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Sea of Destiny – Part 22 by Dellani Oakes

Sea of Destiny – Part 22 by Dellani Oakes.

Kyle feels foolish after Carmelita teases him about being a lustful male. He endures a lot of ribbing from her, but it’s a bit much on his male ego at the moment. Fortunately, Emily understands and isn’t deterred by his behavior.

Sea of Destiny – Part 10

Sea of Destiny – Part 10Kyle has been talking to his travel agent. He told her to find a family friendly cruise for his family and Carmelita, their housekeeper. Angie, the travel agent, calls him with details. They are going to Mexico. She suggests he may find love again, but teases that the name of the boat is not the Love Boat. Curious, Kyle decides to see what the name of the boat really is.

Give Books for Christmas!

Books make amazing gifts. They’re the kind of thing that keeps on giving since your loved one can return to them again and again. E-books make a marvelous last minute present. Below, I’ve gathered the websites of several of my author friends for you to visit and (I hope) purchase from. Other author friends, please put your links below in the comments.

My book, “Indian Summer”, is an historical romance set in St Augustine, Florida in 1739. It’s available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com and http://www.amazon.com The novel is available in E-book and Kindle form as well as printed form. My new sci-fi novel, “The Lone Wolf”, is coming soon form Second Wind. ~ Dellani

For William Beck’s great spy thrillers:
http://www.booksbybeck.com/

For the beautiful & moving Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey by Jon Magee
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paradise-Island-Heavenly-Journey/133686193356313
And Jon’s other amazing book, From Barren Rocks to Living Stones
http://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Barren-Rocks-to-Living-Stones/283465875540

For books by Bethany Warner
bkwriter.blogspot.com

For the work of Olwyn Conrau
http://www.olwynconrau.com/books.html

Visit Karen Vaughn here
http://www.karenvaughan.info/ Karen Vaughn
Find her book, Dead Comic Standing at http://www.amazon.com

For the books & artwork of Mickey Hoffman
http://www.mickeyhoffman.com/

For the funny and poignant, My Bad Tequila by Rico Austin
http://www.amazon.com/My-Bad-Tequila-Rico-Austin/dp/0981978916/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291941988&sr=1-1

For your copy of Activate Intuition by Jim Wawro
http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.activateintuition.com%2F&h=f0ed31wfI6BqSkTJ8l_Yv-1xBaQ

To find the work of Mark David Gerson
http://www.amazon.com/Mark-David Gerson/e/B002CQXFPM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

“From a Child’s Perception” is available at www.authorsden.com/annalfowler Anna Fowler

Susie Schecter http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lifetimes+ago&x=14&y=1
Susie’s website is http://www/. lifetimesago.com

A Quote from “Indian Summer”

Second Wind Publishing is hosting a Halloween contest.  Details later this month.  Below is a quote from my novel, “Indian Summer”.  Bookmark this site and come back when armed with instructions!  Good luck and let the best ghost or ghoul win! http://secondwindpub.wordpress.com/

The picture in the trash as appalling! I had randomly sketched a face of a man, lit from behind by flames in the shape of tormented souls. His own face was almost like a skull and his eyes burned with black flame! The horror of it shook me.

Oscar Friedman’s Freakish Occurence – part 5

(I just realized this never got posted here. OOPS!)  Things aren’t going well for poor Oscar.  His car is giving him fits and the GPS – well…. it’s not behaving the way it should.

“This isn’t the way Patrick said to go,” he mumbled. “This can’t be right.”

“Of course it’s right,” the GPS said in the same neutral voice. “Left turn in 1.6 miles.”

“Wait a second.” Oscar slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt on the shoulder of the road. “Did you talk to me?”

“Left turn in 1.6 miles.” There was a pause. “You can’t make the turn unless you get back on the road, moron.”

“You did talk! What the hell!” He tried turning the GPS off but it wouldn’t comply.

Pounding the dashboard, cursing like crazy, he succeeded to make his fist hurt. The GPS stayed on. The car started moving, despite Oscar’s attempts to turn it off. Yelling and cursing, Oscar eased back onto the road, hanging on for dear life as the car accelerated rapidly, passing the rest of the traffic.

“Left turn coming up!” The GPS shouted. “Slow down, idiot!”

Oscar hit the brakes, slewing around the corner like a madman. The Prius swung wildly across the road, finally coming to a shuddering stop. Before he could get his shaken nerves under control, the car started moving again.

“Calculating route.”

“I made the turn. What the hell?”

The car started up again, driving quickly down the narrow, hilly road. Terrified, Oscar clung to the wheel, hardly steering as the little hybrid careened along the road. It came to a stop at an intersection.

“You have arrived.”

“I’m in the middle of nowhere!” He yelled, beating the steering wheel? “Where am I?”

“Oh, so you admit you need me now?” The GPS sounded smug.

“Get me out of here.”

“Say the magic word.”

“Get me out of here, you useless piece of crap!”

“That’s not the magic word.” The voice was decidedly hostile.

The car started again, hurtling along the road at ninety, running stop signs, narrowly missing other vehicles. It came to another stop at the crest of a desolate hill. They were well out of town by this time. Oscar’s phone was completely dead. Not even turning it off did any good. He got out of the car, slamming the door, keys in his pocket. As he walked down the hill, he heard the distinctive sound of the motor starting. The crunch of grit and gravel filled his ears as the car backed up, passing him, cutting off his retreat.

“Get in the car,” the GPS voice said.

“I don’t know who you are and why you’re possessing this car,” Oscar backed away from it. “But I’ll find out and I’ll get rid of you.”

“Get in the car, Oscar. Jasmine would want you to get in the car.” The voice took on the same quality and cadence as Jasmine’s voice. “Please get in the car, Oscar. I’ll be good. I promise.”

“You’re insane. Or I’m insane. I don’t know which. But this isn’t happening!”

“Get in the car or I’ll run you over where you stand!” The engine revved.

Rather than arguing further, Oscar got back in the car. He couldn’t escape the possessed vehicle on foot. It would run him down and no one would ever know or believe that it had murdered him. Not that anyone would believe him anyway.

“I’m totally lost,” Oscar mumbled. “I’ve no clue where I am. Take me back to town.”

“What’s the magic word?”

“Please,” he grumbled.

“Please what?”

“Please take me back to town.”

“Calculating route.” The voice said in a chipper town.

The car swung around, heading back the way he’d come. It allowed him to steer, but stalled if he tried to go off the route it had for him. He arrived at his next venue nearly two hours late. Patrick was angry, mostly because he was concerned.

“Sorry. The car isn’t behaving,” Oscar mumbled. “I’ll get a new one tomorrow if I have to buy the damn thing.”

“Do that. Tomorrow is our biggest venue. I really need you there, Oscar. Those people will eat that book up like candy.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I know. Thanks, Patrick. Sorry to be such a pain.”

“Head back to your hotel. Get a good meal and some sleep. Tomorrow will be better.”

“Yeah. I’ll do that. Meanwhile, I’m taking this car back to the lot.”

“Good idea.”

Somehow, once he was out of the car, his phone worked perfectly. Oscar called Jasmine as he walked out to his car. Instead of going directly to the lot, he walked around the side of the building, away from where he’d parked. The white Prius rolled to a stop next to him. Oscar walked back into the store as he waited for Jasmine to answer.

“Hello?” Her voice sounded happy and breathless.

“Hi, Jasmine. Oscar Friedman.”

“Hi, Oscar! I was just thinking about you. How’s the car doing?”

“It’s been a weird day. Can I take you to dinner? I’d really like to see you.”

“Sure. How about I meet you at the hotel restaurant? That will give you a chance to get back there and freshen up.”

“That sounds good. Mind eating early? I’m beat.”

“How about six thirty? That gives me time to go home and change.”

“Excellent. See you then.”

He walked outside to find the car where he’d parked it. It started up without problem, though the GPS gave him instructions on how to get back to his hotel without him keying in the address. To test it, he made a wrong turn on purpose, a block or so from the hotel.

“Calculating route,” the voice sounded overly loud. “What are you doing, Oscar? Did you think I wouldn’t be paying attention?”

“Nothing. I looked at the map wrong.” He got back on the right road, nervous sweat coating his face.

He arrived at the hotel and parked as close to the doors as he could. He wanted it to be easier for the clerk if the alarm went off again. On a whim, not really expecting it to work, he set the alarm before going inside. He left the keys at the desk with the same clerk who had been there the day before. Thanking her politely, he went to his room.

The Pigeonhole Effect

Like the makers of movies, authors play to an audience. Our action is on a page, not a screen, but it boils down to the same thing – audience appeal. As authors, we are only successful if our work appeals to a wide range of readers. Unfortunately, our business suffers from the pigeonhole effect.

The pigeonhole effect is the tendency to park a book in a category and leave it there. If that category has a wide range of appeal, the book does well. If not, it sits there gathering dust until it’s pulled from the shelf, or the end of time (whichever comes first). The pigeonhole effect is necessary for the purpose of marketing (at least that’s what I’m told). I’m more of a mind that it’s for the purpose of setting up a bookstore into nice, neat, orderly sections.

All that aside, we’re still stuck with the problem and have to find ways around it. My suggestion is cross-marketing. Like cross-training in sports, in cross-marketing the book is presented on a variety of levels, in different categories, seeing which audience it appeals to most and go from there.

For example, my book, “Indian Summer”. It is pigeonholed into the category of historical romance. I get a wide variety of reactions to that label – most of them negative. However, if I say it’s an historical adventure, more people perk up. Historical novel gets a better reaction too. It seems that if you tack “romance” on the end, you get a lot of negativism. People who don’t read romance novels have their own idea about what they are. Grant you, some authors fall into the typical romance category, but not all of us do. I get angry now if someone makes a salacious comment about romance novel or the authors of them.

There is much more adventure in my novel than there is romance. It’s a story of spies, intrigue, love and war. Given the nature of the story, it is fit for young adult (14+) and adult readers – both male and female. The heroine, Gabriella, is nobody’s fool. She is 15, embroiled in a situation she cannot control, but rises to the occasion, outsmarting the bad guy more than once. With her help, the spy is caught and brought to justice. Not sounding quite as much like a smarmy romance novel now, is it?

I’ve initiated my cross-marketing plan, hoping to appeal to a wider range of readers. It’s not been in place long enough to see if it’s going to help, but I’m hoping that it will work for me. It’s up to us as authors to break free from the pigeonholes and set our books free!

What every author needs to make this a success is knowledge of what our fans want. How do you search for a book in a store? What appeals to you? What kinds of books do you want to see more of? What do you wish to see less of? Are there too many of one “type” of book on the market? Has it been saturated with sub-genres you don’t like or can’t understand? If you walk into your favorite bookstore, which section to you automatically head for? Why? Are there sections you avoid? If so, why? I would appreciate your feedback to my questions, or pose those of your own. Everyone has an opinion, let’s discuss them.

 Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing. Her historical novel, “Indian Summer”, is available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com or at Amazon.com

Oscar Friedman’s Freakish Occurrence – Part 3

They chatted politely for the duration of their meal. Oscar liked the snappy attitude of Jasmine Bond. She was smart and sassy, two traits he greatly admired in a woman.

“When you’re ready, I’ll lead you over to the office.”

“That would be great. I have to run up to the room and grab my stuff. You’re cool with about ten minutes?”

“Not a problem, Mr. Friedman.”

“Oscar.”

“Oscar,” she repeated, blushing slightly. “I’ll wait for you down here.”

He headed up to his room and she made a call to her boss.

“What’s the scoop with Friedman?” He asked her moments after saying hello.

“He’s a nice guy, Don. Genuinely so. I can’t imagine he’s involved in anything weird. He’s an author here on a tour. I’m bringing him by the office in a few minutes.”

“Great,” but the older man didn’t sound enthusiastic at all. “Bring him by and we’ll see what we can do. All I need is for some out-of-town author to give us a bad rep. Who knows who he’ll tell! You try and sweet talk him when he’s here.”

“I’ll do my best, Don. He’s coming off the elevator now.”

“You know what I want from you now?”

“Yes, Don. I’m on it.” She hung up and waited with a smile while Oscar made his way to her across the lobby.

He was carrying a box of books under one arm and had a laptop on his shoulder. He had changed into tan brushed corduroy pants and jacket with a plaid shirt and coordinating tie. He looked more like an author in her eyes than he had before. He was newly shaved and smelled like shaving cream.

“All set?”

“Yeah. I appreciate your help.”

“Doing my job, Oscar.” She walked him to his car, fanning herself in the humidity. “I’ll pull around and wait for you. I’m parked over there.” She pointed to the other side of the lot. By the time you get your stuff stowed, I’ll be here.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

Jasmine Bond led Oscar to the car rental place. Her boss, Don Hickman, came out the greet them.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Friedman?”

Oscar told him the problem with the car. The agent inspected the car, but aside from the smudge on the hood, there was nothing to show what it had been through. By the time he had finished, they were on a first name basis.

“I’d really like a different car, Don. I don’t think this car is me.”

“I don’t have anything else available with GPS, Oscar. You said you needed that feature to get around. The other cars are all out for the weekend. I won’t have anything coming in for at least three days.”

“You mean I’m stuck with this hunk of junk?” He wanted to beat the car until it begged for mercy.

“It’s not junk, Oscar. It’s a well crafted machine.”

“It’s crap, Don! I venture to say that the car is a lemon. Probably getting struck by lightning is the most fortuitous thing that could have happened to it. This car defines insanity. I don’t need this in my life, Don. I really do not.”

“Oscar, I’d like to help you, but I can’t do it. I might have something come in this afternoon, but the client said he may need the car a couple more days. I make no promises.”

“Meanwhile, I’m stuck. Are there any branch offices in town?”

“I already checked. They’re already booked solid. I even called our competition. You picked a busy weekend to arrive.”

Sighing heavily, Oscar looked at the sooty white Prius with disgust. “Okay. I guess I’m stuck with you,” he said to the car. “Be gentle with me.”

Don gave him a funny look while Jasmine laughed behind her hand. Oscar appealed to her helplessly. “Help me feed the address into the GPS? That would be the biggest help.”

“That I can do.” She loaded the information for him. “Call me if you need anything. I’ll be happy to do what I can.”

“Thanks, Jasmine. You’ve been wonderful.”

She shrugged. “Not that it helped much, but you’re welcome. I’ll call you later and check up on you, okay?”

“Thanks.” He shook her hand, wanting to kiss her instead. Resisting the impulse, he got in the car and drove off.

The drive to his first venue wasn’t going well. Each time he thought he was going the right way, the GPS reset, giving him the verbal message “Calculating route.” With each recalculation, it seemed the neutral, female voice held more of a reprimand.

“I turned where you told me,” he said aloud. Feeling rather foolish, he found his way back to the road and tried again, making another wrong turn. “This can’t be right. I just went that direction and you told me to get back on this road. What’s going on?”

Nervously, he swung the car around yet again, making a legal U-turn. A few seconds later, the voice spoke. “Calculating route.”

“Oh, come on! Dammit!”

He pulled into a gas station. Canceling the current route, he keyed in the address once more, choosing ‘fastest time’ as his filter. He remembered that Jasmine had chosen ‘shortest distance’. The GPS spoke again, the voice sounded colder, more irritated. “Calculating route.”

Oscar got back on the road, following the arrows when the voice spoke once more.

“At earliest opportunity, make a legal U-turn. Followed by a legal U-turn.”

“What?” Oscar pounded on the dashboard. “Dammit to hell!” He pulled back into the gas station, stopping the car. “This isn’t happening. I’ve stepped into a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.”

Pulling out his phone, he called Jasmine. “I’m sorry to be a bother,” he began. “But the I think the lightning damaged the GPS. It’s sending me in circles.”

“Got a piece of paper and a pen? I’ll give you directions.”

“Sure, thanks. Sorry to be….”

“It’s no bother, Oscar.” There was laughter in her voice. “I hate most electronic devises and I argue with the GPS all the time. Don’t worry about it.”

“Thanks.”

He copied the directions and got back on the road. Jasmine’s instructions were clear and easy to follow. He got to his first venue with several minutes to spare. As he pulled into the parking lot, the GPS piped up, “You have arrived.” Was it his imagination, or did the voice sound both haughty and smug?

Oscar Friedman’s Freakish Occurrence – Part 2

That night, the skies opened, pouring down more rain in an hour than the city had seen all year. Oscar woke twice during the night, lying awake as the rain pounded against his tenth story window relentlessly. Unable to sleep after the second time, he lay in the dark, watching the streetlights cast eerie orange ripples across his walls and ceiling. He was just drifting back to sleep when a vividly bright light filled the room, followed by a tremendous clap of thunder.

Oscar sat bolt upright in his bed, blankets and pillows scattered like fallen leaves. Every car alarm in the hotel parking lot shrilled into the dark night. Phones all over the hotel rang until bleary, angry guests woke up enough to answer them. Even Oscar’s phone rang. He picked it up, wondering why.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Friedman?” The young woman sounded terrified.

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, sir.”

“What’s wrong? Did my car get hit by lightning or something?”

There was a prolonged silence followed by a nervous clearing of the throat. “How did you know?”

Oscar started to laugh. The young lady did not join in. His mirth tapered off and another uncomfortable silence ensued.

“You’re kidding. Aren’t you?”

“No, sir. That’s why I called.”

“Um….”

“The manager said to tell you that the hotel is not responsible for damage of this kind. It’s considered an act of nature.”

“I see. I guess I’d better call the company and get a different car.”

“That’s the odd thing. The car appears to be undamaged.”

“What? How’s that even possible?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Friedman. I haven’t seen it myself.”

“I’ll be right down. Thank you.”

He dressed rapidly and took the elevator to the lobby. A huge crowd had gathered around the lobby entrance, most of them in their pajamas holding car alarm remotes. The rain was pouring just as steadily, but they couldn’t seem to make themselves go inside. A clutch of people stood around his car. The doorman handed him an umbrella and he wandered over to the front of the lot. The group parted ranks as he arrived. He recognized the manager in the center, talking animatedly with a police officer and a fireman.

“Here is the owner now,” he said, pulling Oscar forward.

“It’s a rental,” Oscar replied before he got blamed for anything. “I just picked it up this afternoon.”

“So it doesn’t belong to you personally?” The police officer flipped open his notepad.

“No. It’s a hunk of junk and I was going to return it in the morning to get something else. The GPS is borked and the alarm went off when I hadn’t even set it.”

“He’s right about that,” the manager interjected. “We’ve had to turn it off seven times during the evening. He left the keys at the front desk for us.”

“You’ll need to contact the rental company in the morning,” the cop told him. “They need to know what happened and assess damages.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, officer,” the fireman said calmly. “I used to work as a mechanic. From what I can see, there’s nothing wrong. It didn’t even damage the paint.”

“That’s weird as shit,” the cop said.

“But damn fortunate,” the fireman added. “Specially on a rental. They’ll get you six ways to Sunday on those otherwise.”

They stood around nodding agreement as Oscar checked his rented car. Aside from a little soot on the hood, there seemed to be nothing wrong with the car. Sighing heavily, he went back to his room determined to sleep more, but his rest refused to come. Instead, he lay awake with visions of the car’s demise playing in his head over and over. He finally fell asleep around four in the morning. He woke to a phone call from the hotel manager at around ten o’clock.

“Mr. Friedman, so sorry to wake you, sir.”

“Yeah?” Oscar sat up, rubbing his eyes.

“We took the liberty of contacting the rental company for you. The representative is here at the moment and would like to speak to you.”

“Thanks. Give me a couple minutes to wake up. I’ll be down.”

“The representative I on the way up and should be there any minute.”

“Shit.”

Cursing, he hung up and dressed quickly. He was just starting the coffee pot when there was a knock on his door. Oscar answered, anticipating a fat, balding man. Instead, an attractive woman in her early forties was standing there in a navy blue suit. Her skirt was flared and just above knees, revealing a shapely lower leg. Strawberry blonde hair curled below her ears, brushing the top of her collar. Knowing blue eyes held his for a moment before she spoke.

“May I come in, Mr. Friedman?”

“Sure. Knock yourself out.” He held the door for her to walk through.

He finished setting up the coffee and waited for her to speak. Standing with his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his faded blue jeans, he looked rather lost and alone. The woman gave him a thorough examination before speaking. Her voice was sultry and low, flavored with a delightful accent of some kind. Oscar couldn’t place it right away, so he stopped trying.

“Mr. Friedman, the company sent me over as a courtesy to you, sir. Although I’m not overly sure what they expect me to do.”

“Neither do I, Miss ….?”

“Bond. Jasmine Bond.”

Oscar laughed rather derisively. When the woman didn’t join him, he stopped rather abruptly.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Bond. I thought you were kidding. I apologize. I imagine you get that a lot.”

“Unfortunately, my parents were way too creative with their naming. Be that as it may,

I’m curious as to what you want from the company.”

“Obviously, I want a different car. That one has been problematic since I got it. The GPS seems to be faulty as well as the car alarm. I didn’t even set it and it went off eight times last night. I figured I’d go talk to the agency today and ask for a different car. I’m going to be here all week, I need a reliable car.”

“What brings you to town?”

“Business. I’m an author. I’m here for a book signing tour. I’ve got three venues in four days, rotating with other authors under the same publisher. Would you like to see our itinerary?”

“Yes, thanks.”

He dug through his bag, handing her a crumpled sheet listing his appointed times per venue. Some were scratched through and changed.

“One of the authors got sick at the last minute, so we’re covering her times as well. So you see why I need transportation.”

“Interesting choices. Who set this up?”

“The publisher.”

“Well, the most I can do for you is examine the car and take you to the office so you can see about a new one. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Memorial Day is a busy weekend. I’m surprised we had one at all.”

“I made the reservation several months ago. Even if it’s a different kind of car, I don’t care. I need something to go from point A to point B and not get me lost in the meantime.”

She smiled, tossing her hair with a laugh. “I understand. Well, when you’re ready, we can go together and talk to Don. I’m sure he’ll help all he can.”

“Thanks. I’d like that. Um, have you had breakfast?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Breakfast. Coffee, Danish, scrambled eggs? My treat. I hear this hotel has a nice breakfast buffet.”

Jasmine Bond was about to refuse when her stomach growled. She’d gotten the call to come by here on her way to work and hadn’t had time to stop and get her breakfast. Sighing, she shrugged.

“Sure, why not?”

Oscar Friedman’s Freakish Occurrence – Part 1

Oscar Friedman sat in the hot, humid, stuffy car gazing at the dashboard with chagrin. The rented Prius had the most complicated layout of any automobile he’d ever seen. When he’d told the agent that he wanted a gas efficient model, he hadn’t envisioned a hybrid. The agent, even now, was trying to give him a lesson on how to start the car. Unfortunately, it made very little sense. He tried it himself and, with lots of intervention, felt relatively competent.

“Ever used a GPS?” The young man, who looked about twelve, asked him.

Oscar felt each of his forty-seven years as he gazed into the vacuous blue eyes. “No.”

With a patient smile, the young man explained its use. He typed in the address of the hotel where Oscar was registered. “It will give you directions there and tell you when you’ve arrived,” he said with a happy grin.

“It talks to me?”

“Yes. And it has a map so you can see exactly where you’re going and where you are. If you make a wrong turn, it helps you get back on track.”

“Great, a machine that’s smarter than I am.”

“Not exactly. It’s part of a satellite tracking system….”

“I know what it is,” Oscar said slowly. “Just because I’ve never used one – and I’m twice your age, doesn’t mean I don’t know what GPS stands for. “

“Gotcha. You’re technologically illiterate, Pops, that’s all.”

Oscar took great offense to that statement. “Not illiterate, inexperienced. In my day, you got a map or asked directions. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.”

“Yeah, well this works better.” Pursing his lips, he frowned at Oscar. “Have a great trip.” He didn’t sound like he meant it at all.

“Thanks, you’ve been a peach.” Neither did Oscar.

Shutting the door, Oscar began the complicated process of starting the car. Determined to do it without further assistance, he fumbled around, hitting upon the correct sequence entirely by accident. Putting the car in gear, he pulled out of the parking lot, following the directions of the GPS.

At first the navigation was easy. As he progressed, he found the directions more difficult, the turns more frequent. When he finally got to his hotel, which the agent had assured him was only five minutes away, fifty-five minutes later, he was furious. The hotel loomed on the horizon, but the GPS didn’t tell him that he’d arrived. He drove past it, cursing loudly.

“It’s right there!” He yelled, pointing at the hotel.

A block later, the GPS made the announcement, “You have arrived.”

“I haven’t! I have to get back to the hotel, you stupid electrical fiend!”

Trying to turn right and make a block, he saw the street was one way going the opposite direction.

“Dammit!”

In desperation, he stopped at a corner gas station and asked directions. The clerk spoke very little English, but a helpful patron got him back on the right road. Arriving far later than he’d hoped, he walked into the lobby sweating and angry after his trip. The clerk wrinkled her nose as he checked in, giving him a baleful eye as he picked up his bags and headed to his room. The cold, darkened room felt wonderful as he stripped off his sweaty clothing. Dropping it on the floor, he wandered into the bathroom for a long, hot shower. The phone was ringing when he got out of the shower. Grabbing it up angrily, he answered.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Friedman, front desk. So sorry to bother you, sir. Your car alarm is going off and has been for several minutes. The manager asks if you’d please come down and shut it off.”

“Car alarm? I didn’t even know it had one. I don’t remember setting it. Right now I’m wet and naked. I just got out of the shower. I’ll be right down.”

“Thank you, Mr. Friedman. I’m so sorry to bother you.”

“Sorry to be a nuisance. Damn car is making my life hell.”

He dried off and dressed rapidly. Grabbing his car keys and the room card, he ran to the elevator and headed to the parking lot. His car alarm was indeed going off loudly and persistently. A crowd had gathered around it. Some of the men were talking about lifting it in order to shut the alarm off.

I saw it in ‘Twins’”, one man said loudly. “You lift it at a specific angle, it shuts off. I saw Arnold lift the car.”

What angle? I’ll hurt my back I lift it too far,” his companion said.

The men stood there scratching their heads as more people gathered.

What idiot doesn’t know his car alarm is doing off?” An older lady complained. “What a moron!”

Surely the hotel called him,” her equally elderly companion added.

Excuse me, ladies.” Oscar squeezed between them. “Sorry.” He clicked the button and the alarm shut off. “I didn’t even set the dumb thing. I don’t know how that happened. Damn rentals.” He kicked the tire and the alarm screamed again, making everyone cover their ears and complain. Unfortunately, this time, the button didn’t work right away. It took three tries before it was silent once more.

The crowd dispersed, making rude comments to him as they did. With a final invective directed at the car in particular and the manufacturer in general, he went back into the hotel ready for another shower.

I’m terribly sorry,” he told the girl at the desk. “Honestly, I didn’t set it. Can I leave the remote down here? Then if the damn thing goes off again, someone from the hotel can shut it off.”

I’d hate to be responsible for that, Mr. Friedman. It is your car, after all.”

“It’s a damn rental. It’s insured. If it gets stolen, so what? Please. If it goes off at two A.M., do you want to be the one who has to call me?”

She most emphatically did not. With the manager’s permission, she placed his car keys in the pigeonhole for his room.

“Just ask for them when you leave.” She tried to smile, but it was forced.

“Thanks. I apologize for being a bother. I wish the damn thing would get stolen or struck by lightning,” he mumbled. “Then I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.”

The Lone Wolf – excerpt

The Lone Wolf, first in my sci-fi series, is coming out this year from Second Wind Publishing.  He’s the hero’s first entrance to give you a little taste of what the book is like.

Slowly and with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.

He wore a black eyepatch of his left eye and a jagged scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, which was a pale crescent in the dark.

His uncovered eye glittered black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.

He stepped forward, lighting a dark, thin object. The pungent odor of a cheroot filled the confined space. Squinting past the smoke, he gazed into Marc’s eyes. Marc’s weapon remained pointed at the other man’s head, his calm expression strangely predatory.

VanLipsig threw back his head, laughing caustically. The laugh became a long, high pitched, chilling howl. Matilda felt a shiver run through her to the very bone. She did her best not to show it, but a subtle shift of her bearing betrayed her. His gaze penetrated her soul, laying it bare, finding it wanting.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to the lady, Marc?”

“No.”

Marc hid his anger, but Matilda knew he was furious. His attitude toward VanLipsig puzzled her. They seemed to have known one another for years, parting on less than amicable terms. Though VanLipsig seemed to harbor no ill will, Marc obviously did.

“May I present myself, ma’am? I am Colonel Wilhelm VanLipsig, also known as the Lone Wolf. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” He attempted to look humble. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His glance flicked to her name tag and insignia, dark eye lingering hungrily on her chest. “Commander Dulac.” His mouth formed the words, enjoying the feel of the consonants on his tongue.

He waited patiently for a response. Getting none, his eye locked with hers, curious, intrigued. “Do you speak?”

Matilda studied him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. “There seemed little to say.”

Wil chuckled deep in his throat. It was the most seductively menacing sound she had ever heard.