“Pulse!” A short story from my upcoming Anthology: “Front-Line Heroes.” #RRBC #IARTG.

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My latest work in progress is an anthology of stories dedicated to the bravery of men and woman worldwide. ALL those that silently and without fanfare hold down the Front Lines. ALL the front lines. On the streets of any town, anywhere, you’ll find them, The Policeman, Paramedics, Firefighters, Nurses and Doctors and all their support personnel. Those on the battle-fronts in foreign lands, and those on the battle-fronts of streets peopled with others that have slipped through the cracks and crevices of the world we now live in. The many brave souls that endure the lasting, life changing flashbacks, and battle each and every day with the nightmare that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These are their stories.

 

Front-Line Heroes … An Anthology of short stories.

PULSE.

By

Suzanne Burke 2017.

Chad moved gingerly, his bruised ego competing with his other more visible bruises for distinction.

He’d once believed he could hold his liquor better than most guys his age, but his heaving stomach rapidly turned that hopeful little daydream into a blatant lie.

He made his way to the bathroom, pleased with himself for a moment as he looked around his small apartment, and found contentment by the order he found there.

He avoided the mirror this morning. His hands were too shaky to risk a shave.

The shower revived him to a reasonable degree. Orange juice and strong coffee took care of the rest.

He flicked a look at his phone,  checked a couple of missed calls, but nothing urgent needed his attention for now.

Today was already planned, based on an assumption that the few drinks with the guys and girls from his future work place couldn’t possibly result in feeling less than the six-feet-four, well-muscled and lean persona that belonged utterly to Chad Williams. Ego is such an inconvenient thing. The thought made him smile for a moment.

He shook his head to clear it a little: he’d need to get moving if he wanted to see and map out the sections of the city that would most likely need his attention two nights from now.

He glanced across at the uniform and jacket that hung on the hook outside his wardrobe. The jacket, large and in screaming yellow with Paramedic emblazoned across it to identify him to anyone that needed to know why he was wherever they ended up.

He’d not so long ago worn a different uniform in a very different theater of combat.

“Old habits die hard, that’s how it goes down. I need to take the pulse of my new terrain, do you get that?”

He’d spoken those words to the paramedic he’d be riding with in just a few short days.

“Yeah … Oh yeah, I get it.” Katrina Georgiou gave him a brief smile. “But …” She stopped to better form the question, “I’m gonna be ridin’ with you, Chad. I need to know what you’re bringin’ with you from your past, into my current equation. Do you get that?”

“So … why did I choose to leave? Is that what you need to know?” He asked, with a mask rapidly descending over a face once young, but rapidly ageing.

“Yeah … that’ll about cover it.” she’d said.

Chad had considered his response for a few long moments. His face reflected sadness accompanied by a firm resolve. “When you do your job … you do it for strangers, and the chances of you being called to attend someone you know and care deeply about are minuscule at best. Would that be an accurate assessment?”

She nodded her head, “If you mean family, I’ve only ever heard about that happening, maybe twice or three-times in my twenty-three-years on the job. But, I guess there are many different layers of caring … aren’t there?” She questioned gently and then continued, “Go on.”

“The people that I saw, the dead and the dying, the ones I could help and the ones it was too late to offer anything but  a prayer for, … a thankful prayer that death had been mercifully fast to take them. They weren’t nameless strangers. I ate with those men and women; I played cards and shot the breeze about baseball, and basketball and whatever other damned sport you care to name. I laughed with them and occasionally at them … and then far too often … I watched them bleed.

“So, here I am. These folks we’ll try and help, these folks will be strangers. Strangers I can tend to, to the best of my ability, and when they have been handed over to the hospital I can walk away without the need to hear the ones that care, the ones remaining, cry out their despair.” He looked into her face and saw the beginnings of understanding reflecting back at him from her kind eyes.

She touched his arm, “You’ll do me just fine.” She stood then and offered her hand, “Welcome to your new battle station, Chad.”

He shook the hand that she offered and left her.

He had uncharted terrain to explore. He’d grown up in this city, but he knew her pulse had changed.

He was almost done … only a couple of the dockyard places remained to  be looked at more fully.

The pulse of the city had slowly revealed itself to him,   making itself known to his hyper-alert senses.  He recognized the heartbeat of this city he’d been born in … and over the course of three long days and nights he began to recognize the areas that could explode with testosterone-fueled rage, or the rage of futility … for he knew too well, that rage had its own unique pulse.

Fear signaled a different beat again, the fear pulse came with a residual echo, as if hopelessness had its own sounding chamber.

The visual images of fear burned themselves into his core memory … .

He would save them for later.

Partly satisfied that his recon had given him at least some parameters to work with, he crawled into bed and finally slept. The sunrise heralded the beginning of his new tomorrow.

He watched it rise, and spent the day quietly; his shift began at 2100 hrs … 9.00 pm he corrected inside his military trained head … . He wanted to be, needed to be … must be, on premium, optimal, alert.

He was a little tense on the drive in, and pulled over and breathed through it before he continued.

Katrina  Georgiou,  acknowledged him briefly “We already have a call out, Chad. I’ll fill you in once we get underway.”

Chad climbed up into the ambulance and seated himself in the shotgun position beside her.

“Ready to rock n’ roll?” She asked.

“Let’s do it.”

She nodded and drove out.

She pulled expertly into the heavy traffic of a Friday night in this city, and hit the siren. She grunted in satisfaction as cars began to pull over to let the ambulance through.

“Okay, Chad, here’s where we’re at. We have a Police officer down.  Multiple shots fired, officers responding report  that our patient is on the pavement at the entrance to the old art-gallery off George and Park. No movement detected.”

“We first in?”

“Looks that way.”

“Understood” … “ETA?”

“Four minutes.”

Katrina pulled the ambulance expertly into the boundary already set up by the responding officers.  It was bordered shoulder-to-shoulder with a blue breathing wall of police.

The officer on the sidewalk was around fifteen-yards from the edge of the police presence.

Katrina spoke up, “We need to get to the casualty.”

The officer in charge nodded his head. “I understand that. He’s my man, but we still have a shooter somewhere in that alley. The rear access is covered, so our shooter could be more than a little desperate right around now.”

The body on the sidewalk moved slightly, an arm suddenly extended to drape itself across the side of the man currently facing them.

Chad looked at the blood rapidly pooling on the sidewalk.

“Oh fuck … he’s gut shot.” he said half to himself. “We don’t have time for this, guys. He  could bleed out pretty quickly.” He looked at Katrina and she gave him the yes nod he’d hoped for.

The cop in charge looked at them hard for just a moment “God bless you both.” He turned to his men. “Let’s do this … Jesus … okay, move … on my signal” He gave it, and put both he and another two officers in the direct line-of-fire to escort the paramedics the short distance to the fallen man in blue.

No shots came at them,  and Katrina and Chad set to work.

They were both on autopilot now … focused only on what they needed to do to give this one the very best chance of surviving.

“We’ll need the gurney to move him.” Katrina spoke softly.

“It’ll take too long, Katrina. I’ll carry him, if you go ahead of me and hold the drip feed lines. Yeah?”

She agreed and they prepared him hurriedly for the necessary dash to the ambulance. Both of them focused only on what was ahead and not what could well be waiting to kill them all from behind.

The cops closed ranks and provided them a brief shield, falling back into line with a rapid but pleased glance from the others still waiting to be ordered to move in.

Katrina climbed in to the driver’s seat once they had their patient secured, and Chad sat alongside the unconscious man and willed him to hold on.

The sound of a second shot startled them both, and not waiting to hear more, Katrina revved the vehicle, set the sirens screaming …  and got them all the hell out of Dodge.

The casualty made it the hospital and was still alive when he was handed across to the ready and prepared E.R staff.

***

Chad joined Katrina outside and was grateful when she offered him one of her cigarettes.

“That was quite a christening.” Katrina said as she lit up his Marlboro.

He looked down at his hands, relieved and a little surprised to find that they were steady.

“It was the same, wasn’t it … that Pulse beat you were talking about?” She asked suddenly.

He was surprised … then felt suddenly guilty at feeling that way. “Uh-huh … yeah, yeah …  it was.”

She reached for his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“You do know that those boys in blue will be buying you beers for a long while to come … If you let them that is. Will you let them in close enough to allow that, will you let them be grateful, Chad?”

Chad checked his pulse rate, and then gave her a weary smile.

“I have no choice. Do I? Can we check on him before end of shift?”

“Welcome back to the land of the still living, Chad.”

Chad just nodded his head.

Ready or not … He had finally come home.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Alexis in Blue” A short story from my upcoming Anthology “Front-Line Heroes” @pursoot #RRBC #IARTG #IAN

My latest work in progress is an anthology of stories dedicated to the bravery of men and woman worldwide. ALL those that silently and without fanfare hold down the Front Lines. ALL the front lines. On the streets of any town, anywhere, you’ll find them, The Policeman, Paramedics, Firefighters, Nurses and Doctors and all their support personnel. Those on the battle-fronts in foreign lands, and those on the battle-fronts of streets peopled with others that have slipped through the cracks and crevices of the world we now live in. The many brave souls that endure the lasting, life changing flashbacks, and battle each and every day with the nightmare that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These are their stories.

 

Alexis in Blue

 By

Suzanne Burke

I have always been one of those people that should never be around bleeping car alarms, or crying babies.  There is just something about the urgency of those sounds that creates a twitch in my brain and a frown on my face.

The restaurant was crowded.  The food was good.  My date was not, he had pulled the old left my wallet at home number on me again, and I was pissed as hell about it.

He left.  I stayed.  The phone rang.  The booth was just off to my right.  It rang and rang and my twitch and frown deepened.  I got up and walked over and into a nightmare.

“Yes” I said.

“There’s one born every minute.”  It was a male voice, flat, and cold.  It continued, “Well now, I expected a woman to pick up. I figured it would be a woman, women always stick their noses in where they’re not wanted.”

“Fuck you, whoever you are.”  I said about to slam the phone down.

“NO!  Not a smart thing to do, lady.”  The voice screamed.

“I’ll play.  Why not?”

“Because, you stupid bitch, you activated the timing device on a bomb when you picked up the phone.”

I remained silent.  The words unscrambling themselves in my alcohol-infused brain.  “Bull shit, creep.  Ha ha, I’m not buying it.”

“Too bad, bitch. That pretty blue dress is gonna get all covered with blood and brains. Such a pity.”

My brain kicked into overdrive.  This bastard could see me.  He was watching me.  I looked around me fast, trying to see who it might be.  Whoever it was, they had to be on a cell phone.

“Well,” he said, what do you think?  Which one of us is it, bitch?  Huh?  C’mon bitch, figure it out; which one of us are you talkin’ to.  Which one is gonna blow you and all these other assholes to hell?  Talk to me, bitch.  Don’t make me push my little button too soon.  Where would the fun be in that?  I like to have fun.”

I couldn’t afford not to play the sicko’s game.  If this was a game.

“What do you want?”

“Ah, see now, that’s better.  Play nice.  It can be fun; you just have to find a way.  Can you find a way, bitch?”

Sweet Jesus, what the hell do I do?  What if it’s real?  What if there is a bomb?  “What do you want?  Please, tell me what you want?”

“Oh, you disappoint me, you already asked me that.  Shouldn’t disappoint me, I don’t like it when women disappoint me.”

I swallowed the bile that came up in my throat, I had to think, think. My stupid brain wouldn’t respond.  What could I say?

“Um—my name, is Alexis.”

“So?”

“So, what’s your name?”

“Boring and stupid.  Is that all you can come up with?  My name is Alexis.  I can tell you my name, but I won’t.  How ‘bout you guess my name.  Yes, that will keep me amused, for a while.  Alexis has to guess my name.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Wrong!’

“Please, why are you doing this?”

“Wrong!”

My knees were shaking and the nausea was threatening to overwhelm me. Why didn’t anyone come near?  Why couldn’t they see?  I looked frantically around again trying to make eye contact with someone, anyone.  Please, please why can’t you see?

“Um … Robert.” I said, trying to keep my voice from breaking.

“Do I sound like a Robert?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know.  Can you give me a hint?  Please.  Will this stop if I guess your name?  Why would you do this, do I know you?”

“Oh—poor little bitch.  Poor little bitch in a blue dress.  Poor bitch wants a hint.  Will I give you a hint? Lemme think ‘bout it.”

What can I do?  Think … dammit … think.  Keep him talking, keep him talking.  This place has to close.  Someone will get suspicious; surely, someone will wonder why I’m on the phone so long.  Keep him talking.

“If not, Robert.  Then give me a hint.  Play fair.  Or don’t you know how?”

“Wrong answer, bitch.  Nice try.  But gettin’ me mad ain’t a good idea.”

“Then give me a hint, please.”

“Say sorry.”

“I … I’m sorry, please.  Don’t do this.”

“Pleadin’ won’t help, bitch.  What is my name?”

“Frank.”

“Wrong answer.”

I could feel the tears running down my face and turned around so people could see them.  Dear God, please someone look at me.  Can’t you see?  That woman, that woman in the leather jacket she is looking at me.  I nodded my head at her.  Yes, yes.  Please come see.  Please. No! Don’t give me me an embarrassed smile and turn away.  No, no no.

“What is my name, little bitch in blue?”

“I don’t know … I don’t know! Please why, why are you doing this?  Why?”

“It’s time.”

“Ti … time … no … no …! Time for what?”  I screamed into the phone, a couple of people looked up, and looked away again quickly.

“Time for all the people to pay.  Alexis in the blue dress.”

“Pay for what?  What did they do to you?”

“Too late—too late, it’s done.  Nobody cared, Alexis in the blue dress.”

“I—I care!”

“Of course you do … you are going to die.  Everyone cares when they are about to die.”

“Then–why don’t you tell all these people, why they must die?  Punish them like you are punishing me.”

“Tell all the people?”

“Yes, yes.  Tell all the people. You want them to be afraid, don’t you?  You want them to suffer with that fear like I am before they die. Don’t you?”

“Make them afraid.  All of them?  Yes … NO!  What is my name?”

“Look, look around you.  More people are leaving.  They never got to care what happened to you.  They never got to be afraid.”

I said a silent prayer that he didn’t just push the damned button.  My instincts told me it was suddenly more important to confuse him. He appeared to be rattled just a little.

“What did they do to you to make you hate them?”

“I don’t hate.  I don’t feel anything.  They have to pay.”

“Because … because you don’t feel anything?”

“Yes—Alexis in the blue dress.  Because I don’t feel anything.  They did that.”

“Who is they?”

“People.  Just people.”

“But, why me? Why these people in particular?  What did I do to you?  What did the woman and that little girl in pink do to you?”

“Wrong—no more questions.  Just answers, get it?  What is my name.”

His voice was becoming agitated.  No longer cold and flat, it was raised in protest at my questions.

“George, is it … George?”

“No.  This is boring.”

“You will die too, won’t you?  You are here in this restaurant, watching every little move I make. So, you will die too.”

“Yes—of course.  No matter, I feel nothing.”

“You don’t feel pain?”

“I feel nothing.  No more questions.  I’ll give you a hint.”

“What if I don’t get it right?”

“Get it right.  Alexis in the blue dress.  Do you like music?”

“Yes, yes I do.”

“Do you know music?”

I thought hard before I answered.  “No—not very well.  I just like music, that’s all.  If you give me a hint, and I get it right what will you do?”
“What will you do?”  I repeated.

“I’ll stop.”

“You’ll stop the bomb from detonating?”

“Yes.”

“Why should I believe you?”

“What choice do you have, Alexis in the blue dress?”  He laughed.

The terror had gone. I’d replaced it a with a desperation that was tinged with acceptance.  I was going to die.  These people were going to die. How dare he decide so many fates.
More couples left the restaurant.  The woman in the leather jacket looked at me again, I mouthed the word…  Help.  Again, Help.  I couldn’t risk signaling her in any other way.  He was in here.  Watching me.  Watching everything, I did.

She looked at me oddly.  Then she picked up her purse and she and her male companion left the restaurant. She gave me a brief backward glance as then disappeared from sight around the screen near the entry door.

I could barely breathe.

I had wet myself and all I could do was stand there in silent unobserved humiliation. Was this how my life would end?  I hated knowing that it was.

The restaurant was emptying, faster now.  It was getting late.  Time was running out.  The waiters were going around to the occupied tables and soon after a few of the customers here and there got up and made their way slowly outside.

That was good, I was relieved it might end up with just me and some staff perhaps.  The woman and the little girl got up to go.

“What are you doing?”  His voice was querulous, agitated, different.

“Nothing—you can see me!  What does it look like I’m doing?  Nothing—right.  Just waiting for the hint.”

I looked around, again.  Damn who was it; there weren’t many of us left.  Five males, four females and the staff.  Was it one of the staff?  What good would knowing do me?

“So—come on—what is the hint?”

“I’m thinking!”  He raised his voice angrily this time.  I had rattled him.  I don’t know how.

“C’mon, c’mon.  If I’m going to guess your name, I need a hint.”

“Wait!  Are you in a big hurry to die? Alexis in the blue dress.  How old are you?”

“Why does that matter?”  I have to stall him now.  The longer I can keep him occupied the more people would get out.
“I asked how old you are?” he was angry.

“And I asked you why that’s important.”

“Tell me!” he screamed.

“I don’t think I will.  You have to give me the hint.  You said you would, now you will not.  If you are a liar, why would I believe you about the bomb?  I think I’ll just walk out of here.  You have had your sick fun.”

“Tell me your age and I will give you a hint.”

“How old do I look?”

“Stop it!  You must answer the questions.  Don’t ask them.”

I looked around; several of the waiters appeared to be going off duty.  Why had no one questioned me still being on the phone?

I saw him!  It had to be him, or one of the staff.

No! It had to be him.  He sat at the back of the restaurant, alone.  That’s why he couldn’t guess my age.  He was too far away to be sure, or even close.  But, was the bomb on him, or planted?  I couldn’t let him know that I had figured out who he was.  I must not.

“I’m thirty.”  I lied.

“That’s better.  That’s young.”

“How old are you?”

“As old as time.”  He sounded weary, fed up.

“What is my hint?”  I pushed it.

“Purple Haze.”

“What?”

“Purple Haze.”

I watched another couple of people that could only have come from the kitchen walk out the front door. One of them still wearing the white cap of a kitchen hand. There was none of the laughter and good natured ribbing you would expect to hear from people finishing work and heading elsewhere.

I realized then that they knew.  Someone had tipped them off.  Maybe the woman in the leather jacket.  The lights were all still blazing.

“I said, Purple Haze.  Alexis in the blue dress.”

He was so focused on me I don’t think he had noticed that hardly anyone remained in the restaurant.  I turned around and looked in his direction.  I couldn’t make out detail.  He was in clear line of sight from me.  Sitting behind the table.  His hair was dark and long.

“Answer me.”  He screamed again.  “What is my name?”

Jimi, it must be Jimi.” I screamed the name.

“How? How … did you …?”

I put the phone down on the bench.  I wanted to run like hell.  But I forced myself not to.

I walked outside, slowly in an sleepwalkers mist … straight into the arms of the bomb squad member ushering the other occupants to safety.

Everyone but Jimi was out.  I sobbed in the arms of the big guy in the full kefla suit.  I threw up, and then had to sit; I was grabbed by two more big cops and carried to the barricades down the block a piece.

Jimi exited the restaurant.  There were cops and bomb squad people everywhere.

Jimi was in a wheelchair.

“I feel nothing,” he had said.

“Oh God” I screamed … “He’s gonna do it…please, please, no! No, he’s gonna do it!”

The blast knocked a few cops off their feet.

I remember crying out, “NO!” and then I passed out cold.

I awoke in hospital, groggy from the tranquilizers.  The woman that had called the cops was sitting beside the bed.  So was my ex-husband.

“I … who was he?”

“Later, Alice,” said my ex. “Rest up okay.  Just rest.”

“No dammit—no! I need to know?”

“His name was James Fredericks.”  The woman said, flashing her badge as she spoke.  “You are one brave woman.  How did you know to lie about your age?”

“You’re a cop?”

“Yes, I was off duty last night, but as soon as I realized there was a problem we put a tracer on the phone line and listened in.  Then, we started very slowly getting people to leave the restaurant, just one, or two at a time.”

“How did you know the answer?” she asked.  “I mean it was an ambiguous hint, Purple Haze.  What is that?”

“A song by Jimi Hendrix.  I’m a child of the sixties.  As soon as he asked me about music, and my age, I figured he was gonna try and make it something I wouldn’t know. I love music.  And Purple Haze was a favorite.”

“He was a Nam Vet wasn’t he?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Not all of them came home.”  I whispered sadly.

I cried for Jimi.

I cried for all the Jimmies.

***

“Acts Of Betrayal” Book 2 (Unintended Consequences”) By Suzanne Burke. A terrifyingly possible scenario! #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1. @pursoot

ACTS OF BETRAYAL NEW PROMO 8 2017

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared”

Niccolo Machiavelli

***

Can one powerful man bring mankind to the brink of extinction?

In this powerful sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption, Nigel Cantrell is back, and he’s out for blood.
One of his team holds on precariously to life, with no guarantees of recovery.

Can those responsible drag him into a nightmare he will struggle to contain?

In a complex dual where oaths taken are forsaken, and promises made are broken beyond repair, he must seek the help of the only people he can trust … people who revere him … and, those that despise him.

Cantrell is efficient and deadly, but even he has ghosts in his past, demons, that must be exorcised.  Nothing is more demonic than the peril he must now face, as a one man’s maniacal thirst for revenge is uncovered.
A man so enormously powerful, with a hatred so intense, so extreme, that the possible demise of his own species means nothing to him. He will dispense his revenge as his diseased mind sees fit.

Nigel Cantrell and his team do not have failure as an option.
The fate of their country and beyond now rests in their hands.
Can they prevent the final Acts of Betrayal?

Acts Of Betrayal on AMAZON.Com

 

Author Showcase … Featured genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. Featured Author John W. Howell.

Author Showcase CARD JOHN HOWELL

Hello and welcome to Author Showcase! I will be featuring different authors & genres each month. I interview each author, and showcase their featured work.

WHY? Simply because I enjoy supporting other Indie Authors every chance I get.

This Month I am featuring Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Authors.

Please welcome my guest, Author John W. Howell.

Meet John.

John Howell Headshot
John W. Howell.

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories.  His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.  All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author Interview:

  1. What inspired you to write in this genre?

 My genre is Thrillers and I love to write stories that grab the reader. Since I write in the first person present tense my stories tend to unfold as the reader proceeds. I love the idea of having a plot point deviate in a different direction. A thriller is supposed to keep the reader guessing and that is what inspires me. When my reviews validate the fact that the story twists and turns I feel satisfied I’ve done my job.

  1. How much research was required before you began to write &did the characters then create more research by their actions?

My research was extensive. My story is about boats, explosives, airplanes, and other subjects which are not part of my knowledge base. All these elements needed to be thoroughly researched before the writing began. As the characters began to have a voice in the story additional research was necessary in order to deliver what the character was demanding.

  1. How would you best describe your protagonist?

John Cannon is a litigation attorney. He is as normal as a lawyer can be. He doesn’t have any special talents or survival skills on which he can depend when the going gets tough. He has a keen mind and the patience to wait until he is certain of an outcome before going into action. He also has a fondness for delicious coffee which puts him in good stead with the antagonist.

  1. Have you written or do you intend to write in other genres.

I have completed a book in a genre that I would describe as Spiritual or Speculative fiction. It is due to be published in September.

  1. Is this novel a stand-alone or part of a series?

My GRL is the first book in the John Cannon Trilogy

  1. Are you currently working on anything new?

I am currently working on another spiritual fiction novel and am working with a very talented collaborator. The story is about two spirits who are challenged to return to Earth with the objective of preventing a singular act that has the potential of destroying humanity.

I then ask my guests to pose a question to themselves, and their response.

& 7. Hummm. I think the question I would ask is What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

My advice is: 1. Write for the right reasons. If you get joy from writing then it is your thing. If you want to be rich or famous walk away. 2. Write every day. Set a goal and stick to it. The only way to become a better writer is to write. 3. Until your draft is finished, do not share it with anyone. Well-meaning folks tend to discourage new writers. A new writer does not need to have people question or evaluate the manuscript until it is done. Then the gates can be opened. 4. Do not edit or try to improve the manuscript as you go along. Finish it then go back. All writing needs editing. If the new writer does too much of it before the manuscript is done chances are it will never be done.

FEATURED BOOK: “MY GRL”

My GRL front

 John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a well-deserved leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the attractive young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission.

 John w. Howell’s  FAVORITE AMAZON REVIEW.

John Cannon is a thirty-eight-year-old partner in a law firm in California who decides to take a twelve month leave from the practice in order to decide if he is truly happy with the “comfort of the routine I had come to know and hate” or if he would prefer a different lifestyle now that he has the financial means to live as he pleases. At first, everything proceeds wonderfully with a relocation to Port Aransas on the Texas Gulf Coast. The quick acquisition of a twelve-month lease on a home and purchase of a car and sixty-five-foot boat, which he names My Grl, all point to a positive future, only when John becomes implicated in the murder of the broker through whom he bought the boat he finds his reality turned upside down. John’s life now appears to be in enough of a tangle when he discovers himself caught between the local police, the FBI and a possible love interest, but the plotlines become further knotted when a terroristic agenda, in which an enemy from his past has placed John and My GRL at the center, is revealed, and John finds that he is the only person who can prevent a massacre

There are several key concepts to achieve when writing a novel from the first-person perspective, arguably chief among them is creating a character with a distinctive voice who the reader can not only “hear” as being an actual person but who is someone the reader would like to know in real life. Howell’s character John Cannon exemplifies these goals through his stream of consciousness inner monologues in which he reveals himself to be an ordinary man with everyday concerns and fears, not some superhero with radioactively-induced mutant gifts that the average reader can only have described in graphic novel imagery or with incomprehensible technical jargon. Cannon is a man not unlike ourselves who, though in the end having some high-level support, is put into a position where he is the only person who can connect the dots and prevent a terrorist attack. In addition to the crafting of the protagonist himself, the plotting of “My GRL” is to be commended. Unlike the thrillers produced by the major publishing houses, “My GRL” provides a true to life reveal of the big picture where the reader, seeing the world through the eyes of John Cannon, learns every detail in tandem with the man who by the end of the novel would become a hero. More than just an exciting read, as a piece of literature, “My GRL” proves the worth of independent publishing in allowing Howell to provide a quality storyline that willfully neglects the formulaic in the interest of pulling the reader directly into the middle of an exciting, ever-developing, complex plot.

The Other books in the series.

Author Showcase JOHN HOWELL BOOK 2 and 3

Author John W. Howell may be reached on the following links.

 Author Blog ‘Fiction Favorites’

 FACEBOOK

TWITTER

Amazon AUTHOR page

Thank you for stopping by. My next featured author this month is Mae Clair.

Rave Reviews Book Club “Springtime Book and Block Party!

RRBC Badges (2)

 

Welcome to my blog on this wonderful Rave Reviews Book Club ‘Springtime’ Book and Blog Block party tour! Coming to you today from my latest location; the beautiful rural township of Bathurst, in New South Wales: Australia.

BLOG IMAGES FOR CITY GIRL

Please leave a comment below today, April 21st, to be entered in the drawing to win one of these prizes!

1 (Ebook copy) of “Empty Chairs” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 1. #Memoir

1 (Ebook copy) of “Faint Echoes Of Laughter” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 2. #Memoir

1 (Ebook copy) of “Acts Beyond Redemption” (Unintended Consequences) Book 1 #Thriller #Suspense.

1 (Ebook copy) of “Acts Of Betrayal” (Unintended Consequences) Book 2. #Thriller #Suspense.

Total Prizes I’m gifting today = 4.

I do love a party! So, let’s have some party-time fun! I know just the woman to add a little ‘spice’ to the proceedings.  Meet Sheila Harrington one of the pivotal characters in my Thriller Suspense Novels “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts Of Betrayal”

Lets’ dress my little monster for the party … and we’ll make it formal, shall we?

Sheila ballgown by Michael costello

 

Ah, yes of course, we need a stunning location. What better setting than this  ballroom?  The occasion? The highly publicized Charity event of the season …The ‘Governors’ Black and White Ball’. Thrown with his accustomed panache by New York Governor (And Presidential Candidate) Damon Henderson. Sheila Harrington is as always his date.

Blog Black and White Ball 2

Sheila is tall for a woman, and the elegant Jimmi Choo shoes boost her height to just over six feet. She is both beautiful … and deadly. She adds more than just a mans’ heart to her little bag of collectables … she evicerates his spirit, and destroys his soul without hesitation, or remorse.

Love her or loathe her? Now that is the question. Whatever the decision, you may not forget her in a hurry.

Now relax,  kick your shoes off, and listen in to an (imaginary) conversation between the beautiful Sheila and her unseen ‘guest’… Let me see, what shall we name him? Ah, yes … Mr D Evil, will do nicely.

***

“You look bored, Mon bebe.” The voice was husky, inviting, deeply-timbered. Sheila shivered delightedly, then smiled.

” To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” She whispered.

“I grew bored, and there are brief moments when you actually manage to entertain me, Mon bébé. I’m loving the dress. Black becomes you.”

“Yes … it does.”

“Have you chosen your plaything for this evening as yet?”

Plaything? An interesting choice of word. That implies that I would gain some sort of pleasure from any interaction I pursue.”

“Do you not?”

“Only the fleeting recognition that any predator enjoys. It’s all in the game. Pleasure in and of itself is not something I actively seek.”

“Only because you have yet to experience it, Mon bebe. You have had ample time to select.  Does nothing here interest you?”

Sheila  surveyed the glittering, brittle, breakable, crowd, before answering. “There may be one that could conceivably brighten up my evening for a brief while.”

Her companion followed her gaze, “The overdressed woman with the irritatingly piercing voice, now holding court with your date?”

Sheila laughed, well aware that heads would turn, drawn by the infectious warmth of the sound. “Too easy! Clarissa Mainwearing was born ugly, and no matter what amount of her ‘old’ money she throws at it, or how distinguished her pedigree; that type of ugly just won’t go away. My beauty would make her a lap dog inside ten-minutes. Besides, Damon is undeniably mine to control.” She sighed,  “So … no. Guess again.”

Her companion settled back, smiling contentedly to himself.

“I could of course force you to choose the one I desire.”

“That would rob you of surprise.”

 He favored her with his cold smile, “Who then?”

Sheila again surveyed the room. Then having made her decision, and without needing to point, she began, “Tall, well defined muscles, even the Armani threads can’t disguise the fact that he has a wonderful body. He has the confidence to wear his hair long and in a ponytail. He has not had his back to a door or window all evening. His stance is loose, and non-threatening. He surveys the crowd without making eye contact, or conversing with anyone. He is trained. How well trained remains to be seen.”

“Hm … interesting choice. I’m pleased. How will you proceed?”

“I’ll dismantle his detachment.”

Her unseen companion surveyed the subject of the discussion again, more slowly. “I don’t believe you can do it as easily as you may think, ma petite.”

“Is that the sound of a gauntlet hitting the floor?”

“Consider it so.”

“Wonderful! Watch me.”

“Always.”

Sheila missed the comment, already walking slowly across the crowded room, and as always parting the crowd in her wake. The women not graced with beauty of their own gazed at her retreating back with envy, the men, with unbridled lust.

She approached, glancing at the handsome, disinterested face; then shuddered briefly as his gaze met her own. She stood next to him now, still silent, sipping her cocktail and observing the room. She waited for longer than most would find comfortable, before, finally, he spoke.

“Is there something you require?”

She slid her eyes slowly over his body; it was more the studied look of an artist recognizing a fine piece of artwork, than a simple flicker of flirtation, “Require? That’s doubtful. Perhaps I’m simply curious as to what type of gun is tucked into your waist band?”

His reaction pleased her, for only the momentary dilation of his pupils gave any indication that her remark had even been heard.

“Probably the same type you are carrying in your clutch-purse, Miss Harrington.” He smiled, gave a brief dismissive nod and turning his back on her, he walked away.

Sheila smiled, and her blue eyes flashed fire. ‘Touche.’

Mr D Evil smiled at the exchange. ‘You have now entered the eye of the cyclone, mes enfants. Now … do you enjoy … or destroy? The evening ahead took on a new color … and the color was red. ‘Game on.’  He was well pleased.

***

Now that was fun. Sheila Harrington is a complex woman. This little interaction barely touches on that complexity. But I sure hope that you enjoyed it.

Acts Beyond Redemption (Unintended Consequences Book 1)

ABR MADE BY SATAN new for JANUARY 2017 HIRED ASSASSIN

BLURB

Acts Beyond Redemption takes you on a twisted, deadly, journey.

Mike Matheson is head of a Special Task Force set up by the F.B.I to track down and apprehend the serial killers responsible for 18 brutal murders.

His team are exhausted, frustrated, and ready to burn out after almost five years and no leads.
Their nightmares are stripping them to the bone.

Finally, a break in the case hands them a suspect!

Sheila Harrington appears to have confessed to the horrific murders.

Sheila Harrington also looks set to become the wife of The Governor of New York, Damon Henderson; the man strongly favored to become the next President of The United States of America.

Eminent forensic psychologist Nigel Cantrell is called in to assist the team.

Yet nothing and no one could prepare them for what is to come.
Someone on the inside is deflecting their weary eyes away from an incomprehensible and shattering truth.

Who will be buried in the shattered remains of a country where freedom and honor are treasured above all things?

Just how far will those elected to protect and defend go, to keep the American dream alive?

Purchase ‘Acts Beyond Redemption’ on Amazon.com

 

Acts of Betrayal (Unintended Consequences Book 2)

 

ACTS OF BETRAYAL HENRY KISSINGER

BLURB

In this powerful sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption Nigel Cantrell is back, and he’s out for blood.

One of his team holds on precariously to life, with no guarantees of recovery.

Can those responsible drag him into a nightmare he will struggle to contain?

In a complex dual where oaths taken are forsaken, and promises made are broken beyond repair; he must seek the help of the only people he can trust, people who revere him … and, those that despise him.

Cantrell is efficient and deadly, but even he has ghosts in his past, demons that must be exorcised. And nothing is more demonic than the peril he must now face, as a one man’s maniacal thirst for revenge is uncovered.
A man so enormously powerful, with a hatred so intense, so extreme, that the possible demise of his own species means nothing to him.

He will dispense his revenge as his diseased mind sees fit.

Nigel Cantrell and his team do not have failure as an option.
The fate of their country and beyond now rests in their hands.
Can they prevent the final acts of betrayal?

Purchase ‘Acts Of Betrayal’ on Amazon.com

My non-fiction books are available as follows.

“Empty Chairs” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 1.

Empty Chairs available on Amazon.com

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 2.

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” on Amazon.com

“Still Sassy at Sixty” (Standing Tall and Fighting Back) Book 3. DUE FOR RELEASE OCTOBER 2017.

A very quick personal note. I have been hospitalized this week and just wanted to say a big thank you to the lovely folks that have taken a moment of their precious time and sent me such kind wishes for a speedy recovery. It endorses everything I’ve said about Rave Reviews Book Club being a family. Don’t be concerned my friends, it is a known health issue that caused my trip to ICU. I’m home now and will be back to my cantankerous ol’ self in no time. Hugs to you all. Soooz xo

 Don’t forget to stop in and check out the other tour stops at https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/rrbc-2017-springtime-book-blog-block-party/as the party goes on all month long!

Kangaroo they went thataway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Arrival” Excerpt 2. My work-‘Under Construction’. A Paranormal Thriller.

Hello, and thanks for joining me again. I will be sharing one of my latest projects here with you each week. The installments are brief. I do hope you enjoy them.

If you like what you read, you can catch up with all previous excerpts here:

PREVIOUS EXCERPTS FROM ARRIVAL … HERE

 

ARRIVAL

By

S. Burke

Chapter 1 … Excerpt 2.

MIND CONTROL FOR TO BE CONTINUED PAGE ARRIVAL.

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Chapter 1 … Excerpt 2.

 

 

Diego rested his hand on the Glock, seeking comfort in the unrelentingly cold hardness of the metal.

He checked the CCTV image; uncertain if it were a trick of his mind that permitted him to visualize the shapes that waited there, as friend, and not foe.

Two people stood unmoving, both concealed by the dark hoodies that covered their heads and faces so successfully. The stance of one was tantalizingly familiar; yet Diego’s brain recognized it as an impossibility, even as the thought formed. ‘No … impossible!  No, no, no,  you’re dead’

He clicked the intercom open, and was not surprised when his voice quavered as he spoke, “What?”

“That’s no way to greet an old friend, Chicano!

“Santa Madre de Dios! No! I saw you die.”

The one who had spoken, raised both hands, then, slowly and with long-tapered fingers’, pushed back the hoodie. The perfect features worked themselves into a high-powered smile. “I decided that death was supremely overrated, Chicano! You know how I am when I make up my mind. Now open the fucking door, I need a drink!”

Diego Ortega made his choice, and with a hand that shook, he deactivated the explosive charge, his first-line of defense.  He opened the door; even as he clicked off the safety on the Glock, and stood ready to use it at point blank range if necessary.

“Weapons on the table. Both of you, now!” He said, surprising himself that he could speak at all.

“That’s the first smart thing you’ve said.” The un-hooded one replied, placing another Glock on the table.

“You!” Diego pointed his weapon at the shorter of the two, “The weapon, now!”

The second person slowly moved their right hand, and pulled a gun from beneath the hoodie. It was carefully laid alongside his companions.

Diego placed his gun barely inches from the face of the one he recognized, “The back-up. On the table. Make it fast.”

“Good call! So you do remember?” The left ankle was quickly revealed and a lethal knife was quickly removed from its sheath, to join the guns on the table.

“Hands behind you. Kneel on the floor.”

“You,” he pointed the gun at the second one, “Down.”

The two threats to his sanity were now cuffed. “Tell me what you want. Make it fast.”

“I want a drink, Chicano. You know what I like.”

“Still drinking Buds?” Diego smiled stiffly as he asked.

“I’ve never touched beer in my life. Nice try, Chicano. But no cigar! You disappoint me; I expected your wits to have remained sharper than this. I have my preferred drink of choice in my backpack; unless you happen to have a Twelve-year-old single malt scotch available?”

Diego heard clearly, “That is hardly a secret. You’ll need much more to convince me that you are who you appear to be. Much, more.”

“You whisper ‘Ti Amo’ when you orgasm.”

“I do that with anyone that satisfies me.”

“I’m tired of this bullshit, Chicano! You ask the damned questions. I want a drink while I wait.”

Diego was wavering, but held the gun ready. He racked his memory banks for something unique to his tormentor. “What did your mother say to you just before she died?”

The tormentor glared at him, not speaking, for a long, cold, moment. Then the words erupted like poisonous sores spewing puss.  “She said, ‘You were always the waste of a perfectly good fuck!’ Just before I shot her.”

Diego stood motionless for what felt an eternity, then, with tears pouring from his still disbelieving eyes, he moved behind the visitors and removed the cuffs.

“Querida. Mi amor preciouso!” He pulled the woman into his arms.

She laughed delightedly and kissed him. “Your accent thickens whenever you are passionate or afraid. Which is it now? ”

Diego looked in her green eyes, as his memories threatened to spiral out of control, “A mixture of both, Elizabeth. We need to talk. I have company coming, soon now. We will talk later.”

He turned his attention to her companion once more, “Your name?”

“His name is Javier.”

“Can he not speak for himself, Elizabeth?”

“No … he cannot. The Breed removed his tongue.”

Diego looked at the younger man, “I’m so sorry.”

” Why did they allow him to live? They usually complete the butchering process.”

The woman looked across at the young man. They shared an unspoken moment.

“It will take time to explain, Diego.”The woman looked into his eyes for a long moment. “These people you are expecting … . Do you trust them with our lives, Diego?”

To Be Continued …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to my new work ‘under construction’ “Arrival” A Paranormal Thriller. An excerpt will be featured each week.

Welcome to my new work in progress! “Arrival” A Paranormal Thriller.

MIND CONTROL FOR TO BE CONTINUED PAGE ARRIVAL.

I will be featuring an excerpt from “ARRIVAL” my latest work (In progress)  each week. I have listed this as a paranormal/thriller. I have yet to decide if I should add Dystopian to that genre list.

Your thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated.

Here we go! (No synopsis)

CHAPTER 1 Excerpt 1.

“Arrival” by Suzanne Burke

The blood was pooling now; the pools becoming rapidly drying rivers in the oppressive heat of early morning.

It caked the whitewashed walls in grotesque patterns, like Picasso on a bender.

The team moved softy, unaffected by the stench of death. As ordered, they were sending  ‘activation’ messages to those of the ‘Breed’ that stood  watching the carnage without expression.

The other onlookers, the ‘Nontells’ were deemed irrelevant. As always they would do as instructed; unaware, unafraid, robbed of free thought.

Diago Ortega was a Nontell. He watched the Breed team carefully, fascinated as always with the teamwork without words that they excelled at. The poetry of movement between them was a beautiful thing to behold. His brain took a snapshot of the moment, storing it in his photographic memory along with the rest of the horror.

It was only when his own part in this nightmarish scenario was played out that he would stop long enough to reflect. For now the bodies were still warm to the touch; death had not yet visited for long. Dismemberment was carried out in routine order. Diago had a fleeting gratitude that his team did not need to decapitate the body. Taking the limbs was sickening enough.

His face reflected no horror. For he had witnessed far worse.

Why did the the Breed insist that all Nontells leave the room once forensics were underway? Why did the Breed always clean the gore themselves, when they had an army of Nontells to do it? It made no sense.

Why indeed were the ‘Breed’ at all times,the last ones to remain on the scene, and the first to arrive?

Diago tried unsuccessfully to stem the tide of his suspicions. The ‘Breed’ could read his thoughts, he was certain of it; all that kept him safe was their egomaniacal assumption that a ‘Nontell’ would have no thoughts worthy of reading.

He sat. He pulled a beer from the ice-box and drank it down fast; it cleared the bitterness from his palate … for a time. Alcoholism was rampant within the Nontell enclaves; it had been since the ‘Arrival’; in fact, the Breed encouraged it. It was the one thing that the Nontells were permitted to excel at.

Diago remembered well the days before ‘Arrival’. Those days before were forbidden to recall, never to be spoken of. The Breed had succeeded overwhelmingly well in quelling their humanity. But not for all. Not for him.

The memory played out in the theater of his mind,  sweet, sweet, memory … of the days when laughter was spontaneous, tears were permitted, and joy was anticipated with delight. Days of sunshine and superman, dogs and children, doughnuts and coffee.

Years of striving to attain a place. Working, long, discouraging, deadly hours; holding on desperately for those times of returning home, to the love of a partner who valued your contribution to their world.

‘Arrival’ had irreversibly altered that sacred pattern.

The ‘Breed-Master’ had declared the days before “Arrival” as a pestilence to be diminished and swept from memory.

It was so ordered.

Diago Ortega chose to disobey.

As did the others …  they would arrive soon.

The other Nontells, the ones with enough humanity remaining to dare to be different; to question, to seek the truth … and. perhaps more importantly, to locate within themselves the courage it would take to act on what they discovered. Small pockets of them had begun forming, always alert and always at risk.

Diago waited,  allowing his thoughts to drift, permitting visions of yesterdays to enter once more.  They blazed with unfettered passion, he could feel the heat as he suffered again in the light.

The loud pounding on the door, startled him. He jumped up, spilling the contents of his beer over an already dirty shirt. He glanced around quickly as if a method of escape would magically appear, it did not … . He located and grabbed his old gun, tucking the Glock firmly in the waistband of his jeans. The pounding continued and his heartbeat accelerated, all his focus now on that door.

They others had a prearranged signal and this wasn’t it.

To be continued….

I do hope you enjoyed this excerpt. Those that read this, will be the first to do so.

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