I’m Working On It

I’ve been absent for months working on three novels. Two are apart of a series and one not. The one that’s not is currently titled, “I’m working On It.” Here’s the opening chapter.

The men lived acres apart, but it never stopped grim news from getting to the picnic table. One evening I laid my back on the wooden bench and stared up at the leaves of the old oak tree. Pretended I was somewhere else while the elders talked against the cost of food, gas, the war and terrorists. The Mexican border and how immigrants were coming to take their jobs. My young mind wandered as I looked up at the branches. The men kept talking and I tried counting the leaves, get my mind off the invasion. I counted fifty-two when a gust of wind blew the branches. Dropped golden foliage right on top of us and mind you listening to the elders had me on edge. My shoulders hunched up, and I covered my head. Prepared to die.
I was fourteen and unworldly. I told them.
I wouldn’t have been so frightened and influenced if I knew then what I know now, that I’d have a change of heart. That I‘d be here telling my story while looking into their beautiful brown eyes. I raised my voice for special effects.
“I saw this one coming a long time ago,” came the gruff voice.
My audience jumped, then giggled. I placed my hand across my heart, their faces got real serious, and I told them the rest.
My chin sunk into my chest. I said. Grandpa slammed the canned Bud on the aged table. There wasn’t much space between bird droppings, but Grandpa had developed a keen eye over his years. Both for finding the only spot on the table free of crow’s shit, and “They don’t even call them illegal anymore,” he said. He grabbed a fist full of his trousers and yanked them up exposing swollen red ankles. “They call them undocumented immigrants, and they’re coming for us.” He glanced over at me, sucked on the space between his teeth and gave that sneering nod, as usual. “Be ready for it,” he said.
Me and Dad buried him weeks later. I was there when he took his last breath and I swear he said, they’re nothing but trouble before his face went still. Bitter-to-the-end, said they’d bring their grief cause things were chaotic in the south. He said their government told them to move north, and the U.S. government was dumb-as-rocks, full of political propaganda. Invited trouble in our own back yard.
Damn fools.
Grandpa left the farm and eighteen Caroline, Virginia acres to my dad. The old farm sat unattended when Dad and I moved north. Crops ceased, stock sold to the only bidder, and the old house? We never went back. As far as I knew, Grandpa’s clothes were still hanging out back on the clothes line. I thought of him every once in a while, slapping his Bud on the bare spot, talking his crap, staggering into the house. Bird shit painted on his butt and elbows. I missed him.
After we moved Dad took up a job at the local jail. He worked there little over five years. He never paid much attention to Grandpa when he was alive. But over time he sounded the same. We both did. Our federal government didn’t detain immigrants without severe criminal records. A judge granted a gang member asylum because an opposing gang controlled his home country. He’d be killed if he returned. News traveled fast. The next thing you know the border was out of control. Thousands fled Mexico and El Salvador. Cost the feds eight billion and the states, eleven billion dollars a year to incarcerate repeat non-citizen felons. Dad’s face turned red, he said, “That’s nineteen billion,” and took one of his blood pressure pills.
Dad came home one day, said they let another immigrant go, a gang member. “Damn fools,” he said. He chugged the last of his Bud and tossed the bottle in the trash. He bitched on the way to his bedroom, salty chips clung to the back of his dark blue polyester pants. I remember those days with both sad and scared feelings.
What Grandpa and Dad preached sunk in when a detainee, I say detainee because we couldn’t call them inmates, took a toothbrush and sharpened it into a useful point and stuck it in my Dad. At the hospital, just before he took his last breath, he squinted at me and said, “You be careful, boy.” He closed his eyes and went away.
“Damn immigrants,” I said as the two gravediggers lowered my Dad into the ground. It was forty three degrees that October day. The priest gave me a disappointed glare and walked away at the first dirt toss. I deserved that one. I stood there until the last shovel of dirt covered the casket, lowered my head to pray, gave respect to my dad. But not those two grave diggers. They threw their shovels in the back of their truck and hauled ass. Didn’t even shake my hand, or say goodbye. My entire family rested in the back yard and nobody cared. I kept breathing hard to fight the tears, watched that truck leave. I fell to my knees over Dad’s fresh grave and Grandpa’s seasoned one right next to him, swore to make things right.
The sun had set in the west dropping the temperature ten more degrees. I wiped the snot from my face, stood, and faced Grandpa’s clothes line. Six years dead and his jeans were still hanging from the tattered polyester cord. The old house looked the same, good enough to live in, it was everything I had left. That and a drive to stop them immigrants from crossing that border.
I grabbed the clothes off the line and walked past the picnic table. Imagined Grandpa sat there talking his crap. Settled into the house, talked crap myself. That was three years before I took myself a job at the jail.
They sent me to work in the immigrant pod. I made every one of them detainees think twice before coming back to the U.S., did everything I could to make them miserable. Dumb stuff. I didn’t let them watch sports or shower. Locked them in their cells early to make them mad. They’d complain. The sergeant reassigned me to work in another unit for a few months, but I always returned to the immigrant pod.
One day I sat back in my officer’s chair, watched that El Salvadoran, Victor, recruit as many as he could to his gang. I thought back on how we ended up housing them together. It came from the top. We had to separate the immigrants from the local criminal holds. It must have been a gang member’s dream come true. Every illegal or should I say, undocumented immigrant, the criminal ones you know, came through that pod. It troubled me to no end. I don’t remember getting out of my chair. My face felt red-hot, that, I remember. I circled a group of them, and Victor Estrada Hernandez smirked.
“Break it up,” I said, and no one moved until Victor nodded his head and said something in Spanish. The detainees walked to their cells, including Victor, but he took his sweet time. He looked at the television and laughed on his way, deportation orders in his hand.
“See you in two weeks,” he said.
He was right, he’d be back in the U.S., recruiting more gang members, bringing trouble and death up from the south. I puffed my chest out and blurted, “What’d you say.” He smirked and turned his back on me, pranced across the pod as if he owned the place. I can’t remember the name now, but on the television another execution happened the night before that unfortunate day. Gangs, forty-five miles north, were at it again. They had killed each other for months, right in our own back yard. That night they killed a cop.
I didn’t see Victor’s face cause he was walking away from me, but he had smug written in his step. “Get to your cell,” I said. There I was in the day room of a pod that held eighty detainees, half of them gang members and none of them closed their cell doors. Victor walked slow and ignored my orders. I knew I couldn’t outright beat him, so I picked up my pace and shouldered him as I passed by, and gave him my version of a smirk. That’s when cell door number four swung open. Victor’s sidekick, Sánchez or Perez, whatever the hell his name was, came charging at me. I palmed his face and drove him straight to the ground. I’d have gone unpunished for that, maybe. It’s what happened next that got me several years in prison.
I grabbed that slow-moving jerk, Victor, and smashed his face up against his cell door. “Stay in your country, or I swear…”
“What can you do?” he said with his smug accent. I pressed his right cheek up against the door so hard it distorted his mouth. He smirked through puckered lips. The others approached fast, but my eyes tightened as I zeroed in on Victor.
The hair on the back of my neck raised, and I screamed out a crazy roar. My own voice sounded foreign. Before them others got me I jacked Victor up and drew my fist back to bash his face in, and I paused. He sneered at me. I’ll tell you this, it doesn’t take a moment for a man to let his guard down and allow evil to reach in and steal his soul. I fetched my blade from my pocket.
“You have a smart mouth,” I said, and I sliced him across his lips, upper left to his lower right. It must have been painful, because he screamed out, and I sliced him in the opposite direction. Yep, I carved him a big X right across his filthy mouth. That’s when the others grabbed my legs and pulled me away. Victor sat up against the white center block wall, breathing hard through flapping, bloody lips, divided in four parts.
After that, I sat in prison for three years.
When I first went to prison I resembled a sickly, under weight loser. Worry does that to a person. The prisoners, many of them immigrant gang members, poked fun at me and took my commissary. But they didn’t consider me a threat, made it easier to fiddle around, poke my nose into their business. Learned what they were planning.
They came here aiming to take over the U.S. Grandpa and Dad warned me before they died, and as far as I was concerned at the time they were right. Saw it on the television. Heard it from the gang members. Good enough for me.
When it was time to go, I threw my bag over my shoulder, left the prison walls behind me and headed back to Grandpa’s property. My property. I’d never be hired again as a jailer or as law enforcement. I knew that. So, I shed the officer blues and inmate orange. Ready to win a war. Intent on sending our troubles back across that border. Someone stirred the dirt behind me as I walked away from the prison gate. I glimpsed back, and sure enough, it was one of them. He glanced at me with evil eyes and strutted south. At least he headed in the right direction. I went north, had to get my jeans off the line.

What if: My Words Were Well Known

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A kind poet, just described me, as a renowned author on Twitter. On Amazon, my book The Genealogist’s Guests is at #114,818 Paid in the Kindle Store. It is #41 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Paranormal > Psychics
There is a handy link on the same page (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store). I am a somewhat unknown author, at least in the big scheme of indie publishing. What does the #114,818 position mean in sales? For me it is average 13 sold books a month. Sounds meek, though believe me it is amazing. But I am hardly a renowned author. For a brief second there, after reading the kind tweet, I felt odd, I mean what if my words were well known?

My story is a paranormal mystery. It has an underlying message, if you’re abused, tell it. Sounds simple, yet telling someone, anyone that you were a victim of abuse can be the hardest thing to share. There are many reasons why a victim of abuse keeps silent. Humiliation, embarrassment, fear of retaliation, to name a few. If getting the message through to victims were as easy as just saying, report it, I would have written a nonfiction book.

Instead, I wove the message into this paranormal fiction about a family who discovers they’ve been cursed with silence, and as a consequence suffer abuse over and over again, and across generations. Their weapon? The truth. In a single tear drop that burst into millions more, scenes of the truth appeared before the victims. The silence was broken, and the predators were weakened. My paranormal mystery, family, fights to destroy the demons of their past. It must have been a deep concern for me, because writing it just happened. In books two and three they become paranormal investigators who help others fight their evil spirits.

What if my words were well known? What if authors could build a culture of zero tolerance by writing inspiring fiction that helps change the way we think and react to abuse? I pose a question: What’s your underlying theme or message in your fiction novel?

You will not forget the unexpected

Basement Stars
I sat there on the sofa, late night, alone. The only light in the room came from the television. The house was a 1960’s three story brick that sat at the end of the street, or the start depending on the direction of travel. Several people lived there, including a beautiful Rottweiler. On that summer night it was me and the dog. The lower level of the house was a full size apartment. The upper, an attic with two large rooms. The Rottweiler stayed downstairs. Comedian Sinbad was on the television where I sat, in the living room on the middle floor.

See Sinbad here:
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sinbad+comedian&FORM=VIRE3#view=detail&mid=F8238428326CB284C1D9F8238428326CB284C1D9

The sofa faced the fireplace, and behind the sofa was a hallway to the bedrooms, and the stairs to the lower level. I laughed. One of those stupid laughs, mouth wide open, loud as hell. Just what I needed after a hard day at work. If you watched Sinbad’s YouTube video above, you can imagine where my mind was as I sat on the sofa that late summer night. I was relaxed and goofy, not a care in the world.

I heard the footsteps. It was loud as if intentional. The steps started on the lower level. I froze, but not in a relaxed leaned back position, no, I leaned forward, my back was straight, feet planted well on the floor. Someone was in the house, and that someone stopped at the top of the stairs. The door was locked. I looked back at the door handle. Whoever was on the other side of the door never turned the handle. Sometimes we do things we can’t explain.

It never occurred to me to run out the front door. Instead, I stood and tiptoed to the kitchen, pulled the drawer open and grabbed a knife. I guess in a fight or flight scenario, I’m fighting. I was scared out of my mind. I crept back to the sofa, knife in hand. I never heard the footsteps go back down the stairs. If was as if whoever, whatever it was on the other side of that door, never left. I didn’t close my eyes until daylight. I maybe slept an hour before I had to get ready for work.

Thinking about it now, if I had chosen to open the basement door, would that have been my last act? If I’d run out the front door would someone, or something been there, waiting? I can’t explain that any more than I can explain why I didn’t run out of the house screaming. I don’t know what was on the other side of the basement door. The only thing I know is what I’ve told you. It happened and it was unexpected. The following night it was gone. It never returned.

Maybe it was a person and not a ghost on the other side of the door. Like I said, the footsteps were loud, intentional. Maybe he, or she, thought I’d open that locked door to investigate. Maybe, when I didn’t he, she, it, whatever it was, snuck back down the stairs. Maybe my stand, with knife in hand, saved my life, no matter who, or what, was on the other side. The experience leaves me with many questions, like where was the Rottweiler? I only offer one answer to all questions. No, I will never forget.

Why Write Paranormal Mystery

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I can’t give myself credit for writing every available genre. I tried a crime novel and after completing the book I decided it was too closely related to my day job at the jail. Writing it didn’t allow me to escape as a writer. It was something I felt I had to do if I wanted fans to escape when reading my books. When I decided to write a paranormal mystery I didn’t consider whether this particular genre had a large fan base. I didn’t actually know it was going to be a paranormal mystery either. The decision was more of an awe moment. I could write a book about a woman genealogist’s who is visited by her ancestors. A paranormal. My imagination started going crazy. I saw a family tree that soon became a portal to the afterlife. I shared my thoughts and asked, “Should I create a heartwarming story or a horror tale?” Needless to say I received approvals for both. One thing that’s certain, readers have preferences. With that, I had to ask, how much creativeness would I lose by writing for a specific reader(s). If I mold my imagination into what specific readers want, would I lose myself, would I in fact cheat readers by not sharing a true, albeit, eerie, strange, and intense side of me that raises my heart rate, currently at 67. Yet, raises a notch when a slick black substance covers the form of a body, a female body, trapped by dead roots of a tree. The thick, slimy, rancid smelling muck oozes between the dead limbs, alive and wicked. The darkness of the chamber of evil alone can raise my own heart rate, and then the face of the woman who lay trapped is revealed. There you go, my heart rate is 68. It will likely rise higher when I hit the publish button for this post. Why? Because I’m sharing me. Scary as hell I must add. Isn’t this the beauty of self publishing? I escape the mold and share what gets my blood flowing. Even if it is way out there. So why paranormal mystery? Truth be told, when I started writing, I didn’t know what genre I was writing. Shoot, even when I finished the book I had to figure that one out. I had the paranormal, but this one certainly didn’t fit the romance side. And though it has some intense scenes I didn’t consider it to be a horror either. When reading reviews of the book, suspense and thriller pops up. But the story is as much a mystery. Why write a paranormal mystery? It happened. I had no clue where the story was going, no outline, no real conclusion in mind. Only my deepest thoughts, for which I am honored and anxious to share with you.

Smashwords Annual Read an eBook 2014 starts March 2nd!

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Smashwords Annual Read an eBook 2014 starts March 2nd!

I’ve entered my book. Coupon Code RW100. Click on the banner to join Smashwords. The list of books will appear at the stroke of midnight.

Time Fall

Add Time Fall by Timothy Ashby to your must read list! A perfectly written, great storytelling piece. I post here about first pages that keep me reading and Ashby’s Time Fall swept me away. Just published December 12, 2013. I have a feeling this one will rise on the charts.

The Book Thief

This one is easily one of the most fascinating beginnings of a book I’ve read. Just start reading and you will fall into the same spell I did when reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Soon to be a major motion picture. I was intrigued by this person, this soul snatcher’s obsession of a little girl, the book thief, and how compelling and heartbreaking her journey was on that train when her brother died. A well deserving spot as number one on Amazon.

Dark Days (Apocalypse Z)

Virulent strains of viruses slept in a Russian Army Base, no one, not even intelligence knew of it, until it was too late. A group of jihadists took over the base in hopes to sell chemical, or conventional weapons on the black market. When they attacked they didn’t know they were about to release biological weapons that would result in an apocalypse. They probably never knew as they were the first to become the undead. These first pages by author Manel Loureiro keeps you reading:

The Unseen

A new hot release by JL Bryan, The Unseen, begins with four teenage girls looking for something to do, so they created a homemade OUIJA Board, “Cassidy would remember the night of the party as her first encounter with the unseen world,” the first line read. Sure enough bad things happen. When you open that portal to the spirits don’t expect them to be friendly. And so this spirit board spells D.I.E., over and over again, and it’s after Cassidy. A perfect first chapter of how the naïve encounters the unseen.

Wilderness

With a first line like, “My mother claimed that in any mirror I used she could see my face rather than her own, my face, and my singular eyes, and she could not thereafter have the mirror in the house,” how could I stop reading? Addison’s mother couldn’t tolerate the way he looked, even sent him out of the house for a day or two when she couldn’t bare his presence. And he was eight years old during one of the “banning from the house,” times when he saw a stranger in the woods, the first human he has ever seen other than his mother. I’m still trying to figure out what this child must look like going into chapter two. Wilderness, by Dean Koontz. Another what in the world is going on here.

Deceptive Cadence

The words of the first line set the mood for Kathryn Guare’s new release, Deceptive Cadence: The Virtuosic Spy. “She’s come for me.” In the prologue, a man was near the other side, ready to die. He needed to tell someone. They were bringing him back, but he didn’t want them to. Mystery surrounds this guy. Who he is? What led up to this moment? Then there’s this card with Frank Murdoch’s name on it. Frank won’t be happy they found the card, the dying man thought.

Night Chill

What a chilling well-written first chapter. A man in his thirties searches for a hardware store in the backwoods of a small Pennsylvania town. He’s not an ordinary man. He finds the store closed. Inside a young teenage girl tells him to come back the next day. But this stranger charms her, reads her thoughts, and gets inside the store with her. “And they were always eager to prove they were women by following him to whatever bed, car seat, or back alley he chose.” Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus.

When His Dreams Take Flight

Author Andy Holloman released, When His Dreams Take Flight just yesterday. I received the news via email from Goodreads. Glad I did. I read the first pages on Amazon. Nick, the high school principle wakes up with a headache and a premonition, there’s about to be a school shooting. I’m at the edge of my seat hoping he can stop it somehow. He calls the school, warns them, but it’s too late. I’m wondering what events led up to the shooting. Chapter two begins six months prior the shooting with the Laskin kid in another fight. The school principle punches the Laskin kid in the face! Yes, yes there will be an investigation, jeez.

Harrowgate

This blog page is about first pages where I share the books that keep me reading. I was about to move on to another task when I found this one. Harrowgate by Kate Maruyama. I love ghost stories. So, Michael’s heading home. He hadn’t heard from his wife who is pregnant. He fears something’s gone wrong. Why doesn’t she answer the phone? Did she deliver too soon? Were there complications? As he’s rushing home to his wife Sara, she’s finding it difficult to bond with her new infant. The infant had dark blue eyes, “the only human thing in his squished up still-fetal face.” Ok, What?

Darkness & Shadows

Received this one through my Inbox from Amazon.

“It always begins and ends the same.” The first sentence in the prologue of Darkness & Shadows, by Andrew E Kaufman. I love great first sentences. This one makes me curious. So, what begins and ends the same? I read on to find out. There’s a fire and a woman trapped on the other side. He can’t get to her.

“Baby,” she begs “don’t you love me,” she said.”

Ok, something’s odd. Who would say such a crazy thing when they’re on fire, burning to death. Sounds manipulative. I read on and find it’s a dream. In chapter one Patrick is speaking with a therapist about his dreams, he’s not sleeping well, and he’s writing what he calls, “lists.” Overwhelming guilt, I consider. But there’s something eerie going on.

A Dark Mind

The first pages of The Dark Mind, by T.R. Ragan began with a man’s love for his future wife. They walk together heading for his car after a night out. He wants to elope, she laughs at the idea, but no worry he’d probably wait forever. As they walk toward his car they notice the strangers. She wanted to go the other way, call a cab. He thought it was silly. Then he realizes his backpack in the back seat was missing, and the car wouldn’t start. “I asked you how it was going,” one of the strangers said. Broken glass everywhere, chaos.

Oh shit, I think they should have called a cab.

A Lifetime to Wait

In this fast paced first chapter Brooke has some serious bad guys after her when a mystery man, who calls himself a protector, appears out of nowhere and rescues her from imminent danger. Problem? Sure, she doesn’t really know if he’s one of the bad guys, and he’s vague, gorgeous blue eyed vague. By the end of the first chapter Brooke manages to escape and the protector vows to make her pay. Author Jackie Mae certainly holds readers in suspense, wondering who is the protector? How did he know Brooke was in trouble? Know her name?

Doctor Sleep

Aside

I lost my first post about Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. It happens. So here’s my first page impression, again. I once visited The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park http://www.stanleyhotel.com/ and what a beautiful haunted place. It felt eerie to me. Anyway this is the hotel Stephen King got his inspiration from when he wrote The Shining. In Doctor Sleep the first sentence, “On the second day of December when a peanut farmer was conducting business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground,” I thought, wow, what a great way to start. I immediately thought of The Stanley and then The Overlook Hotel. The words that follow is a great recap of the first book, for those who aren’t familiar with The Shining, King’s first page/chapter in Doctor Sleep will get you up to speed. Authors who write series may want to examine how King not only introduces a new story for new readers, as if there’s anyone who doesn’t read King out there, just saying, but he continues the story as if The Shining was written yesterday. I can’t wait to get to the creepy. I know it’s coming.