Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Most Influential Books in My Life

My personal Top Ten:

An fellow author recently asked me to post a list of the top ten books that changed my life.
That "life-changer" qualification made it tough.
After some thought, I posted a list on Facebook. Several folks who added comments to the thread asked "How in the world did THAT book get on the list?"
Their question was neither a challenge nor criticism and it inspired me to pen a series of blogs in which their question would be answered about each of the ten books.

The list follows and as each blog is posted (on another site) I'll come back and add the link.
Perhaps my list and it's reasons will encourage you to read a book with which you aren't familiar.

In no particular order:

1. The Holy Bible

*3. When All the World Was Young by Ferrol Sams

4. God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

*5. State of Fear by Michael Crichton
*7. Swiftwater by Paul Annixter
*8. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
9. All the President’s Men by Woodward & Bernstein
10. In Search of Excellence by Peters and Waterman

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Year Without Killing -- the first 886 words

A Year Without Killing by FCEtier

Chapter One

Claudia Barry owned Manhattan’s West 33rd Street.

She stayed close to the buildings, away from the crowds, and glanced at every face. Every movement got her attention. It was an old habit and hard to break. It had kept her alive. She took deliberate strides toward 8th Street.
The drizzle had stopped, the skies were still overcast, and the sidewalk wet. It would have been impossible for her to miss the action fifty feet ahead of her.
An African-American woman who appeared to be in her late sixties stepped onto the sidewalk and headed towards Claudia. She needed a cane to keep her balance. Her body swayed from side to side like the wand on a metronome. A built up shoe compensated for a short leg. Every step required extra effort. That woman’s about my age, Claudia thought.
Then it happened.
A tall skinny male Goth stepped in front of the black woman. He grabbed the strap on her purse and jerked it from her grasp. His next decision was one of the worst of his life. He ran right into the path of a semi-retired assassin with a sense of justice.
As the mugger passed, Claudia Barry moved her five foot five medium built frame into his path and delivered a forearm to make Anthony Munoz proud. The Goth surprised her. He bounced off, continued down the sidewalk, and disappeared into an alley. He won’t get away so easy. She stepped out of her heels and gave chase. He’s no match for my aerobic endurance.
He collapsed behind a dumpster and complained out loud, “Fuck! I’m too damned out of shape. Bitch thought she would be a fuckin’ hero. Guess I showed her.”  He opened the purse and began to toss the contents off to his side. “Not much in here. Done better many times. Ain’t enough for a decent fix.” He put his hand onto the pavement to stand and it touched a stocking covered foot. He raised his head and made eye contact with Claudia, “Where the hell did you come from?”
Their eyes met and she held him motionless in her concentrated gaze.
Her dark brown eyes dared him to move.
“I’ve been here all along. And I’ll never leave you.” While she spoke, she produced a tactical switchblade. In the blink of an eye, the blade sprang from the front of the handle and removed a button from his shirt with a quick, precise flick of the attacker’s wrist.
He bowed his head and looked down at his chest.
His heart pounded.
He felt it in his ears.
He gasped and couldn’t breathe as she continued.
A second button fell to the ground, then a third.
“Oh my god, what do you want?”
He looked back up at her malevolent expression and pleaded, “Oh god! Don’t kill me, please!”
Sweat covered his forehead and top lip. He couldn’t keep his hands still.
He bent double, convulsed, and endured several dry heaves.
The attacker allowed her victim to scramble to his hands and knees.
He was able to breathe after a few seconds.
Then he felt the knife blade under his chin. It forced his head up and the two made eye contact. The woman terror spoke again, “Put everything back into the purse and then grab your ankles.”
He tried to answer but couldn’t speak.
His sweat-covered hands trembled.
After several futile attempts, he managed to replace the contents of the woman’s handbag, change purse, keys, checkbook, photos and a Vicks inhaler. He sat on his knees, grabbed his ankles, and looked up.
Claudia Barry frowned and grabbed a handful of his hair with her left hand. Her right hand guided the knife blade to the left corner of his mouth.
“If you ever think I’m not around, just look over your shoulder. I’ll be there. You may not recognize me, but I’ll be there, always on the watch. I’ll recognize you because you won’t have a lower lip.” The blade penetrated his lip until it reached the gums of his lower jaw. A quick wave across his chin and the Goth purse snatcher had no bottom lip. He passed out.

Claudia’s rapid steps had her back at the sidewalk in seconds. She looked both ways in hopes the woman was still within eyesight. The victim was gone, but a street vendor handed the impromptu vigilante her shoes and a hot dog. “I see you got the purse back. Nice job, Lady.”
“Thanks. I don’t suppose there’s any chance you know her…”
“Don’t know her name, but she’s one of my regular customers. Does domestic work around here somewheres.”
“Her address is in her purse, I want to return it.”
“Can’t help you there. You got one of them gadgets on yer phone?”
“GPS, yes. I’ll find her. How much for the hot dog?”
“On the house, Lady. Enjoy it.”
As she turned to leave he said, “Oh, one question if you don’t mind.”
Claudia turned back and faced him, “Go ahead.”
“You really put a move on that kid. I’m impressed. Would you mind, ah, I’m forty-nine and…”
“I’m a baby boomer. Do the math.”
She smiled, winked, and left with the hot dog. She looked at her wristwatch, I’d better hurry or I’ll be late to meet Mr. Debert.

Want feedback on your work?
Do you want to know what  readers think when they read the first page of your book? Welcome to The First Page Review blog hop happening during the month of October.  The idea is simple. Sign the linky list, linking your own blog post that contains the first page--NO MORE than the first 1,000 words of a WIP, a manuscript, or a novel, published or unpublished.

This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question for each participant. After reading your first 1,000 word, would a person continue reading it?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The New World Order

The Eight Sentences:

Dahl continued their conversation, “Did you hear what the President said last week at the meeting of the Bilderbergers?”
“I don’t listen to Presidents, but are you speaking about his comments regarding the commoners?”
“Yes, let me paraphrase it, ‘Ordinary men and women are too small minded to govern their own affairs. Order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all powerful sovereign.’”
“Yes, exactly -- you nailed it -- something we’ve been working for generations to attain is now in reach. How did you know it so well if you didn’t hear him?”
“I wrote it,” Dahl smiled and sipped his drink, “but it isn’t unique.”
“Correct, every U.S. President since Woodrow Wilson has said something similar."

The Back Story:
     [Note: Gotta work on the attribution above, but I was trying to squeeze it all into 8 lines.] 
For me, as the author, the back story began on Nov. 22, 1963 around noon. I was in the 6th grade, Miss Ola Cooper's class.
That's when I became a believer in the conspiracy theory of history. FDR's words that
"nothing in politics happens by accident" and, "If it happens in politics, it was planned that way," still resonate with me today and have influenced my writing. 
The real eye-opener was the book pictured here, None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen.
I don't try to convince readers that these conspiracies exist, I simply assume that they are real and write stories with that in mind. My characters accept master puppeteers are at work pulling the strings behind the veil. 
In my first two books, Julian Thibaut and several other characters were members of these secret groups that no longer seem to be so secret.
In the scene above, Bernard Dahl hosts a "Mr. Remington" for discussions on which string(s) to pull next.

Open Call for Writers:

Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors

The  same link will take you to the work of 
dozens of talented writers. 
For a treat, please check out their work, too.  
Here's the Facebook link for the Sunday Snippett group.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A jackhammer on steroids

Hawk's Hog
Image credit:

The Eight Sentences:

The sound of a jackhammer on steroids from the front parking lot interrupted their attempt at a conversation. Next, they heard the popping sound of a small caliber pistol.

“Was that an Uzi?” asked Dryden.

“Fuckin’ A, followed by return fire from a toy gun,” said Scully.
They both drew their weapons and began to move to vantage points to observe the action out front. Dryden, in a stage whisper, said, “You mean a Glock, right?”
“Yep, Mattel -- Barbie and Ken.”
Outside, they could see a 379 pound man on his side behind a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide as he slammed a loaded magazine into his Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

The Setup:
    A previous snippet introduced the League of Old Men and now here they are in action. For this assignment they met at the Mountain Empire Airport (what a cool name! Watch for a blog on this.) in Virginia. The big guy on the Hog is Hawk Barger, relative of  Sonny Barger, one of the Hell's Angels at the infamous Altamont Free Concert. I'll blog about that one soon, too.

Open Call for Writers:

Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors. The  same link will take you to the work of dozens of talented writers. For a treat, please check out their work, too.  
Here's the Facebook link for the Sunday Snippett group.

Hear how an Uzi sounds.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I am sudden death.

The Tourist Killer ends and A Year Without Killing opens
in Manhattan near Penn Station.
Here's a shot I got from Hoboken. 

The Eight Sentences:

“I am sudden death.
Final.”  -- For over thirty years, it was the credo of one of the most successful and least known professional assassins in history. In A Year Without Killing, Claudia Barry takes a year off from work. 
She doesn’t leave her weapons at home.

The Back Story:
       Today's excerpt is the promo line for my third novel.
        If that was all you knew about the book, would you click your mouse to find out more?
        As usual, all feedback welcomed.

Open call for writers:
Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors. The  same link will take you to the work of dozens of talented writers. For a treat, please check out their work, too.  
Here's the Facebook link for the Sunday Snippett group.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Meet Ulysses "Track" Presius by author, E.E.Giorgi. We both participate in some weekly blog hops and share interests in not only writing, but also science and photography.
The main character of her first two books has an interesting name. I have blogged about how author's chose names for their characters, so I asked her to tell us about Ulysses "Track" Presius.

Track was born from a mix of things. I was intrigued by the idea of a "creature" that can both love and kill at the same time. I picked up a vampire book because of this concept, but I was hugely disappointed. I thought that the book failed in exploiting the "scary" part of the creature. However, even though I didn't enjoy that particular book, I kept thinking about the story and how I would've improved where the author (in my opinion) had failed.

Around the same time, I learned about pseudogenes, bits of our DNA that no longer code for proteins. We inherited those bits from our ancestors and, as we evolved from predators to monkeys to human, they lost their functions. They're still in our DNA, we just don't use them anymore. Take the vomeronasal organ for example: many mammals use it to smell pheromones. We still have the vomeronasal organ, but of course we no longer use it since humans today rely more heavily on visual stimuli rather than olfactory ones.

I put all these cool concepts together and asked myself: what if there was one human being whose ancestral (predator) genes, for whatever reason, were suddenly turned on? Of course, in real life you can't "turn" genes on and off as if they were switches. But it is true that sudden changes in diet or traumas can affect gene expression and randomly activate or silence some genes.

I discussed these ideas with my dad, who's a developmental biologist, and he told me that most of our pseudogenes in the human genome code for olfactory receptors. Oddly, olfactory receptors can be found in the strangest places, not just in the nose. Males have them in sperm. We all have them in our guts. If my character were to have activated pseudogenes, he had to have an enhanced sense of smell. And then I thought that somebody with an enhanced sense of smell would be perfect at finding bodies and solving crimes.

The nickname "Track" immediately came to mind, from "tracking dog." His real name came a little later. I had just finished reading Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I absolutely loved how the narrative in the book was interspersed with references to Greek mythology. As I started writing Chimeras, I knew I had to make a similar connection: Track is an epigenetic chimera, and the original meaning of the word chimera comes from Greek mythology. What better name than Ulysses for a character who's still searching for his own identity, his own home in a body that no longer feels his?

"What about the last name Presius?" you may ask. I honestly don't know. I wanted something not trivial to pronounce, something that would strike as odd. All great detectives have odd names: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Hieronymus Bosch. So I guess I had to follow the tradition: Ulysses "Track" Presius. I think it fits. What do you think?

E.E. Giorgi, scientist, photographer, author.
Image copyright Yosip Loncaric
E.E. Giorgi is a scientist, a writer, and a photographer. She spends her days analyzing genetic data, her evenings chasing sunsets, and her nights pretending she's somebody else. Her photographs have been showcased in galleries in California, New Mexico and Texas. On her blog, E.E. discusses science for the inquiring mind, especially the kind that sparks fantastic premises and engaging stories. She is the author of the Track Presius mystery series, a hard-boiled police procedural with a genetic twist. The first book in the series, CHIMERAS, is a 2014 Book Award finalists, and the second book, MOSAICS, will be released on September 8, 2014 and is now available for preorder. You can sign up for Giorgi's "Chimeras Newsletter," here.

MOSAICS (A Track Presius Mystery)Dubbed the Byzantine Strangler because of the mysterious mosaic tiles he leaves at the crime scene, a new serial killer is stalking the streets of Los Angeles. Racing to decipher the code encrypted in the tiles before the killer strikes again, Detective Track Presius faces a new challenge: the "awakened" genes that make his vision and olfactory sense so sharp are now taking a toll on his life. When a new set of tiles appears in his own backyard, Track makes a chilling realization: those very same genes that are threatening his life are drawing the Byzantine Strangler closer and closer. The fine line between hunter and hunted has suddenly blurred. Will Track be the next piece of the mosaic puzzle?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The League of Old Men -- Part 2

The Eight Sentences:
 The sidewalk leading up to the street was broken and uneven. Grass and tall weeds made homes of the cracks. Poison ivy grew up the side of an exterior wall, rooted somewhere between a window and the brick veneer wall.
But the interior was another story.
Image copyright 2007 FCEtier
The floors were worn but clean. It was clear that the kitchen and dining area had been used recently and frequently. A mahogany bar hosted a row of bar stools from another era. The back counter was stocked with bourbon and scotch.
The American flag stood proudly with an eagle decoration atop the wooden staff.

The Back Story:
Last week's snippet was my first dealing with the League of Old Men. Today, we visit their meeting hall.
This will be my last excerpt on this eclectic group who will make their debut in my third book, A Year Without Killing.
These guys will turn up again in my fourth book, Transfer the Dragon. They will be joined in this adventure by the talented and feisty members of the Presidents Club.

Open call for writers:

Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors. The 

same link will take you to the work of dozens of talented 

 Check out their work, too.  Here's the Facebook link for the

 Sunday Snippett group.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The League of Old Men

Weekend Writing Warriors

The Eight Sentences:

I stumbled into their meeting hall.

As far as I was concerned, it had always been an urban legend.
The League Of Old Men was as real to me as a twenty-first century Illuminati.
You may have heard the legends, rumors, and stories yourself.
Events that at first seem unrelated and then, overnight, are connected by wing-nut conspiracy theorists.
Deals, deaths, and deniable dilemmas that mark the repetition of history through the decades.
The romantic stories of great loyalty, unshakable devotion, and a will that would make that of G. Gordon Liddy pale by comparison.
Former Hell’s Angels with a desire to preserve their culture,
Viet Nam veterans obsessed with a sense of justice usually reserved for vigilantes.
Maverick cops and detectives determined to execute appropriate sentences — with or without a judge and jury.

The Back Story:
My current work in progress, A Year Without Killing, introduces several new characters in the "Barry-Hixon Conspiracy" series of books. This recent blog (on my WordPress site) sheds light on a secret organization to which several of the new characters belong. Watch for more on the League of Old Men in future snippets.

Does your work fit?

There are some rules, but generally, the administrators are tolerant. From the rules on the WeWriWa site: " Then on  
Sunday, post 8 sentences from a current writing project, 

published or unpublished." 

          Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors. The 

same link will take you to the work of dozens of talented 


 Check out their work, too.  Here's the Facebook link for the

 Sunday Snippett group.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Meet Claudia Barry

Cindy A invited me to participate in a "Meet Your Character" blog hop. Cindy is the author of The Milk Carton Murders due out next spring. Meet Cindy and view her blog, HERE.

Now, Meet My Character:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
    Claudia Barry - fictional
2) When and where is the story set?
    Current times, eastern seaboard USA
3) What should we know about him/her?
    Readers meet Claudia in my first book, The Tourist Killer. She’s sixty-two years old and has successfully negotiated a career of over thirty years. Now she’s contemplating retirement and examining her life. What’s next for a professional assassin? Who do you retire? Her assigner convinces her to take a year sabbatical rather than retire outright. A Year Without Killing is the sequel and chronicles her time off.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
    Is retirement from this career any easier than retiring from the CIA or the mafia? How do you break away and stay alive? Claudia must now find a way to be at peace with herself so she can enjoy the rest of her life. As The Tourist Killer ends, she and her lover are in separate parts of the country and neither knows the fate of the other.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
    Claudia wants to settle down with John Hixon and pursue life without the burden of being the harbinger of death to others.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
    A Year Without Killing, my current work in progress is the third book in the Barry-Hixon series and is the sequel to my first book, The Tourist Killer. I participate most weekends in a blog hop, titled, “Weekend Writing Warriors” and most of the excerpts I publish for the next few months will be from AYWK. Catch up with Claudia and her exploits HERE.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
    E-book and trade paperback versions should be available in the spring of 2015. A Year Without Killing will debut in serialized form, with two chapters per week in either late fall of 2014 or winter of 2015 on the publisher’s site, Venture Galleries.

To keep the meetings going, I'll tag:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Distraction Enables Stealth

The Eight Sentences: 
Star closed her eyes and stretched her arms out in either direction to their full length. Then she leaned forward,  placed her hands on her ankles, and slid them up her legs. She clasped her hands and placed them in plain view on her knees. When she had returned to her previous position, she looked in the direction of the bar and Claudia was gone. That was impressive.
Claudia’s voice came from behind, “You do know how to give the impression that you’re not here as an adversary. You said you wanted my help, start talking.”
“I’d prefer to talk over dinner, or drinks, or both.”

The Back Story:
     Another excerpt from my third novel, A Year Without Killing (a WIP.) This scene picks up from a previous snippet found HERE.
Claudia is meeting with Star Braun who is trying to earn Claudia's trust during a surprise encounter. At the beginning, Claudia is standing behind the bar in her hotel room. Star gets a sample of Claudia's ability to steal about a room undetected.

But wait, there's more:

Looking for more viewers, readers, and contacts?

Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors. The same 

link will take you to the work of dozens of talented writers.

 Check out their work, too.  Here's the Facebook link for the

 Sunday Snippett group.