ExcerptWhen they got back to Sofia, Elaine seriously considered asking for a transfer to another Secret Service office. Her one-year anniversary was almost up. Technically, it was possible.Why should I keep torturing myself? she thought. Working side by side with a man she was madly in love with, but who would not return her feelings? It was masochistic.Finally, Elaine could stand it no longer. Two days before her one-year anniversary, she downloaded the Request for Transfer form on her computer and started filling it out.When she reached the blank that said, Reason for Transfer Request, she hesitated, her fingers hovering over the keyboard.Can’t take this anymore—have the hots for my boss, and it’s driving me insane.“Morning, Elaine.”She looked up sharply. Nick was standing in her doorway, smiling at her.She quickly minimized the window on her screen. “Good morning.”“Are you free Friday night?”“Why?” she said guardedly."I thought we’d go out and celebrate your anniversary.”“I—” She feigned surprise. “Has it been a year already?”“Sure has.” Nick grinned. “Time flies when you’re having fun.”Elaine watched him a moment, standing there in his jeans and leather jacket, his hair disheveled. He looked like he just tumbled out of bed with one of his bar girls.She wanted to strangle him.With a sigh, she said, “Nick, I really don’t want to go out with you and your...”He looked puzzled. “My...what?”“Groupies.”“My groupies?” He laughed. “Is that how you think of them?”Elaine didn’t answer. He stood there a long time, gazing at her. “If I didn’t know better,” he said, “I’d think you were jealous.”“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said, blushing. She opened the window on her screen. He couldn’t see what she was doing, so it didn’t matter.He said, “The only reason those girls like me is because I spend money on them.”She looked up at him. Smiling, he reached into his pocket and took out a small cardboard box. It was about the size of jewelry box for a ring.Keep dreaming, she thought, but her heart beat a little faster as he set it on her desk in front of her. “Just a memento of your first day in Bulgaria.”All she could remember about the first day here was how good her hand felt in his. Hiding her bitterness, she opened up the box.Inside was a little plastic turkey, with funny little legs hanging down. Nick picked it up, wound the knob on the side, and let it go. It waddled crazily around the desktop, making an awful grinding noise.T hey both started laughing.“The Turkey Roll,” Elaine said.“Bet you’ll never forget that day, will you?”No, Elaine thought, but not for the reasons you think.He just stood there and they both watched the little toy wind down until it fell over on its side.“Well?” he said.“Well what?”“About Friday night. Do you want to go to dinner, or not? I made reservations at Maison Godet. It’ll just be you and me.” He smiled. “No groupies allowed.”Maison Godet was the best restaurant in Sofia, an, intimate, romantic setting.No way was she going to set herself up for another letdown.“What time?” she said.“About seven? Pick you up at your place.”After he walked away, she looked after him, thinking that the dinner would be a good chance to tell him that she was requesting a transfer.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Then I decided it was time to roll the stories out, so in February of last year, I published ExtremeUnction, the first novel in the series, in paperback through the POD printing service, Lulu. Shortly after, I published it to the Kindel through KDP then the Nook service PubIt. I began also publishing novellas and shorts I had either previously written or had been thinking of writing for years.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Alas, Lavar didn’t take my apology in the spirit I’d intended. Instead, he did his smirk toward Lamar, incorrectly assessing my honest apology as cowardice. Then back to me, “Too little. Too late, Morgan.”
“So I don’t suppose you’ll let me buy you guys a beer and call it even?” I asked.
“You’d probably get arrested for walking into a bar without your pants on,” smirked Lavar.
“Ah, quid pro quo,” I said.
“What’d you call me?” said Lavar, flexing to keep his pump-up going. Lamar looked equally confused and flexed, too.
“Boys, that means eye for an eye. Pants for pants.”
“Yes it do,” said Lamar, wanting to keep up his end of the conversation.
“Too bad you feel that way, Lamar, Lavar,” I sighed. “Let me therefore apologize in advance.”
“In advance of what,” said Lamar.
“I truly didn’t want to hurt you guys, but you’re not leaving me much choice.”
The faintest shadow of concern registered as Lamar’s eyebrows seemed to grow together. He looked about to step back, but Cousin Lavar seemed to miss the implication of my pre-pology. He snickered and said, “We’ve taken down big guys before.”
“In a bar fight, maybe,” I said. “Fair warning. I’m a US Navy SEAL. Team Three if you know anything about SEALs. I’ve seen a lot of combat, and I could whip ten of you. So, last chance Lamar and Lavar Kendrick.”
I repeated their last name, for my streaming video record.
“Don’t forget Cousin Laverl,” said a voice behind me. Obviously, he couldn’t get to me with the car to my back, but perhaps he wanted me to turn so the other two could sucker punch me. My only risk in not assessing the threat might be a baseball bat to the head, but I mitigated against that threat by stepping away from the car and toward the two guys in front of me. Laverl would have to throw his bat, if he had one.
My forward motion threw off the timing of Lavar’s round house punch, which glanced off my shoulder, instead of my jaw. Lamar also stepped forward, which accelerated his throat into my two right knuckles headed for his larynx. Luckily, I pulled the thrust at the last instant, thereby saving Lamar’s life. But even the pulled punch put him out of the fight, which I knew it would. Lavar had quickly followed his right-hand round house with a left jab to my solar plexus, and it might have hurt me if I didn’t have the reach advantage. A split second after I’d slugged Lamar in the throat, the heel of my left hand slammed into Lavar’s unprotected chin. Combined with his forward momentum, the force snapped his head back and into a garage supporting post. He bounced rather nicely with eyes rolled back before he hit the ground. Now, where was that little scamp, Cousin Laverl?
I turned to see a wide-eyed statue on the other side of my car. He hadn’t moved since his opening line of the scene. A quick glance behind me at Lamar on his hands and knees and breathing, albeit with difficulty, reassured me that I hadn’t killed the poor devil. Maybe time for an olive branch?
“Laverl is it?” I said. “You want to take a crack at me, that’s fine. Or you can give me a hand with your cousins to make sure I haven’t hurt them too badly. Your call.”
Friday, November 8, 2013
My chiefs of surgery, Dr. Scott at Vanderbilt, Dr. Pickerell at Duke, and Harold Kleinert in Louisville influenced everything I do. They taught that discipline and dedication are the backbones of every successful undertaking in life. It's as important not only in becoming skilled at surgery but in all things, whether it's learning golf for the first time after one retires or writing a book.
I wrote my first novel, SURGE, while a surgical resident at Vanderbilt in 1969. I was inspired by Richard Hooker's book, MASH, which was published in 1968. I used notes I wrote while working at the Second Surgical Hospital in Viet Nam 1964-65. There was little humor in my book as I dwelt on actual happenings at the military hospital and the serious business of caring for the injured in the early part of the war. The rigors of my training prevented me from completing the book, but it stimulated my writing which I started again with the book, The Hart Virus, a 1000 page manuscript that I finished in 1986. It picked up newspaper headlines about the AIDS virus and I built a story based on my predictions of the eventual outcome of the AIDS crisis. Again, my plastic surgery practice left little time to pursue publication. In reading it now, I was surprisingly accurate in predicting the course of the virus over the years. It became outdated as did my book that followed, Faces in a Bamboo Garden, a story about the Vietnam War. And there were three other books that I wrote while I practiced medicine, The Crypt of St. James, Timeshare, and A Funeral in Texas. It was not until I retired from plastic surgery practice that I had time to devote to my books. With the direction of the author and writing teacher, Richard Krevolin, I recently published Not for Profit. and Relief Aid, Haiti will be printed soon, hopefully in November.
My stories all have come from newspaper headlines. For example, my unpublished Hart Virus came from the new at that time, HIV and its influences on the perception of gays. Initially, there was a social stigma to AIDS that was followed by acceptance of gays in society and led to the current day integration into society, even to the recent legalization of gay marriages. Not For Profit uses the news media hype about potential flaws in the non-profit hospitals, combines it with the drones and their almost daily accomplishments in the war on terror, and links this with the horror stories of terrorist atrocities.
I always start with an outline, but my characters drive the story. They decide themselves where they go and what they do. I lose control of them. And so, I cannot be compelled to follow that initial outline. My initial POV was third person, but the publisher, Paula Munier directed the use of first person for scenes of the primary protagonist and third person for other scenes.
My favorite scene is the final paragraph of the book. Dr. Scott James had spent his life creating beauty, peace, and harmony only to have a quirk of fate mess it all up. The opening paragraph of the book tells the mythological story of Orchis, who did wrong and was punished by the gods by their tearing him to pieces. Orchis' father prayed to the gods to restore him, but instead of bringing him back as a man, he was transformed into an orchid. Orchids references are used throughout the book to bind the diverging elements of the book and the final scene describes Dr. James' vision of seeing the moth-like shape of the Phalaenopsis orchids take flight and restore Orchis to a perfect human body, just as Dr. James has done daily in his plastic surgery practice.
I am a story teller, as my artist friend Barclay Sheaks told me often in my 50 year friendship. I spent considerable time honing skills as a writer so people would be entertained by my stories. But in this entertainment, I have interjected my personal ideas. In the current book, I deliver my personal feelings about the high cost of medicine and how some hospitals may have used their tax exempt status to compete successfully with private enterprises, take the profits they reap and buy more and more businesses, and build giant, hundreds of million dollar corporations, and demand multi-million dollar salaries for the CEO's, all these things adding to the hospital bills individuals and insurance companies have to pay. A second philosophy I throw in is the great benefits our country has from its successful drone operation.
No. All my writings have been in the mystery genre. Rich Krevolin transformed my writing to the "thriller" category by abbreviating the back stories and getting quickly to the action sequences. Several hundred pages were trimmed from Not for Profit to make it move fast. In fact, the last 100 pages move so fast that I have difficulty proof reading them. Even after reading the book a thousand times, I still get caught up in the action and read so fast, I overlook even obvious errors.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Frank Zubek, one of the contributing writers, is handling promotion, and he describes the book as follows:
|Book cover art by Allessandro Fiorini|
An excellent collection of 27 short stories aimed at commuters and travelers who have only a limited amount of time to read on the journey. This book is a Charity Anthology, with all proceeds (not just profits!) donated to children’s charity.The book is the brainchild of Stella Wilkinson, who conceived the idea, collected the stories, and acted as editor. The book, which is entitled Something to Read on the Ride: A Charity Anthology, is now available for the Kindle at a cost of $3.99.
Suitable for all adult readers from 18 - 80. This book covers a large range of subjects, from space travel to zombies, romance, humour and tragedy, and from unusual occurrences to every day situations. Stories were donated by a wide variety of authors, all with very different styles, so there is plenty for everybody.
Authors: Neil Bursnoll, Samuel Clements, Andrew Vu, Amanda Brice, Stella Wilkinson, Neil Sweetman, L.G. Castillo, Landon Porter, Debbie Bennett, Frank Zubek, Pru Moran, Louis Hessey-Antell, Dan Brady, J. David Core, Monica La Porta, Paul B. Kohler, Dan Fiorella, Ruth Banda-Banda, Penny Darling, James Griffiths and Pauline Drummie
UPDATE: The price has been reduced to $2.99, and there is a paperback version coming soon.
UPDATE 2: The specific charity has been chosen. It will be Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal, A Children's Hospital Charity.
Friday, October 11, 2013
If you’ve ever wished you could be a fly on the wall to observe as a group of friends play wingman to each other, this story has you covered. A high school dean, a construction worker and an off-duty cop head out for a night on the prowl in this quirky comedy of errors. When each agrees to seek-out and introduce another of the trio to a woman fitting his ideal type, only the annoying fly that keeps buzzing the table is privy to all the behind-the-scenes goings on.
Wingman looks at the gameplay and pitfalls of clubbing through a multi-faceted sardonic eye – literally.
UPDATE: Wingman is now available for the Kindle and the Nook.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
While Martin mentally maximized his predicament, the man took a slow walk around the office. He finally stopped, struck a match against the wooden front desk and lit a filterless cigarette. He stared at Martin and blew smoke rings, making his Adam’s apple bob obscenely.
“You scared?” he asked Martin.
Martin, guessing at the answer least likely to get him killed, said, “Uhh…no?”
The man leaped forward and poked the gun in Martin’s neck. “Why not?” he said. “I got a gun on you.”
“I meant yes! Yes, I am afraid of you,” Martin said, changing course.
“What are you saying?” asked the man. “You think I’m dangerous?”
Martin stopped, considering his words carefully. “I think you’re…serious,” he said.
Apparently this was the correct answer. The man moved away slightly.
“Goddamn right I’m serious,” he said. He began pacing back and forth in the office in front of Martin. Finally, the man leaned against the front counter, his elbows propping him up.
“So. Nothing much to do here at night?” he asked Martin.
“I read sometimes,” Martin said, hoping to lead the conversation in a friendly direction. He tilted his head toward a paperback book on the counter. The man picked it up.
“Self-Esteem for Dummies?” he asked, reading the cover. Then, sneering at Martin he said, “What are you - one of them new age scumbags?”
Monday, September 2, 2013
“You didn’t marry anyone,” I pointed out.
Available now for the Kindle and Nook.