D. Wallace Peach put out a call on her Myths of the Mirror blog site challenging authors to write about their muse. I wasn’t going to write anything and then this happened. 🙂 True story!
“Jan. Jan. Wake up.”
Someone taps on my shoulder.
I burrow deeper under the covers.
Louder this time. “Jan. Wake up.”
I groan and roll over with one eye open. “What do you want? I’m sleeping.”
“Yes, I know but wait until you hear this.”
I rub my eyes and yawn, then glance at the clock.
“It’s 4 am. I’m tired. I work hard and I need my rest. Can I just take some notes and get to it when the sun comes up?”
“No! If you do, you’ll lose it. Come on.” He reached out a hand and I took it, regretting that action.
Now on my feet, I shrug into a robe, slip on my fuzzy slippers and glance longingly back at my warm bed.
“Can I at least get a cup of coffee first?”
Deep sigh. “You humans. Yes, I suppose.”
I pad into the kitchen and flip on the light, blinking at the brightness. He taps his fingers impatiently on the kitchen counter while I set the magic elixir to brew.
I turn to face him. “Okay. Spill it. What is so damned important that you’ve dragged me out of bed away from my dreams?”
His face lights up. “Imagine this. A man has been cheating on his wife. She’s found out, and they’ve had a huge fight. Now, he’s left the house and driving around, angry and feeling a little remorseful. He spots a small rundown bar on the outskirts of town with a neon sign blinking off and on. He decides he needs a stiff drink. So, he goes in and some other stuff needs to happen, then he tries to leave only to find that the door opens one way – in. He’s trapped in a honky-tonk hell. What do you think?”
By now the coffee pot is beeping and I pour a big cup, then add a spash of cream. “It has potential, but it sounds like a horror story. I’ve never written anything in that genre.”
He’s practically jumping up and down. “I know. You can’t ever grow if you stay in your comfort zone. What do you have to lose?”
“A few more hours of sleep,” I reply grumpily.
“You do know that the hours between two and four a.m. are the most creative times in any twenty-four-hour cycle. Remember I told you that?”
I nod. “I remember.”
I settle in front of the computer and he paces behind me. My fingers fly across the keys.
I suddenly have the feeling of being alone. I turn to look and my muse is no longer in the room. I go in search of him and find him snuggled under a soft blanket on the sofa, snoring.
“Fine,” I say, and stomp back to the computer with a second cup of coffee.
Guess I’ll be writing a horror story after all, thanks to my persistent muse.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to post some book reviews, so I want to share these three recent books I’ve read.
The books and reviews are listed in random order.
James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.
James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.
The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save mankind.
The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.
MY 5 STAR REVIEW:
I loved everything about this unique story by John Howell. When James dies in a single-car accident, he is met in the afterlife by a childhood friend who disappeared when they were in grade school, and her body was never found. She has taken the assignment of helping James adapt to the afterlife and find his eternal home. The adventures start when they experience time travel back to pivotal times in history, and all while still in the ’56 Olds that James crashed in the physical world. From the gunfight at the OK Corral to the Alamo, to a World War, James finds himself placed at strategic moments of time which facilitate self-discovery. He even has a face-to-face encounter with Satan himself. And in the midst of it all, Sam and James learn what it means to love someone. They even have love-making adventures, However, one of my favorite parts of the story is when Sam comes face-to-face with her murderer and he gets the justice he deserves at his own hand. If you are looking for a story that is different from anything you’ve ever read, have a fascination with a “what-if” scenario about the afterlife and love adventures, you will love this new book from Mr. Howell! It is well-written and fast-paced.
What happens when Miss Perfection clashes with Mr. Casual? Chaos!
Georgina’s in trouble. The startup money she borrowed from her parents’ retirement fund is long gone and her dream of owning the next big thing in market-to-table cuisine disappeared with it. Her only choice? Merge her company into the corporate giant, CLO, and hope she isn’t making a huge mistake.
Rhys Turner is his father’s progeny, born and raised to take over the empire when his dad deems him ready. Rhys doesn’t mind the fast-paced lifestyle, though he detests the coldblooded mantra of the corporation- Buy from the weak and sell at a profit. It’s made his family millions. But now, just when CLO’s reins are within reach, he’s run into the one woman who could change everything.
A delightful mixture of women’s fiction, chick-lit, romantic comedy, and New adult, Perfectly Imperfect has something for every reader.
MY 4 STAR REVIEW:
This short entertaining story fits the classic – girl bumps into a handsome man, spills coffee all over his expensive clothes, then gets stuck in the elevator with him – scenario. Little does Georgina know that Rhys has come to squash her dream and sell her company. While the story was predictable from the first paragraph, I found it to be a quirky and entertaining read with a happy ending. It is well written and even has a puppy included. If you are looking for a quick read that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling, you’ll like this story!
The archangel Azrael created his emissaries to help mortals avoid choices that would doom them for eternity. He hadn’t planned on the youngest member of the team falling in love with one. In Marcia Meara’s final installment of her Emissary Trilogy, a Riverbend spinoff series of novellas, we find our heroes facing a new problem, and it’s all because Dodger died before having a chance to learn what love was all about. His request that Azrael help him correct that situation causes a multitude of problems no one could have foreseen. Except the angel, himself.
MY FOUR STAR REVIEW:
I came into the Emissary Trilogy with this book, which was the wrap-up and now I am compelled to go back and read the first two. The theme of this part of the story is a young man’s urge to find and know true love. Jake and Dodge are the two main characters and Dodge falls head-over-heels in love with Juliet. But everything is complicated by the emissary work Jake and Dodge are put on earth to do. Archangel Azrael is the head of the emissary program and keeps a close eye on all of his workers. The way he popped in and out brought a touch of humor to the story. But the one scene that stands out in my mind is when Jake and Dodge were on a mountain and watched Azrael descend with his huge white wings and shining radiance. In my mind, I could see this clearly and it took my breath away. Another favorite scene was the intervention that took place between Dodge and a young lady on that same mountain who was resigned to ending her life. The lessons, the growth, and the maturing that took place through this segment of the story were fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to going back now and reading the beginning of this series.
The inspiration for it came from a conversation with a family member. 🙂 You never know where they will come. As most of you know, my husband served fifteen years in a federal prison for a crime he did not commit. And, in a conversation with one of his cousins, she made the statement that she thought my husband’s little brother was involved in the crime, and that my husband took the fall for him. While that was not the case, it certainly inspired a story!
Quentin Marks covered the length of the eight-by-ten jail cell stopping now and then to punch the concrete walls that held him.
A mere forty-eight hours ago, he was resting comfortably at home ― before his brother’s frantic visit.
He replayed the conversation in his head for the hundredth time.
Rowdy Marks had pounded Quentin’s door with desperate blows. “Open the door, Quen!”
When Quentin had opened the door, his brother rushed inside in full-blown panic mode.
“What the hell, Rowdy? What have you done now?” Quentin had questioned.
“You gotta help me, man.” Rowdy grabbed him by the shoulders.
The pungent odor of whiskey and cigarettes assaulted Quentin’s nostrils. “You’re drunk, Rowdy. Go home and sleep it off.”
“No! You don’t understand. I’m in big trouble.”
“Since when is that news?” Quentin snorted.
“It’s serious this time. A man is dead.”
Quentin stopped in his tracks. “Shit, Rowdy! What did you do?”
“Pour me a drink, and I’ll tell you everything,” Rowdy whined.
“Another drink’s the last thing you need,” Quentin snarled. “Start talking.”
Have you picked up your copy yet? It’s only 99 cents on Amazon!
I am pleased to bring you a new book release from author, D. Wallace Peach! I’ll let her tell you about it!
Behind the Veil, the hordes gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.
Three unlikely allies stand in his way.
A misfit elf plagued by failure—
When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.
A changeling who betrays his home—
Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.
A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—
Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.
When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.
Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rain forest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.
I am super excited to share a new release with you from C.S. Boyack. In fact, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second book in the Lanternfish Series because I loved book 1 SO much!
At any rate, I’m turning my blog over to Craig so he can tell you about his new book! By the way, don’t you just love this cover? I do!
Hi, Jan. Thanks for having me back here to talk about my newest book. This is my first attempt at a classic trilogy, and we’re dealing with book two here. It’s called HMS Lanternfish.
In the original book, Voyage of the Lanternfish, James started off making plans for the future with the woman he loves. The ruling power of his country mistook him for his father who was a notorious undercover operative. They kidnapped his lady friend and forced him to start a war if he wanted to save her.
Plans didn’t work out the way the rulers expected. James was a merchant sailor, so he commandeered a ship and took to piracy against his home country. That’s a nutshell version of the first book, but there’s a lot more to it.
HMS Lanternfish opens with their home continent at war from coast to coast. Odds are slim and chances are few, but Lanternfish is still one of the largest warships on the sea. Using a semi-official charter as a royal privateer, James and crew take Lanternfish to war.
Nothing is ever that simple, and they get blown off course. Since this is a fantasy tale, it allowed me to explore some exotic lands and that was part of the charm of the original tale. With war a long ways off, Lanternfish takes to actually being a privateer. They have two goals, acquire goods that might help with the war effort, and discover the secrets of the Fulminites, a religious order that seems to be made up of suicide bombers controlling the land battles in favor of their enemies. Of course, they have to make it back in time to make a difference.
HMS Lanternfish is filled with fantasy creatures, exotic lands and peoples, and a bit of humor fans of the first book enjoyed.
I’m running a special right now. HMS Lanternfish is temporarily priced at 99¢ in an attempt to get it off to a good start. From August 10 through August 14th, Voyage of the Lanternfish will be free. I’ll drop a cover and blurb if you’d like to join this crew.
Blurb: The Lanternfish crew completed their original mission, but got exposed to a more global problem. An entire continent is at war, headed up by a head-strong young king with dreams of power, and pushed from behind by a mysterious religious order known as the Fulminites.
Rather than let their country fall under the iron boot of conquest, James and his crew set sail once more to see what kind of muscle Lanternfish can lend to the war effort. Acting precariously under an unofficial charter as a privateer, even his allies aren’t always his friends.
HMS Lanternfish explores new worlds on its way to war, and drifts considerably off course. It features an international crew of characters, and for fans of the first book, the root monsters are back, too. Tall ships, a few con games, martial arts, and everything you loved about the original book is all returning.
Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns. Lanternfish is taking to the high seas once more.
I am sure the answer to that question is as varied as there are authors and genres, so I will enjoy reading all of your responses.
For me, the most difficult and yet exciting to write are sex scenes. There is a fine line between a well-written sex scene and erotica. Or perhaps there’s no line at all. It’s simply the words you choose to use.
There are all kinds of sex scenes with all different levels of heat, from the kiss-fade-to-black and mild groping, all the way to full frontal erotica that tests the limits of our taboos. Sex scenes actually can serve a real purpose in the story.
A sex scene can complicate or resolve a relationship. Sex can be used as one of the bad, impulsive, very human decisions that a character makes. Done right, a sex scene is a brutally accurate barometer about the psychological, physical, and emotional state of a character. Sex scenes can deepen our immersion in the world, identification with the characters, and indulgence in the fantasy and suspension of reality. Finally, sex can be used to explore some of the most profound ideas about human relationships, gender roles, and power.
I once took a workshop about writing compelling sex scenes and the teacher said, “if the sex scene you are writing does not get you hot and turned on, then you’re doing it wrong.” That’s one way to look at it.
For me, I like focusing on what the characters are internalizing rather than the physical act itself. Let me share with you a short scene from my new book, GHOSTLY INTERFERENCE, which will be released through the Wild Rose Press (no release date yet), and give me your thoughts.
His breath came hard and fast. He picked her up and walked to the bedroom with her legs wrapped around his waist, their lips locked.
He sat her on the edge of the bed, unzipped his jeans, and pushed them over his hips. Their eyes met. She wrapped a trembling hand around his erection and leaned forward to kiss it.
Her boldness caught him off guard again, and the forest fire morphed into an inferno. He pushed her back and slid her jeans off, then knelt on the floor and pulled aside her panties to give his tongue access to her wet, warm, sweet spot.
She writhed and moaned and clamped her hands hard on each side of his head. Her breath came in hard, short gasps.
Never could he have imagined that making love could be so incredible, so natural, so easy. This woman was everything and more than he ever dreamed of. He loved her with an intensity that shook him. And he wanted nothing more than to make her happy in every way and to spend the rest of his life making love to her.
He stood and slipped her panties off. She scooted over, and he slid onto the bed beside her. His mouth found the peak of a hard nipple while his hands left feathery trails along her side and down her hip.
Her fingernails raked gently down his back. Her hips grinding against him drove him to the brink of insanity.
Exquisite was the only word that came to mind. Making love to Rena Jett was simply exquisite. When he was sure she neared climax and was ready for him to slide inside, she suddenly pushed him over onto his back.
Pinning his arms above his head, she straddled him and trailed kisses across his eyelids and down to his mouth. His heart hammered inside his chest as they breathed the same air. No woman had ever pleasured him this way.
“What are you doing?” he croaked.
“Shh.” She kissed his neck and made her way to his nipples that were hard and erect. He lost all track of everything around him except this beautiful woman and the desire that burned hot and begged for release.
Slowly and methodically, she licked and sucked on each one. He struggled to free his arms and she held them tighter. Her tight grip forced him into submission. A long, low growl came from his throat, and he tossed his head from side to side.
Oh, how he loved this show of aggressiveness. Had he once dared to think she might be a tiger in bed? That seemed years ago but damned if she wasn’t.
Their skin slick with sweat and desire, she made her way down to his flat belly leaving a trail of burning kisses along the way.
She released his arms and moved between his legs. And, when she took him inside her mouth, he wrapped his hands in her silky hair and let out a primal cry.
She licked and sucked on his erection until he could feel the earth shift from its axis. Heat in his belly roasted him alive.
In one swift move, he pulled her on top of him and slid hard inside her wetness.
They moved together as one. He memorized every detail, every sharp intake of breath, every moan, and every whisper.
“Look in my eyes,” she murmured.
When he did, they disappeared into each other as a shuddering orgasm shattered them both—it was nothing short of a spiritual exchange between souls.
She collapsed on top of him with her head resting next to his on the pillow. His fingers left soft caresses on her back and bottom.
Finally, she rolled off and lay beside him.
Your thoughts? How did I do with this sex scene?
I am so excited that this story, GHOSTLY INTERFERENCE, will finally see the light of day after four years of pitching! It just goes to show that you should never give up!
By the way, today is Rick Sikes’ birthday. If he’d lived, he’d be turning 85. I can’t even imagine what he’d think of today’s world. He wouldn’t be happy with it, for sure! Anyway, Happy Heavenly Birthday, Rick. For all of his rough and tough exterior, he was the most romantic, erotic, and sexiest man I ever knew! Oh, the times we shared!
And, if you haven’t yet read our story, you can start here!
Hi, everyone! I’m super excited to participate in another Flash Fiction Challenge using a prompt provided by Suzanne Burke!
I honestly didn’t see any way I could possibly find time to write, but my muse wouldn’t leave me alone. So here I sit, late at night, posting the story I saw in my head in response to the prompt.
AN EMPTY PROMISE
Emily poured a fresh cup of coffee and strolled to the end of the rickety wooden dock for the hundredth time. Where was he?
She sipped the hot coffee and stared across the tranquil lake, searching intently for any sign of a boat.
A twinge of guilt crawled up her spine. Leaving a note was a piss-poor way of saying goodbye. But the thought of a confrontation and one more fight with Malcolm was more than she could handle. When he’d left for work that morning, she’d packed her suitcase, left her keys, checkbook and a note by the door.
It hadn’t been hard to walk away from a twenty-year marriage. In fact, it had been one of the easiest things she’d ever done.
She’d skipped and twirled like a giddy school girl when she’d arrived at Levi’s cabin, where she’d visited many times over the past few months.
Lying in the circle of his strong, tanned arms, Emily found her center. He made her feel like a beautiful goddess, and when they made love, the earth tilted on its axis.
She sighed deeply and tugged her soft sweater closer. Despite the warmth it provided, she shivered.
“Where are you, Levi?” She paced the length of the dock. He should have been here hours ago.
She checked her cell phone for the umpteenth time.
Malcolm would be home by now. How would he react to the note? She could picture him sinking into his favorite chair and dropping his head in his hands. Well, she’d set them both free, and he should thank her.
“Levi will be here,” she said to no one. “He just got hung up somewhere.”
She thought about the first time she saw him. Desire stronger than anything she’d ever felt swept the length of her body, leaving her knees weak and the sweet spot between her legs moist.
It had been a girl’s night out. The crowded club was the perfect backdrop for Levi to saunter onto the stage and serenade the ladies.
He was a gorgeous specimen of a man. Long legs, tapered waist, bulging biceps, and the most striking blue eyes she’d ever seen. And when a lock of his wavy brown hair fell over those mystifying eyes, women swooned.
She wanted him.
That had been three months ago.
Now she’d walked away from her stable life. The home she’d built with Malcolm meant nothing anymore. She’d traded it all to be with this tanned god who made her feel alive.
The sun began to drop below the horizon, and she turned back toward the cabin.
“Surely, he’ll be here soon,” she told the birds. “He promised.”
Minutes ticked by, turning into hours.
Emily wrapped a soft blanket around her shoulders and lay on the sofa. Her eyes took in every detail of the love nest where she’d spent many blissful hours.
A lump of dread formed in the pit of her stomach.
Something had happened.
Maybe he’d gotten cold feet. Or, perhaps he’d met someone else younger, prettier and richer.
Emily thought back over every conversation, searching for a clue.
She tried for the thousandth time to call him. It went straight to voice mail.
What to do now? She couldn’t go back home to Malcolm.
Bitter bile rose in her throat. What a fool she’d been to believe she’d found true love.
While her life crumbled around her, she squared her shoulders and walked the length of the dock one last time.
A plunge into the icy waters would end it all.
Her cell phone buzzed, and she grabbed it.
The text lit up the screen.
That was all she got? What a piece of shit! She sprinted down the dock, grabbed her suitcase, and tossed it in the car.
She stared hard at the cabin. A can of gasoline on one corner of the porch caught her eye. Without hesitation, she doused the dried wood, lit a match, and drove away.
Never again would she believe an empty promise.
Thanks for reading! Please visit Suzanne’s blog site and read all the responses to the prompt. Join in the fun!
And if you’re not already doing so, please follow Suzanne!
I first met William Venema through my daughter, who is an attorney. It just so happened that she and Bill worked for the same company. He purchased copies of my books and we talked some about writing. That was many years ago.
Now he has two books under his belt and I’m happy to showcase them here today!
Captain Robert E. Clark arrives in Panama on his first tour of duty as a lawyer. He struggles to reconcile his Southern upbringing and West Point training with a strange new environment. Panama is a muddled mix of conflict and corruption, where, among other things, marriage vows don’t mean what they did at the First United Methodist Church of Pemberton, Georgia. When Clark is assigned to prosecute a murder case involving the death of a thirteen-month old little girl, his ambition causes him to neglect his wife and daughter more than usual and—even worse—bend the rules in ways that call into question what kind of man he is and what he truly values.
In this riveting novel, William Venema tells an intriguing, thought-provoking tale of unrestrained ambition and its consequences. Death comes in many forms, each lethal in its own way.
Reviewers say, ““Allows us to see life in all its strange, rich complexity through the eyes of a very human and believable protagonist. . .” “Swept me back to another time and place. . .” “As good a legal thriller as those of Scott Turow and John Grisham. . .”
Set in the late 1980s, Dawn in Dallas follows the journey of Robert E. Clark, the protagonist from Death in Panama, as he leaves the Army JAG Corps and embarks on a career in private law practice. He secures a position at Underwood & Crockett, a prestigious law firm in Dallas, Texas, even though his young daughter and ex-wife reside in Pemberton, Georgia, the small town where he grew up.
Things get complicated when Robert receives disturbing news from home at the same time he is confronted with unethical behavior by one of the senior partners in the firm. The challenges of his new career and his responsibilities as a father pull him in opposite directions, and he doesn’t always make the right decision.
Dawn in Dallas has its share of plot twists and interesting characters and along the way reveals some of the darker secrets of life inside a large law firm and the serious deficiencies of the court system.
Dr. Ryan S. Davidson, Professor of English had this to say about Dawn In Dallas, “William H. Venema is able to cross genres to create a novel that is at times a legal thriller, a love story, a tale of morality, a historical look at race relations in America, and a criticism of the legal system that is both poignant and delicate. A perfect story for our times. Venema has done it again.”
William H. Venema’s legal career spans almost forty years and includes time in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, in law firms, and as general counsel of major corporations.
Death in Panama, published in 2017, was Bill’s debut novel. The story is loosely based on his experiences in Panama when he was assigned there in the early 1980s as an Army lawyer, including his prosecution of a murder case.
Dawn in Dallas, published in 2020,follows the journey of Robert Clark, the protagonist from Death in Panama, as he leaves the Army and embarks on a civilian legal career.
In 2006, Bill published a non-fiction book, titled The Strategic Guide to Selling Your Software Company. In addition, he was a contributing author for two other legal texts and has published over twenty articles on various legal topics in journals such as The Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance, The National Law Journal, The Corporate Board, and Bloomberg Law Reports.
Bill is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was awarded the Thomas J. Thompson Memorial Award for writing and the Freedom Award, Order of Lafayette, for proficiency in French. He was also inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Several years after graduating from West Point, he earned an MBA from Georgia State University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Prior to entering private practice, Bill served in the U.S. Army in Germany, Panama, and several stateside assignments. He is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools, as well as the Command and General Staff College.
In response to the Flash-Fiction photo prompt from Suzanne Burke this week, here is my contribution.
A FOREIGN WORLD
“Oh, the memories.” I sigh, and squeeze his hand a little tighter. The dried orange, brown and yellow leaves crunch beneath our feet as we shuffle along the sidewalk.
He smiles down at me. “Yes, my love. I remember when we sat on this very bench and I asked you to be my bride.”
Tears came unbidden and trickled down my wrinkled cheeks. “We had a pretty darn good life, didn’t we, Harold?”
“Yes. Yes, we did, in spite of the hardships.”
“But, I no longer recognize the world we live in. Where is everyone? Why are the streets empty? There was a day when this park would have held the laughter of children and young lovers strolling hand-in-hand.”
“Let’s sit, Margaret. My old legs are giving out.”
We shuffled over to the bench and Harold brushed away the leaves that covered it.
He blew out a long sigh and leaning on his cane, dropped onto the very bench where we started life together fifty-two years ago.
“I’m troubled, Harold. No, I’m more than troubled. I’m scared. Not for me and you. We’re pretty much out of here, but for the ones coming behind us.”
Draping an arm around my shoulders, he pulled me closer. “It’s not the same America that you and I grew up in. Soldiers on the streets, looting, killings and so much hatred exists. You know it’s not even safe for us to venture out.”
“I know, but I really needed some fresh air. Thank you for appeasing me.”
“Oh, my love, that is what I have lived for these past fifty-two years. My greatest joy is to make you smile.”
“What is that noise? Sounds like firecrackers.”
“I think we better mosey on back home, honey. It’s getting closer.”
He struggled to his feet, then leaning heavily on his cane, reached for my hand.
As we shuffled back toward safety, I turned to look back at the bench that meant so much, only to see a group of hoodlums spraying graffiti on it.
“Harold, we need to move faster. Trouble’s coming.”
“I’m going as fast as I can go. Don’t worry, dear. I won’t let anyone hurt you. It’s just a few more blocks home.”
That’s when it happened. A blow to the back of his head, took Harold to his knees. I screamed and turned to face our attackers only to see sneers and glowing hatred in the eyes of what should have been intelligent young men.
“You old people don’t need to be alive,” one of them growled. “You’re just taking up space and eating food that belongs to us. This is our country now. Old people like you are a nuisance.”
I kneeled down beside Harold and cradled his head in my lap. “You’ve hurt my husband.” Tears flowed uncontrollably.
One of them laughed. “So what? What are you going to do about it old woman?”
The first blow knocked me backward onto the hard concrete, and I frantically reached for Harold’s hand. The second blow brought oblivion.
Then, I was flying and when I looked down, I saw the shell of our bodies lying on the concrete, our blood mixing together and staining the sidewalk.
Harold floated up beside me. “We’re free now, sweet love. No more aches, pains or persecution. We’re free.”
He was right. I no longer had the familiar pain in my joints and his cane no longer had any use.
“What will happen to our once beautiful world?” I took one more glance downward to see the men who’d taken our lives strolling away casually as if nothing had happened. They laughed and joked and slapped each other on the back.
“I don’t know the answer to that. We may have to come back to find out.”
“I’m not sure I want to come back again. Maybe we’ll stay with the Angels for a while.”
“Whatever you say, dear.”
With his hand nestled softly in mine, we drifted slowly and peacefully toward the brightest light that you can imagine. Then we disappeared into it.
We were home.
I hope you enjoyed my contribution. If you’d like to participate or just know more about Suzanne Burke (by the way a fabulous writer), visit her website or better yet, pick up one of her books!
It is with excitement and great pleasure that I turn my blog site over to C.S. Boyack today so that he can tell you about his latest cyberpunk novel, Grinders!
Take it away, Craig!
Thanks for the invitation today, Jan. I’m honored to address your fans with my new book, Grinders. I’ve offered multiple topics on this tour, and I’m really excited that you chose The Grid.
Grinders is a cyberpunk story, set in San Francisco. This means an environment with a lot of neon, holographic advertising, and bustle. Computers and the Internet are a big part of these stories. That’s the “cyber” part. They also seem to have a seedy, almost underground, element to them. That’s the “punk” part. Now that you know what we’re dealing with, let’s talk about The Grid.
The Grid falls firmly under the cyber part of the environment, but it’s more than that. It’s almost a character in its own right, because it controls so much of the people’s lives.
At its core, The Grid is made up of hexagonal solar panels that have replaced all of the asphalt. It’s pebbled glass for traction. They fit together like Legos, and there is one scene with some repairs being made. So far, so good, right?
With all this electricity, this grid is hooked up to the Internet. We’re already seeing electric automobiles, and some self-driving technology, so I took the next step. All of the vehicles are paired with The Grid, and a central computer drives them all with incredible efficiency. Imagine four lanes (or more) buzzing along at 60-90 miles per hour. The cars are all about one foot from each other, and we would consider that tailgating today. The Grid is capable of moving them all at once, so this isn’t a problem.
Commuters simply tell an AI in the vehicle where they want to go, the AI communicates with The Grid, and they’re off to the races. Lane changes are accomplished with computer efficiency, by slowing down the adjacent cars to make a hole.
City streets have cross lane traffic to worry about. Stoplights are antiques in the world of Grinders. The Grid starts and stops traffic to keep all lanes moving at their best pace. When traffic stops, the lights have been replaced with holographic billboards that pipe advertising to the passengers.
Automobiles still dock for the night and recharge, but they also draw a small amount of power from The Grid. This is done via contact brushes, and The Grid will even pull over inefficient vehicles for a repair ticket if they cannot maintain the speeds required.
But like they say on late night television, but wait, there’s more. So far, I’ve only talked about ground level. In the world of Grinders, everything is delivered to small heli-pads at each residence and business. Drones provide staples and extras right to your apartment window. One of my main characters is fond of having liquor store deliveries made.
Some of these drones are huge, and include UPS trucks with larger loads. With all this lesser air traffic, how do they keep from crashing into each other? There has to be a way to set patterns and timing. This is yet another function of The Grid.
Imagine a moving van sized drone bringing your belongings to a new apartment. Not only does The Grid have to create a clear path to the building, it also needs to communicate with ground traffic to make a suitable parking space for landing.
The Grid is a wonderful creation. Pollution is all but gone from the Bay Area. Aggressive driving and accidents are a thing of the past. People even send their children to school in a car without adults. They can play games or read along the way. Businessmen can review files instead of drive and lean on the horn. Housewives even send the pets out for grooming without having to leave the house.
As an author, it’s fun to think ahead. A lot of this technology already exists. I hope someone smarter than me can make it happen one day. I like the idea of cheap solar power, efficient commuting, and the elimination of aggressive drivers from our streets. I’m still not on board with having someone else choose my produce, then deliver it to the house, but some of this is already being done too. They might not be using drones, but how far away is that technology anyway?
I hope you guys will give Grinders a chance. Thanks again to Jan for lending me her space. Now it’s time for me to drop a cover, blurb, and that all important purchase link.
Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.
Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.
Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.
Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.
Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.
This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.
I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.