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500 Miles To Go by J. Conrad Guest
Romance set against a sports backdrop, 500 Miles To Go is about the importance of, and the risks associated with, the pursuit of dreams. When our dreams cause angst to our loved ones, they often become nightmares.
Gail fell for Alex Król before she learned that he risked his life on dirt tracks during the summer months to the delight of fans who paid to see cars crash—the more spectacular the wreck the taller they stood on their toes and craned their necks to see the carnage. When Alex makes his dream to drive in the Indy 500 come true and he witnesses the deaths of two drivers in his first start, he must ask himself if his quest to win the world’s greatest race is worth not only the physical risk, but also losing the woman he loves.
Review by Sheila Deeth-Author of Divide by Zero: “A sweet love story gives way to the love affair with speed… First loser becomes disillusioned winner, hindsight waxes philosophical, and a lonely man reminds us, ‘One doesn’t find love… Love is a choice.’”
Excerpt: “I looked at the phone, silent on the nightstand, and for the first time since she walked out of my life, I thought about calling Gail. Never had I longed so much to hear her voice. ‘Alex Król,’ she’d say into the phone, the way she used to when we were young. I imagined her telling me how glad she was that I’d called, that she’d listened to the race on the radio, had watched it later that night on tape delay, and had celebrated with me. She’d go on to say that she’d followed my entire career, was proud of all that I’d accomplished, maybe even adding that she’d been foolish to worry about my getting hurt. I’d tell her it was okay, that I understood. Then I’d ask her to join me for dinner when I got back to town, and she’d sigh in that way she had, and tell me that she’d love to…”
Alex paused, and Alicia waited patiently for him to continue:
“But so much in life never plays out the way we envision it. My marriage was proof of that.
“I re-imagined the phone call: Gail’s father would answer. He’d congratulate me on winning the 500 – assuming he was aware of it. He’d ask how I was doing, and I’d tell him, ‘Great, I’m doing great.’ Then I’d ask about Gail. He’d tell me that she’d met a young man a year or so after we’d broken up, married him, and that she was now mother to two healthy toddlers, a boy and a girl. Then it would be my turn to congratulate him, for becoming a granddaddy. Maybe, to save face, I’d nonchalantly ask him to say ‘hello’ to Gail for me, give her my best, hoping he wouldn’t, not wanting her to know that I’d asked about her. More than likely, I’d leave it at ‘Congratulations’ and simply say ‘Goodbye.’
Global Library: Literary Fiction
A Retrospect In Death by J. Conrad Guest
A Retrospect In Death, a mainstream novel with elements of the supernatural, the afterlife, life, living, and romance, is a story about discovery. You think you know yourself? Perhaps you only think you do. Maybe those with whom you’ve shared a room, whether briefly or long term, know you better.
On the other side of the Great Divide, the narrator, who remains nameless throughout the narrative, encounters his higher self—the part of him that is immortal and connected to the creator—and learns (much to his chagrin) that he must return to the lifecycle. But first he must be “debriefed” by his higher self, and so they set about discussing the man’s previous life—in reverse chronological order: knowing the end but retracing the journey, searching for the breadcrumbs left along the way.
Do those closest to us know us better than we know ourselves; or do they, as we often insist, know jack? Consider that only in death can you really know, and understand, who and why you are—or were. And then ask yourself: At that point, is it too late? Does it even matter?
Review by Sheila Deeth-Author of Divide by Zero: “Introspective, like a personal remembrance of life, this book is more than diary or autobiography, but less than truth perhaps because it’s viewed entirely through the eyes of the (dead) protagonist. Slowly working towards the unseen facts of his character’s past, J. Conrad Guest’s A Retrospective In Death is a languid, oddly compelling tale, evoking an era with a wealth of intricate detail, creating a memorable yet achingly ordinary man, and searching for meaning and purpose in it all. “Song titles, movies, well-known names and places, events in sports, evocative phrases from the past and much, much more build up into a powerful retrospect of an era, all told in a voice that changes convincingly with changing enthusiasm, self-deprecating humor, and psychoanalytical hints from the higher self. It’s a pleasing, though very long tale, and the ending is beautifully worth the languorous journey.”
Global Library: Literary Fiction
A World Without Music by J. Conrad Guest
Romance with a twist: Can a Gulf War veteran suffering PTSD finally leave behind his past to find the music that will make his life worth living?
Reagan returns from the first Gulf War haunted by horrific images of Tom Wallach, a dead marine he brought back from the desert. Seeking refuge from his nightmares and broken marriage in a jazz quartet in which he plays bass guitar, fifteen years elapse and he has a one-night fling with Rosary, a beautiful young woman he meets at one of his gigs. When his ex-wife comes back into his life, Rosary’s obsession turns into a fatal attraction.
With help from Wallach’s ghost, the daughter Wallach never met, and a friend who is much more than he appears to be, Reagan discovers he must let go of his tortured past if he is to embrace the future.
Review by Sheila Deeth-Author of Divide by Zero: The Unsettling Beauty of a Perfect Chord… “Discussions of life, love, faith and the universe fuel J. Conrad Guest’s intriguing dialog-based novel A World Without Music. Music itself ‘stands half way between thought and phenomenon,’ a fascinating concept that leaves the reader pondering all. But the conversation’s powerful and real, and the tale moves on; locations change, topics flow and grow, and the reader soon feels like a traveler delighting in overhearing strangers who might become friends.
“This novel’s path through music, movies, sci-fi, baseball, politics, faith and romance are endlessly intriguing and deeply involving, even as mystery deepens and danger looms. Allusions to jazz and song lyrics are as natural as the flight of a softball into the air, smoothly delighting the reader whether they’re caught or simply catch the eye. And Reagan, born to lust, love or jazz, has choices to make, and scary consequences to navigate.
“And the music of the common man proves as vital to our world’s symphony as that of heroes and villains throughout all time. A World Without Music reads like a masterpiece of music, culture and life and is highly recommended.”
Excerpt: Reagan followed Wallach to the living room, where they sat, facing each other, in two high-backed chairs.
“How do I know I’m not the one dreaming?” Reagan whispered.
“But how do I know?”
Wallach shrugged. “Pinch yourself if you don’t believe me.”
Reagan refrained from doing just that; at some level he knew this was real: across from him sat the ghost of Tom Wallach.
“Death is permanent,” Wallach said.
“Don’t I know it.”
“I’m sure you do. Aren’t you glad now that you didn’t pull the trigger on your Glock? You were so convinced that you’d lost Sarah forever, but it was just a bump in the road. She needed time to realize what you meant to her. Had you pulled that trigger –”
“I know,” Reagan said, looking away in shame.
“No, you don’t, Reagan. You have no idea what that would’ve done to Sarah.”
Reagan sighed. “Suicides rarely understand the ruin they leave behind. They’re lost in their own pain.”
Wallach nodded and said, “Not pulling the trigger was an act of courage. Your work here is not done.”
“And you know this how? Are you omnipotent?”
“All knowing? No. Let’s just say I have night vision.”
“You can see the future?”
“The future is made up of myriad possibilities, all predicated on the choices we make, or fail to make, each and every day.”
Reagan thought about that for a moment, before asking, “So is there an alternate reality, one in which you came home from Kuwait?”
“There is only one reality; but I am attuned to all possibilities, including the one of which you spoke.”
“How do you bear it?” Reagan said. “Knowing what might’ve been?”
“It brings me much comfort.”
“Don’t you feel cheated?”
“No. My life played out as it should have. My widow and daughter would not be the people they are today had I come home from Kuwait.”
“How do you know they wouldn’t be better off?”
For the first time since he’d begun haunting Reagan’s dreams, Wallach looked uncertain, as if he didn’t know how much he could, or should, share with the living.
“My death set something into motion.” And then, as if he couldn’t – or wasn’t allowed – to say more, Wallach changed direction.
Global Library: Romance
Backstop: A Baseball Love Story In Nine Innings by J. Conrad Guest
Backstop plays the catcher’s position for any team in any city in America with a major league ball club. You cheer him when he delivers, and boo him when he doesn’t. Told in his own words during the seventh game of the World Series in what could be his last game after fourteen years in the major leagues, Backstop chronicles his rookie season, takes the reader to Chicago where he finds romance, and reveals his heartbreak in the aftermath of an adulterous affair.
Cheer for Backstop on and off the field as he plays the most important game of his career—haunted by the ghost of his father who passed away before Backstop achieved stardom—and fights to win back the heart of the woman he loves more than the game.
Backstop was nominated a 2010 Michigan Notable Book, while the Lewis Department of Humanities at the Illinois Institute of Technology adopted it as required reading for their spring 2011 course, “Baseball: America’s Literary Pastime”.
Reviews: “Superbly crafted with a deft, tender touch, Backstop: A Baseball Love Story In Nine Innings is a compelling tale of following the true passions of the heart. A truly heartwarming read.” Reviewer: Apex Reviews
“Backstop’s a read where slow development contrasts with fastballs, slow plans with hurried mistakes, and slow reading with quickened excitement and delight. The dialog has a sweet old-fashioned feel, pleasant humor, and serious depth, and the whole is a seriously enjoyable tale.” Reviewer: Sheila Deeth-Author of Divide by Zero
“This is where J. Conrad Guest meets us in Backstop: in this beautiful, hopeful place closest to our hearts, where we play for the love of the game, and we love with everything we have.” Reviewer: Rachael Perry-Author of How to Fly
Global Library: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Chaotic Theory by J. Conrad Guest
What power, to hold in one’s own hands the ability to affect the present by altering the past… In the twenty-second century the world population has dwindled to fewer than a billion, with total extinction expected within a decade.
An erotic science fiction tale of love and love lost, Chaotic Theory centers around three profiles of a solitary individual, Antanas Rupkus, a young Lithuanian.
In one he is a musician endeavoring to keep alive the work of American jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Stoic and aimless, Antanas is incapable of anything but physical intimacy the result of having witnessed, as a boy, his parents killed by Estonian immigrants in search of fresh water. In another profile, he is a sculptor, filled with hope and the belief that love can overcome all obstacles, until he loses the object of both his inspiration and desire.
In the third, Antanas is a writer whose essays define the mid to late twentieth century as the point in history that set man on the path to extinction. But alas, his wisdom comes too late. If only Antanas had lived two hundred years earlier; but perhaps he can, if what Kazys Galdikas tells him is true…
Global Library: Science Fiction Adventure
January’s Paradigm (January Trilogy Book One) by J. Conrad Guest
In this fantasy romance, Robert Porter is enjoying the fruits of success: a best-selling novel featuring a hard-nosed detective circa 1947 named Joe January and a lucrative contract for the sequel. But his world comes crashing down around him when he witnesses his wife’s infidelity.
As Porter sinks into a morass of grief over her abandonment, only one person can help him regain his self-esteem and dignity. One man alone can help Porter set things right … and that person’s name is Joe January. But he doesn’t even exist… or does he?
Reviews: “J. Conrad Guest’s attention to details of plot is meticulous as he keeps his novel pulsing with energy and tension skillfully woven with an entertaining combination of romance, betrayal, mystery and thrill. With storytelling mastery on full display, powered by engaging narrative and emotional intensity of individual story line, January’s Paradigm is a novel that delights its readers with a captivating premise with serious literary work of thoughtfulness, complexity and depth.
Those looking for a fantasy with diversity may find themselves bewitched. This 5-star read is definitely worth reading for its originality. Highly recommended.” Reviewer: Enas Reviews
“In January’s Paradigm, J. Conrad Guest has taken the heartbreak of sexual betrayal and turned it into a romance-fantasy… Readers will not be able to put it down.” Reviewer: Current Entertainment Monthly, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Excerpt: Once more at peace with myself, I rounded a corner and collided with a small gargoyle.
It was grotesque. Standing at no more than five-foot, three inches tall, it was dwarfed by my six-foot, three-inch frame. It was obese, too; its girth greater than its height. Its personal appearance was obscenity personified: a bulbous nose, red from too much drink, supported glasses so thick the magnifying principle worked both ways. The watery blue eyes, disproportionately huge, glared back at me with cold, savage indifference.
And I recognized the beast of my recent nightmares.
At the same moment, dawning recognition replaced the indifference that had previously resided on those hideous features. A smile broke from behind gray lips; its teeth, black from the rot of ten thousand Baby Ruth bars, jutted at a multitude of crazy angles, like those of some weirdly mutated rodent. It grunted once; the sharp exhalation accompanied by halitosis so foul I was forced to take a step back.
Then it was gone, leaving me staring after it in disbelief.
Series: Joe January Trilogy Book One
Genre: Paranormal Erotica, Fantasy Romance
January’s Thaw (January Trilogy Book Three) by J. Conrad Guest
Many people obsess over their past, but no one more than I. Perchance it’s because, as a man out of time, I left behind so much of it unlived.
If that makes little sense, consider that I’m a time traveler. Although the backdrop for my story is time travel and alternate realities, the underlying theme is a more human one—of love lost, another love found only to be lost, and of a decision, the result of a single regret brought about by the realization that my self-professed courage to never risk my heart to love was instead cowardice, to rectify a wrong in a life filled with myriad regrets. You may judge me, as it is man’s nature to judge others, or discount my story as the ravings of a lunatic mind or simply the fiction of an overactive imagination—but before you do, I ask that you read on to the end, and then ask yourself if you would have acted any differently.
Review: “In January’s Thaw, J. Conrad Guest gives us an unforgettable adventure seen through the cracked lens of our broken present and an all-too-possible, what-if past. Full of intrigue, romance and scathing social commentary, it is both an ambitious novel and an exciting, page-turning imaginative quest for that which is beautiful and true.” Reviewer: Rachael Perry-Author of How to Fly
Series: Joe January Trilogy Book Three
Global Library: Science Fiction, Alternate Reality, Romance, Time Travel Fiction
One Hot January (January Trilogy Book Two) by J. Conrad Guest
Imagine an alternate history in which the United States fails to enter World War II in time to help the Allies defeat the Tripartite before Germany becomes too strong to defeat. A future in which Germany perfects genetic engineering and is eradicating whole nations in an effort to secure the empire Hitler vowed would last a thousand years; a future in which Hitler lies in a secret cryogenic chamber, awaiting treatment for a cancer for which a cure has finally been discovered. Imagine a future in which a faction of genetically engineered people, opposed to Hitler’s tyranny, choose to travel back in time to amend future history by influencing Winston Churchill to withhold from U.S. Intelligence the vital decrypt specifying the date and time of the raid on Pearl Harbor. Imagine a fast-talking private investigator from the Bronx named Joe January who uncovers a seemingly impossible plot by grudgingly agreeing to help a pretty young woman locate her missing father—a Professor of Archaeology from Columbia College who must prevent the secret of Hitler’s location from falling into the wrong hands…
By the end of One Hot January, January is transported into the future where in the sequel, January’s Thaw, he must survive by his century-old sagacity in our modern world.
Reviews: “Joe January is a private investigator operating in the South Bronx in the 1940s. He writes in first person, has a wry sense of humor and keen observation skills, and, somehow, he’s looking back on history from a future we haven’t yet seen. Could Joe January still be alive and reviewing his past in 2082?
“Dialog’s so pitch-perfect I imagine watching a black-and-white movie, hearing words in my head. The combination of Bogie, WWII and time-travel is truly beguiling, and, while this novel’s clearly complete in itself, I’ll certainly look forward to reading the sequel when it comes out.” Reviewer: Sheila Deeth-Author of Divide by Zero
“He may be Bogart-cool and clever, sharp-tongued and fedoraed—but underneath the veneer Joe January reveals himself both in his vulnerability and the most ageless adventure of all: a journey of the heart.” Reviewer: Rachael Perry-Author of How to Fly
Excerpt: Later that night Lance saw Melissa home, via cab. The decorated war hero and gentleman nonpareil no doubt sealed their business venture with a handshake, not a kiss. The kiss, he would anticipate, would come later.
I was mildly disappointed to find that the mole on Ginger’s breast had no twin elsewhere; but the consolation her many other gifts provided helped to ease my disappointment. Still, I found Ginger to be a taker and not a giver, and so what pleasure I gained was the result of my own giving, which she was only too eager to take.
While Lindy, who drove home alone, was robbed of any chance to give, and therefore gained neither pleasure let alone solace from the image of where and with whom I had lain.
Over the decades since that night, I’ve tormented myself over the fact that Lindy had suffered her disappointment alone, perhaps the previously unrecollected melody, I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You, echoing unsympathetically through her fading consciousness, her pillow taking the tears she could not help but give.
Tomorrow is forever. I should’ve held on for one more night.
Ah, so many regrets. What’s one more?
Series: Joe January Trilogy Book 2
Global Library: Science Fiction, Alternate Reality, Romance, Time Travel Fiction
The Cobb Legacy by J. Conrad Guest
In this non-traditional romance, Cagney Nowak is writing a novel around the 1905 shooting death of baseball legend Ty Cobb’s father by his mother a week before Ty was called up by the Detroit Tigers. Although she was acquitted by an all-male jury on the grounds that the incident was accidental, the townspeople of Royston, Georgia, always thought otherwise. When Cagney begins to relive the night of the shooting in his dreams, more than a century later and in the guise of Amanda Cobb, he is led to discover his father’s deepest secret.
More than a mystery romance, The Cobb Legacy is the story of a man’s efforts to connect with his dying father, a World War II veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Cagney must also fight to come to terms with his obsession over the Cobb legacy as well as his own adulterous affair and impending divorce, while doubting that love with an old friend can be his.
Reviews: “… an eye-opening tale of drama, scandal, and intrigue highlighting the living, breathing history of a fatally-flawed, intrepid folk hero. Five stars.” Reviewer: Apex Reviews
“Threads come together with gentle touches of fate, and there’s a satisfying completeness to the tale which goes beyond past and present into eternity.” Reviewer: Sheila Deeth-Author of Divide by Zero
Excerpt: “I used to think Romeo and Juliet was the greatest love story ever written. But now that I’m middle-aged, I know better. Oh, Romeo certainly thinks he loves his Juliet. Driven by hormones, he unquestionably lusts for her. But if he loves her, it’s a shallow love. You want proof?” Cagney didn’t wait for Dr. Victor to say yay or nay.
“Soon after meeting her for the first time, he realizes he forgot to ask her for her name. Can true love be founded upon such shallow acquaintance? I don’t think so. And at the end, when he thinks she’s dead, he finds no comfort in living out the remainder of his life within the paradigm of his love, at least keeping alive the memory of what they had briefly shared, even if it was no more than illusion, or more accurately, hormonal.
“Those of us watching events unfold from the darkness know she merely lies in slumber. But does he seek the reason for her life-like appearance? No. Instead he accuses Death of amorousness, convinced that the ‘lean abhorred monster’ endeavors to keep Juliet in her present state, her cheeks flushed, so that she might cater to his own dissolute desires. But does Romeo hold her in his arms one last time and feel the warmth of her blood still coursing through her veins? Does he pinch her to see if she might awaken? Hold a mirror to her nose to see if her breath fogs it? Once, twice, three times a ‘no.’”
Cagney heard the leather creak as he shifted his weight in his chair.
“No,” he repeated. “His alleged love is so superficial and selfish that he seeks to escape the pain of loss by taking his own life. That’s not love, but obsessive infatuation. Had they wed—Juliet bearing many children, bonding, growing together, the masks of the star-struck teens they once were long ago cast away, basking in the comforting campfire of a love born of a lifetime together, not devoured by the raging forest fire of youth that consumes everything and leaves behind nothing—and she died of natural causes, would Romeo have been so moved to take his own life, or would he have grieved properly, for her loss and not just his own?”
Global Library: Literary Fiction
Message from Author J. Conrad Guest: “Welcome. If you’re reading these words, you have my thanks for finding me. A critic calls my work, “Gritty, entertaining… real. Romance for the non-romantic.”
Genre? What’s that? My characters face everyday obstacles: love (finding it), loss of love (ouch!), regret (who doesn’t have a few of those?), infidelity (from love to hate to compromise), death (the Grim Reaper recently visited me in a dream to tell me he was coming for me. “Great,” my dream self said. “You bring the whiskey and I’ll provide the cigars”), redemption (that transformation from the anti-hero the reader wants to like into the hero for whom they want to root), and more. I write about relationships between men and woman, and fathers and sons. Yet each character, although flawed and in some cases broken, is in their own way extraordinary. I write mainstream, non-traditional romance (Fabio will never grace the cover of one of my novels), and soft science fiction. I hope you’ll find here something that appeals to your literary appetite.
I was named Joseph Conrad for my dad’s favorite novelist.
As a boy my dream was to become a Major League Baseball player, but my parents had other ideas. They urged me to play it safe, to learn a trade, get a job with an automotive company, and retire in forty years with a gold watch. To me that was a prison sentence. I didn’t want to reach my current age wondering, What if?
I was creative and wanted to leave my mark on the world. How to go about achieving that dream perplexed me for many years, until I sat down to write my first novel. January’s Paradigm was born from a bloodied and bruised heart. What started as therapy for me turned into a passion. My dad often criticized me for not finishing what I started, and I was determined to finish a novel. When Dad read my second draft, after two years of labor, he was pleased.
While I geared up for submitting my child to agents and publishers I struggled for a name. A nom de plume was out of the question. I wanted to use “Conrad” but didn’t wish to be compared to the man who today is considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. I finally settled on J. Conrad Guest and have never regretted it.
My novels are available in brick and mortar bookstores and at Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.”
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