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1.24.2014

Forward to Camelot ~ Review with First Chapter Reveal

Forward to Camelot
50th Anniversary Edition
By Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn

Sometimes history can be changed, but why would you want to?

Cady Cuyler has been stuck in her life for the last 10 years, but she hasn't seen it that way until today. She is a suddenly out-of-work actress, divorced, and her mother has just died.  And to top it off her only job prospect is to travel back to November 1963 to retrieve the Bible that belonged to JFK and was used to swear in President Johnson.

With no desire to take part in such a far-fetched plan, Cady's mind is changed when she is offered an opportunity to find the father she never knew, the father that disappeared on the same day America lost her President to a conspiracy that has never been fully explained.

Using cyber-time Cady is sent back Dallas mere days before the assassination attempt is going to take place.  Cady alone can take this trip as those who developed this technology are unable to attempt this as their presence in 1963 would force them out of this time.

Forward to Camelot is an exciting and thrilling read as Cady is drawn into more than she had originally anticipated.  More than a missing Bible is at stake - the life of the President, a man's reputation, her father's fate, and her mother's happiness all hang in the balance.  Can Cady use her knowledge of the past to change the future and to stay alive?  Or will she become an accomplice unaware, aiding and abetting the very man responsible for destroying a nation's idealism as it teeters on the edge?

Forward to Camelot is a book I would highly recommend to fans of alternate history, conspiracy fans, or fans of exciting and suspense-filled thrillers!  Cady is the type of character that you will root for.  I can honestly say this one book that I want to read again.

I was provided a digital copy of this book in conjunction with this Pump Up Your Book blog tour in exchange for my honest review.


ABOUT FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION


WHERE WERE YOU THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SAVED?

On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003, now extensively revised and re-edited, and with a new Afterword from the authors.

On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price.

In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both.

History CAN be altered …

Purchase your copy:

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Susan SloateABOUT Susan Sloate

SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production.
Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.
Kevin's author pic ABOUT Kevin Finn
After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television.
His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014.
For updates and more information about Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition, please visit http://susansloate.com.

Pump Up Your Book, Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
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Chapter One
OCTOBER 2000
Six seconds can make such a difference.
I felt no pulse, heard no heartbeat, only the steady whoosh of my own breath as I
administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The face of the man on the floor was whitening by
the second. His beautiful blue eyes, those eyes which could dance with laughter or light with
love, were half-closed, his body limp.
He wasn’t responding.
Behind me, his mother cried out, “For God’s sake, help him!”
I had done everything I knew how to do. We lived in a small town. The closest hospital was
twenty miles away. He would never last out the trip. Yet even with hope lost, I continued CPR in
a steady rhythm.
“No pulse,” my partner Cole announced, grimly looking up at Peter’s parents from his knees.
“I’m sorry—”
“No!” I insisted. “Just a little longer!” I wouldn’t let Cole say it, wouldn’t let myself admit it.
I couldn’t let Peter die. I loved him.
Cole took my wrist gently, to stop me ministering further. I shook his hand free and
continued my dogged rhythm. “I can’t lose him again,” I said desperately.
Though Cole loved me himself, he knew I wouldn’t stop loving Peter, even though he had
dumped me at the altar and run off with my best friend. “Sheila,” he said in despair. “Sheila, you
can’t save the entire world.”
I ignored him and kept working. Keep it going … just… a little… longer…
I felt it before I saw it. An indefinable something had changed. I was beginning to sense… a
faint pulse.
His mother bent over him with that maternal instinct that seems to supersede all other
knowledge. “Peter? Peter, baby?”
Then we heard another sound, like a muffled roar, coming from the hallway…
“Fire!” Cole shouted, leaping to his feet. Flames climbed up the outside of the windows.
Smoke billowed in from beneath the doors. “The whole floor’s on fire!”
“The Amantis!” the husband gasped. “They swore revenge for Peter’s testimony.”
“My God, they’re going to kill us all!” Peter’s mother screamed.
“Everybody out!” Cole ordered, kicking open the library doors. He herded Peter’s mother
through them, past the building inferno. “Hurry!”
Flames raced across the carpet, engulfing the heavy drapes at every window.
“Sheila! I said out!” Cole cried. “You can’t save him now!”
“I’ve got a pulse!” I looked up at Cole with new hope. “Let’s get him out,” I said urgently.
It was a miracle. After months of estrangement, Peter and I could be together again. Whether
through love or skill, he had come back to me.
I wanted to cry tears of joy, but I couldn’t. Other women cried. I couldn’t seem to loosen the
logjam of emotion to shed tears for anything. And, I thought reluctantly, it’s impossible to cry
when there’s no one you can trust to hold you and be stronger than you are. Maybe that was the
real root of the problem.
“Sheila!” Cole said sharply. “You’ve got to get out now!”
Peter’s mother had already gotten to safety, but as I turned, my eye caught Michael, Peter’s
father. Overcome by smoke, he had fallen behind the sofa. If I didn’t get him out, in a minute or
so, it would be too late.
“I’ll get Michael,” I told Cole. “You take Peter. Hurry!”
Cole looked at me in anguish. “You can’t bring him out alone.”
The longer we argued, the longer Peter’s escape would be delayed. “Take him, Cole! Now!”
Cole snatched up Peter’s limp body and darted through the doorway to safety. I grabbed
Michael, hoisted him under the arms and dragged him across the room, trying to stay low. The
smoke was so thick it was hard to see. Cole reached out for Michael’s ankles and yanked him
through the doorway. I started to follow, only to be driven back by a wall of flame leaping across
the opening. All around me, thick flame and thicker smoke blocked every exit.
Cole cried out my name in horror.
Another voice, high and male, yelled, “Cut! That’s a wrap, folks.”
In an instant, the smoke and flames vanished in a special-effects haze, and the bright, heavy
lights above us were turned off.
It was Friday afternoon at 3:30 on the soundstage, the end of another week of taping The
Wind and the Stars, the network’s most popular daytime drama. I was well into my twelfth year
playing Sheila, the smart, resourceful and courageous paramedic who’d fought to save lives in
the jungles of Central America and then fought for love in the small town she’d recently returned
to. I considered it the best acting job I’d ever had.
Actually, it was the only acting job I’d ever had.
Cole, actually an egomaniacal actor named Phil, walked off without sparing me a glance, as
usual. The director stopped me as I stepped off the set. “You okay, Cady?”
“Fine, Mitch. No problem.”
“Good girl.” He was relieved of his responsibility to me, which consisted mostly of thanking
me for doing most of my own stunts and making sure I had no bodily damage afterward. After
that, Mitch usually turned his attention to bullying the camera crew. Today, however, he had
more important pursuits in mind.
“Let’s go, Mets!” he shouted across the set, pumping his fist in the air. A chorus of raucous
boos drowned him out. The entire camera crew wore pinstriped Yankees jerseys and midnight
blue caps with the interlocking “NY” logo. Mitch and the crew had been taunting each other all
week about the Subway Series, the all-New York World Series which started tonight.
I had more on my mind than baseball.
“Cady! Good job!”
I shielded my eyes with my hand to shut out the glare and turned instinctively toward a
familiar voice. As the studio lights dimmed, I saw Craig beaming at me, flipping shut his cell
phone with one hand, the other hand waving me over impatiently.
I felt cold inside.
I hadn’t seen Craig in eight months, since our divorce became final. Though still my agent,
he had moved to the West Coast, settling in with a high-flying talent agency in Beverly Hills and
taking on a whole new level of client since we’d parted. I’d heard he tooled around town in a
chocolate Mercedes and only dated up-and-coming actresses on his agency’s list.
I hadn’t found anyone to date. Worse, I seemed to have no desires at all. I wondered if it was
possible I would never want to make love again.
It was a question I tried not to ask myself. When I did, I told myself that Craig and I hadn’t
yet worked out a new relationship. Until we came to terms with our new status, I didn’t believe I
would meet anyone.
I didn’t want Craig back, but I couldn’t yet imagine being with anyone else. Yet he seemed
to have made a new life quite easily, a life he clearly loved.
So why was he here?
I should have known.
“Get changed quick,” he said, hustling me into the stairwell leading to my dressing room on
the second floor. “We’ve got a meeting with Gail Carroll in twenty minutes.”
I felt a familiar exasperation. “Craig, you could have called me!” But I also felt a slight chill:
why was he coming with me to meet the show’s newest producer?
“Busy, busy …” Flipping open his ringing cell phone, he became immediately engaged in a
new conversation.
“Same old Craig,” I said dryly. “You’re looking well.”
He was. The L.A. sun had bleached his light-brown curls lighter, with just the hint of a sunkissed
glow on his face. He sported a new gold Rolex and when he smiled, it wasn’t the tight,
humorless grin I remembered but a quick flash of artificially white teeth and a hint of sparkle in
the eyes. Life in the fast lane in L.A. clearly agreed with him.
To my surprise, he followed me into my dressing room, motioning me to get dressed while
arguing gross and net points on his phone. I sighed. We weren’t married anymore, but I couldn’t
figure out how to tell him to wait outside. He clicked on the radio I kept on my dressing table.
Some jerk was sharply criticizing last night’s televised debate between Presidential candidates
George W. Bush and Al Gore. I twisted the dial sharply, turning it off. This was my territory, not
his.
I hung up my paramedic jumpsuit. In the early years, when Sheila had been a Red Cross
volunteer in a fictitious South American country, I’d bounced between hideous dark brown
overalls and glamorous short shorts and cotton halters. Now, with Sheila back home, I usually
wore a simple, professional uniform, which I preferred. Sometimes I even preferred it to my own
clothes.
Friday was not the best day for me to meet new producers. By Friday I had gone through my
favorite clothes and was reduced to wearing whatever was clean. Unlike other actresses, I did not
keep an extensive personal wardrobe. I knew people around the studio thought I was cheap. One
malicious rumor even said I deliberately dressed badly, in order to shame the producers into
giving me Sheila’s cast-off clothes as a gift.
I saw no reason to tell them the truth.
Today I had thrown on a soft gray sweater and slim gray slacks, which to me enhanced my
light-brown, chin-length hair and fair skin and highlighted my gray eyes. I wore the same plain
watch I’d worn for five years and the small gold hoop earrings Craig had given me before we
were married.
I’ve been told more than once that I look younger than I am. I’m 36, but can play as young as
23. It had been a boost to my career, when I’d been hired at 24 to play the seventeen-year-old
Sheila. When meeting producers, though, it helped to look older. More settled, more powerful.
Couldn’t be helped.
In 12 years I’d lived through five producers. I considered myself a team player. I came in on
time, knew my lines and didn’t cause trouble. The meeting had to be little more than a formality.
Then why was Craig here? In fact, how did he know about the meeting when I hadn’t?
He ended his call as I finished hooking my belt. “Cady! I thought we agreed you’d spend
more on your clothes.”
I shrugged. “Sorry. I’m behind on laundry.”
“Good God, Cady, think dry cleaning! Don’t wash it yourself, send it out!”
Craig never stopped nagging me to equate my lifestyle with my salary. Perhaps to calm
himself, he glanced around the dressing room, trimmed in my favorite peach accents, past the big
colorful travel posters of places I’d never visited to the row of photographs I’d set along a
counter. A picture of my mother and me at my college graduation, a rare photo of us smiling at
each other; a picture of me posed as Sheila in my very first costume from my very first day.
There was a space between the photos, where I used to keep a framed photo of Craig and me on
our wedding day, eight endless years ago.
That gap, to me, symbolized many gaps in my life. Blaming Craig was a past reflex, now
inappropriate. I said quietly, “Craig, you know where the money goes.”
He sighed. “Still?” I nodded. “How is she?”
“The same. She’ll always be the same. The latest project is redoing her house to resemble her
old house in Dallas. It’s costing me a fortune, but as long as she’s happy… you know.”
He contemplated me for a moment. “I’ve got a great new shrink in L.A. He says it’s not
about anyone else’s happiness, it’s about your own.”
“Great. If I could afford it, I might try him myself.”
Craig shrugged. He knew I’d never been in therapy and didn’t plan to start, and I didn’t like
the way he was looking at me—as though he actually pitied me.
“Come on,” I said. “Let’s go see Gail Carroll.”
***
Gail Carroll was slender and severe—a military-cut, fitted black suit; high-heeled designer
shoes; a Rolex but no wedding ring, standing ramrod straight behind her desk. Through the
window behind her I saw a lustrous carpet of red and gold leaves spread across the visible
treetops of Central Park, heralding fall.
“Catherine Cuyler,” she said, in the smoky, sultry voice of a young Lauren Bacall. But I’d
have bet my last Emmy nomination that sex wasn’t her weapon of choice. She looked at Craig.
“And Craig Bronkle, I presume. I’m Gail Carroll.” She nodded us to the chairs in front of her.
“Well, Catherine, as I told Mr. Bronkle on the phone, we have to make some changes.”
This wasn’t my idea of a good beginning. In fact, it sounded downright ominous. I’m sure
Craig felt the stare I turned on him. Why had he been on the phone with our new producer before
I even met her?
Gail Carroll, not noticing my discomfort, shuffled through a stack of papers on her desk. “No
wonder the network decided to bring me in. These numbers are frightening.”
“Excuse me. I thought our ratings were generally excellent.”
Craig elbowed me. I was supposed to let him do the talking, but I was curious: what could
Gail Carroll do that our last producer couldn’t?
“I’m not talking about ratings.” She paused to restack the papers into a knife-edged pile. “I’m
talking about market research. We ran some focus groups. These are the results.” She looked me
squarely in the eye. “Apparently the character of Sheila is—threatening—to women.”
“Threatening?” My eyebrows rose. “Women find Sheila threatening?”
Gail Carroll read from a sheet on her desk. “She’s ‘too competent, too attractive, too
idealized for real women to relate to. Can look glamorous anywhere while preserving her sense
of self, yet still accepted by everyone.’ Sheila is also ‘hot’, ‘sexy’, and ‘everything a woman
should be’, according to the men we surveyed.” She put the sheet down, placing herself directly
before me. “Real women find that hard to live up to. They resent her.”
I knew I looked as bewildered as I felt. “But she’s not real. She’s a character on a daytime
drama, for heaven’s sake.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Gail Carroll said with a freezing smile, “when the audience sees her that
way. Unfortunately, only six percent of our viewing audience is male. So the females are the
ones we want to keep, anchor and add to. Having a top female character who threatens them is
not the way to do it.
“On the other hand,” she continued, seeing the look on my face, “just changing Sheila’s
character won’t cut it. It’s sweeps next month, and I’m going to make this sweeps our biggest
ever. We need a big event to get people interested and talking about us again. And we need to
heavily feature those characters our audience can relate to.”
She paused and laid it out for me. “So our big event will be— Sheila’s death.”
Sheila was going to die. But I was Sheila! I was so stunned I couldn’t think what to say.
Craig jumped in. “We’ve anticipated this, and frankly I’m relieved my client will be free. We
have some serious interest in her services elsewhere.”
I almost groaned aloud. Now was not the time for phony Hollywood hype! I needed Craig to
fight for my job, the one I knew, the only one I wanted. I would work for scale, if I could just
persuade this ratings witch to go along!
Gail Carroll nodded. “Of course. We wouldn’t want to stand in her way.” The standard
goodbye line in the business. I wanted to weep. “Catherine’s made a fine contribution to the
show, and we wish her the very best. We’ll pay off her contract, of course, and add that bonus
we talked about, Mr. Bronkle. I think, given the lack of notice, it’s the least we can do.”
Craig smiled at her, a genuine phony Hollywood smile, and rose smoothly to his feet. “Thank
you, Ms. Carroll. I was sure you would understand how a creative actress like Cady would feel
about letting go of a part she’d originated.”
More Hollywood garbage. I really had to say something, at this point. “I assume you have a
plan to kill Sheila off.”
Ms. Carroll looked surprised. “In the fire, of course,” she said. “It’s dramatic, it’s in character
—so brave and heroic—besides, we’ve just shot it.”
“And afterwards?” I asked. “Hospital scenes—deathbed—do I get some big last speech?”
Again, Ms. Carroll looked surprised. “Sheila dies in the fire, don’t you see? What you shot
today are your last scenes.” She paused, a flush mounting her face. “I assumed you two had
discussed this.”
Craig cut in easily, smiling like a barracuda. “I thought it would be better for Cady to hear it
from you.”
They were both in on it, in collusion. I felt sick.
I was so numb, I don’t even remember leaving the office. I recall vaguely hearing Gail
Carroll request that I vacate my dressing room immediately and thanking me again for my
services to the show. Then we were out.
It really didn’t seem possible that I’d walked in to meet a producer and ended up losing my
job, and that the one person I’d thought was unquestionably on my side had gone over to the
enemy without the smallest signal to me. Or had he signaled, and I hadn’t recognized it for what
it was?
“That went just great,” Craig enthused as we got beyond the secretary’s inquisitive ears.
“Now we can take the next big step.”
I hadn’t been able to think of a good exit line for my producer, but I had a knockout line for
my agent: “You’re fired,” I said.