Mott. As a brain surgeon, it represented a compromise he couldn’t afford inside someone’s head, an intolerable concession that could only bring pain or suffering at best, death or invalidism at worst. Of course, it wasn’t he that would suffer in such a case, it was his patients. And suffer they did he thought, for however untenable second place might be in his own mind, it was a plight which visited his – any neurosurgeon’s – operating room with a certain morbid regularity. 

An image of the neurosurgical ward two floors above suddenly flashed into Mott’s head. It was a large open rectangular room with pale cream walls and dingy gray floor tiles, all of it scuffed by too many years of use. Tall windows lined the walls on each side of the room’s long axis and the early morning sun spilled in from one side, lending the room a soothing but unbalanced look; Mott saw tiny specks of dust suspended in the golden light.

The Crucible is available on Kindle right now.

 

07/29/15

Blade Man reviewed by DNFB

Click the image to buy BLADE MAN for the Kindle, Just 99¢.

BLADE MAN for the Kindle is just 99¢ at Amazon. Click Now.

The Folks at Definitely Not For The Birds Review
BLADE MAN, a novella

Original posting is here.

Firstly, I want to thank Edison McDaniels for sending us a free copy of Blade Man in order to hear our opinion.  We are honored and very grateful.

Note:  This review is a bit shorter than most, as Blade Man is a novella and a very quick read.  It is also rather suspenseful so in effort not to give anything away, my comments will be brief, although my praise is high for this novella.

Most of the time, I avoid anything classified as or even remotely related to Horror.  The genre… well it impacts me.  It sort of gets my imagination going a bit too much; all sounds suddenly morph into sounds a murderer is making while he is slowly creeping towards me to deliver me my doom.  Yes, it gets quite ridiculous and stressful hence my hesitation.  However, I didn’t look too closely at the genre of this novella.  I normally don’t, and I am very glad that I didn’t.  If I had, I probably would have shied away from it and thus missed an excellent piece of fiction.

The Good:
The setting.  The setting could not have been more mundane or more perfect for this story.  I believe it was the mundane-ness that perhaps made it all the more spooky.  It is set in the middle of a blinding blizzard  – or a howler, as the protagonist so often reminds us.  A blizzard, believe it or not, is the perfect setting for this story.  Vision is blurred, as are the lines of reality.  The ambiguous nature created by this setting really sets the mood for the whole story – a mood that is crafted with great care…. and with a truly wonderful result.

The voice of the protagonist was also very unique.  I enjoyed his crassness and it added a whole other dimension to the story.

The build up of suspense was also wonderfully done.  Words and phrases were often repeated and I found that this really helped to expertly build up the tension.  There was also one crucial moment, one that I am not going to specify for sake of not spoiling the book, that was absolutely amazing.  It continued with the theme of ambiguity and also scared me.

The end.  It blew me away!  I really don’t want to give too much away, but it was very well crafted.  I was once told that a good ending should be surprising, but at the same time entirely logical, given the world of the story.  I believe that McDaniel’s had heard that somewhere once before as well …. in any case, he accomplished just that.

I just really found myself amazed at the plot unfolding and the true depth to it.  It was also easy to read, yet the writing didn’t come off as trivial due to the true, real sounding voice of the protagonist.  It’s also a memorable story – one that I will not be forgetting any time soon, if ever.

The Bad:
The only negative I found is that at very rare points, the main character’s voice can become a bit unsteady.  That is to say, he is portrayed as a gruffer man, speaking in vernacular.  The picture I had in my mind was of someone not overly educated and a bit “old school”.  For example, McDaniels writes “innernet” instead of “internet” when this character is speaking.  I believe this is the persona that we are meant to imagine.  Occasionally, the character will use a phrase or word that somewhat goes against this; words that I would assume to be beyond his vocabulary.  However, this is rare and it does not distract from the other wonderful qualities of this story.

The Verdict:
Don’t Read if:  McDaniels himself warns not to read at night if you are home alone.  I, however, did not heed this warning.  I was alright, but I definitely think it should be said that it might make the reading experience less spooky… something I probably would have been okay with.  So you may want to keep that in mind.  If you aren’t a fan of suspense or stressful reading, this is definitely not the novella for you.  Also, if you are looking for something longer, this will not be a good choice.  It is a very fast read, even for a novella.

Read:  Even if horror usually isn’t your thing, I encourage you to take a look in to this.  The murky sense of ambiguity and suspense are what really makes this novella great – something that most people can really appreciate.  If you are looking for a quick read, this would be perfect.  The writing is light but still smart, and the content/suspense drives you to devour the novella.  I read it easily in one sitting, mostly because I just couldn’t put it down.

Thanks for reading!  And just in case you do happen to read this novella and you happen to enjoy it, I thought I would mention that we have more work from Edison McDaniels in addition to this piece.  I am in the process of reading it now, so stay tuned for a review on that.  The title is Not One Among Them Whole: A Novel of Gettysburg, and I am really enjoying it so far.

Thanks again!   And I hope you all have a marvelous weekend!

Written by Rachel B.

Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She recently graduated with a degree in English. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds

07/6/15

The Matriarch of Ruins

Today, the Gettysburg Trilogy continues…

In Book 1, Not One Among Them Whole, a novel of Surgeons and the Wounded at Gettysburg, the harrowing story of life at the front edge of a 19th century battlefield hospital was told.

Now, from the author of that acclaimed novel, comes the story of the civilians among the wounded in that surreal time:

 

Husbands and wives.

Sons and daughters.

Soldiers and surgeons.

Men and slaves.

Widows and ghosts.

The living and the dead come alive in this epic novel of a widow struggling to keep her family together amid the carnage of the Battle of Gettysburg—and the memories of her dead husband. A story of ordinary folks caught in the maelstrom of an extraordinary time.

It is 1863 and the war has come home to the Gamble farm in Southern Pennsylvania. With her husband buried under the willow tree in the back yard, and only four months in the ground, the widow Purdy Gamble must cope with losing him all over again when a rebel surgeon conscripts her farm—and Purdy’s growing respect despite herself. Hannah Gamble Griel, Purdy’s daughter, disappears into the chaos of war to chase her own ghosts, both imaginary and real. And then there are the twins Loli and Coal, just fourteen. One, struck dumb by a mule kick at age five, will find a disturbing peace amid the flames of war. The other will twice save a man’s life, unburying a horrid family secret in the process—a secret at once as alive as warm flesh and as dead as cold bones mouldering under the earth. 

The Matriarch of Ruins is a haunting story of lost love, moral dilemmas, and psychological traumas amid the ruins of war, by the author of Not One Among Them Whole. This is a vivid, suspenseful tale, told with heart-breaking empathy and stunning detail.

READ AN EXCERPT: CLICK HERE.

Now available for the Amazon Kindle. Soon in paperback as well. From Northampton House Press. Buy it today and be transported to another era. 

The Matriarch of Ruins (Gettysburg Trilogy, #2)


06/3/15

The TOUCHED

From the mind of Edison McDaniels comes a ghost story like no other…

What happens when a surgeon becomes obsessed with death?

Dr. Isaac Weed was touched by the death of his daughter. Unfortunately, so were his patients…

Dr. Isaac Weed had it all. A loving wife, a beautiful daughter, a thriving surgical practice, and an almost supernatural gift for healing. But two years after the death of his daughter, struggling to heal and just a shell of the man he once was, Dr. Weed becomes increasingly convinced his dead daughter is trying to contact him from the beyond. When he discovers a door to the afterlife, a door never meant to be opened, he just might be able to get her back. There’s just one problem.

In order to open the door, somebody has to die.

˃˃˃ A supernatural medical thriller that will leave you breathless & exhausted…

“The Touched is one of those unexpected surprises that make reading worthwhile. At once a page-turning thriller, and a metaphysical adventure of the highest order, it’s a book that will keep you turning the pages until you hit the marvelously redemptive ending craving more. One can’t but think of Stephen King, as the story’s rich cast of lovable, exquisitely-rendered characters grapple with evil, beauty, and the depths of grief and hope.”

–Tim Farrington, Author of The Monk Downstairs

The TOUCHED is currently available for the Kindle at just $2.99.
Sign-Up below & get it for FREE right now!!!
Along with updates and other freebies to come.

Why wait? Let the haunting begin.

~ An Excerpt ~

Then comes the night of the ballet, the night that changes everything forever.

That glorious but awful evening begins with the sun retiring behind a veil of shimmering twilight. The couple shower and, with the hot, luxuriant waters cascading down upon them, entwine as lovers for the first time in perhaps six weeks or two months. The orgasmic embrace is at the furious urging and persistence of Anna, who feels especially close to her husband on this night and knows that Homer would never, otherwise, seek such loving solace of her in her delicate condition. For years afterward, Homer will remember this time together and will wonder if, even then, Anna somehow knew what the night would bring. Over the years to come, this idea will act like a water hammer against his sanity—and slowly erode its very foundation.

But on this night he is as sane as he will ever be again. Anna considers the promise of the life she carries and tells Homer it is a soul in creation. He realizes just how much he loves this woman, how much he loves their baby. They have a quiet, romantic dinner for three and Homer presents her with a diamond tennis bracelet that would have taken him another two years to pay off. He has considered a corsage, but has decided instead upon the bracelet, reasoning she would rather have a permanent keepsake of their special evening at the ballet. The keepsake will be buried with her and Homer will never pay it off.

They arrive 20 minutes early for The Nutcracker. Sitting down, they listen to the murmurs of the crowd and the marvelous but unprepared tunes of the orchestra as it warms up. As the opening curtain rises, Homer places his hand upon Anna’s child-filled belly. He pokes and feels the future within kick back, strong and healthy. He smiles, the two kiss, and the curtain rises.

It happens in the middle of Act II, during the dream. It is fast, with no warning whatsoever. The Arabian dancer is onstage, and her serpentine movements mesmerize the audience. There is a faint popping sound, a sound nobody actually hears in all probability, then a whoosh as the small but heavy spot light crashes down from the ceiling above. Seth’s mother is struck in the head and does not suffer. She dies instantly, or so the coroner will claim later despite all evidence to the contrary. The bread loaf size light cleaves her head, splits it open across the top, and explodes its contents in a wide swath around her. Anna’s blood and skull are flung against Homer with such force he is knocked from his seat. The woman on the other side of Anna screams, a high pitched wail that immediately curdles the stomachs of those within earshot. When the house lights come on a moment later, they reveal gray and white flecks of brain—tissue that had previously held Anna’s memories, hopes, and dreams—splayed across the head and shoulders of a score of strangers.

One of those strangers, a heavyset, older black woman with distinguished gray hair, manages to remain calm and comforts the others. Her presence is soothing in an oddly familiar way, as if she is everyone’s grandmother or best friend, and she somehow keeps the macabre situation from completely unraveling to chaos. The prime individual she comforts is Homer, who sits on the floor between the seats, at the feet of his wife. He looks at his Anna. Tears flow freely down his cheeks and mingle with the blood upon them to produce tiny rivulets of pink here and there. This makes his tears stand out eerily against his black skin. He is dazed and confused but knows at once she is dead, knows their dreams are gone. On impulse, perhaps he senses something or maybe he just needs to touch her, he reaches up and feels her belly. He rubs his hand around in the blood, as if in a trance, as if finger painting on the belly of his dead wife.

It moves.

Not a breath, not inward like the pull of a contracting diaphragm. Not outward either; there is no broad, diffuse relaxation of the ribs and belly to suggest the movement has been the last gasp of a dying woman.

It moves again.

A poke, a kick.

Something lives inside the dead woman.

Something that is trying to get out.

Something that needs to get out.

Strangers bring the woman to the aisle and lay her there. The elderly black woman has her arm around Homer even as he weeps over the pregnant remains of his wife. A tuxedoed obstetrician—there is a white carnation stuck in his lapel—kneels at Anna’s side. Jenny White observes how he only briefly looks at Anna’s head. It’s blown apart—almost as if something had needed to get out instead of in—and it’s apparent to all no amount of attention there will help her. He focuses his attention on her belly, and must feel impotent the old woman thinks. Jenny White knows the baby must be born at that moment, but there is nothing that can be done without a knife. The physician’s hand reaches along the woman’s neck, apparently seeking a pulse. From the look on his face, and the glance at his watch, it is apparent he can’t find one. 

“Three minutes,” he says quietly.

Jenny White knows this is virtually an ultimatum: three minutes before the child within will be as lost as the mother now is.

It takes seven minutes, the obstetrician has timed it, before the first paramedics finally arrive to see Homer still clutching his now very dead wife. As they pull him away, they see the woman’s pregnant belly.

“Please,” he begs, “you must do something…” The tears stream down his cheeks and hysteria finally overcomes him as he reaches out to touch her belly one last time.

It moves again.

The obstetrician sees it and Jenny White watches as he moves with deliberate speed. He takes a scalpel from the paramedic’s bag and immediately cuts the injured woman from one side to the other just below her pregnant belly button. In his haste, the doctor plunges the knife completely through the wall of the uterus and cuts the child’s scalp, leaving an odd mark across the boy’s forehead that Seth will not easily be able to explain in the future. The womb is thus torn open and the doctor pulls from it an infant boy—tiny, blue, listless, and bloody. Dead by all accounts. The paramedics swaddle the newborn in blankets.

Later, at the hospital, people will say it is a miracle the boy survived. Ten minutes by the watch of the obstetrician they will say, ten minutes during which the child should have died three times over.

Ten minutes that evolve into a decade of pain and suffering.