Archive for category fiction

I’d Like to Meet Jack Reacher


MIDNIGHT LINE

Copyright 2017 By Lee Child

You probably know Jack Reacher from the movies, but have you ever met him on the printed page?

I stumbled upon the Jack Reacher novels while looking for a good book to read in a Palm Beach sundries shop.  As a science fiction/adventure/thriller fan, I’m surprised it took me so long to discover the Reacher novels and their brilliant author, Lee Child.

In the character of Jack Reacher, Child has created one of the most compelling protagonists in contemporary fiction.  First of all, he doesn’t look anything like Tom Cruise.  Cruise is a shrimp in comparison to the character described in the novels.  Reacher is an ex-Army Military Policeman, standing six feet five inches tall, in top physical condition, with hands as big as sledgehammers.  He’s a decent looking guy, but nothing to write home about, aside from his size.

Something in Reacher’s past keeps him riding buses and drifting from town to town in search of something.  That something usually turns out to be someone in need of help.  Reacher’s involvement with the something always leads to mounting trouble and extreme danger.

While Jack Reacher is a tough guy who can stand up to six guys at once, he’s also a good Samaritan.  In The Midnight Line, the first novel I had the pleasure of reading, Reacher takes an aimless stroll past a pawn shop in a small Midwestern town.  In the window, he sees a West Point class ring from 2005.  It’s tiny; a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself.  Why would she give it up?  Reacher is a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.

Reacher tracks the ring back to its owner, step by step, down a criminal trail leading west into the deserted wilds of Wyoming.  All he wants is to find the woman.  If she’s OK, he’ll walk away. If she’s not, he’ll stop at nothing until the situation is rectified.

I found The Midnight Line to be an engrossing tale enriched with interesting, believable characters.  The story kept me absorbed all the way through to its satisfying ending.  I’ve followed up with Child’s penultimate book in the series, Past Tense.  It’s a unique story that begins a bit slowly with Jack Reacher visiting a small town to trace his roots.  The story veers off in an unusual subplot that unfolds at a remote hotel and merges with the main plot in an explosive, thrilling climax.

The prose and dialogue in both books flow in staccato, muscular sentences, much like Reacher’s speech pattern.  It’s cool, once you get used to it. Occasionally, the characters sound too much alike, with Child’s hyper intelligent voice seeping through.  This is a minor gripe.  I find Child’s prose eminently readable, enjoyable, and interesting.  The author packs his story with enlightening background information which relates directly to the story.  I heartily recommend the Reacher series to action/adventure/mystery fans everywhere.

After reading both novels, I’m left wondering what drives Jack Reacher?  It’s not money.  He’s comfortable living off his Army pension.  While his life is lonely, he isn’t looking for love.  Women are attracted to him, but he’s only capable of forming brief relationships.  In Midnight Line, one of the women Reacher is helping wants to bed him.  She’s a beautiful twin-sister to the woman they are searching for.  She’s unhappily married to an emotionally distant husband.  Reacher could easily rationalize having sex with her, but he won’t do it.  He has integrity.  He has a code of honor, maybe resulting from his military background, but he’s hardly a goody-goody.  Reacher is not afraid to break the rules or think outside of the box when confronted with difficult situations.  He’s resourceful, observant, and downright ingenious at times.  He’s a leader, in a lone-wolf, non-conformist sort of way.

Reacher may sound like a big cliche, but somehow, Lee Child breathes life into the guy.  He may be strong, but he’s deeply wounded emotionally.  He doesn’t fit in, and he can’t settle down.  But unlike so many contemporary protagonists, he isn’t haunted by his past.  He doesn’t spend a single minute feeling sorry for himself.  He’d rather get on with his life, help someone else, solve a mystery, or whatever he does in the books I haven’t read yet.  Granted, there’s a strong tendency towards avoidance going on inside this man, but it’s hard to hold it against him.

Reacher is street smart and highly intelligent.  He’s seen too much of the dark side of human nature, but it hasn’t made him cynical.  His attitude is always upbeat.  He communicates with tongue-in-check humor occasionally laced with irony.  He doesn’t judge.  He acts and reacts, sometimes with tact and diplomacy, sometimes with blunt force.  Yet, he never looks for a fight.  To get what he wants, Reacher always tries diplomacy and straight-forward-honestly first.  If the people he’s dealing with refuse to listen to reason, they usually wind up in various stages of disrepair when they choose violence as a solution.

So, what drives Jack Reacher?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll find out if I read more of his books.  Maybe not.  For sure, I’d like to sit down and have a long chat with this intriguing fellow.  I know this much, if nothing else: it’s hard not to like Jack Reacher, and I can’t wait to tag along with him on his next adventure.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.  Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.   For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

 

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Micromium Has Gone Audio


MICROMIUM WEB RES 4

Copyright 2018 David Gittlin

My third novel, Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars, is now available as an Audio Book on Audible.comAmazon.com and iTunes.

It was great fun doing the project. I want to give a shout out to my writer/musician friend, Joe Canzano, for inspiring me to do the project.  Also, thanks to my narrator, Caitlin Willis Frizzel, for doing an excellent job of bringing my characters to life.

Special Offer: Get a FREE Micromium audio book by following these easy steps: Go to the Micromium page on Audible by clicking https://tinyurl.com/yar5hmsk. Listen to the five minute sample (optional). If you like what you hear, contact me through my website at www.davidgittlin.com. The first ten people who contact me will receive a promo code and instructions for downloading a free Micromium audio book. Be sure to send me your email so I can send you the code and instructions. I will NOT use your email to send offers or promotions. I DO NOT keep email lists for promotion. (I hate spam, and I’m sure you do, too).

Synopsis: The year is 2038. Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of destruction from the effects of global warming and pollution. The World Energy Council has awarded a lucrative contract to a major US corporation to mine a precious ore discovered by the first manned mission to land on Mars.  One kilo of Micromium can power a large city for a year without environmental side effects.  A few grains of the ore can fuel a car for a year or longer.  Micromium promises to provide clean energy to a thirsty planet far into the future.

When two people die in a mining accident on Mars, the World Energy Council sends Commander Logan Marchant and a crack team of astronaut specialists to investigate.

Confronted with a lack of cooperation from the mining colonists, the investigation is further complicated by Logan’s growing attraction to the team’s beautiful and brainy geologist.  While tensions and tempers rise, Logan and the audit team make one shocking discovery after another, until the investigation leads them into mortal danger, and ultimately, to a surprising conclusion.

“A fun science-fiction thriller with both unique and familiar concepts, MICROMIUM delivers a satisfying story with memorable characters you don’t mind spending time alone with on a desolate planet, millions of miles from Earth.”

Joshua M. Patton, IndieReader.com

“Versatile in its imagery, characters, and storyline, Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars will take readers on a journey throughout the galaxy. With scenes ranging from intense and scary to action-packed and awesome, the novel will never cease to wow readers. The pages of this easy-read will fly through readers’ hands while its story and characters remain in readers’ minds.”

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, bookreviewdirectory.com

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.  Before quiting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.   For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

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Can the Cold Case of Book Marketing Be Solved?


How Do I Cost Effectively Market My Book Online?

ONLINE MARKETING

onlinemarketinginstitute.org

Comparatively speaking, writing a novel is the fun, easy, first step of the self-publishing process.  The second step, creating an attention-getting book cover, offers its own unique set of challenges.  However, the most intimidating and difficult undertaking, to most authors, is the third step—marketing.  The word strikes terror in many authors’ sensitive little hearts because they want as little to do with the outside world as possible.

The most intimidating marketing question is: “Where do I begin?” Guess what?  There is no tried and true answer.  Like they say in the movie-making business; “Nobody knows anything.”  You have to experiment and determine what works best for you and what doesn’t.  And you have to use your creativity, just like you did when you wrote your book.  In this blog, I’ll let you in on some of the advertising methods I’ve tried and the results I’ve had.  I’ll try to save you time and money.

There are more than seven billion people alive, but how many of them read regularly? Better yet, how many of them are looking for your book? Answer: None—Zero—Zilch—hence the need for marketing. Obviously, I found it useful to shove this thought into the darkest corner of my creative attic upon beginning the journey of writing my first novel.

As I neared the climactic scenes of my first draft, I noticed it became harder to write. After a good deal of soul-searching and hand wringing, I diagnosed the problem.  My writer’s block stemmed from the nagging thought that it was almost time to say goodbye to my family of characters and their world.  I left them with a heavy heart in a rich, far-from-perfect world far superior to my ordinary life and the terrors of self-promotion.  Inevitably, we all reach the point where we realize there’s no choice except to let go and face the music.

So, after completing your final re-write and the inevitable tweaks that come afterwards, it’s finally time to upload your book to online retailers.  Next, you announce it on your blog, your author website, your book’s Facebook page, and your You Tube channel.

Now what? Gulp…

This is the seriously hard part—driving people to these outposts in cyberspace.

Let’s take a look at what has worked for me and what hasn’t.

E-Zines

To promote my first novel, Three Days to DarknessI started by placing an ad on Book Daily.  According to the website, your book is featured for one day per month on Book Daily’s E-Zine. Your first chapter is e-mailed to a combined audience of 25,000 readers (many of them authors). They e-mail your chapter to a subset of readers by genre on three consecutive days during the month.  With each exposure, your book is piggy backed with five competitive books.  The ad costs $49.00 per month.  I sold two books the first month.  Looking back on this from subsequent experience, maybe I should have hung in there for a few more months.  But six dollars in sales versus a cost of $49.00 per month didn’t make sense to me at the time.  So, I cancelled the ad.  You might have more success than me with this method.

Facebook Ads

I’ve experimented with ads on Facebook.  I’ve racked up tons of likes and very few sales.  In my humble opinion, paying for ads on Facebook is a total waste of time and money for self-published authors.

Press Releases

I’ve created and distributed press releases on PR Web with a target audience of 30,000 journalists and bloggers. The idea is to drive traffic to your websites and generate publicity on major news sites and search engines.  You can participate at various cost levels starting at $99.  The more you spend, the bigger the audience.  I participated at the second highest level at a cost of $289 per release.  (The highest level currently costs $389).  To add interest to the releases, I created a book trailer video. (A simple book trailer without actors will cost anywhere from $250 to $300 from a reputable company).

Bottom line, I could not relate any book sales to my press release adventures.  Honestly, I don’t think relatively inexpensive press distribution companies can effectively impact major news media outlets.  They boldly claim that they can, but I I don’t believe them.

Experience has taught me that it simply costs too much money for independent, self- published authors to reach news publications like the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and similar publications in major metropolitan news hubs.  These are the media you have to reach to get any action.  You have to hire a very expensive PR firm to break through.  There are very expensive news distribution services you can use, but in many cases, you have to be a legacy publishing house, or an accredited book critic, or PR firm to have access to these services.  So, save your money.

Book Trailers

A word about book trailer videos: they’re nice to have but they aren’t essential to your marketing campaign.  When I first started marketing my books twelve years ago, the pundits all said that you were dead in the water if you didn’t have a book trailer.  As it turns out, this is baloney.  Book trailers are a nice addition to your marketing package, but they aren’t powerful generators of sales.  I made trailers for my first novel and my second one, “Scarlet Ambrosia–Blood is the Nectar of Life.”  I had fun making them and they didn’t cost too much.  The second trailer was better than the first because I learned from the first project.  But here’s the thing: if you have a limited budget, use it where it will do the most good.  I’m getting to that.  Stay with me.

Audio Books

If you can swing the cost, make an audio version of your book.  As you are no doubt aware, people don’t read as many books as they used to.  Audio books are getting more popular every day.  I used ACX to make the audio book for my third novel, “Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars.”  I liked using ACX and they are part of Amazon.  I signed an exclusive agreement with them, which means I get a bigger royalty (70%) on each audio book sale.  With this agreement, your book is automatically uploaded to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.  The downside is, you don’t get exposure on sites like Hoopla, Overdrive, and Bibliotheca, which serve libraries.  ACX offers a non-exclusive agreement wherein you can distribute to any platform and get a 25% royalty.

If you hire a narrator for your audio book, which you can do through ACX, a good one will probably cost you between $100 and $150 per finished hour.  Your narrator does the narration and all of the production work.  You direct them and approve the finished product.  I had a great time making my audio book with an amazing woman who did a fabulous job.  In addition to doing voiceover narration and production, she travels the world singing in a choir and performs solo as a soprano.  I found her through ACX.

Paid Reviews

When you launch your book, you want to have a sufficient number of positive reader and editorial reviews available on retail sites and Goodreads to convert browsers into buyers.  Unless you have twenty friends and a handful of book critics ready, willing, and able to post glowing reviews, it makes sense to purchase a few of these.

There are a number of sites available for these services.  I have found the best and most reliable site for reader and editorial reviews to be indiereader.com.  Check out their website.  I bought reader reviews and an editorial review from them. I’m 100% satisfied with their service, reliability, and results.  I’ve also used midwestbookreview.com for fair, reliable, and less expensive editorial reviews.

Amazon Advertising

Sponsored ads on Amazon.com are the most effective marketing tool I’ve used so far.  If you have a limited budget, this is where to spend it.  The ads are easy to create.  You set your daily budget, write your copy, set your campaign dates, and off you go.  If the ad doesn’t work, you can scrap it and try different keywords.  You can see which keywords are working and which are not and adjust accordingly.  Best of all, you can see how many books you’ve sold and how much it has cost you to sell those books.  There’s no baloney and no guesswork.  And, let’s face it, most of the books people buy are sold on Amazon.  To create a campaign, sign in to your KDP account, select the book you want to advertise, click on the three dots to the far right of the book, and select promote and advertise.

I hope you will find these tips helpful.  I wish you all the success in the world, and keep writing.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.  Before quiting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.   For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful Dreamer


SILVER SUNSETS 2

My father is back.  He’s forty-five-years-old.  He looks just like himself, except he’s learned not to smoke.  He’s learned a lot of things in heaven, not the least of which is how to be a better human being.  Ever since he died in 2006, I have thought of my father as Morton rather than my father.  As you might have guessed, Morton and I were not exactly bosom buddies before this new version came along.

This new Morton has a beautiful new wife who is not my mom.  She’s a brunette, tall, with a model’s figure, and she’s smart and very good at human relations.  She has to be to get along with Morton.  She doesn’t take abuse from anyone, including Morton.  She is a deeply rooted human being who can correct Morton when he gets mean or when he gets too into his work and forgets to be a person.  Her name is Jennifer.  Her maiden name is Jennifer Ward-Allen.  She’s from a mixed Jewish and Irish family, which is odd.  Her hair is red and her complexion is fair.  She has green eyes.  She doesn’t look Jewish, but she is Jewish, which works for Morton.  Jennifer exudes an inner as well as an outer beauty.    Although I had no problem with my original mother, I sense that this woman is much more caring, present and aware.

Jennifer is divorced from a man who is very successful in the field of Enterprise Software Management.  He also dabbles in the production of live stage plays.  His name is Arthur Samuelson.  To Jennifer’s shock and amazement, Samuelson kept two serious character flaws secret from Jennifer for three and a half years.  In addition to his entrpreneurial skills, the man turned out to be a philanderer and a lush.  It occurs to me  if Jennifer had met and married the old Morton, I don’t think she would have been any happier than she was with Samuelson, but for very different reasons.  Morton was definitely not a drunk or a cheater.  He had many good qualities, and some others that were much less appealing, but that’s too long a story to tell here.  We have to get back to business, as Morton likes to say.

Last week, I went to sleep as a seventy-year-old family man, and woke up as a twenty-five-year-old single man.  After recovering from the shock of looking in the mirror, I take stock of my surroundings.  I quickly discover that I’m not living in the beautiful home my wife, Bonnie, has made for me.  It’s a sterile apartment where I used to live in North Miami.  The place has since been torn down and redeveloped into two luxury condo towers, but now it’s back to being an aging complex known as “The Summer Winds Apartments.”

My first concerns as a twenty-five-year-old are for my wife and daughter.  Will I ever meet my loyal and devoted wife Bonnie again?  If I do, will we have our precious daughter, Danielle?  As I contemplate these disturbing eventualities, the phone rings.  I go into the galley-sized kitchen to answer it.

“Hello?”

“This is your father calling.  Remember me?”

“Who is this?  You have some nerve calling and impersonating my father.  If you are a telemarketer,  I’m going to report you to the FTC and the Florida Attorney General’s office, and to any other law enforcement agency that will listen.”

“Calm down, David. It’s really me.”

“How can it be you?  You died thirteen years ago.”

“It’s me, son.  You kept thinking about the good times we had with the racing stable after we sold the business and you got married.  You were wishing for those good times again.  You were wishing you could be young again.  Well, someone up there must like you, because I’m back, stronger than ever. You remember that Wall-Tex commercial where they used that slogan after they settled the plant workers strike.”

“How can I forget?  How can I forget anything we did?  But how can this be you?  You expect me to believe this is some kind of miracle?”

Morton sighs heavily.  “Oy vey, David. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

“Okay.  If you’re my father, then what was the name of the horse we owned that won the In-Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes?”

silver-sunsets

“The last shall be first.”

“His name was Silver Sunsets.”

“How did he run?”

“He came from dead last at the quarter pole to first place at the wire.”

“Oh my God.  It’s really you.”

“Live and in living color, my boy.  Now, can we get down to business?”

Morton asks me if I might be interested in doing marketing for his new company.

The company is a custom packaging manufacturer equipped with an expert design team and all of the latest online ordering applications.  The company’s potential is worldwide and unlimited.  Morton plans to develop a top notch, multi-lingual sales force under one roof using state-of-the-art, virtual training programs.  He tells me to be ready to work if I come on board, because, “You know I don’t settle for anything except hitting our goals, and I set high goals, in case you forgot.”

I say, “How could I ever forget.”  He says, “Good.  Show up to meet this guy at nine at such and such a place.”

I meet Morton’s new Vice President of Marketing and CEO.  He has the combined personality of two of my previous bosses, plus, I sense that he’s better at making money than either of them.  He just understands what is required to make money.  He has the instincts and the knack for it that can’t be taught, just like Morton.

The guy’s name is Guy Pearce, like the actor.  He’s thirty-two with brown hair and hazel eyes.  Incredibly, he bears a striking resemblance to the actor.  When I ask him if he is THE GUY PEARCE, he shakes his head and says, “never heard of the guy, I mean, you know, that Guy.”  “Funny,” I say.  “You look just like him.”  Then I ask him if he’s seen the HBO version of the movie “The Time Machine” starring Pearce.   He just stares right through me.  This Guy is a no nonsense guy.

THE TIME MACHINE

Pearce asks me what I’ve been doing.  I show him a paperback edition of “Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars.”  I show him my website, my blog, the digital book, and the audio book.  I show him the other two digital books I’ve written, “Scarlet Ambrosia” and “Three Days to Darkness.”  I talk about how I conceived Micromium, wrote it, and created four versions of it.  He reads the copy on the back.  He asks me what I did in my last job.  It seems like the last honest job I had was in a previous incarnation.  I don’t tell that to Pearce.  I tell him the highlights of Fulfillment Online and Business Cards Online, two proprietary, ground-breaking online ordering applications that I marketed at a direct mail, printing, and fulfillment company my family owned.  I tell him I created a mailer that landed more than fifty Fortune Five Hundred Companies as clients.  I tell him that I have created just about every type of marketing and communications campaign imaginable at the two previous companies where I worked as marketing director.  I conveniently leave out the fact that my previous bosses were instrumental in my success.

He picks up the Micromium full color print edition and tells me, “This right here shows me that you’re qualified to do what this company needs.  You can create content and packaging and sell it.  That’s marketing A to Z.  If you can take direction, then I’m proud to welcome you aboard.  Do you want the job?  I nod my head.  I’m not sure that I want an honest job again, but what the hell.  It’s getting lonely writing books that are really tough to sell.

I watch anxiously as Pearce picks up the phone and calls Morton.  He says, “I just hired David.”  I overhear Morton saying “Good.  It’s about time he got back to work.”

I guess the twenty year vacation is over.  Now I have a REAL job to get up for every morning.  I feel important, valued.  That’s what I want.  I don’t enjoy being irrelevant.  It’s very easy to become irrelevant at my age.  Oops, I mean my former age.

I suddenly remember this new edition of Morton telling me as a young boy things like: “When you grow up, you will be in a world much different than the one you’re in now.  Everything won’t come easily to you.  You’ll have to earn the respect of your peers and your supervisors.  You’ll have to earn everything.  It won’t be given to you like it is now.

“You can start right now by believing in yourself.  You can see that I’ve accomplished something in my life, and I have much more to accomplish.  You can accomplish and be a winner too if you believe in yourself.  Listen to the things I tell you.  What I tell you will always be for your own good.  You can trust me and you can trust what I tell you.  You don’t always have to agree with me, but I’m asking you to listen first, and then we can discuss things.  There will be many situations that come up and they will be learning experiences.  We need to talk about them.  Don’t be afraid to talk to me.  My door will always be open if you need to talk.

“There are winners and losers in this world, David.  You want to be a winner.  Winners are generally happy people.  I’ve never met a happy loser.”

These are the things a father needs to tell his son.  These are the sort of things Morton never told me.  Hey, I’m not feeling sorry for myself.  I’m just sayin’.  If you are young and you are reading this, make sure your Dad tells you these things, and if he doesn’t, then remember what I just said.  Got it?  Good.

I also have new memories of going to the racetrack with Morton to watch the horses run.  I remember him teaching me how to read the racing form.  In my first life with Morton, I never even knew he went to the racetrack occasionally with my mother.  It wasn’t until he started a racing stable and asked me to be a partner in Three G Stable that I learned of Morton’s interest in horses and the the amazing sport of horse racing.  Not many people have the opportunity to see the sport from the inside like I did.  It’s something I’m extremely grateful for.  I’ll always treasure sharing those experiences with my parents and my daughter Danielle.  There really was a Three G Stable.  I really did go to the barn and the petting zoo with Danielle.  We really did have many claiming and allowance winners and stakes winners.

Oops.  I’m waxing nostalgic.   Gotta get back to business.

The new Morton decides to buy a farm in Ocala to breed, race, and sell thoroughbred race horses.  We purchase two freshman sires, one from the Galileo/Saddlers Wells line for turf horses, and one from the Northern Dancer and Mister Prospector cross for dirt horses that can also potentially run on the turf.  Both of these Florida Stallions turn out to be leading sires, not just in Florida, but in the Eastern United States including Kentucky.  We get offers from Kentucky to buy the two stallions, but we keep them in Florida.  We buy well-bred stakes winning mares at auction to breed to our stallions.  We keep a few of the offspring to race ourselves.  We claim horses to fill out the stable.  My love of breeding horses and the sport of racing is rekindled.  I enjoy working in the packaging company and what I do with the horses is a labor of love.

We hire Mark Casse to be our trainer.  Mark is the son of the legendary Norman Casse, a Florida breeder, owner, and Co-founder of the Ocala Breeder’s Sales Company.  Mark is destined to become a world class trainer.  At the time we hire him, he is a young man starting out in his career with a reputation as a patient handler with a knack for developing every horse in his care to their fullest potential.  I find Mark to be a quiet, humble man with an innate love for his horses.  He treats all of them as individuals, and gives them the time and the attention they need to mature into winners.

MARK CASSE

One of the horses Morton and I breed shows great promise as a yearling.  We decide to keep him and race him when he doesn’t reach his reserve at public auction as a two-year-old.  He is by Classic Empire out of an Unbridled mare who has already produced two graded stakes winners. We name him “Beautiful Dreamer,” after the title of my second screenplay.  We call him “Dreamer” for short.

Dreamer matures slowly.  He shows no aptitude for short races in his early training.  He wins his first race at a mile and then runs second in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Gulfstream Park.  It is a prep race for the In-Reality stakes, the biggest race at Gulfstream for Florida-bred two-year-old colts and Geldings.  Like Silver Sunsets, Dreamer has a grey coat and wins the In-Reality Stakes.  Beautiful Dreamer goes on to run third in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.  We put him away at our farm for the winter after the Breeders Cup, and run him back at a mile on the turf in an allowance race in January at Gulfstream Park.  He runs second in the race.  From there, he runs second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.  Mark encourages us to run in the Florida Derby against the best thoroughbreds stabled on the east coast.  We listen to his advice, and Dreamer wins the Florida Derby at the relatively long odds of eleven-to-one.  The fact that Dreamer was not one of the favorites in the field is an indication of the high quality of the horses he beat.

The Florida Derby win qualifies Dreamer for a spot in the Kentucky Derby.  After huddling with Mark, we decide to enter Dreamer in the mile and a quarter first leg of the Triple Crown.  He draws post ten in a full twenty horse field.  He’s a horse that possesses tactical speed, but he doesn’t break alertly when the gates open.  He’s ridden by Julian Leparoux, an excellent rider, who manages to recover after the bobbled start.  “Dreamer” circles wide around horses at the quarter pole turning for home and rallies furiously down the stretch to finish third at odds of seven-to-one.  It’s a respectable showing, but we’re disappointed.  We now know that Dreamer had a legitimate chance to win the race with a better start.  It hurts, but that’s horse racing.

KENTUCKY DERBY

We think about going on to the Preakness Stakes, but decide against it, opting instead to enter the Haskell invitational Stakes for three-year-olds at Monmouth Park.  The track comes up muddy on a rainy day.  Dreamer stalks the winner all the way around the mile and an eight race, but he can’t get past a clear front runner who is bred for wet tracks and scores at odds of nineteen-to-one.  Dreamer goes off second choice in the race at odds of five-to-two.  The nine-to-five favorite finishes third.

Should we go for the Grade One Travers Stakes at Saratoga?  We decide against it, opting instead to enter Beautiful Dreamer in the Suburban Stakes at Belmont as a Fall prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic later in November if he does well.  Once again, Dreamer finishes second after tracking in fourth place behind a fast pace.  Dreamer looks like a winner seventy yards from the wire, but another horse passes him five yards from the wire.  We decide that Dreamer is good enough to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Mark elects to change riders for the race.  First, we ask Jose Ortiz to ride Dreamer in the Classic, but he has another commitment.  Then we ask his brother, Irad Ortiz Junior to ride for us.  He accepts the mount.  He likes our trainer, and he wants to give Mark a chance to put his name down in racing lore.  We’re confident that Irad will give us a better chance of winning with his impeccable sense of timing.  Irad has had his eye on our horse for a while, and he’s confident that he can move Dreamer up several lengths with the right ride.

Meanwhile, my father, stepmother and I are having the time of our lives with this horse.  This year, Gulfstream Park is hosting the Breeders’ Cup races for the first time in twenty years.  It makes it much easier on our horse.  Dreamer is familiar with the track because he is based at Gulfstream and trains there.  He also doesn’t have to travel, which for many horses can be an energy-draining and disconcerting experience. Horses get nervous when their routines are interrupted, and they don’t like being crampted up in unfamiliar spaces.  After hundreds of years of inbreeding, thoroughbreds still have their deeply ingrained instinct to run at the first signs of danger.  It’s hard to run from danger in the cargo hold of a jet plane.

GULFSTREAM 3

Finally, Breeders’ Cup Day dawns bright and sunny with no rain in the forecast.  We’re relieved, because we don’t want to be wired on a wet track by a freak front runner like what happened in the Haskell.  Dreamer has been training brilliantly for the race.  Our trainer, Mark, says he’s in peak form.  Dreamer is the fourth choice in a fourteen-horse field behind two heavy favorites and another highly regarded horse owned by John Magnier, the super-rich founder of Ladbrokes, a chain of sports betting parlors in England.  We have our work cut out for us.  Mark is his usual quiet and calm self.  He’s never been much of a talker, but we can tell that he’s excited about the race and our chances.  He can’t wait to get Dreamer in the gate.

GULSTREAM 4

We watch and bet the races, having fun and forgetting about the big race.  It’s an interesting day with favorites and long shots winning and placing throughout the card.  The European horses win most of the turf races while the American horses generally prevail on the dirt.  The Breeders’ Cup racing card is probably the most fun card to bet all year. The fields are big and almost every horse in each race has a chance to win because they’re all so good.  So, I like to get creative, which usually results in me losing my butt.  Still, it’s fun.

At five-thirty, we leave our seats and a courtesy golf cart designated exclusively for the Breeders’ Cup owners transports us to the barn where beautiful Dreamer is waiting.  He’s happy to see us.  His big head bobs up and down and his front hoof paws the straw in the bed of his stall.  Carefully opening the stall door, Mark attaches a chain to Dreamer’s halter and leads him out.  He stands before us at attention, his gray coat dappled, radiating energy and health.  He knows it’s time to race, and somehow, I sense that Dreamer knows that what he’s about to do is special.  Horses are creatures of habit, and Dreamer know it’s later in the day than he’s ever run before.  His eyes dart from Mark to Morton and to me, as if he’s asking for an explanation of what’s going on.  Mark places a reassuring hand on Dreamer’s shoulder, and I stroke his flank gently to let him know everything is alright.  Mark says something into Dreamer’s ear.  He flicks it forward to listen.  Whatever Mark said, it calms Dreamer down immediately.  He’s ready to do whatever is asked of him.

We accompany Dreamer and Mark all the way from the barn to the saddling enclosure where Mark will saddle and prepare Dreamer for the race.  The crowd in the stands and on the grounds has swelled to over one hundred thousand people.  Police officers patrol the saddling enclosure looking for possible trouble and to make sure the onlookers stay behind the ropes and temporary fences where they belong.  I feel very important to be one of the relatively few people on the other side of the barriers.  Dreamer is taking in all of the excitement like a pro.  I sense that he has his mind on running, and somehow, he knows the horses that he’ll be competing against are better than most of the ones he’s faced before.  He looks down and shakes his head and long silvery mane, as if to shake out any last remaining knots of tension.  Mark strokes Dreamer’s shoulder and head to keep him calm and relaxed.

Irad Ortiz enters the enclosure.  He shakes our hands.  We wish him luck.  He gives Dreamer a few reassuring pats on the shoulder.  The horse immediately feels at ease with Irad.  Irad has been aboard Dreamer to breeze him five eights of a mile a week before the race to get acquainted.  The two of them are a team now, as if they’ve known each other for years.  The call comes for “riders up.”  Mark has already spoken to Irad about the race earlier in the day to give him his riding instructions.  Now, all he has to do is to give Irad a leg up and tell him to “have a good trip.”  Irad expertly guides Dreamer away.  We watch them disappear into the tunnel leading to the racetrack.  Mark gives us a thumbs up.  He likes to watch the races by himself when he saddles a horse, so we go our separate ways back to the owner’s box and Mark to his observation post.

The horses for the Breeders’ Cup Classic file by the stands in the post parade.  There are fourteen horses in the race.  Dreamer has post position seven.  His post position gives Irad an excellent opportunity to settle Dreamer optimally going into the first turn of the mile and a quarter race.  The major objective for Irad is to secure a good stalking position without going wide.  All of the jockeys will be trying to save as much horse as they can going around the first turn and up the backstretch.  If the horse is a front runner, the jockey will be trying to slow the pace down as much as possible.  The other jockeys have to be alert to the pace and settle their horses accordingly.  If the pace is slow, the horses that run from mid pack and beyond will have to stay closer than they normally would if the pace is honest.  The first half of the race is just as important as the last half.  A jockey’s mistake in judgement can cost a horse all chances of winning before they reach the half-mile pole.

Dortmund

Dreamer is prancing on his toes with his head held high as he passes us in the post parade.  Mark has obviously done the most anyone can do to prepare Dreamer for the race.  Now, the rest is up to the horse.  Dreamer is a solid fourth choice at odds of five-to- one.  Morton bets a hundred on him on the nose—typical Morton.  I bet twenty on Dreamer to win.  I know that Mark never bets on the horses he trains.  It’s a good habit.  Many lesser trainers bet on their horses because they think they will make a big score and they need the money.  Sometimes they make that big score, but it’s just not a classy thing to do.  The top trainers don’t do it.

Ten minutes later, the horses have warmed up and are entering the starting gate.  Mark has instructed Irad to do a minimal prep for the race, just a slow, short gallop to get his legs and muscles loose.  We watch the loading through binoculars.  The horse in slot six is acting up, delaying the start.  We can see Irad stroking Dreamer’s mane to keep him from getting upset by the unruly horse next door.  Finally, all of the horses are loaded.  We wait nervously for the starter to open the gates.  It seems like an eternity, then the gates spring open and the horses explode out of the gate with pent up energy.  The number five horse from England veers in and knocks the four horse off stride.  Irad deftly guides Dreamer away from the trouble.  The rest of the field sorts itself out naturally after the troubled break.

Due to the mishap, Dreamer runs third in the fourteen-horse field, closer to the pace than he normally likes to be.  Irad lets him settle back into fourth, but the bulky field is tightly bunched behind the two horses battling for the lead.  The number four and ten horses cut out the first quarter in twenty-three seconds flat, which is fast for the mile and a quarter distance.  The number ten horse backs off and lets the four horse have the lead.  They go the half in forty-seven and one fifth seconds, a more reasonable pace.  Irad keeps Dreamer poised in fourth place.  As the horses reach the three-quarter pole, the number ten horse moves up to challenge the four horse for the lead again.  The pace quickens.  Irad stays put as other horses pass him on the outside.  I grow concerned that Dreamer will not be up to the challenge of running against the best horses in the world.  In my imagination, I see Dreamer floundering on the rail and falling behind as the serious run for the finish line begins.

The front runners reach the quarter pole in one minute ten and four fifths seconds.  It’s an honest pace for horses of this caliber.  Now, Dreamer starts to move up on the rail as the horses turn for home.  Irad is taking the shortest distance home.  The danger of another horse blocking him looms.  It’s a risky move that Irad attempts, but he has no other choice.  He will lose too much ground if he tries to go around horses.  Irad has one of the best clocks in his head of any jockey alive.  I know that his timing is impeccable, but the rail in front of him is suddenly blocked by the tiring front runners which are slowing and shortening their strides.  Irad has to make a move; now or never.

Irad angles Dreamer off of the rail.  I see another horse rushing up behind Dreamer vying for the same lane to the wire.  Irad taps Dreamer on the shoulder with his whip and the horse responds with a burst of acceleration, beating another horse to the three-path.

Dreamer blows by the faltering front runners and opens a clear lead down the homestretch.  With a similar explosion of speed, I watch the number one horse, named Bal Harbour Boss, burst out of the pack in mid-stretch.  It gobbles up ground from behind Dreamer with every stride.  The fast-closing “Boss” reaches Dreamer’s flank on the inside and they run in tandem, neck and neck to the wire.  As Dreamer and his adversary pound to the wire lengths in front of the rest of the field, I expect Bal Harbour Boss to tire because it has had to cover more ground with a wide ride outside of horses up the backstretch all the way to the quarter pole.  Except the damn horse is resolute.  It won’t give an inch.

BREEDERS CUP FINISH

 

The hundred thousand plus throng of spectators bellows so loud that it feels like the ground is shaking and an earthquake is coming. The Jockeys urge their mounts onward.  The race announcer’s voice crescendos as Dreamer and Bal Harbour Boss bob heads to the finish line.  Photo finish.  I can’t tell if Dreamer got his head up in time.  It’s impossible to tell with the naked eye which horse has won the race.  So much is on the line.  The first-place purse is worth three million dollars.  The winning horse will command a high stud fee.  And then, there’s the thrill, prestige, and satisfaction of winning one of the biggest races in the world.

Morton is white as we wait for the results to be posted.  I give him a hug and tell him. “No matter what, we proved that Dreamer has the genes and the heart of a champion.”  Morton says nothing.  He stands there, white as a sheet.  I know what he’s thinking.  Second place is “nowheresville” in Morton’s vocabulary.

The results flash on the tote board in the infield.  The number one is posted on top of Dreamer’s number seven.  Morton slumps.  We’ve lost.  We’ve been nosed of the win.  Then a red square appears around the two top numbers.  Next to it, the words “DEAD HEAT” flash in red.  It’s a tie.  Beautiful Dreamer is a co-champion with Bal Harbour Boss.  I hug Morton.  I hug my stepmother.  We are delirious.  Sharing the top honors beats the hell out of losing.  The dead heat is the first in Breeders’ Cup Classic history.

We meet Mark in the winners’ circle.  I can tell that he’s beside himself.  He doesn’t show emotion easily, but he’s obviously overcome by the biggest achievement of his training career.  The winners’ ceremony is a long one because both horses and their entourages have to be photographed.  I hug Mark.  I hug Irad Ortiz.  They are both slightly taken aback by my display of emotion, but I can tell they understand.  Mark and the Jockey are both ecstatic, albeit a bit more quietly.

The sight of Beautiful Dreamer wearing the Breeders Cup Champion yellow garland of flowers will be forever etched in my memory.  Sharing a moment like this with signicant others goes beyond any feeling I can describe.  I can’t remember anything immediately after the race.  I’m just somewhere else, and it’s a very good place to be.  The next thing I know, I’m driving to a restaurant in North Miami for a victory dinner.

After several hours of  intense celebrating with my father and Jennifer at an excellent Italian restaurant named Il Tulipano, I return to my humble one bedroom apartment and stumble into bed.  I’m asleep in seconds from the sheer exhaustion of a long day filled to the brim with exciting moments.  When I wake up, I’m back home with my wife, seventy-years-old again.  My first reaction is bitter disappointment, but then I realize that I have my wife and daughter back again.  I remember what my father said at dinner in Il Tulipano, another ghost of the past that has disappeared and moved on.  With his wine glass raised, my father said: “We’re fortunate to have won this race, but what’s most important is that we’re together and we care about one another.”  My father’s words remind me to appreciate the people who are with me now.

Was it all a dream, or did it really happen?  I decide it was just a glimpse, like in the movie “Family Man” with Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, and Don Cheadle.  An angel has given me a glimpse of what my life actually was and might have been, like Don Cheadle did for Nicolas Cage in the movie.  Yeah, that’s what it was; a beautiful dream that became real for a few fleeting moments in time; a precious glimpse I will always remember with an uplifting feeling of love.

"The Family Man" Copyright 2000 Universal Studios

Nicolas Cage and Don Cheadle Copyright 2000 Universal Studios

 

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Indie Reader Interview


MICROMIUM EBOOK COVER

Advice from Indie Approved Author David Gittlin: “Learn the basics of creating conflict, memorable characters, and compelling plots from professional authors.”

Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author David Gittlin.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars.  The book was published March 6, 2018.

What’s the book’s first line?

“This is trial eighteen,” Kate Blackstone announced.  “Testing five one hundredths kilogram of enriched X435.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

The year is 2038. Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of destruction from the effects of global warming and pollution. The World Energy Council has awarded a lucrative contract to a major US corporation to mine a precious ore discovered by the first manned mission to land on Mars.  One kilo of Micromium can power a large city for a year without environmental side effects.  A few grains of the ore can fuel a car for a year or longer. Micromium promises to provide clean energy to a thirsty planet far into the future.

When two people die in a mining accident on Mars, the World Energy Council sends Commander Logan Marchant and a crack team of astronaut specialists to investigate.

Confronted with a lack of cooperation from the mining colonists, the investigation is further complicated by Logan’s growing attraction to the team’s beautiful and brainy geologist.  While tensions and tempers rise, Logan and the audit team make one shocking discovery after another, until the investigation leads them into mortal danger, and ultimately, to a surprising conclusion.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Micromium started with a dream I had of a glowing chunk of ore discovered by astronauts exploring a comet.  The idea of a pure, miraculous new energy source excited me.  I am somewhat surprised by the story that eventually developed from the idea.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

I wrote the book for someone like you.  I want you to have a good time and I want to inform you.  It’s a good book.  You’ll like it.  Trust me.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Commander Logan Marchant has survived the tragic loss of his beloved mother in early childhood and an emotionally abusive relationship with his father.  Despite these hardships, he has ascended to high rank in the Air Force and the NASA space program.  When Logan meets Kate Blackstone, a brilliant and talented member of his audit team, he is forced to confront the deadly pit of darkness and emptiness that has threatened to consume him for as long as he can remember.

Logan reminds me of a number of successful people, Hollywood “A” list actors in particular, who suffer and often self-destruct as a result of a bottomless pit of loneliness, insecurity, hopelessness and despair.  Their suffering usually stems from the trauma of abuse and/or inadequate childhood nurturing.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

I’d like to see Chris Evans play Logan Marchant and Kate Beckinsale play Kate Blackstone.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I began writing short stories in my early forties.  I decided to become an author of long fiction when I turned fifty years old.  I figured (and still do) fiction writing was something I could do for the rest of my life.  My writing “arc” started with copy writing and all manner of marketing communications, to short stories, screenplays, and eventually novels.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

No.  My first novel, “Three Days to Darkness,” is a science fantasy.  My second novel, “Scarlet Ambrosia“, is a paranormal romance/thriller.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

Writing is my work.  I don’t have a real job anymore (thank God!).

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

Two to four hours per day depending upon outside distractions and daily responsibilities.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part of being an Indie Author is not having a commercial publisher breathing down my neck with deadlines and suggestions as to what I should write next or rejecting a book proposal that I am enthusiastic about writing.  The hardest part is the difficulty of getting books in stores and making my books “discoverable.”

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Learn the basics of creating compelling characters and plots from established, professional writers.  Learn how to create scenes packed with conflict and drama that move the story forward while capturing your reader’s attention.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

It would depend upon the publisher which came calling.  If a major publisher came forward, I’d have to go with them because I want my books to reach as many people as possible.  Also, having a traditional publisher helps enormously with media placement and reviews in widely read newspapers and magazines.

Is there something in particular that motivates you?

It’s fun to create and live in imaginary worlds populated by characters that become like a family to me.  Above and beyond this, I want to communicate a central theme that I am passionate about that I feel will have universal appeal.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

 

 

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A Fang-Tastic Author Interview


Blood Is The Nectar of Life

 

This interview and a spicy  excerpt from an early chapter appear at Fang-Tastic Books; a well-known book review site.

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write in this particular genre?

I believe it started with my struggle with the forces of darkness and light within myself. A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes.  At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him.  The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature.  The supernatural powers and ramped-up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods.  He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes. 

I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being.  I’ve been a ‘spiritual seeker’ for most of my adult life.  Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort.  What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

I’m fascinated by the supernatural powers of my vampire characters.  They are very powerful beings with the capacity to dramatically impact the world around them positively or negatively.

Please tell us about your most recent release.

My latest release is Scarlet Ambrosia.  I’m working on a sequel because I love the characters.  Scarlet Ambrosia is the second novel I’ve published.  The first one is a humorous Science Fantasy thriller titled “Three Days to Darkness.”

Do you have a special formula for creating characters’ names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

In most cases, I try to make a character’s name show something about the character’s personality and traits.  I try not to make it too obvious.  At other times, a character’s name just comes to me and I trust that the name is the right one.  It’s interesting that the name often corresponds to a character’s traits by coincidence.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

The antagonist of the story, Egon Schiller, was the hardest for me to write.  This is often the case in the stories I write.  There is always a tendency to make the villain two-dimensional rather than a three-dimensional person with some good traits and intentions.  I feel that the most believable villains are people who have, for one reason or another, given in to their dark side.  A good example of this is Darth Vader.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

Of all the characters in the story, I most enjoyed writing the female love interest, Mathilde de Roche.  Her strength, heroism, and magnetism came naturally as I created her and as I wrote her throughout the story.  That came as a surprise.  I am, after all, a guy.  Like most men, I find women unfathomable in the real world.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I participated in several online screen writing and novel-writing courses offered through the writers program at UCLA.  Professional writers taught these courses.  The teachers stressed that the most successful stories have memorable characters in them.  I learned to create my characters before writing the story using a detailed character template.  I’ve found that knowing what makes my characters “tick” helps make them more interesting and believable.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

I spent a week in Sedona, Arizona exploring the town’s art galleries, architecture and the energy vortexes.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

When I stumbled into my career in marketing communications, I found writing was the most enjoyable part of the job.

Where can readers find you on the web?

The best places to find me are at my main website www.davidgittlin.com and my blog www.davidgittlin.wordpress.com

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Here’s a spicy excerpt from Chapter Two:

This woman was beyond beautiful.  She was exquisite—no signs of breast implants or a nose job and no tattoos or piercings marred the natural beauty of her face and body.  Her creamy skin felt like the finest silk to Devon’s probing hands.  He unclasped her bra.  His loins tingled at the sight of her full breasts.  He caressed her erect nipples.  She moaned. 

The foreplay had started slowly with exploratory kisses and caresses.  Now he could barely wait to enter her.  Devon removed the last fragments of clothing from their bodies.  The smell of her perfume, the feel of her body, and the sensation of her soft hands on his buttocks almost made him explode prematurely.

Being inside this woman was like nothing he had experienced before.  Devon lost all sense of physical boundaries.  The sensual pleasure of joining with Mathilde seemed to fill every cell in his body.  He was only vaguely aware of moving inside her.  Their rising passion consumed him.  She kept repeating something in French.  His back arched.  He climaxed.  The pleasure was too intense for his senses to bear.  He lost consciousness.

He woke up next to her on the bed.  She stroked his hair with one hand, propping up her head on one elbow.

Feeling embarrassed, Devon shook his head, unable to comprehend the reason for his lapse of consciousness. 

“I’m sorry if I scared you.  It’s the first time I’ve ever passed out during sex.”

“You didn’t scare me, ma chère.  It only confirms what I was afraid of.”

“Which is?”

“If we go on having sex, it will kill you.”

He laughed nervously.  Had the sex been good enough to cause a blackout?

“I can think of worse ways to die,” he said, covering up for his discomfort.

She kept looking at him studiously.

“You kept whispering something to me in French.  It sounded like: ‘Vous êtez celui que j’ai choisi.’  I think that means: ‘You are the one I chose’”

A whisper of red colored her cheeks. 

“Your French is better than you admit.”

“I don’t understand.   We’ve just met, Mathilde.”

“Don’t worry.  It’s just a game I play with myself.  You remind me of someone I once knew: a handsome, high-minded young man with a sensitive heart.”

“I’m flattered, but it sounds a little more like a fixation than an innocent game to me.”

“Please don’t play the amateur psychologist.”

She pushed him off the bed with a movement almost too fast to see.  One second he lay facing her.  The next thing he knew, he lay on his back on the floor.  Her sudden display of uncanny strength and speed frightened him.  Clambering to a sitting position, he began to collect his clothes from the bed.

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “I wasn’t thinking.  I didn’t mean to alarm you.  Are you injured?”

“I’m still in one piece.”

“I actually do study martial arts, in answer to your earlier question.   Sometimes I forget my own strength.  Let me help you with your things.  Are you sure I haven’t hurt you?”

He had the impression she was lying. 

“I’m fine.  I just think it might be better to leave now.  Who knows what could happen if you toss and turn in your sleep?”

“I apologize for leading you on,” Mathilde said.  “I only intended to meet you in the bar and talk with you.  I thought of it as a minor indulgence, to take my mind off things for a while.  I let my curiosity about you cloud my judgment.  Then, meeting you face to face, you had much more of an effect on me than I anticipated.  I lost control of myself.”

“Is that something that happens often?”

“No,” she answered curtly.  “I’m not that shallow.”

Devon’s thoughts and emotions spun like pinwheels.  Part of him wanted to bolt out the door and finish dressing in the hallway.  Another part, the accountant, needed explanations; wanted to analyze and quantify Mathilde de Roche.  In the end, his own curiosity coupled with her charisma kept him rooted by the bedside.

“I’ve studied martial arts myself.  I’ve never seen anyone move as quickly as you just did.”

She continued to regard him with a serious expression for a full minute before responding. 

“You should leave now, Devon.  I won’t be offended.”

 

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Sneak Preview


Here’s an interview that will appear on my new blog tour later this week.  I figured you guys couldn’t wait so I’m posting it here.  Sales of Scarlet Ambrosia are so strong that we are actually running out of digital copies.  If you’ve been thinking about buying the book, I’d do it now.  You don’t want to get trampled in the Christmas rush.  If you’d like a paperback copy, let me know and I’ll put you on the waiting list for the second printing.  (We never did a first printing.)

Interview

Blood Is The Nectar of LifeWhere are you from?

Good question. Sometimes I wonder.  I was born in North Carolina, grew up in New Jersey, and I’ve lived in Florida for most of my adult life.

Tell us your latest news?

I just finished an outline for a science fiction novel that I feel fits together well and is believable if I can execute it properly.  It’s a great feeling to finish a rough draft and have it come out better than expected. The bad news is I’ll have to do an ungodly amount of research.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing short stories in high school.  I thought I was a genius destined to have a world-wide audience.  That hasn’t worked out exactly the way I expected.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It happened about five years into my career when I started to work in marketing.  I noticed that writing was the only thing I liked about working.  I quit my day job about ten years ago and I still like to write, but not when it becomes a job.  I admire people who like to work.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I always dreamed of becoming a successful creative writer.  Going from short stories and copy writing to long fiction (novels) seemed like trying to jump the Grand Canyon on Schwinn racing bike.  Some daredevils can do it but I’ve never been one.  So I took an intermediate step and wrote a screenplay with two characters in mind that I thought would be fun to play with.  It was fun.  I wrote two more screenplays before summoning the guts to write a novel.  I turned the original screenplay into my first novel, “Three Days to Darkness.”

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try not to write with a style.  I just write the way I write and hope that someone else will find it interesting and entertaining.

How did you come up with the title?

It just came to me and it really works (I think). 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes.  At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him.  The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature.  The supernatural powers and ramped up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods.  He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.

I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being.  I’ve been a spiritual seeker for most of my adult life.  Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort.  What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.

How much of the book is realistic?

I think we have to be careful with the word “realistic” when we’re talking about a novel with paranormal romance thriller tendencies.  I always try to create fictional worlds that work logically if the reader accepts the genre conventions.  I build my characters with relatable motives, desires, and character traits.  Then the story has to evolve believably and the characters have to behave consistently with their basic traits as they grow and eventually make decisions and act in ways that surprise us, but at the same time, we can see where those actions and decisions came from.  I hope this is not too much information.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, had a powerful effect on me when I first read it in my late teens.  I’ve recently read a series of book on spiritual awakening by Saniel Bonder that have inspired me to open up to a higher purpose.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d say Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) although I don’t write in his style.  His remarkable imagination and sense of humor inspire me.

What book are you reading now?

 I’ve just discovered a fine new thriller writer by the name of Jeff Abbott. His books are hard to put down and very good for the long plane rides.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’m going to read a new novel by Andy Weir titled “The Martian.”

What are your current projects?

I’m working on an outline for a sequel to Scarlet Ambrosia and I’m exploring a new idea for a science fiction novel as I mentioned above.

What would you like my readers to know?

The book trailer for Scarlet Ambrosia is fun and interesting.

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