A New Excerpt from the forthcoming sequel to More Than A Memory…

The Birth of Nathaniel:

   A team of doctors swirled around the delivery room, the epitome of organized chaos. Their child came into the world only to be immediately whisked from view. Devin stood close by Sera’s side and tightly held her hand. The grasp they held sought comfort in the turmoil.

Tired and disoriented, Sera looked to Devin for answers. “What’s going on? What’s happening?” Emotionally distraught, tears leaked from the corner of her eyes to rest inside her ears.

“I don’t know.” Devin felt helpless.

The flurry of the medical team worked as though Devin and Sera no longer occupied the delivery room. All of them gathered around the clear plastic bassinette on the other side of the green tiled room.

“Excuse me?” Devin ventured a tap on the shoulder of the last passing nurse. “What is going on?”

She didn’t stop. “I’ll get one of the doctors.” Six words methodically spoken that intimated little to nothing at all. Her eyes said more: Concern. Worry. Even fright.

Sera raised her head to see what was happening. The circle of bodies clothed in white lab coats and green scrubs only allowed brief glimpses of their little boy. Weak, she gathered what little energy she had left. “Will someone please tell us what is going on?!”

Her frenetic scream got one of the doctor’s attention. He approached them both with extreme urgency.

“Your son was born not breathing.” His voice shook. “We’ve seen this before. There is no surfactant in his lungs.” The doctor grew impatient; his time, these precious moments, were better spent with their child – not in explanation. “Our lungs have fluid in them. It keeps the lining from sticking together each time we exhale. Your son was not born with this liquid. He breathes only while we use a manual respirator. I have to get back.”

“Will our son be okay?” Sera’s manic tone rang within the four hospital walls. Devin tried to calm her but the fear only a mother can feel pulsed through every fiber of her body.

The doctor called over his shoulder, “Nurse, please give our mother a mild sedative.” He looked to Devin. “We are doing everything we can. We don’t know how long he was without oxygen. Please…” He took his arm and ushered Devin out of the room. “I’ll let you know something as soon as we know something. Until then, please find a seat in our waiting room.”

“Devin!” Sera screamed.

As Devin’s removal from the room became complete, he caught the distraught panic in Sera’s eyes while the nurse added the sedative to her IV. Helpless. Confused. Emotionally ravaged. He felt all of these things and more.

Martin’s cheerful demeanor evaporated the instant Devin appeared.

The look on his Devin’s face said it all. An obvious inner turmoil waged war within his son at a level Martin had not witnessed before. Any questions Martin wanted to ask would have to wait; the needs of his son vastly outweighed his need to know the details.

Devin rooted to the floor barely outside the delivery room doors. His feet would not move. His mind spun like a roulette wheel. How could he procure answers when he didn’t know the questions?

Two tortuous hours passed.

Devin finally moved to pace for most of those minutes.

His father helplessly watched his son come undone with each passing moment. Jay left to get Deborah a while ago leaving just the two of them. This wasn’t Martin’s area of expertise: watching the boy he loved toil in emotional anguish.

The same stoic doctor appeared from the double doors of the delivery room.

Devin stopped on a dime, eyebrows knitted and eyes watery.

For the first time since Devin was a child Martin slipped his hand into Devin’s and held it; this wasn’t his little boy about to cross a busy street, this was his son facing the greatest hurt in the form of heartbreak. Martin West knew the need to not be alone. Neither Heaven nor Earth would budge his steadfast grip.

When life spirals out of control, the ones who love you are all you have left.

 

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An excerpt from More To Remember

From time to time, as I write the sequel to More Than A Memory, I will post random excerpts to gather my reader’s thoughts on the direction I am going. They will be in no particular order and sporadic at best but I hope that your early feedback will provide a more satisfying read once it is released at the end of 2017.

   Syn continued to push despite the knife to her throat; she had a sister that needed her warning to live and that was all that mattered.
The air was damp and musty. The hanging lamp above snapped on. It swayed back and forth from the jolt. The metal pull chain rattled against the shroud with a random eerie echo. She blinked in rapid succession to chase the change from night to light from her eyes as quickly as possible.
“Your father is not very happy with you!” The voice, obnoxiously loud and wreaking of cigarettes, proved uncomfortably close.
She squinted up at him unfazed. “Is this his version of sending me to my room without dinner or can I expect a spanking out of all this?”
The man, whom she knew well, further pressed in the knife. “Does this feel like a spanking?”
She wiggled her wrists that were tied to the chair arms. Not as tight as they should be. Clearly this was more bark than bite but the sharpened blade felt all too real.
Syn took in her surroundings for the first time. “Which one of my father’s New York City warehouses am I at this time?” She jerked her head back and to the side to move the bangs of her pixie style haircut out of her eyes. The dark hair acquiesced only to return an instant later.
“I’ll be asking the questions!” Spit flew from his lips. Syn gagged yet held her composure. “Have you communicated at all with your sister?”
“I have…” The bald man’s eyes opened wide with anger at her admission. “…not. Not yet,” she confirmed.
“I don’t think you understand the trouble you’re in.”
“I don’t think you know what I could do to you if you untied one of my hands.”
“There’s a reason he keeps you a secret.”
“And I suppose he shared the reason with you from his prison cell?”
“He’s in there but I still hear from him.” He traced his free hand down her cheek. “You know I’m just supposed to relay a message, but I could tell him you put up a fight, we struggled and were killed in the heat of things.” He licked his disgusting teeth as he smiled and narrowed his eyes. “He trusts me. Not you.”
“Well, let’s not make you a liar.”
Baldy stopped; he opened his eyes up to dart them side to side. “What are you talking about?”
Fixated on her face he missed her right hand as it wriggled free from the ropes. She buried her thumb as far as it would go into his eye.
“Jesus!” Baldy screamed in agony. He dropped the knife right into her lap to cover his eye with both hands.
Syn freed her other hand and gather the knife. “You won’t be meeting Him if you ever touch me again!” She buried her boot into his crotch with everything she had.
Baldy doubled over on the cold cement floor close to passing out.
Her eyes surveyed the four walls for the nearest exit.
Thanks to her father she now had no choice.
Thirty-five dollars in cash and now a switchblade were all she had to get her to Vermont.
More than ever Synchronicity needed to get there to warn her sister she’d never met that her father was coming for them.
Somehow, someway, she needed to let Jay Harmon know Ken and all his resources were coming.

Then Again

With the busiest time of year for me (and most of us) at hand I simply wanted to reach out and wish all my blog followers a Happy Holidays!

My next novel, Then Again, will be available for purchase before the end of the year with any luck at all. Thank you all for your dedicated fandom!

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oh the stories I could tell

lifestoriesExperience tells us of life, how it tests first and teaches later. With those lessons we move forward, either learning or destined to repeat the same mistake again until we do. What decides which path or choice we make? I don’t know. To write of that would take insight into what makes us all tick and react to each situation independently. It is what defines hero and villain, antagonist and protagonist, our genetic coding altered by upbringing meets outside stimuli.

We all experience life in our own way as well. We see the same sunset but some stop and stare to soak in the beauty that it holds while other, caught up in something else, miss it entirely. Some were never guided to appreciate the red and orange hues of the sun bidding goodnight to their part of the world.

Some fail to notice the baby in the supermarket line ahead of you seeking eye contact while their parent loads the conveyor belt. Others smile, make funny faces and engage to see the small, breathing, wonder grow in luminescence. Maybe that is where the cycle lies; a child disengaged from the world never having the happy stranger smile upon them while swathed in innocence begets an adult one day that picks the National Enquirer to gaze at rather than the child right in front of them.

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Breaking that cycle requires someone at some point to step outside their comfort zone, to turn against their hard coded makeup.  It’s not easy. And we as human beings rarely take the path untraveled not just because it isn’t easy but because it is unfamiliar.

It is that exact path that leads to the stories we remember for a lifetime, events that fly us off course, for the better or for worse, into the unknown – both with the most risk and the most reward; which is which to be decided at a later date.

Dead men tell no tales but neither do the mundane living.

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Don’t be this guy…

The more life altering the more due diligence should be given. Blind faith is a weapon of choice in the things of minor impact; don’t step off the cliff to jump without knowing the waters below. That would be fool hardy and dangerous. Those who calculate the risks and take the plunge find glory just the same. Those who jump into shallow shark infested waters in high winds and no knowledge of how to swim aren’t brave – they’re miracles. Miracles are all too rare to count on for things that matter most.

Break your complacent cycle with conviction. Chase it with consistency until you reach acceptance. Despite the saying ‘people do change’; it doesn’t happen all that often because the task is difficult and seemingly impossible. The longer you do something the harder it is to undo. Obvious right?

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We are creatures that fall back on excuses, feign serenity for appearance sake and actively seek reasons to not do something. We’re human. Being human also means if we set our minds on something spectacular we can make it happen. It’s your choice and it always should be: shooting star or a stationary glowing incandescence in the crowded night sky. Both have purpose. Both are gazed upon by many in awe. One makes a memory that puts a pin in a place and time that years later can spur an instant, vivid retrospection.

Those are the stories to tell.

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Days like today remind me I like to ramble. Personal matters have jumped to the front of the line on my to do list leaving the blog as an occasional afterthought. I still have things to say that you might find interesting. The problem is they build up and push and shove to be the first one out when I open the door. This creates a post with ideas piled on top of thoughts wedged between alternating currents. My sincerest apologies if it comes across as calculatingly random.

If life goes to plan – I can hear you laughing from here – Then Again should hit the shelves by the third week in December. More info as the date draws near. Thank you all for your support.

-P

pulling back the veil… How More Than A Memory came to be.

The past seven weeks have been a whirlwind. While I am enjoying the success More Than A Memory is experiencing, I really wasn’t prepared for the amount of work that goes into promoting a book.

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This is cute. I’m a mess in the morning…

Coupled with a busy work and family life and there are honestly times when I want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed all day and let just this one day go by…

Then I remember why I am doing this.

The story within beckons; the characters prod me one at a time that not everyone knows about them. So again, on a day just like today, I throw back the covers and leave my stuffed animal to fend for himself while I use the minutes – sometimes seconds – in between the rest of life’s demands to spread the word as best I can.

I owe Devin and Sera that much.

During these walkabouts, both virtually and physically, I get asked how did I write this novel. From what genesis did I create a story and characters so memorable?

In no particular order as they are all highly important:

Immersion. our-insanity-is-not-that-we-see-people-who-arent-there-its-that-we-ignore-the-ones-who-are-quote-1I felt the character’s turmoil, anger, angst as they would. You can’t interpret it – that is filtering. You must be the conduit. I’ve had conversations with my characters. Do I hear voices? If I am doing it right I do. I see them standing before me, nervous ticks, doing things they are prone to do; they are living, breathing entities. I’ve written a scene and had them tell me it wasn’t how they would have reacted. Their insistence sent me back to change it.

Total. Immersion.

Have a beginning and an end with a lot of ideas to fill the middle. You can’t have a great sandwich without something between the bread.

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You don’t need the fries when the sandwich is this good.

You need more than a slice of cheese and two pickles otherwise the sandwich will be discarded and forgotten the first time it is picked up. The meat is as important as the bread. Don’t forget that – not more important however. In the interest of instant gratification, the beginning has to hook or you’ve lost half of your readers by page 5. While I stress this I have to admit I don’t let it drive my story away from what I intend it to do, what they want it to do. The prologue of More Than A Memory was intended to create a slow burn, enough to get the reader curious, because I knew the subsequent chapter would be spent laying the foundation of a twisting turning story to come.

That said, I approach a new novel with pages and pages of notes and ideas – things that I don’t even intend to have happen a hundred or so pages from now. They don’t all make it in, but I don’t strike down a good idea because I’m not ready for it yet.

Don’t force a story down a path it was never meant to go. You’re invested in these characters. You have a goal you want to accomplish with them.

two paths

“Not all who wander are lost.” – Gandalf

Never lose sight of that as the words appear one by one from your fingertips; keep this not in the back of your mind, but in the front, as you create. If the idea is strong enough, take it there, but don’t fully commit – releasing all that was planned before – until you know it will still get you to the other side of the sandwich, the bookend piece of bread. If you find yourself bending timelines or showing square pegs into round holes, let it go. No matter how far off the beaten path you’ve gotten. Find your way back and continue on as intended. Save the knowledge of the way that didn’t work. It just could be your sequel.

Find what inspires you.

Let it be the epicenter from which the tale pours forth and the rest will fall into place.

-P

writing wrongs

Making mistakes, admitting to them and making things right again.

When weaving a new novel I try to be conscious of mistakes in word placement and grammar: semicolon here, a properly conjugated verb there. For better or worse, a plethora of today’s commercial fiction holds the rules of high school grammar at arm’s length. If I had my way no one would get to see my occasional dangling participle – so embarrassing! – but it happens.

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Conversely I would never want to sacrifice the story as it pours forth by stopping the flow to be sure a dash is needed and not a comma. You have a message, a picture you want to share, that ultimately doesn’t hinge on the proper syntax of a sentence. A comma where a period should be, a question mark gone missing, a completely misused; that’s unforgivable.

Where am I going with this? Good question. I am glad you thought of it. Hell if I know.

How-To-Right-The-Wrongs-In-Your-Life

Okay. That’s not true. I’ll use the subsequent paragraphs to right my wrong.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know I seek new ways to tie a life of writing to the life we collectively live and breath each day. This time is no different.

We’ve all done wrong. Yes, even you. Stop shaking your head. You know it’s true. Remember that time last week..? You lost your temper and said or did something you didn’t mean. (Yes, we’ve all been there.) Did you go back and fix it or did you leave it as is assuming the person on the other end knew you were just having a bad day?

Don’t have the gumption to do so? It takes a lot of strength to look someone in the eye and admit you were wrong. And mean it. And if you just can’t do it? Write it down. No not one sentence. They deserve more than that.

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You may have made that mistake, but it isn’t permanent until it goes to print. Edit your life and your actions. You can accept some things as simply acceptable according to today’s “commercial fiction” but if they don’t sit well with you, insist on being part of your story and how it flows, right them. Or write them as it were.

I know at times these posts can seem corny, possibly even sophomoric; I’m saying what most of us already know.But then I look around at the world. I read the news. I hear it and see it in my day to day. Somewhere along the line, in our masses, we’ve lost sight of the common core prerequisites for living together in peace and harmony.

If I can make a difference in some small way with a few words on a webpage then I am going to do it. If I can’t..? Well, I am still going  to try.

-P

all that echoes (even a duck’s quack)…

Who were we a thousand years ago? Who will we be a thousand years from now?

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Thinking grand scheme can make anyone feel insignificant. We get one shot at this  (unless you’re Shirley Maclaine); one shot to make our mark create something everlasting.

Everlasting. At first blush the word seems impossible. You can build a steel bridge for all to cross a river and yet one day that bridge will be gone. Most city skyscrapers have been standing tall and strong for decades upon decades; somewhere in the future, most likely not your’s or mine, they will be gone. Our oceans are changing. Glaciers once carved their way across our Earth to form lakes and valleys; there are many scientists who believe we will see such transformation again.

So how do we live on long after we’re gone?

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Hint: It isn’t in photo albums or even your Instagram page. (Hard to believe, I know.)

The solution is simple yet so hard to execute in this day and age. In a time when we can reach people far and wide with any message we wish, the absence of the most useful communication, the most powerful, appears to be buried beneath the hate, the misguided and the hurtful.

One word, one I’ve spoken of – can I call this speaking? – many, many times before: LOVE.

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Love and the sharing of stories of love. Throughout my life I’ve had people go the extra mile, touch my life so deeply that it lives on long after we’ve parted ways. An act of kindness, love, giving. This is the seed planted that can grow into FOREVER. To cultivate that flower, that tree into the next millennium, you must share that story, reciprocate that act of kindness.

I don’t want to go off on a rant or climb onto a soapbox, but today’s media sensationalizes all that is wrong in the world; they leave a feel good story for the end of their hour only if they have time at the end. I challenge them all to lead with that story. Lead. And others will follow. The things that impact us should be reported out, but a balance of the random act of kindness or senseless act of love should always fill the opposite scale.

That’s where we come in.

Our duty as parents, as human beings, is to share the love we’ve seen over the years, pass it on and append our own acts of love to each other before we are done.

That’s how you leave your mark.

When we are gone we live on through those we left behind, those whose lives we’ve touched and left a lasting, loving indelible mark.

Do that and even a quack will carry on if you really want to find a way…

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-P