Monthly Archives: September 2012

Let the Adventure Begin!

Above my fireplace is a plaque with an old saying (and I do not know the author) “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

The last moment in my life that completely took my breath away was the day I got the acceptance letter from my publisher for Lazarus Cane. It came with the realization that I, Jeremy Kline, was now a Published Author!

Many people write books, few actually get the opportunity to experience the joy that comes with receiving that letter and signing that contract.

That joy is quickly squelched by the publishing world and the realization that not every published writer is going to be Steven King – at least not right away. Being a writer, like any other job, takes hard work, determination and dedication to succeed. Since the pay is not great at first, being a writer ends up being like an unpaid intern – you do all the work and get nothing in return (okay, you do get the satisfaction of hearing how great you are).

When reality sets in, you find that you have taken on another full time job which requires the one thing that most writers are not good at – Self Promotion.

I would rather write an Oprah Book Club novel than have to self-promote (and if you have read my novel you know that my writing would never make her list!)

I am now about to begin a new adventure. Being impatient and wanting to get my work out to my fans (as few as they are, they are a very loyal bunch), I have decided to move my publishing over to Amazon’s service, called CreateSpace.

With this will likely come the stigma of being a “self-published” author. Not too long ago, that sigma was an author’s death knell, but the publishing world has changed, and I like Jimmy Buffett am “200 year too late”, so I am going to move with the world. The reasons for my decision are simple:

  1. I have already achieved my dream of getting published, so I know (from people who don’t know me) that I can write a readable story, and there has been a lot of demand for the next novel in the series.
  2. I can publish on my terms and keep the rights.
  3. I can focus on the writing without worrying about query letters. (better for my fans)
  4. If I make it big then it will be because of my writing.
  5. The pay is better! (well, at least the percentages)

I have been through the publishing process, and it has highs and lows. With my new track, I will be on my own. I will have to take what I learned and apply it forward. Luckily, my publisher still has a vested interest in selling my first novel, and I think the readers will find the second without their help.

I am hoping to have everything submitted to get the book out by November 1st. Here is the cover that I have been working on. Stay tuned for more details.

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Michael Faust — Chapter 3

I can’t believe it is Thursday and I haven’t posted anything this week!

 

Chapter Three

 

Hanson and Gates waited patiently in front of the large teleconference monitor mounted on the wall.  Their meeting room was small and rarely used. The metal-framed table in the center of the room provided just enough space for their laptops and could barely accommodate four chairs.

They had only been in the office twice since discovering the body under Ally Miller’s pool.  Most of their work was done from home or the mobile command center;  however, their office was the only place with a secure enough connection for these meetings.

Soon the large screen in front of them would split into four rows and five columns.  Each project manager for the SIA would appear in a separate box.  A red line would outline the box of whoever had the floor.  The whole process reminded Gates of group therapy sessions she attended while in college.  The red box was the digital substitute for the talking stick.

These meetings bored Gates.  Each person had to give a status update – without revealing the secretive aspects of their assignments.  Many of them asked her questions, which was the only reason she paid any attention at all.  She could only imagine how boring it must have been for her partner.

The sudden click of front door lock perked up both of their ears. The office rarely had visitors – mostly sales people. But no one in Beaufort had access to actually unlock the door.  Gates was certain she was hearing things, but the buzzer ringing as the door opened confirmed that someone had entered.

Hanson looked at her calmly even as he pulled his gun from its holster. He seemed torn between which gun to use – and eventually decided on the tranquilizer.

Gates and Hanson knew there was a mole in the SIA.  Both of them assumed it was Brooks, but they could not be certain of it.

Hanson quietly rose from his chair and moved toward the open conference room door.  As slow and silent as he was getting there, he was equally as adept at slinging his gun around down the hall.  All Gates could do was pull her own gun and shield herself behind the open door.

She saw Hanson’s expression change instantly as a sideways smile crept up his lip. He did not lower his gun.

“Warm afternoon in Florida,” he called down the hall.

“The manatee are delighted,” a voice called back.  Only then did Hanson return his weapon to its holster.

“Fuck, man!  You of all people should know not to walk into a SIA field office without some kind of advance notice.”

“Spur of the moment decision.”

“Good way to die.”

“Perhaps,” the man said as he finally came into Gates’ view.  He was ruggedly handsome with stark white hair cut high and tight.  His weathered face looked as if it commanded authority and his black pin-striped suit was tailored to fit perfectly over his trim broad-shouldered frame.

“It is good to see you again, my old friend,” Hanson grinned as he accepted his visitor’s open hand and turned it into a manly two-pat hug.  “But your timing is a little off.  I have a meeting it a couple minutes.  Perhaps I could meet you for lunch?”

“Are you in the habit of inviting people, who bypass your office security, out to lunch?”

“Well, I assumed you got one of your cronies to hack our database.  No worries; it will be changed and encrypted before you get another chance.  Is that a yes?”

“Actually, I am here on a business matter.  I am certainly open for lunch, but we need to talk first.”

“Well, like I said, I have a…”

“Are you going to introduce me to you lovely partner, Agent Hanson?  Or have you lost your manners?”

Hanson huffed and shook his head,  “My apologies,” he stated, with mock formality. “This is Dr. Cynthia Gates.  Agent Gates, may I introduce The Deputy Director of the CIA, Mr. Walter Thomas Ayers.”

The title rang home in Cynthia’s ears and she suddenly felt very small. Perhaps Hanson was too blinded by their obvious friendship, but she knew the moment the words came out of Hanson’s mouth – she was looking at her new boss.

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Michael Faust — Chapter 2

Chapter Two

 

            The woman, who calls herself Ally Miller, sat Indian-style on the hotel bed wearing only a white v-neck shirt.  Her long hair was tied up in a ponytail and photos lay scattered all around her.

            She studied each victim carefully noting each detail of their faces and bodies,  creating a chart on a notebook and tying the common features together with lines.  The notebook looked like a complex web; round face tied to blonde hair, connected to mouth lines, and so on.  The web painted a clear picture in her mind.

            She closed her eyes and searched her mind, each profile carefully cataloged and stored.  Unfortunately, none matched the one she needed.

            We’ll have to go out looking for one.

            Shouldn’t be a problem, it is a very common look.

            So why don’t we have it?

            Never needed it – I guess.

            The ringing phone gave her a start as she snapped out of her meditation.

            “Hey, Babe,” she said, seeing Cynthia’s face pop up on her screen.

            “I didn’t wake you, did I?  I know you had a long day.”

            “No, I’m still up.  It was just a bunch of signing today.  All of the details were ironed out over the last few months.  Getting that much money at one time makes it very hard to sleep.”

            “I can only imagine,” Cynthia said, biting her lip.  “Look… ahh… we have a problem.”

            “What’s going on?”

            “Did you watch Celebrity Tonight?”

            “That tabloid show?”

            “Yeah.”

            “No,” Ally laughed. “I’m surprised you did.”

            “Well… I was… anyway, somebody told them about us.”

            “What?”

            “Yeah, they were reporting that you were dating an FBI agent – a female FBI agent,” Cynthia omitted the ‘older’ part.

            “Oh, that could be an issue for you, right?”

            “Yeah, you didn’t tell them, did you?”

            “Oh, hell no.  I don’t tell any of those cretins anything.  They twist your words if you do; besides, I’m not a celebrity-just the daughter of a businessman.”

            “You’re a billionaire, young and hot, and now that they know you’re into women, they will be all over you.”

            “They’ll get bored soon enough.”

            “They haven’t gotten tired of Paris Hilton.”

            “Well, Paris shoves her shit in front of every camera she can.  Unless we decide to make a sex tape, or start texting each other naked pictures, we should be fine.”

            “Well, lay low awhile.  I’m supposed to be meeting with an FBI media consultant in a few days, so try to stay out of the limelight, okay?”

            “I will.”

            “It does suck that we can’t send each other naked pictures, though,” Cynthia said, coyly.

            “Why, Agent Gates, I do believe I’m rubbing off on you,” Ally replied in a deep southern drawl.

            “I wish you were rubbing on me.  I hate being apart this long.”

            “You wanna fool around?”

            “You are so bad,” Cynthia laughed.  “Listen, in all seriousness, you be careful, okay?”

            “I always am.”Alley replied, innocently.

            “I just started working up a profile. The guy is… well… he’s grabbing them out of parking garages.  I haven’t dug that deeply for other similarities, but he is probably a good -looking guy because there is no sign of a struggle.”

            “Okay, I promise I will not get into any handsome man’s car.”

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Michael Faust (A Lazarus Cane Novel) — Chapter One

Chapter One

 

He let his exhaustion engulf him as he shut off the engine and leaned back in his seat.  Flying from coast to coast was tiring enough without adding the hour drive from Savannah to Beaufort.  Hanson looked around the airport garage for Gates’ convertible.  Granted, he did not look very hard after his long flight, but he did look.

He thought he should at least check on it for her.  Leaving a convertible at an airport for several days invited trouble.

He was surprised to see it sitting in her driveway when he pulled up to the house.  Hanson knew from watching the news that Ally was in Atlanta, so it was possible that she had taken Gates  car to the airport, but if so, why not leave it at Ally’s?

Hanson thought he could fight through his exhaustion long enough to walk over and check on her place.  He really didn’t know if she planned on flying or driving down to see Dr. Wright – St. Augustine was only about a three-hour drive.

To his surprise, he saw a blue tint in the window as he approached the front door.  Hanson looked down at his watch – it was a little past eleven. Sighing, he knocked gently on the door.  He did not know what kind of hours Gates had been keeping for last few weeks. The aftermath of the Dawson-Tyson debacle had her running all over the place.  Hanson knew that he should have helped, but his heart was just not in it.

Gates appeared in the doorway.  Her soft smile greeted him like a long lost friend.  She was wearing long checkered pajama pants and a pink shirt with what looked like a sunflower in the center.  Her long brown hair was uncombed and pulled over one shoulder.

“I didn’t know you were coming back so soon,” she said, unlatching

the screen door.

“Jasmine is finally out of the hospital and into therapy,” he replied, not walking in the house.  “Everyone thought is was a good idea to separate us for a little while.”

Gates gestured for him to come in.  Hanson debated the issue for a moment.  He could probably fall asleep in seconds, until he actually reached his bed.  He would likely toss and turn for hours – he decided he could use a drink to speed the process up.

“You coming in, or do you need some rest?” Gates asked as if sensing his dilemma.

“You got bourbon?” he asked with a warm smile.

“For you… the best.”

Hanson shook his head as he walked into the living room.  Gates closed and locked the door behind him and made her way over to the kitchen.  Hanson plopped down on the sofa and stared absently up at the flat screen television mounted above her mantel.

Gates insisted on a good television – just as with the car.  Hanson’s house only sported a small nineteen-inch that sat on a stack of books in the corner.  He was not much into sports – unless hunting men counted as a sport.  And he had little use for much else.

“I have frozen Knob Creek, or regular Basil Hayden,” she called from the kitchen, as Hanson finally realized what he was watching.

“The Basil Hayden sounds great,” he answered, then quickly added- “neat!”

A sly grin slowly made its way across his face as she emerged carrying his bourbon in one hand, and an overly large wine glass in the other.  Hanson simply could not contain a small chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Gates asked with a confused look on her face.

“Am I on candid camera or something?”

“Why… What?”

“That’s an awfully fucking big wine glass you got there.”

“Ally gave it to me.”

“Of course, she did. And when did you start watching tabloid celebrity shows?” he asked, pointing toward the mantel.

“I was just…”

Hanson’s face was red as he waved a hand in front of her.  “I know… you were waiting for them to run a story about Ally.”

“And why is that so funny?”

“It’s not.  What’s funny is seeing you in love.”

Gates stood over him and held out his glass, “Do you want your fucking bourbon or not?”

“I don’t know.  Can you, perhaps, serve it in a pitcher so that I can shove my whole face in it?” he reached up and took it from her, finally regaining his composure. “Sorry, I guess being up for nearly forty-eight hours has made me a bit punchy.”

Gates calmly set her wine glass on the table and waited for Hanson to do the same.  Once she was certain the risk of spilling was minimal, she reached over and punched him on the arm as hard as she could.

“Asshole, I can’t believe I haven’t seen you in weeks and you want to give me shit about drinking wine.”

“I missed you too, Agent Gates,” he smirked while rubbing the sting from his arm.  “Aren’t you supposed to be in Florida?”

“Don’t even get me started.  Dr. Wright has rescheduled on me three times now.  What could a man that old possibly have on his schedule that is so pressing he can’t fit me in for a couple hours?”

“That is odd- he normally jumps at the chance to help us.  You want me to call him tomorrow?”

“No use. Besides, we have a conference tomorrow. Supposedly, they’re going to announce our new boss, but that’s another thing I have been hearing for weeks.”

“The oversight committee is probably having a hard time finding someone they trust.”

“It should be you.”

“Well, they haven’t asked.”

“Do they?”

“Do they what?”

“Do they really ask, or do they just appoint?”

Hanson leaned back with his bourbon against his chest, like someone cuddling up with a cup of hot chocolate, and pondered the question.  There were other high-ranking officials named during Hanson’s twenty-plus years, but never a new director. He was picked only a couple weeks after Brooks took the job.

Hanson was convinced that Cane had killed his boss, Agent Brooks, and then used him as an alibi by doing it at the same time that Hanson killed the man who had kidnapped his niece.  Since Hanson blamed that murder on Cane, Cane was off the hook for killing Brooks. Hanson was relieved that Cane had made Brooks’ death look natural.

“I honestly don’t know.  I guess with the secrecy of our jobs, they might just name someone.”

“Would you want it?”

“I think I’m just too tired right now to answer that question.  Cane has consumed so much of my life that I may not be able to change.  I enjoy the hunt, but I am starting to doubt whether or not Cane needs to be hunted.”

“What about Four?”

“We need to convince our new boss to shift the focus of our investigation.”

“That would be real easy to do if you were the boss.”

“Yeah, but then I wouldn’t be actively involved with the investigation.”

“True.”

“While we are on the subject, is there anything new on Four?”

“No- nothing.  After the police raided Jared Dawson’s house, and he slaughtered all of them, he just up and disappeared.  I am assuming that Four took on Tuwiski’s form. We entered Mike Tuwiski’s DNA and fingerprints into the database under an alias, so it will flag us.  I had to enter it as a ‘person of interest’ in the Cane investigation since we are not technically working on Four.”

“He’ll pop up soon.  You’ve been scanning the news for anything unusual, right?”

“This isn’t my first rodeo, Hanson; I can handle things while you are gone.”

“I know, but you know me; I have control issues,” Hanson said as he gave her a warm smile.  “What about the Mackey investigation?”

“We dug up the fifth victim yesterday. Still no leads on the rest.  I don’t know what Four is doing with the bodies.”

“Well, Four was living as Jared Dawson who worked at the morgue, so my guess is, he cremated them.  We need to look into murders or disappearances of anyone with access to a crematorium.  I’ll be willing to bet that Four has been doing this for quite sometime now.”  Hanson wanted to kick himself for not thinking of it sooner.

“Not a bad idea.  Mortuary workers are generally either very reclusive people or they work with a large family.  He would have to find one of the reclusive ones.”

“Have Simons run it down.”

“Simpson.”

“What?”

“His name is Simpson.”

“That’s what I said. “

“No, you said Simons.”

“Whatever.”

Gates rolled her eyes and happened to look up at the television just as they panned to a shot of Ally walking out of the Miller Industries building.  She was wearing more clothing than Gates was used to, and her large sunglasses covered most of her face.

This was the scene earlier today as twenty-three year old Allison Miller left her father’s empire for the last time as a major shareholder.  The final selling price is reported to be in the tens of billions.

            And what is the young billionaire planning to do with that money?  No one seems to know.  Unlike most heiresses, she has not shared the spotlight and rarely frequents the club scene.  The reason may be more scandalous than we ever expected; our sources have told us that Allison Miller is involved in a lesbian relationship with a much older woman.  Our sources also claim that the woman is an unidentified FBI agent!

“Oh, shit, that’s not good!” Gates whispered loudly as she sank her head into her hands.

“It’s going to be very hard to run a secretive organization if you have news crews following you.”

“I should’ve known this would happen.  What the fuck am I going to do?”

Hanson thought about it for a moment.  His brain was tired.  “Try not to worry about it tonight.  I’ll take care of it tomorrow.  These things are very fleeting.  As long as you and Ally are not out there flaunting it to the world, the reporters will get bored.  But regardless, we have someone in the agency who can deal with it.  I’ll call him tomorrow.”

“John, I am so sorry.”

“Try not to worry, Cynthia.  I will protect you and Ally.  Besides, I owe her one.”

“For what?”

“For… ahh… well, you know, the whole pool thing.”

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Preview of Michael Faust (A Lazarus Cane Novel)

Getting the new book to publication is taking a long time, so for my devoted fans, I am going to post a few chapters for your enjoyment. Here is the Prologue which I previously posted on my Goodreads blog. I will post Chapter one next.

 

Enjoy!

 

Prologue

 

Ellie Morris emerged from her ornately carved creek stone shower.  Its dual showerheads and steam vents cleansed her deeply tanned and curved body and left her feeling refreshed.

She barely had time to grab her thick oversized white towel before the phone began ringing.   She waited for him to call for nearly two hours before she decided to take a shower – knowing that as soon as she did, he would. Haphazardly wrapping the towel around her wet frame, she grabbed the phone off the vanity.

“Hey, Babe,” she said as looked herself over in the mirror.  She fluffed her long brown hair as it dripped onto the floor, paying no mind to it – the maid would clean up after her.

Across the bathroom she had installed full-length mirrors – allowing  herself  both  a front and back view while getting ready in the morning.  Ellie Morris took a great deal of pride in the way she looked.  She came from a mixed white and Hispanic family.  Her mother was one of Miami’s best Spanish-speaking defense lawyers, and her dad was the most prominent developer of waterfront property in the city.

Ellie Morris was groomed from birth to marry rich. She paid very close attention to every detail of her body.  Her husband only saw her at her best.  As a well-respected business analyst, Henry Morris spent most of his time on the road, which Ellie did not mind.  It allowed her time to tend to their home, without having to perform her wifely duties.

Henry Morris was a deep, caring man, and though he worked out often, he had a squirrelly face and balding head.  Luckily for him, Ellie Morris did not have a huge desire for sex.  She contemplated taking a lover from time to time.  Nor was she without offers.  Money excited her more than sex; so, if a wealthier man came along who was better looking than Henry, she might consider it.

For now, she was happy.  Henry provided well for them.  Their modern stucco home sat on a large canal with their forty-foot boat docked along the edge of the backyard.  She had everything a girl could want – at least for the moment. She had no desire for children and neither did Henry, but if that changed, she would have to seriously consider whether or not she wanted to risk having children with half of his genetic code.

“I am so sorry, Gorgeous.  I got stuck in a meeting with a guy who would not stop talking – even after he knew the conversation was over,” Henry said in a breathy voice.

“It’s not a problem, Babe.  I was just getting out of the shower. How are things in…ahh,” she said, trying to remember where he said he was flying.  She finished drying herself off and discarded the towel into the hamper along the side of the vanity.  Ellie Morris never used the same towel twice.

“Dallas, remember?” he said mockingly. “And things are pretty good.  I think I got the account.”

“That is great, Baby.  I am so proud of you,” she said, stroking his ego while she swayed her hips from side to side, admiring her naked body in the mirrors.  “So, are you taking your clients out tonight?”

“You know how this job is.”

“I know,” she pouted.  She really did not care that he amused his clients at strip clubs, but she thought that a wife should act concerned about her husband being grinded on by some slut; so, she faked it.

“When are you coming home?”

“Tuesday,” he replied.  “It sucks that I’ll have to stay in this town all weekend, but their board meets on Monday, so I’ll have to present then,” he paused for a moment.  “If you want, I guess I could fly home for the weekend.”

“No, I don’t want you to have to fly home and then turn around and fly back.  Besides, you’re going to be out late tonight; then you’d be flying home tomorrow just to get here late on Saturday and leave early on Sunday. You’d be so tired that you would be of no use to me.”

“You’re right, Babe.  Maybe I can check and see if the Cowboys are playing at home this weekend.”

“That sounds…” Ellie drew in a quick breath.  “Did you hear that?” she asked, as she moved cautiously toward the door leading out to her bedroom. She pulled her hair over her right shoulder – leaving only her left breast exposed.

“Honey, did you take your medication today?” he asked in a disappointed tone.

“Yes, Dear,” she retorted.  “I am not being paranoid;  I just heard a noise coming from the bedroom.”

For several weeks, Ellie Morris felt as though she was being watched.  For a while’d Henry believed her.  He went so far as to have cameras placed throughout their home.  Lately, she begun hearing voices – whispers at first, then footsteps.  Some nights she would wake up and swear that somebody had been fondling her.

Of course, all of this took place while Henry was on the road.  He offered to install a webcam in their bedroom so that he could see her while he was away, but she staunchly refused.  Henry was disappointed.

After months of listening to her rattle on about ghosts, Henry took her to a professional.  Paranoid delusions brought on by stress, was the doctor’s diagnosis – the thought of being alone in their big house triggered auditory hallucinations. Ellie Morris did not agree with the doctor, but she took the medication anyway. Paired with a good Cabernet, it made a very nice sleep aid.

“Ellie, we have been over this.  That house has higher security than Fort Knox.  There is nobody in the house.”

“I didn’t say there was somebody in the house.  I said I heard a noise in the bedroom,” she sighed, knowing that she should not fight with her husband while he was away – a good wife does not do such things. “I’m sorry, Honey.  I don’t want to fight.  It was probably just a boat passing by on the canal.”

“That’s my girl,” he smiled.  “Why don’t you get a glass of wine and rest yourself?  I will call you tomorrow.”

“Okay, Baby,” she answered coyly.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Ellie hung up the phone and sighed loudly.  She did not think she was having delusions, but how would she really know? If a tree falls in the woods…

She walked through the bedroom and on into the hallway towards Henry’s study – not bothering to dress.  They had several wine racks around the house, but the best bottles were kept in the study, away from where their dinner guests could see them.  Henry did not have many pet peeves, but watching inexperienced wine drinkers gulp his prized bottles made him want to vomit.

She selected a nice Cabernet and navigated the mounted corkscrew with less irritation than normal; she wasn’t used to having to open her own bottles. When Henry would tell her, “go have a glass of wine” while he was away, he meant “get one of the good bottles, Sexy.  You’re worth it.”  Those were the only times she was allowed to grab whatever bottle her heart desired, and she took advantage of it.

She savored the aroma as she leaned her bare body over the bar.  A soft smile crept over her face by the time she was ready to take the first sip.  She tried to let all the worry wash over her.  Despite the pills and the wine she still felt like someone was watching.

She had called a paranormal investigator – without her husband’s knowledge.  She was hoping that he could come this weekend, but the man was very flighty and had already missed two appointments.  He was not rescheduled to be there until tomorrow.  Henry could claim ‘delusions’ all he wanted, but Ellie Morris was certain something else was going on.

She made her way back down the hall to her room and on into the bathroom.  She finished her first glass of wine while brushing her hair and applying various lotions.  She was finished grooming by the end of her second glass.  She walked into the bedroom while dumping the rest of the bottle into her glass.

Setting the glass on the dresser, Ellie began walking toward her closet – when she was stopped, abruptly.  Standing alongside her bed, she had run into a wall of air.

She could not move it.

Carefully she reached out with one hand. She pressed against it, like a mime’s interpretation of being stuck in a box. As she felt for edges, she realized that the wall’s texture was that of a man’s skin.

Ellie Morris’ hand pressed on what felt like ripped, steel abdominal muscles.  It did not have the feel of Henry’s soft stomach – this was hard and chiseled.  Part of her wanted to move her hand downward; her heart was suddenly pounding out of her chest.  Instead, she moved both hands upward – feeling large chest muscles, and becoming more aroused by the second.

Looking down, then up, Ellie Morris tried to make sense of it.  Her sense of vision was not agreeing with her sense of touch.  She felt as though she should be able to see the edges, or some kind of distortion in the air – there was none.  If it was a ghostly man standing in front of her, he was large.  His chest was taller than her, and his neck was almost out of reach.

Her head strained upward to where his head ought to be.  Ellie Morris slid one hand down the unseen figure and floated her other hand down her own flat stomach.  After all, how many opportunities would she have to feel up a ghost? She reached his large and fully erect manhood while caressing her own completely shaved genitals, but her arousal quickly mutated into blinding fear as her gaze met his.

There, floating in front of her, staring down at her, were the blackest eyes she had ever seen.  Just a hint of green encircled them.  Ellie could feel their wretched intent.  She wanted to run, but the floating eyes held her.  It was too late, anyway.

Ellie Morris stared in disbelief as her hands were clasped.  In less than a second she was spun around – her arms bound behind her.  She could see her own frightened reflection in the mirror – wrists crossed around her back, her face pressed into the bedding.  She could still feel the carpet under her toes as the ghost kicked her heels in opposite directions.

“Why are you doing this?” she cried, attempting to lift her head.  “I might have let you.”

The dark, haughty voice that cracked in response sounded like a man who had not his cleared throat.  It was a sinister, thundering voice- unlike anything Ellie Morris had ever heard.

“And what fun would that be?”

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Thrilling Zombie Novel

Let me preface this review by saying that I have a zombie addiction. I have read all of the Walking Dead comics (even though I have never read a comic book), the novel Rise of the Governor and watched both seasons of the TV show. That being said, my addiction is new, so I have not read anything outside of Kirkman’s work – until now.

I am sure that Rhiannon Frater has been selling a lot more books since Kirkman’s work hit AMC, and I think that is a really good thing – she really deserves it. I’ll admit that I would have never found this novel had it not been for Goodreads.com’s recommendation, and even then I was hesitant to buy it since I am kind of a cheap ass and it was about double what I normally pay. I like to read books out of the mainstream which are generally less expensive – and let’s face it, unknown authors need the sales, I know I do.

The First Days: As the World Dies begins with one of the best ‘gotcha’ scenes – hooking me from the first paragraph. It was interesting to read the author’s notes after the book and find out how she came up with that scene (I won’t ruin it by telling you).

Frater’s two lead characters, Katie the lesbian lawyer turned rescuer and Jenni the battered wife turned badass zombie killer, are a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with male protagonists. The two women add an emotional side to a world gone mad where male characters are usually more concerned with logistics and protection.

I won’t say too much here (I don’t like reviews with spoilers, even hidden ones). What I can say is that I bought the second book in the series went I was only half way finished with this one (because I didn’t want to finish and not be able to continue).

If I had to give some constructive criticism, I would suggest adding more description about the landscape. I have been to Texas, but I was very young. It was hard for me to picture some of the surroundings since I don’t know what the area looks like. I battle this as well, it is easy for a writer to assume the reader knows what the terrain looks like. At first, I was picturing a flat landscape, like a typical Texas oil field, later in the book I found out I was wrong.

Will everyone like this book? Probably not. But don’t dismiss it just because it is a zombie novel. The level of emotion and fighting (both outward and in) drives this book more than the dead things biting people. There is a lot more drama and tension than things jumping out and scaring you.

Frater has not only sold me on the rest of her novels (and I will read all of them unless they get boring), but she has also inspired me to embrace my own writing for what it is not what others want it to be. She wrote this novel long before zombies became popular and self published it long before anyone saw the talent and signed her.

Congrats Rhiannon, great novel!

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Excerpt from Lazarus Cane

I never name my chapters but if I did, this one would be called “Cane’s Homecoming.” As a bit of trivia, it is one of the only chapters featuring the shapeshifting vigilante that does not start with the sentence “The ____ that calls him/herself _____.” Writing a character that takes on many forms is a difficult task, so I usually started the chapters that way to let the reader know who it really was. This was a fun chapter to write, and for all you fans out there waiting on the rest of the series, this is not the last time that Elaine will be featured. The second book is complete and waiting on publication and the third book is nearly done (I should be editing it soon).

There are no spoilers below, so read freely!

 

Chapter Four

Elaine woke to a sudden jolt as if her body had been bounced against something. Feeling it the second time confirmed it. She was in the back of a van. Her vision was still blurry, and she could feel that her arms and legs were fastened behind her back. She lay on the floor of the van. Her stomach and breasts pressed hard onto the cold metal.

What did he tie me with? Feeling around her binding, she could only imagine that something that thin and hard must be a zip tie. Good, I can remedy that, but she had to make sure that no-one was watching her. Straining her neck, she tried to peer upwards focusing her eyes. She could only see random objects and plain white walls. She struggled to turn her head the other direction, which caused a loud grunt to escape her lungs.

“Keep it down back there, sweetheart,” she heard in a deep southern drawl, “we’ll be there soon enough.” He laughed!

Son of a bitch, we will see who laughing soon.

Straining to look upwards, she finally caught sight of him, not enough of him to make an identification, but enough to see that he had the rearview mirror pointed down at her. Damn, she had to see what he looked like before he killed her, or knocked her out again, and she could not remove her bonds while he was looking. The last thing she wanted was to wake up in a shallow grave, or God forbid while being tossed on a fire, or worse.

Her muscles were beginning to tighten and she had to save her energy. So she relaxed her neck and listened to the road. Cane could tell the speed by the clump, clump of the road, and direction by natural instinct. She had to let him take over. This was his game anyway; she was just the bait.

Her opportunity came suddenly and without warning. The van turned sharply on what she thought was an exit ramp, so she let the momentum roll her to the left side of the van. She gave added an extra push and let out a grunt to make it seem more dramatic; causing the son of a bitch behind the wheel to let out another guttural snicker. That confirmed her original suspicion; he was a sadist. This was going to be a long day if she did not get her bindings off.

Her position was perfect now as she lay on her left side, behind the driver’s seat. Her legs were pressed against the wall of the van, which loosened the pull on her wrists. Since she had landed on her side, she was able to survey her surroundings. There was a shelf over her head, and what looked like plumbing gear along the opposite wall. Jim Dumler would not carry this kind of gear for a plumbing job, so this guy’s job had to be similar yet different.

She would have to worry about that latter. For now, she pressed herself against the wall of the van and managed to reach her hands to her waist. She dug into the belt line of her shorts and found the pocket that she had sewn in. There was another pocket with the same items sewn in the front as well.

A girl never knows what direction a guy is going to tie her up in.

Digging in the pocket, she found the small blade, and it only took a few seconds to carve through the plastic holding her wrists together. As she felt around behind her, she realized that there were three zip ties, one for her wrists, one for her ankles, and one to attach those two together. The one on her ankles was going to have to wait. She wanted privacy for what she needed to do as much as this prick wanted time alone with her. She needed some sort of distraction so that she didn’t end up knocked out again from another dose of chloroform, so she gently tugged on her tube-top to expose her left breast.

Before long, the van came to a rolling stop after what seemed like an eternity on a very bumpy road. She heard the driver’s door open and shut. The moment of truth. Let’s see what this prick has in store. The back door of the van swung open on rusty hinges.

This asshole was humming! “Are you ready sweetheart,” he said, and noticing her exposed bosom, he laughed and added, “I guess you are. Well, I have a surprise for you too.”

Elaine readied her own surprise as well. The small syringe that she had tucked into her hidden pocket was now in her right hand. Carefully, she flipped off the cap exposing the needle. She just needed him to get a little closer and this would all be over. At least now she had seen his face, so if the worst happened she could figure out who he was.

Surprisingly, he was not that bad looking for a complete psycho. Most of the men like him that Cane had encountered were disgusting both inside and out. This jerk was actually ruggedly handsome. A bit thick in the middle but he could work that off over time. He had black hair that desperately needed a trim. His long, fu-man-type goatee obscured a face that had good structure. He was wearing faded jeans and a black wife-beater that exposed his finely chiseled arms. He also had a barbwire tattoo circling his

left arm, which was going to be a problem, but nothing to get too alarmed about.

He reached out and grabbed her nipple. Pulling on it roughly, he smiled and ran his other hand up her inner thigh. “We’re gonna have some fun today, bitch.” He drawled in a very familiar accent.

Well at least it was familiar to Cane though Elaine could not quite place it.

She swung her arm around and planted the needle deep into his neck. His face went stark white and his smile dropped. He staggered back and slammed into the opposite wall of the van clutching his neck. Elaine pulled the gag from her mouth, as he carefully removed the syringe and stared at it wide-eye and pale.

“Oh yeah, asshole,” she spat as she wiped her mouth and added, “We are gonna have some fun.”

Leaving the limb body, she stepped out of the van onto a gravel driveway. She stretched her body upwards to relieve her aching back and legs. As she inhaled deeply, a rush of images passed through and lingered in her mind, and she knew instantly that they were not her memories or even Jim Dumler’s. The memories that failed to leave her belonged solely to Cane.

Stepping around the open door, she confirmed the lingering aroma that filled her nostrils with the scent of both longing and decay. She gazed out across the old decrepit dock leading out into the marsh and river beyond. The tide was low, though not quit fully receded, and thousands of oysters peeked up through the pluff mud and spewed their sent of mold and sweetness that only few could really call pleasant. To her the aroma was pungent but the view that expanded across the river toward the setting sun was something to behold.

Cane wanted to breathe it in and savor the moment. The vision brought with a sense of yearning and thoughts of simpler times.

He completely took hold of Elaine and left her tucked into a corner of their mind. He left the thoughts of the serial killer that he had finally captured behind him, and took in all that his senses would allow. For he knew instantaneously that he was home.

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