Man’s best friend!

 

Ha-Ha!

What a witty saying this is. All of us who read will certainly relate to this clever quote, especially we dog-lovers.

Reason to celebrate, I have finally completed the proofread and am very excited about the new mystery thriller.

We still have a final read to do… and then I’ll be getting some trusted literary friends to have a read and give me some feedback for the final tweaks.

In order to start promoting the book for its launch, I will be introducing the storyline and some of the characters over the next few weeks. I am also going to be asking for your help, as the baffling plot has also left us baffled about the title.

Don’t worry… the ten-minute thrillers will be continuing as well, so there will be a new story up on my site very soon!

I would like to thank you all for the flood of feedback I have been receiving for the short stories and my poem. This is one of the best parts of my job… the other is simply that my chair swivels!

 

 

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Relic Hunter… a stolen affair?

I am making terrific progress with my novel, and I hope you all enjoyed reading the small excerpt that I posted last week. The comments you have sent me are greatly appreciated and inspire me to continue…

Since it has been a while since I treated you to a ten-minute thriller, I have put in an extra effort to get this out to you. I hope you enjoy the adventure…

 

“The Final Clue”

 

When striking a literary chord… the word Africa exposes the raw emotions of romance, adventure, treasure, lust, murder, jealousy and of course, mystery. All have a perfectly resonating allure — making even the deafest of ears prick straight up. We all love a great story, especially when good triumphs over evil. But what if you were one of the evil ones?

It was January 1934 and the temperature had soared into the excruciating. The non-stop distant rumblings of jungle drums, beating their rhythmical pattern, overshadowed every sound. Eager young relic hunter — Jacinta Rhodes, couldn’t believe her luck when she stood at the Gates of Magumembo, observing the sheer cliff faces, deep within southern Africa. The cerulean sky stretched endlessly above, punctuated only by five small clouds quickly evaporating in the oppressive heat. Her distinctive silhouette, with legendary desert khakis and trademark sable fedora hat, stood motionless. Lodged between a giant thirty-metre-wide gorge, with inch-perfect tolerances, sat two enormous solid gates. These gates held a treasure behind them, according to the ancient map she was holding in her hand. Guided by the elaborate messages, inscribed upon eight ancient papyrus scrolls, they had finally arrived!

Though a Romanian national, her father was a British sailor who’d married a woman from Bucharest at the turn-of-the-century. Born a year later, the unfairly attractive young adventurer was a living fireball of beauty and passion, with a face of blazing loveliness and a Mediterranean temperament to match it. Her right-hand man for the expedition, a Dutch-born stentorian speaker, Johannes Van der Meer, couldn’t help himself — but he did, anyway… The pair had become lovers — thrust together for the extensive journey and galvanized by each other’s charm. He couldn’t resist her romantic Gypsy magnetism — she couldn’t resist his handsome ruggedness.

For Jacinta Rhodes, though, this story began many years prior…

After settling in the central mountains, a millennium earlier, a tribal descendant of the early Tsonga people known as Rivombo, had stumbled across a magnificent greyish-white metal. This metal was platinum, and the Rivombo settlers had mined the ore and discovered a method of smelter for the dense metal’s very high melting point. To these natives, the majesty of this white gold was far higher than its modern-day monetary value. To them, it represented tribal supremacy and everlasting strength. They wore it around their necks and wrists into battle, believing the shimmering silver metal would protect their spirits and guide them into the afterlife if slain. The success of this tribe, in battle, had spread their bloodlines far and wide throughout southern Africa. The secret mine, where they extracted the rich ore had never been disclosed. Kept secret also, was the ancient stone vault which stored their reserves, high in the mountains.

The secret of these riches was not leaked until the fifteenth century. In 1498, during a search for African riches, namely spices and gold, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer and once Viceroy of India, had been one of the first Europeans to see the mouth of the Limpopo River. His tiny 27-metre ship, a carrack called São Gabriel of 178 tons, anchored there. A crew had sailed up the river and met with the Sultan of Mozambique. This turned to hostility when suspicion of their true objective was revealed. Vasco da Gama absconded with his life and knowledge. His scribe created the eight scrolls of secrecy, which exposed the whereabouts of the treasure trove. He never returned — his destiny remained in India. Over the many decades that followed, several attempts to procure the bullion have resulted in dismal failure and death, following resistance by the Rivombo descendants. Without the map or scrolls, would-be treasure hunters were completely in the dark.

The legend, according to the scrolls, had described in Portuguese Latin, the route to the discovery of a rare and beautiful, silvery-white, precious metal being worn by the natives. Luckily for Jacinta, these had been illegally procured by her artefact-seeking great-grandfather during one of his many trips to Lisbon. The hunt was on.

The scrolls she had. The map she had. The treasure’s secret she wanted to unveil.

Each scroll had a puzzling question written in an old form of Portuguese. She was fluent in Swahili, Hebrew, and also Bantu, which are widely spoken in Africa… and fortunately for Miss Rhodes, she also held a master’s degree for this ancient language known as Vulgaris Latin, achieved at The Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași. This skill made her one of only a handful of people in the world capable of deciphering the cryptic questions.

It had been an epic journey to this point. Africa in its rugged central core is slow to negotiate. In 1934, it was even slower…

After two thousand kilometres of rock-strewn landscape, their seven old 1920s Ford AA trucks were terrain-battered and tired. When the expedition started, there were ten such light logistical trucks. After two broken axles, three shredded gearboxes and one seized motor, the mechanic, Harry “Helping Hands” Murdoch had cannibalized the wrecks for salvage purposes. The metal skeletons of the remnants now lay in the burning heat, to be pecked clean by human vultures. Fuel was scavenged from outposts and the occasional dirt-runway airport. They hunted wild game and gathered indigenous fruit to supplement their crude supplies. Water was sourced from the river.

For the last two years, they had travelled through the rugged Highveld Plateau, following the north-east flowing zigzagging path of the river, but a mistake had been made. Miss Rhodes’ attempts to interpret the clues, for the whereabouts of the gates, on the second last scroll didn’t correlate with the map, and she had guessed. The map had indicated a turnoff from the Limpopo River, but she had misread the instructions, taking the much wider Mokolo River. The expedition’s doctor, Louis Jean Voîtures, had also died of malaria three months ago. The loss of such a vital member of their expedition, and having to backtrack, had been costly in time and morale was now at an all-time low. The roads they had to negotiate were nothing more than red dirt pathways, beaten wide by the constant file of elephants and other beasts, wandering along the broad shoreline. But feisty Jacinta was determined to succeed.

They had to return to the fork at the Mokolo and Limpopo Rivers. The term Old Man River personifies the Limpopo beautifully. The ancient body of slow-moving water has glistened out here in the African sun for aeons. The source was in the high lands where the Marico and Crocodile Rivers began. For hundreds of kilometres, the Limpopo and Marico Rivers ran side by side. A confused interconnected patchwork of water and landmass, almost too difficult to navigate had cost them vital time as well as supplies. Their journey had become fraught with many dangers. As if the extreme weather, wild animals and remoteness were not enough to contend with… there were also the native tribal warriors. Out here, running from the Assegai is a way of life. These range-weapon spears, used by the Zulu and Nguni people, since time began, are as mysterious as they are deadly.

Now, this courageous woman stood at the doorstep of victory…

Jacinta had made up for her error, by guiding the expedition’s remaining contingent of eight males and four females, using a mysterious sixth sense. She knew her destiny and followed her trusted hunches. The others had no choice, but to believe in her… tolerances had been strained to their maximum. Now here, a fever of bristling enthusiasm twitched each adventurer’s heartstrings. The weary dozen comrades were staring at the immense bronze gates, fabricated from Benin bronze nearly a thousand years ago. At a staggering twenty metres tall and fifteen wide, each gate must have weighed over one thousand five hundred tons. The five hinges securing them, each the size of a man but twice as wide, alone would have weighed several tons. There were no handles, nor locks to speak of. It looked impregnable. Not another soul was in sight. It was a non-baleful but somehow unnatural sensation. Jacinta’s sweat-soaked felt hat hung from its cord on her back, her eyes strained on the text.

“So, what does it say, yar?” barked Johannes, suffocating in his own excitement. His big hand nearly tearing the fragile document from her grasp.

“Quiet, Diamond Jim,” she replied, using his preferred heroic explorer’s title. “I am having trouble reading the last eight words.”

“Thought you would’ve had it memorized by now, yar my darling!” he laughed, placing an arm around her tiny waist.

“Jim, this document is over five hundred years old. This form of Vulgar Latin is no longer used. You have seen it on many occasions. The handwriting is poor and has severely faded. There are some letters missing. Believe me, I am doing my best. Even through my magnifier, it is difficult.”

“I helped you solve the other clues which brought us here. We were all counting on your genius Doctor Rhodes!” His sarcastic wink was both swashbuckling and irritating.

“Alright, mister cleverness — help me with it. To my best ability, I think it says; RESPONDEO TALE SIT IN EJUS SINGULIS DOCUMENTIS CONECTITUR NUMERUS PLACE.”

“Yar! Which exactly translates to…?” Diamond Jim had no dialect knowledge, outside of Dutch and English, the latter by which they always used, to converse to one another.

“Roughly it means; EACH DOCUMENT HAS ONE ANSWER IN ITS NUMBERED PLACE. But that makes very little sense to me right now. I have read all the documents hundreds of times and translated every word. To begin with, there are no such numbers inscribed.”

Bamboozled also, Johannes stared at the greenish-golden gates in all their vastness, in search of another clue. There were heavily eroded engravings and markings embossed on the towering solid bronze gates. Like the twelve apostles who sought to represent the fundamental faculties that embody our divine nature, the eleven other faces joined with his and feasted their eyes over the huge stockade. The gates offered nothing, creating more questions than answers. The towering rock faces beside each gate were attractive, in their own way, with their jagged relief of multi-coloured faces. Eroding words of wisdom were engraved by the Rivombo ancestors on the smoothened surface in huge metre-high letters. Up close, Jacinta translated their thought-provoking incitements to regale the rest. The team sat in the shade of a sprawling Acacia tree and inspected the rolls of papyrus, looking for an overlooked answer. They pondered until nightfall.

They had set up camp by a convenient loop in the river some distance away.

That night Jacinta couldn’t sleep. The humidity was unbearable and the air, thick with insects, made it almost impossible to breathe. She sat in her tent with the oil lamp slowly burning, as was the riddle in her mind. Hours passed by with the relic hunter, still wearing her boots, eventually dozing off with the collective of scrolls across her chest. She dreamed most of the remainder of the night, then, just before light, burst awake, stirred by the solution…

“Of course,” she said, fumbling to place them back in order. She refilled her oil lamp, relit it, and looked at the very first word on the first document and read it aloud. “CLAVIS.” It had never made sense as to why it was there in the first place. Then on the second scroll, she inspected the second word and sounded it aloud. “EST.” Then the third from the third. “INTUS.” …and so on. Miss Rhodes scribbled the words down in their respective order on her notebook and said them out loud. After reading the scrolls on numerous occasions she had been mystified by these out-of-place words but not thought much about them. Now they made perfect logic, but did they?

Diamond Jim rushed inside her tent. “What are you uttering?”

She repeated them to him. “CLAVIS EST INTUS SOLDANO MOZAMBIQUE CONJUNCTUS EST CLYPEUS.” Her tired face looked a shadow of its former Romanian splendour, but it was forgivable, given the hour. “I have solved the final clue!” She showed him how she had figured out where each word of the phrase came from. “And it converts to, THE BOLT or KEY IS INSIDE THE SULTAN OF MOZAMBIQUE’S SHIELD.”

“You astonish me, I am lost in admiration.” He kissed her filth-ridden face. “Considering the fact that he died over four centuries ago — now all we need to find out is what the heck to do next!”

They stepped out from her tent, to be greeted by the morning’s awakening sunlight; its rays creeping over the mountain range behind them. Jacinta circled Jim as he lit a cigarette to think, his back was to the Gates of Magumembo. They were joined by the others who had woken to their dawn chatter. Van der Meer rubbed his ample jaw, shook his head, and said, “I got nothing. How about you?”

She looked in his eyes and said, “What if I’m wrong, again? Perhaps it is not spurious!”

“Is that more Latin, yar?” he asked, exhaling a cloud of spent tobacco. “It’s not like you to be wrong. How unusual.”

“No, silly it means genuine. What if the whole thing is a wild goose chase?”

“Then I guess we’ve had a good time becoming this wretchedly filthy, yar?”

Then she saw it…

As the sunlight wandered its way from the two dividing clifftops to the valley floor, filtered through his cloud of smoke it reflected a perfect image of a gigantic shield-carrying warrior etched on the left cliff face. On the right was a female. The words of wisdom had been carved below their feet. In this hue of light, they were obvious, but almost before she could mention it, the increasing brightness began dissolving the carved relief’s shadows.

“Look!” she blurted with a smile as bright as the very sun itself. Jacinta’s finger pointed over his shoulder. “Side-by-side, on the escarpments either side of the gates. And if I’m not incorrect…” she hesitated, noticing a glint at the very summit. “There is something shining up there.”

Within the hour, Johannes had scaled to the top, using his bare hands. He stood on a narrow ledge holding onto a deliberate metal hook. Through his mind passed the words; Those ingenious devils, they thought of everything.

The contingent stared aloft as he vertically withdrew an enormous platinum key, over a metre long, from a cavity at the top of the carved shield. The magnificently fabricated piece of engineering had an intricate zigzag pattern of ridges and notches down the blade, each the size of his hand. Its circular head, about the size of a large dinner plate, bore an engraving of the Sultan. This was the bit that Jacinta had noticed when the sun struck it. With every ounce of strength he had left, Jim held it aloft. They cheered with vigour.

Harry “Helping Hands” Murdoch cupped his palms and yelled from below, “Can you see where it might fit, to open the gates?”

Diamond Jim pointed to where the two massive gates met. From up here, roughly one hundred metres above ground, he could tell they were easily wide enough to walk out on. At the meeting point, he could just make out a slot. He shouted back. “I can see the lock, but it will take two of us to get it across. Come on up and help me Hands.”

Percival Straughn, a demure archaeologist with the team shouted, “What can you see on the other side of the gates, DJ?”

“Two gargantuan chains fixed to the gates’ centres. And, what looks like a fortress or at least the remains of one. There’s a set of steps leading to a doorway and thousands of bones. They appear to be human.”

Harry Murdoch packed a tin of grease in his knapsack and steadily scaled the vertical cliff. The two men precariously wandered out along the top of the gates, carrying the large heavy metal key, twenty metres up from the rocky ground below. The entry point was smeared with grease and the key was tilted to vertical and lowered into place. The tip fed slowly in, tight with the tarnish of grit, built up over time in the lock’s grooves. The two men pressed it down and heaved the head clockwise. They could hear the tumblers meshing inside the enormous barrel.

“Such technology, for so long ago,” said Harry. “It is fantastic.”

“What is fantastic, Hands, is the fact that it still works, yar!” replied Jim, hearing it click home.

At that moment, they had to brace as the gates gradually groaned open. Both men witnessed the taut chains winding back, their unseen ends feeding into the rock face nearby.

Murdoch barked over the noise. “Must be an intricate spring, pulley, and counterweight system. Ingenious. Let’s turn it back and see.”

They wrenched the key back to its original position. The gates stopped, then began to return shut once more. With an agreed nod, they turned it back to clockwise. The Gates of Magumembo opened to their full extent. The excited members hurled a rope over the top to enable each man to climb down, against the other’s weight. The twelve rushed towards the giant steps to prepare to funnel through the doorway — their mouths watering at the prospects of what lay ahead. The fifty steps led down a corridor about the width of a half-decent road. Everything was carved from stone. By 8:30 am, the sun’s heat was intense. Below, in the shadows, a large closed bronze door could be seen. An inscription was just visible at this distance. At which point, Jacinta, still puzzled as to where any inhabitants might have been, went first.

During the entire expedition, not one solitary member had noticed the party of seventeen, following barely an hour in their wake. This group, which had its own wealth agenda, stayed just out of sight every step of the way. They had traced Jacinta’s mistake like a shadow of hungry scorpions in a desert. Right at this moment, a host of powerful binoculars were watching from the foothills, their weapons cocked and ready.

Our daring anecdote will continue…

A preview… never before seen!

Hi everyone,
Yes, the days fall into weeks as I pursue my quest of publishing my next novel. I am working on another ten-minute thriller, however, in the meantime, I would like to share a little piece of the novel with you. I hope you enjoy the read and feel compelled to send me some feedback.

THE NOVEL

(The name is yet to be revealed)

Through the dark, a figure carved its way through the powerful white beams creating a giant shadow on the house’s wall. It was her husband. He’d seen the car arrive through an upstairs window, given her time, and then made his way down to greet her.
‘You okay sweetheart?’ he asked opening her driver-side door. She turned her weary face at his. He softly added, ‘I was just wondering why it was taking so long for you to come up. It’s not like you to dawdle.’
‘Oh, don’t mind me. It has just been a tumultuous couple of weeks, Lomax.’ Chelsea hauled herself out and into a hug. ‘Everything will be alright, once I’ve put my feet up.’
He cupped her face with his hands, kissing her square on the lips. ‘Sure! Welcome home, babe. I’ll bet it gets exhausting, carrying that gun around all day!’ She grinned at his joke.
Chelsea flicked off the headlights, shut the door, and squeezed the key’s button emitting that squeaking sound as the doors locked. Arm in arm they wandered up the drive and passed straight through the front door. He’d left it ajar, allowing a steady stream of background music to fill their ears. She had a stack of manila folders tucked under her free arm with her handbag over her shoulder.
‘So then,’ asked Lomax, smoothly closing the door. ‘I don’t suppose you want to fly out to Tahiti, for dinner tonight, then?’ A sheepish expression followed.
It had already surpassed 8:00 pm. Her brow furrowed, from the effort of raising tired lids. ‘Very funny — but they still have me. I have a few things here, to look over. Then an early night. That okay?’
‘Of course,’ he winked, not being able to resist another jest. ‘First a cop… then a wife!’
Chelsea crinkled her nose and poked out her tongue. ‘Somebody’s got to keep this city safe from the impropriety of lawyers and solicitors.’ They laughed. She kicked off her shoes. ‘Did you feed O and H and my babies?’
‘Your fishes… your responsibility sweetie!’
Chelsea sauntered down the spiral staircase — her hand sliding all the way down the curved bannister. Like always, she skipped away from the second-bottom step. Across the room, a tiny colourful shoal seemed to recognize her arrival; swimming over to meet her in the robust tank’s corner. Their eagerness, at her presence, and the anticipation of supper was obvious. At once, there seemed a noticeable increase in the speed of wagging tails and flapping fins. This quiet fishy conversation brought a smile to her face. More delicious black worms for you!
Afterwards, Chelsea removed the constrictive ribbon used to restrain her hair in business-like fashion all day. She freshened up, later re-joining her man upstairs. They dined at the coffee table, over some small talk, before she settled into the paperwork and Lomax withdrew to his own leisurely pursuit.
Their house’s fourth bedroom had been set up as an art studio. It was within the confines of these four walls that Lomax pursued his passion of recent years — sketching, painting and sculpture. He had a natural flair with his hands, which had quickly and easily adopted the skills of using a brush, charcoal, pencil, canvas, paper, clay, and pallet knife. He had all the various tools required, to paint etch and carve. Chelsea had kindly bought him all the necessaries for his birthday, three years ago, as a fair exchange for the cost, time, and effort she had associated with her pets.
She had her clowns… He had his masterpieces.
She’d frequently marvelled at his developing skills when admiring the small art collection, now dressing the studio’s walls and standing atop their pedestals. Her favourite piece was the beautiful life-size bust of her which he had painstakingly made from a solid chunk of beige polymer clay. A vinaigrette-style poem about her was engraved on its pedestal before the piece was fired. At this stage, none were on display throughout the rest of their home, with Lomax not believing them to be of a standard high enough. His perfectionist defiance irritating her at times. ” Just wait till I get good at it!” he would say.
By 10:30 pm, he’d sidled alongside her chair. A persistent annoying fly had buzzed around Chelsea’s near-empty coffee cup, spoiling her concentration. For over an hour, the irksome pest had become her evening sidekick. She’d finally tired of the minuscule creature and taken a swipe at it. She missed the fly but connected solidly with her mug, leaving a disastrous puddle of spilt coffee. This event terminated her interest in the murder case she was skimming over. The couple called it quits by 10:45 pm, crashing instantly to sleep. As the night progressed, Chelsea’s psychologically active juices began to flow again. The surreal dreamscape, unfolding inside her mind, was one she’d not experienced before. The story itself she knew, but not as a fantasy…
It felt, around late winter of 1978. A determined gentleman in his forties stood outside for several minutes, in the brisk August air. Standing beside him, jittered a young blonde woman of twenty-two years. A thin layer of dew still remained visible on the front lawn — its thick olive weave beautifully punctuated by sumptuous azalea and rose gardens. The chilly morning’s freshness converted their breath to a vapour, as each took turns in synchronized exhalations. Both stared inquisitively, at the front door’s robust oak boards, hanging tightly secured by solid but heavily tarnished metal hinges. Neither spoke at this point, as the home’s daunting enormity stole their thoughts. A second thought thief, was the peculiar fusty smell, wafting from the many chimneys scattered atop its roof pitches. The woman tucked her gloved hands deep into the lapels of her coat, rubbing nervously on her upper arms, before glancing over her shoulder. She had momentarily been distracted by a noisy passing car, roughly one-hundred metres away, down the twisty driveway. The man continued his earnest surveillance of the building’s extremities, taking careful note of the tightness, by which all the windows were secured. These large windows were covered on the inside by heavy non-matching curtains.
‘That would seem to make sense though,’ he was quietly muttering to himself, ‘given the current temperature.’
Strangely, no birds were gathered in the bedraggled but plentiful trees dotted around the sprawling garden. This bathed the house in a veil of silence, adding enhanced eeriness to their current predicament. She was crouching down, to keep warm. The woman’s head returned, to make eye contact with him, easing a hopeful smile back into her forlorn appearance. Still, she found trouble forming words.
They had experienced no problem in locating the place — despite neither having been near this district before. The address scrawled on a piece of paper, remained clutched in his left hand, which fidgeted about in his lumber jacket’s furry pocket. She had given it to him earlier on, when they met at his house, far across town.
‘Come on Isabella, he’s waiting for us,’ he encouraged. ‘We can’t wait out here forever. Nothing will happen… unless we make it happen.’
She stared earthward, exhaling a huge stream of mist which spread as it reached the lawn’s tufts of shaggy mixed clumps. A minute darkened patch appeared, where the frost slightly melted. Isabella’s head nodded. ‘I know Mr Carlington, but I am scared for some reason. Now that we’re here.’
From his pocket, he produced a semi-automatic pistol. ‘I will not let anything happen to you.’ The man raised his finger past her hair, pointing to a distant hill, beyond the house. ‘Take a look at that. It might relax your emotions a little.’
The young woman’s eyes followed the length of his arm, to capture an uplifting view. Through the woven leafless branches, of a nearby colossal tree, she witnessed the setting moon. Its yellowy spherical mass seemed exaggerated in size, through the moist morning air — divulging a hazy broken picture of the satellite’s surface craters. The sun had all but risen on the opposing side of the horizon. This left a pinkish hew on top of the cloud-veil, generously draping its way, between the ageing tree and ancient moon. The cloud’s odd formation stepped in tousled layers, as if it were, a pink waterfall. This tranquil picture painted a sanctuary. Too early for shadows. Too serene for disapproval, and far too peaceful, to harbour an unpleasant scene.
One moment later, a solitary owl’s out-stretched wings found the tree’s convenience — landing the hunter, just off-centre. His feathery outline formed a gallant silhouette, as the wingspan tucked neatly in behind, allowing the hefty bird’s perfect balance to freeze into position. Two large round eyes affronted his huge head. The wily nocturnal appeared hell-bent on making his presence felt. After all, this was his hunting ground and they were intruding on him. For the owl, it was rather late, in his stalking-window. He stared back towards Isabella without blinking. Then, in a moment of stealth, the predator silently dropped on an unsuspecting rodent below, grasping it firmly in its talons, and leaving as swiftly and quietly as it had arrived…
‘Not something you see every day, is it gal?’ voiced the man’s calming reassurance.
Her returning expression bore a pair of compressed lips. She beat the back of her right hand into the left’s gloved palm, confidently uttering, ‘Let’s go in, Mr Carlington!’
‘I’ve told you many times before, missy — for heaven’s sakes. It is time you called me Xav. After all, Isabella, soon you are going to become my daughter-in-law. Now, how about it?’ He reassured her by placing his arm around her waist, to guide them back to the entrance.
‘Sure thing,’ she replied — eyebrows taking a dive. I’ll try to get used to it… but somehow it feels peculiar.’
This young Isabella was, in fact, Chelsea’s mother. This man was Senior Detective Xavier Carlington, father of her fiancé, John. Xavier tried the handle — not even locked. He felt the presence of something gruesome, behind the door, and took a lasting stare into her eyes. He raised the gun to his earlobe — finger twitching its trigger. They entered the premises, without knocking on the unsecured front door, and tiptoed through. Suddenly, less than a handful of paces into the foyer was a confrontation with the unimaginable. Through the mysterious eyes of the dream, Chelsea could see it also, as large as life itself. Isabella let out a gut-curdling scream…
Deveare burst wide awake and sat bolt upright in bed. A smattering of vague awareness stained across her face. With blood racing, she panted through her fingers which had found her lips. ‘Jesus Christ!’

How to guarantee a long life?

Hi Readers! Well, the editing and polishing continue, and I am really happy with the progress and the shape of my next novel. As I endure this repetitive task, I remind myself that if we stopped the act of repetitive tasks in our life… we simply wouldn’t have life! Breathing is a very important one that comes to mind! This one little act ensures the longevity of our life, so I take comfort in the fact that small things certainly do make a big difference.
Here is a little something to entertain you while I remain focused on my mission…
I was looking back over some of my past posts and there is a short story that reminds me of a good friend of mine. This friend has Triskaidekaphobia. Some of you will know what this is, but just in case you don’t, it is the fear of the number thirteen. Peter, you know who you are! For those brave enough to risk flirting with this infamous number, if you haven’t already, have a read… Lucky Number Thirteen?
Will keep you posted! Enjoy another week everyone.

Extra! Extra! How much extra should I do?

As I continue the arduous task of rewriting, the rewritten rewrites, I feel like I am scrutinizing my work, like a bug under the microscope. I am thinking bugs… then suddenly I see a fly land on my computer monitor! My first reaction was to try and scare it off by using the cursor. Has anyone else experienced this silly kind of behaviour?
This reflection reminds me of one of my short stories. You know that the number of times you catch someone watching you will be in direct correlation to the number of times you actually do something stupid. You might want to have a read… Don’t Look… You’re Being Followed
Anyway, the new ‘literary masterpiece’ continues to be manipulated… Ten-minute thrillers remain on hold, for now! How much longer you ask? Well, I am happy to say that the work is progressing a little faster than I expected.
Will keep you posted! Enjoy your week everyone.

 

28th July 2018 – Life is amazing!

Wow! It has been a while since I have posted anything on my site. So here goes…

I have been busily working on a couple of new projects during the last few weeks. Nothing like writing three books at once!

I have been getting some pages out to a few friends and family to get some feedback on the main project at hand. Yes… I am still not settled on the title. This is the real hard part of the journey that tests your patience to the max. It all seems to go at a snail’s pace. In fact, it goes so slow the snails are passing me by.

The old google has also been working overtime to get my ideas together to write the “pitch” for submitting my book to some publishers. You only get one chance with each submission. If you don’t get them hooked to want to read on, well you’re done for!

Just finishing up doing the final read and doing the last “shine” so to speak and then the moment of truth.

On another note, I am thrilled to be invited to speak in front of a writing group about my children’s books. I still have to finalize the details, however this will hopefully be in the next few weeks. I’ll fill you in more once this happens.

 

Keep Smiling!

30th June 2018 – How close?

Another week rolls by… It is quite unbelievable where the time goes.

I finished writing the book back in April, but here I am at the end of June and I have just finished writing it again. Most folks don’t realise that when you write a book, of any size, there are so many words that you can easily lose track of what you have written. So one of the jobs of a writer is to read back through the whole thing to make sure timelines are right and that you haven’t written something and then said the exact opposite e.g. the blonde woman walks into the room and suddenly you find that you have been describing her rich auburn hair… Aargh! Totally wrong.

Next… another read through, just to be sure. This is also when I’ll be looking for keywords that hopefully will give me the title of the book. I have a few ideas currently, however I’m still not settled on one title.

Wish me luck!

four-leaf-clover-152047_640

23rd June 2018 – Nearly there!

Hi everyone! Yes, novel 3 is nearly completed.
Over  the coming weeks I will be introducing my new baby to you all.
You know… the title, some insights to the story line, previews of the cover, as well as some introductions to the main characters.
I thought it was about time I started getting seriously ramped up for the launch of my next book! So I am getting back to my weekly blogs.
 Those of you following me on Facebook will be surprised to see that I have this website. But I will be using this for my weekly blogs as well as keeping you updated on projects and events coming up.
 Well, here goes…
Less distractions for the last week have seen me back at the computer again! The book fine tuning is reaching the final stages. At last! It shouldn’t be too much longer now. By July I should be hitting the pavement and taking my book to various publishers to make this project a reality.
I think I am starting to go a little stir crazy though.
Here is something that I thought was really amazing!
Did you know, that in the incredibly colourful maze of the English language, the thesaurus has 45 different words as an alternative to the common little three-letter-word “red”? This does not include phrases so there are actually a lot more. Here they are if you are interested http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/red 

When is your book ready to publish?

Here is something that goes through my head every time…

Being an author is a strange profession, I am sure you will agree.

We spend hours writing our book/s, then reading it over and over. Every time I read it, I find something that needs changing. These changes can be either typing errors or I see the writing is weak and needs further caressing.

From my perspective, I believe that you should get it as close as you can to being right before giving it to a third party to proof read and edit. Once they have done their job… read it again! This is your baby and it needs your final approval. You know that you will be your toughest critic and will have the best understanding of the integrity of your story and characters.

If you still need changes, do it… once it is published you won’t be changing it again. This is your final product… you have to be happy with it and believe it is good enough for people to buy. Remember you will be the main sales person for your book. The better it is, the more you will believe in the book and the easier your job should be.

Happy story telling…                                                                                                                                                        it’s all about the tale and being able to share it with as many folks as you can!

happy writer

New to blog!

Nice to meet you all.

Well, I have been on a roller coaster adventure ride.

Yes… that’s right! The world of writing, marketing and promotion is now a part of me and I can’t wait to get going with every aspect.

I am also looking to sharing what works… and works differently to expectations.

Stephen James

(adventurous entrepreneur and avid lover of fun!)