Zero-Day Rising

The BetterWorld Trilogy, Book 3

Science fiction (Cyberpunk) / Techno-thriller

Date Published: Oct. 1, 2020

Publisher: See Sharp Press


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In Zero-Day Rising, the third book of the BetterWorld trilogy, Kiyoko is
tired of hiding and grieving, and has decided to strike back. In the first
volume of the critically acclaimed BetterWorld cyberpunk trilogy, Kiyoko’s
older sister Waylee and their hacktivist friends exposed a conspiracy
between MediaCorp and U.S. President Rand to control the flow of information
and run the world on behalf of a cabal of billionaires. In volume two,
Waylee faced life imprisonment, while Kiyoko and her friends were hunted by
a team of ruthless mercenaries. In Zero-Day Rising, Kiyoko resolves to free
her sister and bring down President Rand and MediaCorp. However, MediaCorp
unleashes its ultimate plan: direct mind control with cerebral implants. Can
Kiyoko and Waylee’s team stop them? Can they penetrate MediaCorp’s networks
and end the company’s grip over humanity? All while eluding the biggest
manhunt in history, in a country where everyone and everything is under



The Fin and Tonic, a 42-foot fishing boat they’d chartered with cryptocurrency, bounced into the furious black sky, then smashed down again with a crash. Kiyoko gripped the arms of her tightened-down swivel chair, and fought not to throw up or scream in terror. Battered by wind and rain, the clear tarp around the bridge fluttered violently, threatening to rip from its fasteners and fly away.

“Quite da squall, ain’t it,” the captain said, gripping the steering wheel from the center chair, struggling to keep the boat angled against the white-capped waves. If they swung parallel to the waves, he’d explained, they could capsize, and if they drove straight into them, they might bury the bow.

The captain was old, with leathery dark skin and thinning gray curls beneath a Miami Dolphins / Super Bowl Champions cap. “Don’t normally go out in weather like this,” he said, “’specially after dark.”

That was Pel’s idea, so no one would see them. “We have faith in you,” Kiyoko told the captain. According to his Comnet site, he’d been piloting boats for decades.

Gripping the other passenger chair on the bridge deck, Nicolas stared into his augmented reality glasses, verifying their course and monitoring the VHF radio for Coast Guard patrols. Pel had lessened that worry by calling in a fake tip about drug smuggling into Biscayne Bay, well to the south.

Pel, Charles, and Alzira were below in the cabin, along with their bags of gear. The boat didn’t have a satcom so there wasn’t much they could do until they reached the mainland.

Another rise. Kiyoko’s muscles tensed in anticipation. The boat plunged down, leaving her stomach behind.

They smacked bottom with a shudder. Water crashed over the bow and splashed against the tarp. Despite the scopo patch behind her left ear, she almost retched.

Please O Mazu, O Poseidon, grant us safe passage. Kiyoko had given up on the gods after what happened in São Paulo, but this was a good time for a truce.

The captain tacked to stay on course. “’Taint the first time someone paid me to sneak across the water,” he said. “But first time I been dumb enough to do it in a storm.”

And they were only an hour out of port. It would have been a four-hour trip in calm seas, the captain had said. But in this weather? They’d be lucky to arrive at all.

No lights on the horizon or in the air. Not that Kiyoko could see far through the storm. The radar display on the console screen showed some white triangles on the perimeter, embedded in wide bands of green, yellow, and red.

Kiyoko pointed at the screen. “What are those triangles?” she asked. They had small alphanumeric codes to the side.

“Don’t touch nothin’,” the captain growled. “Freighters, tankers, not to worry,” he added.

Another rise and fall. A loud thump came from the cabin below. What was that?

Someone shouted, the voice carrying above the dueling wind and engines. Sounded like Charles, cursing.

Kiyoko turned to Nicolas. “What is it? What happened?”

Nicolas spoke quietly into his wraparound mic, then turned toward her. “Charles wants to know why there aren’t any seatbelts.”

“Is he okay?”

Nicolas shrugged. “Probably. He’d be screaming if he broke something.”

The waves diminished as they neared the Florida coast, although the rain didn’t let up.

“Westerly winds workin’ in our favor now,” the captain said.

Kiyoko checked her comlink. They were two hours behind schedule. “Can we go faster then?”

“Yeah.” The captain pushed the dual throttle forward. They picked up speed.

It was hard to see much through the sheets of rain, but a glow appeared along the horizon, brightest to the south. Ahead, a light swept across the sky every ten seconds or so.

“Is that a lighthouse?” Kiyoko asked.

“Yep,” the captain said. “That’s the Jupiter Lighthouse. That’s where we headed. I got a GPS navigator but I like t’ see where I goin’.”

Kiyoko didn’t see any other boats, nor anything on the radar display. No Comnet signal, but they were still miles from the coast, with heavy rain in between. She hoped M-pat was still waiting for them and hadn’t given up, or been accosted by police.

The waves picked up as they approached the inlet, rocking the boat up and down, left and right.

Sweat dripped down the captain’s cheeks as he stared ahead, gripping the wheel. “Hate these shoals.”

They roared between two rock jetties, then the waves died. The captain slowed the boat and it seemed to sag with relief.

“Welcome to the United States,” Kiyoko told Nicolas in quiet Portuguese.

About the Author

T. C. (Ted) Weber has pursued writing since childhood, and learned
filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics.
His first published novel was a near-future cyberpunk thriller titled Sleep
State Interrupt (See Sharp Press). It was a finalist for the 2017 Compton
Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel. The
first sequel, The Wrath of Leviathan, was published in 2018, and the final
book, Zero-Day Rising, just came out in October, 2020. He has other books on
the way as well. He is a member of Poets & Writers and the Maryland
Writers Association. By day, Mr. Weber works as a climate adaptation
analyst, and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters
published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys
traveling and has visited all seven continents.  For book samples,
short stories, and more, visit

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Voices Series, Book 2

Personal essay (narrative nonfiction, brief memoir)

Date Published: Oct 19, 2020

Publisher: Jack Walker Press

Friendships serve as a cornerstone to a rich life. Each of these twenty-four accomplished authors shares authentic stories that consider the meaning of life affirming, sometimes life saving or gut wrenching, and fun realities of investing in each other: Think chicken soup with adult beverages.

Editorial Reviews:

“A thoroughly enjoyable and heartfelt read! This is an invaluable book for anyone seeking insight and comprehension of the convoluted and often misunderstood road we travel known as friendship. A definite 5-star rating!” –International Review of Books

Friends: Voices on the Gift of Companionship will take you through the full spectrum of what it means to call someone “friend.” It’s the book you reach for when you need to feel connected to humanity.” –Skye McDonald author of the Anti-Belle series

“The authors in this anthology come from a wide range of backgrounds, and share their stories of friendship with convincing, if often difficult, passages. …We may still regard the gifts of shared histories as nourishment to sustain us.” –Carol Barrett, Ph.D. Coordinator, Creative Writing Certificate Program, Union Institute & University; author of Calling in the Bones and Pansies.

“As the stories evolve, readers will relish the personal tones, touches, and explorations that consider the nature of friendship, its gifts and resiliency, and its lasting impact on all. …an outstanding key to understanding how relationships evolve, change, pass, and often come full circle to become even more valued as the years go by.” — D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review




About a year later, my daughter Ashley was born. I loved her father, but I was eighteen years old, and I knew how life worked. Sure enough, he left when she was six-weeks-old, disappearing into drugs and alcohol. Ash and I had lived in places where you keep the lights on at night and push heavy objects up against the doors and then in a shelter where it didn’t snow inside. My mother-in-law Karen said she’d never seen anyone stretch a nickel so far. Karen and I have been friends for forty-one years. I gave up on my husband, but I kept his mother.

I also kept his second wife, Teresa, with whom he had four sons. I like to introduce Teresa as “my first ex-husband’s second ex-wife” and watch people do the math in their heads.

Teresa helped me raise my daughter, and my daughter is perhaps the strongest woman I know. When one of her brothers was a teenager, he asked, “If you were in a bar fight, who would you want by your side?” Without pause, and in unison, everyone in the room said, “Ashley.” Ash handles life like a preacher handles snakes: without fanfare and fear. When she gets bitten, she tends the wound; then, she moves on.

Alice Walker speaks of a “twin self,” an inner self that is one’s home. The “twin self” that my internal mirror reflects is that strong rope, the one made sturdy by all the women woven into it. If I removed any strand of that thick rope, I would unravel a part of myself. Each woman lives in the home inside me, where self and twin-self reflect each other.

About the Author

Amy Lou Jenkins holds an MFA from The Writing Seminars of Bennington, has taught writing at Carroll University, Milwaukee Area Tech College, and conferences and workshops, including NonfictioNow/Iowa Writers Workshop and Write by the Lake/University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her essays and stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including The Florida Review, Flint Hill review, Leopold Outlook, Sport Literate, Earth Island Journal, Consequence Magazine, The Maternal is Political, Journeys of Friendship, and Women on Writing. She’s the author of several books including Every Natural Fact; Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting. Her writing has been honored by US Book Award, Living Now Book Award, Ellis Henderson Outdoor Writing Award, and XJ Kennedy Award for Nonfiction and more. She pens a quarterly book review column for the Sierra Club. She writes for children under the name Lou Jenkins. She and her husband split their time between Wisconsin and Arkansas. Unless it’s so cold it hurts, she’d rather be outside. Follow her at

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Shifting Gears

50 Baby Boomers Share Their Meaningful Journeys in Retirement 

Biographies and Memoirs

Date Published: 11/17/20

Publisher: Bublish


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Shifting Gears is based on interviews with retirees telling how they are shifting gears in their retirement. The stories reveal the rich abundance of retirement activities, from the exotic to the mundane. Discover their joys, challenges and inspirations that were part of their journey in this next stage of life.

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Richard is a former life sciences executive and mentor. He is now immersed in challenging the boundaries of his own retirement. As he saw his fellow retirees reinventing themselves by following their passion, he realized that these stories could be the basis for an interesting book.

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The Little Breadwinner


War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland

History, Non-Fiction

Published: September 2020

Publisher: Aperion Books


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Finding Hope and Survival in The Midst of War

FROM 1980 TO 1992, A TURBULENT CIVIL WAR ravaged the Central American state of El Salvador, claiming the lives of approximately 75,000 Salvadorans. The Little Breadwinner is a story of tyrannized, frightened families—mostly poor peasants, indigenous peoples, and child farm workers—whose lives signified nothing to the military death squads.

Lucia Mann, who was in El Salvador at the time, recalls this vivid historical portrait of human rights violations during and after the “dirty” war between the military-led government and left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. This brutal conflict was backed politically, economically, and militarily by the United States with CIA involvement.

Throughout these pages, you will experience intense trials of courageous survival with unforgettable characters who yearn for peace, justice, and normalcy. One of the brave women you will meet is Estella Godwin Lozano (a Waorani tribe descendant of the Amazon rain forest), who suffered terribly before her brutal demise in Laredo, Texas in 2019. She was a “little person” who became traumatically affected by the abuse perpetrated by National Guard soldiers outside her pueblo home. She heroically joined the Sandinistas (Cuban-backed guerillas) to seek revenge upon the villains of her country.


About the Author

Lucia Mann: Humanitarian and activist, was born in British colonial South Africa in the wake of World War ll. She now resides in British Columbia, Canada. After retiring from journalism in 1998 she wrote a four-book African series to give voice to those who have suffered human rights violations, brutalities, and captivity. The Little Breadwinner is the seventh book that exposes both personal and social injustice.

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So Long Earth

Science Fiction
Published: January 2020
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2017. Dr. Thomas Burns, an environmental engineer, is listening to the President, talk about global warming. He and his colleagues quickly realize that Earth will no longer be able to sustain life in a few years. Environmental disasters all over the world are occurring at a quicker rate, and each one seems to be stronger than the previous one. As a result, Tom begins to develop and carry out his plans to build 4 spaceships for 1,000 people each to leave Earth and travel to a new galaxy to find a place to live. The Russians, Germans, and Australians all agree to build spaceships and join Tom in search of a new home somewhere in the Alpha Centauri Galaxy.
Over the next 20 years of planning Tom along with his wife, Sarah, determined but naïve son, Sam, his loyal second-in-command, Bob Jackson, and an amazing medical doctor, Dr. Sato, Tom must wrestle with inevitable questions. How are they going to sustain life for such a long journey? How can they travel fast enough? Will the Russians fully cooperate? How will they be able to successfully launch four huge spaceships at the same time? Most of all, will they be able to save humanity?



Denver, CO, September 2017

Dr. Thomas Burns could not believe what he was hearing. He was sitting in a restaurant with his eight-year-old son Sam after attending a baseball game. The Colorado Rockies had just defeated the New York Mets by a score of eight to six. They were discussing the various players on the team. That was until the president started talking.

Listening intently to every word President Trump said on CNN, the environmental scientist shook his head several times. He’s appealing to every gawker of developers and brand-loving radicals rolling everything back—radicals who want to de-regulate, de-environment, just de-anything—and it was deflating, thought Dr. Burns. Decades of work falling apart for a new consensus, it seemed. Depressing.

Not only was the president waging a permanent delay of just about everything, while making money for his backers, but he was hoping people were going to do nothing about it. He was buying time for some of his obscenely wealthy investors and developers; that was all. They somehow pinned their losses in the previous years from failed deals and investments on anyone but themselves, despite how their investments were only about money, not about the major concerns of the times everywhere you looked. Having had a great outing with his son only moments ago, Dr. Burns fumed as he sat there.

The president was like the suits many in the rural parts of the Dakotas, Tennessee, and his home state of Colorado worried about. They were all caught up in their excesses, mindless to what life outside their air-conditioned life was like. Who cared how his message on TV was going to benefit neglected areas? He just expected people to deal with it. Except, this time, this suit, staring at Dr. Burns on the high-definition TV screen, was the one barreling his way at anyone who gave him a microphone like a dusted wagon train full of barons with money bags who pulled into town. And he’d be building what he knew best, a wall of heat for struggling people. They were less interested in tackling the daily concerns in their lives, finding no areas of concern in common.

Dr. Burns shook his head again. And the environment was a no-brainer!

Sam looked up at him momentarily, and Dr. Burns gave a half-reassuring smile. Sam returned his attention to his cell phone.

The president was unconcerned about whatever no man’s land was left in his wake of ruin while he doled out skepticism and disparaging comments when people needed reassurances and to feel confidence that the authorities were doing their best to keep them safe and secure. In the old Wild West, they used to blame the Yankee, wondering if somebody up in the skyscrapers meant them more harm than good. They just wanted the top suite.

Dr. Burns couldn’t stop looking from the TV to his son. He felt like he was falling into an abyss when he should have been feeling like he was there to share a moment of joy with his son.

He stood up, and despite his tall stature—he’d almost made it to varsity baseball years ago at six feet, two inches tall—he felt powerless. It was time to put the agreed-upon plan into action—at full speed. First, he gave his son some ice cream and told him to stay seated across from him, take out his Game Boy, and put his ear buds in, as he did not want Sam to be concerned about what he was going to discuss with everyone. He pulled out his phone and dialed a group text number, the specific code setting of a meeting of his peers. Tom raked his hands through his solid black hair, practically pulling strands out as he waited impatiently for everyone involved in the meeting.

Within five minutes, all of his colleagues around the world were on FaceTime. He’d been selective about which colleagues from Russia, Germany, Australia and America he involved in preparing the mission. Several of them had worked with him on projects at Boeing and others he had met at conferences around the world that had brought his attention to the staggeringly slow pace of applied research. He knew immediately what he wanted to say to the thirty people he’d reached. He trusted them. He sat back down as they met and discussed their plans.

Members from these four countries were going to be the first ones involved because they understood that to do nothing would ensure the end of the human race. These thirty people were the most esteemed researchers in their field of expertise. They published nearly 500 research papers researching climate warming and various environmental issues as well as future space travel. Russia as the leader in space travel was an obvious choice. Germany had some of the leading engineers in the world. Australians had suffered a great number of environmental disasters such as a deteriorating Great Barrier Reef and also had a large number of excellent engineers.

Tom, despite his anguish, spoke calmly. “I hope everyone was watching the president’s disgusting speech. Obviously, he is not going to listen to any environmental scientists or reports. We have no choice but to go ahead with our agreed upon plan. It is full steam ahead. We will have to speed everything up. Based on the environmental evidence and facts, the human race probably has 200 years—or less—to live. To survive, we need to find a new planet.”

Several of his colleagues made comments agreeing with Dr. Burns. They all agreed they would go home and start implementing the agreed upon plans.

With that, he ended the FaceTime meeting. He felt a spectrum of emotions including betrayal by the president’s actions and fear for his children’s future and the future of everyone else. He had hoped his family could grow up to lead normal lives, go to college, marry, have children and choose a career for themselves without worrying about the environmental disasters that were sure to take place. He also felt bad for just about everyone alive and every person yet to be born. Most people were going to face terrible hardships just trying to survive. Most of all, he felt determined.

He and Sam walked toward the exit. Tom waved goodbye to the woman behind the counter.

As his son closed the door behind them to the restaurant, Tom felt the cool night air, hoping his son wasn’t too cold given the temperature had fallen quickly. It was September and although it had been a mild seventy-five degrees at Coors Field, they had to walk a block to get to their car. He didn’t want to embarrass his son, so he just put his arm around him to keep him warmer. Sam didn’t protest thankfully.

As they made their way to their car, Tom couldn’t help but look at Sam’s baseball glove that Sam held loosely in his hands. He’d given the glove to Sam after his son refused to use his old worn-out one. Tom had used that glove as a teenager when he was about Sam’s age. He laughed to himself when he remembered Sam’s look on his face as he stared at Tom’s old glove. It seemed so important to him to give it to Sam, but Sam wanted his own glove.

Tom knew that Sam had loved the game that afternoon. Sam had a fantastic baseball card collection and recited stats that baffled Tom, who also felt proud of his son for knowing and memorizing all kinds of stats. Seemed like the type of thing kids should be worried about in high school, not what was weighing on Tom’s mind. Tom shook away a bunch of thoughts. He still wanted to look like he was enjoying himself after he and Sam had watched their favorite team win and ate at their favorite restaurant. But that damn television and the news. He was overcome with concern and resentment, knowing that his son’s future was going to be nothing like his own.

Sam said, “You know my good friend Kory just made varsity, and I heard that there were even some top university recruits watching. I hope when I get to high school, I’ll play that well.”

Tom stared at Sam momentarily, masking the welled-up feeling of regret and sorrow that threatened to silence him, before he said, “Sam, you’re going to play with the best.”

He unlocked the car door, and they headed toward Interstate 70. All the while, Tom was glad that he had reached an agreement with his colleagues that there would be no more delays, no matter what lay ahead.

And so, it began.

About the Author
Michael Bienenstock is a retired teacher with over 35 years of teaching experience. He has published papers and given numerous presentations and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, a Master’s degree from Gallaudet University, and a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Maryland at College Park. He is married with one son and lives in Florida. So Long Earth is Michael’s debut novel and no, his clone did not write this book.
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