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First Chapter, of upcoming novel, Blamed.

BLAMED Small-promoChapter One

 

The crushing pain radiating up from my legs yanked me out of unconsciousness. My arms dangled above my head and my hands rested on the overhead panel of the aircraft. Comprehending I was upside down was difficult to grasp with the fear of blacking out again threatening to overtake me.

I yelled and squirmed in an attempt to stop the slide into nothingness and to relieve the agony in my legs. Neither relaxed the all-consuming pain. If anything, my thrashing sharpened it.

We were on approach to Dallas-Fort Worth when… what? Nothing came forth that explained why I’d be upside down and in such misery. A black hole occupied my memory of what happened between everything being normal as we approached the runway and… now.

Wind whistled through the smashed cockpit windows, ruffling my hair. Shards of glass littered the overhead panel. Smoke that stank of burned jet fuel and something else I couldn’t place drifted in.

Where there’s smoke, there’s… Fire! I had to get the flight attendants and passengers to safety! Then a realization hit me. We had been ferrying the empty aircraft from a maintenance facility in San Salvador.

Ned! Why hadn’t the first officer, who had been the pilot flying, made a sound?

When I looked across the cockpit, I shrieked.

The overhead panel had bowed in and crushed the forty-something husband and father’s head backward at an extreme angle against his headrest. A lifeless eye bulged from his distorted, bloody face. It stared straight ahead.

The laid-back pilot with a dry sense of humor looked like a ghoul from a Hollywood movie.

How could he be dead? He’d been joking with me just moments ago.

To distance myself from the sight, I squeezed my eyes shut while fumbling for the seatbelt buckle of my five-strap harness, then hesitated. If I released it, I would plant my head into the overhead panel, which was filled with numerous toggle switches. Even if I didn’t impale on a switch or break my neck, the agony in my legs made me question if I could work them enough to crawl from the aircraft.

I risked a glance. Whatever had happened to us had bent the instrument panel down, trapping my lower extremities under it. The femur in my right leg poked out through a tear in my pants. A constant stream of blood ran from the tip of the broken bone.

I recoiled, and the bone moved.

An intense spike of nausea erupted, emptying my stomach. Vomit burned my throat, ran into my eyes, and up my nose.

I swiped my face with my arm to clear my vision. This movement sent a wave of blackness rolling through me. A part of me welcomed it to end my misery. Another part worried I wouldn’t ever wake from it. I couldn’t leave my wife, son, and daughter.

The sounds of large diesel engines approached. Air brakes hissed. Were they from the crash and rescue trucks?

“Help.” My cry was a gurgle from the vomit in my mouth. I spit.

The smoke outside was now so thick, I couldn’t see the ground. Would they find me before I was consumed by fire? “Help!”

I didn’t detect any movement or hear any voices. I would not become a victim. I had to get out.

A stabbing pain in my side had grown in intensity, making it harder to breathe. When the yoke was rammed into me, had it broken a rib or my sternum? Punctured a lung?

A shove on the yoke to move it forward proved futile.

With a heave, I pushed against the edge of the glareshield, normally at shoulder height but now waist level, hoping to ease the pressure against my chest. The crushing force didn’t slacken.

It also intensified the torture in my legs. I doubted a chainsaw cutting into them would hurt worse. The bellow I unleashed didn’t summon the strength needed to distance me from the yoke.

I sat as still as I could, panting.

The gulps of air I took didn’t relieve my shortness of breath.

If I could slide the seat back, I might breathe easier and free my legs.

Why hadn’t I thought of the seat adjustment lever?

Twisting to yank that lever at the base of my seat felt like a knife stabbing my chest. With my free hand, I shoved on the crushed instrument panel. The intensity of the torment was so great, I almost blacked out.

If I did, I might either bleed or burn to death.

Through gritted teeth, I pushed on the glareshield yanking on the seat adjustment lever. When I didn’t move, I unleashed a howl.

I stayed rammed against the yoke.

When I attempted to shove with my feet, unimaginable agony consumed me, bringing on the darkness I’d been fighting.

Book Review, Absence Makes The Heart Go Ponder, by Nels Gartus

Absence Makes the Heart Go Ponder by Nels GarthusI enjoyed this book.

 That being said, it took me several chapters to get into it. Those early chapters are full of backstory explaining why the three main characters are the way they are, something in any other genre I loathe. But in this case, some of it may have been needed, but I feel it could’ve been layered in throughout the story.

 The other reason I was less enthused initially is I usually read thrillers that start off with a bang and carry that pace throughout the story. This is a slower read about the issues affecting these three male characters as they go through life. There also was some repetition in the writing I feel could have been edited out.

 But once I settled into the story’s rhythm, I began to steal time to read a chapter or two. Often, I found myself nodding at what one of the characters was going through as I’ve experienced that same feeling, situation, or emotion too.

I loved the ending and was glad it worked out the way it did for the three. The last sentence makes me hope there is a follow up novel.

Blamed Is In Editing

BLAMED Small-promoAfter almost three years of on again, off again work, I’ve sent my fourth airline thriller off to Susan Gottfried for editing.

I’m ashamed it has taken me that long to write this story. It would be easy to blame life’s demands for getting in the way of my writing, which there is some truth to, but if I had managed my time better this book would’ve been written sooner. Or, I’m not a writer who can pump out a huge volume of books in a short time. I need to let my ideas germinate in my head before fully realizing the story.

Now that the book is in Susan’s capable hands, and depending on her schedule, and David C. Cassidy’s who will format it for both eBook and paperback, I plan its release around Mid-September. I am anxious to get it out there as I’m proud of this story.

This is a departure for me. All of my books open with the reader witnessing an airline incident or accident through a throwaway character, an air traffic controller. The remainder of the story the protagonists try to figure out what happened. But this time, instead of being told in third person through the eyes of NTSB investigator Lori Masters and her airline instructor husband Kyle, I wrote Blamed from the point of view of Bill Kurz, the captain of the accident flight. Written in first person, I found it easy to put myself in his position and imagine what he’d go through.

Lori, from my previous novels, has a minor role in the story helping Bill uncover what really happened that left him crippled and killed his first officer. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dana Griffin novel without numerous organizations involved in the accident trying to absolve themselves of any blame.

I’m anxious to hear what readers think of the story.

Until I get the first chapter back from Susan, here is the blurb as a teaser. Look for more updates as I get closer to publishing.

Sphere Airlines captain, Bill Kurz, awakens trapped in the wreckage of the aircraft he’d been piloting that came to rest upside down. His last memory is putting the landing gear down on what would be a normal landing before an approaching thunderstorm closes the airport.

The NTSB and news media blame him and the deceased first officer, Ned Partin, for the accident that killed thirty-eight, and burned or severely injured ten.

Bill knows by experience from flying with Ned that they would have prevented the accident. While recovering from his debilitating injuries, Bill investigates why data that would exonerate him has disappeared. And why the NTSB cannot figure out there was something wrong with the rudder. And why his airline’s management thwarts his attempts to prove he shouldn’t be blamed.

Those who caused the accident will go to extreme lengths to assure Bill does not uncover their secret agenda.

Hunter’s Journey

IMG_0386[3697]In a blink, my pain is gone. I have the energy of a pup again.

I hop to my feet like I would have years ago to look for a toy.

A light, as bright as the ball in the sky, catches my attention. I can’t look away from it.

A figure begins to take shape. As the being becomes more defined, it’s apparent it’s another dog. There’s something familiar about this canine. Is that… “Casey?”

The dog fully materializes. “It is you. I haven’t seen you since Becky and Dana took you in the car without me. You never came home after that. Where you’ve been?”

Casey looks the same as the last time I saw her years ago. Her face, which had been predominately white, hasn’t aged a bit.

She stares at Becky and Dana’s bed where Becky lays alone. “Thanks for looking out for them after I left.” She wears the smile I feel I portray when Becky and Dana come home. Then she looks to where I’m standing.

A motionless Golden Retriever lays on the floor near my bed.

Is that… me?

It can’t be. How could I be looking at myself? Then awareness comes to me. “Have I gone where you went?” I ask.

“Yes.”

Somehow, I knew that. “I’m going away too?”

Casey doesn’t answer. She doesn’t have to.

“I can’t go. I haven’t felt good for a while and I don’t have the energy I had, but they still need me. Charlie loves them, but he doesn’t follow them around the house like I do. How will they know they are loved? He’s sick and may not be with them much longer. Who will look out for them? Greet them when they come home? Show them they were missed? Who will keep them company when the other is away?”

“Those are all questions I asked myself too,” Casey says. “Yet, it worked out.”

The longing need to jump on the bed and get petted is dwindling. I’m coming to realize, I can no longer show them they are loved.

“Will I see them again?”

“Yes,” Casey says. “Time is meaningless where I’m guiding you to. Before you’ve realized they’re not with you, you’ll see them again.”

“How can that be? I already miss them.”

So many regrets flash through my head. “I wish I could thank them for rescuing me. For all the walks we took in the woods with all the interesting smells. That I didn’t mean to make them upset when I rolled in deer or goose poop, but couldn’t help it. For taking me with them in the camper instead of leaving me with strangers. For letting me sleep with them. And most importantly; for showing me my love for them was reflected back unconditionally.”

“They know,” Casey takes one more look, than walks into the light.

I take a last look at Becky. “Wait, Dana’s away. I need to see him before I go.”

“Follow me.”

The room changes to a bedroom I’ve never seen. Dana sleeps in one of the two beds. Is this where he goes when he leaves for several days?

While we stare at him, he opens his eyes, then closes them.

Casey sighs, then walks into the light.

“I turn to follow her, then stop, taking a last look over my shoulder seeing both of the beds they sleep in. “I don’t want to leave them?”

“It’s okay. They’ll be sad for a while. They’ll miss you. In time, they’ll find peace in knowing you aren’t suffering. They’ll never forget you. You’ll always hold a place in their heart.”

Casey wouldn’t lie to me.

“Come on” she says. “Ella’s got a ball I know you’ll love.”

“Ella? She’s here too?”

Haughnt, by David C. Cassidy

david-c-cassidy-haughntIf you’re a fan of horror novels, February 7 will be one of those wait-for-the-book-store-to-open days.

Then, 2015 National IPBA Award Winner in Horror, as well as 2015 Readers Favorite Award Winner in Horror, David C. Cassidy’s next stay-up-late-to-read-novel will be released.

Having sped through Velvet Rain, Fosgate’s Game, and The Dark, I preordered Haughnt to be delivered to my Kindle app that day. If you’re a fan of Stephen King or Dean Koontz with writing as vivid and engaging as these two esteemed authors, you’ll want to read this book too. Here’s the tagline:

We’re all damned. It’s just a question of when.

And the blurb:

As his estranged father lies on his deathbed, Paul Steele is stunned by his father’s admission: Many years ago, he committed a ghastly crime and was never caught. As if this isn’t disturbing enough, his freedom was the result of a black-magic spell. As his last breath falls from his lips, he warns Paul that he should expect a visit from a mysterious stranger.

“He’ll be coming, son. A dark man. He’ll come from the shadows.”

That man is Haughnt

Here’s a link to the trailer:

Read with this warning: set some time aside. Once you start a David C. Cassidy Novel, you’ll shove everything else aside to finish it.

A review will come soon.

 

Naming a Character

BLAMED Small-promoWith my feet propped up on my desk, and a legal pad in my lap, I study the list I’ve written on it. The creak of crutches behind me expels a sigh from me. “Do you have to do that?”

“Hey, you said I’d be on crutches all through the story, so I thought I’d practice,” the character in my upcoming airline thriller, Blamed, said.

I go back to contemplating the list.

“You know, it’d be easier to pace on these if that dog wasn’t lying in the middle of the floor.”

My faithful friend, Hunter, lays nearby as he always does when I’m at my desk. “Get used to it. You’ll have a golden retriever in the story.”

“Really? Cool. I like dogs. Have you named it? Or is it nameless like me?”

“Casey.”

He tests speaking the name. “Casey. All right. That works. So what are you thinking for me? Since I’m a pilot, it should be something distinguishing. Like… Buck Teager.”

I shake my head. “That’s too close to Chuck Yeager. Besides, your first name will be Bill. It’s the last name I’m having trouble with.”

Bill stops his pacing. “Bill. Okay. That works. But why Bill? Seems pretty common.”

“I’m using my late brother in-law’s name. He too was a pilot.”

“Bill it is. Let’s test out what you’ve thought of. Run them by me.”

Luckily, no one is home to hear me having this conversation, or I’d probably be locked up in a mental ward. But I’m sure every novelist would understand letting a character assist with choosing their name.

“Here’s what I’ve thought.” I hold the pad up. “Kopp.”

Bill scrunches up his nose. “Kopp? Bill Kopp? Think about it. In the story I’m in an airliner accident. Won’t people think I should have kopped to it?”

“Yeah, you’re right.” I run a line through the name. “How about Wilde?”

An eyebrow is lifted. “Isn’t an airline pilot supposed to be a buttoned-down rational person? Not a wild Bill?”

“Good point.” Another name gets crossed off. “Wilbur. No, forget that one. One of the Wright brothers was named that. Butler.”

“Bill Butler. Who probably would have the nickname, BB. Seriously?”

“Hadn’t thought of that. Then I can scratch off Bower too. Hunter.”

“Your dog’s name? Wow, your imagination is amazing.” Bill rolls his eyes.

“How about Egan?”

“Egan? Bill Egan.” Bill looks like he’s tasted something bad. “I suppose, if you’re really set on it.”

“Fine. You come up with one.”

“Let’s see.” He resumes pacing with the crutches. “Mid-fifties. Pilot. Do I have a sense of humor?”

“Yeah.”

He stops and smiles. “Kurt.”

“Like James T. Kirk?” I shake my head.

“No, Kurt. K-U-R-T. But the similarity could be a joke. Since I’m an airline captain, my rank and name probably will be spoken a bunch of times throughout the book. Captain Kurt. It could be a little joke.” Bill lights up. “Hey, I could even say in the story at some point that my mission is to boldly go where no airline has gone before.”

I chuckle. “If that thought was interjected during a serious moment, it might give some levity to the scene.”

He’d nodding. “See. It’s a good choice.”

“Yeah, but… Kurt is too close to Kirk. How about Kurz?”

With his hands held in front of him like he’s making a frame, he says, “Bill Kurz.” He gives a nod. “Not bad. Close to Kirk so the line will work, but still unusual. Works for me.”

“Bill Kurz it is.”

“Am I married?”

I type Kurz on my list of character’s names. “Yeah.”

“What’s my wife’s name?”

“That’ll be a possible topic for another blog.”

If you want to read what Bill’s experienced in Blamed, it will be published in December 2016.

Writers, do you have these same conversations with your characters?

Blamed, Cover Reveal

BLAMED Small-promoThe incredible David C. Cassidy created this amazing cover-art for my upcoming airline thriller, Blamed.

For those of you looking for a cover artist, you should consider David. His eye for detail and amazing creativity is beyond compare.

After a brief mention of what I was looking for, a day later David emailed me an earlier version of this image. I was so stunted that on the first try he’d come up with what I had visualized. After requesting a few minor tweaks, he sent me the final image.

His attention to detail is one of the reasons I love working with him. He does not rest until he’s provided exactly want the author wants.

If you’re interested in hiring David to create your eBook or print book cover-art, you can see his work and contact him here. David also formats manuscripts for the two eBook formats, and Createspace paperbacks.

Blamed will be published late this fall. I’ll post the blurb and first chapter soon.