September 2015 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: September 2015 (Page 1 of 2)


Book Review: The Ridealong by Michaelbrent Collings

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and today I’m bringing you a book that might take you by surprise…


The Ridealong

It was supposed to be just one more ridealong, a night when high schooler Melissa Latham accompanies her father on his patrol. But when a psychotic killer targets them for a wicked game, the night turns into a high-speed chase where there is no prize for second place.


They have to find a killer before he murders the next one of their friends.

They have to find a killer before they are caught and charged for the murder of the men he’s already killed.

They have to find a killer… before he finds them.


My Review: 4.5 Stars

I have no complaints about the structure, grammar, or writing style of the book. In fact, it was a very easy read.

The only reason I’m not rating it more highly was because the subject matter didn’t really hook me. The book had a slow build, with the pressure being slowly cranked up from chapter to chapter.

However, when I reached the ending, I found it was absolutely satisfactory. I thought I had figured out the ending, but the author was clever enough to pull a plot twist that caught me unprepared. While it’s not my favorite book of all times, it is definitely one worth reading!


Here’s a Taste:

“I’ve left clues for you, and clues for the police. They’ll be searching for you.”

“Who am I searching for?”

The Voice laughs. That strange, dangerous laugh. “Me, of course.”

Dad glances at me. He turns a corner so fast the right wheel bumps over the curb. My teeth bounce together.

“You want to be found?”

“Don’t we all, Latham?”

“What do I do?”

“The evidence at the scene of Officer Knight’s death is enough to send you to jail.”

“Not Mel. She’s a minor.” Dad doesn’t sound like he’s making a statement. More like he’s praying. Almost begging.

“You know minors can be treated as adults if they’re old enough. If the crime is malicious enough.” The radio turns off. I can imagine the man behind the Voice licking his lips. “We’re talking about very bad things here, Latham.”

“You know my name. What’s yours.”

“Why don’t you call me Jack?”

“Is that your name?”

“Put your daughter on.”

“No way.”

“Put her on, or I kill someone else.”

“No way, I –”

Another voice comes on the radio. Terrified. Screaming. “Please! PLEASE DON’T DO IT PLEASE JUST LET ME GO –”

Silence. Then, a whisper. “Put your daughter on. Please. I won’t ask again.”

My dad looks at me. Asking with his eyes: Can you?

I want to tell him, No. Of course I can’t.

But that scream. Someone’s life hangs on what I do.

I take the mic.


About the Author:

Michaelbrent Collings is a #1 bestselling novelist and screenwriter, and has been one of Amazon’s Most Popular Horror Writers for years. His bestsellers include The Colony Saga, Strangers, Darkbound, Apparition, The Haunted, The Loon, and the YA fantasy seriesThe Billy Saga. He hopes someday to develop superpowers, and maybe get a cool robot arm. Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that’s a low bar to set), and much MUCH cooler than he is (also a low bar).

Find the book on Amazon:

Read his thoughts on his website:

Connect with him via Facebook:

Tweet at him: @mbcollings.

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Writing Has Taught Me to Dig Deeper

As I was reading the book Sol of the Coliseum for my review, I found myself asking “Why?” Why was the villain such a cruel bastard? Why did he do the things he did? What set him down the path to being a torturer, assassin, and all-around a-hole?

That is something that I’ve also been doing in my own life. When my kids start snarking at me, my wife, or each other, instead of looking at the words they say, I’ve started looking at the reason WHY they said those words. Maybe it’s a bad day, a problem at school, or something else going on. Instead of looking at the actions, a look at the “cause” behind the “effect” can help you understand others more.

This is something that everyone needs to do more!

As authors, you need to get into the “why” of your characters’ actions. For example, in my secret side series (coming in 2019 or thereabouts…), the main character is raped by the villain. Throughout the book, the villain is clearly an antagonist, but he only crosses the line at the end.

But what caused him to go over the deep end and take that step? He’d beaten the MC (a girl) half to death, killed her best friend, and more, but what made him take it to new lows?

It’s all explained in a few simple comments the villain makes: (Warning: Graphic)

“You don’t belong in the Night Guild! You’re a woman, not a thief. You’re good for nothing but being a whore!”

“Do you know what happens to whores, little Hawk? I do. My father showed me many times what a real man does to whores. And now, I’m going to show you.”

“But it’s like Father always said, ‘Show a woman her place, and she’ll be grateful for it.'”

“Yes, scream for me, little Hawk! Mother always screamed like that. Father said that’s how she showed that she was enjoying it. Are you enjoying it, little Hawk?”

“Remember this, little Hawk: you deserve this!”

Pretty insightful, isn’t it? Instead of giving you the villain’s backstory or showing his journey into villainy, these excerpts give you a hint of what he went through to turn him into the monster he is. You don’t need to know more about him because these things give you enough insight into the character. You can guess at the trauma and abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, or the things he witnessed that twisted him so.

It’s important to understand the “WHY” behind things. And I’m not just talking about the things people say and do in your books, but also in real life.  If you can take a deeper look at what is causing the actions, it will help you connect better–be it with your main character in your novel, with that a-hole at work, or with your kids. It’s highly unlikely that they are acting that way without a reason! Once you understand why, it helps you to see things from their point of view, making it easier to deal with them.


fun house front

Book Review: The Fun House Mystery Adventure by Rusty Trimble

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday, and today we’re delving into the world of children’s books. This one is written by an awesome author friend of mine from San Diego, and it’s a fun one to read to your kids…


The Fun House Mystery Adventure

It has been just over a year since Andrew (12), his cousin Lauren (10), and his little brother Tyler (6) defeated the villainous pirate Jack Frost in the strange game worlds of the brilliant, but enigmatic Professor Adams. Now, however, the trio of kid adventurers face their greatest challenge yet!

fun house front

Journeying to a local store hoping to win Professor Adams’ newest gaming portal, they find it ransacked and the Professor missing, a strange blinding light behind a curtain in the room. Stepping through it, they find themselves once more drawn into the bizarre and remarkable game worlds the Professor has designed.


My Review: 4 Stars

If you want sweet, simple, and fun for smaller children, this is a fun read. It takes the main characters on an adventure into some pretty crazy and strange places, and you’ll find your children (aged 6 to 10 or 12) will enjoy it.

It was definitely written for a younger audience, so the language is simple. That being said, there were still a few things about it that could stand improvement. There are a lot of passive sentences (“he was doing” instead of “he did”), a bit too much “telling” and foreshadowing (“little did he know what was happening next”), and a few punctuation mistakes. Even though the author was writing to a younger crowd, these are mistakes that would make it better.

It’s a fun book, and with the revisions made, it would be one I’d recommend for my younger kids.


About the Author:

R. D. Trimble is the author of The Andrew Chronicles which feature his children Andrew and Tyler. He also has authored over a dozen other novels and illustrated books for children and young adults. As the father of an Autistic child, he pledges to donate 50% of all net profits from his books to causes which research and seek treatment for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. This particular novel however pledges 50% of its net profits to, an organization which seeks to provide assistance to all suffering from Childhood rare AutoInflammatory Diseases (CAID). He resides in San Diego, California with his wife Nickcole and sons Andrew and Tyler.

Find the book on Amazon:
Connect via Facebook:
Tweet at him:@rustyauthor


Why Writers Should Open a Twitter Account

Twitter is not the easiest social media platform to master! It’s fast-paced, only allows you to write with 140 characters or fewer, and is nearly impossible to keep up with. There’s a lot of dross floating around, and people post all sorts of nonsense to Twitter.

But, for a writer, a Twitter account can be an amazing tool for both marketing and reaching a wider audience!

The beauty of Twitter is that there are no limits on who you can communicate with! Facebook limits you to people within your “circle”, but with Twitter, you can contact your favorite author, a random reader, or the President of the United States.

Twitter is all about building a relationship, which translates into:

Re-tweeting things they have posted (this is a shout-out that everyone appreciates–it proves that others like what they are posting)
Share interesting things with them–via Tweet or direct message (this doesn’t mean sharing YOUR writing with them, but things you think they would find interesting)
Thanking them for sharing something. Twitter is filled with valuable information and content, so thank people that posted it!
Shout out to them on #FF (Follow Friday) and tell other people why they should follow them.
Connect with them via other social media. Twitter gives you that “foot in the door” that will allow you to connect through LinkedIn or Facebook.

For writers, Twitter can be an amazing social network. It gives you a chance to interact with people you would never have met. It allows you to “trade” Re-Tweets, Favorites, and hashtags with other people. You can post your book using hashtags like #IndieBooksBeSeen to increase the visibility of your posts in ways that you would never get with Facebook–at least not for free. You can tweet at your favorite authors, celebrities, or personalities, and anyone who sees your back and forth conversation with those famous people will see your Twitter tag.

In the end, Twitter gives you much more potential for visibility than Facebook or G+. If you learn how to use it right (something I’m still muddling through), you’ll find that it can be an amazing tool to help you expand your reach!

Want to connect with me on Twitter? Search for me at @AndyPeloquin…



Sol of the Coliseum

Book Review: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord

It’s Book Review Wednesday, the day I bring you something interesting to read! This week, we’re going back to gladiator school…


Sol of the Coliseum

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K’nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive.

Sol of the Coliseum

But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.


My Review: 4 Stars

I always love stories about gladiators, and this was no exception. It was an enjoyable read, and I loved how the author found new and creative ways to pit the gladiators against tougher opponents with every bout.

I would have given it more stars, but there was missing punctuation, a surprising number of misused words (dribble instead of drivel, etc.), and some basic flaws that made it seem a bit amateur.

Also, the villain was VERY two dimensional. He had the potential to be an amazing character (who doesn’t love to hate a sadistic bastard), but there was no understanding of WHY he did what he did. He was just nasty for the sake of it. With more depth, he would have been much better.

The story was interesting, though nothing too unique. It was similar to most gladiator stories I have read, so while it was good, it wasn’t great.


Here’s a Taste:

A baby’s cry.

Grall was sure that was what he’d heard. In the depths of the Coliseum a person became accustomed to various cries of pain or despair. Prisoners, men broken physically or mentally, called out in the night. Spoils, the women given to victorious fighters to do with whatever they saw fit, cried out often. The beasts, crazed by captivity and seclusion, howled and cackled. Even Grall, though the proud young guard would never admit it, sometimes fought back tears that came in the dark. Over time, one could learn to block out the sound completely.

But the cry of a child, an infant, a sound that had no place in this world, could not be ignored.

Grall made his way slowly down the roughly-carved stone hall, unenthusiastic in his search for the sound’s origin. He knew what was expected of him when he found the child. His stomach clenched at the thought.

“I don’t need this.” He stopped outside the door to the women’s barracks.

They had promised to take care of it.

He knew the mother. She was a slave in the luxury boxes. As sometimes happens, one of her wealthy male patrons had an eye for her and he raped her after she refused his advances. She’d hid the pregnancy well at first but eventually her condition became all too obvious. Grall had been sent to deal with it. The women of the barracks had assured him that though uncommon, such things were not unheard of. The baby would be disposed of in a quiet manner. He had relented.

An infant howling down the halls was not a quiet manner.

Grall took a deep breath and opened the door. His broad frame and barrel-chest filled the doorway while he let his eyes adjust to the dimly-lit barracks. Women were sitting awake in their bunks, eyeing him with considerable disdain. He made his way down the candlelit center aisle toward the source of the disturbance, avoiding the hostile glares and trying to keep his face passive. He didn’t want to be here any more than they wanted him here. The object of his quest lay wrapped in a blanket and was held by a rather large cook. He saw the mother lying in a bed off to the side, unmoving. The sheets were soaked with blood but it was her face that drew his gaze. She had obviously been beaten, badly.

“She panicked,” the cook said flatly to answer his unasked question. “She confronted the father. He did that and she gave the last of her strength giving birth to this boy. We’ve named him Sol.”

A heavy silence settled over the room; the baby was finally quiet, as if showing respect to his deceased mother. Grall’s gaze lingered on the dead slave, her many bruises contrasting with her pale skin and long blonde hair. In life she had been beautiful, a curse for a woman in the Coliseum. In the peace of death she still held her beauty, despite the violence she had encountered.

“And now you’re here,” the cook broke the silence accusingly.

“I’m sorry. Melina was well liked,” he said, attempting civility.

The cook nodded. “She never let this place get to her.”

He nodded, recognizing the compliment. There was a long pause.

“You can’t keep it,” he said plainly, surprised at the feeling he was able to keep out of his voice. Several hisses sounded behind him. The cook neither responded nor moved. She just sat holding the child.

“You know the rules as well as I.” He could feel the animosity radiating onto his back from the bunks.

“What life could he hope to have here?” he asked, almost pleading, bristling at the tone of his own voice. He was a guard of the Coliseum; he didn’t need to explain himself. Who were these women and this cook who sat unmoving? Had they taken care of things as they promised, he wouldn’t have to be down here at all.

He straightened up. “I’ll deal with it,” he said firmly. Moving the last few paces toward the cook, he felt the women stir behind him. The cook made to strike him and several cries of protest sounded as he reached for the baby. But something unexpected happened, something amazing. As Grall reached for the bundle, his hand was met by the child’s. Without fear and with a strong little grip, the baby grabbed one of Grall’s fingers and held. He froze, as did the women.

Had it been any other guard, hard and embittered with years of service, nothing would have changed, but for Grall that tiny hand struck with the force of a blow. He shuddered visibly, staring wide-eyed at the child. All was still. Grall knew his duty, what was expected of him. The problem with duty was that it belonged in the Coliseum and he was no longer in the Coliseum. Looking at this tiny baby, feeling it holding his hand, the guard was home.

The little hand holding his finger melted Grall’s resolve. The women saw it immediately and smiles passed around the bunks. Grall didn’t see them, he only saw the child. He sighed and then without a word he slowly straightened, turned, and walked back the way he had come.

From that moment on, Sol was a child of the Coliseum.



About the Author:

Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others.

Adam Gaylord

Find it on Amazon:


Writing Has Taught Me to Look for the Creative in the Mundane

Over the last few weeks, after the launch of The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I’ve done a lot of author interviews. In nearly every one of those interviews, I’ve been asked the question, “Where does your inspiration come from?”

As any author, artist, graphic designer, or photographer will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to put your finger on the “where” or the “why” of creativity. The process of “inspiration” is like being hit by lighting–it happens out of the blue, and with little or no preparation!

*** Minor Spoilers to follow ***

There are times when I can think back and pinpoint that “aha!” moment when inspiration struck. For example, when I was writing Blade of the Destroyer, I couldn’t quite figure out a few things:

How to explain the Hunter’s near-immortality

What kind of someone would be pulling the Hunter’s strings

How the Bloody Hand (a criminal organization) and the Dark Heresy (the “shadow police”) would be working together.

Too many elements to figure out!

One day, as I was cycling at the gym, I was playing a silly iPad game called Dungeon Hunter. As I was playing it, I was looking at the demons my character was hunting in the game, and it struck me how much fun it would be to write a story using demons not as the villains, but as the sympathetic characters, the protagonists.

“Aha!” moment struck! Immediately, I knew how to make the Hunter near-immortal, I knew who or what would be pulling the Hunter’s strings, and why these two organizations would be working together. It was perfect!

*** End of Spoilers***

But that was just one small detail in the book. As for the rest of the book, the rest of the books in the series (officially 6 books now!), and everything else I have written since, it’s impossible to put my finger on that moment when creativity struck.

I learned one simple lesson from this experience: you can find inspiration in the most mundane things! I got an idea for an entire series of novels from a silly game I was playing. The idea for the voices in the Hunter’s head came from an episode of Criminal Minds (TV show), and the ideas for everything else come from everywhere else!

I’ve had ideas while listening to other books, running on the treadmill, watching goofy YouTube videos, checking out a billboard, surfing Facebook, thinking about stupid things I’ve done in the past, and many more things. It’s not about knowing where the inspiration comes from, but it’s knowing how to turn even the most mundane things into something amazing.

Today, as you walk around, make it a point to look around you. Don’t TRY to find inspiration, but just let your mind wander as you take in the details of what’s going on in your world. You’ll find that the most ridiculous, inane things will inspire creativity in your mind, and you can come up with some pretty awesome things just by taking in the mundane around you!


Indeadpendence Day cover-page-001

Book Review: Indeadpendence Day by Samantha Gregory

Today, we’re going to the horror genre, with a short novella about zombies. Here’s what you need to know…


Indeadpendence Day

July 4th: The infection begins

Rachel and her family end up in a small town when it is over run by zombies. The infection spreads quickly and Rachel fights to keep herself and her little cousin alive.

Indeadpendence Day cover-page-001

Teaming up with two soldiers, Gabe and Adam, they must try and escape the town before it is blown off the map.

But will it be enough to stop the zombies?



My Review: 3.5 stars

I was hoping for something out of the ordinary with this zombie book, something to set it apart from all the others out there. The only thing I can say is “unique” from all the zombie books I’ve read is that it is set at the ONSET of the zombie plague, rather than deep into it when the world is overrun.

The writing is fine, if a bit amateur-ish at parts (lots of “telling” instead of “showing”, too much passive, etc.). There is a lot of punctuation missing (commas, mainly). I don’t give it high marks on the narrative and overall construction, but the dialogue was good.

The characters were a bit two-dimensional, though perhaps that has more to do with the length of the book (not enough time to delve into the characters). Either way, I felt nothing toward the various characters when they lived, died, or suffered.

The ending disappointed me in a way, and made me say “Oh well done” in another way. The disappointment was the very anticlimactic climax (it barely stood out as being the climax of the book). I can’t tell you what I liked, as that would spoil the book.

All in all, not a bad read, but not the awesome zombie book I was hoping for.


Here’s a Taste:

I scrambled over Cady to get a better look at the garage below. A black Impala had collided with the far wall. The driver’s door lay open and smoke was escaping from under the hood.
Some idiot was probably drink driving, I thought. He didn’t seem to have hit anything vital just a workbench.
I got back into my own seat and rolled down the window again, “Hey, can we get down now?”
There was no answer.
“Hello? Lower the car!”
Eerie silence greeted me. Where were Mom and Dad? The mechanic?
I would just have to climb down and lower it myself. I glanced at Cady.
“Cady, I’m just going to see what happened. I’ll be right back.”
Cady stared blankly at me as she sucked on her fist.
I opened the door and began to climb down. Once Cady realized she was being abandoned she began howling.
I hesitated, “No, Cady. It’s okay. I’ll be right back.”
This made her howl louder.
Damn it.
“Hey, Cady. Why don’t we sing a song? Huh? What song do you want?”
Cady paused in her wailing to open and close her fists. I recognized it as the action for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Rolling my eyes, I started to sing and Cady joined in with her own version of the words.
As I climbed down I kept singing loudly, feeling like an idiot but at least she had stopped the crying.
When I reached the floor, the garage appeared to be deserted. I found the controls and lowered the car. It was about three feet off the ground when something clattered behind me.
I whirled around looking for the source.
“Hello?” I called.
I stepped around a sports car and found the mechanic. He lay on his back on the ground.
“Hey are you okay?” I rushed forward then stopped when I saw the blood. His throat had been ripped open. Blood covered his overalls and his eyes were frozen open in horror.
“Oh my God,” I whispered, backing away. What the hell happened?
“Mom? Dad?” I called. I ran past a small office to find a man in a suit hunched over another man. I recognized my dad’s watch; it was his body on the ground. Did he collapse? Or was he attacked?
“What happened to him?” I cried.
The other man’s head whipped round. His mouth was smeared with blood and in his hand he held what looked like part of someone’s intestines. When he moved back I saw my dad. He had been ripped open from his chest to his stomach. There was blood everywhere.
I doubled over, gagging, “Dad! No!” I screamed.


About the Author:

Samantha Gregory grew up in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. She has been writing since she was a child. She writes primarily in the horror/fantasy genre.
Daemon Persuasion is the first book in the Daemon series, published by Mockingbird Lane Press. The sequel Daemon Madness is due for release soon.
After is the first book in the After zombie series from J. Ellington Ashton Press. The sequel Before will be released this year.
In her spare time, Samantha enjoys watching horror movies, reading and archery. She also posts reviews on her blog for other writers.
Find the book on Amazon:

Read Sam’s thoughts on her website:
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A Little Something to Make You Smile

It’s Friday, one of my very favorite days of the week! Here are a few little somethings to bring a smile to your face:

Sad Cat is sad…


And just the other day, a friend of mine called me Sheldon!


Babies, right? They’ve got the life we all want!


How can you not love this?







The best burglar alarm is a good joke!

Watch the video…



Book Review: A Savage Distance by Thom Reese

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and today we’ve got something a bit darker and spookier than our usual fare. I’ll let the book speak for itself…


A Savage Distance

Botma, Africa: thousands slaughtered or displaced, children sold into slavery, rampant death and destruction, ancient superstitions ensnare the populace, all at the hands of ruthless dictator, Nishati Azibo.

The American Southwest: state-by-state, women are savagely attacked amidst bizarre ritual, but no law enforcement agency has yet connected the patterns to these brutal murders.


Seven years after leaving the military under a cloud of disgrace, former Delta Force commander Marc (Hunt) Huntington is pulled back in against his will with orders to travel to Botma and rescue Azibo’s young child who is held as a political pawn. Battling addiction and the trauma of a disintegrating marriage, Hunt soon discovers that there are forces well beyond his comprehension at work in this mysterious land. Discovering that everything is not as he’s been told, he is soon drawn into a web of ancient mysticism, possession, and human sacrifice as he struggles to locate and rescue the young captive.

Meanwhile, Hunt’s estranged wife, Dana, works with her first husband, Jonathan Thorpe, to track a vicious Hoodoo-inspired killer across the United States. Struggling through guilt and confusion, Dana soon finds that she must overcome her own personal demons in order to stop the ever more sadistic killings. Fast-paced, full of shocks and twists, these stories intertwine in a tumultuous climax. Don’t plan on sleeping until you’ve turned the final gripping page.


My Review: 4 stars

If you want a solid read with plenty of thrills and chills, this is the book for you! It will snag your attention and keep you reading all the way to the end. I know I did–all 900 pages of it!

Even though this is the third book in the Marc Huntington series, you can start reading without knowing too much back story. You get enough detail to catch you up to speed quickly.

I LOVED the darker undertones of the book. The ritualistic murders, the horrors perpetrated in Africa–it was all very well-written, and it had me covered in goosebumps.

There were a few problems here and there: The author refers to the face on the Minnesota Vikings jersey as the superhero Thor. There were a few grammatical errors that really stood out, and there is A LOT of punctuation missing. Dana places too much emphasis on insulting the villain when she’s talking about him to the cops.

But all in all, a decent book to read…


Here’s a Taste:

Botma Africa


Ubora studied the man further. He still had a military bearing, but not entirely. He was too flippant, too casual. Even his investigation into Ubora’s whereabouts had been brash and impetuous, with no effort to conceal or evade. It was as if the man sought to be apprehended. “Who are you?” he asked finally. “And I don’t mean your name, Mr. Huntington. That, you’ve broadcasted throughout Mirembe City.”

Again, the man shrugged. It was astonishing how at ease he seemed. “I’m pretty much exactly what you see. My gig is rescue and recovery. My purpose in tracking you is to locate and rescue Tahir Azibo. Give me the boy and you and I have no issue with one another.”

Ubora smiled. “Your purpose in tracking me? It seems my men did the tracking. You are the one bound, or hadn’t you noticed?”

“Yeah, there’s that. But I’m here – in front of you. That was pretty much what I was going for.”

Ubora nodded. This one was quite unconventional. Instead of stealth and guile, he’d sought to make a clamor among Ubora’s followers, thus causing Ubora to bring him in to learn of his true purpose. “How did you know I wouldn’t simply have you killed?”

“You could have. But it would have been a stupid move. And from what I’ve read of you, you’re not entirely stupid.” He paused, grinned, licked the dust from his lips. “The way I see it is that you probably did a background check on me as soon as I started making waves. But background checks don’t tell the whole story. There was no way for you to be sure that I was operating alone or what my true purpose might be unless you questioned me. Bingo. Here I am.”

At this Ubora allowed a laugh. He couldn’t help but enjoy the man’s brash style. His apparently lackluster approach to locating Ubora had, in actuality, been designed to bring him to this moment. Maybe not brilliant, but clever at least. Ballsy.

“Who do you work for?”

“Freelance. Me, myself, I. If you’ve done your homework, you already know I’m ex-military and that I didn’t leave under sunny skies. Besides, see my face, my ear?” Here he offered a left-facing profile displaying an almost nonexistent ear. “Technically I’m disabled. There’s no way that I’d still be active. I work for reward money. Nishati Azibo’s offering a hefty sum for the return of her child. I intend to collect that reward.”

Huntington was right. Ubora had investigated his background. Everything the man said was true – as far as that went. But that still didn’t mean Ubora believed him. There was more to this man than what was available in public files. “What has brought you to believe that I have the boy?”

“That’s the hot word on the street.”

Ubora chuckled. “As in, this is what Nishati Azibo has broadcast.”

Huntington narrowed his gaze. When he spoke, his tone remained light, but his focus had intensified. “You telling me that’s not the case?”

“What would you say, should you venture a guess?”

“I’d say that, like most things, there’s more to the story than I can read in the Sunday funnies.”

Ubora nodded. “I would like for you to see something.” Motioning for Huntington to follow, he turned, walking toward a series of burned out huts. Their thatch roofs were gone, but much of the mud brick structures remained. The grim image of Azibo’s god, Anascoreth, was spray painted on some of the remaining buildings. Marching past the still-smoldering structures, Ubora led the American to a gnarled tree. Silhouetted in the early morning sun, three limp forms hung suspended on coarse Manila ropes, their necks broken. “Do you see any children playing?” he asked. “Any boys and girls carrying water from a well? Any women weaving mats or washing plates and bowls? Do you see any villagers tending their gardens, perhaps sitting on tree stumps and eating their morning meal as the sun rises to greet them? Do you see any villagers at all?” Here he paused, glancing about in an exaggerated act, pretending to search out life. “Ah! There’s one,” he said pointing to the corpse of an elderly man laying face down before a smoldering hut. “Ah. And another, and another. There they are. If you would walk the village as I have, you would find all of the adults, not one among the living. Where are the children, I ask you?”

Huntington simply stared at him.

“They’re gone, Mr. Huntington. They’re gone. All of them.”


About the Author:


Thom Reese is the author of the novels, A SAVAGE DISTANCE, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY, along with the short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Several of Thom’s audio dramas have been published on CD and MP3 formats. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home with his wife in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Writing Has Taught Me to Keep Looking Forward

It’s funny how easy it is to “rest on our laurels”, so to speak. Once we accomplish something, we can be tempted to relax and take it easy for a while. But if we do that, we’re never going to get anywhere–or at least not as quickly as we could/should!

I JUST launched The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer three weeks ago. After months of hard work and waiting, it was finally done and here. Big launch party, lots of sales, hurrah for me!

But do you know what else I just did? On Friday, I just submitted the final draft of Book 2 to my publisher. All the time that I was setting up the book launch for Book 1, I was working on Book 2. Now that Book 1 is launched and trucking along, I’m setting up the launch for Book 2.

And don’t think for a minute that I’m done! Starting next week, I’m going to get back to work on Book 3. The story is fully written (in a rough draft), and alpha readers have done their thing. Now it’s time to take their comments, fix up the book, and write that first draft to send off to beta readers. It’s about two months or so of hard work!

What’s going to happen while Book 3 is with beta readers? By the gods, I’m going to work on writing the rough draft of Book 4 to send to my alpha readers, so that when Book 3 is off to the publishers (sometime in early to mid 2016),I’ll be able to start working on Book 4.

That may seem like a dizzying amount of work in advance, but it pays off! Only by doing all this hard work in advance will I be able to keep up a steady rhythm of publishing a top-quality, professionally-edited, reading-worthy novel every 6 to 9 months. I’ll always have something written and ready to work on, and I’ll always be making progress.

Writing has helped me to keep looking forward to the “next thing”, and it’s going to keep me working well into my later years! I’ll be pumping out novels at a regular pace simply because I’m always finished projects and working on the next–never waiting or being content with my current “success”.

This is an attitude that (I hope) will permeate into the rest of my life. It’s hard to keep going from one thing to the next, but it’s the best way to keep making progress as a parent, a spouse, and a person. The moment I get complacent with my progress in any area of my life, I tend to stall or slow down. The only way that I can keep moving forward and making any sort of progress or growth as a person is to keep moving and keep looking forward!

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