With her unusual violet hazel eyes hidden behind heavy glasses, American teenager Helene Crawford is the kind of student that always has an answer; yet, she doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. One fateful day, life as she knows it comes to a grinding halt. There was a fire. Her mother is gone. But something is not right...
The Greek Mafia may be involved. Vivid dreams of ancient deities consume her sleep. A maze of clues leads her to believe that her mother is still alive... She must go to Greece. The answers to her perilous quest lie there, as Helene braves into the unknown of a new life, torn between two Greek guys and a new world that literally awaits her.
And who knows, maybe the Greek gods and goddesses are on her side... or maybe not. After all, nothing is as it seems.
Over 500 people in Greece have contributed to the Author’s research for the Protogenesis novel, including renowned Greek archeologists, cultural and mythology experts, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Due to the overwhelming support Alysia has from so many in Greece, Protogenesis has been selected to be featured as part of the United Nations’ (UNESCO) 2018 World Book Capital event in Athens. The book features theme song “Forever & Tonight” by Platinum Greek Singer, Kostas Martakis.
|Publisher:||Black Rose Writing|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
With her extensive business background in renewable energy, Helming currently serves on the Board of Pristine Sun, and has over 25 years' experience as CFO for four companies, and in providing internal and external advisory services to CFOs & CEOs for Fortune 500, including Jacuzzi, Bushnell, Wells Fargo, Hallmark Cards, DST Systems and Exelon.
Make sure to check out the Protogenesis hit theme song "Forever & Tonight" by Platinum Greek recording artist Kostas Martakis at www.foreverandtonight.com.
Kostas Martakis is an accomplished Greek singer, TV host and actor, having released four studio albums, all of which went Platinum in Greece, and numerous singles that reached the Greek top charts. Currently, he is recording his fifth album and preparing to release the theme song Forever & Tonight for the best-selling American novel: Protogenesis.
Read an Excerpt
Fires of Life
Livermore, California – Present Day – March 2016 AD
What was that?! The world steadily comes into focus and I realize that I am awake. It was only a dream! But the whole experience felt so incredibly real that I have to look around to make sure I'm okay. Was that Zeus, as in the god from the ancient myths?
But why did it all feel so real? Oh my, I must have fallen asleep in class!
I look around. No one seems to have noticed. Most of the kids look like zombies. There was a party last night. Some cheerleaders' parents were out of town, not that I was invited. I never am, never will be.
I sigh, content to drift back into my daydream, but a familiar image catches my eye. The canvas hanging on the wall is awash with a stunning array of vibrant greens interspersed with muted shades of red and gold, all forming the elaborate image of a tree.
Magic exists in this place. Right before my eyes, the tree seems to come to life as the intricate leaves sway to and fro, teeming with multicolored butterflies. A mystical bird is perched in the tree's branches. Like an intricate kaleidoscope, the tree changes in my mind with every twist and turn.
Usually, this image fills me with calm, as if it were an old, trusted friend; but today, something is different, as if some sort of darkness may be brewing deep within the shadows between the branches. It's like a complex paradox where nothing is as it seems.
I look down at my desk and realize that I've been doodling on my notepad. I've sketched the image of a tree, but instead of the tree that I was just admiring, something else lies beneath my pen: a much more meaningful tree to me, a cypress tree.
The tree looks like the charm on my mother's favorite necklace, one I have always loved. When I was growing up, Mom would tell me glorious stories from her youth about walking under the shade of the cypress trees, the warm sun peeking through the jagged branches, sweetly kissing her skin, filling her with happiness. At bedtime, her tales almost always centered around one special tree: an enchanted cypress tree, one that stood all alone in a friendless desert, the last of its kind. She called it the 'Lone Cypress Tree.'
Sometimes, I dream about it, like today.
Ever since I can remember, Mom has always dutifully worn this necklace, never taking it off, not even for a moment. She claims that the tree holds some special power that one day, when I'm old enough, I will fully understand. I reach up to my chest as if I expect to touch the shiny small tree charm, but all I feel is the warmth of my skin.
Just then, the voice of my fifth-period English teacher, Mrs. Dilmore, interrupts my thoughts, jarring me back to here and now.
"We were just talking about stories, creation myths, in particular – Eve being created from the rib of Adam, Aphrodite rising from the wave. Why do you think they've had such a strong influence over our cultural imagination for centuries?" She scans the room, her eyes settling on me. "Helene," she says with a smile, "any thoughts?"
She always calls on me because she knows that unlike the rest of the class, I care about my schoolwork. I need to keep my grades up for college or else meet the wrath of my overprotective mother.
I pause for a moment. I love all stories and fairy tales, but most particularly, I love mythology. In addition to the Lone Cypress Tree, my mother's incredible bedtime stories almost always included Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods and goddesses. Similar to my dream just now, her tales were so convincing that sometimes I felt sure they must be real. I'm sure this is why mythology, and particularly creation stories fascinate me. Of course, I have an answer to Mrs. Dilmore's question. I always do.
"Because even if they're fantastic and otherworldly, they delve into the most basic human question: where do we all come from?" I say, totally sure of myself.
"Excellent point, Helene," Ms. Dilmore rewards me with a smile. "And sometimes to know where we come from, or at least who we are, we have to lose a great deal first."
A few of my class-mates snicker, the usual response to my giving a correct answer. It would be nice if someone else could pipe up once in a while.
Thad Williams, a total stoner, leans over to my desk, smirking at me as he chides, "Kiss-ass!!"
I stare straight ahead and pretend I didn't hear him. It's easier to ignore idiots like him. If there is even one hint that I care at all about what he thinks, he'll just keep picking on me.
Once upon a time, I used to hang out with Thad Williams and the stoner crowd. My sophomore year in high school was tough. I went from aspiring ballerina to Goth girl dressed all in black literally overnight after a wicked dance injury. The "bad" girl in me came out with my desire to wallow in the abyss of my own despair.
Junior year, I went the opposite direction: the "good girl," star student, now wise beyond my years. The stoners weren't happy about that, I guess. My problem now is I'm not sure where I fit in. No one wants to hang out with the teacher's pet.
There are times, though, when I feel like allowing that bad girl to come back. But then I hear my mother's words, haunting me: "Don't do it!"
The reality with my mom, though, is that she's always meddling in my business, fussing excessively over me ... to an extreme, like she's paranoid. She has some deep-seated fear that something horrible is going to happen to me. In fact, we've moved to a new house within the same city at least once per year since I was born.
I know she means well, though. Here's the thing about my mom. Whenever times get tough for us, it's her strength and perseverance that carry us through. Somehow, no matter how crazy or chaotic life seems, she has the ability to make me feel safe. The power of her words echoes through my mind: "Strong women aren't simply born. We are forged through the fires of life."
When I was a little girl, I'm not sure I fully understood this; but now that I am almost eighteen – almost a woman – her words make total sense and inspire me.
After class wraps up, school is out, and I board the bus to head home. Randall Sibley, a big jock with a blunt military haircut, sits next to me.
"Hey," he says, looking right at me.
"Hey." I have no idea what else to say. He's never talked to me before, so it's a little weird. He must want something. He stares out the window at the stark, flat California Tri-Valley. Not much to see, really.
"Heard you're helping out with the school newspaper," Randall says eagerly. "Listen, I'm running for class president so was thinking that you could write an article about me."
He does want something from me. But I'm not going to help him. Why would I? When has he ever given me the time of day? I respond in a clipped tone, "The article I'm writing is about ancient philosophy." I point to the book in my arm, Philosophy Before Socrates.
He stares as if he has no idea what I'm talking about. I'm certain he doesn't. Frowning, he shrugs, gets up, and moves back to another seat. Just another day in my incredibly exciting life. Same crap, different day.
The bus stops about ten yards from my house. As I step out onto the gravel road, I hold my arm out and wait. In less than a minute, a graceful butterfly flutters down to rest on my forearm. "Hello, my beautiful friend," I say quietly. The intricate black and orange mosaic pattern on its amazing wings mesmerizes me. This is a special butterfly – the monarch. Very soon, a swarm of these same butterflies arrive, transforming my arm into a mass of fluttering wings. I smile. This is the part of my life that I love. Every afternoon, this is our ritual.
Our home this year is a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Rolling grape and olive orchards pepper the land around our house, but we don't farm it. We're just renting. As I open the front door, I'm greeted by our meager living room. It's a bit rustic and hip with an oversized tan cowhide sofa accented with sheep-skin pillows and a chrome-edged coffee table topped with a thick slab of obsidian. My mother has impeccable taste.
She also collects things — like cats. Not that we ever have any visitors, but the mailman once asked me, "Just how many cats do you have here?" I have no idea. We spay, neuter, feed, and house them in a makeshift shantytown made of cardboard boxes out in our yard, but more and more keep coming. My mother has become the crazy cat lady. Of course, this could be dangerous for me because I'm highly allergic to nearly all furry four-legged creatures. Mostly, our cats are feral and stay outside, so I can manage.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. My brown hair is a long, frizzy mess, so today I pulled it back into a low ponytail. My hazel eyes appear alert and well rested, even behind heavy glasses. I should qualify that word hazel ... the color of my eyes is technically hazel, but the dominant hue is violet, like the flower. Yes, I did say violet and not purple. I hate it when people say that my eyes are purple. No one has purple eyes unless you're a freak. I am not a freak.
The doorbell rings. As I peer outside through the screen door, I'm surprised to see two police officers standing there, a man and a woman. Hackles rise on the back of my neck in alarm. What do the police want with me?
When I open the door, the officers stand there, rigid and uncomfortable, eyes unblinking, arms folded across their chests. Finally, after a long, awkward silence, the woman speaks. "Helene Crawford?"
"I'm Officer Rollins from the Livermore PD," she states in a cold, detached tone. She then points to the man, who has kind eyes. "And this is my partner, Officer Ryan. Can we come inside?"
"Sure." I nod, allowing them into our tiny foyer. "What's this about?" I ask, a little nervous.
Her grimace falls away as her demeanor noticeably softens. "I'm sorry ..." she stammers.
I try to concentrate, but I'm so nervous about being questioned by the police that it's hard to focus. Why would she be sorry?
She continues. "It's your mother. There was a fire." She pauses. Her voice cracks as she speaks. "Your mother is gone."
Trust No One
All I can do is stare. My brain tries to adjust to the sudden shock of what I think I just heard. The quiet is so extreme that I can hear the slow, steady drip of a leaky faucet somewhere upstairs.
"Wha ... what did you just say?" I stammer, looking down at my hands. "What do you mean she's gone?"
This can't be right. Mom's probably just working late or out with friends. This must be some big misunderstanding. She's not really missing!
But then the officer's words replay in my mind: "There was a fire." It's as if someone snapped her fingers and bam! The stark realization hits me hard, slamming me in the chest.
"Are you saying ... that ... my mom ..." – my voice cracks –" ... is dead?"
A feeling of overwhelming dread consumes me. I imagine my mother, her outstretched hand and ghostly.
No. ... no, no, no. It can't be true. It just can't. I don't believe it.
The officer's features melt into sadness, her eyes wide and glassy, her façade of professionalism gone. No longer is this a police officer. She's now a living, breathing person, just like me. Her face is raw with emotion. She nods somberly and whispers, "Yes, I'm afraid so."
The vibrant image of my mother's warm, smiling face flashes into my vision ... and then, just as fast as she appears, her features slowly fade out of view, vanishing into nothing more than a wisp of a distant memory.
"No!! There's no way she'd just leave me like this!" I shriek. No. Not possible. I can't believe it. Mom would not just up and leave me all alone in this world. Not my mom! She is a survivor, a warrior.
I feel as if I've just eaten a sandwich with glass in it. The shards cut into my thoughts. My stomach churns and spasms, like I want to heave. I'm no longer capable of processing anything. I've become a blubbering mess.
The female officer takes turns talking with the other officer, who has up until this point been silent. Their voices seem so far away, I can barely hear what they are saying through my sniffles.
My mind clears instantly, though, as her next words catch my attention. "After the fire died down, we found this amongst the ashes in your mother's workspace." The male officer pulls out a photo of an object that looks like a medallion, and on its face is a blue, black, and red emblem that looks like two snakes wrapped around a torch in the double helix shape of ... DNA. Very strange.
My head feels fuzzy. Maybe I'm losing my mind.
"Have you ever seen this before?" he asks earnestly.
I study the medallion, but it means nothing to me, so I shake my head.
The male officer shifts awkwardly from side to side. His discomfort is clear and obvious. We're getting nowhere.
The sound of squealing tires snaps us all out of it. My nose wrinkles at the acrid stench of burning rubber. The officers seem almost as shocked as I am. Clearly, no one expected the interruption. Confusion fills their faces as the screen door opens with a swift jerk.
A seventy-something man, pasty pale with crooked, yellowing teeth, wipes sweat from his forehead with a napkin. It's not even that hot outside. From the moment when I hear his voice, I know I don't trust this guy.
His stern eyes follow me, which are in direct contrast to the forced smile on his face. Maybe it's his cheap-looking suit or his weird toupee, but all my instincts scream that this guy is not my friend. There is something seriously off about him.
"Miss Crawford," he says with a slight lisp as he shoves a dog-eared business card into my hand. "My name is Harold Avery, attorney at law." He pauses for dramatic effect. "Your mother hired me. You can call me Hal."
He snatches the medallion photo right out of the police officer's hand, catching him totally off guard. His eyes widen in shock as Hal asks, "What's this?"
"Wait ... who did you say you are?" The female officer takes a moment to recover from the lawyer's abrupt rudeness, then composes herself, her professional mask returning. "Helene, can you excuse us for a moment?" she asks.
I nod. "Of course."
The two police officers pull Hal's arm and huddle in the corner with him. I hear bits and pieces of their discussion. It sounds like the female officer is talking about the medallion. She holds up her phone to show the attorney something, and now I can overhear them perfectly.
"Our research indicates that this unique helix symbol may be connected to a complex underground crime network that operates out of Athens," the officer says crisply.
"You can't believe everything you read on the Internet," says the attorney indignantly. "Most of it is just urban myth."
"Our sources are way beyond the scope of the Internet, Mr. Avery." The officer shrugs, then looks down at her watch. Hal scoffs at her with an air of annoyed indifference.
But I can't get over what I've just heard. "Wait, Athens? As in Greece?" I feel a chill run down my spine at the words 'underground crime network'. Are they talking about the mafia?
They all turn to look at me. "Relax," says Harold Avery. "There's nothing to get excited about." They turn and start talking again, voices low and urgent.
Then I hear the word "arson."
"Wait a second, what did you just say?" my attorney asks, interrupting the officer.
The officer seems annoyed but continues in a low voice. "This was likely arson. Gasoline was found on the scene. The fire erupted into an inferno at 2:33 p.m. at the lab where Diana Crawford was working. Then there was an explosion. She didn't make it out in time."
Arson? Someone did this to my mom intentionally? But why? I knew that she was working on some government-sponsored research at the Lawrence Livermore Labs, but this is crazy. Something doesn't add up.
"So, it was ... murder? But why?"
They all turn to face me, looking surprised to still see me there.
"No one said the word murder, Helene," the male officer offers in an overly calm and reassuring voice. "We're still investigating all avenues."
They turn and start whispering again, but this time so softly that I can't hear them at all. Once again, I feel sadness overtake me as I long to feel my mother's arms around me. A lone tear falls down my cheek, threatening to turn me back into a blubbering mess.
Excerpted from "Protogenesis"
Copyright © 2017 Alysia Helming.
Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
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.
Table of Contents
PART I: Metamorphosis,
1 – Fires of Life,
2 – Trust No One,
3 – American Girl,
4 – The Driver,
5 – Godfather,
6 – Bastet,
7 – The Metro,
8 – The Academy,
9 – Injury,
10 – Secret Room,
11 – Greek Mother,
12 – Temple of Poseidon,
13 – Clarke's Third Law,
14 – Through the Looking Glass,
15 – Transformation,
16 – The Dare,
17 – Prophecy,
18 – Gaea,
19 – Olympus Arch,
PART II: Synchronicity,
20 – Ballerina,
21 – The Syndicate,
22 – Rock Star,
23 – Agora,
24 – The Mafia,
25 – Miracle,
26 – Scythia,
27 – Artemis,
28 – Thwarted,
29 – The Dance,
30 – Mirage,
31 – The Stronghold,
32 – Another Way,
33 – Lone Cypress Tree,
34 – Revelation,
35 – Believe,
36 – Smoke and Mirrors,
37 – Truth,
38 – Panaxia,
Forever and Tonight,
More Books Coming Soon,
Excerpt from Book Two PROTOGENESIS: FIRST CURE,
About the Author,
Author of the Song,