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Spotlight on Gunnysack Hell by Nancy Brashear

March 25, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , , ,

Spotlight on Gunnysack Hell

“There’s more to fear in the desert than scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

It’s the summer of 1962, middle of the Cold War, and the O’Brien family has moved off-grid to the Mojave Desert in Southern California. After all, the desert has to be a safer place to raise a family than the crime-ridden city, and there they can build a new future. But evil also stalks dusty desert roads, and eight-year-old Nonni finds herself harboring a terrible secret: Only she can identify the predator who has been terrorizing the community.

And he knows where she lives.

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Excerpt

Gunnysack Hell

Nancy Brashear

I read this morning that Donald Fricker was granted parole after serving twenty years in prison. Once I saw his name in print, the decades disappeared in the flick of a newspaper page. My childhood flooded back to eight-year-old me, too scared to identify him and save my family.

It was May of 1962. My family had recently moved to our new home, our grandparents’ one-room homestead cabin in the California high desert with tarpaper and chicken-wire lining the walls. It never occurred to me to ask my father why we had moved from our three-bedroom suburban home by the beach to “off the grid.”

All I knew was that we used kerosene lanterns, the chemical outhouse under the tall water tank, a wood- burning stove, and an old-fashioned ice-box that our father replenished daily with a big block of ice from Jolly’s Corner.

Tessa, my six-year-old sister, and I walked home alone, every school day, from the bus stop, a mile and a half down an isolated dirt road.

That’s when it happened, the thing that changed our family. I’ll never forget that day. I protected Tessa even though I broke all of my promises to Mama I’d made just the night before. To walk directly home from the bus stop, not to talk to strangers, and to stay away from open wells.

That afternoon, when the bus’s hissing air brakes signaled our stop, we leapt from the bottom step onto the dirt shoulder of the road.

I picked the perfect stone from the side of the road. It had to be small and round, with no sharp edges, and light enough to kick all the way home.

Tessa followed on my heels, talking my ear off, and stepping on the heel of one of my tennies. “Gave you a flat!”

“Back off!” I glared at her. Mama said those shoes were like gold, and we were to protect them. I gave the rock a punt and forged ahead.

Oblivious to things going on out there in the desert, we were lulled into a sense of safety and routine. Like Eve, we didn’t feel the danger around us until it was too late to escape. Instead, I should have been paying attention to the truck following us slowly.

Down the deserted road.

Yes, this is our story.

My story.

Endorsement:

“I can’t recall the last time I was so impressed with someone’s writing style. It’s pure genius! Gunnysack Hell, told through the various family members’ point of view, takes the readers down a tunnel filled with mystery, thrills, and excitement. This masterpiece is not to be missed.”

~L. C. Hayden, Award-winning and best-selling author, http://www.lchayden.com/
(The Harry Bronson Thriller Series, When Memory Fails as seen on NBC and ABC, and others)

Nancy Brashear lives in Orange County, California, with her husband, Patrick, and their rescue dog, Goldie, where her grown children and seven grandgirls have supported her writing adventures. A professor emeritus in English, she has published short stories, poems, academic articles, textbook chapters as well as website content and writing projects with educational publishers. Gunnysack Hell is her debut fiction novel and was inspired by a true-crime event. And, yes, she did live off-grid with her family in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert when she was a child.

Read Jann Ryan’s interview of Nancy.

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Thieves Book Tour, Giveaway and Excerpt

March 4, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , ,
 

 
 
 

Thieves

 
The Obscurité de Floride Trilogy

 

Suspense

Date Published: March 1, 2021

Publisher: Épouvantail Books

 

 

 

 

From Tropea, Italy to Michigan and Florida, the thieves Molly and April Danser are on the run, trying to escape from an enraged ex-US Marshal. He is hell bent on stopping them once and for all, his twisted black heart fired up for revenge and their total destruction. Will the sisters elude his blood-soaked hunt? They have their smarts and resource but have never faced a pursuit like this.

Can they somehow put an end to his blood lust?

What will they have to do to save themselves from his powerful and deadly claws?

The hunt is on…

 

 

 

About the Author

 

 


Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Or goes surfing.

 

 

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Excerpt

Thieves

Greg Jolley

Chapter Twenty-Nine

A Day to Do

April woke at first light, seeing she had slept on top of the bed instead of climbing in under the blankets. After putting the coffee percolator on the burner, she went and checked the boat’s position at the lower helm. Starting the engines, she steered southeast in the northward Gulf Stream and watched the blue swells until the boat was pretty much in the same location as the day before.

            “At least eat,” she instructed herself, it being twenty-four hours or more since her last meal. Opening a can of stew, she ate it cold with a spoon while sipping coffee. Looking at the closed laptop at her elbow, she hesitated to reach for it.

            “Only one way to deal with fear.” She opened the lid and started the computer.

Her fingers unsteady above the keys, the vision from the previous day’s nightmare came fully into view. The big dark doorway at Klave’s. Her imagination ran with and gave her the rolling door crashing down and up fast like steel teeth chomping, chewing.

“Back off.” Her shoulders shuddered, and she barked at the vignette.

Opening a secure internet browser, she launched the messaging application.

After addressing an email to Allison, she froze for a minute, her fingertips quivering. The three hardest words she ever typed displayed.

AprilDid she die?

Hitting send, she stared at those three words, waiting for the reply that she couldn’t will Allison to answer.

***

Sometime later, she opened a browser alongside the messaging application where her question to Allison still floated without an answer. The local television stations had previously recorded ‘on scene’ footage ripe with frightful images of Klave’s with the breathless voices of newscasters. There were no details of any worth.

            Opening the online Daytona Beach News-Journal, the story was in the banner.

Three Killed in a Possible Attempted Robbery

April read that David Klave was declared dead on the scene. She learned that Molly’s pal, Dennis, was also murdered, evidence suggesting that he was trying to cover and protect another victim. No other names were offered, pending notification of next to kin. One man had been shot twice and was expected to survive. He was being attended to in the ICU at Memorial Medical Hospital. There was nothing about the third victim. No mention of Molly or her status.

She saw her own name given as one of the ‘persons of interest.’

Klave’s employees were quoted as saying that the suspect had a long face that was injured. He had driven off in a late model red Corvette, heading north.

She read three more news reports in the Ormond Beach, Orlando, and St. Augustine newspapers, the body count making the story a headliner. There was no additional information, only a recap and worthless commentary.

She closed the browser and looked to the messaging application.

No reply from Allison.

She sent the text again and waited ten long and painful minutes.

Leaving the table for the flying bridge, she grabbed a bottle of water and a package of the saltines she had seen her sister snacking on. The light went out over the middle of the galley as she left, and she made a mental note to put in a fresh bulb.

Up top, the breeze was sweeping away the heat of the day. She checked her location, fired the engines, and spent the next hour staring at the ocean until she had the boat back in place.

Climbing down the ladder, she went inside and saw that Allison had not replied.

“My beautiful Molly…” she held her eyes closed, “… I’m still hoping.”

She spent the rest of that day at the lower helm, getting up every half hour to look for a message from Allison.

As the sun set at her back, she went inside to look again. The darkening galley reminded her to find a package of light bulbs and a step-ladder. She found both in the click-lock supply closet and had the dead bulb out and was poised to twist in the new one when it slipped from her fingers. It shattered, and she got a new one from the closet, along with the dustpan and broom. The second bulb went in easily, and she climbed down to sweep up the aluminum cone and shards.

The messaging application pinged.

Instead of hurrying to it, she stalled, fearful of the news. She finished up the sweeping and stepped to the table, the ball of her right foot landing on a stabbing missed piece of glass.

“Brilliant.” She felt the deep cut as she swung around on the bench and looked to the message screen.

AprilDid she die?

AliDon’t know.

AprilFind out.

AliI’m on it. It is a fuck storm here. Wasn’t here when it happened. Parts store.

AprilYou learn anything?

AliYes, of course.


Greg Jolley’s Books

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Author Nancy Brashear debuts her Psychological Thriller!!

March 2, 2021 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , ,

Nancy Brashear lives in Orange County, California, with her husband, Patrick, and their rescue dog, Goldie, where her grown children and seven grandgirls have supported her writing adventures. A professor emeritus in English, she has published short stories, poems, academic articles, textbook chapters as well as website content and writing projects with educational publishers. Gunnysack Hell is her debut fiction novel and was inspired by a true-crime event. And, yes, she did live off-grid with her family in a homestead cabin in the Mojave Desert when she was a child.

We’re here today talking to author, Nancy Brashear, about her debut psychological thriller novel. Gunnysack Hell has received fantastic reviews. So let’s see what all the excitement is about.

Jann: Tell us about your journey to publication?

Nancy: I’ve always loved to write. I vividly remember the experience of writing a poem about sitting in the fog on a bench and searching for just the right word to express a specific feeling when I was only about-eight-years old. In more recent times, as a professor in Education and English, I’ve published many academically-related writings along with occasional short stories and poetry. However, Gunnysack Hell is my first full-length published novel, and I’ve had to learn much about the craft of writing longer works of fiction to get this debut novel published.

Jann: Gunnysack Hell made its publication debut in February. How did it feel? 

Nancy: It felt great! I signed my contract with The Wild Rose Press in April of 2020 (with a big thanks to Ally Robertson, my editor, for being my advocate and steward), and, now, less than a year later, it’s been released world-wide. It’s been exciting to introduce my “baby” to the world during the pandemic, and I’ve gotten a lot of support from my writing communities, especially my critique group, Serious Scribblers.

Jann: How long did it take for you to write this story?

 Nancy: I began writing Gunnysack Hell when I was working at a more-than-fulltime job and had to set it aside. Once I picked it back up in calmer times, I worked on it, on and off, for about three years including taking it through beta readers, multiple edits, and the publishing process. I’ve learned a lot through this process about how to write, polish, and publish a book. I have a few other projects backed up in the pipeline waiting for the same treatment—but on a quicker timeline!

Jann: Will you give our readers the premise of the story? I understand the idea for the book came from a childhood stint in the desert.

 Nancy: My story was inspired by a true-crime event in my family when I was young and our family lived in my grandmother’s homestead cabin in Apple Valley. A predator who had been terrorizing our desert community stopped my sister and me when we were walking home, a mile and a half down an isolated, dirt road. Needless to say, this led to a lot of drama in our family!

Jann: Why multiple points of view?

 Nancy: It didn’t start out that way. I began writing this story from a 3rd person POV, focusing on the young girl, Nonni. About a third of the way in, I discovered she had her own story she wanted to tell in 1st person. However, after I made this conversion, I discovered that her limited perspective was too restrictive to tell a full story. Other characters were bursting with their own secrets. In the long run, I think it made for a much richer story to have rotating 1st person POVs—but it wasn’t an easy task for me to accomplish, and it took a lot of rewriting to get it right.

Jann: Which character has the biggest arc?

 Nancy: Although there are several adult characters in the novel, Nonni, the older child, probably experiences the most dynamic growth in this thriller, which was definitely not written for children. Through her personal epiphany, the truth will set you free, she emerges a much wiser young woman who finally finds her “voice” and can finally take action.

Jann: In your acknowledgment you mention your mother, Peggy Powell. Do you mind sharing with us today about her and how she inspired you?

Nancy: Although my mom had a challenging childhood, throughout her life, she fully embraced the idea that life was an adventure, even the gruddy parts, and, with a little faith, you could get through anything. This attitude embodies Claire, the mother in Gunnysack Hell. At my website (www.nancybrashear.com), my free prequel short story, “Dare to Wish Upon a Star,” is based upon Claire, as a ten-year-old living in Santa Ana with her mother, a singer in a 40s girl-band who also runs a boarding house out of a Victorian mansion. This backstory was also inspired by my mom’s young life, and provides insight into Claire’s personality.

Jann: What motivated you to write Ready or Not, A Creepy, Retold Fairytale for Grownups?

Nancy: I enjoy writing twisty things with elements of psychological suspense, and this short story for adults was inspired by “Hansel and Gretel.” At this point, I’m planning to continue this series with short-story retellings of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Little Mermaid.”

Jann: What’s next?

 Nancy: I have a couple of rough draft novels completed, awaiting some tender, loving care. Probably the next one out will be Love on the Fly, a psychological thriller about a flight attendant who becomes agoraphobic after losing part of her family in a mysterious housefire. That’s all I’m saying for now.

Jann: What’s the best thing about being an author?

 Nancy: I love letting my mind run wild as I create the interior landscapes of characters and put them into impossible situations in which they have to use all their resources to survive.

Jann: How can we learn more about you and your writing?

 Nancy: Please sign up for my newsletter and blog (author interviews, reviews of books for children and adolescents, and other topics) at my website; follow me on social media! Email me if you’re interested in featuring Gunnysack Hell in your book group (as a SoCal-based thriller) and/or would like to do a Zoom author talk with me.

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 Jann: What sound or noise do you love?

 Nancy: Bird songs (lots of them in our back yard)

Jann: What sound or noise do you hate?

Nancy: People chewing.

Jann: What profession would you hate to do?

 Nancy: Politician

Jann: What is the one thing you have never been asked, but you wish someone would?

 Nancy: What it was like to live in a UFO commune, as a child, for six months

Jann: What‘s on your To-Be-Read pile?

 Nancy: The psychological thriller, You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz (the novel that inspired the short Netflix series, The Undoing)

Jann: Favorite song?

 Nancy: “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles

Jann: What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

 Nancy: I taught for a month in Zimbabwe during a period of deadly civil unrest, and my family and I were almost kidnapped on our return to the airport afterwards.

Jann: If you could travel back in time with whom would you like to meet and why?

Nancy: I’d like to meet Christopher Wren (1632-1723, distantly related) and talk to him about his contributions as an architect in the rebuilding 52 churches in London after the Great Fire of 1666, his anatomical and autopsy work, and his connection to other events that happened in Great Britain during those years. (And my son’s name is Christopher Wren Brashear.)

 Thank you Nancy for your time here today. It’s been an adventure getting to hear about Gunnysack Hell and your exciting life. Stay well!!

Enter new Rafflecopter drawing (ends March 7) by following Nancy Brashear on Amazon to enter (and meet new authors and their books, too): Enter Here.

 


Gunnysack Hell

GUNNYSACK HELL
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Books Are Daughters by Greg Jolley

December 24, 2020 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Guest Posts, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,

With the recent launch of The Collectors, I experienced the same fine emotion I always feel when a book is shared with readers and reviewers. To me, each book is a like a daughter, stepping off the porch barefoot, a bit disheveled, but grinning—perhaps smirking—as she heads out into the real world. As I watch her head on up the road with her battered suitcase and tousled hair, I wish her all the best, confident that I have loved her and done my very best to raise her well. We’ve had our ups and downs, disagreements and arguments, but this was always in the spirit of helping her become the best that she can be.

As always, I hope her journey is good and interesting, just before the screen door slams and I head to my back office, where another young one is waiting to be born.

This is why when I’m asked about having a favorite Danser novel, the answer is always no. How can you, and why would you ever favor one darling child over another?

All the best,

Greg Jolley
The Danser Novels

About The Author

Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Or goes surfing.

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a man walking away in the spooky fog

The Collectors
Greg Jolley

Publisher: BHC Press
December 15, 2020

Suspense, Thriller

Pierce Danser is on the hunt for his soon-to-be ex-wife, the actress Pauline Place, who’s disappeared from the Black Island film set in the heat swarmed waters off the Mexican coast. A wealthy “collector” with a black heart and dangerous, evil mind has kidnapped her, planning a forced marriage to complete his manage of twisted museum pieces. As Pierce starts down the winding, dark, and deadly path in pursuit, his journey is a roller coaster through a horror show. No matter the grisly and dangerous obstacles, he is determined to rescue Pauline, even if it means the loss of his own life.

The clock is ticking, his resources are slim and he’s up against a man of great means as well as a twisted, cruel vision.

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THE COLLECTORS

Excerpt

Chapter One

TIN CAN

“Welcome to the film set, Mr. Kiharazaka. Please mind your step, we’re having a problem with vermin.”

The tall, thin man, fresh from Kyoto, adjusted his stride, placing each step of his spacesuit boots gingerly.

“I’m Rolf. Can I call you Zaka?” the assistant director went on.

“Please, no,” Mr. Kiharazaka replied demurely.

“Got it.”

“Will we be going weightless? It was in the original scene.”

“We’re woking on that, yes.”                                                                                                 

“Woking?”

“A joke. Sort of.”

A few yards away, green gaffing tape marked the edge of the darkened film set. Rolf spoke into her headset and the lights came up, revealing the interior of the spacecraft: the complex helm and seating for the crew. The second set—the crew table and galley kitchen—was half-lit in the distance.

Mr. Kiharazaka stared with unreserved delight. The crew had accurately replicated the 1990s television series Tin Can’s two most famous locations.

Members of the film crew were already on the set, at their places among the equipment; lights, extended boom mics, and various cameras, some dollied and some shoulder-held. Mr. Kiharazaka had to rotate stiffly in his spacesuit, turning his helmet, visor up, to watch the young, professional film crew. He nodded to some and spoke to none. For the most part, these serious professionals looked right through him, focused on their craft.

“Please step in, Zaka. We’d like you to feel comfortable in both locations.”

“Where is the cast? The Robbins family?”

“Soon enough. Please.” Rolf extended her hand and Zaka crossed the green tape and stepped into the helm, noting that the flooring was white painted plywood. With the flight helmet on, the voices about the set were muted. Zaka stared at the helm, admiring, but not touching, the multiple displays. He stood back of Captain Robbins’s helm chair, taking in all the exacting details of the complex spacecraft controls. Easing between the captain and copilot chair, he turned to Rolf with his white gloved hand out to the second chair, asked, “May I?”

Rolf gave him her buttery professional smile.

“Captain, permission to man the helm?” Zaka asked.

Rolf rolled her eyes, up into the complex scaffolding above. The client was already in role, using the famous and familiar dialogue from the Tin Can series. Since none of the cast was yet on set, Rolf answered for Matt Stuck, the sod of an actor who played Captain Robbins.

“Aye, mate. Take thar helm,” she spoke the next well-known line with a grimace.

Zaka bowed to her voice and twisted around into the copilot’s chair.

She looked on as Zaka began the familiar series of taps and changes on the right side of the helm. She could hear him identifying each click and adjustment he made. He was doing a good job mimicking the terse, focused voice of copilot Sean Robbins, but his inflections were clearly Japanese.

The director, Rose Daiss, entered the soundstage, crossed to the set, and for once didn’t trip on the snakes of cables. She wobbled her large rear into the La-Z Boy with “Director” stenciled on the back. Her nickname was “Bottles” and never used in her presence—it was a reference to the many times she had washed up. Her pudgy face was nip-and-tuck stretched, her skin was rough, but rouged well. She did have good hair.

The director’s personal assistants entered the soundstage and roamed to their places just back of the cameras. They donned headsets and leisurely took up their positions, standing deferentially to Bottles’s side, their faces lit by the glow of their tablets.

Rolf shouted for status among the film’s crews, and they called back equally loud. Lighting, boom mics, and cameras leaned in on the set. Mr. Zaka climbed from the helm and walked back into the spacecraft along the equipment bays on the left wall—the right wall of equipment didn’t exist, providing the view for one of the many cameras. He tapped a brief series on the wall panel and the air lock door opened with a gasp. He stepped through, the door closing at his heels, and crossed the short area of soundstage to the side entrance of the crew and kitchen set. Zaka took in every detail of the reproduced Tin Can galley as he moved carefully through the room. He eased himself into his role and the chair assigned to Ruth Robbins, the flight crew’s matriarch.

The director shouted at her assistants, barking orders and questions, sounding semi-lucid. Rose’s drug-addled, fast-clipped voice received intimidated replies. She was enjoying their pale, cowering expressions while chasing two lines of thought, a mixture of movie-making aesthetics and redundant direction. Her face was beading with drug sweat on her upper lip and brow.

Where’s my cast?” Rose bellowed, finishing the tirade. That done, she promptly nodded off, delighting Rolf, who then inherited the director’s role.

Zaka was exploring the many displays embedded in the galley table, trying to ignore the shouting.

“Heat it up,” Rolf instructed her underling

The assistant typed a series of brief commands on his tablet and the script dialogue for Ruth Robbins—whom Zaka had paid dearly to portray—appeared. The script was scroll ready and at an angle on the galley table that couldn’t be seen by the cameras.

Rolf heard the cast crossing to the set, a scuffing of moon boots and voices approaching from the soundstage. A sweeping flashlight beam guided their way. The cast moved into the back glow from the lights on the set. Rolf pressed the inside of her cheek between her teeth and bit down. Most of the original cast had been hired or persuaded to appear in the remake of the famous season seven-ending cat fight scene. The brawl between the Robbins’ daughters was nominally, impotently, refereed by the only member of the flight crew who was not a member of the family: the handsome, irreverent, and sociopathic engineer, Greer Nails.

Twenty-two years had been most unkind to the once-famous family members. Greer Nails appeared overinflated; the penchant for food and wine, and dessert, over the past years of dimming celebrity had taken their toll. His formerly idolized face was jowled, reddened, and fat. His spacesuit looked like a white dirigible.

The other cast members were naked save their space helmets. Time and gravity and overindulgence had also taken a toll on their bodies. Greer Nails was the lone holdout from nudity, and with obese good reason.

The scene that Zaka had chosen from the menu provided by the studio had cost him a breathless $3.7 million. An additional $1.3 million was invoiced when he selected the option off the Premiere menu for the cast to be nude except for space helmets. He had expressed his desire to be part of the famous scene’s reenactment, in the role of Ruth Robbins, the space family matriarch. Most of his role was to be aghast at the start of a violent family shouting match and brawl. Later, he would be able to view the vignette time and again, for all eternity, receiving sole ownership of the footage of this and the other short scene as part of the package he had paid for.

Zaka watched his castmates approach, trying to keep his eyes on their helmets, not their nakedness. He was delighted and light headed with his proximity to the famous—the real flesh instead of celluloid, but their memorized faces were distorted by their helmets.

Nods were used in lieu of greetings. They had met during rehearsal earlier in the day. Places were taken, and Rolf reviewed the lighting and camera placements.

The first scene was succinctly re-rehearsed. This was of little use to Zaka, who had the script committed to memory.  But the rehearsal helped him dissolve some of his lighter-than-air headiness. The rest of the cast drolly joined the read and walk through, their acting marked by a blend of boredom, professionalism, and chemicals.

Zaka was delighted. Here he was, a real actor with an important part in the infamous scene’s reenactment. It was all he could to not giggle. He somehow found the ability to maintain Ruth Robbins’s dithering mothering role.

Julianne, the slutty smart sister, stepped past Greer and pantomimed the jerk-off gesture that would set off her sibling, “Cy,” as in Cyborg. In the television series, Cy had been Greer Nail’s budding romantic interest.

Zaka was enthralled, but also concerned. He had paid for Captain Robbins to sit at the head of the galley table, and he was nowhere to be seen.A booming, authoritative voice carried from the back of the soundstage.

 “Welcome to Tin Can Two, Mr. Kiharazaka. You are certainly star material, mm-hmm!” Fatima Mosley called out.

Fatima was the studio head, noticeably short and burdened by a massive chest that gave her stride a wobble. She was dressed in an elegant and trendy style, including a beret. She had a titanium leg, the original lost to disease. The metal ratcheted when her knee articulated.

“Zaka’s doing a great job.” Rolf called over, not turning from the rehearsal.

“It’s Kiharazaka, please,” Zaka politely corrected Rolf again.

“Actually, it’s Ruth Robbins,” Fatima smiled, causing her cheeks to fill and her eyes to disappear.

Zaka flushed with pride at being addressed as Ruth.

“All is well, mm-hmm?” Fatima asked Zaka.

“Yes, yes. Might I ask? Is Captain Robbins ready? And son Sean Robbins?”

“Why, here’s Sean now,” Fatima answered, her crunched face dissolving downward, revealing her wise, ferret eyes. She didn’t explain Captain Robbins’s absence, and Zaka showed good manners by not repeating his question.

Sure enough, Sean Robbins, the Tin Can’s copilot appeared from the shadows of the soundstage, naked save his helmet and boots, looking slightly sedated—well, a lot sedated. His birdlike wrists hung limp.

There was a white worm of drool creeping from his face, now ravaged by years of amphetamine addiction. He was escorted by two of the bigger grips, who held his scarecrow thin arms and pulled him along, his moon boots sketching the soundstage flooring.

The sisters, Cy and Julianne, did not look pleased to be reanimating their once famous daughter roles, no matter the money. They were clearly drugged to an agitated condition and firing foul slurs, even before the shoot began. Julianne had a wrench tattoo on her naked, once-perfect boob. Cy’s sensual body was scarecrow thin, as though drawn of all blood.

The grips assisted Sean Robbins into the hot lights and seated him at the galley table. He opened one eye and panned it across the cameras and lights aimed on him, then barfed into his own lap.

“Unpleasant, mm-hmm,” Fatima observed.

Zaka did the brave thing—he stayed in role, putting on his best Mrs. Robbins bemused and maternal expression.

“Nice,” Rolf encouraged him.

One of the grips wiped up Sean’s vomit. The other cleaned off his chest. Sean stood up and looked on, patting one of the men on the top of the head.

Rolf called out, “I have the set!”

From the film crews came sharp, short calls, and the boom mics lowered overhead.

“Quiet, quiet!” Rolf delighted in her temporary directing role.

“Lock it up,” she hollered.

“Places,” she shouted to the cast.

“Cameras up!”

“Roll sound.”

“Roll camera.”

A young woman appeared with an electric slate, shouted a brief stream of incomprehensible code, clacked the device, and disappeared.

Zaka did well, not looking to Captain Robbins’s empty seat at the head of the table.

Rolf yelled, “Action,” and the movie magic began.

For Zaka, there was a spiritual lift, even as he stayed in his rehearsed movements. He allowed himself to experience the elation, but stayed in the role of motherly concern.

Julianne entered the scene from the door to the helm. She moved behind Sean, who had a line of dialogue but missed. Staring at Cy, she stepped to Greer’s side and hefted the weight of his groin. Cy transitioned fast and smooth, from agog to madness. She fired forward and attacked, going for the smirk on her sister’s face with a clawed left hand and the space cup in the other.

As scripted, Mrs. Robbins took one step back from her end of the table, her expression alarmed and offended.

Greer was looking down at his groped crotch like he was just then realizing he had one. He leaned back as Cy collided with Julianne, and the brawl exploded with screams and nails and fists. The two careened off the galley counter and shelving, swinging and connecting blows.

If Captain Robbins had been at the head of the table, he would have moved fast to separate the two, looking sad and determined and disappointed. Instead, a bit of ad lib occurred, the two brawlers tumbling low in the shot, fists and knees swinging and pumping. Greer performed the ad lib, turning to the mayhem with a slack expression and barfing on himself again.

Mrs. Robbins went into action. She stomped manfully to her scuffling daughters, arms shooing, intending to break up the chaos on the spaceship floor. She was two strides away when Greer stepped out and pushed her back. Mrs. Robbins resisted, flailing her arms, eyes wide with alarm. Greer held her true. The fight continued, the sisters grunting and gasping. Hair was grabbed, a low fist was thrown. Julianne coughed in pain. Cy let out a cry, “You bitch!”

That was Zaka’s cue. He looked away, eyes upward and spoke the season-ending line, “My daughters. The sluts.”

“Cut. Cut. Cuu. Cuush . . .” Rose Daiss, the replaced director, called out in a trailing off slur. She was ignored.

The brawl continued. A mangy rat crossed the plywood set boards, scurrying away from the fisticuffs. The two beefy grips stepped to the edge of the set, poised to separate the sisters. The brawl looked real enough to them.

Rolf took the director’s prerogative, screaming at everyone.

“Cut!”


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Story Ideas by Kat Martin

December 17, 2020 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
woman using a typewriter with crumpled up paper around her and a cup of coffee next to her. Title of the post Story Ideas and author Kat Martin are place over the image.

People often ask how I come up with ideas for my novels.  Sometimes I have no answer—it just seems to pop into my head.  Best guess, the kernel of an idea probably came from a newspaper or magazine article or something I saw in a movie.  It was probably just so far back I don’t recall.

Before I started to write THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, Brandon Garrett’s story, the third book in my Maximum Security Series, I had decided to set a book in Colorado, maybe even a new series.  I ran across an article about the Army Chemical Weapons Depot near Fort Carson and started thinking…  wouldn’t it make be interesting if someone stole chemical weapons from the depot?  I wonder if it could be done?  How would the good guys catch the thieves?  And so off I went on a story that turned into The Ultimate Betrayal

Having written over 70 novels since I began way back when, it’s harder and harder to come up with fresh ideas.  I do a lot of research for my books.  This novel, set around a military base, was particularly difficult.  Lots of stuff I didn’t know.

In the story, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name.  Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend–a true heartbreaker, according to her brother. 

With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly.  Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat–before it’s too late.

I hope you’ll give THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL a try and if you like Bran and Jessie as much as I did, you can also find them in THE CONSPIRACY, Maximum Security book #1 and THE DECEPTION, book #2.

Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat 


THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

Kat Martin

When investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name.  Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend—a true heartbreaker, according to her brother.

With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly.  Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat—before it’s too late.

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Kat Martin Bio

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE  BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released in paperback December 29th.


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