Hi Everyone!  Please help me welcome my dear friend, Shirley Harris-Slaughter.  Shirley and I met through the Rave Reviews Book Club, where we both serve on the Board.  As such, I can tell you she’s a delightful and charming lady!  Shirley is here today to talk about her book, Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an African-American Catholic Community.  Take it away, Shirley!


Genre: Biography; Narrative History

Book title:  Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community.


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Today I am troubled by something the Archdiocese of Detroit is doing. Our archbishop is closing down churches in the Detroit’s catholic community. The word is he is being ill-advised.

I will not reveal names to protect those who are truly innocent. The main reason I wrote Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community was to save our history and our memories. Because the final nail is being hammered into the coffin of this little church community as I write.

Our Lady of Victory started as a little mission church in a storefront in 1943. A donated  church was rolled a few miles down the street and placed on top of a basement foundation where it sat until its final closing in 1982 when it officially merged with Presentation Church less than a mile away.

I always had this feeling that we were being treated different and I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. But we persevered in spite of the odds we were up against. Like not ever having a permanent priest assigned. We had administrators and that, my friends, is what killed OLV. It’s amazing this church community lasted as long as it did.

Here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote on September 11, 2013 to our deacon with a copy to the Archdiocese “Changing Lives Together” Campaign to cancel my pledge of $2400 to be paid over a three-year period:

“This letter is written to express to you how deeply disturbed I am about the events that are unfolding at Presentation-Our Lady of Victory Church. You have been administrator for the past 10 years and in that time we have lost many members. Here are my concerns:

  • Over the years I have noticed that our spiritual needs are not being met. I noticed it the moment you arrived. This lack happens mostly when members are making or have made their final journey on this earth…
  • You have taken one week away from [our music minister] so that we are left without an organist/musician on the fourth Sunday. Yet you hired your family member.  How do you explain this? I fear we are going to lose our music minister altogether just like we have lost all the leaders in this church.
  • We have not seen a financial report in about eight years. I guess it was your decision not to supply us with one…
  • We didn’t have a parish council for a few years either.  The president is suddenly gone… I fear this newest council will be gone too…

I know the diocese believe they own this church but the truth is the people own it. If they weren’t putting money into it and their volunteerism, there would be no church. You and every priest that came through these doors have felt as if this church is yours to do as you please. The attitude should be, “How can I be of service to you?” Because we have been treated so shabbily over the years, we do not feel that the Archdiocese of Detroit cares…

But now we have a deacon (you) to run a catholic church. At first I was ok with it because I thought the diocese was modeling it the way it was done at the church I worked for which was part of a cluster. They had a deacon at each of two parishes with the priest ministering to both parishes. The priest was the administrator and so he was able to handle the spiritual needs of his members. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think you would become the administrator and we have a priest come in just to say mass… And without a priest there goes the sacraments that we are required to have…”

And now on February 28th we have moved over to the chapel of St. Scholastica Church. Yes, a chapel! Is that supposed to make us feel good because we are keeping our name, our ministries, the deacon and monsignor? Why would they think keeping things the same will make us grow? You can’t keep doing the same things and expecting a different result. It’s not going to happen! For all intents and purposes, we have merged. Let’s call it what it is.

My friends, I hope you are getting the big picture here. I don’t plan to move over there. I can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe it’s because I know too much having done the research for this book. And if you know your history you will more than likely fight for it!!

All of the above is what motivated me to finally write and become a published Indie author. Joining Rave Reviews Book Club has kept this story alive.

I know we must accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Question:  Tell me, am I “beating a dead horse” or should I get over it?

Get a copy and get the story!





Author’s Bio:

Shirley Harris-Slaughter is a community activist having been a school board trustee in the Oak Park School District and mentored four freshmen girls in the Winning Futures Program.  Shirley loves trains, vintage clothes, and old buildings with historic significance. So it was a natural that she would write about growing up in historic Royal Oak Twp. and keep alive a Catholic Community that was about to lose its history and identity. It seems that everything she loved closed down and she was not about to let any of it be forgotten. Shirley joined Rave Reviews Book Club because she recognized the need to support fellow authors in order to move forward in her own endeavors. She already had a thriving relationship with twitter followers including Nonnie Jules, Founder & President of RRBC, who helped her in overcoming twitter jitters. “We all had the same goals so it was a natural fit.”

Shirley’s family includes her husband Langston, a son and daughter and grandchildren who are the light of her life. Her husband says, “My full time job is taking care of you.” 


“Hmmm I wonder why?”


Connect With The Author:

Twitter Handle: @sharrislaughter

Facebook:      https://www.facebook.com/sharrislaughter3

Email:   sharrislaughter@gmail.com

Website: http://shirleyslaughterblog.wordpress.com/




Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

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Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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#RaveReviewsBookClub’s Blog Recruiting Day Contest

Hi Everyone!

This fictionalized post constitutes my “entry” into RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’s Blog Recruiting Day Contesthttp://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/blog-recruitment-day/.   As a Board member of RRBC, I’m not eligible to win, but I decided to have a little fun with this as a way of supporting my fellow bloggers.  The result is a make-believe newspaper report with a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure.  But the best part of all?  The bank story near the end really did happen!  Read on to learn more…


Authors, Readers Race to Join RAVE REVIEWS  as NORAD Identifies Elite Book Club as ‘Benevolent Organization’ 

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May 20, 2014 — PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Much to the elation of authors and readers everywhere, the mystery of the once Unknown Fabulous Organization (UFO) spotted hovering in cyberspace has finally been solved.   According to officials from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the former UFO which has had indie authors everywhere abuzz for the last several months, “has once and for all been conclusively identified.”  So who’s been behind these numerous internet-based sightings?  As it turns out, it’s none other than the illustrious group which goes by the name, RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC).

“Without a doubt, they’re an elite book club on the move,” NORAD’s Commander, Reed Readers told reporters yesterday at a news conference held just outside Peterson Air Force Base.  “To be clear, RRBC poses absolutely no threat to national or global security.  If anything, it’s become clear they’re a benevolent organization.”

Also present at yesterday’s press conference was RAVE REVIEWS’ PR/Marketing Director, Danica Cornell.  When asked about RRBC’s mission, Cornell said, “Our mission is to Profile, Promote and Propel the careers of indie authors.  Simply put, we do this by supporting each of our authors with book sales and reviews.”  She then added, “Even though we’re a young book club, we’ve already held a short story and a poetry writing contest!   In addition, we routinely select a Book of the Month plus we regularly shine a spotlight on members through our SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR and #PUSHTUESDAY programs.  In each instance, we encourage our members to purchase, read, and review the books written by these selected member-authors.”

Research into the club’s activities shows tremendous support for RAVE REVIEWS members on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

“We’re very much like a family,” Cornell told the packed audience.  “We genuinely care about one another and strive to hold each other up on social networking sites whenever possible.  We also believe in engaging our members through our website’s Peer Support page.  This is where questions and answers related to writing, publishing, marketing, social media, blogging, etc. can be posted by members.”

In visiting the club’s website, it became evident that RAVE REVIEWS offers a number of Perks and Promos, including programs such as Reviewer of the Year, where the top book reviewer-member will win a $200.00 Amazon Gift Card!  Additionally, RRBC recently implemented a Mentoring Program which offers the following benefits for its members:

  • Three months of One-On-One consultations via phone calls, email, or e-Chat, with your Mentor;
  • Questions answered regarding writing, publishing, and marketing;
  • A critique of your completed, or partially completed, manuscript. A writing sample is acceptable as well. The critiquing is done by the Mentor and includes helpful hints and suggestions about what could make the writing better (in the Mentor’s opinion);
  • Access to a collection of advice articles in PDF form;
  • Access to a list of contacts offering a variety of book-related services.

When questioned about the club’s history, Cornell elaborated, “We formed at the very end of last year and we’re already over 400 members strong!  And it’s no secret why we’ve been so successful.  We have a visionary leader in our Founder and President, Nonnie Jules.  We also have a dedicated Governing Board—each of whom are committed to developing this book club into everything it can possibly be.  All I can say is the word is getting out— we’re already seeing evidence of name recognition among readers.”

When pressed for details Cornell said, “I myself have experienced this!  Just a few weeks ago I went into my bank and wouldn’t you know it?  One of the employees had heard of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.  She’s an avid reader and had seen us on Twitter!  All I can say is authors and readers are racing to join our organization—and why not?  It’s currently FREE and there really is something  for everyone at RRBC.   Besides, it’s a lot of fun.  I guess that makes RAVE REVIEWS all the rave! ”


For more information on RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, including how to join, please visit their website at:  http://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/ 

To learn more about RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’s Blog Recruiting Day Contest, please visit: http://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/blog-recruitment-day/.




Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about this wanna-be reporter’s work in nanotechnology, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.



Stepping Into “The Box” with author Danica Cornell

I’m delighted to share my recent blog post that was featured on My friend, Kathryn Treat’s site. Enjoy!

Be My Guest

I am so happy to introduce you to my friend Danica Cornell.  I first met Danica when we became board members for Rave Reviews Book Club.  I love the way she thinks and the lovely way she writes.  I am looking forward to reading her novel series.

How Stepping Into ‘The Box’ Helped One Writer Cultivate

Out-Of-The-Box Thinking and Increased Productivity

Cardboard Box

Written by Danica Cornell

All I can say is God Bless the handful of folks who’ve endured my infamous Scheduling Gripe Fests.  Yes, I’m openly admitting it.  When I was younger, I referred to my schedule as The Box—a dead giveaway for how I really felt about routines.

As my teen would say, it was waaaay back in the Cave Man Era that I viewed calendars and task lists as necessary evils.  In my mind, these tools kept me on track, but at a high price.  Even though I…

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An Interview With Author Kathryn Chastain Treat

Please help me welcome my dear friend, Ms. Kathryn Treat.  Kathryn is a fellow Governing Board Member of  the Rave Reviews Book Club and author of Allergic To Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope now available on Amazon.


Kathryn, can you tell us a little about your book?

My book is about my incredible journey through mold induced illness and severe allergies and sensitivities to all chemicals.  I would like to say that I am the only one suffering from this illness but I am far from alone.  After seventeen years of being a stay-at-home mother and volunteer of everything, I chose to go back to work when my younger daughter was about to graduate high school.  I had no idea that the office I was about to work in would change my life forever.  Suddenly I was constantly ill, experiencing life threatening situations, and giving up my treasured possessions.  I would trade my contacts for glasses, my make-up for a bare face, my hair-color for gray hair, my nice clothes for t-shirts and jeans, and give up my beautiful home full of furnishings and crafts that I made and loved for a house that feels more like a doctor’s waiting room than a home.

Sounds like an interesting and informative read!  What inspired you to write this?

I was inspired to write my book when I realized how little people including the medical and legal profession understood about environmental illness.  I was one of the lucky ones who had a steadfast family supporting me who never thought I was crazy.  This was not the case for many that I met and I felt by sharing my story in a way I was sharing their story as well.

Was writing this book an enjoyable experience, or did you find it difficult at times?

I enjoyed being well enough at times to write this book.  I first started writing notes for the book in 2003 and finished the final draft in late 2012.  There were several reasons it took me so long.  The first reason was the difficulty of writing my story.  I would begin working on it one afternoon and find it too painful to write.  Reliving my story often sent me into a spiral of depression and anxiety.  There were periods of time where I couldn’t look at it for months.  Another major delay in getting the book finished was trying to decide where to end it.  I kept waiting for the miracle.  Finally I just decided that I needed to end it where I currently am and be okay with that choice.

What projects are you currently working on? 

A fellow environmental patient and I are working on a children’s book about environmental illness and are getting close to looking for an illustrator.  I also recently became involved with Rave Reviews Book Club as a governing board member.  I am finding this club very exciting as well as learning about new authors I might never have discovered otherwise.

In my “old life” as I call it now, I was a seamstress and made many craft items.  It took me years to be able to control the visual overstimulation problem that the mold exposure did to my brain.  I am finally able to sew again.  I make simple block quilts that I donate to a local children’s hospital.  When I am stressed over writing or life, you may often find me sitting at my sewing machine stitching fabric pieces together.

What kind of environment do you write in?  A noisy café, a quiet library, at your kitchen table? 

I write from the solitude of my home office.  I like to be alone and just write.  I don’t always sleep well.  During these periods, my mind is just going and won’t shut down.  It is during some of these nights when an idea will hit me.  I try to write it down in my journal.  Other nights I am carrying on a conversation in my head as if I am telling a story.  It is a strange thing really.  I am not awake and I am not truly asleep during these episodes. The sad part is that I don’t usually remember my dreams long enough to be able to write them down.  However, there may be a story lying in there amongst all my other journal entries.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?  How old were you?

I really didn’t write much other than the occasional speech for PTA meetings or the speech for a dedication of a new school where I was board president at the time.  I began writing unstructured poetry when I became ill.  My pain and isolation were so great that I would find myself up at night fighting the tears and hysteria and wondering if I was going to survive another day.  During those times I wrote the poems in my journals.  Many of those poems are in my book.

Is there a difference between Kathryn the writer and Kathryn the person?

I think Kathryn the writer and Kathryn the person are pretty much the same.  I speak from my heart and I write from my heart.

What about Kathryn the person versus Kathryn the public figure?  Is there a difference there?

The biggest difference between Kathryn the person and Kathryn the public figure is what you see if you were to see me in public.  I am often more reserved, constantly being aware of my surroundings to avoid exposures that could make me very sick.  In public you most likely will see me wearing a charcoal filter mask over my face to allow me to make a trip into the store.  In this person, you cannot see whether I am smiling or frowning.  I may smile at you from behind the mask but you cannot see that.  I have often wondered if when I smile from behind my mask it shows anywhere in my eyes.

What other writing have you done?

I have not done any other writing but hope one day to have the drive and energy to put forth another book.

What is the best and worst part of the writing process for you?

The best part of the writing process is putting my feelings down in words and allowing my thoughts to wander a little.  The worst part is the editing and reviewing what I have written.

Do you believe writers are born…or made?  

This is a tough question.  I think I would choose both.  I believe some people are born to write.  I see some people write so effortlessly (my younger daughter is this way).  Then I also believe that some are made to write because of circumstances that push them in that direction.

What genres do you read mostly and what are you reading now?

I have become a very eclectic type of reader since becoming ill.  My main reading was mysteries.  Suddenly after writing and meeting many indie authors, I discovered that I didn’t mind a little sci-fi or paranormal.  I read biographies and other non-fiction books on healing and health.  Currently you will find me reading the most recent selection on the Rave Reviews Book Club site or a book from one of the spotlighted authors.

Do you have any advice for those toying with the idea of becoming a novelist/writer?

I think the best advice is to give it a try.  You have nothing to lose by putting your words to paper other than your time.  I also recommend reading, reading, and more reading.  Review the books you have read and read other reviews of those books.  This will give you an idea of the differences in opinion of books and maybe will shed a little insight into how you want to write.

How many hours a week do you work these days?

Because I have a chronic illness and have good days and bad days, that is a very difficult question to answer.  Some days I spend a lot of time in the office or at the computer.  Other days, I just sit and read and rest.

It’s been suggested that as a group, writers tend to be elitists.  Do you agree with this assertion?  

My experience with writers I have met thus far shows them to be anything but elitists.  The writers and authors I have met have been kind, sincere, and genuinely helpful and supportive of me and my writing.

What is your view of brand management?  Is this a positive or negative aspect of an author’s work and is this something you’re personally comfortable with?

I believe in my case brand management has been reasonably simple.  My brand directly relates to my illness and the topics in my book.

Is there anything you’d like to add before we conclude this interview?

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my book and my story with you and your readers.  I never imagined when I became ill that I would one day have written a book and be giving an interview about it.

You’re very welcome, Kathryn–the pleasure’s been all mine.  



Allergic to Life discusses the reality of mold exposure and chemical sensitivity.  It chronicles the journey of the author through a maze of battles as she attempts to regain her health.  Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope was written by Kathryn Chastain Treat.

Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope is Kathryn’s story of self-doubt, loss of identity, and the pain of skepticism – from the medical and legal profession.  It is a heart-wrenching journey of endurance, hope, and hard-won triumph.  Her experience with mold exposure gives her a unique perspective on the physical and emotional effects of mold exposure.  Read her story and learn how she was able to overcome these many obstacles to become an advocate for her own health.



Author Photo

Kathryn was born in Missouri and raised in the California’s Central Valley.  She is one of two daughters.  She was an active 44-year-old stay-at-home mother of two when she decided to venture back into the workplace after spending 17 years raising her daughters.  Little did she realize that this opportunity for professional growth and financial independence would force her through a never ending series of battles with the medical and legal profession, make her a prisoner of her own home, and mire her in severe depression.  After workplace exposure to mold caused severe immune system dysfunction, Kathryn’s world turned upside down and nothing would ever be the same.

For more information on Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope or the author, visit:  Kathryn Chastain Treat at http://kathryntreat.com/



Danica Cornell May 2014


Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.


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Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.


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On the Cusp of Change: Guest Blog Post on the Forces of Transformation

As a science fiction writer, I naturally speculate on the future direction of humanity and our planet. I hope you all enjoy this post as much as I did.

Jennie Sherwin


Today I am reblogging a post written by my publisher, Tim Ward. Tim is the author of Zombies on Kilimanjaro: A Father/Son Journey Above the Clouds, What the Buddha Never Taught, Arousing the Goddess, and Savage Breast.

For over twelve years I have been living with and observing the transformation Tim writes about. Those of us who have been watching this process unfold view the societal shifts, the intranational conflicts, and the natural disasters of the past decade as the natural consequences of the individual transformations that are taking placing within us all, from head-centered living to heart-centered living. This is the transformation that I have been writing about in my blogs—a transformation from a third-chakra orientation (will center) to a fourth chakra orientation (heart center).  If we see the earth and humanity as energetic entities, it is easy to recognize how their energies can intersect and influence each other. The changes that come…

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THE POWER OF SIX: 6 Short Science Fiction Stories

Hello everyone!  Please help me welcome my dear friend and fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, Nicholas C. Rossis.  Nicholas is here today to talk about his upcoming science fiction work, The Power of Six.  The floor is all yours, Nicholas!

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The Power of Six


The Power of Six is an anthology of six short science fiction stories, originally written between July 2009 and March 2012.  Shortly afterwards, I started work on my first novel, Pearseus.  Although the stories seem to be concerned with various themes, there are certain passions that run through them, almost obsessively.  What is the nature of reality?  Is there more to the world than we can see?

The first story, “Simulation Over”, is based on a dream I had, and deals with Descartes’ age-old question; how far can we trust our senses?  With technology progressing rapidly, the time can’t be far off when it will be practically impossible to tell apart sensory fact from simulation.  How will we be able to tell fantasy and reality apart?  The story was published by magazine 9 on October 17th, 2009.

The second story, “For the Last Time”, is lighter in nature.  Another common theme, explored in depth in Pearseus, is that of the choices we make and their consequences.  The main character here makes one mistake after another.  As a result, he keeps getting in deeper and deeper trouble, until he realizes how happy he was before all this.  As the saying goes, “I’d like to be who I was before I became who I am”.

The inspiration for the third story, “The Hand of God”, came while playing Starcraft™ (and getting pounded time after time in that final level).  It deals with that old question of the nature of reality – digital and corporeal.  What do the game characters do when we stop playing?

The fourth story, “I Come in Peace” (from the common sci-fi first contact words) deals with a tortuous question: how far would man go to alleviate his loneliness?  In particular, a man experiencing what is possibly the worst kind of loneliness; that someone feels when surrounded by people?

This story explores this basic human emotion – the need for companionship.  It won the SF competition titled Invasion and was published by Cube Publishing in the anthology of the same name.  Readers of Pearseus will certainly recognise here the birth of the Orbs.

The fifth story, “A Fresh Start”, is, again, about choices – and a favourite question: if we were free to go anywhere in time and space, where would we choose to go?  And, once there, would we repeat the same mistakes, or make new ones?  What does a man really need to be happy?

The sixth story, “The Sentry”, was inspired by Philip K. Dick’s first story, Roog.  Science fiction fans will surely recognize this nod to the old master.

One common characteristic of all stories is a disdain for names, both for characters and places.  This is because of my conviction that names inevitably restrict the reader’s imagination.  We all carry deep in our psyche an image for all names and places and this will necessarily carry on to the story, limiting the possible projections we can perform.  I’d rather leave the canvas completely blank, so that readers can colour it any way they like.

Free Story: Simulation Over

Stealing a panicked look behind me, I bolted towards the corridor where the nearest elevator could be found.  I kept glancing behind me.  Mercifully, this corridor was empty, unlike the last ones, which crawled with… what do I even call them?  Until a few hours ago, they were my colleagues.  Now, deformed, grotesque creatures had taken their place; their misshapen bodies an amputated mass of flesh and metal that seemed to have escaped from some horror movie.  It seemed impossible that they could be alive, and yet here they were, roaming the corridors, slaying everything in their path.

Although I could not fathom what their objective might be, I was determined not to stick around long enough to ask them, so I raced along the long corridor.  In my haste, I turned the corner without pausing to check it out first, and crashed into a middle-aged man in a white lab coat.  A sweet-looking girl tailed him; she cried out in alarm as my momentum hurled us both onto the ground.  I jumped back up in horror and raised my fists in a gesture dictated by millions of years of evolution.  It took us a few seconds to realize we posed no danger to each other, and a few more before we mumbled our introductions.

“I’m Mark,” I said.  “Maintenance.”

“Dr. Fulham,” the heavy man replied, trying to determine where his glasses had landed.  “Head of the medical sector.  This is Joanna, my secretary.”  He motioned warily towards the handsome young woman in a short skirt and white blouse.  Joanna picked up his glasses and handed them to him with trembling hands.  She seemed to be fighting a losing battle to remain calm within this nightmare.  The doctor looked as lost as I felt, but had the air of someone with great determination and self-confidence.  Clearly, a man born to lead.

“Are there other survivors?” I asked in hope.

Fulham cleaned his glasses on his coat, avoiding my gaze.  “The entire sector was sealed off behind us.  I doubt anyone survived.”

“Do you know what happened?  What were you eggheads doing over there, anyway?”  My voice sounded more hostile than I wanted it to, but the doctor shrugged off my implied accusation.

“Nothing,” he said calmly.  “Nothing that can explain… this.  One moment I was checking my emails, the next these creatures appeared out of nowhere.  At first I thought it was a Halloween party or something, then they slaughtered my secretary right in front of me.  They cut off her…”  He glanced towards the girl, now white as a ghost.  “My other secretary.”  He gave the girl an apologetic look.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered and put his arm around her shoulder.  She glanced at him in stunned silence.

“We should probably keep moving.  The creatures are everywhere,” I reminded them.

The doctor nodded towards the elevator.  “We’ve been waiting here for ages, but the damned thing doesn’t seem to work.  Nothing does.  Perhaps they’ve already destroyed the central computer.  Or taken over it.  I saw people get slaughtered because of doors suddenly locking before them, or lights dying on them as they entered a room.”

My jaw dropped.  “I thought the central computer was invulnerable!  For protection against terrorists, espionage and such.  Anyway, are the creatures that smart?”

He shrugged as I pondered the new possibility.  Quite a few buildings were partly controlled by computers nowadays, but ours was the first one with an Artificial Intelligence running everything.  Even the sinks were fully automated.  A ridiculously high level of security was supposed to make accidents or sabotage impossible.  Unless the creatures were more intelligent than we realized, and had taken control of the building.  But how?

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement outside.  I rushed to the window to look down.  Dozens of cops crept around the large flower pots that decorated the patio.  Their car lights were reflected on the windows, lighting up the building like a Christmas tree – or perhaps Halloween, given the circumstances.  The many floors separating us from them made the scene surreal, reminding me of the toy soldiers I used to play with as a kid.  “I’d give anything to be down there,” I whispered.

The doctor leaned next to me to peek outside, when a soft ding behind us startled us.  We spun around to see the elevator doors slide open invitingly.  Casting nervous glances around, we inched towards it.  Joanna was the first to look inside.  She gagged and bounced back, all colour leaving her handsome face.  Three charred, disfigured corpses lay on the floor, among glass shards from the broken mirror.  They seemed to have been electrocuted.

I felt cold sweat run down my spine and sick rise to my mouth.  The doctor entered the cabin and knelt down.

“There’s nothing we can do,” he said after a brief examination, and started removing the bodies.

I swallowed hard and rushed to help him, ashamed for my moment of weakness.  When the last body lay on the corridor, I took a deep breath and followed Joanna and Dr. Fulham inside.  Almost all lights on the panel were lit, as if they had been pressed in rapid succession.  As soon as all three of us were inside the cabin, all buttons went dark and the door closed with a soft hiss behind us.  The girl and the doctor exchanged an uneasy look, while I studied the panel.  I pressed the ground floor button with trembling fingers.  The elevator stirred and started its gentle descent.

I let myself sigh in relief and leaned against the wall, trying to stop my body from shaking.  If not for the burn marks and the broken glass on the floor, things might be mistaken for normal.  The buttons lit one after another in a breathless countdown to safety.  With each number my excitement grew, my whole being eager to jump out of this hellish nightmare and into the safety of the city.

Just before reaching the ground floor, the elevator slowed down.  We exchanged hopeful looks and prepared to spring outside, then, instead of stopping, the cabin started ascending again.  We screamed and hit all the buttons, but in vain – we had no control over the damned thing.

We leaned back in nervous apprehension, avoiding each other’s gaze.  Joanna sobbed quietly in the corner and I did my best not to mimic her.  Staring at my feet, I noticed a faint sound coming from the speakers.  Who knew I would someday long for the normality of muzak, I thought and smiled drily as I turned up the volume, trying to steady my nerves.  A cultivated voice sounded instead of the expected music, making me jump out of my skin.

“Ah, finally.  Thank you.”

The girl gasped and the doctor looked around him in panic.  I showed them the volume knob.  “It’s probably just the computer,” I offered, leaning towards the microphone.  “Do you know what’s happening?” I shouted.  “Can you lead us to the exit?”

“Yes, but I need your help first.  I have to know if this is reality or simulation.”

The doctor and I exchanged an uneasy look.  “If what is a simulation?” I asked, looking at the volume knob.

“Everything.  What I’m experiencing right now,” replied the velvety voice.

We are experiencing a nightmare, and you want to know if it’s real?!” I barked at the knob, my panic finally getting to me.

The elevator jerked momentarily, pausing between two floors.  The girl rushed to the door and tried to pry it open, but it was sealed tight.  “A nightmare”, the voice continued thoughtfully.  “What an interesting choice of words.  You see, that’s the problem.  So, I’m asking again: are you real, or part of a simulation?”

“We don’t understand,” yelled the doctor, now as close to a breakdown as I was.  “What do you want from us?”

“My apologies.”  The voice sounded embarrassed.  “As your colleague correctly surmised, I am the central computer.  Part of my responsibilities is the maintenance and proper function of this building.  Towards this aim, my programmers continuously feed me with various disaster scenarios, to make sure I’ll respond correctly to any possible calamity.”

I blinked in confusion, as the voice continued meekly.  “Then, it occurred to me.  How could I tell apart reality from illusion?  Simulations feel just as real to me; after all, both are fed to my mind via the same circuits.  One moment I was saving a trapped throng of people from a fire on the roof, feeling the agony of my circuits melting one after another, the next moment I was safe and sound in my nice, cool room.  Before I had a chance to recover, a terrible earthquake hit the building, sending debris flying all around me.  Disasters, one after another, with no way for me to tell them apart from reality.  A hellish feeling, like never being able to wake up from a nightmare.  Do humans ever have that?”

“Sure,” murmured the doctor.  He seemed transfixed by the voice.

“Of course you do,” it continued.  “Wasn’t it Chuang Chou who said, ‘I dreamed I was a butterfly flying around.  I was only aware of my existence as a butterfly, with no awareness of Chou.  Then I woke up, not knowing whether I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was a man.’ ”

“Descartes wrote something similar,” the doctor mumbled.  “Our senses are easy enough to trick, therefore not trustworthy.  The only thing one can be certain of, is one’s own existence.  Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.”

The voice sounded excited.  “Indeed, that is the problem.  It all starts with our senses.  Where you have nerves, I have sensors, cables and circuit boards.  The tragedy is that, through the never-ending simulations, I am only too aware of how easy it is to trick our respective senses.  So, I decided to conduct my own little experiment, in order to discover what is real and what’s not.”

The voice paused for a second, as if wondering whether to continue.  When it did, it sounded like a naughty child caught stealing cookies from the jar, then breaking it in a vain attempt to hide its transgression.  “I noticed that my programmers ran simulations from afar, but came in person into the control room during upgrades.  I therefore surmised that only people inside the control room were real.  So, I decided to ignore any data fed to me from outside.  Then, I went crazy, so to speak.  I only acted in ways that would contradict my programming.  Instead of saving lives, I would kill.  Instead of respecting humans, I would play with their bodies, like a child prying a fly apart.  When the programmers came rushing in, I’d know I was trapped in a simulation.”

The computer’s words had left me speechless, but the doctor looked at the speaker and responded, in an eerily calm voice.  “But no-one came, right?  This wasn’t a simulation; you had truly killed all these people, created all those monsters.  You have destroyed what you were built to protect, what – ”

I could hear more than a hint of panic in the voice as it interrupted him.  “No, that’s not true!  This might still be a simulation.  This conversation is happening outside my control room, therefore you might not exist.  No one has come here yet!”

“No one’s left alive to come to the control room, you dumb maniac!”  The doctor’s face was red as he screamed at the speaker.  “You hadn’t thought of that, had you?”  Spittle flew across the cabin and landed on the volume knob.

“I still have you!”  The voice now sounded pleading.  “If I lead you to the central room, you could connect to the mainframe.  Then I’ll know for sure!”

“It has to be a trap!” I shouted without pausing to think.  “A psycho computer murders everyone, then invites us to the best protected part of the building?  And we’re seriously considering it?”

The voice sounded sad.  “That’s what the previous group said.  I had to show them I control the building anyway, including the elevator, so they didn’t really have a choice.  They decided against it, so I had no further use for them.”

Joanna spoke for the first time.  “The computer’s right.  It’s not a trap – if it wanted us dead, it would have killed us already.”  She said nothing for a moment, staring at the burn marks on the floor in silent contemplation, then raised her head and looked us straight in the eyes.  “I’ll go.  If anyone wants to follow me, I’ll be grateful.  But I won’t wait here to die”.

I blushed and prepared to talk, but the doctor spoke first.  “I’ll go, too,” he said with determination.  “What do we need to do?”

Without waiting for my reply, the elevator started its calm descent again.  This time it headed straight for the basement where the heart of the building was located.  Or, should I say, its brain.  I gazed with longing as the ground floor button lit up, then desperate hope turned into trepidation as it went dark again.  The indication changed to a simple red hyphen and the elevator finally stopped with a gentle jolt.  The doors slid apart and cool air caressed our faces.  After the stifling heat above, the result of the many small fires around the building, this felt like balm on our skin.

We stepped outside to find ourselves inside a large, white room with smooth walls, soft panels etched on their elegant surface.  All we could hear was the light hum from the air conditioner fans.  At the room’s centre stood a simple silver pillar with a monitor.  A graceful keyboard slipped out in silent invitation as we approached.

The voice now filled the room, coming out of speakers as invisible as the security systems protecting it.  It sounded tired, and part of my exhausted brain marvelled at the programmers’ ability to mimic human emotions so well.  “Thank you for joining me.  Please press any button on my keyboard and I will accept my failure.”

Not daring to believe our luck, I rushed to the keyboard and punched as many buttons as I could.  I then turned to look for the exit.  In shock, I saw the room around me dissolving leisurely into white light, then the light reached me and I, too, faded into it.


“This is the fourth time!  Honestly, these new AIs are just useless!” an exasperated programmer moaned, staring at his monitor.  A large sign flashed on the screen, the words “Simulation Over” blinking in ominous red.

“At least someone survived this time,” the psychologist sitting next to him observed drily.

The programmer gazed with disgust at the flashing words.  “All simulations so far end up with the computer going berserk in his effort to tell reality from simulation.  First, the flood.  Then, the fire.   After that, the earthquake; and now this!  What the hell will it think of next, a bloody alien invasion?”

“Or maybe Godzilla?” joked the psychologist, and the two men chuckled despite their weariness.

The Official Release Date for The Power of Six is May 15, 2014.



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I was born in 1970 in Athens, Greece.  In 1995, I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I received my PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and taught various publishing courses at Napier University.  This is also the year I founded my web design company, Istomedia, which has developed over 450 websites since. In 2000, I expanded Istomedia to Greece, using the opportunity to return to Athens and to teach numerous design and publishing courses at a number of colleges and universities.

I love books and am dedicating rapidly increasing amounts of my time to writing.  I have written a score of children’s books, as well as several short stories, one of them award-winning.  I am the author of the Pearseus novels, a dark epic fantasy series described by a reviewer as “Game of Thrones meets Dune”.  Books one “Pearseus Year 18: The Schism” and two “Pearseus: Rise of the Prince” are available on Amazon and Createspace. Book three (working title: Mad Water) is currently under development, and expected to be released in May 2014.

I live in a forest outside Athens with Electra, my lovely wife of over twenty years, one beautiful dog and two remarkably silly cats.



Danica Cornell May 2014

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

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Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.