I had the wonderful opportunity this month to interview Author Joe Prosit about his new book “Machines Monsters and Maniacs.” Joe is an independent author living in Brainerd, Minnesota with his wife and family. Well known for his writing of short stories, he has won many awards for his writing. Science Fiction, Horror, and Psycho Fiction are not usually in my wheel house of readings. However, I enjoyed every short story in this book. Though it is important to note, I read them in the afternoons and not at night.
What inspired you to start writing?
I don’t know if there was a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. Playing with Star Wars and GIJoe toys turned into drawing comics which turned into writing books and I never really stopped. When I was a kid, writing was a way to funnel my hyperactivity into something cool and exciting during the long boring hours of school. Now that I’m a little more grown up, I still channel my angst and emotion into fiction. But instead of just superheroes, monsters, and laser beams, now it’s fear, grief, remorse, existential dread… and heroes, monsters, and lasers.
What comes first plot or character?
Long before I get to work on the plot or character specifics, I come up with a general setting and vibe of a story. Right now there’s a proto-story swimming around in my head about this land full of meandering silent giants and two governments who are vying for the population’s faith and loyalty. There’s this girl who drives a fast car and smuggles magic drained from the giants across the borders, but I don’t know what she’s like yet other than she’s a nihilist. Do I have a character yet? Not really. Do I have a plot yet? Not at all. But soon, they’ll blend together into something that complements each other. It’s always a dance between character and plot. Without one, the other is nothing.
Tell us about your new book, “Machines Monsters and Maniacs.”
Machines Monsters and Maniacs is a collection of sixteen short stories that have been published in various websites, anthologies, podcasts, and magazines over the past five years. Equal parts science fiction, horror, and what I call “psycho fiction,” if you enjoy the strange, the scary, the odd, the sinful or the mind-bending, there’s something in this collection for you.
Physical, digital, and audio copies are available at my website www.JoeProsit.com. If you already have a copy, let others know you enjoyed it by leaving a review on Amazon.
What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
The devil says the worst vice is advice, but I’ll try to come up with something.
First, have fun. Write what you want to write. Keep yourself excited about your characters, your plot, your setting, and your style. After you’ve had some practice, don’t be afraid to get your work out into the world where you can get some honest feedback from other writers, editors, agents, and the like. Don’t expect immediate success. Always work on your craft. Always try to get better. Keep writing. Put your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard and write.
Tell us what you are working on now and when we can expect to see it.
My current work in progress is titled, “The Shadows Between the Trees.” Right now it’s in its second draft and needs plenty of polishing. A long way to go before it’s ready to be published, but here’s goes my first draft of the elevator pitch:
The Shadows Between the Trees is an adult cosmic horror novel set in small-town Northern Minnesota. When Conrad, an out-of-work businessman, hears his abusive father died, he returns home after twenty-seven years for the funeral only to find he’s inherited his dad’s dilapidated barbeque joint and a half a million dollar debt. But his problems really only begin when he’s stalked by towering sentinel monsters who inject false memories into his mind to lure him away from reality and into the void so they can take humanity’s place on Earth. In order to stop them, Conrad must discern friend from foe, reality from lies, and come to terms with his own past.
Hopefully that’s enough to excite your curiosity while I finish it, edit it, and get it in print. As always, watch for updates on my website, or follow me on Twitter @JoeProsit. Thanks!
Who has spent entirely too many hours researching their newest novel? I know I have. Sometimes to the point I can spend an entire day watching how to build a pipe bomb video. Yes, I do believe one day the FBI will show up at my front door at which time I will award them with free books of my mystery and thriller crime novels. Note to self: keep fresh cookies and coffee on standby.
I have found self-discipline seems to be the key. I often found I was getting sidetracked by minor research as I was writing. Which ended up in my loss of consistency in writing. My advice to new writers is, keep your inner perfectionist under control, be practical in your research. I am a Virgo. Therefore, I am a perfectionist.
I have finally developed a plan for researching each new book I write. I break my research down into two categories. The first category being, before writing research and the second category, after the first draft research. I keep my research organized, using Evernote. It is a magnificent tool for research.
My before writing research consists of researching the locations I am using as a reference. Right down to location, culture, history, plant life, etc. I try to visit that location if my checkbook allows. If not, the internet allows you to travel to that destination and research key points.
From that point, I am developing my major character arcs. For example, one of my characters in my new upcoming series, The Cold Case Chronicles, is a Traiteur. A healer. I researched everything I could find on Traiteur’s, building it in to her character arc.
Once I finished my character development, my story outline, and scene progression. I then start to write my current book. Which brings me to step two in my research development. Researching after the first draft. This is the simple part. When writing, when I come to a part in which I need more research to make my story more interesting, I insert (Research) and highlight it in yellow. It is as easy as that.
After the first draft, I go back and make notes on what added research needs completion, and why. I then conduct my next step research and start my second draft.
Remember, always put your story first. Often authors feel a lack of research and feel they need more and more research. That can often be nothing other than a lack of confidence. Be Bold! Self-discipline is the key. Many hours of research can cause authors to become sidetracked by minor research while writing. Some writers spend so much time researching, they never quite get around to writing that next best seller. So go forth, be bold and write your next best seller!
What are your tips for researching? Leave a comment below.
The final part of Giant by Nature. I hope you have enjoyed the story.
I pulled my head into my shell just as the truck came to an abrupt stop, pushing me hard enough into the box surrounding to break the front of the box apart. Tommy’s father opened the back of the truck and putting a ramp against the back of the truck for me to walk down. I heard Tommy say, ‘Come on Fernando, we need to hurry.’ Then I heard Tommy’s father yell, ‘Julie, get Tommy on the boat.’ I didn’t know who Julie was, but I watched as a woman grabbed Tommy and ran. I moved as fast as I could down that ramp. That woman had Tommy. I had to save him. I followed the woman as fast as I could, hearing Tommy’s dad saying, ‘Hurry Fernando!’
When I got to the boat, I could barely breathe. I may swim at twenty miles an hour in an ocean; on land is another story. My stubby legs and arthritis only let me go so fast, but I made it. As the boat was pulling away into the ocean, everyone on the boat including me, I saw and heard a lot of noise and saw many lights. I figured unless they were going to swim, they were not going to catch me.
I looked around, and the woman was holding Tommy. She was holding him, rocking him back and forth. I walked over to Tommy and stretched my neck for a scratch hearing him say, ‘Mom this is my friend Fernando.’ I was relieved, I didn’t have to worry, that woman was Tommy’s mother.
It was a long trip. I was glad I had the time to spend those days with Tommy. We sat in the sun, and I gave Tommy rides around the boat. That woman, his mother, she fed me watermelon every day. I thought earthworms were good. I could spend all day eating watermelon. I don’t think they realized I could go a year with without eating or drinking anything, but I wasn’t going to turn down the snacks they were giving me.
One morning I was sitting in the sun napping, Tommy was lying on my back and I heard Tommy’s father say, ‘There is the Island!” I looked out the back of the boat and indeed I was home. I was excited and sad at the same time. Tommy climbed down from my back, and said, ‘Fernando, you are home!’ I honked in response to him.
I watched Tommy begin to cry, and I rubbed my head on his red shirt. I knew it was time to say goodbye. I listened as Tommy’s father and the Captain talked about how they could push me off the boat so I could swim to shore. I think they were wondering if I would know what to do.
Tommy’s father said, ‘It is time Tommy Fernando is home and we need to let him go now.’ I rubbed my head on Tommy’s leg and stretched my neck one last time for a scratch. Tommy scratched my neck. He wrapped his arms around my neck and said, ‘I love you, Fernando. Don’t ever forget me. I don’t want you to worry, I will be okay now that I know you will be safe.’
Tommy’s father and the captain opened the door on the back of the boat. I looked at Tommy one last time and dove into the water and swam to shore. I walked to join the others sunning on the rocks and raised my flipper to wave goodbye to Tommy as I watched the boat begin to sail back to San Diego.
I looked at Mateo, and he was smiling. ‘Great story Dad, I am glad you came back home.” “I am too son, now go on back up the hill to the women, I bet they have a treat ready for you. I am proud of you Mateo. Remember this story and tell the others.’ ‘I will dad!’ I watched Mateo move back up the hill. As I looked out across the calm deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, I wondered if Tommy was at peace. It was time to find out. Time to look for that next neck scratch from Tommy. I am one hundred and fifty-one years old. I looked at the Island one last time knowing that Mateo and the other sixteen hundred offspring I have produced would carry on my legacy. All I must do is jump in the ocean one last time, and Tommy and I will be together again. Raising my arthritic body, I jumped into the ocean. Hitting the cool water, I am at peace.
Welcome to part two of my Giant By Nature Short Story. Enjoy! Watch for the last part of the Story next Saturday.
The next Saturday morning, I was at the fence waiting for Tommy to arrive. I saw his father waiting in line with his friend, one of the zookeepers. I didn’t see Tommy. I was worried. Why would Tommy’s father be there without Tommy? I waited for their turn to come. Tommy’s father said, ‘Hello Fernando, I have your carrots.’ I stretched my neck, looking around him, trying to find Tommy. I reluctantly took the piece of carrot; Tommy’s father gave me.
I heard Tommy’s father say to his zookeeper friend, ‘He is looking for Tommy. I was at the hospital this morning, and the doctors told us that Tommy only has a few months left, that the seizures in his brain are getting worse. I don’t know what to do. Tommy’s only wish in life is for Fernando to be safe once he is gone.’ I watched Tommy’s father’s eyes fill with tears. I honked, trying to let him know I understood. I listened closely as his friend said, ‘Then that is what we will do. Tomorrow night we will take Fernando. I have a friend who owns a boat. Fernando originally came here from the Galapagos Islands to bring his species back from extinction. He has done his job. What do you say we take him back home?’
I got excited. These two men wanted to take me home. I started honking loudly, shaking my head back and forth. I needed them to realize that I understood them. Tommy’s father said, ‘I think he can understand us.’ Then he gave me a fat earthworm and said, ‘I will be back tomorrow night with Tommy, Fernando. We are taking you home.’
I ambled up to my favorite rock wondering how to say goodbye to the girls. The next morning, the girls and I went for a swim and sunned ourselves on the rocks. It was time to say goodbye. I said to the girls, ‘Della, Corrine and Fancy, I have news. I am leaving tonight. Tommy’s dad and that zookeeper, Bert, are coming to get me tonight to take me home to the Island. I want you to know I will miss all of you. It is time to say goodbye. Soon another turtle will come to take my place.’
Poor Della, she couldn’t breathe. She said, ‘I don’t care who they bring, I will have no part of him. None of us will, right, girls? There will no longer be any eggs laid at this zoo. I will miss you Fernando, but I am glad you are going home to live out the rest of your life in peace. If a distraction is needed when they come for you tonight, we have that covered.’
Never have I felt such love. I spent the rest of the day sunning and wondering what life would be like on the Island. Darkness fell, and I heard a truck and I knew Tommy’s father had come. They had a gigantic box and had laid carrots out. I believe they thought they needed to entice me into the box. I was ready. I was going home. I went willingly into the box, picking up a few carrots on the way.
We were off! I could hear Tommy in the front of the truck say, ‘Thank you Dad. Fernando will be happy on his Island.’ I was happy to hear Tommy was with us and not in the hospital. I didn’t mind the bumpy ride at all.
Suddenly, I heard loud noises. I had heard them before, coming from the road in front of the zoo. My box filled up with blue and red lights. The truck started to slow. I could hear Tommy’s father say, ‘It’s okay Tommy, we will get Fernando to his Island.’ I shuddered. I knew something was wrong. I listened carefully to the men talk outside saying, ‘Bert, what do you have in the box?’ Bert laughed, and said, ‘It’s Fernando, the missing sea turtle. Looks like the old guy went for a walk. Found him five miles from the zoo, just strolling down the boulevard.’ I saw a face looking through the slats in the box. I smiled at him and started to sing, letting him know I was fine.
I heard the man say, ‘You are not headed back to the zoo, Bert. Where are you going?’ Bert laughed and said, ‘I was having dinner and thought Tommy here would like to go help search for Fernando, I am just dropping them off at home and heading back to the zoo.’ Listening, I heard the other man say, ‘Sounds good. I will let the zoo know you found Fernando and are on your way back.’
The lights moved away, and I heard Bert say to Tommy and his father, ‘We have to move fast. The boat is waiting.’ It felt like the truck I was in was moving fast. I was having a hard time keeping my balance and for a seven-hundred-pound turtle that is not easy.
It wasn’t long after that I could smell the saltwater. Wouldn’t you know it? I could hear those noises and see the blue and red lights again. It seemed like the truck was going even faster. Then the truck turned to the left, and I almost tipped over. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I didn’t know what Tommy would do if I had to go back to the zoo.
Excited to share a new short-story I wrote recently. I will share the story in three parts over the next three weeks. I hope you enjoy it! Please leave a comment, telling me what you think of the story.
I am a Giant of Nature. When you are a sea turtle as old as I am, one hundred and fifty years old. All you want to do is lie on a rock and take in the sun. My son, Mateo, five years old, seemed determined not to let me spend my afternoon napping. “Dad, how did you come to be on our Island?” He asked. I stretched my long leathery neck to look back up the hill to see what the others were doing. They were all resting. Stretching my arthritic body, I smiled at Mateo. He was always interested in everything. Mateo always had a story to tell.
I smiled at Mateo, looked out at the calm sea off the Galapagos Islands and began my story, knowing that Mateo would tell the story again and again.
I was one hundred years old and living at the San Diego Zoo. One Saturday morning, I slept in late, and went out to the yard that overlooked the pool where I often swam. I found the girls, Della, Corrine, and Fancy already enjoying the sun of the day. Della said to me, ‘Good Morning Fernando, it is Saturday and your sleeping in. Won’t be long and the children will arrive for their visit.’ Then Corrine said, ‘I hope they bring good snacks this week.’ Fancy laughed as she said, ‘Corrine, is that all you think about is the snacks?’
Moving towards the pool for a dip in the cool water, Della said to me, ‘I am worried about your little boy, Tommy. I think he is getting sicker, Fernando. He is now in that chair that rolls around. His dad pushes him everywhere.’ I nodded my head in agreement, thinking Della was right. It had only been the last few months that Tommy would not or could not walk anymore, but I didn’t know what was wrong with him.
Glancing in the pool, I saw my reflection. My face was an old yellow color. After four decades in this breeding pen, I should have expected it. My shell was looking like a house that could use a fresh coat of paint. My excitement in life was my Saturday visits with Tommy. He always brought the best carrots and that red shirt he wore every week was for me. As I jumped in the pool, I thought of the nice neck scratches Tommy gave.
A short time later, seeing the children arriving, I lunged off the rock in the middle of the pool and swam to the bank. Tommy should come soon. I watched as the girls moved to the opening in the pen, letting the other children pet them and feed them snacks. Looking around, I saw Tommy sitting in that chair, alone while he waited in line. Where is his dad? The two zookeepers were standing with him. Tommy looked upset as I ambled towards the fence where Tommy was sitting.
As I got there, Tommy was crying, and his dad was trying to console him. I may not have ears, like Tommy had, but I could hear him speak. Tommy said, ‘But Dad they said Fernando is too old now. They will take him away and bring another boy turtle in to replace him.’ Shocked, my beady eyes widened. The Zoo planned on taking me somewhere? I watched Tommy wipe his nose on his shirt, and heard him say, ‘Where is this place, euthanized Dad? Can we go there?’ ‘Where did you hear that word Tommy?’ Tommy’s father asked. ‘The zookeepers said that he is too old and needs to go to euthanized. Where is that dad?’
I couldn’t move, Euthanized? I knew what that meant. They were planning on killing me. I heard Tommy choke, not being able to catch his breath. It scared me. I moved closer to the fence and stretched my long neck so Tommy would see me. As his father was giving Tommy a drink from that bottle, I pulled my body onto the rock next to him and started singing. Tommy saw me, and I watched as he laughed.
‘Fernando, you are here! I promise I won’t let them take you away to euthanized, I will save you. I love you.’ I sang higher, and as Tommy moved up in the line, I followed him, staying close to the fence. ‘My dad and I cut your carrots last night Fernando, and I even brought some earthworms I had dad dig up last night for me.’
I smiled at Tommy, honking even louder in response. Earthworms, my favorite! When Tommy got to the opening, the girls moved aside. They could see Tommy had been crying and needed to spend time with me. Tommy scratched my neck lovingly, giving me first a piece of carrot and then an earth worm. Though I enjoyed the snacks, I could tell Tommy’s head hurt, and it worried his father. I looked at his father, while I stretched my neck further for Tommy. I saw the tears in Tommy’s father’s eyes and my heart broke. There was something wrong with Tommy. As he stroked my neck, he seemed weaker.
I heard the bell ring; it was time for the next group of children to have their turn. I looked at Tommy as he whispered, ‘I will save you Fernando, I can’t die knowing they will send you away.‘
Die? Tommy would die. He’s just a kid. I was 100 years old. Why was he going to die? I watched as his father patted Tommy’s shoulder and started moving him away, back to their car. I felt sick. I ambled back to the rock I sat on most of the day, not interested in the other children.
As I climbed up on the rock, I heard Fancy say, ‘Something is wrong with Fernando girls, let’s go.’ The girls moved away from the waiting children, to sit with me in the sun. I watched the disappointed children that had been patiently waiting their turn, as the girls came toward me, taking their places in the sun. Della asked, ‘What’s wrong, Fernando?’
I lovingly looked at the girls, who had been part of my life the last seventy years at the Zoo and said, ‘I have outlived my purpose. They are planning to kill me and bring in a younger male. Worse, my friend Tommy is dying. I am not sure why, but there is nothing I can do.’ It had been a long morning. I pulled my head into my shell to reflect on my life and what was to come. Unless a miracle happened, my life was soon ending. If my life ended, what would become of Tommy?
It has been a joy to write this book. Though the publishing has been challenging. I am including the first two chapters. I hope you enjoy the sneak preview and will consider buying.
I will reward a FREE E-book version of Arctic Eagle on June 12th, 2020 to one lucky new subscriber!
I am excited to announce starting Saturday, June 13th, I will share a weekly three part short-story with you! Giant by Nature. The story of friendship, between a sea turtle and a little boy.
Now on to your sneak preview!
The spring breeze pushed past her sundress as she opened the door to the Estes Park Coffee shop. Gliding up to the counter, Dana, the owner of the shop, already had her order waiting. One large café Mocha and a Cranberry Scone. Dana smiled as she watched Cindi “Higgy” Higgins breeze through the door. “A wonderful Monday morning to you Higgy, I have your order ready.” “You know me so well, Dana.” Cindi said. Dana laughed from behind the counter, saying, “I do Higgy, I just added it to your tab.” As Cindi walked to her regular table, in the back corner of the coffee shop, she thought, Higgy, what a nickname to have. Laura Henderson is to blame for that nickname. She missed Laura. She missed the activity of playing with Laura’s kids. Cindi was honored to be the godmother to all three of Laura and Tom Henderson’s children. She would call her tonight, and they could catch up.
Sitting at the table, she opened her laptop to check her email, as she did every morning before walking a block over to the White Hat Risk Assessment office, where she worked. Taking a sip of the hot Mocha, her eyes grew wide, her heart raced. Flaming Feather? That was a name she thought she would never hear again. Staring at the screen in wonderment, she thought it has been ten years since she talked to Danny Davis, aka Flaming Feather. Why would he be contacting her now? Opening the email, the message read,
Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me, you know where to look.
Confused, she read it a second time. Not sure what to do, Cindi sat back in the chair, her thoughts drifting back to her childhood, her past, Danny Davis. Flashes of memories raced through her thoughts, their teenage romance, their arrest, and their conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Looking back at the laptop screen, to read the message again, she found it was no longer there. Blinking her eyes rapidly, Cindi moved closer to the screen of her laptop. The screen was blank, the message gone. Did she imagine it? Confused, she searched her email. There was no record of it ever existing. If she did not get moving, she would be late for work, Cindi hastily closed her laptop and packed it in her messenger bag. Grabbing her cup of coffee to go, she walked down the block to start her day at work.
Briskly entering the offices of White Hat Risk Assessment, Cindi walked to her office, saying good morning to her co-workers as she passed by their desks. Reaching her office cubicle, Cindy sat down. She had a new account to work on today. A Bank whose security system needed to be tested. Turning on the computer on her desk, she stashed her messenger bag underneath the nearby shelf in her cubicle. She spent the next few hours before lunch hacking into the Banks system, finding multiple ways to gather their client’s confidential information.
Stretching, Cindy was startled when she heard her co-worker Mary Stewart say, “Hey Higgy, want to go get some lunch?” Turning in her chair to find Mary behind her, she said, “Not today, I am just going to get some air before I start the report for the bank. It was a breeze getting into their system this morning.” Laughing, she continued, “It is going to take two weeks to get their system secured. Your grandmother could have hacked into that system.” Mary giggled, saying, “I am not teaching my grandmother the tricks of this trade. I will see you after lunch Higgy.”
Cindy stood, grabbing her messenger bag. She walked outside to downtown Estes Park. Feeling the sun’s warmth, and taking a breath of the fresh mountain air, she looked down the street. Tourist season had not started yet, the streets filled only with local patrons. Sitting on her favorite bench around the corner from the office, she gazed up at the surrounding mountains, amazed that even though it was warm for a late April day, there was still snow on the mountain tops. Opening her laptop, she again searched for the email she thought she received that morning from Danny. Nothing was there. Closing her laptop, her thoughts went back to her teen years.
As children, Cindi and Danny were raised in the same foster home. Shortly after Cindi turned 16, the FBI arrested her with a group of five others called the MiamiLink Club. Besides her and Danny, the other three kids were also foster children in various homes in the city. In Miami Florida, they used coffee shops, libraries, and internet cafe’s as their location for hacking into first the local phone company giving them the ability to make free long-distance calls and listen to customers’ calls. They then moved on to hacking into corporate networking systems, as a challenge to see if they could. The Club would have contests on who could break into a company the fastest and do something crazy like implant a worm or change their client’s personal information. Then Chen Williams, one of the club members, the weak link in the club, decided it would be fun to infiltrate the Pentagon network. He never was very smart. That is when they were arrested. Cindi’s code name was Arctic Eagle. Her best friend and boyfriend at the time was Danny Davis, code named Flaming Feather. He was the one who taught her how to hack.
Cindi remembered the trial, and how terrified she was. Convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, she was sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention center, with three years of probation, and a fine. During her time in the Juvenile Detention Center, Cindi received her GED. With help from a guidance counselor at the center, she became certified as an Ethical Hacker.
Upon her release, that same counselor helped Cindi get a job far from Miami in Estes Park, Colorado working for the company she worked for today. She had been a part of the White Hat group for the last eight years. After her arrest, she had never spoken to or heard from Danny Davis again.
Standing, she thought, that was then, this is now. She had a an excellent job, a cute apartment above the Coffee Shop, friends, and she was now an adult at twenty-six years old. It was time to leave the past behind, and work towards that promotion she wanted as a lead Computer Security Specialist, which would give her a decent raise and the chance to manage a team of four other Specialists. Cindi stood, going back to her office to start the report for the Bank account she had worked on that morning.
Six days later, on Sunday, Cindi sat at her small kitchen table eating the ham and swiss sandwich she had made for lunch, admiring the new soft yellow color of the walls, her and Dana had painted yesterday. Watching it rain out her window, she picked up her phone to call Laura Henderson, her friend and confidante. Waiting for Laura to answer, she heard Laura say, “Higgy! It’s been two weeks since we talked, hang on.” Cindi could hear Laura say, ‘Charlotte, get off that table before you fall. Tom lift her down and give me a few minutes to talk to Higgy.’ Cindi heard Laura’s husband yell in the background, ‘Hi Higgy!’ Laura focusing back on the call said, “Higgy, how are you? Did you get the kitchen painted? I didn’t see any pictures come through yet.” Cindi laughed and said, “Its done, Dana and I spent all of yesterday painting. I love it. How are the kids?”
Laura replied, “Well, as you heard, Charlotte was dancing on the table. At two years old, I wonder about her sometimes, she is always climbing up on things. Michael is doing fine in Kindergarten, his favorite part of the day is nap time, Kevin, who may not live till next month to turn four, is into everything as usual. Did you get the promotion at work?” Cindi laughing said, “I find out next week. I sure miss you at work, Laura. Though, I must tell you, I appreciate the queen-size bed in our bedroom here, rather than the two twin beds.” Laura giggled, and said, “I miss the quiet evenings, when we could sit and watch movies, eat popcorn, and drink wine. I have not had a quiet evening since Michael was born. When are you coming for a visit?” Cindi replied, “I have two weeks of vacation built up. Depends on whether I get this promotion. If I get it, I want to settle in and get my team together, if not, I will make the trip to cry on your shoulder.” Laura laughed loudly, “So what else is new Higgy? Have you met anyone yet?”
Cindi smiled, “I have no time for a man in my life, Laura.” Feeling a chill go up her spine, Cindi said, “Something happened, I am just not sure if I am imagining it or not.” Laura stood, saying, “Hang on, Higgy, I will get Tom to watch the children.” Waving at Tom to watch the children. Laura walked out to the patio in the back of their California home. Sitting on the chaise lounge she said, “I am outside now, it’s quieter. Tell me what happened?” Cindi replied, “Do you remember when I told you about Danny Davis and the story of my teen years?” Laura replied, “I remember, why?”
Cindi said, “I got an email last week from Danny. I have not heard or talked to him in ten years. All it said was if something happens to me you know where to look.” Laura, aghast, said, “What? That is cryptic. Did you reply?” Cindi said, “I was so stunned. The email came from Flaming Feather, his code name. When I went back to read it again, it was gone.” Laura, surprised, said, “Wow! He had to do some searching to find you Higgy, and then to find your current email, send the message and then make it to look like it never existed. What are you going to do?” Cindi replied thoughtfully, “I will do nothing. That part of my life is best left buried. I do not want to open that door again. It is too risky, and life is good. I cannot mess that up.” Laura replied, “That is probably for the best.” Looking up, Laura saw Tom standing at the door, with a crying red-faced Charlotte. Laura said, “Looks like Tom is having trouble with the baby. Text me some pictures of your kitchen and text me as soon as you hear about that promotion. I got to go, Bye Higgy, I love you girlfriend.”
Cindi stood from the table and put her dishes in the sink. Taking a few pictures of the kitchen, she texted them to Laura and then decided with the rainy afternoon, it would be a good idea to take a nap and read that new romance novel she picked up last week at the bookstore.
Monday morning started as usual. Stopping at the Coffee Shop and walking to work. It was still raining. As Cindi entered the office, she closed her umbrella and moved to her desk. Looking at her in-box, she found three more files of new accounts. Placing them on her desk, Cindi sat down, ready to work on the new files. A few minutes later, Gina, her boss, stopped at her desk and said, “Great job on the Marshall Bank account. Can you stop in my office this afternoon? I would like to discuss your new job duties. Congratulations Cindi, the promotion is yours.” Cindi smiled and said, “Really? I got the promotion. Sure, I will be there promptly at one. Thank you, Gina.” Gina beamed, saying, “You deserve it Cindi. I will see you this afternoon.” When Gina had walked away, Cindi swung her office chair in a circle in celebration of her new promotion. Picking up her phone, she quickly texted Laura, ‘I got the promotion!’
Setting her phone down, Cindi opened the top file on the pile she received in her in box and started working. Looking at her watch, thinking it was time for lunch, she would have just enough time to have a sandwich and go to her meeting with Gina. Hearing her cell phone vibrate, she looked to see a number from California calling. Answering, she said, “Hello?” She heard a man’s voice say, “Good morning, am I speaking with Cindi Higgins? This is Samuel Herschel; I am the attorney for Daniel Davis.” Cindi felt like her heart was about to stop. Trying to take a breath, she found it difficult. She said into her phone, “This is Cindi Higgins, what can I do for you?” Mr. Herschel replied, “I am sorry to tell you this over the phone, Ms. Higgins, but Mr. Davis has passed and named you as the executor of his estate. I was wondering if you could come to Los Angeles in the next few days to settle the estate.”
Cindi whispered, “Danny is dead? I have not seen or heard from him in ten years. Why would he leave everything to me? How did he die?” Sam Herschel replied, “Mr. Davis informed me you were the closest he had to family, saying you would know what to do with his estate. I am sorry to inform you; they have ruled his death as suspicious. You have not heard from Mr. Davis in ten years? That’s odd.” Cindi felt the energy leave her body, saying, “Suspicious? What does that mean?” Sam replied, “All I can tell you Ms. Higgins is that his death is still being investigated.” Cindi, taking a deep breath, asked, “Mr. Hershel, do I really need to come to Los Angeles to settle the estate or can we do it by email?” Sam Herschel said, “Mr. Davis has left you his house, and all his belongings, and a considerable amount of money. You will need to come to my office to sign the paperwork, receive the new deed and keys to the home.”
Cindi’s thoughts started flying a mile a minute. She had just received a promotion. Then her heart sank when she remembered the email, she received from Danny last week. Quieting her mind, she said, “Mr. Herschel, I will need to make some arrangements here at work, can I call you later this afternoon, with a time I can arrive?” Mr. Herschel replied, “Yes, that would be fine. I will email you my office location so you can make the proper transportation arrangements. I will look forward to hearing from you later today. Good day, Ms. Higgins.”
Cindi set her phone down on her desk. Her eyes filled with tears. Danny was dead. Fear entered every core of her body. Danny’s death was suspicious and with the email he sent her last week, he knew what was coming. What the hell has he dragged her into now? There is no other choice, I will have to see this attorney. Feeling like her past was rushing back into her life, against her will, Cindi stood and walked out of her office to sit on her favorite bench outside. She needed some air; it was hard to breathe. Sitting on the bench, she was unaware of her surroundings. Her mind kept going over the email, Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me you know where to look. She had no choice. She would have to go to Los Angeles. She would have to find what Danny wanted her to find. Forty-five minutes later, she entered the building. She slowly walked over to Gina’s office.
Cindi knocked softly on Gina’s office door. Hearing Gina say come in; Cindi entered her office. Gina looked at her watch before saying, “Cindi, right on time.” Cindi sat down in the chair across from Gina’s desk saying, “Gina, something has come up. There has been a death in what you would call my family, and I need to go to Los Angeles and close out the estate. I know you scheduled this meeting to talk about my promotion. Thank you for having the confidence in me to award me with the promotion, I appreciate it. I am sorry, but I need to use my vacation time to handle this.”
Gina looked at Cindi quizzically. “Family? Cindi, when you came to work for me, I understood that you grew up in foster care. What has happened?” Tears rushed to Cindi’s eyes, “It was one of the other foster children in our home, Danny Davis. He has left everything to me, and his attorney has asked I come to California to settle the estate. His attorney asked that I come to Los Angeles to sign the needed paperwork. The attorney said there is a home involved. I need to find a real estate agent to put the house up for sale. As soon as I am done with that I will be returning.” Gina looking surprised said, “It wasn’t one of the boy’s you they arrested you with was it?” Cindi nodded silently, saying, “I haven’t seen or heard from Danny in ten years so I do not understand why he would do this. I do not even know how he found me. When your sister, Camila, made the arrangements for me to come here to start a new life, I know she did not tell anyone what she was doing and took great care in making sure no one would find me. So, I am as surprised as you are.”
Gina nodded her head. Remembering when her sister Camila called her about Cindi. She said she was one of the most talented hackers she had ever seen. A young girl tied into a group that could have destroyed her life. She thought Cindi was a decent girl who could make a difference in the world with her talents. So, she agreed to give her the start she needed, setting her up in an apartment over her best friend Dana’s coffee shop and giving her a job. Over the past eight years, Cindi had flourished and proved her worth to White Hat Risk Assessment.
Gina looked at Cindi and said, “I understand Cindi, take the two weeks and when you return, we will get you set up with your new team. I am bringing four new employees in from around the States. They are young, with similar backgrounds such as yours. I believe you are the one to guide them into becoming assets to White Hat. When are you planning on leaving?” Cindi replied, “I will make the arrangements to leave from Denver tomorrow. If that is okay with you.” Gina said, “Okay, give your new account files to Mary, and check in with me, letting me know when you will return. In the meantime, I will have your team settled in and ready to start when you get back. Why don’t you go home and get things settled to leave? I am sorry you have to deal with this Cindi.” Cindi gratefully looked at Gina saying, “Thank you Gina, I will call you soon.”
Cindi went back to her desk. Straightening her desk, she took her new work files to Mary, saying, “Mary, I have to leave for two weeks to take care of some family business, Gina asked me to give you these new accounts to complete.” Mary replied, “Sure Cindi, is everything okay?” Cindi nodded, and said, “Yes, just some unexpected family business to deal with. I will see you in two weeks.” Cindi went back to her office, got her bag, and walked back to her apartment, stopping into the coffee shop to let Dana know that she was leaving for a couple weeks.
Entering her apartment, Cindi sat down at her desk in the living room, opening her laptop. She quickly made flight arrangements to Los Angeles and organized a Lyft to take her to the Denver airport at nine am the next morning. Checking her email, she saw she had received the email from Sam Herschel. Cindi mapped out his office, finding a hotel within a two-block area. Making one night of reservations, she thought if Danny had left her his house, when she got the keys from Mr. Herschel, she could take a Lyft to the house and stay there. Emailing Mr. Herschel her travel arrangements, she informed him she would be in his office at ten a.m. the day after tomorrow.
Cindi went into her bedroom to pack her suitcase for her upcoming trip. Once completed with that task, she went back to her laptop finding an acknowledgement for the appointment time with Mr. Herschel. Closing her laptop, Cindi quickly reopened it. She conducted an internet search for Danny Davis. Finding nothing but the article of their arrest, she again closed her laptop. Going into the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of wine and settled into the plush deep brown couch in her living room. Taking a sip of the wine, she set the glass on the coffee table in front of her and picked up her cell phone without looking at it. She should call Laura and let her know she was coming. Staring at her phone for a few minutes, she thought better of it. She would call Laura when she got settled into Danny’s house, a house that was now hers. Picking up her glass her wine, she said to herself, if anything happens to me, you know where to look. With a deep feeling in her gut, she knew that her life was about to take an unexpected left turn; she downed the rest of her glass of wine, drew a hot bath, and went to bed.
The next morning, Cindi rose and quickly dressed, getting ready to leave. Carrying her suitcase down the flight of stairs, she walked out the door of the apartment and into the Coffee shop, where she ordered a large Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Scone to go. Seeing the Lyft pull up in front of the coffee shop, her coffee and scone in hand, she pulled her suitcase behind her out the door. The driver loaded her suitcase in the trunk while she settled into the back seat for the hour and a half drive to the Denver airport. Taking a sip of her hot coffee, she placed it in the cup holder next to her and pulled the romance novel she had started the other night out of her bag. Reading a romance novel would keep her thoughts of what was coming at bay.
If you enjoyed the first two chapters, you can get your Free Unlimited Kindle version here.
Last week I was thrilled to write the words, “The End.” Finishing the last book of my “Ignited Secrets Trilogy,” which left me feeling proud, accomplished, a bit overwhelmed and sad. I will miss my characters. They have been a part of my life for two years. Three women with secrets, all who grew personally within each story, learning to accept themselves for who they were and who they came to be.
Of course in all honesty “Shadow of Secrets” came to me while I was sitting on my deck painting a rock, thinking, Okay Kacie, you have been forced to retire, are you going to spend the rest of your life painting rocks? What is next? Then it dawned on me, I could be an author.
When I started the first book, “Shadow of Secrets,” is was to be just one book about an environmental mystery Fraud in the renewable energy industry. This was an experience, I watched evolve firsthand, and it disgusted me. Though my book is fictional, the circumstances different, yet similar, it was an experience that impacted me deeply.
Near the end of writing that first book, is when I realized that this could be a trilogy focusing on the main women in the book. Each woman had a story to tell. I surprised my self at the story line as it went on. What started as one book about an environmental mystery, turned into three and by the end of the third book, we had a Mexican Cartel/Mafia war involving the Irish Republican Army and CIA fictional Black Op’s teams. Mind you I am surprised the FBI has not showed up at my door, considering the online research I have been conducting.
It’s amazing how stories evolve as they are written. Soon, I must start the next book, “Arctic Eagle.” In a world full of risk, a quiet Cyber Operations Specialist is pulled into a worldwide chase to stop a terror attack in Los Angeles. Arctic Eagle came to me in a dream. I know right? My dreams should be one of peace, happiness, expectations.
More research to come. If the FBI shows up at the door, I will post a link to donate towards my bail. If I survive the next book, I may start a series of novella’s called The Harris Graystone Mysteries. What mystery could the Girls from the Ignited Secrets Trilogy solve next?
Lesson, life doesn’t end at retirement, we can achieve our dreams no matter how old we are. We all have stories to tell. What’s your story?
Everyone has a story. Life is a journey, and each new day begins a
new chapter for each of us. How are you telling your story? Keeping a journal allows us to write down our
experiences, our thoughts, our feelings, and our dreams for the future.
I have been journaling for over the last
fifty-plus years, and I still have every one of those journals. I recently took the time to look back at the
journals I kept as a teenager. I must be
honest here and admit I am in my mid-sixties today. Looking back on my teen years, I would have
to say in all honesty; I am lucky to be alive.
I was a wild child, though it was a different time in the late sixties
and early seventies.
Those journals are jam-packed
full of poems, drawings, trials, and tribulations, all of which have brought me
into what is I believe is called the golden years of my life. Looking back, I understand how those years
have shaped the woman I have become today.
One of the things I found in
reviewing those journals of my life is that I could carry on a complete conversation
with myself. I would ask myself a
boatload of questions or complain about my parents, fights with girlfriends,
and that description of my first kiss left me holding my stomach. I was
laughing so hard. The point is, I was
spending a lot of time self-dialoguing with myself. Did I answer the boatload of questions? Not always at that particular time, but
looking ahead in years, I found they pretty much answered themselves. Oh, and by the way, I got over the traumatic
experience of French kissing.
What I did find interesting is when I would come across a
problem I needed to solve, I always asked the same four questions. To this day, I still use those, but the wordage
is a bit different. Any life problem I
have had, I asked my self the following questions for many years:
What is the purpose of my having experienced
this the last (timeline)?
What am I trying to do here?
What lesson am I supposed to learn from this
What’s the real issue of personal growth for me
in this experience?
It is important to note that
these questions are not easy to answer in the throws of chaos. The last time I used them, it took almost a
year to work through the issues.
However, it will help you work through the experience and come out on
top of it, with a clear understanding of why this what meant to happen. As I said, the last time I answered these, I
came to understand one of the many valuable lessons. If you don’t listen to your guides, they will
pick you up and throw you on the floor.
Another factor I recognized was that I was establishing
future goals, whether it be New Year’s resolutions, or a daily, weekly, or
monthly goal. By writing out my goals, I
was able to write out a plan on how to achieve them and identify any obstacles
that stood in my way.
Another realization I had, with
goal setting, is that I found the way I dealt with the goals when they didn’t
look like I was going to reach them was to write out the problem and readjust
the aim to bring it to reality. Similar
to a Plan B strategy, though sometimes I made it to Plan W. We all take different paths in life. Often those paths reached a crossroads, and
it’s then I would have to choose to go left or right. When I was making those choices, it was
interesting to see I eventually reached my goals, though the journey could
sometimes be challenging, sometimes risky, but fun.
Through the twists and turns in
my life journey through the years, came personal growth. That’s the thing with journaling; you can go
back and reflect on where you have been and how much you have grown. I worked
through so many issues along that journey in my notebooks that it was
interesting to read on how my analytical skills evolved in handling life challenges,
how I wrote out each twist and came up with a way to move past the turns.
The other surprising aspect was
how my creativity opened. I would use
colored pens, draw, glued or taped in pictures of my friends and I going to
concerts, or hanging out at Cherokee Park, pictures from magazines, right down
to my favorite cookie recipes. News flash, I still do that today. I have a giant bucket of gel pens and even to
this day tape in exciting things I find. I also have been known to dry flower
petals I have grown and glue them in as well.
If you’re not journaling today,
you should consider doing so. Your life
is extraordinary, and your journey is meaningful. Every experience brings a lesson, joy, and
success in your life. It will bring you
to your authentic self, open your consciousness and bring transformation to
your life. So, start recording your life
today, I promise when you look back in your journal five years from now, you
will be amazed how far you have come.
I am a 63-year-old woman who strives to live holistically, is
a new Indie Author and has a few control issues. As an Indie Author, I can embrace my sense of
creative freedom while feeding those lingering control issues through self-publishing
rather than traditional publishing. I can control the entire process, including
design, price, distribution, marketing, and public relations.
Being an Indie Author and Publisher comes with many challenges.
I am finding with my new retirement idea of, “I am going to now be an author!” life
change, I am both now an Indie Author together with the title, Indie Publisher.
With these new titles comes a whole new challenge of education
in life. I have to take the time to learn
how to optimize royalties, compare service options, and to do the research
necessary to ensure the book has the best chances out there in a competitive
marketplace. After that, I have to set an
arbitrary budget which in itself could total a year’s worth of retirement
Through this process I have suddenly become CEO of my own indie
publishing company, a self-trained researcher, diving into the book market
world, exploring the world of different genres, figuring out the tangibles of
my target market, and diving headfirst into the world of social media as an
Throughout my career as a Non-Profit Executive, I have always
prided myself on my ability to multitask.
Let me tell you; this publishing aspect takes it to whole new level. Self-publishing
is the epitome of multitasking. Because not only do you write an entire
manuscript you also have to look for a multitude of different ways to publish
your book. Not to mention the minor aspects of publishing a book. This
situation can get stressful swiftly. The
importance of staying positive is vital in this situation though I have found
times my fur babies have gone into hiding mode when they see me cussing out my
In conclusion, sure, being both an Indie Author and Publisher
is a slow process, but eventually, it will pay off. My general solution to the
challenge includes; keep writing, keep reading, keep trying, keep learning,
keep believing, keep promoting myself, keep listening to others, keep my head
up, keep myself in the game.