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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Thought Readers by Dima Zales Book Blitz and Giveaway

The Thought Readers
(Mind Dimensions #1)
Release Date: 3/5/14
Mozaika Publications

Summary from Goodreads:
A new series about mind readers from USA Today bestselling authors... 

Everyone thinks I’m a genius. 

Everyone is wrong. 

Sure, I finished Harvard at eighteen and now make crazy money at a hedge fund. But that’s not because I’m unusually smart or hard-working. 

It’s because I cheat. 

You see, I have a unique ability. I can go outside time into my own personal version of reality—the place I call “the Quiet”—where I can explore my surroundings while the rest of the world stands still. 

I thought I was the only one who could do this—until I met her. 

My name is Darren, and this is how I became entangled with all the Russians and learned that I’m a Reader.

Check out the short story novelette prologue for the Mind Dimensions series, The Time Stopper, for FREE!

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Excerpt from The Thought Readers:

Sometimes I think Im crazy. Im sitting at a casino table in Atlantic City, and everyone around me is motionless. I call this the Quiet, as though giving it a name makes it seem more realas though giving it a name changes the fact that all the players around me are frozen like statues, and Im walking among them, looking at the cards theyve been dealt.

The problem with the theory of my being crazy is that when I unfreeze the world, as I just have, the cards the players turn over are the same ones I just saw in the Quiet. If I were crazy, wouldnt these cards be different? Unless Im so far gone that Im imagining the cards on the table, too.

But then I also win. If thats a delusionif the pile of chips on my side of the table is a delusionthen I might as well question everything. Maybe my name isnt even Darren.

No. I cant think that way. If Im really that confused, I dont want to snap out of itbecause if I do, Ill probably wake up in a mental hospital.

Besides, I love my life, crazy and all.

My shrink thinks the Quiet is an inventive way I describe the inner workings of my genius. Now that sounds crazy to me. She also might want me, but thats beside the point. Suffice it to say, shes as far as it gets from my datable age range, which is currently right around twenty-four. Still young, still hot, but done with school and pretty much beyond the clubbing phase. I hate clubbing, almost as much as I hated studying. In any case, my shrinks explanation doesnt work, as it doesnt account for the way I know things even a genius wouldnt knowlike the exact value and suit of the other players cards.

I watch as the dealer begins a new round. Besides me, there are three players at the table: Grandma, the Cowboy, and the Professional, as I call them. I feel that now-almost-imperceptible fear that accompanies the phasing. Thats what I call the process: phasing into the Quiet. Worrying about my sanity has always facilitated phasing; fear seems helpful in this process.

I phase in, and everything gets quiet. Hence the name for this state.

Its eerie to me, even now. Outside the Quiet, this casino is very loud: drunk people talking, slot machines, ringing of wins, musicthe only place louder is a club or a concert. And yet, right at this moment, I could probably hear a pin drop. Its like Ive gone deaf to the chaos that surrounds me.

Having so many frozen people around adds to the strangeness of it all. Here is a waitress stopped mid-step, carrying a tray with drinks. There is a woman about to pull a slot machine lever. At my own table, the dealers hand is raised, the last card he dealt hanging unnaturally in midair. I walk up to him from the side of the table and reach for it. Its a king, meant for the Professional. Once I let the card go, it falls on the table rather than continuing to float as beforebut I know full well that it will be back in the air, in the exact position it was when I grabbed it, when I phase out.

The Professional looks like someone who makes money playing poker, or at least the way I always imagined someone like that might look. Scruffy, shades on, a little sketchy-looking. Hes been doing an excellent job with the poker facebasically not twitching a single muscle throughout the game. His face is so expressionless that I wonder if he mightve gotten Botox to help maintain such a stony countenance. His hand is on the table, protectively covering the cards dealt to him.

I move his limp hand away. It feels normal. Well, in a manner of speaking. The hand is sweaty and hairy, so moving it aside is unpleasant and is admittedly an abnormal thing to do. The normal part is that the hand is warm, rather than cold. When I was a kid, I expected people to feel cold in the Quiet, like stone statues.

With the Professionals hand moved away, I pick up his cards. Combined with the king that was hanging in the air, he has a nice high pair. Good to know.

I walk over to Grandma. Shes already holding her cards, and she has fanned them nicely for me. Im able to avoid touching her wrinkled, spotted hands. This is a relief, as Ive recently become conflicted about touching peopleor, more specifically, womenin the Quiet. If I had to, I would rationalize touching Grandmas hand as harmless, or at least not creepy, but its better to avoid it if possible.

In any case, she has a low pair. I feel bad for her. Shes been losing a lot tonight. Her chips are dwindling. Her losses are due, at least partially, to the fact that she has a terrible poker face. Even before looking at her cards, I knew they wouldnt be good because I could tell she was disappointed as soon as her hand was dealt. I also caught a gleeful gleam in her eyes a few rounds ago when she had a winning three of a kind.

This whole game of poker is, to a large degree, an exercise in reading peoplesomething I really want to get better at. At my job, Ive been told Im great at reading people. Im not, though; Im just good at using the Quiet to make it seem like I am. I do want to learn how to read people for real, though. It would be nice to know what everyone is thinking.

What I dont care that much about in this poker game is money. I do well enough financially to not have to depend on hitting it big gambling. I dont care if I win or lose, though quintupling my money back at the blackjack table was fun. This whole trip has been more about going gambling because I finally can, being twenty-one and all. I was never into fake IDs, so this is an actual milestone for me.

Leaving Grandma alone, I move on to the next playerthe Cowboy. I cant resist taking off his straw hat and trying it on. I wonder if its possible for me to get lice this way. Since Ive never been able to bring back any inanimate objects from the Quiet, nor otherwise affect the real world in any lasting way, I figure I wont be able to get any living critters to come back with me either.

Dropping the hat, I look at his cards. He has a pair of acesa better hand than the Professional. Maybe the Cowboy is a professional, too. He has a good poker face, as far as I can tell. Itll be interesting to watch those two in this round.

Next, I walk up to the deck and look at the top cards, memorizing them. Im not leaving anything to chance.

When my task in the Quiet is complete, I walk back to myself. Oh, yes, did I mention that I see myself sitting there, frozen like the rest of them? Thats the weirdest part. Its like having an out-of-body experience.

Approaching my frozen self, I look at him. I usually avoid doing this, as its too unsettling. No amount of looking in the mirroror seeing videos of yourself on YouTubecan prepare you for viewing your own three-dimensional body up close. Its not something anyone is meant to experience. Well, aside from identical twins, I guess.

Its hard to believe that this person is me. He looks more like some random guy. Well, maybe a bit better than that. I do find this guy interesting. He looks cool. He looks smart. I think women would probably consider him good-looking, though I know thats not a modest thing to think.

Its not like Im an expert at gauging how attractive a guy is, but some things are common sense. I can tell when a dude is ugly, and this frozen me is not. I also know that generally, being good-looking requires a symmetrical face, and the statue of me has that. A strong jaw doesnt hurt either. Check. Having broad shoulders is a positive, and being tall really helps. All covered. I have blue eyesthat seems to be a plus. Girls have told me they like my eyes, though right now, on the frozen me, the eyes look creepy. Glassy. They look like the eyes of a lifeless wax figure.

Realizing that Im dwelling on this subject way too long, I shake my head. I can just picture my shrink analyzing this moment. Who would imagine admiring themselves like this as part of their mental illness? I can just picture her scribbling down Narcissist and underlining it for emphasis.

Enough. I need to leave the Quiet. Raising my hand, I touch my frozen self on the forehead, and I hear noise again as I phase out.

Everything is back to normal.

The card that I looked at a moment agothe king that I left on the tableis in the air again, and from there it follows the trajectory it was always meant to, landing near the Professionals hands. Grandma is still eyeing her fanned cards in disappointment, and the Cowboy has his hat on again, though I took it off him in the Quiet. Everything is exactly as it was.

On some level, my brain never ceases to be surprised at the discontinuity of the experience in the Quiet and outside it. As humans, were hardwired to question reality when such things happen. When I was trying to outwit my shrink early on in my therapy, I once read an entire psychology textbook during our session. She, of course, didnt notice it, as I did it in the Quiet. The book talked about how babies as young as two months old are surprised if they see something out of the ordinary, like gravity appearing to work backwards. Its no wonder my brain has trouble adapting. Until I was ten, the world behaved normally, but everything has been weird since then, to put it mildly.

Glancing down, I realize Im holding three of a kind. Next time, Ill look at my cards before phasing. If I have something this strong, I might take my chances and play fair.

The game unfolds predictably because I know everybodys cards. At the end, Grandma gets up. Shes clearly lost enough money.

And thats when I see the girl for the first time.

Shes hot. My friend Bert at work claims that I have a type, but I reject that idea. I dont like to think of myself as shallow or predictable. But I might actually be a bit of both, because this girl fits Berts description of my type to a T. And my reaction is extreme interest, to say the least.

Large blue eyes. Well-defined cheekbones on a slender face, with a hint of something exotic. Long, shapely legs, like those of a dancer. Dark wavy hair in a ponytaila hairstyle that I like. And without bangseven better. I hate bangsnot sure why girls do that to themselves. Though lack of bangs is not, strictly speaking, in Berts description of my type, it probably should be.

I continue staring at her as she joins my table. With her high heels and tight skirt, shes overdressed for this place. Or maybe Im underdressed in my jeans and t-shirt. Either way, I dont care. I have to try to talk to her.

I debate phasing into the Quiet and approaching her, so I can do something creepy like stare at her up close, or maybe even snoop in her pockets. Anything to help me when I talk to her.

I decide against it, which is probably the first time thats ever happened.

I know that my reasoning for breaking my usual habit is strange. If you can even call it reasoning. I picture the following chain of events: she agrees to date me, we go out for a while, we get serious, and because of the deep connection we have, I come clean about the Quiet. She learns I did something creepy and has a fit, then dumps me. Its ridiculous to think this, of course, considering that we havent even spoken yet. Talk about jumping the gun. She might have an IQ below seventy, or the personality of a piece of wood. There can be twenty different reasons why I wouldnt want to date her. And besides, its not all up to me. She might tell me to go fuck myself as soon as I try to talk to her.

Still, working at a hedge fund has taught me to hedge. As crazy as that reasoning is, I stick with my decision not to phase because I know its the gentlemanly thing to do. In keeping with this unusually chivalrous me, I also decide not to cheat at this round of poker.

As the cards are dealt again, I reflect on how good it feels to have done the honorable thingeven without anyone knowing. Maybe I should try to respect peoples privacy more often. Yeah, right. I have to be realistic. I wouldnt be where I am today if Id followed that advice. In fact, if I made a habit of respecting peoples privacy, I would lose my job within daysand with it, a lot of the comforts Ive become accustomed to.

Copying the Professionals move, I cover my cards with my hand as soon as I receive them. Im about to sneak a peek at what I was dealt when something unusual happens.

The world goes quiet, just like it does when I phase in . . . but I did nothing this time.

And at that moment, I see herthe girl sitting across the table from me, the girl I was just thinking about. Shes standing next to me, pulling her hand away from mine. Or, strictly speaking, from my frozen selfs handas Im standing a little to the side looking at her.

Shes also still sitting in front of me at the table, a frozen statue like all the others.

My mind goes into overdrive as my heartbeat jumps. I dont even consider the possibility of that second girl being a twin sister or something like that. I know its her. Shes doing what I did just a few minutes ago. Shes walking in the Quiet. The world around us is frozen, but we are not.

A horrified look crosses her face as she realizes the same thing. Before I can react, she lunges across the table and touches her own forehead.

The world becomes normal again.

She stares at me from across the table, shocked, her eyes huge and her face pale. She rises to her feet. Without so much as a word, she turns and begins walking away, then breaks into a run a couple of seconds later.

Getting over my own shock, I get up and run after her. Its not exactly smooth. If she notices a guy she doesnt know running after her, dating will be the last thing on her mind. But Im beyond that now. Shes the only person Ive met who can do what I do. Shes proof that Im not insane. She might have what I want most in the world.

She might have answers.

About the Author
Dima Zales is a full-time science fiction and fantasy author residing in Palm Coast, Florida. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked in the software development industry in New York as both a programmer and an executive. From high-frequency trading software for big banks to mobile apps for popular magazines, Dima has done it all. In 2013, he left the software industry in order to concentrate on his writing career.

Dima holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from NYU and a dual undergraduate degree in Computer Science / Psychology from Brooklyn College. He also has a number of hobbies and interests, the most unusual of which might be professional-level mentalism. He simulates mind-reading on stage and close-up, and has done shows for corporations, wealthy individuals, and friends.

He is also into healthy eating and fitness, so he should live long enough to finish all the book projects he starts. In fact, he very much hopes to catch the technological advancements that might let him live forever (biologically or otherwise). Aside from that, he also enjoys learning about current and future technologies that might enhance our lives, including artificial intelligence, biofeedback, brain-to-computer interfaces, and brain-enhancing implants.

In addition to his own works, Dima has collaborated on a number of romance novels with his wife, Anna Zaires. The Krinar Chronicles, an erotic science fiction series, has been a bestseller in its categories and has been recognized by the likes of Marie Claire and Woman’s Day. If you like erotic romance with a unique plot, please feel free to check it out, especially since the first book in the series (Close Liaisons) is available for free everywhere. Keep in mind, though, Dima Zales's books are going to be much more PG 13 . . . at least that’s the plan for now.

Anna Zaires is the love of his life and a huge inspiration in every aspect of his writing. She definitely adds her magic touch to anything Dima creates, and the books would not be the same without her. Dima’s fans are strongly encouraged to learn more about Anna and her work at http://www.annazaires.com/

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