Tag Archives: thriller

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.

 

Knot in Time, by Alan Tucker

Alan Tucker Knot in TimeWhat a fun read this was. Categorized as young adult, this adult reader devoured it.

 The high school dropout protagonist, Dare, gets a chance to work for the custodians of time by traveling through it to save the universe.

The plot seems implausible until you begin reading and the believability ratchets up in short order. I mention this because Dare, when presented with this opportunity in the beginning of the story, feels the same way. But Mr. Tucker does a great job of showing him accepting the reality of the situation.

Dare being a hapless individual who seems to shrug off his difficulties made for an enjoyable character to follow through the story. It was easy to visualize any misguided teen in this situation rolling with the circumstances to make the best of it.

The story moves forward at a rapid pace which makes for an engaging read. Although the characters are fleshed out, I would have liked the author to have shown them with more depth, but finished the book satisfied and anxious to read the next in the series.

 

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.

The Dark, by David C. Cassidy

The Dark DCC EBOOK COVER 1While reading The Dark, you’re going to wonder why David C. Cassidy isn’t the household name that Stephen King’s or Dean Koontz’s are. The writing and story plot are on par with both of those illustrious authors.

The Dark is a fascinating read. Cassidy doesn’t write scenes, he puts you in them, smelling the nothingness of the air, or the stench. You shiver when the characters are cold, and try to slide back in your chair when they recoil. I found myself shaking my head often at how well Cassidy captures the personality of the characters.

There are scenes that are gruesome that’ll make you squirm, but I couldn’t stop reading. I kept flipping the pages hoping that the horror that was about to transpire wouldn’t. But it does. There are numerous other scenes that won’t curdle your stomach, but will have you ignore the things going on around you as you’re unable to stop reading until you learn what happens.

If I had a complaint about the book, and it’s a small one, this is a tome of a novel. It also stole three hours of one day when I neared the end and had to finish it or the day would have been a waste until I knew what happened.

If you love getting lost in a dark, frightening, world that holds a promise of all will work out in the end, even though you can’t see how, reward yourself with this novel. You won’t be sorry.

The Dark, by David C. Cassidy

TheDark DCC PrintBookCover

If you’re a lover of horror and thrillers, reward yourself with an early Christmas present and preorder David C. Cassidy’s latest novel, The Dark.

This astonishing tale of supernatural horror will be released in print and eBook on December 15, 2014. Caution: If you begin reading on the day of its release, you’ll probably put off shopping, work, buying plane tickets to Grandma’s house, and will be considered this year’s Scrooge.

Here are some details about the book.

[Get The Dark here ]

IT KNOWS WHAT YOU WANT.

IT KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED.

In denial over his father’s death in a horrific accident, Kelan Lisk has grown fearful and withdrawn. For this meek and bullied child, a burning desire to tame a deadly sledding hill consumes him, drawing him inside a wondrous place where anything is possible … including his father. But as this strange new realm spills into this one, twisting an innocent little boy into an agent of evil, the world is forever changed, devoured by an even greater evil—the Dark.

The Belial Ring, by R. D. Brady

The Belial Ring, R D BradyAs with the previous two books in the series, this book was a fun read, with a darker side. Something happens over halfway through the story which cripples Laney, the protagonist, emotionally and making this reader question if she would be able to fulfill the obligations put on her.

 It is the dwelling on this issue that I gave the book a four star rating and not a five. I thought Ms. Brady spent too much time dwelling on what Laney was going through.

The other reason for the less than stellar rating is I’m not a student of archeology and it is apparent Ms. Brady is. There were times I thought the story came to a halt while she described the history behind an ancient ruin. These descriptions are not as bad as author Dan Brown’s, but I found it amusing when one of the characters in the story, Laney’s love interest Jake, shared my feelings when he said, “Go ahead, professor. Tell me.”

My other issue with the book was two of my favorite characters, Yoni and Danny, didn’t get enough time in the book.

But it is impossible for an author to please every reader. These issues aside, I was hooked from the beginning and read the book in a few sittings. The chapters are James Patterson short, making for rapid page turns. The mystery of one character is tantalizing that I kept reading to learn about her. But the book ended without her secrets being revealed which will make me read the next in the series to figure out what is up with her.

I look forward to the next book in the series.

 

Calamity, First Chapter

Calamity - FullRes 6 x 9CHAPTER ONE

Friday, February 14th, 2:32 p.m. MST.

Denver approach air traffic controller Art Contu watched the blip on his radar screen. Contrails Airline’s flight 1917 had passed through its assigned altitude on its descent. Contu keyed his mic, “Contrails 1917, your crossing restriction at Fulla intersection is thirteen thousand. Climb and maintain thirteen thousand.”

Neither pilot responded. Contu frowned. “Contrails 1917, Denver approach. The crossing restriction at Fulla intersection is thirteen, one three thousand feet. Climb and maintain thirteen thousand.”

“Contrails 1917 has a dual engine flameout.” The pilot’s voice was hurried. “We’re declaring an emergency and need vectors to land immediately.”

Contu leaned closer to his radar screen. He had worked numerous aircraft with emergencies, but not one that had lost power to all of its engines. “Contrails 1917, Denver international is three o’clock and ten miles. Turn right heading two six zero. Say fuel and souls onboard.”

The pilots didn’t acknowledge his instructions. The blip on his screen continued south, taking the Contrails flight away from the only airport to which they could glide, if they turned now.

Contu swallowed. Were the pilots too busy to reply? “Contrails 1917, Denver is at your three thirty and fifteen miles. Turn right heading two seven zero.”

“Two seven zero.” The Contrails pilot’s voice was high. His words strung together. “We need the fire trucks. We have no power.”

The blip on Contu’s screen turned toward the approach end of runway two-six. “Contrails 1917, the emergency equipment has been alerted. Turn right heading two eight zero. Say fuel and souls on board.” The rescue workers needed that information to know how big a possible fire might be, and how many passengers, babies, and crewmembers would need to be pulled from the aircraft.

“United 865 going to tower,” the pilot of another flight said.

Contu mentally kicked himself. He’d been so wrapped up in Contrails’ emergency, he had ignored the other aircraft he was sequencing onto final. United should have already been told to contact the control tower for landing clearance. After acknowledging United’s transmission, he gave instructions to a couple of other flights, picked up the phone, and speed dialed the controller responsible for giving takeoff and landing clearances.

“Tower.”

“Contrails 1917, an ADB-150, has a total power loss.” Contu realized his voice was as rushed as the Contrails pilot’s. “I’m vectoring them for two-six.”

“They’ll be landing in a twenty-knot crosswind. The runway hasn’t been plowed in an hour and has two inches of snow.”

“At the rate they’re losing altitude, they’ll be lucky to make it to any runway,” Contu hung up. “Contrails 1917, runway two-six is eight miles. Turn right two nine zero.” The crosswind pushed the flight south, away from the runway.

The snow that had been falling hard over the last several hours had finally let up. “Contrails 1917, Denver twelve hundred overcast, five miles in blowing snow. Wind three three zero at twenty gusting to thirty.” Contu wiped the sweat from his forehead. During a normal landing, the pilots would have balked at landing on a snow-covered runway with a crosswind that strong. Now they had no choice.

Although the pilots didn’t acknowledge Contu’s instructions, their blip turned further north.

Contu squirmed; Contrails’ altitude read-out indicated they had descended to eight thousand feet. That put them twenty-seven hundred feet above the touchdown zone of two-six. At the rate they were losing altitude, they would slam into the ground short of the runway, tearing the airplane apart.

***

Denver air traffic tower controller Bradley Messano cleared United flight 865 to land on runway three-five-left, then looked out the tower’s windows to the east. He lifted a pair of binoculars and through them spotted the landing lights. The Contrails ADB-150, an aircraft similar in size and appearance to a Boeing 737, descended at a rate that lodged his heart in his throat. It would hit short of the approach lights. The foot of new snow would cushion its arrival but would make it almost impossible for rescue workers to reach the passengers and crew.

The flight aimed at the end of the runway but continued to drop too fast.

When it appeared the aircraft would impact, Messano braced himself on the counter surrounding the tower.

Except Contrails didn’t hit.

The aircraft flew at what looked like inches above the snow drifts. Then the right wing and nose rose. The left wingtip dragged through the snow, sluing the aircraft left.

The aircraft rose, the wings leveled, then banked right to realign with the runway.

The nose swung left and right with the wings rocking.

The aircraft cleared the approach lights by a few feet and continued to climb. “They’re going to make it,” Messano yelled out to no one in particular.

When over the end of the runway, the nose dropped. It swung to the south, pointing the airplane to the side of the runway. Messano braced himself again. The aircraft would touch down on the side of the runway. The snowbanks lining its edges would pull it off into the unplowed snow.

The right wing dipped, the nose slued to the north, rolling the wing further. The wingtip contacted the runway, yanking the nose further north.

The aircraft slammed down. The nose began to turn toward the center of the runway until the right main gear caught the snowbank on the side of the runway and yanked the aircraft off the pavement.

“Shit!” Messano yelled.

The nose gear snapped off, dropping the nose. It plowed a furrow, sending a cloud of snow into the air, making it impossible to see what happened for the next few seconds.