SACRED by Elana K. Arnold


Alex Bledsoe


Summer Chastant


Helen Scheuerer


Jennifer Morrison


Rebecca Ross


Chandler Baker


Brendan Reichs


Cass Morris


Sherrilyn Kenyon


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Star Trek: Discovery - Mary Chieffo Interview

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

The statuesque 6 foot tall daughter of successful character actors Beth Grant and Michael Chieffo, Mary Chieffo has possessed an innate desire to perform ever since she can remember. Grant loves to tell the story of her daughter's "acting debut" at age three when she played a "sleeping girl" in Making Sandwiches (1998), a short film directed by Sandra Bullock, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

A 2015 BFA graduate in Group 44 of The Juilliard School's Drama Division, Chieffo is the first legacy in the Division's nearly 50 year history. Her father was in Group 6.

A four year merit-scholar and recipient of the SAG Foundation John L. Dales Scholarship during her time at Juilliard, Chieffo also received the Elizabeth Smith Voice and Speech Prize and the Saint-Denis Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Drama.

A self-proclaimed and unabashed Feminist, Chieffo has taken on many strong female and male roles in the Shakespeare canon. Having played Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Queen Dionyza in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Doll Tearsheet in Henry IV, Part 2, Lear in King Lear, and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, she culminated her Shakespearean achievements at school as the title character in award-winning Erica Schmidt's all-female Macbeth. In June 2016, Chieffo reprised the role with Schmidt for Seattle Rep's The Other Season.

After portraying Iago in October 2015 for Harlem Shakespeare Festival's all-female Othello, Chieffo is developing a Virtual Reality miniseries Operation Othello - set in the modern world of US Navy SEALs - with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon's JuVee Productions. Eugene O'Neill Directing Fellow Jeff Liu (Yellow Face) will direct Chieffo's female Ensign Iago to Tennon's Captain Othello.

Since the fall of 2015, Chieffo has been developing the role of Southern Gothic novelist Carson McCullers (The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding) in workshops of Lover, Beloved: An Evening With Carson McCullers, a one-woman show written by Grammy Award-winning Suzanne Vega (Tom's Diner, Luka) and Tony and Grammy Award-winning Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), directed by Jackson Gay (MFA Directing, Yale School of Drama). She portrayed Carson at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas in August 2016 and hopes to eventually share the role with her mother (as younger and older Carson) as part of James Franco, Scott Haze, and David Van Asselt's Rattlestick West in Los Angeles.

In 2012, Chieffo appeared opposite Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, Lauren Miller Rogen, Frances Fisher, Ahna O'Reilly, and Jen Zaboroski in The Perfect Fit, directed by Beth Grant and winner of the Audience Award at the SoHo International Film Festival and Best Ensemble Award at Women's Independent Film Festival. Chieffo can also be seen in the independent films Natural Disasters (2008), Herpes Boy (2009), Miss Dial (2011), Odyssea (2013), and Shelby's Vacation (2017), as well as the Disney Channel pilot Jack and Janet Save the Planet.

Despite being chased around the playground in kindergarten for "singing too much", Chieffo has developed a Legit singing voice under the guidance of Deborah Lapidus that lends itself to tunes such as "Surabaya Johnny" (Happy End) and "Will He Like Me?" (She Loves Me). While many Musical Theatre roles inspire her to continue to hone and exercise her 5-Octave range, Chieffo has always dreamed of doing a female interpretation of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Favorite stage roles include Kris in a workshop of Juilliard playwright Max Posner's Judy, Nat in Rabbit Hole, The Singer in Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mrs. Webb in Our Town, Jessica in This Is Our Youth, Chris in Dancing at Lughnasa, Grace in Bus Stop, Madame Dubonnet in The Boy Friend, The Baroness in The Sound of Music, Star-to-Be in Annie and, in her first gender-bending role, Moses in her Waldorf School's third grade production of The Child of the Nile.

An All-Star Soccer Goalie for ten years, Chieffo is a trained modern dancer, studying Martha Graham technique since the age of three. In 2012, Chieffo discovered a deep love and passion for Vinyasa Flow Yoga and now has a daily practice that she joyfully infuses into her acting technique and life.

Chieffo spoke at Disney Hall in Los Angeles as Valedictorian of Campbell Hall School's graduating class of 2011 with a cumulative 4.401 GPA. In her junior year, she was inducted into the Cum Laude Society and presented with the Princeton Book Award. As a senior, Chieffo received the Performing Arts Dance Award and the Headmaster's Award - an award given to a senior whose loyalty, spirit, and vitality have added to and will continue to benefit the school in years to come.
Content from IMDB.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY follows the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new life forms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself.

All episodes of season one are now available to watch on CBS All Access, CBS Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service, and is distributed concurrently by CBS Studios International on Netflix in 188 countries and in Canada on Bell Media’s Space channel and OTT service CraveTV. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout, Bryan Fuller’s Living Dead Guy Productions and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts, Akiva Goldsman, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth serve as executive producers.

Creators: Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Stars: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, 
Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman and More.

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

Videographer: ERIK WERLIN

Video: Erik Werlin. Audio/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros)
  • Daughter of Beth Grant and Michael Chieffo.
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Cloak & Dagger - Gina Prince-Bythewood Interview

Photo Credit: Lester Cohen - ©

Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the widely acclaimed feature film Love & Basketball (2000) which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. She won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film. Her other directing credits include the HBO film Disappearing Acts (2000).

Prince-Bythewood earned her first feature film producer credit on Biker Boyz (2003), a Dreamworks film which was co-written and directed by her husband Reggie Rock Bythewood.

She studied at UCLA Film School, where she received the Gene Reynold's Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate. Upon her graduation in 1991, she was immediately hired as a writer on the television series A Different World (1987). She continued to write for network television on series such as Felicity (1998), South Central (1994), Courthouse (1995), and Sweet Justice (1994) before making the transition to directing.

Her television directorial debut was the CBS Schoolbreak Special, _What About Your Friends (1995) (TV)_, which won her an NAACP Image Award for Best Children's Special and two Emmy nominations for writing and directing.

Prince-Bythewood currently lives in Southern California with her husband Reggie and their sons Cassius and Toussaint.

Two teenagers from very different backgrounds find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers while falling in love.

Creator: Joe Pokaski
Series Casts: Olivia Holt, J.D. Evermore, Aubrey Joseph, Miles Mussenden, Gloria Reuben, Andrea Roth, James Saito, Noëlle Renée Bercy.

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

Videographer: ERIK WERLIN

Video: Erik Werlin. Audio/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros)

  • Ran competitive track at UCLA, where she also attended film school.
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Cloak & Dagger - Joe Pokaski Interview

Photo Credit: Greg Doherty

Joe Pokaski is a producer and writer, known for Heroes (2006), Underground (2016) and Daredevil (2015).

Two teenagers from very different backgrounds find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers while falling in love.

Creator: Joe Pokaski
Series Casts: Olivia Holt, J.D. Evermore, Aubrey Joseph, Miles Mussenden, Gloria Reuben, Andrea Roth, James Saito, Noëlle Renée Bercy.

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

Videographer: ERIK WERLIN

Video: Erik Werlin. Audio/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros)
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Guest Post with Andrea Yerramilli

Photo Content from Andrea Yerramilli

Andrea Yerramilli is a former marketing professional who is a mom to kids – both with and without fur. She has an abiding commitment to finding the good in everything and believes that the sense of belonging to someone’s heart is what makes us feel complete; that kindness goes a long way; and that when things happen that you don’t understand, keeping your mind and heart open can help.

In her debut book she shares her special connection with her dog Ralphie, who turned her perfectly perfect life on its ear from the moment he came home from the shelter, and enriched it until he was ready to say good-bye. And somehow all of that was exactly as it should have been. Andrea lives in New Jersey with her husband and children.



When I held my printed book, Ralphie, Always Loved, for the first time, it was a dream come true and the culmination of years of hard work. I got to savor that feeling up until the official launch . . . and then I went back to work! As an author in today’s world, I learned that it is not enough for me to write: I also have to be a spokesperson and an ambassador for my book. It makes sense, because I know my book better than anyone else. This new journey of publicizing Ralphie, Always Loved, which I began on pub day - October 28, 2017 - was exciting but took me way out of my comfort zone.

My book was finally out there for the world to read, digest, and hopefully love, but it was like letting my child go out to play with a group of kids I didn’t know. And I worried about whether the world would treat my book kindly. When the good reviews poured in, I felt like I was flying, and then ones that weren’t so wonderful came in—and I came crashing down. It’s hard not to take critical comments personally and feel completely rejected. They made me doubt myself and my abilities; all those other five-star reviews fell back into the shadows. I’ve had to learn how to take criticism with a pinch of salt and let it go. Not everyone was going to love my book, and that was okay.

I also had to come to terms with being the focus of attention. One minute I was a regular person, and the next my book had launched me into the spotlight with it. Book signings and readings took me into a different realm altogether, where I had to present myself and my book in the best light. I had to be confident and knowledgeable without sounding like a know-it all. (It’s a fine line!) And I had to remember to smile, because people were taking pictures that would eventually end up on social media to stay there forever, ha ha.

I’ve done a few radio interviews, and let me tell you, they are quite the experience. The first one was nerve-wracking, and I’m glad it was done over the phone and not in the studio. I had to remember to breathe and just speak from my heart. It helped to talk about my dog Ralphie, who is the star of the book. The hosts of every interview I did were gracious and had years of experience in helping their guests feel welcome and comfortable, and they put me at ease. I can give you a trick that I think worked for me: I smiled when I talked. It took the nervous edge out of my voice and calmed me down.

I also found out that after spending a few minutes asking about Ralphie, Always Loved, most people want to know what’s coming next. Although I have many other ideas and plans, for now I want to stop and take this all in, bask in the amazing warmth and love that I’m feeling at this moment. I did something monumental: I wrote my first book. When I wrote it, I hoped it would make a positive change in someone’s life.

And it already has. It’s changed mine.


1. Ralphie, Always Loved is unabashedly sentimental and heartfelt. It will remind you of all that’s good in the world.
2. Like any good puppy, this book is playful and fun. It will take you back to the first time you loved a dog and were unconditionally loved in return.
3. Ralphie’s story will reach into the farthest corners of your heart and reaffirm your belief in the power of love to transform and uplift.
4. Ralphie’s story shows us that every relationship can be made perfect—with work, patience, and a whole lot of love.
5. Ralphie, Always Loved is the story of a rescued dog who approaches each change in his life with hope and love, and more love. We could all learn something from that!
6. The illustrations are delightful!
7. Ralphie, Always Loved celebrates the life of a well-loved dog and touches upon the subject of loss in an uplifting way.
8. The story reminds us that love never ends.
9. This picture book will warm your heart and make you smile; it might also make you cry.
10. Ralphie, Always Loved is about the good stuff, but it makes you think about the hard stuff too.

This is the story of the life, love, and adventures of a beloved family dog, and how he delighted and touched his family and everyone he met.

Ralphie was born with a heart on his belly.
Andrea Yerramilli
He loves food, his family, his friends, his neighbors.

He loves pretty much everything and everyone.

And they love him back.

And that’s how it is all through his life.

Read the book and fall in love with him too.

Rambunctious and hyperactive, Ralphie had already been returned to the animal shelter three times, but when Andrea and her husband adopted him and gave him a loving home where he was understood, accepted, and taught, he learned fast. As Ralphie’s human family grew, so did his capacity for love and the ways he could express it. He remained a loving and beloved family member who touched the hearts of the whole neighborhood until he was ready to say goodbye at the grand-old age of sixteen. Ralphie, Always Loved will remind you of all that is good, and reaffirm your belief in love’s power to uplift and transform.


"This is a story of patience and understanding, of love given and love received. Even though I had the privilege of knowing Ralphie, I fell in love all over again." Karen Soares, DVM, VCA Pacific Petcare Animal Hospital 

"I'm excited that kids reading Ralphie's story will see that adopting a homeless dog is the way to go, and I hope that parents will use this book to teach their children to Adopt, don't shop!" 
Kim Alfred, The Rescued Dog, San Diego, Calif. 
You can purchase Ralphie, Always Loved at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ANDREA YERRAMILLI for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Ralphie, Always Loved by Andrea Yerramilli.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cloak & Dagger - Jeph Loeb Interview

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller

Jeph Loeb is a Peabody Award-winning and two-time Emmy Nominated Writer/Producer. His television credits include Jessica Jones (2015), Luke Cage (2016), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) and Legion (2017), as well as Lost (2004) and Smallville (2001). His career started with writing and producing the films Teen Wolf (1985) and Commando(1985). His graphic novels Batman: The Long Halloween and Superman for All Seasons have been cited as influences on Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Smallville and Gotham.

Two teenagers from very different backgrounds find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers while falling in love.

Creator: Joe Pokaski
Series Casts: Olivia Holt, J.D. Evermore, Aubrey Joseph, Miles Mussenden, Gloria Reuben, Andrea Roth, James Saito, Noëlle Renée Bercy.

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

Videographer: ERIK WERLIN

Video: Erik Werlin. Audio/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros)
  • Joseph "Jeph" Loeb is the author of numerous comic books including Superman for All Seasons and Batman: The Long Halloween.
  • Frequently works with artist Tim Sale, on projects including Daredevil: Yellow, Spiderman: Blue and Batman: The Long Halloween
  • His graphic novel (with artist Tim Sale) "A Superman for all Seasons" is cited as a major inspiration for the "Smallville" team. Jeph joined the Smallville writing/production staff during the second season
  • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale also teamed up to do a Catwoman graphic novel, Catwoman: When in Rome.
  • His son, Joseph Loeb IV (nicknamed Sam), was born on April 13, 1988. He died of cancer on June 17, 2005.
  • Happily writing a watershed revival of "Batman", (along with famed illustrator Jim Lee providing art) for DC Comics [February 2004]
  • Signed an exclusive contract with Marvel. His next comic book will be The Ultimates Vol. 3 with superstar artist Joe Madueira. [September 2005]
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Death Doesn't Bargain by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Series: Deadman's Cross (Book 2)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (May 8, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765385716
ISBN-13: 978-0765385710


"Kenyon (Born of Legend) puts the lie to the old adage “Dead men tell no tales” in the jam-packed, appealing first book of her Deadman’s Cross historical fantasy series." ―Publishers Weekly on Deadmen Walking

Death Doesn’t Bargain is the second historical fantasy title in New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Deadman’s Cross series. Where Deadmen tell their tales, and every soul is damned or redeemed by the final choices they make.

The Deadmen are back...

But so are the demons who have broken free of their eternal prison and are bent on mankind's destruction. The worst of the lot is Vine, determined to claim their lives for taking hers. She will see the world burn...and has the perfect lure to destroy them all. One of their own.

Kalder Dupree has never known a day of mercy. Born to the cruelest of mer-races, he sacrificed himself for his crew and is in Vine's hands. He expects no mercy or rescue.

Yet Cameron Jack is determined to set Kalder free. As a Hellchaser, it's her calling, and she cannot allow even a not-so-innocent to be tortured for an act of kindness that spared her damnation.

To defeat evil, it sometimes takes an even worse evil, and Cameron is willing to do whatever she must to make this right. If Vine thought she had her hands full before, she hasn't seen anything nearly as powerful as Cameron's resolve.

You can purchase Death Doesn't Bargain at the following Retailers:

Book Nerd Spotlight
Photo Credit: Liza Hippler

New York Times and international bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon, is a regular at the #1 spot. With legions of fans known as Menyons (thousands of whom proudly sport tattoos from her series and who travel from all over the world to attend her appearances), her books are always snatched up as soon as they appear on store shelves. Since 2003, she had placed more than 80 novels on the New York Times list in all formats including manga and graphic novels. Current series are: Dark-Hunter®, Chronicles of Nick®, Deadman’s Cross™, Nevermore™, Silent Swans™, Lords of Avalon® and The League®. Her books are available in over 100 countries where eager fans impatiently wait for the next release. The Chronicles of Nick® and Dark-Hunter® series are soon to be major motion pictures while Dark-Hunter®, Lords of Avalon® and The League® are being developed for television. Join her and her Menyons online at and


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Guest Post with Joshua David Bellin

Photo Content from Joshua David Bellin

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, he is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. His new book, the YA fantasy Ecosystem, releases on April 22, 2018 (Earth Day). Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.


Series: Ecosystem Trilogy
Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: Mostly Wind Books (April 10, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1732185905
ISBN-13: 978-1732185906

Praise for ECOSYSTEM

“Joshua David Bellin proves once again that he’s the master of SciFi survival stories that explore the devastating consequences of environmental destruction. If you’ve ever walked in the woods and felt that the trees were listening, this book is for you!” —Jennifer Bardsley, author of GENESIS GIRL

“This page turner will give you a new respect for the forces of the natural world. I’ll never look at plants or animals the same way again. A five star tour-de-force. Can’t wait for a sequel.” —Darlene Beck-Jacobson, author of WHEELS OF CHANGE


I Go To Extremes

What do a desert wasteland, an exoplanet, an ancient forest, and the North Pole have in common?

(Hint: they’re not all places I’ve visited.)

No, they’re all places where I’ve set my novels!

The desert is the location for my post-apocalyptic duology, Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls. The planet is where my deep-space adventure Freefall takes place. The North Pole is home to two of my novels: The Passing of Boss Krenkel, a twisted retelling of the Santa Claus tale; and Polar, a horror novel-in-progress based on the voyages of Robert Peary and Matthew Henson.

The forest, of course, is the setting of Ecosystem.

But it’s not just any old forest. It’s a forest where every living thing is part of the Ecosystem, a planet-wide entity that’s self-aware, angry, and out to get human beings. Here’s a description of it from the book:

Within moments, the forest closes around me, and all trace of stone fades into the green. I stand amid trees many hundreds of years old, their branches trailing lattices of moss, their bark carved into antic shapes like deeply wrinkled faces. Ferns with spatulate leaves form beds between tree-trunks, while a few downed giants wave earth-brown roots to the sky. The sun casts shafts through the canopy, illuminating cobwebs and the silken nests of insects. The tart smell of decay penetrates my nostrils. Everywhere, I hear the voices of the Ecosystem: drone of cicatrix, caw of bloodbirds, cough of prowler monkeys, buzz of horrornets. There’s no path here, no refuge. Move or stand still, there’s no place to hide.

So basically: not a nice place to be.

Why am I drawn to such extreme environments? Partly, as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes with the territory. But as someone who’s always felt a strong affinity for the natural world, I try to create environments that are more than just backdrops; I want my environments to resemble my human characters, with their own histories, drives, conflicts, and needs. With Ecosystem, I simply took that principle to the next level, creating an environment that’s literally a living, thinking, feeling organism. An extreme environment is like a well-rendered protagonist: it’s captivating, layered, full of unpredictability and risk. A great place to test the other characters—but also a great character in itself.

In case you’re interested, I’m currently planning a two-part series that takes place on Mars. Unless you’re planning to leave the solar system, you can’t get much more extreme than that!

Seventeen-year-old Sarah is a Sensor, gifted with the ability to survive within the sentient Ecosystem that swept away human civilization centuries ago. While the remnants of humankind huddle in small villages of stone, Sarah uses her psychic connection to the Ecosystem to travel freely in the wild in search of food, water, and fuel. Sarah doesn’t fear the Ecosystem—but she hates it for killing her mother when Sarah was a child. When she hunts, she hunts not only for her people’s sustenance but for revenge.

Then Miriam, an apprentice Sensor, is lost in the Ecosystem, and Sarah sets out to rescue her. Joining Sarah is Miriam’s beloved, Isaac, a boy who claims to possess knowledge of the Ecosystem that will help their people survive. The harrowing journey to find the missing apprentice takes Sarah and Isaac into the Ecosystem’s deadliest places. And it takes Sarah into the unexplored territory of her own heart, where she discovers feelings that threaten to tear her—and her society—apart.

A thrilling fantasy adventure from the author of Freefall and the Survival Colony series, Ecosystem is the first book in a YA trilogy that includes The Devouring Land (2019) and House of Earth, House of Stone (2020).


I’m first of the Sensors to return. Not surprising, as my circuit was the shortest, my track the safest. The others have gone deep into the Ecosystem, to places I’ve only heard of, realms I can only imagine. In time, if I’m successful, I’ll seek out the same places, where the game is thickest and the dangers greatest. In time, if I live, I’ll train the next generation of Sensors, as Aaron has trained me.

But tonight, I’ll celebrate. The village will celebrate. They will celebrate me.

We will meet in the great hall, the entire community assembled as one, except for the few threshers assigned to guard the periphery against the Ecosystem’s attacks. In the stone hearth, the firestarters will light the blaze that is the Ecosystem’s chief grievance against us, that and the cutting tools with which the threshers keep the forest from encroaching on the pavilion of stone. As the flickering shadows grow against the vault’s stone walls, the Sensors will step forward to be acknowledged by the mass of commoners. In their identical uniforms of close-fitting brown fur, cut short to expose muscled arms and long legs, the members of the Sensorship will stand like statues: aloof, unsmiling, their Sense of the Ecosystem isolating them from the community they’re sworn to serve. And for the first time, clothed in the matching outfit I wore on today’s hunt, I will stand with them. I’ll stand straight and still as the rest, though my heart will tremble with excitement.

Then Nathan, as Conservator of our order, will deliver the customary address, reminding the populace of how the Sensorship came to be. In his deep and commanding voice, he’ll speak of the days of old, when humans were numerous and powerful, when their towns and trails covered the land. He’ll speak of towers that climbed to the skies, things like giant birds that flew across earth and water and air. He’ll tell us of devices that enabled one man to hail another across the globe, ghostly screens that enabled one to see another’s face no matter the distance between them. We who’ve known only the Ecosystem these past hundred generations will find the picture laughable, but none of us will laugh. Even the village children will stand silent and solemn, seeing in the shadows stirred by Nathan’s voice visions of a time that once was, a time that can never be again.

And then, his voice sunk to a whisper, Nathan will speak of the Ecosystem’s rise. He’ll tell how, unseen and undreamed of by those who claimed earth’s dominion, the planet’s innumerable threads of life knitted themselves into one, the first dim flickers of awareness burgeoning over time into full angry consciousness. He’ll speak of cities overwhelmed by jungle or swallowed by monsters from below, farmlands turned to lakes of poison and parklands roamed by deadly predators. He’ll spare no detail, yet his words will fall far short of reality. It was a planetary outpouring of grief and rage, a coordinated attack that swept human civilization from the face of the earth. It gave rise to the world we know, a world in which the Ecosystem rules and we who were once its masters huddle in its shadow.

But it didn’t destroy us all. Its desire was thwarted, and so its anger festers to this day. For among the few of our kind who were left, there arose a fraction who discovered within themselves a hint of the Ecosystem’s will, an ability to hear its dark whispers. These were the first Sensors, and as they gathered the survivors around them, there arose the first villages of stone, the first walls and firewells, the first masters and apprentices. Down to the present day, the Sensors have used their power for good, their Sense of the Ecosystem freeing them to roam the forest in the daily hunt for food and fuel. They’ve served their people selflessly, renouncing all ties that might distract from their vital calling: ties of love, family, children. We know nothing of how other villages fare; for all we can tell, we’re alone. But so long as the Sensorship stands, we will not fall.

When Nathan finishes, the commoners will applaud, though they’ll have understood his words only the way a blind man understands what it means to see. As the village’s newest Sensor, I’ll be singled out for my investiture, receiving from Aaron’s hand the token he received from his own master, and his master from the one before, and so on back to the beginning, something no one outside this line of masters and apprentices has seen. It will be small, and Aaron will pass it to me in secret, an item wrapped in fur for me to unwrap when I’m alone. His wrinkled face will smile as he bestows it on me, and his smile will call back to me the earliest of my memories, the morning when, looking up at his face as he now looks up at mine, I first heard from his lips the new name he’d given me. And I’ll remember, too, what I learned many years later: that the name of Sarah was another’s name first, that one so old as Aaron would never have taken a girl of three as his apprentice if not for the other apprentice he’d trained and lost. It will be a moment for the community to welcome me after a lifetime of preparation, a moment for me to mourn the one who came before, though I remember nothing of her except her name. It will be a moment for me to honor her stolen memory, and to hate the Ecosystem for taking her from me.

And then the village will feast on the thing I killed, the life I tore from the Ecosystem in retribution for the pain it has caused me. With a stone pestle, Aaron will smear its blood on my cheeks, and the firestarters will roast its flesh, each member of the community sampling a small bite before they consume the bushmeat caught by the other Sensors. Aaron, as Chief Sensor, will give a speech, and the name of Sarah will be spoken again and again, while the congregation grows drowsy with food and fire. And when he’s finished, I’ll walk to the center of the gathering, and I’ll eat the one part of my kill saved for me, the first and only bite of food I’ll be permitted this day.

I will eat its heart.

In itself, that will be nothing new. I’ve eaten the Ecosystem’s heart every night since I first learned of the one who came before. It has tasted like gall in my throat, but I’ve choked it down just the same.

Only tonight, there will be a difference. Tonight, it will taste good.

© 2018 by Joshua David Bellin

You can purchase Ecosystem at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JOSHUA DAVID BELLIN for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Copy of Ecosystem by Joshua David Bellin.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway