I Am Dianna

( 4 )

Overview

Modern day Manhattan artist Dianna Dubois is experiencing Salem, Massachusetts, of the1690s in the most bizarre way possible-in nightly dreams that have the potential to kill her. She has spent a lifetime futilely seeking answers from the best doctors, the finest hospitals, the latest medicines, and exhausting therapies.
With the dreams worsening, Dianna's nights are cursed with visions of death and seemingly endless suffering at the hands of angry captors determined to strip ...

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I Am Dianna

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Overview

Modern day Manhattan artist Dianna Dubois is experiencing Salem, Massachusetts, of the1690s in the most bizarre way possible-in nightly dreams that have the potential to kill her. She has spent a lifetime futilely seeking answers from the best doctors, the finest hospitals, the latest medicines, and exhausting therapies.
With the dreams worsening, Dianna's nights are cursed with visions of death and seemingly endless suffering at the hands of angry captors determined to strip her of all love, belonging, and family, leaving her alone and desperate in the midst of a final confrontation no one sees or believes.

The life she's experiencing is that of Margaret Darling, an eighteen-year-old girl living outside of Salem, Massachusetts, in the time just after the hysteria of the witch trials. Margaret must go to town to barter herbs and medicines for goods her family desperately needs-a dangerous prospect for a forest girl in tense times, when anyone can be accused of witchcraft.

As Dianna frantically grasps for a lifeline with the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. Ray Williams, she wonders if he will be able to help her. Even after she discovers he has the ability to visit her dreams with her, she realizes that if the two of them do not find answers soon, she will most certainly die.

In the dark of night, as different times converge as one, Dianna is willing to do anything to find peace-even so, as long as Margaret faces mortal danger, so too, does Dianna.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781475935585
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/23/2012
  • Pages: 420
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Read an Excerpt

I AM DIANNA


By MJR

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 MJR
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-3558-5


Chapter One

DIANNA DUBOIS

December 9, 2011 Manhattan, New York

Lately, the dreams had been getting so much worse, interrupting her sleep far more frequently, and for quite a few months now. Like the insistency of a mosquito trapped in your tent, they came every night, tugging at her consciousness.

Each time awakening with ever-increasing dread, she lay in bed quivering, her shivering skin awash in glistening sweat, her hands clenched purple red, her bedsheets drenched with the foul of incontinency and its warm, wet stench, the lingering reminder of absolute terror.

Her eyes darted from corner to corner, searching for the slightest trace of movement or shimmer of light—frozen, a deer waiting for the wolf pack to overwhelm her frail and terrified body, a lamb led to slaughter. Twitching ears searched the depths for the unfamiliar sounds unaccounted for, not an easy task when you lived in Manhattan. Is this still Manhattan? So hard to tell where she was, what was real—which world was reality.

Trembling from visions, memories of death and horrific suffering; the hostile hands of an angry mob, of men and women insane with bloodlust, screaming and cursing, reeking of sweat and fetid urine—she crawled wearily from her Manhattan bed, a corpse from the grave clutching ethereal tokens, desperate to trade the ferryman for answers later that day.

* * *

This is how she started more and more of her days of late. Awakening in horror from some Edgar Allan Poe nightmare, the lingering details, the scarring emotions, so real, so raw it took every ounce of her will to begin her day. It was a will she could feel dissipating with each episode, every recurrence of what was becoming, bit by terrifying bit, her reality instead of her dreams.

The ferryman was Dr. Williams, of course. She had taken him on as her psychiatrist quite some time ago, more than three years, if her memory served her correctly. Not that he was her first—Jesus, no! She did not claim to be a virgin in the head-shrink department. That bubble had burst eons ago. Dianna had been seeing one egghead or another for as long as she remembered.

Not that she was crazy. She wasn't! At least she didn't think so. She never swung from the treetops singing Elvis, didn't own any replicas of his clothes, or dress up and impersonate him. I mean, really, now that's friggin' crazy, she thought, laughing quietly to herself. She didn't think she was the Queen of Hearts or the King of Spain, not Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane.

Dianna let slip a giggle remembering the first time she'd told Dr. Williams she was "not crazy." She'd said it in the same breath as the King of Spain line and then continued on with a little snippet from Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. She'd realized her mistake the moment the words had left her mouth. The look on Dr. Williams's face was priceless.

It had taken her far too long to explain to him that both Ziggy and Aladdin Sane were merely characters created by David Bowie, her favorite rock god. (She never believed the term "artist" did him proper justice.) Her little play on words punctuated with the catchphrase of Sam I Am was nothing more than a wee bit o' fun. (Come to think of it, using the term "wee bit o' fun" probably didn't help get her point across in the best light, either; especially with the cockney accent thrown in for authenticity.) But hey, she'd thought, you can't change five minutes ago, right?

In the end, the entire episode had cost her an exceedingly long explanation (necessary) to ensure he understood she didn't think Bowie was "God" or that she was some kind of Dr. Seuss character named Sam, formerly a resident of London's east side, because that, of course, would be crazy.

Even though she loved Bowie more than any other musician (she essentially started every morning off with a little something from his illustrious catalog; it helped her shake the monsters off), it was the reoccurring nightmares which kept her coming back for evaluation, one session after another—not the Bowie/Seuss monologue.

"I think we're making progress," was the only answer she ever seemed to receive, one noggin doctor after another. Maybe this one will finally be different, she told herself, despite the ridiculous beginning. At least Dr. Williams was honest with her right from the start.

* * *

"I have no bloody idea why you keep having these recurring nightmares, Miss Dubois. Actually, the term nightmare does seem a little tame for what you're describing; night terrors seems a little more fitting, although they're not very common in adults."

She watched him look her up and down for probably the fifth or sixth time since she'd entered his office. It made her smile inside. His consideration seemed to be one of wonder and appreciation, a reflex more than anything else—as if he couldn't help himself. He was appreciating fine art, not leching after her like most of the men she met. She allowed him an extended moment by browsing about the office, pretending interest in its decor. It was clean and neat, much like the man in front of her. A sparse, modernistic application of glass and varying metal pieces, though she immediately sensed he had not been involved in the choices and that, although he was comfortable, little of the office had to do with his personality. More about image, she thought, knowing instantly that her instincts were correct.

He realized she'd caught him staring, and his face reddened, but otherwise, he simply continued with his explanation. "Your episodes do not tend to comply with classic symptoms documented from past patients, neither mine nor any other I can find in the medical journals. It will take time, of course, but if you're willing ..." He looked her in the eyes. His sincerity washed over her, flooding her emotions. "I will commit my full attention to you until we get to the bottom of this. I believe I can help you live a somewhat normal life, Dianna, whatever that may be, of course."

He held her eye contact. She had forgotten to breathe and then remembered with a gasp. He continued, "Before we get started, assuming you wish to become my patient, that is, I want to assure you of one last thing. I do not believe you are crazy ... different, without a doubt." His eyes once again scanned her—this time without shame—her body, clothing, hair, every brushstroke of her being. He then shook his head—but in a good way. "But not crazy. At least not any crazier than the rest of us, if that helps."

He said this on their second visit and right up front without any prodding or persuasion.

With all the other whack docs, she was elated to get anything out of them as early as the tenth or sometimes even twentieth appointment. Half of them stalled her to mask their ineptitude, the fact they had no idea what was going on. The remainder merely racked up their bills. In some twisted way, Dianna found the thieves the more honest of the two.

At least this bore some resemblance to progress. The fact that he didn't actually think she was a nut job was simply an added bonus. And so what if he did!

No one else had ever been able to give her answers, and he seemed genuinely to care about her quality of life and the unique problems she was facing. Besides, if he really thinks I'm cuckoo, he's a phenomenal actor, and that in itself warrants a repeat visit, doesn't it?

As a result, she decided to stick with this one and make a personal commitment to him. For better or worse, she'd promised herself, or until they finally found a cure, solution, treatment, drug or drugs, or combination of—whatever the hell might work. She didn't care—anything! She just longed to live a normal life. Okay, maybe not normal. She was an artist, after all, but some semblance of peace or whatever it was the general population took for granted.

Hopefully, she would be able to trade last night's episode of "Dianna's Bloody Nightmare on Elm Street / Halloween / Friday the 13th part quadrillion" of bloodcurdling horror for some answers later today.

Was it any wonder she had not been able to produce any acceptable work in more than three months? She'd done that small commission, of course, but it hardly counted, more like a favor to a friend.

Besides, jewelry wasn't exactly what she was known for. Hell, the only reason she'd said yes was to help get her mojo working again, maybe start the canvases flowing. Nevertheless, it was all for naught, as it resulted in nothing, nada, niente—not even some wasted paint to throw away.

Naturally, Dr. Williams told her it was to be anticipated. "No one going through the horrifying experiences haunting your nights on a regular basis could possibly be expected to function properly, let alone work."

However, as true as that may be, it was of no help. She had been suffering through these dreams, off and on (mostly on), her entire life. What was she supposed to do? She had to eat.

She received government assistance (although the term "bad joke" seemed far more appropriate) and had since her eighteenth birthday. With her medical background, it was approved immediately and went off without a hitch. The only other money—besides her art (which until recently didn't amount to a hill of beans, even though she'd been at it since childhood)—was what little her father had left when he passed a few years back, his sole legacy to her. Besides my box of mementos, she smiled. Still, the grand total amounted to less than a pittance—not nearly enough to live on.

Her mother's insurance monies would have made all the difference in the world; however, they had been declared null and void on the premise that "Mrs. Dubois had taken her own life."

This meant she had to depend on her art for a living, and as luck would have it, good or bad, depending on which way you looked at it, she had a big show fast approaching on New Year's Eve, one that could make her career. I'll be twenty-bloody-eight on March 19; I'd say it's about friggin' time.

It wasn't for money, at least not for her personally. She hadn't done anything for personal profit in quite some time, not since she met her sponsor, or was it patron? Dianna was never certain what to call her, but it had been a lifesaver. Their accidental, just-by-chance, fluke meeting reeked of the good doctor's manipulation; she had no doubt he'd played the catalyst—she would stake her life on it.

She now received a monthly income and then produced work for the many charities for which her sponsor/patron held art showings and auctions throughout Manhattan. This was so much easier for Dianna, helping to ease the pressure of life's annoying monetary needs and allowing her the freedom to produce when she felt well. It was a far better alternative than producing inspired artworks for food and the roof over your head—which added just a wee bit more pressure. But still, sponsors/patrons, whatever the hell you call them, still expected some work for their money, even the nice ones.

Pressure—stress—always seemed to coincide with an increase in dream activity, which would normally explain her recent anxiety. However, this time, the dreams appeared to be increasing of their own accord.

Usually, it was anxiety from lack of inspiration, which meant less art, then less money, and then less food—and then the dreams came. However, this time, it was the opposite. The lack of inspiration had come after the dreams had increased their rate of recurrence. What does it mean? she wondered. This change in pattern had her more than a little concerned. She was frightened.

For a while there, she'd almost felt as if she were getting better. Hell, she had even considered dating.

It was about eight months ago, she remembered with a grin, just after her birthday. She had been out with a girlfriend clubbing—well, sponsor/patron and now girlfriend—when she spotted this guy spotting her.

Not that they didn't always stare—they did (she smiled remembering the night). She knew she looked different—hot—and dressed the part to play up her mysteriousness and show off her knockout body, of course. That night, however, she felt particularly playful—frisky, you might say—decided what the hell, and took his smiling face home. After all, she'd not been stalked by the dreams in more than three months, one of the longest—if not the longest—stretches in her entire life.

Nevertheless, after an enormously satisfying and somewhat kinky night of adult pleasures, she unfortunately fell to sleep before seeing her victim out.

The dreams came without mercy.

Imagine his shock awakening to a soaking, stinking, madwoman shrieking in the night, while they both lay in a puddle of piss. It did not take him long to exit the premises. Funny, she giggled, though not entirely without guilt, I haven't heard from him since.

The nighttime horrors had returned with a renewed viciousness, a vengeance that had never before been so vivid, so unrelenting. She felt as if she were missing something, some clue, as if the dreams were leading to some kind of sick crescendo. A feeling of dread and inescapable fate seemed to envelop her, building with every single recurrence, leaving her more frightened than ever before.

For the very first time in her memory, she looked forward to her weekly visits. Dr. Williams remained a fading tendril of hope, searching for answers to impossible questions, an unexpected relief to the building dread that had become her life.

She shook her head to break the daydreams. "Let's see what kind of hope this day brings. After all, 'One must keep one's head about herself,'" she mimicked in her best Dr. Williams impression. "'Positive mental attitude is most definitely an asset, especially when suffering from debilitating, piss-yourself nightmares, as depression can be a very real possibility.' So says the medical profession and the illustrious Dr. Williams ... well—no shit, Sherlock!" she laughed. She had to. It's better than the alternative, she reminded herself. Though Dianna joked with herself all the time, she could no longer shake the sickening feeling building in her gut.

"Maybe the doctor will have some enlightenment for me today," she said. Even so, the thought that pushed its way into her mind would not be denied. Not likely, but you have to keep your hopes up girl, especially with this big show stalking you. She had to start working, and she needed at least a couple more major pieces to make a respectable showing. She didn't want to let the charity down.

Not just the charity, no; it was so much more than that. It was everyone who'd taken her under their wings. The doctor, her sponsor/ patron, her dead parents, hell—her sanity. She needed this to prove to herself that she could lick this thing and live a somewhat normal life, that she wasn't beaten, that she still had hope.

The fear—the understanding that one morning she would awaken and not be able to greet the day, be paralyzed, quit fighting—that dread was getting closer and closer to becoming reality. Or maybe I just won't wake at all? The thought was unsettling, but it wasn't the first time the notion had crossed her mind. She shook her head in attempt to rid herself of it.

Dr. Williams was cute, not cute as in the looks department, although he was unquestionably a handsome man. His was more of the shy kind of cute. The way he blushed and looked away whenever she first entered his office like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar—or maybe a dirty magazine would be the better description, she mused—and yet, he managed to keep his composure, to never come across creepy, to always remain a gentleman.

He was tall but not overly, maybe five eleven or possibly six foot, with dirty-blond hair stylishly parted on the side and cut neatly around the ears with nicely trimmed sideburns. His eyes seemed to change color depending on his thoughts or moods. Blue or green often found him cheerful and mischievous, where gray indicated irritability, and hazel landed somewhere in between.

His most noticeable feature, however, was—like her—he definitely had the gift, some sixth sense or supernatural power like ESP or telepathy. Hers was somehow connected to her dreams, or at least that's what she believed. His, she could sense whenever he took her hand or placed his upon her shoulder when she needed comforting. Unlike my own, she frowned, doing her best not to feel jealous, his gift appeared to be a more positive edge, which he seemed to utilize in his practice to help get a feel for his patients. She'd never have known, had she not felt its ethereal tingle fumbling about, somehow detected by her own gift. That's why he asked me to bring in my box of mementos today. Although that was not exactly true, he'd asked her on their second meeting. Which was what, she paused to think, more than two years ago at least? She had just not gotten around to it until today.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from I AM DIANNA by MJR Copyright © 2012 by MJR. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2013

    I just finished Dianna last night.....   You know.....when I go

    I just finished Dianna last night.....
     
    You know.....when I go into a restaurant for the first time....I mentally 'tick off the boxes'...By that, I mean, obviously was the food good, how was the service, do they have a good wine selection, are there vegetarian choices (I don't eat red meat and not always do I feel like chicken/fish), is the owner the chef?  Does it offer a variety of good and healthy specials?  Bottom line....was the experience pleasurable....did I get 'good value"...(for my time and expense).
     
    Same applies to reading a book....I 'tick off the boxes'   Did the book make sense, were the characters believable, did it offer suspence, intrigue, drama, love, lust, romance, loss, fantasy.....all the things I look for in a book!  I like it to be multi-layered...jumping from one storyline to another....but all interconnecting somehow....being revealed in the end.  I don't want to be able to guess the end.  If I can.....it takes away from the build-up...the excitement!!   I want the book to 'surprise' me.  I want it to linger afterwards.....I want to care about the characters....mourn their loss....and finally put the book amongst my favourite reads....in my special bookshelf....the one my father gave me when I was 18 years old.  And years from now....I might read it again, reliving and revisiting the character's lives.....I ticked off all the boxes with Dianna and it proudly sits on my bookshelf.
     
    Well done.  
    Cindy Whyte

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    Embarassingly bad. As the excerpts suggest, every single charact

    Embarassingly bad. As the excerpts suggest, every single character is one dimensional, does not develop, and is blatantly based on a singular focus. I'm all for self publication, I know it's tough to have someone back you if you're not exceptional, but a line should be drawn somewhere! Three different modern day New Yorkers frequently using the term "bloody"? Doctors being described as hacks in the late 1600's? A teenage nymphomaniac and sadist in witch hungry Salem? Every paragraph can be predicted once you understand the narcissistic and repressed place the characters and plot came from. I want my money back!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Great book, a must read!

    This book completely captured my attention. This is a must read.
    I can't wait for his next novel!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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