Sacrificing Souls: A Halloween Treat

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I share a scary treat with you.  I have this as an extra in my Novella  – Boding Evil, which is a free download on Amazon and the other ebook outlets.

***

Down through the ages, we have all heard stories of haunted houses.  Homes that were once full of love and life, but through a tragic event, a spirit becomes hopelessly trapped to wander the halls for all eternity.  This, my friend, is not one of those stories.

~~~

“Hurry up; I want to sleep in our bed tonight,” Keri pointed down the hall to the master bedroom.  “Be careful, that headboard and frame have been in my family for over 100 years.”

“Yes, Ma’am, we’ll take extra care not to damage it,” the burly man snorted.  The two men from the moving company looked at each other and rolled their eyes.  They had heard claims such as that all the time from customers.  Every piece of furniture was either a priceless antique or had belonged to a dead relative and was irreplaceable, regardless of what it was.

***

Mike and Keri Beale were both nervous and excited about their decision to move to Louisiana.  It had been a difficult decision to leave their lives behind in New York City.  However, when Mike was given the opportunity to join a prestigious Law Firm in New Orleans, they decided to jump at the chance.

At first, Keri was not sure if she wanted to move, but Mike had promised they would find a beautiful Southern mansion and she could make it a grand showplace.  At hearing this, Keri, of course, had immediately contacted a realtor in the area and had found the home of their dreams.  It was not exactly the most beautiful house at the time, but with hard work and lots of love, Keri knew one day it would be the perfect showplace for a successful attorney.

“Set the bed up other there.”  Keri pointed to the wall opposite the large walk-in closet.  “And please be careful not to damage the wood molding.”

The two men looked at the old, yellowing wallpaper and faded wood molding.  “Yes, Ma’am, we’ll be careful.”

Once the moving company personnel had left, Keri walked into the kitchen and looked at all of the stacked boxes.

“There is no way I can cook anything tonight.”  She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed, “I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”

***

Mike was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere at the new firm.  When he had first passed the bar and joined the large firm in New York, he realized it was going to consume a large part of his life.  Therefore, when the opportunity to join the law firm in New Orleans arose, he had jumped at it.  While he loved all the hustle and bustle of the city, he also longed for the time to begin a family with Keri.

“Dinner’s here,” Mike called out from the large foyer.  “Where are we going to eat this delicious smelling pizza?”

“In the dining room, of course,” Keri said playfully as she walked to the dining room and waited for Mike to join her.

“I don’t know why, but the delivery guy seemed relieved that he didn’t have to come up to the door,” Mike chuckled, placing the pizza box on the dining room table.  “Heck, he practically threw the pizza at me before he sped off.”

“Really, I don’t understand why.  I love it here,” Keri opened the box and inhaled deeply.  “This smells delicious.”

Mike sat next to her and grabbed a slice of the pizza.  “It tastes great, too.”

“I wish I could have cooked our dinner tonight, but everything is still packed.”

“Hey, I understand.  I just wish I could be more help.  I’ll be able to do more this coming weekend.”  Mike put the last bite of pizza in his mouth then grabbed another piece.

“Maybe I should have ordered two pizzas?  You seem exceptionally hungry tonight,” Keri chuckled when she saw the surprised look on his face.

“I am.  I was so busy today that I didn’t go to lunch.  I wanted to get my office organized and go over a few case files.”

creak…creak…

“What was that?” Keri looked toward the staircase that led to the upstairs rooms.

“I wouldn’t worry about it.  This is an old house, so we’ll probably hear things like that all the time.  These old houses have their own personalities,” Mike chuckled then shoved more pizza in his mouth.

creak….creak…THUD!

Keri looked at Mike, daring him to say that was nothing.

“Okay, maybe I should go see what it was.”  He stood and slowly walked toward the staircase, unsure if he wanted to find out what had made the unnerving sound.

“What was it?” Keri whispered, as she slowly followed Mike up the stairs.

“Quiet, I think I hear something.”  Mike felt his heart beating with such force that he believed it would explode from his chest.  As he topped the stairs, he held his breath and said a silent prayer they would find nothing out of the ordinary.

He leaned forward and looked to his right and then to his left.  Nothing.  “I don’t understand, the only thing I see is moving boxes stacked along the wall in the hallway.”

“Are you sure?” Keri breathed with a sense of relief in her voice.

“Yeah.  Come on, let’s go clean up downstairs.  I’d like to take a shower and go to bed.”  Mike took Keri by the hand, and they went back downstairs.

***

An unnerving silence filled the room as Keri lay next to Mike, who was now soundly asleep.  Lying there, her mind began to wander.  She tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, but for some reason, Keri felt there was something she was supposed to do.

After several minutes, Keri sat up on the edge of the bed.  The room was deathly quiet, and the coolness of the wood floor under her feet caused her body to shiver.  She could not explain it, but she felt the overwhelming desire to get up and do something.  What is wrong with me?

Convinced it was just new house jitters, Keri laid back down and rolled over on her side.  Then after a few minutes, she finally fell to sleep.

***

The door creaked as it slowly opened, allowing entry to its guest.  Stepping inside, an eerie glow filled the room, giving it a ghostly appearance.

“Come, my child,” the voice beckoned to her.

“Why am I here?” she asked hesitantly.

“You are here to restore me.”

“Restore you?  I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Come to me, so we may speak.”

Not understanding why; she did as commanded.  With each step, the floor grew colder against her bare feet as she padded her way to the large framed mirror sitting in the corner of the room by a stained-glass window.

“Who are you?” her voice quivered as she stood in front of the mirror.

A swirling mist began to form in the mirror.  Then from the mist, the image of a well-dressed older man appeared.

“I am the man who built this grand house.  It is my home, and it will be for all eternity.”

“How is that possible?  This house is over 150 years old.  Are you a ghost?”  The room suddenly grew bone-chillingly cold, as the man’s eyes began to glow a vibrant red.

A menacing laughter filled the room.  “I am no mere ghost; I am much more, foolish child.”

“I’m sorry, I meant no offense.  Please tell me why you summoned me.”

“That will come at the proper time.  For now, I only wanted to introduce myself.  Go rest, for tomorrow you have much to do.”  The swirling fog then wrapped around the man as he backed out of view.

***

“Keri, wake up.  I’ve already started the coffee, and I thought we could spend some time together before I have to leave for work,” Mike laughed then he pulled the blanket off her.

“Sheez, I’m getting up.  I didn’t sleep very well last night,” she groaned, wiping her eyes.

“Really, I slept like a log.  It must be the fresh country air,” Mike inhaled a deep breath.  Suddenly, he pointed toward the foot of the bed.  “Dang, what did you do last night, go running through a dirt field?”

“What?”  Keri looked down at where he was pointing and saw dirt smudges on the sheet.  “That doesn’t make any sense.  My feet were clean when I got into bed.  Besides, I don’t remember getting up all night long.”

“Maybe the reason you’re still tired is that you were sleep-walking,” Mike teased.

Keri did not find his taunts amusing one bit.  Typically, his teasing did not bother her, but for some reason, it did now.  “Come on, let’s go have some coffee.  Maybe that will wake me up some.”

***

Once Mike had left for work, Keri decided to go into town and check out the local hardware store.  Mike had told her to hire a painter and other contractors to do the renovation work on the house, but for some reason, she wanted to do it herself.

The little bell attached to the door rang, alerting the proprietor of a new customer.  Keri stepped inside of the small hardware store and was amazed at all the different things lining the shelves.  She had never done renovation work before, but for some strange reason, she knew just what she needed.

“Good morning, Miss.  How may I help you today?” the cheerful, elderly man asked.

“I’m in need of a few items, please.  First, I need to know if you have a floor sander to rent.  I plan to refinish the wood floors in my house.  I’d also like to see some paint color samples.”

“You must be new to town.  I don’t believe we’ve ever met.  My name is Bernie, and I own this establishment,” he held out his hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Bernie.  My name is Keri.  My husband and I recently moved here from New York,” she smiled, taking his offered hand.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than Bernie pulled his hand away; a look of fear replacing his smile.  “Oh, you’re the ones who bought that house.”

Keri could not understand his sudden change upon learning who she was.  “Yes, we were very fortunate to get such a good deal on it, too.  It’s a bit run down now, but I plan to have it back to a grand home again.”

“Did the realtor tell you the story of that house?” a faint voice came from the doorway to the back room.

“Quiet, Martha.  It’s not our place to meddle,” Bernie’s voice was firm but dripping with fear.

“She should be warned,” Martha said firmly.

Keri did not understand why, but the words the old woman said made an uncontrollable rage begin to burn deep inside of her.  She turned to face the woman, “There is nothing wrong with my house.  You need to keep your thoughts to yourself.”

When their gazes met, Martha suddenly grabbed her throat, unable to speak.

“Martha!”  Bernie rushed to his wife and caught her in his arms before she collapsed to the floor.

“What have you done to her?” Bernie cried out.  “Leave, and never come back!”

Without saying another word, Keri turned and walked out of the store.  How dare you speak to me that way. I love my house, and it WILL be beautiful again.

On the drive home, Keri thought back to what had transpired in the hardware store.  “Why did they both seem so afraid of the house?”

She decided to put that all behind her and focus on fixing up the house.

***

A feeling of contentment consumed Keri as she stepped through the front door.  Noticing how tired she was, Keri decided to take a short nap before unpacking the boxes in the kitchen.

After lying on the sofa, it only took a few moments before she began to float off to sleep.

“You did well today, my child,” the now familiar voice whispered in her ear.  “You have begun to restore the life to this house, and in time it will once again be the grand mansion it once was.”

At hearing his voice, Keri felt joy surge throughout her entire body.  “Yes, it will be beautiful again.”

***

“Keri, I’m home,” Mike called out, then set his briefcase down in the foyer.  “What smells good in here?”

“I’m making your favorite; lasagna, a tossed salad, and garlic toast.”

Mike stopped and looked around.  “I don’t know when you found time to cook.  You’ve really cleaned up this place.  Did you polish the floor?  It looks like it’s brand new.”

“I just did a little cleaning, that’s all.  Now, go wash up, dinner is ready.”

Keri grabbed the pan of lasagna from the oven and placed it on the table next to the salad.  She then put the garlic toast in a basket and set it on the table as well.

“I heard the most tragic news when I stopped in town to fill up my car on the way home.  The wife of the man who owns the hardware store died suddenly today.”  Mike sat in his chair and pulled it up to the table.  “They’re saying she had a stroke.  I guess it was quite a surprise since everyone there told me she seemed to be in good health.”

“Yes, that is quite tragic.”  Keri reached for the basket with the garlic bread and handed it to Mike.

He took a piece and set it on his plate.  “Anyway, they said her husband is quite upset and keeps talking about a demon that came into the store today and killed his wife.”

“The poor man is just distraught.  It must be hard to have your spouse suddenly die like that.”  Keri could not explain it but knowing the woman had died seemed to fill her with joy.  “Let’s eat before our food gets cold.”

***

As the moon shone through the bedroom window, a silent voice beckoned to Keri.  “Come, my child, we have work to do.”

***

The road was dark and foreboding on the drive to town.  She knew where she was headed but did not understand why.

“He is waiting for you, my child,” the voice said.

Keri turned the car down the long driveway and stopped in front of an old house with a wrap-around porch.  After getting out of the car, she quietly closed the door, surprised at how the dog lying on the porch remained asleep.

The cool night air caressed her skin through her thin nightgown, but she did not notice.  Placing her foot on the first step, it groaned.  She paused a moment, her breath catching in her throat with the fear she would awaken the sleeping dog.

“Do not fear, my child.  I have prepared everything for you,” the voice prodded her onward.

Keri then placed her foot on the next step and was pleased when there was no sound.  Glancing over at the dog, Keri noticed it was still sleeping soundly.  After taking a deep breath, she took the last two steps up to the door.

A dim glow of light escaped from under the door. When Keri reached for the doorknob, the door creaked, then slowly opened, as though welcoming her to enter.  The flickering of the dying fire filled the room, creating a haunting feeling.  The door slowly opened wide, showing the man asleep in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace.

That’s Bernie, the man from the hardware store, the words formed in her mind, as she found herself drawn to him.

“Why am I here?” she whispered.

“You know why.  He must die.  He is another sacrifice to restore the house to its once beauty and grandeur.”

“But I don’t understand.  How is that possible with his death?” Keri knew what the voice meant, but a part of her did not want to accept the truth.

“You must do this, or the house will die.  It needs the sacrifice to survive and regain its life-force.  Now do what you must,” the voice commanded.

Keri walked over to the sleeping man and glared down into his pain-filled face.  After a few moments, he opened his eyes and met her gaze.

“What are you doing here?” Bernie mumbled with a raspy voice.

“You know why I’m here,” she said with no emotion in her voice.

“You’re here to kill me just like you did Martha, aren’t you?  I’ve heard the tales about that house, but I always thought it was nothing but bullshit.”  Bernie tried to get out of the rocking chair but found his legs would not move.

Keri did not respond, she merely looked at this simple man and wondered what it felt like to know you were about to die.

“I do have one thing to say before you kill me.  Once the house is finished with you, you will die as well.  Anyone who has ever lived in that house has died a horrible death.”  Bernie then closed his eyes and awaited his fate.

Keri smiled, “Your death will be a great addition to the house.  Thank you for your sacrifice.”

Bernie opened his eyes and laughed.  “Your soul will burn in Hell with the demon who built that cursed house.  He was crazy and murdered so many innocent people in his quest for immortality.  He finally sold his soul to Satan for the opportunity to live forever.  I grew up hearing the stories about that house, but I never believed them; I guess I should have paid closer attention.  The entire town has watched that damn house suddenly appear restored after several strange deaths in the area.  Then those who bought it would die and the house would again sit vacant for years.  Then once the house is completely run down again, someone new will move in, and the strange deaths begin again.  Go ahead, you devil bitch, do what you must.  I’m ready to join my beloved Martha anyway.”

Bernie closed his eyes again.  After a moment, Keri reached out and touched him on the forehead.  His body trembled, and a burst of light shot forth, leaving an empty shell of the man he once was sitting in the rocking chair.

***

“Didn’t you sleep any last night?” Mike walked into the kitchen with an expression of concern on his face.  “You’re up early this morning.”

“No, not much.  I just wanted to get busy on the house.”  Keri reached for her cup of coffee and took another sip.

“Well, I need to get going.  I have an early meeting this morning with a new client.”  Mike leaned over and gently kissed Keri on the cheek.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Keri yawned then reached for the coffee pot to refill her cup.

***

“It’s happening again, just like it did forty years ago,” Clara, the Post Master whispered while she glanced around the post office lobby.  “I don’t know why the town just hasn’t torn that house down.  It’s cursed I tell you, cursed.”

“You know why they don’t.  Anyone who tries to destroy that house dies a horrible death.  We’ve all heard the stories of what he did in that house.  All that devil worshiping stuff and sacrificing those people,” Chuck, the feed store owner said in a hushed tone.

“Well, I don’t like it one bit.  Two wonderful people have died suddenly after meeting that woman.  How many more have to die before she’s done?”  Clara held her hand to her breast, feeling her heart beating rapidly with fear.

“I don’t know, but I sure hope that I don’t cross paths with her,” Chuck’s voice quivered at the thought of facing the one sent to gather souls.  “Well, I need to get back to the store.  Take care, Miss Clara.”

Chuck picked up his mail and said a silent prayer that he was not chosen as a sacrifice for the cursed house.

***

Keri stood in stunned amazement at the beauty before her.  She could not explain it, but somehow the walls inside of the house now appeared to have a fresh wallpaper, and the wood trim looked to be freshly stained.

“How is this possible?” she asked herself, but she knew the answer.  It was the sacrifices made the day before that was restoring the house.  She reached out and touched the wall. “You are alive, aren’t you?”

***

A thick fog had settled in around the small town, making those who understood the current events to stay safely inside their homes.  Mike had stayed late at the office, so he was glad to see the town’s Welcome sign appear along the side of the road through the fog in front of him.  The last couple of weeks had been strained whenever he went home.  Keri seemed distant, and whenever he asked her how she was getting the house renovated so quickly, she would tell him that it was none of his business.

“None of my business, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”  Mike did not like the feeling he had growing inside of him.  It was as though the house did not want him there, but how was that even possible?

Turning on the road leading to their house, the fog seemed to grow thicker.

“Damn, I can barely see.  I should have stayed in the city for the night,” he groaned, straining to see through the thickening fog.

She no longer needs you, a voice whispered in his ear.

“WHAT?” the word escaped his lips with such force, it nearly caused him to run off the road.

You heard me.  I said, she no longer needs you.  She has me, and that is all she desires.

Mike reached up and rubbed his eyes, trying to remove the thoughts stirring in his mind.  What was happening to them?  They used to be so happy and had such hopes and dreams before they bought that damn house.  When he opened his eyes again, the image he saw sent chills throughout his entire body.

There standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by thick, swirling fog was Keri.  Swerving to miss her, Mike plowed head-on into an old Southern Live Oak tree.

The blood on Mike’s face, mixed with pieces of broken glass felt cold as the night air filled the car.  He reached for the door handle but found the door jammed shut.

“Keri, help me,” his words were a mere whisper because of the steering wheel compressing his chest.

A deafening silence filled the air, as tears filled his eyes, and all hope of escape evaporated.  Suddenly, Mike heard a crackling noise come from under the hood of the car.  “Oh, God, no.”

The muffled cries of panic filled the air as the flames grew, steadily moving toward him.  “Please, I don’t want to die!  Help me, Keri, please, help me!”

Struggling to see through the smoke and fog, Mike wondered if he had only imagined seeing Keri.  Smoke filled the inside of the car, stinging his eyes and filling his lungs.  Wiping away the tears from his eyes, he now saw Keri standing in front of the car.

Smoke and fog swirled around her body, creating a ghostly appearance.  As their gazes met, a smile of satisfaction appeared on her lips.

“You will be a perfect addition,” were the only words she said, as the flames completely engulfed the car.

Keri stood in silence, watching the gruesome scene all play out before her.  She knew she should be sad, but she wasn’t.  Keri knew this sacrifice would nearly finish the renovation of her beloved house.

***

The morning sun burned through the thick fog, creating a sense of rebirth as the new day began.  Keri had awoken and was thrilled to see the latest improvements to the house.  Now, not only was the inside of the house completely restored, but the outside looked as though it was not just freshly painted, but newly built.

Standing in the yard, admiring its beauty, she knew the renovation was nearly complete on the home she loved above all else.  Keri was aware there would be questions regarding Mike’s death, but she was in no mood to worry about it now.  She was far too happy to dwell on such things.

Come to me, my child.  It is time to join me.

“Yes, I want to be with you for all eternity,” she felt a sense of peaceful contentment as she walked toward the house.  “I’m ready.”

With each step up the staircase to the top floor, the house seemed to take a breath, awaiting its final sacrifice.  She glanced over at the mirror, standing in the corner.  Do not fear, my childYou will forever be with me.

Squaring her shoulders, she walked to the stained-glass window and paused, resting her hand on the window latch.

It is time.  You know what you must do.

An eerie chuckle filled the room as she opened the window and stepped out on the narrow ledge.  The warmth of the sun beat down upon her but went unnoticed.  The only thing she felt was the cold, welcoming embrace of evil.

A strange smile crossed her lips while she looked down and watched the once dead and desolate landscape surrounding the house transform into a beautiful, lush garden.

“You live again with beauty and grace,” Keri said with a pleased expression on her face.  Knowing her task was complete, she stepped off the ledge into the bright morning sun.

***

Thirty years later…

“Oh, honey, I know it needs a lot of work, but I can make it a grand showplace again.”

My visit on the Horrorist Podcast

300x300_12283145I had so much fun being a guest on the Horrorist Podcast.  We talked about all those scary things that go bump in the night, and of course, my books.  It was a fun interview and I look forward to having him join us on the Deadly Reads Radio podcast later this month for Halloween.

Get ready for some crazy conversation where you’ll get a chance to learn about all the paranormal experiences I’ve had in my life.  I feel the hairs standing on the back of my neck already.  I do want to tell you that my voice sounds horrible the first couple of minutes because I forgot to pull my mic to my mouth.  LOL

Our Heroes in Blue

I was going to hold this to post until next month but with the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada today I thought I should share it with you now.

Last year, I interviewed Retired Detective/Author Robert Rangel on Deadly Reads Radio with my co-host Lisa Vandiver.  Robert has written an important book to help everyday Americans understand what our Law Enforcement Officers face while protecting us from those on the wrong side of the law who wish to do us harm.  Hearing the stories of Law Enforcement, Fire, and Medical first-responders who charged into the fray to save their fellow Americans made me realize how often we take them for granted until they are needed.

As I watched the news reports today and people remarking of how the Las Vegas police officers bravely put themselves in harm’s way to save those facing a barrage of bullets raining down upon them. I knew I needed to do this post now.

The Red Dot Club tells the true stories in the words of Law Enforcement Officers who looked death in the eye and somehow survived life-threatening injuries.  Their stories will rip at your heart, but they need to be shared.

First, I have a blog interview I did with Robert.  I also have Robert’s latest visit to Deadly Reads Radio.  He even brought some friends with him..and 2 of them share their stories in his upcoming release – The Red Dot Club: Victims Voices, book 2 in his Red Dot Club series.

Let’s get to know Robert Rangel

I’m so honored to have Robert Rangel joining us today.  Robert and I have been friends since he was a guest on the Deadly Reads Podcast, so I figured it was time to let him share with us here on my blog what makes him tick as an author, and what made him decide to enter the world of writing.

First, here’s a little background:

YouTube thumbnailRobert resides in Los Angeles, California. He has lived an interesting life before becoming an author.  He’s a retired Detective of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a former bodyguard for the Royal families of three different countries, and is currently a background investigator for police hires.  As you can see, we will have lots of fun stuff to chat with Robert about.

Robert has written an important book that needs to be read by the public.  The Red Dot Club is the first-hand account of Law Enforcement Officers who faced death at the hands of criminals and lived to tell their stories.  Having read his book myself, I must say it provides a rollercoaster of emotions for the reader.  With each word and knowing the stories are true as told by those who lived it, I found myself filled with a wide range of wrenching emotions.  From tears to anger, The Red Dot Club is a MUST read to fully understand what our Law Enforcement Officers face every day they put on that badge, and that they are people just like you and me.  They have families who pray every day they will come home after their shift.  Unfortunately, some don’t, and others are forced to overcome life-changing injuries.  Robert has written a book that takes you into the minds of those who have faced the unthinkable, and he did it in a way to pay respect for those who lived the nightmare of joining The Red Dot Club.

Hi Robert, I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to drop by and allow us to get to know you better.

Thanks. It is my pleasure to share some of my experiences with you all.

You have quite an interesting resume.  Would you mind sharing with us why you decided to go into Law Enforcement?

I started my own business as a young man when I was 18 years old. By the time I was 24 years old I was making great money. But I was bored. I wanted to be outside and I wanted to help people. I also wanted a pension and yearly paid vacations, and I wanted to do something exciting. Hmmm…I thought and thought and it hit me. I could be a gunslinger, a racecar driver and still help people all in one job… I could be a peace officer! When I was hired I took a 50% pay decrease to be a peace officer, but to me, it was worth it.

One of the things on your resume that I find interesting is your time as a Royal Bodyguard.  Would you share with us what that entails and why you decided to take on such a job?

Wow, what a loaded question! I worked for the Royal Family of Brunei, the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and the Royal Family of Malaysia. I had just retired as a peace officer as a result of numerous injuries. I had broken my knee, (a right tibial plateau fracture, you can look it up). I had and still have a bullet in my right humerus from a shootout.  So…I was looking for something to do. They say that in life it’s not what you know but who you know. In this case, it’s true, as one of my ex-partners hooked me up with the Director of Security for the Royal Family of Brunei and the rest is history. My first book, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey details what working for that royal family is like. To paint a picture, if you will, of a very highly paid slave, but he is still a slave. A slave is someone who is expected to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, I was this man, a highly paid slave. I’ve actually had comments from several people that said they enjoyed reading The Organ Grinder’s Monkey better than The Red Dot Club but I disagree. However, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey is a fascinating read full of twists and turns, backstabbing, power grabs, laughs, unbelievable scenarios, and it’s all true.

I’m sure most of us would like to know what The Red Dot Club is.  Can you explain how you came up with that title and why?

When I was a patrol deputy, we, of course, handled every type of situation imaginable. Some of our calls were extremely HOT situations. When I say HOT, I mean dangerous. To give an example, in my first week on patrol we had six murders in my area. That is not counting the people who were shot, stabbed, or beaten who did not die.  One of my partners and I would say either before or after handling those situations that we could have made the suspect a member of The Red Dot Club. This, of course, meant that we could have shot them. The red dot is the mark a bullet makes at its entry site. I never forgot the saying and I thought it was an appropriate title for my book about officers who were shot in the line of duty.

1461276_10202824543277512_2405840041703207655_nWhen you asked me to read your book, I must confess that I had no idea what I would find in those pages.  Can you please tell us a little about what it was like to research and write The Red Dot Club?

I approached officers who were shot and asked them to be in my book. They were hesitant until they read the chapter detailing my own shooting. After that, they readily agreed to tell their story for the book. I think it is because they knew I understood what they went through. So many tears were shed in getting their stories and I am eternally thankful for their openness and bravery in sharing such an intimate event. It is an extremely private thing to share, sharing your feelings about a time when someone trying to kill you.

As a member of The Red Dot Club yourself, can you tell us how it affected you to write this book?

I am a pretty healthy guy. Writing this book almost killed me. I had stomachaches, I had headaches, I had sleepless nights and I could not eat. I found I had to sprint to write the book because I could not stay in the horror of the stories for too long. To write the book, and to tell these brave heroes stories, I had to live the shootings as I interviewed the officers, and then I had to live them again when I wrote them. I had to live their experience. I had to feel their horror, their loneliness, and their terror. It was an absolutely horrifying, terrifying and debilitating experience for me to have to do this over and over again. I still have nightmares.

9780990317357_p1_v4_s550x406I know the stories in this book are difficult to read.  Can you tell us what you hoped this book would do to those who read it?

I wanted to bring awareness to the public of what and who cops are. I want the public to understand that the little video of an officer-involved shooting is so much more than the five seconds of the shooting you see on your television screen. I want the press to understand that they do not understand what they are saying when they report on a shooting and give their opinion as to whether is was a good shooting or not. No one but the officer who went through getting shot understands what it is like to not know if you will live or die. The Red Dot Club tells it like it really is. No selective editing.  The stories are in their purest and raw form.

Can you share with us what kind of response you’ve received from others in Law Enforcement pertaining to this book?

I have had overwhelming thanks from everyone for finally telling the truth. Some of the officers in the book have thanked me for telling their account because they could not tell it themselves.

After reading this book, I found myself wanting to hug our daughter and keep her safe. She is also a Law Enforcement officer.  Can you tell us as family members the best way to help those who have faced the situations spoken of in your book?

Let them talk. Let them vent. I think it’s impossible to understand what it’s like to be forced to shoot someone else. We are peace officers for a large part because we view life as precious and we promise to protect it. Then sometimes to save a life we have to take a life. This is more difficult for most officers than people realize. Officers who shoot others probably think about the event almost every day…forever.  I have no problem talking about my shootings. Other officers might. I think it’s good to talk about it in a safe environment. Encourage them to do so. And if they cuss while doing it, understand that there is a lot of anger about being forced to do the unthinkable. It is just coming out as a forceful voice. Don’t judge, let it be.

I understand that you are now working on the second book of this series.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

The title is “The Red Dot Club, Victim’s Voices”. It’s a phenomenal book. Again, we have officers who fight for their lives in real life shootings, but I have included other officers who lived through horrifying on the job experiences. The point is that most officers are victims also.

When do you expect its release?

It’s done. I’m waiting to see if a major motion picture/television studio I met with is going to do a television series. If so, then I’ll release the book and market it with the, ‘Soon to be a television series’ slant to it.

Where do you see these books going in the future?

I think every American should read this book. One of my reviewers on Amazon said this and I agree. To quote, “Our society needs to read these stories and learn from these heroes that we civilians do not understand what we ask of those who volunteer to protect the rest of us. Democrat, or Republican, liberal or conservative, every citizen should read this book.”

I’m sure everyone would enjoy reading some short snippets from your book. Would you mind sharing a few with us?

Here are three that stand out to me:

“The pain in my stomach then hit me hard…I felt wetness on my stomach…I put my hand there and then pulled it away looking at my fingers. I was horrified. It should have been blood…It was a clear gooey fluid with flecks of red in it. Oh my God, what is that?”

“It’s just like I’m standing here talking to you…Fudge, I see the bullet leave the gun and fly at me. I could see the copper tip of the bullet with the muzzle flash of the gun behind it, and it was spinning straight toward me.”

“I was thinking I was going to die. I was thinking Puppet was going to die. I was scared and sad. It was going to happen. I was going to die.”

Okay, last question.  What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

I would like to raise awareness by telling truths, the experiences that people live through. I would like to do this in a variety of areas and situations. Would it not be so cool to be able to understand others and what they have gone through?

I’d like to thank you for spending this time and allowing us to get to know you better.  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My books will make you laugh. They will make you cry, and rip your hearts out. They will be the unfiltered truth. If I ever fail to do this I will no longer write. God bless each and every one of you!

Amazon              iTunes               B&N

As you can see Robert is not only a talented author but is an all-around nice person.  I hope you will not only check out his book, The Red Dot Club but also follow him on social media. Also, don’t forget to check out Robert’s interview on the Deadly Reads Radio podcast on the Deadly Reads YouTube channel below.

Writing heals your Soul

As a writer, I’ve had fun developing exciting characters for my books.  In my Next Move, You’re Dead trilogy, I had fun with Erebus, the diabolical villain who toys with people’s lives.  I’ve had fun writing about dragons, vigilantes, and paranormal entities.  However, the one story that was difficult for me to write was Hellfire’s Judgment.  So often as writers, we are able to separate ourselves from our stories.  But every once and a while we have a story that strikes a little too close to home.  Hellfire’s Judgment is that story for me.

When I first published this book, it was a short story.  I wanted to tell the story of a girl who is brutally raped and the rapist get’s away with his crime because of his powerful family.  While it was a decent short story, the readers let me know they wanted more.  I really didn’t want to dive back into it, but I figured if the readers wanted more I should give them what they wanted.

You are probably wondering why I was so reluctant to go deeper into this story.  It’s because I would be forced to revisit my own painful memories of being a rape survivor.  While I was not a child when I was violated, I still remember the feeling of helplessness and anger.  It was those feelings I knew I would have to relive when making Hellfire’s Judgment into a full-length novel.

So, I opened my word doc and started typing.  It was an overwhelming experience for me With each click on my keyboard the words seemed to flow from somewhere deep inside of me.  I cried as Sherry had to face her attacker in court.  I cried as her family faced the threats from those tied to the attackers powerful family.  However, with each word, I felt my own pain and anger steadily losing its grip on my soul.

By the time I had written the last paragraph, that dark stain on my soul, though not completely erased, was no longer controlling my emotions.  I felt empowered and free.  The image of the man who had attacked me was no longer haunting me in my dreams.

I’ve always read how we should write of things we know.  I just never realized how by doing so, it can also heal a pain we have shoved down deep inside of us.

I was thrilled when after I released the full-length version of Hellfire’s Judgment as seeing the reaction from the readers.  It always makes you feel good as a writer when you’re able to bring the reader into the story and let them feel your pain.  If you think Hellfire’s Judgment would be a book you’d like to read, you can find it on Amazon.

Here is a book trailer video I made for Hellfire’s Judgment

Advice for First-time Authors

You’ve worked for months, or maybe even years to finish your first book. As you stare at the words you just typed on the last page, a frightening thought enters your mind…now what? I remember that feeling. I remember the excitement I felt to finish writing my first book, but I also remember the fear of not knowing what I would need to get my masterpiece published.

Many of us dream of being a famous author.  We wonder what it would be like to have people reading the words we struggled to put on the pages.  We’ve come to love the characters in our story as they came to life in our minds, and we’ve enjoyed taking them on their journey.  However, the time has come to let them go and give them to the world.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to find a good editor.  While you may believe our book is perfect, an editor can give you a good healthy dose of reality.  Surviving your first edit is a growing experience.  Nothing makes you realize you don’t have a firm grasp on the English language quicker than to receive your manuscript back from the editor with those dreaded editing tags with suggestions for you to consider changing in your book.

When I saw the right-side of my document filled with those tags, I nearly closed the file and walked away from my computer.  Surely, someone with that many suggestions could NEVER be a professional writer.  Apparently, I didn’t have the firm grasp on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and reading flow I thought I had.

The important lesson I learned that day was writing is not only a creative endeavor but is one of learning and tossing aside all those bad habits we’ve all picked up over the years on social media.

So, you’ve survived the editing process and now it’s time to make that important decision… do I shop my book around to traditional publishers or do you take the Indie Published route.  That’s an important decision.  However, since I chose the Indie Published route that is where my knowledge is, so let’s get started.

I’m sure most of you have bought an ebook from one of the many distributors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes just to name a few. Well, in order for those books to look good on your e-reader they must be properly formatted.  You ask, what is formatting?  Formatting is preparing your document for publishing as an ebook.  There are several technical things done during the formatting process such as preparing a working Table of Contents with links to each chapter, setting each page to fit properly on whatever device is used, and there are other features that can be added to give your book that ‘special look’ we all want.

Of course, while our book is being formatted, we need to decide on a book cover.  The book cover is more important than most of us realize.  You see, the cover gives that first impression a potential reader will have about your book.  Does the cover image catch their attention? Does it give them a feeling about your story?  Will it look good as a thumbnail? If you can answer YES to those questions then you have chosen a good cover. When I published my first book, I had no idea how to create a book cover.  After talking to other authors and doing some research, I found a cover designer to make the perfect cover for my book.  However, over time, I decided to learn how to make my own. It was a long learning process but well worth it to me.  If you want to see my covers go to the My Books page.

Now, you’re ready to publish.

ebook_logosThere are several distributors to choose from.  Of course, Amazon is the big guy on the block.  Amazon, by far, corners the market on ebook sales, but Barnes & Noble and iTunes are also popular sites for readers to find their next favorite book. I know as a first-time author it can be overwhelming, but it’s really pretty easy.  First, always offer your book on Amazon.  Next, I would recommend putting it on Smashwords.  For those of you who have never heard of Smashwords, it will get your book on several of the popular outlets thus saving you the time and headache of managing different accounts. Pricing your book is also something important to consider.  According to most retailers, $2.99 seems to be the ‘sweet spot’ price for a full-length novel and 99 cents seems to be popular for short stories or novellas.  I have my full-length books priced at $2.99, but I offer my novellas for FREE.  Some may not agree with this practice, but I consider them to be advertising for my writing.  You may not want to do this at first, but over time, I find it a valuable thing to offer readers who don’t know who I am.

If you decide you want to have your book in paperback, Amazon has a wonderful service called Createspace.  I use it because it’s easy to get my books set up for paperback, and if I don’t want to worry about creating an extra cover for print you can use their cover creator using your ebook cover image. However, you will need to have your book formatted for print because your ebook copy will not work. Yeah, I know, more work.

I do want to warn you about the Smashwords Meatgrinder.  It’s not as scary as it sounds.  Since Smashwords converts your book to work on several different devices, it’s a little picky on how your book needs to be formatted.  They do offer instructions, but if you don’t want to deal with it, be sure you have someone format your book who knows how to get a book through the dreaded Meatgrinder. LOL

So, you’ve done it. You are now a published author.  Take some time to enjoy the feeling. Pour yourself a drink, and relish the feeling.  However, once the celebration is done…the real work begins… marketing. YIKES!  I’ll leave that for another post.

If you want help getting your book ready to publish, I can help for a reasonable price. 

Deadly Reads Author Services

I hope this post has answered any of those nagging questions on how to get your book out to the reading public.  I wish you much success, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Now, get started on your second book.

 

 

 

Are Fairies Real?

I must admit that I love a good fantasy as much as the next person.  I enjoy escaping into a mystical world with endless possibilities and heroes of all types.  However, as a writer, I’ve only written one fantasy, The Dragon’s Blood Key, which grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I had written the entire story… and in two short weeks.  That’s right.  From the moment I sat up in my bed with the characters screaming in my mind, until I sent it off to the editor it was only two weeks.  I have never written a full-length novel that quickly and I haven’t since.

So, you ask, “Why this post?”  No, I’m not going to promote The Dragon’s Blood Key; I want to talk about all those mythical creatures we’ve all come to love.

I’m currently working on another fantasy.  Unfortunately, this one hasn’t possessed me like The Dragon’s Blood Key did but I will say I am enjoying the journey as the story comes to life.  When I was doing the research for this book I came to realize how many cultures have told stories of strange creatures living among us.  Some are evil, while others are good and only want to help us. 

Malora Danning cover for blogWhen the idea for this new book popped into my mind, I had thought it would just be a stand-alone book;, however, with all the exciting legends I’ve found about mystical creatures, I believe this will end up being a series of several exciting adventures for our hero, Malora Danning.   You see, Malora is an Aos Sí, of an ancient and powerful people who once controlled Ireland known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. (“People of the Goddess Danu”)  They were known to be tall, fair-skinned, with red hair, light eyes, and of great beauty. But like any great people after their banishment, over time they became mere objects of children’s stories; the fairy people of Irish folklore said to live beneath the hills. 

During my research, I found several interesting stories of amazing beings and creatures that I plan to use in this series.  Here is a blog post that has an AWESOME list.  She is a wealth of information and worth a follow.

A Writer’s List of Mythical Creatures and Beings!

When I read her list of mystical creatures and beings, I knew I could have some fun bringing them to life in my series.  Here are a few of the ones that seem to stand out to me.

Brownies are from England and Scotland, these are little people who are loyal to human households and will sometimes help out with the chores. You don’t want to make them mad, though. Harry Potter fans, take note: a dobbie or dobie is a kind of brownie, and an angry brownie can turn into a boggart.  This character will always be a fun character to put in a fantasy.

Firebird is described as a large bird with majestic plumage that glows brightly emitting red, orange, and yellow light, like a bonfire that is just past the turbulent flame. The feathers do not cease glowing if removed, and one feather can light a large room if not concealed. I can have a lot of fun with this fascinating creature.  It is beautiful but dangerous showing no sign of friendliness.

Kitsune is Japanese for fox. In some Japanese tales, foxes have magical powers and can shapeshift into women. The more tails a kitsune has, the older and more powerful she is.  I already have an idea of how to introduce this character to Malora.

Selkies (also spelled silkies, sylkies, selchies, Scots:selkie fowk) are mythological creatures found in Irish, Scottish, Faroese, and Icelandic folklore. Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. I had never heard of these, but I think they’d make a great addition to the story.

Valkyries

Valkyries  Their name means Choosers of the Slain.  Valkyries show up at battles to decide who will die. Then they escort the souls of the chosen back to Valhalla, where everyone has a good time.  I must admit they are one of my favorites, as I’m sure they are one of yours, too.  I mean, heck, how cool is it to have such powers?  I can see these exciting beings meeting Malora. LOL

There are far too many interesting creatures and beings to list here, but I’m sure you can see that I’ll have fun bringing them alive in my series, Malora Danning. I wish to give a shout out to blogger, Bryn Donovan for all her wonderful information.

So, I asked at the beginning of the post, Are Fairies Real?  I think so, and I choose to believe our world is full of creatures and beings who live beyond our perception.  Doesn’t that make things more interesting?

 

 

 

 

 

Another FUN show on Deadly Reads Radio

downloadI was thrilled to have Screenwriter/Author Doug Richardson return to Deadly Reads Radio.

Doug Richardson is an American Screenwriter and Novelist who specializes in Action Movies and Thrillers. You can learn more about Doug by visiting his website. 

Doug returned to talk with us about his latest installment of Lucky Dey Thriller series, now available at Amazon.  As always, we shared lots of laughs while we caught up with him.

You can listen to our show with Doug and other great guests on our YouTube Channel.