Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chapter 1 of Cornerstone






Seven walked with a purposeful stride down the halls of SIA headquarters which made all other three-letter intelligence agencies seem like child’s play. The sound of his footfalls as his heavy boots struck the tile floors reverberated in his ears like the base of a stereo. He heard it echo off the solid steel walls. As he walked deeper into the labyrinth, he looked up at the writing over the door that led to the inner sanctum.

We are called upon when others fail

He placed his hand on the black glass panel next to the steel door. Like all others in HQ, it worked by palmer recognition. A faint red line slid under his hand. The door’s air lock disengaged. He repeated this maneuver multiple times as he descended further into the maze, finally arriving at his destination, the security office. Joan’s lair.

Joan, an eclectic blend of bohemian and punk was Maddie Smith’s personal assistant and a self-taught computer genius. Her office was nestled in the midst of SIA’s security hub. A sea of computers and flat screen monitors filled every bit of desk and wall space. As he entered, she sat transfixed and stared at a video feed. The monitor she was glued to took up one entire wall and was embedded in three feet of concrete and steel.

“How long has he been there?” Seven asked.

Joan turned just long enough to acknowledge his arrival. “I arrived at o-eight hundred hours. The security clock shows he’s been there since…”

“O-five hundred.” Seven finished her sentence.

It had been the same pattern for the past ten days.

He stood behind her and watched Brent in the armory. Seven, like all of those close to Brent, was showing the signs of stress. In the past weeks, wrinkles from age crept into his face, like dried fissures on barren land.

He blinked the sleeplessness from his eyes. “Can you roll the tape back to when he arrived?”

“I can, but nothing has changed. Brent is still anal—a man of pattern.”

Seven reached into the back pocket of his jeans and took out his tobacco tin. Watching the screen, he tapped the lid, shook loose the tobacco, and placed it between his lower lip and gums.

Joan looked at him, rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Much like yourself.”

Seven smirked and spit in his empty coffee cup. “Oblige an old man,” he drawled, “and run the tape.”

“Yes, sir.” Joan reached over with her left hand, nimbly fingered the keyboard, and brought up the tape.

“Finally, a woman who will listen to me.”

“I hope that wasn’t meant for me.”

They both turned and saw Maddie standing in the doorway. Maddie Smith was the director of the SIA and Seven’s wife. As always, everyone’s eyes were glued to her—she was stunning. A voluptuous redhead who knew how to draw attention from both sexes. She embodied a 1950’s movie starlet.

“Good morning, Darlin,” Seven smiled.

“Good morning, Madam Director,” Joan said.

Her piecing emerald green eyes focused on Joan. “Why so formal this morning?”

Joan shrugged. “Everything seems so formal since . . .” her eyes moistened, “you know.”

Maddie’s voice took on a saddened tone. She stood behind Joan, lightly rubbed her shoulders, and kissed the top of her head. “Yeah, I know, but I would feel better if you went back to calling me Maddie, or Mom, or the ‘B’ word that you mumble under your breath from time to time.”

Joan wiped her tears and sniffed. “And what word would that be?”

“Beautiful,” Maddie joked.

A partial smile surfaced on Joan’s lips. “Oh, that ‘B’ word. Right.”

“That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile in weeks. It feels good.” She looked at Seven expecting a sarcastic comeback, but he was glued to the screen. The look in her husband’s eyes made her shiver. “What is it?”

“It’s Brent’s eyes. They’re blank. Emotionless. It’s as if he were on a squad mission.”

“Is that so bad?” Joan said. “Isn’t that the way you all look when you’re engaged in training?”

Pointing to the monitor, Seven said, “This is different. Look at his jugular veins. His eyes may be expressionless, but the rest of him is about to snap.”

Maddie drew in a deep breath as she watched the monitor. Blowing it out, she knew what she had to do. “We can’t put the inevitable off any longer. Call the directorate and the Phantom Squad to a meeting at thirteen hundred hours and Seven,” she waited for him to acknowledge her. “Get him there.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013


The release of Cornerstone is less than two weeks away. Between now and June 25th, I will be posting the first few chapters of the book. I hope you enjoy what you read.
WARNING: If you have not read Cursed Days, there are spoilers at the very beginning of Cornerstone.


 One month ago
 In one combustible moment, Brent’s life became a tumultuous cascade of happiness and horror. He had witnessed the birth of his daughter and the death of his wife.

 Two weeks ago
Eight years ago, after his first encounter with the Omega Butcher, a sadistic serial killer, Brent Venturi lost his identity. Emotional and physical scars forced a sabbatical from the team he led: The Phantom Squad. It was only through the peace he had found in God and in his hometown of Palm Cove that he was able to recover from his physical and psychological injuries.

He was once again sliding back down that slippery slope of despair into a deep, depressive abyss. The place he once ran to for tranquility no longer provided comfort. He spent his days alone and his nights wandering the streets.

The nightmares that once plagued his life, the nightmares he thought were in his past, once again tore a path through his subconscious mind. It was terrifying enough when his dreams brought visions of his own torture, but now, the visions and images were different. More vivid, more personal, more terrifying. The tortured was now Chloe. His nightmares were made worse by the images of blood: so much blood, pools of blood, on her, on him . . . everywhere.

When he did manage to fall asleep, Brent woke up in a pool of sweat and vomit, fearful that the wetness he felt was blood. Chloe’s blood.

Agony was making him less of a man and more of a weapon of mass destruction.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The International Thriller Writers wrote a review of my latest book, "Cornerstone" in the June edition of The Big Thrill, the ITWs online magazine. The reviewer brought up some interesting points and I thought I would ask your opinion.

Derek Gunn states that sub-genres; such as, Christian thriller tend to pigeon-hole the author and may weed out potential readers who just might love the book. Is he correct in his view? Idealistically speaking . . . yes. Practically speaking . . . I don't know.

Here is my dilemma with placing my books in the right category. My first series (the Trilogy of the Chosen and Cornerstone, the continuation of the Phantom Squad Series) has a spiritual or Christian backbone running through it. Do I as the writer have a responsibility to let potential readers know that this exists or should I be vague and let the unexpected purchase the books? There are two possible scenarios. First, the reader may be pleasantly surprised at the references and it may add to their enthusiasm for the book. Second, the reader will be put off by the references and may never want to pick up another book written by me again.

I have been given conflicting advice from many industry insiders. Some say that for an author to compete with the biggest names, they must use sub-genres to get noticed. It helps the reader find you among the thousands of books being released. The other side, much like this reviewer, states that it cuts off a potential audience from reading a great book. I feel as if I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Mr. Gunn makes a great point in that if my books are to be labeled Christian than shouldn't Dan Brown's be also. Hmm?

Here is the link to the review. Read it and tell me what you think.

Once you go to the site, click on Cornerstone for the review.

I look forwards to your comments.

Until next time,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

We Are All Bostonians At Heart

I will keep this short, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the happening of the past week. I was born and raised in Boston and it has and always will have a special place in my heart.
When I look back at the occurrences at the marathon and the events that followed, there are many images that flash through my mind.
Images of Needless Carnage
Images of Sadness
Images of Evil
Images of Heroes

But the image that will forever stay with me is one of civic pride and the good that is indwelled in the human heart and spirit.
From the moment that the bombings took place, the citizens of Boston and the surrounding communities reminded us how people are supposed to treat each other . . . with selflessness, caring, and unconditional love. We witnessed how law enforcement should work together. Local, state, federal, and the military all came together and worked as one to apprehend the suspects in an astoundingly short period of time.
We watched as a community wept for the victims, prayed for the departed, and celebrated the heroes by banding together. There were no riots in the streets, no accusatory speeches, and no ethnic slurs. There was only a sense of togetherness, pride, and a willingness to do whatever was necessary to help those in need and those in charge of the investigation.
As I bow my head in prayer for those who are no longer with us, for those who have a long road of recovery ahead of them, and to thank those who helped bring the responsible parties to justice, I do so as a Bostonian.
For today, we are all Bostonians!


Friday, February 8, 2013

So Much For That New Year's Resolution

They come and go faster than the wind...or so it seems. I promised to post a new blog consistently in 2013.
Blew that one.
Oh, well, there is always next year.

The new year has started off at a blazing pace. I can't say I have been writing as much as I would have liked. I can't say I have been traveling as much as I would have liked (not at all). I can't even say I have had as much down time as I would have liked. All I can say is that I have been busy. Sometimes, that's all we can be. Sometimes, life gets in the way of what we want to do and all we have left is what we must do. As frustrating as that can be for all of us, it still be brings a sense of satisfaction. The satisifaction that whatever was needed to be done, we accomplished and whoever needed us to perform those tasks were able to accomplish their's because of us.
Wow, I'm babbling...

Okay, now for something different.

I am excited to tell you that "Cornerstone," the next book in the Phantom Squad saga is in editing and will be released in early summer. I am very excited about this book. It has a some new characters in it that I really enjoyed writing as well as most of the old ones. Soon, I will start posting exerpts for your to check out.
I have also been writing another book, "SIN," with all new characters and a much harder 'feel' to it. The characters, the language, and the plot line are much darker. The more of it I write, the more I'm feeling uncomfortable. I hope it's just a feeling of being out of my comfort zone, but I'm not sure. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Here's a new resolution. Don't give in to feelings of discomfort. Widen your comfort zone and start living in a bigger box.
I will have to give it a try.

Until next time,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Is God to blame?

The nation and the world were devastated this week when a gunman opened fire and randomly killed adults and children at an elementary school in Connecticut. Since that day, we have all gone through and continue to go through our own mourning. In the last few days, I have heard many people ask, "Why would God let this happen?" and "If there was a God, this wouldn't happen," and "God did this as punishment."

This all made me think about God, the role He plays in our lives and more importantly it made me think of those who state that there is no God and who use situations like this as an example of why they believe the way they do. I hope you will indulge me as I try put into words my answer to these people.

I think we can all agree that every person has choices. I prefer to call this 'free will.' Everyday, every moment of every day, we make choices that change our lives in one way or another. These choices alter the rest of our lives in tiny ways or in grand ways, but each choice has its consequences. For those of us who believe in God and know Him to be a loving, forgiving God, we believe that He gave us free will: the right to choose between good and/or bad. Each decision we make can be catagorized as good or bad and alters our walk through this life.

Good brings with it love, truth, freedom, happiness, comfort, and ultimately--life.
Bad brings with it hate, lies, captivity, sadness, pain, and ultimately--death.

The choices that the young man who was responsible for this heinous act chose veered him away from the good, away from the Light, away from God and led him towards the bad, towards the Dark, towards Satan.

God never said that we would not have sadness, that there would not be death, but He did say that if we put our trust and our lives in His hands that He would walk us through the sadness and through death to happier times and ultimately to Eternal Life.

I don't have any answers to why this or any other tragedy happens. In the same way that I don't know why war must occur and that our soldiers must die, but I do believe that God cries harder than we do when tragedy and death strike. I do believe that God's heart breaks when He watches his creation make choices that cause them to walk down a path that leads them further from Him. And, I do believe that He waits with open arms to welcome us back when we ask for forgiveness, when we change the path we are walking on, and when we cry out to Him for mercy and grace and love and forgiveness.

I'm not trying to stand on a soapbox and preach. Trust me, I have as many faults as anyone and probably more than most, but I also have faith in a loving, forgiving God who forgives me of my indiscretions when I ask with sincerity and welcomes me into His arms when I have strayed like the prodigal son. We all, regardless of faith or religion, need to learn to not put our ultimate trust in ourselves or in others, but to put it in something, someone who is greater than we are. We need to put it in God.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives were touched by this and every other senseless death. I pray that those involved and those of us who look on in disbelief look towards God for comfort and that we all find a way to continue to see the good in people. I pray for the souls of the departed and that they are all in their heavenly home with God.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday Season or Twilight Zone. Maybe both

We have entered that time of the year called the holiday season. I can picture Rod Sirling standing in his suit, hands folded in front of him with a dead pan expression saying, "Welcome to the holiday season." In the background, the theme from the Twilight Zone can be heard. For those of you too young to remember, the Twilight Zone was a weekly horror series on TV where there was always a twist at the end that you never expected (it had nothing to do with vampires or Team Edward). The holiday season is a twilight zone unto itself. How? Let's see. . .

From some time in the middle of November to just after the beginning of the following year, people change. Their normal hectic lives become even more hectic, yet their easily frustrated, grumpy personalities somehow become more tolerant.
As the weather becomes colder, people who are not "people persons" begin to smile and their frosty personalities start to thaw.
Those who are not generous during other times spend countless hours searching for just the right gift to buy people who they only see once a year. They may even give money to the homeless person on the corner who they swore at (under their breath) just a few weeks ago.

Why the change? I'm sure there are as many theories as there are people, but I like to think that during the time we call the holiday season, we become more human. We take a step back and realize how blessed we are. Starting with Thanksgiving, we give thanks for what we have. This enables us to want to help those less fortunate and somehow changes us. This thankfulness changes us and makes us want to reconnect with those people in our lives that we haven't had the time to see or talk to in the past year.
This feeling seems to grow as the December religious holidays draw near. We remember our values and that in turn makes us think about our parents and grandparents. Thoughts of how they conducted their lives makes us want to be a little bit better than we have been.
This seems to culminate with the celebration of the new year. But as the ball drops, the bubble bursts. We start to think about how we want to better ourselves in the coming year and we set New Year's resolutions. The problem is, no matter how noble these resolutions are, we usually choose those that are unreachable. As soon as we break the first resolution, the air squeezes out of the balloon and it, like our lives, flies about at breakneck speeds on a collision course with anything that gets in its way.

I love the holiday season. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, which in my life reaches its pinnacle at Christmas is a time of reflection, a time of thanks, a time of love and a time of blessed birth. This holiday season let's do what we have done in past seasons, but this year, when the ball drops, instead of resolutions, let's just try to keep the spirit alive.
Happy Thanksgiving,