Posts Tagged ‘#amazon’

 

 

 

For those of you that loved “Not only the Dead“, a new tale of emotional terror is coming to you very soon care of your friendly neighborhood ‘serial thriller’.

As a writer, I enjoy delving into the realms of the human condition that people can relate to. In my lighter works, such as the first installment of my coming of age  ‘things taken’ series, Whispers of the Wakinyan, our heroes are pitted against monsters.

In Not only the Dead and its upcoming predecessor, The Artist and the Carpenter, our protagonists would beg to fight a monster or be given any opportunity to gain closure, because their battles originate from places unseen.

The dark.

The unimaginable.

The deeply personal.

Enjoy this “flash teaser”.

                                  Not a chapter, not a paragraph, but only a glimpse…

My mind apparently brushes over something unsettling, because about half way into the drive, the hair on my arms begins to stand on end and coldness begins to spread from somewhere deep inside my gut. Like many emotions that I hadn’t understood at the time:

I push the feelings away.

                    Knowing that one day,

                                        I will have to face them all,

                                                    Like a collection of unwanted children,

                                                                   Who as broken adults,

                                                                               Demand to know

                                                                                            Why they were not embraced.

 

COMING IN DECEMBER 2017

Greetings faithful readers,

As a thank you for the overwhelming support and feedback that I have received from my last two posts I am offering a free chapter from my highly rated novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan.

I love the Halloween season and hope that this excerpt can help you to get in the spirit!

1

Joey Gordon would always remember the Grand Canyon. It was the first time he saw his parents act like they were truly in love; Henry Gordon, the tight-collared businessman instantly became Hank, the care-free athlete that his mother had fallen in love with. Likewise, Joey’s mother Theresa, whom he had just come to know by her pet name of Tessy, seemed different. Lighter. The weight of her suburban life and domestic obligations seemingly sucked into the open air of the vast Arizona desert.  Joey’s nose crinkled at the fruity pungent odor of his donkey, Paco, as he watched the serpentine twists of the Colorado River unwind beneath him. He glanced back at his sister, Addie, as she tried to re-lock her hands around her mount’s neck. She looked at Joey with sand streaked tears, seemingly etched into her young white cheeks.

“Joey! Joey, can you hear it?” Addie squealed.

The hard looking Mexican guiding Addie’s mule grimaced and pulled her mount back onto the narrow path. A pair of small chrome bells around the mule’s neck chimed as the man tugged at the animal’s tether. A couple of unnervingly large rocks dislodged themselves and tumbled down into the canyon. As if on the same wavelength, Joey and Addie broke eye contact and watched the rocks bounce and tumble down the steep side of the path and into the canyon.

“Did you hear it?” Addie asked again once the rocks had fallen completely out of sight.

“Hear what? All I heard was you crying,” Joey grimaced and patted his donkey’s side, “and maybe Paco farting.”

Addie smiled at this, but it didn’t last long. She craned her head as something seemed to whisper to her from the vastness of the canyon. She turned sharply away; her eyes darting rapidly down toward the river.

“There it is again! You have to hear it,” Addie pleaded.

Joey shook his head.

Heyoka! Heyoka,” She yelled.

The Mexican’s eyes widened. His head whipped to Addie, to make sure he had heard what he thought he had. His eyes fell on her tiny form just as her mule brayed and reeled back on its hind legs.

“Ay! Tranquilo! No te preocupes! Tranquilo!” The guide yelled. The large man wrapped his thick, brown fingers around the thin strap of leather tethered to the mule’s neck. He dug his feet into the soft dirt and pulled at the bucking animal with all of his might.

“Joey! Help,” Addie cried.

“Everything okay back there?” Hank yelled from a short distance up the trail.

The mule continued to buck and bray with such force that the Mexican lost his footing and began to slide into the canyon. Dust and rock began to pour over the edge of the trail like a tiny brown avalanche as the stout man clawed at the earth.

“Addie’s in trouble!”  Joey screamed. Up the trail, he could see his father trying to lower himself from his donkey against the protests of his own guide.

“It is not safe señor! There is no footing,” The vaquero pleaded.

“Daddy!” Addie’s eyes went wide as her guide’s weight pulled one of her mule’s front legs off the trail. The small girl unleashed an otherworldly scream as the bells on the animal’s collar jingled and jangled.

Joey looked up the trail again, desperate to see if his father had succeeded in dismounting his donkey. He had indeed, but now Hank had two strong hands on the shoulders of the animal trying to find the space for him to go under or around the thing. Joey could tell by his father’s face that the possibility of Hank moving around the animal was non-existent, “I can’t make it Joey. You have to get Addie!”

Joey looked at his sister as the rear leg of her mule went over the edge. Her screams seemed to drown out as the situation became eerily clear. His sister was going to die if he could not get to her.

“Hold on Addie!” Joey exclaimed.

Joey dismounted over the rear of his donkey as Hank tried desperately to find a way around his own lumbering animal. Joey took three wide strides and found himself staring into the eyes of the terrified mule as it teetered at a 45-degree angle over the edge of the canyon. The dangling Mexican reached for Joey’s ankle as he passed. Unconsciously, Joey kicked the man’s hand away with his foot and kept moving. He grabbed his sister’s slender leg just as the guide and the mule tottered over the edge completely and into the canyon.

Addie slipped from atop her mount, her left shoe caught in one of the leather stirrups and was ripped free from her foot. Joey looked on in amazement as it fell into the canyon with the animal and its guide. The falling man screamed and the animal brayed deafeningly, but to Joey and his sister, it seemed as if it had only lasted an instant. As the two children looked at the man and the mule fall into the depths of the canyon all sound seemed to disappear save for the ringing of the bells around the animal’s neck.

As the two neared the ground and the inevitable impact, Hank was upon them. He scooped Joey and Addie into his arms. His hold was strong and his heart was racing. Hank breathed heavily with his children held close as the echoes of screams and ringing bells were silenced with a thud.

***

The remainder of the descent into the canyon was long and mostly silent. After the three trail animals failed to catch up to Theresa, she had begun to grow uneasy. When her daughter’s screams echoed from around the canyon walls she had to be contained by her guide, a thin and wrinkled man named Fernando, for her own safety. Now that the family had regrouped, they had decided to make the remainder of the hike on foot.    “Are you kids alright?” Theresa asked not knowing what else to say.

Joey turned from his mother’s soft gaze. Addie clawed her tiny fingers into her father’s back and nodded quietly. Hank had been carrying her since the incident and the toll of the added weight was evident by his gradually slouching posture.

“Almost there,” Fernando yelled from up ahead.

Joey tried his best not to look in the direction of the accident, but couldn’t help noticing the growing cluster of birds over the area, their circles growing smaller and smaller as they closed in on the fresh offering to the desert earth. He wondered how all the birds in the area could be aware of the bodies already; he thought of shark week on the Discovery Channel and concluded that birds must have similar senses. A drop of blood in the water a mile away and the smell of death carried by dry desert wind seemed equally plausible to him.

The path began to grow wider and less steep as it opened into the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon. Hank put a hand on his wife’s shoulder and whispered something to her that the kids couldn’t hear. Theresa gave Hank a solemn look and guided Addie away as soon as the ground leveled.

Joey looked up at his father and was sad to notice that the lightheartedness and confidence of Hank had disappeared. The eyes that stared into his now belonged to the dry and familiar persona of Henry, the accountant. Joey thought that the ‘Hank’ persona would probably be more of a comfort now, but knew that his father’s cold and calculating personality had returned just in time. A man had died today and aside from his grandmother, who had died when he was younger than Addie, the man had been the first person he had ever met that died. At least that he had known of.

“You saved her, Joe,” Hank said between heavy breaths, “you could have been hurt son, killed even. Did you even think about that?”

Joey stared at his father pensively, then shook his head, “no. I mean, Addie would have fallen with them for sure. I didn’t even think of what might happen to me.”

Hank smiled down at Joey, “not very many people could have done what you did, Joe,” he placed a hand on his son’s back and got down on one knee to pull him into a bear hug.

Joey could feel fresh tears on his cheek as his father held him tight. He wasn’t sure if they were from his eyes, which had been burning since the accident, or his father’s, which he had noticed were squinted abnormally tight against the high desert sun. He could see his mother and sister over his father’s shoulder. They seemed to be having a similar talk, but Addie was crying softly into the dusty strap of their mother’s backpack. The long blond hair on her tiny child’s shoulders made the reality of her near-death experience tug at him. Now he was sure that at least some of the tears were his. He pulled away from his father and wiped his leaking eyes with the back of his hand.

“Would you do something for me, Dad?” Joey asked.

“Sure son. What is it?”

“Call me Joey. I don’t think I’m ready for Joe yet.”

“You got it,” Hank smiled, messed Joey’s hair, and guided him with a strong hand back toward the group.

The vaqueros looked at the white family they had led into the canyon with expressions of subdued terror. The guide for Joey’s mount had been a mostly silent man, seemingly solid of mind. The death of one of his partners had begun to sink in and the guide began to mumble almost incoherently, “Ay, Fernando. Heyoka. The little one said she heard Heyoka!”

Fernando looked at his young, strong browed companion. Wrinkles of concern clawed out of the corners of his eyes like deep creases in aged leather, “What are you saying?”

Heyoka. The trickster,” The guide was cut short by Fernando’s darting eyes. The white woman, Theresa, and the little girl were approaching.

Un memento, sera,” Fernando said with a bright and friendly twinkle in his eye. The twinkle disappeared just as quickly as he hunkered down to talk to his companion, “even if she did hear it, the trickster would be their problem. Not ours.”

“Excuse me,” Theresa said mousily as she approached the two men, “what are we going to do now?”

The men looked at her and then at Addie. Her tiny, tear-streaked face wore an expression that was entirely out of place. It shown with a wisdom and knowledge that few ever experienced. The young guide knew when he looked upon Addie that the bells she had heard had been more than the rusty set pulled taught around the pack animal’s neck. Based on Fernando’s grim scowl, he knew too.

A bird squealed from above. Not the normal high pitched exclamation, but a low rhythmic tap like the muffled laughter of a small hyena. Theresa looked up and shielded her eyes against the harsh desert sun. Flares of lights came in and out of view as one of the large scavenging birds cast a thousand shadows on the earth around them. Theresa stared at the animal, which sat suspended in the unseen fingers of the wind. Addie reached out and grabbed Fernando’s hanging and leathery hand. The man looked down at the small girl. She was no longer crying. She was somber now, almost supernaturally so. Joey’s little sister whispered the one word that could make the hard man unravel.

Heyoka.”

 

***

          Hank smiled down at Joey as they took step after step on the cracked earth of the Colorado River bank. The pair wordlessly navigated around the sparse green shrubs that shot out of the dry fissures like rigid serpents. The echo of odd, birdlike laughter resonated around them and offset the otherwise serene desert silence.

A commotion rose up from where the others were huddled and then the mock peacefulness that can only be observed in the wake of tragedy was shattered. And when Theresa started to scream, Hank knew that any sliver of peace and inner well-being that had survived within his psyche was about to be just as dead as the man on the bottom of the canyon.

“Put her down!” Theresa screeched, “Hank, he has Addie!”

Hank blinked his eyes in disbelief when he saw Fernando, the senior guide, scoop his daughter up in his sweaty arms and sprint into the desert. It happened so swiftly that Theresa could only scream and claw reflexively at the space that the two had occupied just seconds before. Hank realized that shock had found its way into him as well. For an instant, all that he could do was look upon the pair with disbelief. Primal instincts took hold of him and before he could notice the pulse of adrenaline in his chest, he was in pursuit.

Joey stared on with dumbfounded eyes. His father was running like he had never seen him before, dust exploded from the dry topsoil with each stride. The vaquero moved to block Hank gibbering in Spanish so quickly that no one could possibly understand what he was saying. The vaquero reached out with his thin, but muscular arms and latched onto the now seething Hank Gordon.

“Get the hell off of me!” Hank screamed.

“Señor, it is the only way!” the Vaquero replied, “Fernando knows how to help her.”

This last comment seemed to hit Hank like a slap in the face, “help Addie?” Rage twisted his stoic accountant-like features as Theresa approached the two from behind, “no one is going to be able to help you if you don’t let go of me!”

The vaquero was surprised at Hank’s transformation and the look on Theresa’s face when her husband threw the slender man to the ground would suggest that she was too. Hank ran after Fernando and Addie, who ran in a chaotic zig-zag pattern through the desert, cutting through shrubs and cacti.

Joey’s heart sank when he saw where the man was taking his little sister. The shadows of the carrion birds danced across his young face as the sun began to disappear over the top edge of the canyon. Joey couldn’t feel his legs, but before he knew it, he was pumping them as fast as he could.

He thought of how Addie had squeezed his neck after he had saved her, along with the sweet smell of her sweat and tears as they watched the man and the animal flail to the bottom of the canyon. When he thought of her scream he remembered the first time that he was allowed to hold her as an infant. Sometimes, when she was upset he was the only person that could calm her, sometimes with a goofy face and sometimes with just the love she felt from him. It was this same love that made him run even faster.

Theresa was just beginning to come out of her stupor and stumble after Hank and Fernando as Joey shot by her like a dust fueled rocket, “Joey!”

“We have to get Addie!” Joey huffed, “I know where he’s taking her.”          Fernando slowed when he approached the body of his dead friend. He put Addie down, but she did not run. Her tiny eyes were transfixed on the twisted biomass on the ground before her. She instinctively reached a hand up to Fernando and the old man took it.

Fernando approached with trepidation. Addie followed him without hesitation, although all reasonable parts of her being were gripped in pure terror. Fernando gasped when he saw the earth beneath the bodies. His wrinkled fingers synched around the puffy flesh of Addie’s hand, “Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world. Hear me.”

Hank, Joey, and Theresa approached the bizarre scene rapidly and grew more and more uncertain as they came closer to Fernando and Addie. Hank felt his fists unclench and could feel the burn of the little crescent wounds that his fingernails had made in the soft flesh of his palms. He wondered how the rage that had overtaken him could abate so quickly. Was it because he had expected to find the man assaulting his daughter? Did he expect Addie to be crying or screaming? He didn’t know for sure, but what he did know was that he did not expect to find his daughter staring at this unnatural tableau of death and holding the hand of a wrinkled old stranger.

“Addie, come here, honey!” Hank commanded.

She let go of Fernando’s hand and the aged mass of gnarled bones and leathery skin thudded dully on the man’s faded denim pants. Hank’s daughter approached him with a cold blank expression and wordlessly clawed her way into his embrace. She wrapped her thin arms around his neck and sat her head on his heaving chest like she had so many times before to be tucked into bed or after having fallen asleep in the back of the family van during a long trip. This time was different somehow, he pulled Addie close to him and planted tiny kisses on her forehead. The air was quiet enough to allow Hank’s accountant mind to begin to rationalize the scene until Theresa began to scream.

***

The family stood stone-faced and transfixed on the broken bodies of the man and the pack mule. Fear, among other emotions, clawed at their unconscious while a more avert feeling of loss pulled at the Gordon family and the remaining tour guides. Theresa opened her mouth to talk, but nothing came out. Addie pushed and buried her head into her father’s chest so hard that Hank would later notice that the area was sore to the touch. Joey could not turn away from the terrible scene that had unfolded upon the cracked earth of the river’s shoulder even though he tried with all of his mental faculties. He knew he should turn away, or at least close his young eyes, but he couldn’t and neither could anyone else except for Addie.

It was not the death itself that unsettled them, but the gory gestalt that had spread across the dry earth. The guide’s head seemed to have popped, his right arm projected straight above his supine body. And the blood. Oh God, the blood. Joey looked at the crimson streamlets and noticed that they had formed a pattern: the guide had ended up mounted on the mule. Blood trimmed horns protruded from the crown of the man’s head. From the corpse’s broken right arm came a long spray of arterial blood, seemingly from the point where the hand meets the wrist.

Joey’s eyes focused on how the blood seemed to explode from the loosely balled fist. It looked like a spear. The man and the mule looked like some terrible demon riding toward an ancient battlefield.

Theresa covered her son’s eyes when she realized that he was taking in the same horrible scene that had rendered her speechless. Of course, the protective gesture came too late, the image had already etched itself into Joey’s mind. He would dream of demons for the rest of his life; the one he had seen depicted by death on the reddish brown Arizona soil, and the twisted horror that would follow his family back to California.

If you have not picked up a copy yet, check it out my kindle and print editions at:

Some of you out there may have noticed a new addition to my amazon author page. Whispers of the Wakinyan, the first installment in the ‘Things That Follow’ series, is LIVE in kindle format and will be available in print VERY SOON. By that, I mean that by the end of the week copies may be available for order from amazon.com and this website.

The original release date for Whispers of the Wakinyan was exactly one month ago today. As you may imagine, the publishing process is not all sunshine and roses. In fact, it is some-what arduous. That for me, at least, resulted in some late nights and last-minute frustrations. I found that Murphy’s Law was in full effect and that anything that could go wrong usually did. Even some of the things that initially went right turned out to be wrong later!

First, I want to touch on the importance of document formatting. In my opinion, if there is any chance that you think you may publish your work, please do yourself a favor and download a word template that has margins set to your desired print size. These may be downloaded for free from many writing sites out there (I got mine from createspace).

I had my 30 chapter 93,000 word tome primed and ready to go in a standard word format.

I uploaded.

I watched.

I cringed.

For my binding size I chose 6”x9”, which is a very popular size for main-stream trade fiction.

I am sure that you all know where this is going…

I would liken it to pouring a gallon of a milk into a pint glass and then watching helplessly as the milk continues to gush over the sides and run all over the counter. Knowing the whole time that your wife will be so mad at you when she has to clean it up.

Sorry, I couldn’t help that last part.

And to my wife: just kidding.

All of my main and sub-chapter breaks were sprinkled throughout the document and each time one was put into place another was pushed into chaos!  Maybe, I am being a little dramatic, but still, if I had worked with the intended margin size from the get-go this could have certainly been avoided.

Second, and this also pertains to the subject of planning a binding size, know how many pages the finished document will be with title pages, table of contents, blank pages in the front, etc… BEFORE starting cover creation. It may seem like a no-brainer, but format changes like mentioned before can drastically change your binding size, which will in turn affect the bleed area (this is the small area on the outer edges of the cover, where text or images may be distorted by the bleeding of printer ink) and overall dimensions.

How do I know about all this?

You guessed it. This was another delay that I encountered in bringing Whispers of the Wakinyan to print.

However, the end result is something that I am very pleased with and I am sure that you will all be as well.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post and please like or comment if my pain and suffering has or may have saved you some grief in creating your own project!

Please keep an eye out for the official release date. It is looking like it may be Friday, April 7th!

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