Tag Archives: suspense

Reader Comments on Blamed

 

BLAMED Small-promoMy airline thriller, Blamed, has been available as an eBook on Amazon for a month. The paperback version should be available the third week of September.

So far, thankfully, it is selling better than my other books. Although I’m not complaining, I have to ask why since I haven’t promoted it more than the release of my other books. Is it readers of my other books have been silently waiting a new release from me? Have those who have read it enjoyed it so much they are raving about it to fellow readers? Or, the fact it was posted on Caleb and Linda Pirtle’s Book of the Moment webpage generated more interest for it than I could have on my own? Thank you again, Caleb and Linda.

Whatever the reason, I’m not complaining. There are no reviews for it yet (hint hint) so I’m not sure what readers reaction to it are, other than this unsolicited post on Facebook from my sister in-law, Nancy:

So I have “listened” to your book on my Kindle…. in the car, with Bluetooth headphones on everywhere else, and hardly stopped for sleep! This was a work of art that showed your passion for your profession as a pilot as well as your knowledge and dedication to making words share that passion with your readers! It was riveting! Thank you!

And this one on Twitter from @GayRainbowAnarchist:

75 percent through Blamed. Thoroughly entertaining.

These comments made my day.

If interested in reading Blamed, you can find it here.

First Chapter of novel, Blamed.

BLAMED Small-promoChapter One

I awoke to crushing pain radiating from my legs. My arms were dangling above my head and my hands were resting on the overhead panel of the aircraft. Fighting to remain conscious, it took me a moment to figure out I was upside down.

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, making me aware of a stabbing throb in my chest.

We were on approach to Dallas-Fort Worth when … what? I could not remember why I would be upside down and in such misery. A black hole filled my mind, erasing what happened between everything being normal as we approached the runway and the torture of the present.

Wind whistled through the shattered cockpit windows, ruffling my hair. Shards of glass littered the overhead panel. Smoke that stank of burned jet fuel and something vaguely ominous drifted in.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! Fire! I had to get the flight attendants and passengers to safety! The evacuation training we practiced every nine months kicked in before I remembered we had been ferrying the empty aircraft from a maintenance facility in San Salvador.

Damn! The agony made rational thoughts impossible. I mentally worked to block the misery so I could think.

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

When I looked across the cockpit, I screamed.

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 had 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, sending a wave of blackness rolling through me. A part of me welcomed an end to my misery, while another part of me worried I would never regain consciousness. 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 so thick now I couldn’t see the ground. Would they find me before I was consumed by fire? “Help!”

I didn’t see any movement or hear any voices. I would not die helplessly. I had to get out of the airplane.

The intensity of the torment in my side grew, making it harder to breathe. When the yoke 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.

If I slid the seat back, I might breathe easier and free my legs. It would also aid in getting the hell out of the cockpit.

Twisting to yank the lever at the base of my seat stabbed my chest. With my free hand, I shoved on the glareshield, normally at shoulder height but now waist level, hoping to ease the pressure against my chest. The seat did not move nor slacken the crushing force in my chest.

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. The intensity of the torment was so great, I almost blacked out.

If I slipped back under, I might either bleed or burn to death.

I sat as still as I could, panting.

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

Through gritted teeth, I pushed on the glareshield, yanking on the seat adjustment lever at the same time. When I didn’t move, I attempted to shove my feet against the floor under the instrument panel. Unimaginable agony consumed me, plunging me into inky darkness.

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?

The Fourth Descendant, Allison Maruska

Allison Maruska The Fourth DescendantI enjoyed reading this book even though it took me a while to keep the four main characters straight through the initial couple of chapters. But Ms. Maruska does a good job of easing that difficulty as the four are very different than each other and each with flaws that keeps them real.

 Each receives a call from a historian who has discovered they are descendants of four men who buried a safe in Richmond, Virginia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each has a key that’ll unlock the safe and reveal the secrets hidden inside.

 The story moves along after just a brief introduction to the characters until mayhem ensues and the chase is on. One of the four has an agenda of their own which becomes compounded by an interested party.

 For me the middle of the story dragged as the four characters went about their regular lives after opening the safe without much thought to why a secret had been buried and why they were selected to reveal it. Then they are off together to discover that secret. And what a secret it is.

The ending, though sad in one regard, was satisfying and left wide open for a sequel. I look forward to reading more from this author.

You can find this book here, or read about the author here.

 

Under the Nazi Heel by Scott Bury

Scott Bury Under the Nazi's HeelI’m honored to be hosting the book launch of Under the Nazi Heel by Scott Bury. The sequel to Army of Worn Soles a World War Two novel based on Scott’s father in-law’s experience as a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army.

I enjoyed Army of Worn Soles and am looking forward to reading Under the Nazi Heel.  Here’s an excerpt:

As Zazulak had predicted, a German patrol stopped them on the outskirts of Ternopyl, where the road crossed a small bridge. A single soldier stood in the middle of the snow-covered road, pointing a rifle at them. Two others stood on the side of the road. One smoked a cigarette.

Zazulak reined in just short of the soldier in the road, who maintained his aim on the sleigh. The smoking soldier came up to them. His rifle remained slung over his shoulder. “Where are you going?” he asked in German. He sounded bored.

“I don’t speak German,” Zazulak said to Maurice. “Translate for me.” Maurice did, knowing Zazulak was lying. “Tell him we’re going to the market in Ternopyl.”

“Good morning, sir. We are just going to the market in Ternopyl,” said Maurice, smiling at the soldier.

The soldier frowned. “What are you going to buy?”

“Some things for our mother’s birthday,” Maurice replied. He smiled again. “We’re brothers, you see.”

The soldier looked at his fellows and frowned again. “You don’t look like brothers. Let me see your papers.”

“Give him your ID,” Maurice told Zazulak in Ukrainian, but Zazulak was already reaching into his pocket, giving Maurice a look that said “Look what you’ve gotten us into.”

Maurice handed both their German-issued ID papers to the soldier. “You’re not brothers. You don’t even have the same name!”

“We have the same mother, but different fathers,” Maurice said, smirking. He leaned closer to the soldier and pointed his thumb over his shoulder. “He’s the bastard.”

The third soldier burst into laughter. The smoker turned to him to frown, and then back to Maurice and Zazulak. “Get the hell out of here, smart aleck.” He thrust the ID papers back to Maurice and waved the solider out of the road.

Zazulak snapped the reins. As the horse passed the checkpoint, he growled “What the hell was that for?” His eyebrows were twin clouds, threatening storm.

“Just a little fun,” Maurice answered, chuckling. “In times like these, we need to have some fun once in a while.”

“Well, don’t do it when we’re on a mission again. That kind of fun could get us both arrested and killed.”

Scott Bury Author PhotoOn the contrary, Zazulak. It distracted the guards. They were thinking about our promiscuous mother and whether they might sleep with her. They weren’t wondering why two farm boys would drive to a city market in the middle of winter without anything to sell.”

“Then why did I have to be the bastard?”

“What would you have done in my place?”

Zazulak did not say anything after that, but glared at the road ahead. Maurice settled back and tried to keep from laughing aloud.

Here’s the link to Scott’s Amazon page if your interested in reading more.

 

 

Flight For Safety by Karlene Petitt

Flight for Safety Karlene PetittThe accidents discussed in this novel are based on actual ones. Crew fatigue, reduced training, inexperienced instructors, pilots becoming dependent on the aircraft’s automation, and airline mergers so the upper airline management can profit at the expense of the employees are all actual problems airline pilots face. The portrayal of some in the FAA wanting to do something about these problems but being prevented by their leaders is also accurately depicted.

Unfortunately I thought the author struggled to tie these subjects into a convincing thriller. The harassment the protagonist, Darby, experiences from her airline management I thought was a stretch for her alleged infractions. It wasn’t until the story was wrapped up did I understand why management had beleaguered her.

But the author making Darby out as a hardnosed woman who didn’t take any crap was smile invoking, and made the climax at the end realistic.

The other reason for my four star rating was the writing wasn’t as polished as I would have liked. There were a lot of stage directions to describe what was going on. Darby did this, then that, then she did this. The end was summed up in a narration I thought could have been more engaging if Darby had discussed the events with one of the other characters. Also, several events happened without any real setup or explanation as to how they came to be.

But the heart of the novel was so precisely depicted I admire Ms. Petitt’s ability to put the reader in the cockpit of an advance aircraft like the Airbus A-330 and fill the scene with enough details that the reader understands basically what is going on without bogging the story down with extraneous details.

 I’ll be reading more of this author’s novels.

Review of Airline Thriller, Calamity

cropped-calamity-fullres-6-x-9.jpgI’m honored to have the talented David C. Cassidy leave this five star review of my airline thriller, Calamity.

Book Review, Calamity.

Not only is David a talented graphic artist, he’s a gifted writer too. Check out his novels, Velvet Rain, Fosgate’s Game, and The Dark.

Perfect, by Douglas Wickard

Perfect, Douglas WickardWith each book, Douglas Wickard grows as a writer. This one is his best to date, which should not be a deterrent from reading his other novels. I devoured them in just a few settings.

The plot of Perfect moves along at a pace that allows the reader to enjoy the scenery, which Wickard is a master at showing. The characters story savor their surroundings which are given to the reader in satisfying glimpses, or are repulsed by them. There were a few times I thought the story came to a halt while a scene was described, but those times were rare.

The interactions of the characters are realistic and you get to know the point of view characters thoughts and feeling intimately. This being the third book in the Sami Saxton series, she carries baggage from the two previous novels that Wickard wisely doesn’t dwell on. Hints are given so readers of the previous novels are reminded and understand Sami’s emotional well-being. New readers to the series won’t be left questioning why she thinks and acts the way she does.

Sami’s bestie from the previous novels, Drewe, is given more story time in this novel, which gave this reviewer more insight into why she and Sami are so compatible to each other.

But poor Sami. Wickard does not give this woman a break. Just when you think things might be looking up for her, emotionally and romantically, Wickard drops her into hell, yet again. This book comes to a satisfying conclusion, but is left wide open for a continuation of Sami’s torturous life to go on. I can’t wait to read it.

Cassidy Jones and the Luminous

Cassidy Jones and the LuminousBefore you begin reading this engaging novel, set some time aside before you turn the first page. If you don’t, you’ll be late for work or school, forget to meet friends, or wish you hadn’t stayed up so late the next day.

 Elise Stokes has an amazing ability to put the reader into the mind of a fifteen-year-old young woman who just so happens to have superpowers. The character, Cassidy Jones, with the exception of the superpowers, is the kind of daughter all parents would cherish, or teenagers wished they had as a friend. She doesn’t swear, or deliberately get in trouble. But having her extraordinary gifts and using them to rid her hometown of Seattle of villains often puts her in the crosshairs of nasty people.

 What I love about this book and the series in general, is how the ordinary life of a teenager is portrayed while Cassidy works with her genius neighbor and best friend Emery to keep Seattle safe. The interaction with the students in school who consider themselves so above Cassidy made me feel I was back in high school. Cassidy’s interaction with her family and friends evoked many smiles. The action scenes are fast paced and you’ll want to reread to savor how well written they are.

 Although classified as a young adult book, readers of that age or older will thoroughly enjoy reading Cassidy’s latest adventure. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

 

Tracon, by Paul McElroy

ImageBeing an airline pilot, I enjoyed reading this book. Mr. McElroy is not an air traffic controller, but it seems he did his research and got the details correct without taking the reader to air traffic controller school. I’ve often wondered what life on the other end of the two-way transmission I often take for granted is like and got a firsthand glimpse of that life.

 

As an author of airline thrillers, I loved the plot in this story, and a bit envious it has been used. It’ll make the reader feel the possibility of something similar having happened when the story takes place — more than a decade ago – might’ve happened.

 

But a great plot is no good without believable characters to carry the story, which was not a problem with this novel. I cared for the characters, hated a couple, and shook my head at a few.

 

The story moved forward at a moderate pace without lagging by stopping to tell backstory. What backstory is told is told in conversation which makes learning about the character more realistic. If I had a dislike it was the author’s choice to change character points of view within a chapter or section numerous times; a personal grip of mine

 

Overall, I recommend this story.