THE TURTAN TRILOGY – First 3 Books of SF Series in 1 Box Set

Amazon:  Barnes and Noble:  MuseItUp:  Kobo:




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               My novel The Merry-Go-Round Man has been nominated for Best Novel in the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards. Readers can vote for it until Oct. 28, using the Literary Mystery / Suspense / Thriller Button.  Here is the link to cut and paste. Thank you.….



AWARDS – Would you leave your wife if she got a strange disease and everyone feared and shunned her?  If she began to change?  (The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes).


The winner of Preditor & Editors 2010 Readers Poll for best SF/Fantasy short story.          Diana goes into  the past to save the man she loves in  “Killers.”  Is he worth it?                                                          (Both are available on Amazon, etc.)

allbookreviewsAward 2009 – For Beyond Those Distant Stars (SF Adventure) 

Alien invaders have almost destroyed humanity.  Stella McMasters yearns to get in the war but knows she’ll never get a chance.  Or will she?

WINNER OF TREACLE PRESS’S (NOW McPHERSON AND COMPANY’S) FIRST NOVEL AWARD, 1982.  A White Teacher in a small, black College.

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In some of my novels such as Kingdom of the Jax and Beyond Those Distant Stars, spaceships go down or through a BLACK HOLE  or naked singularity.  Watch out, readers, the trip is R-O-U-G-H!!!

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Continue reading


Book 3 of my Inspector of the Cross SF Action-Adventure series completes the Turtan Trilogy.

  Turtan returns home after 4000 years, and all HELL breaks loose! 

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Turtan Defends the Flame of Hope against the alien menace.

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The first chapter begins . . .

     How do you make love to two women at the same time?

     He’d done it before, of course, during dissolute, drug-crazed orgies after a century or longer mission. When loneliness for female company filled him with a great hunger and he’d go mad if he didn’t know another’s passionate, even lecherous embrace.  Whatever their appearance, these women had shared one trait in common.

     All of them had possessed separate, distinct bodies that went their own way when the lovemaking was over.

     Such was not true with his wife Yaneta and Kit Killer. 


Escaping the enemy-infested mine on Lauren with his wife Kit/Yani and Sky,

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Turtan flies toward the First Station where he graduated four thousand years before.   Using Radiants, intelligent submicroorgan-isms in his brain, he hopes to train cadets to defeat the Cen and ultimately win the war. On the way to achieving this goal, however, he encounters serious problems. First, after passing through Atlas, a black hole, they enter a new or unknown part of the universe with no clear way back.

When they do manage to reach the First Station, Turtan not only finds love and
adoration, but a cruel killer.

And everywhere he finds dark secrets, betrayal, and worst of all…FAILURE as again and again his efforts to train cadets result in tragedy.

It seems there is no hope for humanity and we are doomed. Can’t anything save us at all?

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Welcome Meg Amor, Romantic Erotica Writer

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Please see my interview with Meg on my blog. Just cut and paste this link and scroll down to September 15, 2014:  /   Note: You have to be an adult since some people consider Meg’s subject matter to be controversial.  She often writes of one woman and two men in loving and sexual relationships.  Meg is a gifted and serious writer who takes her craft seriously, and it was a pleasure to interview her.


First Chapter Excerpt – Inspector of the Cross

These are the opening pages of the first novel of my Inspector of the Cross series published by MuseItUp Publishing.  Inspector Turtan is over 3500 years old and travels in suspended animation to distant planets seeking a device or weapon which can defeat the Cen, vicious aliens who have brought humanity to the brink of ruin.  Turtan is our greatest hero and our only hope.

inspector_200x300-1 (2)INSPECTOR OF THE CROSS 

Chapter One

The Godstone

What a godforsaken hole, Turtan thought.

Tall and lean, he stood in his cloak and bright purple tunic gazing hopelessly out a window of the Overlord’s palace at the sand-blasted terrain of Sircon IV. The centuries-old scouting report he had read hadn’t lied. If anything, the deadness of the planet exceeded even official expectations. It was a barren husk, an exhausted relic of a dim, glorious past when its traders had spanned the stars and forged a vast federation of merchants. Now the traders were gone, doubtless to greener galaxies, and only the burned-out embers of a legend remained behind.

He turned, hearing footsteps. The white-robed figure approaching with a staff differed from the holos he’d seen of other Sirconians only in being more wizened. Barely four feet tall, the alien’s impassive features reminded him of a monkey’s. Only the eyes, bright with intelligence, belied the simian effect.

“His Imperial Majesty, Overlord Lucan the Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Tenth, has graciously consented to give you an audience.”

Before Turtan could answer, the alien turned and shuffled off. Turtan hesitated before following, amused by the other’s pomposity. His Majesty has graciously consented… Yet the number of past Overlords gave him pause. Over four thousand? Even the imperial line in ancient Japan amounted to only a tiny fraction of such a number.

Though he was nearly two meters tall, Turtan had to hurry to keep up with the small messenger. He passed through a maze of corridors winding around and around. For some reason, he felt he was retracing his past, perhaps to visit women he had loved in other centuries. An elusive perfume quickened his pulse. He remembered a dark-haired girl slipping into his room, her eyes bright with excitement.

Turtan forced the past down and focused on the present. As he followed the twists and turns, he caught signs of decay no protocol could conceal. Crumbling ancient walls…an omnipresent smell of dust… His guide stopped so abruptly, Turtan almost ran into him.

Turtan found himself in a vaulted, brightly lit chamber. Behind a massive, elaborate desk sat the diminutive Overlord, stroking his whiskers. On all sides, volumes of old-style books rose along the walls to an ornamented ceiling, which featured Sirconian warriors fighting reptilian foes. Though the place was impressive, it was not the throne room.

The messenger cleared his throat with an air of importance and raised his staff, which he rapped three times against the stone floor.

“His Imperial Majesty, Overlord Lucan the Four…”

“Ah, fine, Pinyot. You may go now.”

The Overlord, a beaming, younger version of the messenger, rose from his desk. He came forward in an ancient robe covered with faded symbols. “Inspector Turtan? Welcome to Sircon IV.”

A tiny, fur-covered paw vigorously pumped Turtan’s hand, and he started to kneel. “Overlord Lucan, it gives me great—”

“Now, there’ll be no ceremony,” the other piped, stopping him halfway to the floor. “No pomp or circumstance, if you don’t mind.” He guided Turtan to an ancient, padded chair. “I’m afraid you must forgive Pinyot,” the Overlord said. “His ancestors have been members of the Kurat Zeruston for nine kuans, and old habits die hard. Apparently, he thinks our empire’s coffers still ring with the sound of tribute. Or there is even an empire worthy of respect.”

Turtan was surprised. From his experience, fallen potentates tended to gild their decline with ego and show; this one seemed impish, even self-mocking. He explored the Sirconian words for hidden meanings; however, Hypno-knowledge had its limitations. Kurat Zeruston referred only to the Overlord’s guards with a dash of mythical-religious significance thrown in. And a kuan was, let’s see…

Twelve hundred standard years.

“Please, do sit,” Lucan said, nearly hidden behind the ornate desk. Turtan smiled and complied, finding when he had done so, his view of his host was restricted to his face. Yes, indeed. Lucan looks like a regular little monkey. The chair—not a Vellian alloy as he had thought—molded itself closely to Turtan’s form. He stiffened.

“Rest easily, my friend.” The Overlord chuckled. “Your chair is only an En-Zoid. I assure you, it’s quite harmless.”

An En-Zoid. Ah yes, of course. The En-Zoid was a life form unique to Sircon IV and shaped itself around any object placed upon it. Hypno-knowledge did not take Turtan any further. Nervously he felt the chair’s dark, stirring surface, which was faintly warm.

“I’ve never seen anything similar,” he said.

His host smiled, obviously pleased. “It is unique, and if you let yourself relax, I believe you’ll find there’s nothing more comfortable in the universe. It’s a symbiotic life form, eons-old, and plays an important part in our planet’s ecology, harsh though it may be. I might add, it has a few miraculous traits.

Ah, here’s Pinyot with refreshments!”

Startled, Turtan saw Pinyot appear soundlessly beside him with a tray he placed on a small table. Where the hell did he come from? Opening an elaborate decanter, Pinyot filled two goblets, which he delivered first to the Overlord and then to Turtan.

Lucan raised his glass. “I toast you, Inspector Turtan. In the words of my ancestors, ‘May there always be two moons in your sky!’”

Turtan smiled warily and studied his glass. He loved wine, even considered himself a connoisseur. What, though, if this was poison? The shimmering green liquid dazzled the eye, and his mouth went dry. Pinyot was watching him. Had he poisoned it? No, Pinyot was only staring at him in outrage because he had defiled the Overlord’s dignity by sitting in his presence. It was foolish of him even to consider the possibility of betrayal. The Overlord would never dare kill an Inspector of the Cross. Such treachery would only bring other ships and the destruction of whatever empire he still had.

The Overlord gazed at him in amusement. “Would you care to trade glasses, Inspector Turtan?”

“No, Your Majesty.” Turtan raised the goblet and sipped while Pinyot departed. At first there was no effect. Soon, though, a soft fire seized his palate and spread outward. He relaxed, stretching his long legs.

“Is it acceptable?” the Overlord asked.

“Acceptable?” Hell, yes! “It’s exquisite.” He paused, determined to restrain himself. “Tell me, is it a Sirconian wine?”

Lucan bowed his tiny brown head. “You honor me, sir. No, I regret it’s not from our planet. If it were, perhaps Sircon IV would still be the heart of an empire, rather than …” He waved at the arched chamber, his chin trembling.

“Rather than a derelict, a bit of flotsam in space.”

Turtan hesitated at the other’s emotion. “Where did the wine come from, Your Majesty?” he asked.

Small, glittering eyes met his. “From one of the worlds we conquered and colonized long ago, only to have it leave us behind forever.”

Shifting his weight, Turtan realized his “chair” was still molding itself to his body as if learning it. He took another sip of wine.

“I’m afraid I’ve been a poor host,” the Overlord said. “Did you have a pleasant trip? No difficulties, I hope?”

“None at all. There were a few meteor storms and a misbehaving reactor. The computer handled those easily.”

“The computers handle everything?” the Overlord asked. “You don’t even have a skeleton crew?”

“Skeleton crew? What for?”

“Why, to insure nothing goes wrong.”

“Your Majesty,” Turtan said, “we haven’t used crews since the Regency. Since only Inspectors travel in stasis, other personnel wouldn’t live long enough for protracted journeys. Besides, computers are far more efficient because they preclude human error. My voyage here was uneventful.” He smiled, wishing he were back on the Argo, programming it for his next destination. The ship, though, complete with camouflage screens, had gone into orbit two hundred klicks up, and he would not leave for two Terran weeks. Except for a personal override order, not even a direct strike on the planet itself by the enemy would make it descend. Dr. Glitch, the AI computer he had programmed, would never permit it.

“Uneventful.” The Overlord smiled.

“Is something—”

“Forgive me,” Lucan replied. “You see, I know starships intellectually. Indeed, the Sirconian Empire could not have been established without them. I must confess, though, the concept of interstellar travel has always boggled my imagination. Your port of departure for Sircon IV, for example, was Alpha Encenalon. This is fifty light-years away!”

“Yes, approximately.”

“And even at maximum velocity, it must take…” Nictitating membranes rolled across his eyes as he computed.

Turtan crossed his legs, feeling more comfortable in the chair. “It took one hundred and sixteen standard years to reach you.” He touched the communications band on his wrist, remembering Dr. Glitch’s soft voice giving him the time of transit.

“I see. Pardon me, isn’t it all an awful strain? Imagine, to leave a place all alone, knowing everyone you know and love will be long dead before you even reach your destination. To know you’ll never see them again.”

Turtan gazed out an oval casement window at a violent dust storm. How many friends had he left forever in his endless quest to find a weapon the Cross could use to win the war? How many times had he faded off into frozen sleep on board some missile to the stars, knowing while he slept, forever young, they would age and think of him with ancient memories? How many tearful women had he left, and how many infant sons and daughters had he kissed and cuddled for the last time, knowing he would never see them again? Indeed, how old was he now, not subjectively but in objective time?

Three thousand, five hundred, seventy-three years.

“It isn’t easy being an Inspector of the Cross, is it?” the Overlord said softly.

Turtan snapped back, aware of his lapse and instantly suspicious. Was the Overlord trying to undermine his resolve and demoralize him? And if so, why? He steeled himself.

“My position has its compensations,” he said.

“Yes.” The Overlord nodded. “There’s immense wealth and fame, I’m sure, not to mention the patriotic satisfaction of knowing you’re serving your emperor. Still, I wonder. How must it feel to be forever out of time? To say goodbye to father, mother, and loved ones?”

“As I said, there are compensations.” Turtan declined to mention Inspectors who took drugs or killed themselves to escape the great loneliness. Despite the assurances of imperial scientists, they were as far now as ever from creating a faster-than-light drive, and the consequences of sub-light speed treks over vast distances were staggering: few Inspectors lasted a millennium and a half. Why, he himself had already endured… He forced the pain away, remembering he had an assignment to perform. Hadn’t “wild goose chases” such as this (to use an archaic phrase) occasionally borne unexpected fruit? For example, five hundred years before, Inspector Hendon had discovered a plant on Anton that could be used to synthesize a supremely toxic nerve gas. Hadn’t it turned the tide against the Cenknife and brought victory after victory to the empire? True, the enemy had countered with a lethal discovery of their own, yet continued setbacks did not excuse Turtan’s slackness. Whether Sircon IV was a dust bowl or not, he was still an Inspector of the Cross.

Turtan leaned forward, the En-Zoid adjusting to his new position. “Your Majesty, I’ve been sent to your world on an important matter.”

“And what might it be?”

“According to a report, Sircon IV harbors an artifact of unusual properties. I speak of the Tinwajeh Pillar or Monolith.”

“The Godstone?” His host’s eyebrows arched in surprise. “My dear guest, I’m afraid you’ve wasted over a century for no purpose.”


“Yes. The Godstone or Tinwajeh Pillar, Monolith, as you call it, is merely a superstitious relic, a myth fostered by a race of religious barbarians who have long since died out.” He spread his furry hands. “I’m afraid your empire has been misled.”

Turtan took a sip of wine. Prolonged training and longer experience told him the Overlord was lying. His responses concerning the pillar had been too prompt, suggesting he had expected it to be mentioned. What was he hiding? And why had he called it ‘The Godstone’?

The Overlord scoffed when asked. “Godstone? It’s purely a local term, Inspector Turtan. The barbarians worshipped it for some miraculous powers it was alleged to possess. Sheer fantasy.”

“What kind of powers?” C’mon, you little monkey. Tell me.

“I’m afraid I can’t say. As I said, it’s mere superstition.”

And you, my friend, Turtan thought, are a damn poor liar. The scouting report on Sircon IV had said nothing concerning a dead race of barbarians.He decided to be more direct.

“If it’s as frivolous as you say, Your Majesty, you should have no objections to my seeing it.”

It was silent in the chamber. Through the palace window, whirlwinds of dust spun across the desert.

“I’m afraid it’s not possible,” the Overlord said.

“Why not?”

“I don’t mean to be discourteous,” Lucan replied, “especially since I am your host, and you’ve come such a long way. However, a visit to the pillar would be disadvantageous at this time for several reasons. I’m afraid I can’t be more explicit.”

Turtan set his goblet down. “Your Majesty, as an Inspector of the Cross, I am obligated to honor your sovereignty here and not intrude, except for when circumstances call for stern measures.” He let the threat simmer before continuing. “I don’t want to engage in any unpleasantness…as long as I can be assured Sircon IV is still loyal to the Cross.”

His host scowled. “Inspector Turtan, are you implying—”

“You’ve sold out to the Cenknife?” Turtan smiled. “No, Your Majesty. One has only to tour your palace to see you haven’t profited by treason. I see no enemy gifts, no sign of Cenknife technology. What I do fear, however, is your allegiance to the Cross has eroded and become mere neutrality.”

For a moment, he thought the Overlord would rise in haughty rage and dismiss him. Instead, his host looked merely hurt. “You offend me, Inspector Turtan. My Great Grand Sire seven times removed swore his allegiance to the Cross. Do you have any idea how deeply my people value our word and honor?”

“Your people’s integrity is legendary,” Turtan said. “I don’t mean to impugn it in any way. Your Majesty, for over four thousand years, the Cross and Cenknife have waged war, putting the universe at stake. It would take only a minute advantage to tip the balance and plunge us toward ruin.” The Overlord sighed. “So elite agents such as you must investigate potential weapons.”

“Yes,” Turtan said, “and with all due respect, those are not idle words. Only two centuries ago, a Cenknife agent discovered a new form of thought control. Sound waves, which when focused in a beam paralyzed the will. At the Engagement of New Jupiter, where it was used against us for the first time, whole crews committed suicide. And the advantage gained by the Cenknife proved an irresistible force for many years.”

“Until,” the Overlord said, “the Vortex Screen redressed the imbalance by deflecting the beam.” He sighed. “Inspector Turtan, we may be a dying planet at the edge of nowhere; however, I assure you, we haven’t lost touch completely. Of course, it wouldn’t make any difference if we had.”

Turtan frowned. “Not make any difference? How so?”

“My dear Turtan,” Lucan said, “while the war to you is of cosmic importance, we have a different perspective. Our civilization spanned galaxies when yours was gas and debris. We have seen our empire rise and crumble, and even our fall has lasted ten times longer than the whole of your history. From all this, we have learned.”

“Learned what?”

A sad smile. “I believe one of your prophets said it best. ‘Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’”

“So you won’t help us?” Turtan asked. He thought of the Cenknife, a brutal combat weapon that had given the enemy its name. “You’ll simply sit by and watch these marauders consume the universe?”

“Please, none of your propaganda.” The Overlord rose and came around his desk. “From the standpoint of eternity, Inspector Turtan, any cause rings hollow.”

“Your Majesty, if you don’t cooperate, I’m afraid I’ll have to inform my superiors.”

His threat didn’t have the result he wanted. “Do you value your life?” Lucan asked.

Turtan didn’t reply. Some instinct screamed he had missed something.

“Permit me to tell you more concerning the En-Zoid,” his host said. “As I mentioned before, it’s a life form with remarkable properties evidently not mentioned in your reports. For example, it contains needles that inject a deadly poison directly into the body. They are triggered by the thought waves of a symbiont such as myself, who in turn nurtures and tends them.”

“You’re controlling this thing with your mind?” Turtan glanced at the “chair” he sat in. “Ridiculous!”

“You think I’m lying, Inspector Turtan?”

Against him, skin-close, the En-Zoid started to throb and squirm. It was a feeling unlike anything Turtan had experienced before—alive and horribly repellant.

Turtan touched the small laser inside his tunic. “I could kill you, even now.”

“Even if I cared, it wouldn’t save your life,” the Overlord said.

Turtan sensed he was right. Against his cloak and tunic, the En-Zoid writhed, intensely alive and waiting only for the Overlord’s psychic order. A tentacle appeared from nowhere, its spiky tip poised directly above Turtan’s carotid artery. He wet his lips. Damn it, despite his experience, he had underestimated this little alien.

“Is this how the honorable Lucan welcomes his guests, by slaughtering them without warning?”

A cold stare. “It is…when the guest violates my hospitality with threats.”

“Violates? It’s your sworn duty to support the Cross. My mission—”

“Change it. Report you found nothing.”


“I regret—”

“You know what will happen, don’t you?” Turtan said. “When I don’t report, they’ll send a whole squadron of ships to find out why.”

For the first time, the Overlord laughed. “My dear Turtan, by the time they arrive, both you and I will be long dead.”

“Not your world, though, at least not quite.” Turtan stared back, probing for a weakness. “Is destruction what the honorable Lucan wants? Do you wish to expose your grandchildren to hostile invaders who will land suspecting treason? Believe me, they will ruin whatever remains of this world, pulverize even its dust. And Sircon IV’s long decline will culminate in a single, bright explosion!”

Their eyes locked. Outside, the wind howled.

“What is your proposal?” the Overlord said at last.

“You’re hiding something. I don’t know what it is, but I must find out. Take me to this Godstone of yours, and I promise I’ll confer with you before sending my report.”

“It isn’t much of a choice.”

“It’s the only one you have.”

The Overlord stroked his whiskers and sighed. As he did, the spiked tentacle near Turtan’s neck withdrew, and the surface against him relaxed.

“For the first time, Inspector Turtan, I’m afraid we agree.”

* * * *

 Available at Amazon:


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So far The Merry-Go-Round Man has received two five-star reviews — plus, the artist has completed the dust jacket for the print version (click on it to enlarge).  It is already available on numerous outlets, including Amazon.   Available at . . .

MerryGoRoundMan jacket

* * * * * * * * * *
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this story immensely June 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A coming of age tale of three boys, each had their own demons to face as they entered their teens. Of the three primary characters, Johnny Roth is the most interesting. The author did a terrific job of weaving the three boys’ stories together, while shining a spotlight on one or another as events unfold. A relatable story, everyone faces challenges throughout life and it’s the choices we make that guide our path, shape our futures. At any time, a misguided decision can take someone down a wrong, dangerous or less than pleasant path. A different choice, a different–and hopefully better–outcome. Although there’s no going back and undoing the past, everyone can learn and grow–and boy did these kids have some learning to do! Although things seem to come a bit too easily for the boy who is deemed The Merry-Go-Round Man, the other two make choices that will forever haunt them, unraveling their hopes and dreams. I was so engrossed in the story that I was taken by complete surprise when the story concluded–I wasn’t ready for it to end. IMHO, The Merry-Go-Round Man would made a terrific movie.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book June 25, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I especially liked this book because I grew up in the same time period as Johnny, Jimmy and Lee. So much of it took me back to my childhood, my old school and that wonderful merry-go-round. My heart went out to Johnny with his remarkable talents and the overbearing father who tried to control him.John Roseman has captured the essence of those years between puberty and adulthood, fraught with angst and the agony of wrong choices.These young men made their share of mistakes, but unlike so many, they learned, came full circle with a degree of contentment in their lives. John Roseman gave us in-depth characters that we could identify with and root for.I highly recommend this book to people of all ages.
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1. On May 16, I was interviewed by CK Webb on Blog Talk Radio.  Below is the magic link.  Just click it if you’d like to hear the interview.  This interview is also included in the MEDIA ROOM along with my other interview and assorted attractions.  Among other things, in the interview I read from my novel Kingdom of the Jax.


2.  Book 3 in my INSPECTOR OF THE CROSS series has been accepted, and MuseItUp Publishing has scheduled it for winter publication.  Defender of the Flame is over 118,000 words long, my longest novel ever, and in it, our hero returns to the space station/academy where he graduated nearly 4,000 years before to encounter unprecedented adventures.  

3.  Just last night Dave Wilson, Crossroad Press’s publisher sent me the trade paperback cover online of The Merry-Go-Round Man.  This features the back cover blurb which describes the contents and direction of the novel.  Quite effective and exciting.  As described in the post just below, this novel is available by pre-order for just a few more days for only $3.99.

Until next time . . . John, your faithful scribbler.


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THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN, A Coming-of-Age Story

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN, My Coming-of-Age Story, to be Published.

My new novel about three unusual boys growing up on the wild, dangerous, sex-filled side of the supposedly safe 1950’s will be published in June in e-book, trade paperback, hardback, and audio book formats.  

themerrygoroundmanDo you believe you can shape your future, determine your destiny?  One spring day in 1954, three sixth grade boys make a bet: the one who can climb first to the top of a small green merry-go-round outside their school will be “Champ for life!”  For the rest of his days he’ll be “on Easy Street!”  So they engage in a “mad scramble . . . clambering over each other with murderous intent,” and eventually one of them reaches the summit and stands triumphant, lording it over the others.  He is the merry-go-round man. 

The Merry-Go-Round Man is a novel about three boys growing up in the so-called innocent days of the Eisenhower fifties.  It’s about rites of passage, loss of innocence, sexual initiation, racism, and much more.  Of the three boys, Johnny Roth is central.  He possesses two transcendent gifts which are only beginning to emerge as the novel begins.  One of them is the ability to box or fight, something he deeply fears.  The other ability is artistic and mystical.  He is a natural expressionistic painter of vast potential.  Unfortunately, Johnny’s father, an orthodox Jew, hates both of these pursuits, and his opposition tears Johnny apart. 

Of the two other boys, Lee Esner grows up to be a gifted football player with what looks like a lucrative pro career ahead of him.  He also has a flair for attracting beautiful girls.  Is he the merry-go-round man?  The third boy, Jimmy Wiggins, is black and from the ghetto.  Attending an elite white school with Johnny and Lee, his naïve love for a pretty white girl is destroyed by her cruel racism.  Another rite of passage.  Symbols such as a burning Buddhist monk make us ask whether anyone is really The Merry-Go-Man in life. 

Preorder it until June 1 for only  $3.99.  … 


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A Disease, Mysterious and Deadly

A mysterious disease three years ago almost killed me.

The progression of this disease was insidious and terrifying.  My doctor used every test in the book without success to diagnose it.  Finally, as I wasted away, he threw up his hands and admitted he didn’t know what my disease was.  Darker possibilities emerged.  Was my disease cancer?  Was I going insane?   Was I going to live?

I’m a member of a writers’ community at The Write Room Blog.  We post individual blogs at the site.  Just click on the link at the end of my blog below and view the site where my blog “What the Hell is Wrong with Me?” and other blogs are featured.  



I was teaching my 9 a.m. World Literature class about three years ago, when I noticed my brain was floating about five feet above my shoulders.  What’s more, it wasn’t floating in a good way.  I felt disconnected, disembodied, unreal. 

 What in the world was happening to me?

 I was nearing seventy, a full professor of English, and planning to retire from Norfolk State University after forty-five years of teaching.  I had never experienced anything like this before.  Should I excuse my class early and lie down, or be a man and soldier on?

Hell, I was as macho as the next guy.  I soldiered on.  The fact that I was undergoing an out-of- body, semi-psychotic experience didn’t mean I couldn’t pull it off.  I was a pro!  So on I charged, fielding students’ questions out of the air, and I believe, passing the test with flying colors.

As I left my class, my affliction lifted.  For the rest of the day, I was fine.  My relief was fine, too, and I didn’t even mention the “incident” to my wife Jane.

The next day, with classes meeting later, I was absolutely normal.

The following day, with my World Literature 9 a.m. class, my brain drifted to the ceiling again, hovering near the light fixtures.  In subsequent 9 a.m. classes, that’s where it remained.

I told my wife about it, and she reminded me that a few months back, I’d had arthritic pains in my right arm.  They had interfered with my playing tennis, which I love.  A visit to my doctor and some meds seemed to have solved the problem, but could there be a pattern here? 

We soon learned there was. Starting at 150 pounds, I began to lose weight.  Finally, I went to Dr. B again.  He ran all the tests, which turned up nothing.  He concluded that my symptoms “screamed depression” and referred me to a psychiatrist who gave me pills.  My weight continued to drop.  One forty-five . . . one-forty-two.  When it reached one-forty, my system began to shut down.  Forget about having an appetite, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, and hello to a half-body hideous scarlet rash which itched like the devil and eventually no damned energy whatsoever.

One day in his office, Dr. B said he’d done as much as he could.  He’d run all the tests and didn’t know what was wrong with me.  In short, I had a MYSTERIOUS DISEASE, a subject I’ve written about in fiction, as in “The Blue of her Hair, The Gold of her Eyes,” where a woman contracts a disease that makes others shun and fear her.  I looked at my doctor and said, “Could I have cancer?”  He replied, “Do you want to go and have a CT Scan?”

Well, I had it, and the Scan revealed a discolored area in my lower intestine.  I’ll never forget the day Dr. B asked, “Did your wife come with you?”  Folks, take it from me, when you see your physician, one of the last things you want him or her to ask is, “Did your wife [or husband] come with you?”  I said my wife was present and he went and got her, and we all convened in the examination room.  The only things missing were a Grief Lady and Chopin’s Funeral March.  Dr. B held his fingers an inch apart, indicating the size of my probable cancerous tumor, and I smiled with as much fortitude as I could and kissed my ass goodbye. 

Hallelujah, it wasn’t curtains!  I’ll skip some painful details.  Another CT Scan, some more blood tests, and a gastroenterologist would finally, finally, nail it down.  I had Celiac disease, a severe allergy caused by gluten, a protein found mainly in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.  This digestive disease can be hard to diagnose because it has over 250 symptoms, and no two cases are the same.  Also, many of its symptoms are nonspecific and can occur in other diseases.  Celiac disease is often but not always genetically inherited, and in my case, it had lain dormant in my system for the unlikely period of nearly seven decades.  One out of 100 people has this condition, but more and more folks are finding themselves affected in this age of processed foods.  As for my floating brain syndrome, my hematologist told me last year it’s a psychotic effect some of those with Celiac disease experience as a result of eating wheat.

After I was diagnosed, the process of recovery was slow and torturous as the villi in the inner wall of my small intestine which absorb food and nutrients had to recover and straighten.  Indeed, despite my efforts, I continued to lose weight.  One thirty . . .  One twenty-eight . . . One twenty-five . . . One twenty.  If I turned sideways, I disappeared in the mirror.  I was so weak, I couldn’t even run, and it was a struggle to dress myself.

One day, still a bit blotchy with an itchy red rash, I gazed at a class of students I loved and told them I could not continue.  We had begun a literary journey of the creative imagination together, I said, and I wanted so much to complete it with them.  Try as I might, though, I would not be there to reach the finish line at their side except in spirit.

It was painful to say this.   I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt I had failed them.  

Then something happened that had never happened before in all my years of teaching.

Every student in my class rose to their feet and formed a line around the room, waiting patiently to hug me.

Some of them even hugged me twice.

Back at home, I was semi-bedridden for about a month.  Talk about being limp, listless human meat.  My wife climbed the stairs and brought me my meals, which I could barely eat because I had no appetite.  I came to hate the sight of those eight ounce bottles of Ensure which I was forced to drink because they provided 350 calories.  I sometimes think Jane kept me alive, that I’d be dead except for her.

Lying there, I came to empathize more and more with the sick and afflicted, especially those sicker than me who might lack the benefit and comfort of insurance, doctors, and caregivers.  All we have are our bodies and our spirits, and our health and our senses can be taken away in a heartbeat.  I already knew this of course, but it bears repeating.  We don’t own our good health, our good looks, our success, or the fortunate way our brains are wired.  We don’t possess them because of any moral or spiritual superiority we have over others, or any special favoritism we have received from God.  Recently Mary Firmin wrote an essay entitled “Alcoholism.”  Some people are blessed enough to be able to drink a beer or a glass of wine without risk of addiction.  For others it’s like walking a tightrope above an abyss.  In some ways alcoholism is a mysterious disease, too.  Some of us are just luckier than others. 

Dear Reader, if you type Mysterious Diseases into your browser, you will find all sorts of strange, bizarre, and often unsolved and incurable maladies.  Perhaps new ones will appear in the future, and it will be impossible to prepare for them.

As for me, my doctor informs me I’ve made a “tremendous recovery.”  Thanks to Prednizone, a steroid, I developed a voracious appetite and finally managed to gain weight, although later it caused a cataract to ripen in my right eye that half-blinded me overnight.  Today I weigh as much as I did before and live an almost normal life.  However, while my disease is in remission, it remains, and I must take meds daily for it.  Above all, I must avoid gluten at all costs.  For example, if I go to Wendy’s or any other fast food place, I take my own gluten-free, poorer textured, and less tasty bread if I want a sandwich, avoiding their wheat-packed buns and flavorful varieties such as the one featured at the front of this essay.  Also, I shun items such as macaroni, doughnuts, and greasy pizza, no matter how much I crave them.

It’s a small price to pay for staying alive.

                                                                 * * * * * * * * * *

John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror Magazine and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens.

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