Saturday, December 31, 2011

Free Prequel Chapter

One of my favorite authors, William Brian Johnson, recently informed me that he's posted a FREE prequel chapter of "Hell to Pay" on Smashwords entitled "The Ballad of Mercy Tyler".  For more information on this brief work, visit his blog post at

Have a safe and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Interview with Dr. Samantha Bartlett

Hey dear readers!  Dr. Samantha Bartlett, the protagonist from "Running into the Darkness" is being interrogated over at by Detective Michael Bailey from William Brian Johnson's "Hell to Pay".  Run on over there and check it out!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Oh The Possibilities

'Tis a cold and rainy day, dripping with possibilities.

Under normal circumstances this would be a perfect day for crafting time with my latest novel.  There is something positively yummy about sitting at my desk, hearing the drip, drip, drop of rain outside beneath a canopy of clouds.  Perfect writing environs!

Alas, my day is packed with a number of activities - my son's vocal concert immediately followed by a Christmas party this evening and accompanying ongoing cooking.  Plus there are chores screaming at me.  Even so, I have found a few moments this morning of solitude.

It always puts me in the mood to write.

So if you've a mind, dear readers and writers, I'd love to hear from you.  What do you consider the perfect reading/writing experience?  Is it the cold and rainy moments?  The snowy vistas?  A good spring thunderstorm?  The sound of the waves caressing the shores?  For me it is weather or nature - what does it for you?

Please comment and let me know!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interview with William Brian Johnson

Today I am pleased to host William Brian Johnson, author of "Hell to Pay" from Hellfire Publishing.  Brian recently finished his Coffin Hop blog tour during the Halloween season and has taken time from his Thanksgiving preparations to talk to us about this supernatural horror thriller.

DAB:     Thanks for stopping by.  So tell us a bit about "Hell to Pay".

WBJ:     A man who thinks he's losing his soul, meets a man who has.  Detective Michael Bailey is an ex-alcoholic police detective investigating a series of murders, where the main suspect may be possessed.

DAB:     What prompted the novel's premise?

WBJ:     A drunken night of bad puns.

DAB:     Seriously?

WBJ:     Seriously.

DAB:     Okay, so then which character in "Hell to Pay" do you most identify with, if any, and why?

WBJ:     I think as a writer you tend to identify with all of them.  The characters themselves are bits of my personality mixed with other friends' personalities and traits.  I hate to say it, but the time I wrote it, I identified with Bailey the most.

DAB:     Why do you hate to say Bailey?  He is your protagonist, after all.

WBJ:     Bailey is a redemptive character, so he starts off with the entire world bearing down on his shoulders and isn't always the nicest individual.

DAB:     I see.  So were there any characters you found difficult to write?

WBJ:     Isabella.

DAB:     Bailey's girlfriend - why Isabella?  Was it just the aspect of writing from a woman's perspective?

WBJ:     Not only was it difficult to write from the woman's perspective, but I think the personalities I combined for Isabella's character clashed in a couple of instances and required a little rewriting and reinventing.

DAB:     How long did it take to craft this novel?

WBJ:     Too long.  Writing took about 2.5 years.

DAB:     But was that 2.5 years editing, editing, and more editing included?  Obviously it worked - you succeeded in securing a publishing contract, which can be difficult to do in today's ever changing market.

WBJ:     Nope, took me 2.5 years to write.  Editing took six years around sick parents, children being born, job changes, moving, in other  A couple of the topics in the book came to pass, a sick parent on their deathbed, the economy going to Hell, and I found the light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.  I'm not denying happy endings exist, but as a close friend will tell you, sun shines on a dog's ass occasionally.

DAB:     I think most of us can understand that.  Let's talk more about the writing process.  There's always debate over whether or not to outline when starting to write a novel.  What typically works best for you?

WBJ:     I write pivotal scenes, then write the back roads to each.  I usually don't outline but will have notes.

DAB:     I'm a notes person myself as well.  Do you have any other writing pointers for our audience?

WBJ:     Listen to your inner editor but don't stop writing.  I've had bad critiques before, get over it and keep doing it.  Keep trying, keep writing, and someday you too might have a book you're proud of.

DAB:     Thanks so much for stopping by.  Please give us the final plug for "Hell to Pay".

WBJ:     "Hell to Pay" is a haunting story about the loss of one's life, redemption, and personal sacrifice.  This supernatural thriller is strongly based on Joseph Campbell's epic storytelling and mythology.  Buy my book.  It will scare the hell out of your Christmas.  Now available in e-reader format and coming November 23rd, "Hell to Pay" rises from the ashes in paper.  See for more details.

There you have it, dear readers!  If you'd like to have a nightmare before Christmas, pick up your eBook copy today or pre-order the paperback coming out this week.  Have a fabulous and filling Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Smashwords Approved!

Just in time for Thanksgiving!

Smashwords has officially approved Running into the Darkness for their premium distribution catalog, which means you can now purchase it in any eReader format.

Isn't technology fascinating?

So feel free to go to this link and download a free sample to (hopefully) whet your appetite.

Stay tuned also for an upcoming book review for William Brian Johnson's "Hell to Pay", available also in eBook format from Hellfire Publishing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Now Available - Get It While It's Hot!

Hey dear readers!

Just a quick note tonight to let you know that Running into the Darkness has been accepted to the Amazon Kindle Edition site and is live.

How awesome is that?

Just run over to and pull up Running into the Darkness under their Kindle store.  As soon as I figure out a way to attach the link via the cover image to both Amazon and Smashwords I will do so.

I'm just not that technologically savvy yet, but I'll get there soon. :-)

The eBook edition is $1.99 at either store, a great bargain if I do say so myself.

You can also find me now on Twitter and Facebook under D A Bale.  If I have time available tomorrow, I will also figure out how to link directly to these sites as well, that is if I can get Mighty Bri to assist.

It's that pesky techie issue again.

Just a reminder again - this story is not for the faint of heart (nor the young).  It takes the depravity of the human mind and soul and displays it for all to see (or read).  Definitely an "R" rating.

You can't say you weren't warned.

Even if you don't own a Kindle, you can download the Kindle reader application directly to your PC - best of all it is FREE!

The application download, that is.

So please visit Amazon this weekend if you've a mind to do so.  Get it while it's hot (smokin')!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rating Success

This week I finally accomplished something I'd anticipated for a huge majority of my life.

I can now call myself a published author.

Though my manuscript is currently under review for proper formatting, cover art, etc., I successfully downloaded the entire thing into the ebook universe.  Even though they will allow purchase of the unreviewed product, I wish to ensure it passes muster before I make it available to you, my dear readers.

It's a pride thing, you know.

Funny thing is, the book wasn't up more than two days and I actually had a purchase.  Yay!  I call that a success.

As soon as it receives the rubber stamp seal of approval, I will link to the sites where it can be purchased and downloaded in all formats, Kindle, Nook, I-pad, Sony, etc.  Until then, enjoy the view of the cover art of Running into the Darkness.

Then I'll give you updates as I have them.  Rating success comes in many forms.  The fact that I completed all of the steps thus far, downloaded my manuscript, and have a purchase under my belt already goes way far in my book.

And all before Christmas!

Yep, I call all of those successes indeed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Goose Is Getting Fat

Oh the frustrations of publishing!

For the past few weeks I've been working on prepping Running into the Darkness for publishing as an eBook.  I'd hoped to have it ready sometime during the month of September.

At this rate, I'll be glad for it to publish before the end of October.

The cover art is delayed.  A few additional edits have made themselves known.  Those who volunteered to read the entire thing for continuity issues have been rather busy.

Plus September is my son's birthday month.  He DOES like the attention.

So now September is waning and October rapidly running upon it like an out-of-control freight train (watched Unstoppable recently).  If only I could get the cover art finalized I think I'd be feeling a little better about the whole process.

In the meantime, I've been trying to finish an odd short story to perhaps publish as well.  It'd be nice to have a couple of items up and available before Christmas.  Time to fatten up that goose!

Here's hoping to tip a glass in celebration before the close of 2011.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm DONE!!!!

I'm done!!!!!

The final edit of Running into the Darkness is in - and I'm very pleased thus far with the final results.  For the next couple of days I'm going to sit on it and let it ruminate, possibly make a few adjustments here and there (I'm just never satisfied, am I?), and then get ready for the big conversion to eBook formatting.  Several of my fellow indie authors have told me that can be quite the nightmare, though I've already done several things suggested on Amazon during the final edit process to help alleviate said nightmare.

Last night when I lay me head down to sleep - I couldn't.  My mind is already swirling with the opening scenes of the sequel - Piercing the Darkness.  Thus I awoke this morning with the need for more sleep, and yet at the same time I felt amazingly energized (at least until the early span of the afternoon).

So I must stay focused and finish the task of RITD publishing.  My cover is being edited, the jacket blurb perfected, and September is just around the corner.  There's still alot to accomplish before the big release.

Then I'd like to get in on a blog tour - but that will come later.

So in the meantime, please enjoy one more small chapter, free of charge, of Running into the Darkness.

And if this is your first visit, go all the way to the bottom for the first chapter and work your way up from there if you wish to follow the sequence thus far.

Thanks for reading!

Chapter 4 - Homecoming

            The Kansas wind buffeted the taxi as it rounded the corner and slid to a stop.  Samantha stared through the frosty window at the old home where Gramm had raised her, the white paint weathered by several Wichita winters, and the concrete walk cracked and buckled by the strong root system of the old elms.  Knowing Gramm, a painting contractor had already been retained to repaint the house come spring.  Gramm always looked ahead to what needed accomplished. 
            Samantha tentatively stepped to the icy walk, took her offered suitcases from the taxi driver and paid him from the money Gramm’s attorney had kindly forwarded.  Then she began the long walk up the sidewalk to the airplane bungalow home.  Gramm’s trimmed rosebushes lined the porch, their unencumbered branches almost shivering as they awaited the warmth of spring.  The porch swing swayed and creaked in the frigid wind.  She and Gramm had shared countless ice cream cones nestled there together and read books to one another.  Joe Roberts had also kissed her for the first time in that swing.
            Shame washed over her at all of the missed opportunities since then, of the fears she’d allowed to keep her apart from Gramm and all of those for whom she’d once cared.  Why did the past have to infect every fiber of the present?  As Samantha slipped the key in the lock she hesitated, the years long wasted away since she’d last used it.  With a begrudging click, the key turned and the heavy front door swung open with a familiar creak.  She confronted the past left behind but never forgotten.
            The green living room carpet had been removed and the old hardwood floors refinished, no doubt because of all the cherry kool-aid Samantha had spilled.  The floral furniture remained as did the lace curtains lining the windows.  A faint scent of lavender tickled her nose as she walked into the dining room.  Same old Gramm.  A chill passed over her at the thought – in all the times she’d considered visiting, never had she imagined returning to an empty house.  Her insides felt as hollow as the eyes of New York’s prostitutes.
            Samantha trudged up the stairs to the loft, surprised to find Gramm had not touched a thing since she’d last left.  The loft – her space.  She’d always kept it lined with navy curtains and filled with as many noisy friends as she could cram into the wide room.  Her posters still covered the walls:  basketball, football, race cars and any other sport to drive Gramm nuts, things devoid of femininity – one of her many areas of rebellion.  Samantha swallowed her tears, set the suitcases beside the bed, and quickly returned downstairs. 
            Gramm’s room had only changed slightly since Samantha’s departure.  Floral curtains draped the windows and a matching comforter spread across the bed.  The manufactured scent of roses hung in the air.  She sat at the edge of the bed and gently stroked the silken pink flowers.  Real roses from Gramm’s garden always replaced the fake ones come late spring.
            The kitchen had been renovated, the only room in the entire house that reflected any real change.  Samantha couldn’t believe after all those years of arguing for a dishwasher that Gramm had finally put in one.  Well no wonder.  Her granddaughter wasn’t around anymore to help with chores.  Shame again gripped her as she imagined Gramm taking care of everything all by herself in her increasingly fragile state.  She felt like such a failure as a granddaughter.
            A six pack of Dr. Pepper sat on the top shelf of the new refrigerator, the date indicating they’d expired.  Gramm didn’t touch sodapop, said it contained no nutritional value, and she’d always refused to buy it.  After Samantha had secured her first paying job she’d triumphantly brought home two cases of Dr. Pepper with her first paycheck and thereafter kept them in a dorm-sized refrigerator in her room to share with friends.  Gramm must have bought the cans when Samantha had talked about coming home for Thanksgiving several years ago.  In the end, she’d just not been able to bring herself to accept that train ticket.  Though it seemed almost a sacrilege, Samantha removed a can and poured herself a glass.
            The bookshelves in the dining room contained various photo albums, and after a pensive deep breath she selected several then sat at the table perusing their history.  Hours passed as she sipped flat Dr. Pepper and reminisced over photos covering her life with Gramm.  A picture of Gramm stood out as she turned the page:  a smile.  She’d always had such a pretty smile but rarely ever used it after that tragic day at the airport.  Samantha had been about nine, and they were sharing ice cream cones in the swing.  Ever the ornery one, Samantha had plunged her ice cream into her own nose, leaving a mess trailing down her chin.  For a moment she thought Gramm would be mad, but instead Gramm had laughed at her antics.  Recognizing the moment, Samantha had grabbed her camera and snapped the picture.
            Tears ran hot, puddling on the picture’s plastic cover and blurring the memory.  The setting sun cast long shadows through the room, her sobs echoing throughout the empty house.
            “I’m all alone.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Snippet and Final Editing

For the last several months I've been frantically working on my final edits to Running into the Darkness.  Everything I've ever read has spoken of the culling of words and condensing of storyline that occurs in the final edit process.

That seems to be off with me somehow.

Before I started my final edit, I read through the story and decided there were some areas where I needed to provide hints and foreshadowing for what was to come.  So I've created some new scenes during the process.  And yes, I've also culled a ton of unnecessary words and a few scenes that didn't add anything much to the story.  In the process, however, I've seen my word count actually RISE - what's up with that?

I guess it's something I'm not going to worry about, and it means my initial drafts needed more assistance than I realized.  Now I'm feeling so comfortable with Running into the Darkness.  The story feels like it has more depth.  I'm hopeful you'll find it that way too.

So next up, please find below another snippet from Running into the Darkness, continuing on in Chapter Two.  Enjoy!

*          *          *
            Snow and ice swirled around the New York night sky and pelted like tiny pieces of hail.   Hail. 
            Hell on earth adequately described her existence.  The biting wind whipped around the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan, cutting through her worn mustard-brown jacket.  Samantha tightened the belt and drew the worn lapels up around her frozen cheeks and hunched down into what little warmth the flimsy coat provided.  A hat and gloves would come in handy on such a night.
            The congestive throng threatened to sweep her from the sidewalk into the street among the honking cabs and cursing drivers.  At least they were all snug in their vehicles with someone to speak to, their rumbling bass keeping par with her chattering teeth.  Sleek stretch limos glistened in the streetlamps, no doubt ferrying the well-to-do to their Connecticut cottages and svelte downtown apartments or a game or concert at Madison Square Garden. 
            Samantha shut her mind to the swelling pity-party and focused on putting one foot in front of the other while keeping her head down from the raw wind.  A nearby subway vent steamed its frosty breath.  She paused to savor the warmth it provided before being crushed forward again by the wave of bodies working their way toward the nearest subway entrance.
            The scent of grease and grime flowed up from the tunneled depths as she made her way down the stairwell.  Thankfully the aching wind could no longer rip through her bones down in the pit known as the New York subway system.  The clink haunted her ears as she dropped a precious token into the turnstile.  At least she wouldn’t be heading this way again soon.  Good riddance.
            Huddled at the platform with the masses, Samantha continued her mental barrage as she waited to board the next train, repeatedly blowing her warm breath into frigid and reddened hands.  Exposed fingers felt as if they would shatter if someone so much as touched them, difficult to avoid in the pressing crowd. 
            Grandma would be disappointed if she ever found out that she couldn’t control her blasted temper enough to hold a residency in even the most meager of New York City hospitals.  Thoughts of Gramm riddled her mind, longing to see her after all of these years, but she just couldn’t bring herself to return home.  Gramm wouldn’t dare set foot on a plane and come to New York – that reasoning she well understood.  Almost ten years and a lifetime of heartache had passed since she’d shaken the dust of the Kansas prairie from her feet and loaded her belongings into that old Chevy Camaro for the long trip to New York University. 
            She’d tried, but the ghosts of the past haunted her previous visits so that she always cut them short.  There was no way she could go back now.  New York was home.  The weekly calls satisfied them both.
            The stench of wedged bodies and sweet perfume coupled with the grease of the pit brought Samantha back to the present.  Her head swam and pounded as they pressed en masse into the rickety silver beast slithering along the tunnels.  Luck finally smiled as a seat opened up for the long ride to her apartment.
            The night shift always presented the most striking characters on the trip home:  businessmen working all hours, Broadway attendees, dock workers, partiers with tattoos and body piercings in areas she didn’t even want to think about, pimps with hollow-eyed prostitutes.  She’d seen enough traumas of street walkers to last a lifetime and harden the average soul. 
            Dr. Gibbon’s words flashed through her mind.  Anger reared again against her chosen profession.  Doctors with years of standing saw the prostitutes not as flesh and blood with names but as numbers, mere things to be thrown away.  Was she the only one who saw them as members of the human race?  Pimps saw them only for the cold cash their bodies brought.  The average person saw right through them as if they weren’t even there, except the johns who secretly needed to use them to satisfy their own urges.  Then the stupid girls who survived their trips to the emergency rooms would go right back onto the streets all bandaged and bruised, returning like dogs to their own vomit. 
            There goes the emotional turnstile.  Emotion always got in the way – and therein presented her biggest hurdle.  Time and again her instructors cautioned her to turn off the spigot.  If she didn’t stop wearing her emotions, no matter how talented she grew, the industry would end up chewing her up and spitting her out.  Try as she might, Samantha was either controlled by sorrow over circumstances she witnessed or the anger which welled up at feeling utterly helpless.  Now she couldn’t even control her emotions enough to keep a paying residency position.  At least she still had the clinic in which to keep her sanity, but volunteer work didn’t cover personal expenses.
            Twenty-seven, unemployed and riddled with more debt no normal human being should carry.  Samantha sighed.  If she said anything to Gramm, the woman would bend over backward, mortgage the house, find her a job at a local hospital and beg her to complete her residency in Wichita.  However, New York offered the opportunity to hone her surgical skills among the best hands in the world.  She couldn’t pass it up.  But she’d blown it – blown it big.  Monday morning she’d have to fess up and try to explain the latest snafu in her residency requirements.
            The train finally released her from its grasp just as she’d achieved normal human body temperature.  Samantha had almost forgotten how desperate the late February cold had felt forty minutes before until she stepped from the grease pit into the aching wind.  Tenement buildings with homeless living under the stairwells lined the road as she stumbled to the one called home.  With stiffened fingers she maneuvered her key into the lock, slipped into the dark and dingy alcove to gather her supply of mail before trudging up rickety narrow stairs. 
            Good old 1104, with the rusting bathroom sink and creaking walls that kept out only the faintest noise.  Pretty amazing digs for a doctor.  If only for the university dorm again.  It wasn’t for the sparsely furnished room itself she pined, but the bubbly roommate with whom she’d shared it.  They’d managed to room together during the last four years, but fellowship and residency didn’t allow for anything but long persistent hours.  Slowly all of her classmates had drifted back to their little corners of the world.  Oh to have time for a friend.
            An overnight envelope lay just inside under her front door.  The return address caught Samantha’s eye – Mr. Eddis’ law firm out of Wichita.  Maybe he’d discovered something left over from her parents’ estate.  If so, it couldn’t come at a better time.  She ripped through the envelope and drew out a $5,000 check, but the memo line cut her celebration short – ESTATE ADVANCE.  A cloud of unease settled over her as she scanned the enclosed letter, the words swimming before her eyes.
            Gramm was dead.

Chapter 3 - Fireball

            The boarding pass wavered noticeably as Samantha passed it to the attendant, sweat gathering on her brow even as she made her way down the cold tunnel and stepped across the threshold into the 737.  The air stale, her knees weak.  The flight attendant must have recognized her dazed state and therefore helped her find and settle into the assigned seat. 
            Until that moment she’d kept her promise never to fly.  Even now Samantha knew she could leave the plane and rent a car, but covering that distance in her present state would only make for another funeral.  Anyway last night’s macabre call to Mr. Eddis confirmed the need for haste only a plane trip offered.  She dug around her purse for the prescription she’d picked up on her way to LaGuardia, begged a water from the attendant, then washed down four pills instead of the prescribed two.
            Just to be sure.
            Her eyelids drooped even as the plane taxied then lifted off the runway, her stomach fluttering as the plane banked toward Kansas and what awaited.  The thoughts had long been buried with her parents, but the old memory surfaced in a dream as Samantha slept away the long plane ride. 
*          *          *
            She’d been five years old then as she stared at her reflection in the big glass window.  How she hated the long brown ringlets Gramm had curled that morning.  Brown poop, that’s what they looked like.  Then  pink – of all colors she could have chosen for her dress Gramm had chosen pink, a girlie-girl color.  She scratched at the crinoline skirt and practically danced a jig trying to reach the spot where the tag itched.  Momma would never have made her wear such a thing to the airport.
            “Samantha, stop dancing around and stand still,” Gramm commanded.
            Prim and proper, that described Gramm.  Sit up straight and lift the chin.  Everything in its place and a place for everything – or was it the other way around?  Gramm’s white gloved hand clutched the navy handbag while she adjusted the white pillbox hat then applied yet another coat of bright red lipstick.
            Samantha focused her attention back to the runway and leaned her forehead against the cold glass.  The wild wind off the Kansas plain blew the snow across the concrete.  Gramm had called it the ‘tarmac’.  Sounded like something from McDonald’s.  Yes ma’am, I’ll have a Big Mac please, hold the ‘especial sauce and add some tar.  She giggled, imagining Daddy saying that in the drive-thru.  Maybe they’d stop there on the way back to Gramm’s house for some real food.
            As the glass fogged over, Samantha leaned closer and smashed her nose against the window, puffing and filling the surface with steam.  She grew lost in her world of stick figures as she smeared the fog into shapes.
            “Samantha Jane Bartlett!  Stop that this instant and come be seated.”
            Samantha rolled her eyes and dragged her shoes across the carpet, knowing it would drive Gramm bonkers if she didn’t pick up her feet.  Scuff marks on the white patents would surely send her flying higher than an airplane.  When Samantha plopped down in a chair she made certain to leave an empty seat between them.  The space disappeared as Gramm moved over and patted her knee.
            “They’ll be here soon, Samantha dear.  Just try to be patient.” 
            The speeches began on the importance of Momma and Daddy’s trip to D.C. while Samantha slumped in her chair and scratched against the plastic back.  Gramm droned on and on about how nice it was that her Samantha could visit her in Wichita and that she didn’t get to see her little Samantha enough, blah, blah, blah.  But then Gramm said something that caught her ear.
            “Boeing merged with Stearman here in Wichita years ago.  Your father had such an opportunity knock at his door that he packed you all up and whisked you off to Seattle when you were just a baby.”
            “You mean I was born in Kansas?” Samantha asked.
            Gramm smiled and patted Samantha’s cheek with a scratchy gloved hand.  “But of course, my dear.”
            Too much to stomach.  She was a good Seattle girl, not some hokey from the sticks.
            Glancing at her watch then staring out the window, Gramm interrupted Samantha’s drear thoughts.  “I’ll bet that’s your parent’s plane coming in for a landing.”
            Samantha shot out of her chair and plastered her body against the glass, ignoring the chill.  Gramm stood beside her without scolding and said something about a 737, but all Samantha could see was the plane that carried Momma and Daddy.  They’d never left her alone with Gramm for two whole weeks.  Her heart pounded as the plane’s nose turned toward them and scooted along the concrete.
            Then she stared in confusion as a huge orange ball took the place of the plane.  The building rumbled and swayed beneath her feet like they were having an earthquake, but they were in Kansas not Washington.  People screamed as the explosive power swept across the tarmac and hit the glass enclosure.  The windows crackled and erupted as Gramm swept over her and cradled her body beneath her own. 
            As the flying glass settled and the winter wind blasted through the building’s shell, Samantha craned her neck to see balls of fire fall from the sky.  Sirens wailed as emergency trucks raced over and surrounded the fire, spraying pink foam all around the area.  Fluffy like Daddy’s shaving cream.  Pink like that Pepto stuff Momma would take when her stomach hurt.  Pink like her dress. 
            Her chin burned.  Samantha freed an arm and scratched at it, blood oozing down her arm and dripping bright red spots on her dress.  She never liked pink anyway.
*          *          *
            Turbulence jolted Samantha awake, her pulse pounding in her ears as her past closed in on her present.  Instinctively she scratched at the thin scar trailing across her chin – forever the reminder of the promise she’d made never to set foot on a plane.
            After the day of her parents’ death.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Indie Publishing - RITD Excerpt

So here I sit on the verge of indie publishing.  I thought I might take my fellow readers along for the journey.  To get the proverbial ball rolling, here's a small excerpt of my coming thriller - Running into the Darkness.  Look for it in September on an eBook template near you.  You can also find me at

Chapter 1 - A Bloody Mess

            The storage room door burst open and toppled boxes of gauze across the glaring white floor.  Samantha Bartlett awoke as the torrent pelted her, then stared through glazed eyes as the new wild-eyed resident doctor came into focus.
            “Incoming multiple wounded!”
            The brain fog dissipated as Samantha peeled herself off the linoleum and shot down the hallway to ER.  If only to have more than a catnap – cats themselves wouldn’t survive on the naps she took.  The instructors had spoken about it in medical school but living it was something else entirely.  The life of New York residency – always looking for sleep in all the wrong places.
            “What’s happened?” Samantha asked.
            “Several stabbings – one shot, and another who isn’t expected to survive the ambulance ride.”
            Controlled chaos greeted them as they rushed around the corner into the unit, the scent of sterility invaded by blood and sweat.  Wounded were shuffled through triage, vitals checked even as gurneys were wheeled through the trauma center.  Blood trailed across the unit as staff swarmed each body and connected patients to oxygen and cardiac monitors.  Questions and commands overcame the screams and reverberated throughout the room.
            “I need a suture tray over here.”
            “What’re his vitals?”
            “Blood pressure is dropping.”
            “Strap down his arms.”
            “We need to intubate now!”
            Second year residency starting now.  Samantha snapped on gloves and jumped into the fray with her team as they cut off the bloody shirt.  “What do we have here?”
            The attending nurse rattled off statistics.  “Male, approximately 50-years old.  Multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and neck.”
            “Do we know what happened?”
            “Altercation at a hotel known for prostitution.  Girls over there say he’s a john gone wrong.  Got the pimp and hotel owner after apparently filleting one of the other girls.  A couple tried to stop him.”
            “Blood type?”
            The cardiac monitor pulsed a steady rhythm.  “Blood pressure is weak but stable.”  She probed the wound in the neck.  Bullet didn’t appear to have hit a vital artery.  “Get a line in him and shoot me a picture so we can prep him for surgery.”
            “Yes, Dr. Bartlett.”
            Police officers herded the other hookers into a holding area as Samantha turned her attention to her patients.  Prostitution – sad business.  What desperation would drive someone to even consider such a life, much less participate in it?
            An occupied gurney sat unattended along the wall, a stained sheet haphazardly tossed over the body of a female.  A dark red stain seeped through the sheet, and almost imperceptibly the sheet moved up then down.  Samantha’s heart raced with stark realization. 
            The girl was still alive.
            She dashed to the gurney and called out for a nurse.  As she pulled back the sheet, she swallowed the rush of horror that rose in her throat.  The victim – the prostitute.  Parts of the chest, face, and arms had been sliced all the way into muscle as if someone had tried to conduct vivisection on a living human being.  Blood oozed like lava from the layers of tissue.  The paramedics hadn’t even untied the poor girl’s hands.  Samantha sliced through the rope with a scalpel.
            “Find a vein, we need a vein.”
            Together they searched the bloody mass for an adequate vein, the arms eaten up by heroin tracks.  The nurse finally located one in the leg, inserted the IV and got the blood line connected while Samantha loaded up and injected albumin.  A weak and unstable pulse registered as the nurse hooked up the cardiac monitor.  No time to prep for surgery.  The girl would never survive the elevator ride, however if they could just stabilize perhaps she’d have a chance.
            “Five cc’s of epinephrine,” the nurse stated as he handed over the syringe.
            Had to work fast.  No time to be neat.  Those deep cuts needed attending to before the adrenaline took full effect.  She had to suture multiple layers instead of one at a time.  “Increase IV drip and keep a close watch on that bag.  Do you have a standby?”
            “Yes, Dr. Bartlett.”
            Though the task seemed impossible, she started piecemeal at the neck on a long and deep puncture, sutures broad and wide as she began the arduous process of stitching the poor girl back together, searching for perforated vessels or organs.  The slices of skin and tissue were precise, as if the john had a knowledge of anatomy.  The detectives would want to know later.  As the flow of fluids into the body increased, the ooze of blood turned into a stream.  The pace of the monitor intensified.  They needed at least to match the inflow with the outflow to have even a millimeter of chance at saving her.  Samantha focused on maintaining a steady hand.
             “Dr. Bartlett, I need your assistance please.”  Dr. Gibbon, the attending physician, tried to draw away her attentions. 
            Not tonight, please not tonight. 
            “I’m with a critical patient, sir.”  She continued suturing and spoke to the nurse.  “Have a crash cart standing by.”  The unsteady beep of the monitor screamed the precarious situation of her patient. 
            “Dr. Bartlett, you will assist me now.”
            Ignore him, ignore him. 
            Samantha gritted her teeth and persisted in attempt to save her patient.  Sweat dribbled into her eyes, while anger knotted her stomach as she fought to hold back an avalanche of expletives. 
            The monitor flat lined.  “Defibrillator!”
            The nurse handed over the paddles.
            The body convulsed as blood spattered from the wounds.  No pulse.  She warmed up the paddles and shocked the girl a second time.  Nothing.
            The nurse had another syringe ready before she even asked.  “Five cc’s of epinephrine, doctor.”
            Samantha snatched the syringe and injected the contents into her patient, blood pulsating in her ears.  She willed the girl’s heart to start again, but the steady high-pitched whine of the monitor only mocked her efforts.
*          *          *
            The dingy wall housing Dr. Gibbon’s plaques, framed degrees, and awards ridiculed her with their accumulated honors and years of service to the medical community, but the years and accolades had only hardened his soul to the human condition.  Would he even listen to reason this time?
            Dr. Gibbon’s dark eyes seethed as he looked up from his ancient, cluttered desk.  “There is no question that your skills surpass any second year resident I’ve worked with, but there is no room in this respectable institution for those who do not follow orders from their superiors.”
            Respectable?  In whose eyes? 
            “Sir, I was with another critical patient when you called.  What was I supposed to do – leave her to die alone?”
            “She was dead-on-arrival.”
            “But I had a pulse on her.  Didn’t you hear the monitor?”
            “No, you were just trying to make another one of your damned points.  There was no way she’d survive.”
            “Making a point?  She was very much alive when I found her shoved off to the side.”
            The vein in Gibbon’s temple throbbed as his face flushed red.  The room reverberated as he pounded his fists on the desk and towered over her. 
            “She was just another prostitute.”
            “And I suppose you are the morality police?  I, sir, take the Hippocratic Oath seriously with all of my patients, not just the ones who advance my career and enhance my reputation.”
            Dr. Gibbon’s face contorted as he pointed to the door.  “Get out of my hospital!”

Chapter 2 – Hello and Goodbye

            The crowd opened before her as the girl exited the hospital.  She appeared alone in a sea of people.  As if preparing to cross the street, she glanced in both directions, stared at her hands before stuffing them into her jacket pockets, and glared at the sidewalk.
            The night lit up as if it were day through the special sunglass lenses.  He stared at her.
            Look up.  Look up.  What’s she waiting for? 
            He brought her image closer into focus then zoomed in on her face.  He would be ready for that split second opportunity.
            As if on command she jerked up her head and jutted out her chin defiantly before stepping into the crosswalk.
            Just like her mother.
            The familiar scar trailed across her jawline in plain view.  With a press to the nose piece, he captured her image and transmitted the signal.  Then he double-tapped his ear and spoke as he blended back into the frosty night air.
            “It’s her.”
*          *          *
            The echo of the pounding gavel indicated another sale by Carlisle’s, the premier auction house of New York.  Late evening auctions for such a prestigious firm were rare, but exceptions transpired on occasion to accommodate the schedules of wealthy repeat patrons.  Even so, business made Ben late for this important event, not to mention the Saturday evening traffic worming their way to the latest Broadway offerings.
            Personal excursions were a thing of the past, opportunity to schlep in close proximity to both the rich and scum of New York humanity sporadic at best since accepting his position.  Tonight he’d satisfy two urges in one overnight hustle.  He only hoped the first hadn’t made him too late for this one.
            After he registered and entered the spacious auction room, momentary eye contact and an almost imperceptible nod told him he’d arrived just in time.  Since he had no intention of staying for the remainder of the sale, Ben took residence against the back wall near the doorway to await his purchase.
            The painting was nothing really, just a tiny blip on the radar by comparison to the work currently on display and bidding upward of two million.  But he had to obtain the historical piece to hang in his office, if only for the irony.  The boss would find the congruency quite humorous.
            The gavel slammed down again, closing the current sale at a crisp $2.4 million dollars.  The voluptuous redhead, his eyes and ears at Carlisle’s, set a new canvas in the easel.  With practiced flourish, she removed the cloth like a matador at a bullfight, exposing the image of the ship languishing among jagged icebergs.  The attendees released their collective breath of disappointment, most burying their heads in their catalogs while others glanced away and yawned or checked messages on their cell phones.
            He’d get it for a song.
            A mere seven minutes later and fifty-three thousand dollars lighter, he waited in the back of the limousine, irked that he’d gotten into a slight bidding war with a phone handler whose client was probably some idiotic history buff.  Frustration melted away when the package passed through the doorway into his hands, the redheaded handler with it.  Fifty-three thousand dollars was forgotten as she slid onto his waiting lap, her tongue snaking its way deep into his mouth.
            A small price to pay to mix pleasure with business.