J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “author”

Release Day Blitz – Something Old, Something New

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! A compilation of seven bestselling authors, with seven romance stories. Check it out!

Something Old Something New Banner 1 copy

Something Old, Something New
– A DRA Production

Something Old, Something New Cover copy

Seven bestselling authors. Seven incredible second chance romances. One epic anthology.

What would you do for another chance with the one you love? 

Something Old, Something New – a unique novella anthology – tries to answer this question with fantastic, different, desi dramas.

Whether it is shapeshifters or shifting interracial relationships, single moms in small towns or rich alpha heroes, friends-to-lovers or passionate ex-husbands; this anthology has something for everyone.

Something Old, Something New explores the many different facets of love, forgiveness, fated mates and more in seven, distinctly Indian tales!

My Warmest Sorrow

by Preethi Venugopala

Something Old Something New Creative (5) copy

What would you do when you come face to face with your past?

When Ajay, now an IAS officer, is added into his college WhatsApp group, he is welcomed warmly by all his classmates. Except by Diana.

Diana is still living with the repercussions of what had happened in the past. She is thrown into despair by Ajay’s presence in the group.

Diana and Ajay were inseparable while in college. Their relationship had transitioned from being best friends to love overnight. But then fate had intervened in the form of Diana’s tyrant father who had separated them ruthlessly.

Five years of silence has created a wall of sorrow between them. Their interactions in the class WhatsApp group are nothing like what they once used to be. Every moment is churning out more anguish and unpleasantness.

How much have they changed?

Is love still hiding underneath their public facades?

What are the lies they are hiding?

Read an Excerpt from My Warmest Sorrow

My mobile phone rang as I unlocked the door to my flat. Who was calling me now? It was eleven o’clock on a Wednesday night.

As the project deadline was looming near, I had stayed back in the office till nine to complete the chunk of work I had scheduled for today. Structural designing demanded full dedication, even for a small-scale project. And my current project was unbelievably complex.

Wearily, I slumped onto the couch and rummaged in my bag to locate the phone.

“Diana, you won’t believe what happened today. And, where were you? I called you so many times,” shrieked Ashima, my engineering classmate, the moment I answered the phone.

I rolled my eyes but a smile curved my lips. Ashima had a flair for theatrics. What was it now?

“Go slow. I just returned home after a gruelling day. We have a deadline this Saturday.”

“Eek. Be like me and find a government job. The perks of a government job are endless. Private jobs suck, ” said Ashima.

“Now, now… you must go to that magnificent job tomorrow, right? Why are you staying up all night?”

Ashima had been like our dorm room alarm while in college. She dozed off at exactly nine and got up at five in the morning, every day, without fail. What had kept her awake today? Or had her so-called relaxing job altered her lifestyle?

“Idiot, check your WhatsApp messages. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Thank me later. Goodnight for now.”

No! I wasn’t in the mood to drown in some WhatsApp group debate she might have started. Mostly, she called me for some additional support when she was on the verge of losing. Who was she arguing with today? Rahul or Avinash?

Most of my classmates were politically active and any new government decision or policies would undergo acute post-mortem inside our class WhatsApp group. Rahul was a devout follower of the Congress party, Avinash was a self-confessed Modi Bhakt and Ashima was a red comrade entirely. On some days, their arguments would last long into the night. I didn’t have the energy to jump into another such nonsensical discussion. All I wanted to do now was eat and sleep till the alarm rang at seven tomorrow morning.

I switched on the geyser to take a quick bath. Then I transferred the biryani I had bought into a plate and placed it into the oven to reheat it. In the present Bangalore climate, nothing stayed warm for long. I was not fond of the winters. It wasn’t the cold that bothered me, though. The winter season brought back long-lost memories, making me long for the warmth of a specific loving embrace. It also reminded me of my twenty-two-year-old self who had almost given up on life.

By the time I returned from the bath, there were two more missed calls from Ashima. What was wrong with this girl today?

As I dug into the tasty biryani, I turned on my phone data. Notification beeps began. I swiped left till I found the WhatsApp icon. I had 1200 plus unread messages just from the 2013 Civil Gang, my class WhatsApp group. Some serious discussion must be happening. I groaned inwardly. I was certainly not in the mood to drown in nasty arguments. But Ashima would probably kill me if I didn’t hop in and speak my bit.

Avinash and Ashima had sent me private messages as well. What was so urgent?

Curious, I opened the group chat. Avinash had added a new member. Though our class had a total strength of 60 students, there were only 45 were members in the group currently. Many of my former classmates were pursuing higher studies whereas some had landed jobs in distant lands. Hence, we had lost contact with many of them in the five years that had elapsed after graduation. Occasionally, a new member would be found and added by one of the admins. Then there would be a mad rush to get reacquainted with the new entrant.

The name of the person added today drove away all my lethargy in a second. I blinked twice to confirm if I had correctly read the name mentioned in Avinash’s welcoming message. Ajay Menon. Ajay… after all these years?

About the Author:

Preethi Venugopala copy

Preethi Venugopala stepped into the world of words during a sabbatical from her hectic civil engineering job after the birth of her son. She began as a blogger and wrote fiction to pass time. Her debut novel ‘Without You’ came out in 2015 and was received well. She was then mentored by eminent author Anita Nair at her writing platform ‘Anitas Attic’ in 2016. Since then, she has published 7 novels on Amazon and more than 15 short stories in various anthologies and platforms.

Giveaway:

First Prize – A Kindle

Second Prize – 6 Months Kindle Unlimited Subscription

A Rafflecopter GIveaway

New Cover in the Works for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, my three novels in The Renegade Series are being republished with a new company called Westwood Books Publishing. This is a fairly new publisher that is run by several literary agents. It is an indie publishing company, but has an interesting marketing plan in place.

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

The first book in the series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is the first to be republished. I have been working with Westwood Books to create a new book cover. This is the original cover of the book, which is a painting done by Don Troiani, titled “Up Alabamians.” The new cover will be completely original.

I can’t wait to share it with you and find out what you think. I’m hoping I can share it with you as soon as next week, so stay tuned!

 

Five Star Review For A Beautiful Glittering Lie

Book Cover - Highest Resolution

Recently, I have been sharing my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, with readers who are members of a group called Voracious Readers. The version I’ve been sending is from my previous publisher, but the book is about to be republished with Westwood Books Publishing. It should be out again by March.

In the meantime, I have been fortunate enough to receive interest, as well as several reviews, for my book. Here is a five-star review I received last week. (This is the old book cover. I will have a new cover reveal in a few weeks.)

** spoiler alert ** Although not the genre of book I would normally read I was given the opportunity to read and review this book by the author through Voracious Readers. Looking for something different I jumped at the chance and was glad I did. Hawkins writes in such a way that the reader feels they are part of the story. A novel written about America’s battle between the North and the South the closest I’d come to reading anything around this period was Gone With the Wind so it’s definitely not my normal style. However I saw every battle scene clearly felt every emotion and experience expressed by Bud, Hirarm, David, Jake and their families, friends and comrades. I found myself praying for Bud and Hirarm’s safe return, internally yelling warnings at the boys, and reaching for tissues when Sally was stolen and Hirarm didn’t return as planned. A great book well written and one I’d highly recommend.

 

 

Book Blitz & Giveaway!

Book Blitz Saved by Love

About the Book:

Saved by Love 3d (1) copyThey meet under impossible circumstances.

She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her.

Trekking to safety through Ladakh… They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics’ rising star, is not meant for him.

Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.

And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.

Can they save their love or is it too late?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon * Pustakmandi

Read an Excerpt:

“Miss Ahuja? Naina?”

The almost soundless whisper had Naina’s eyes snapping open in the dark. A hard hand came up to cover her mouth even as a terrified squeak left her lips. A pair of dark, intense eyes in a face streaked with camouflage paint floated into her vision. “I’m here to rescue you. Your father sent me. I need you to stay completely silent when I remove my hand. Can you nod if you understand?”

Keeping her eyes on his strong, reassuring ones, Naina nodded quickly. The stranger waited to make sure she wouldn’t scream, and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. Slipping a knife out from seemingly nowhere, he cut the rope binding both her hands and feet within seconds and levered her up from her prone position. Helping her to her feet, he watched intently to see if she was steady on her feet. Reassured that she wasn’t going to faint at his feet, Arjun moved quickly to the door and looked out. The guards were still unconscious from the light taps to the back of their heads administered by his teammates, and so far there was no sign of any other movement in the camp. Coming back into the room, he put his lips close to her ear to whisper, “Can you walk?”

Nodding mutely, Naina craned her neck to get a glimpse of his face from this angle. The stranger was so tall that he towered over her by almost a foot. Dressed all in black, with a mini arsenal strapped on to him, he looked like he’d arrived straight from hell. Apparently, the devil was her hero tonight.

About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj copy

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway:

2 Winners. Signed Paperback copy of Saved by Love & Bookmarks. Open to Indian Residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book Blitz – Unusual Equations

About the Book:

Viraj is struggling to concentrate at work because he has a wife to worry about. But he is more apprehensive because he knows that she is currently parked at the apartment of his arch nemesis.

Madhuri fought with her husband last night and in her rage left the house. She knows there is one place in the world where she is always welcome. She only hopes that she is not crossing any lines.

Aman has for long given up hope. Yet he can’t help but get a kick out of the circumstances that have brought her to his place. Is this is chance finally to bring her back to him?

Lives of three people entwined by love, passion, urge and devotion. Will they survive these unusual equations? Or will it destroy their happiness forever?

Untitled copy

Buy from Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

Anyone who had seen them together thought that Viraj was one doting husband. Madhuri didn’t consider it to be a big deal.

“I left my family for him, after all.”  she felt entitled in lieu of the sacrifice she had made to be with him.

“You gotta be easy on him, Madhuri. The reason he can’t stop looking at you like a love-struck puppy even today is not just that you left your family to be with him. It’s his innate need to love and cherish you,” mentioned one of her free-lancer friends last night. Madhuri couldn’t care less.

Even Aman is so loving and caring towards me.

Madhuri sat upright, jolted. Her thoughts shifted towards her relationship with Aman.

Friendship, Mads, it’s friendship with Aman.

What Madhuri shared with Aman was inexplicable. To call it a childhood friendship or companionship would be marring the beauty of it all.

Growing up in an extremely patriarchal household, where her brother was almost worshipped, Aman made her feel like she was the centre of his universe. He was the only person in her life who never wanted to change a thing about her.  He counseled her, helped her, and when she got herself into any madness, he just stood along and ensured that he was there to pick her up if she fell.

In fact, it was Madhuri’s affinity towards getting into all kinds of weird situations while dealing with people that Aman had christened her – Mads.

A much suppressed spirit as a child, Madhuri turned out to be rebellious and aloof as a teenager and a young adult. A part of the reason was also the awareness that she just had to turn and Aman would definitely be somewhere around the corner. He was always close by to help her with academics and extracurricular activities. Whenever she reported sick and missed school, Aman didn’t hesitate to go the extra mile and do double the work by copying all her class-work and assignments in her notebooks for her.

Madhuri never worried about even a dime in her life because she knew that Aman was there to root for her. Always.

Well, not always. 

Author

About the Author:

Anupriya belongs to that generation of Idiots (the proud ones though), who did their engineering first and then decided on what they actually wanted to do. She completed her MBA in Human Resources and worked in the corporate world for 8 years, before taking a professional break. A mom by day and a reader/writer by night, Anupriya is a die-hard romantic. Yet she believes that love (in any relationship) is a part of life, not, the heart of life. And she aims to bring to the world, stories around this theme. She can be found in the dot com world at her blog http://www.mommytincture.com , which contains her ranting about her experiences in her various roles as a mother, daughter, wife and foremost a human being, all churned together. It is also her outlet to the world where she doles out loads of gyaan on self-improvement and relationship management.

Anupriya on the Web:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

 

 

Stories from Christmases Past

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. There is so much electricity in the air. Everyone is excited and friendly. Of course, here in Colorado, people are friendly most all the time, but Christmas is special. What other time of year can you listen to decades, even centuries old songs, and sing along? What other time of year can you see living nativities, Santa Clauses galore, and so many decorations, presents and treats? And what other time of year, other than possibly the Fourth of July, can you see so many colorful lights?

I love Christmas, but most of all, I love what it represents: faith, hope and love. Please keep our military personnel in your prayers, as well as those who have lost loved ones this time of year.

The following is an article written by a Confederate soldier at Christmas. It must have been, and I’m sure, still is, very difficult to be away from home during the holidays.

Christmas

Diary Of Captain Robert Emory Park, of Twelfth Alabama Regiment

Excerpts from his diary:

“December 25th, Christmas Day — How keenly and vividly home recollections come to my mind today! I see the huge baked turkey, the fat barbecued pig, delicious oysters, pound and fruit cakes, numerous goblets of eggnog and syllabub, etc., etc., on my beloved mother’s hospitable table. My brothers and sisters are sitting around it as of yore, and my dear fond mother, with warmest love and pride beaming from her still handsome blue eyes, now somewhat dimmed by approaching age, sits at one end bountifully helping each plate to a share of the well cooked eatables before her. How happy I would be if I were with them! I can but repeat the words of the familiar song —

 

“Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?

‘Twould be an assurance most dear
To know that some loved one was saying,

Today I wish he were here.”

Those touching words, too, of “Home, Sweet Home” flash before my memory, and I cannot restrain the tears that rush to my eyes. Over three months have passed since I have heard from home and mother. What changes may have occurred since my capture, the 19th of September! Two of my brothers are members of the First Georgia reserves, now guarding the 30,000 Yankee prisoners at Andersonville — one is major, and the other, a youth of sixteen years, is one of Captain Wirz’s sergeants. These two are no doubt absent from the annual home reunion. Others may be too. I hope and feel that my brothers are civil and kind to the Yankees they are guarding. They are too brave to act otherwise. My poor prison dinner was in sad contrast with my Christmas dinners at home. It consisted of beef soup, a small piece of pickled beef, some rice and a slice of loaf bread. Lastly, to our astonishment, about three mouthsful each of bread pudding, not very sweet, were handed us.

December 26th, 27th and 28th — I am able to get about on my crutches, but still feel the effects of my severe fall. Major Hanvey, who sleeps in a small room above mine, is quite sick. Last night I sat up alone with him until he went to sleep, long after midnight. He was suffering from a high fever and was delirious. His thoughts were of his wife and little daughter, in far off Georgia, and he spoke of them in the tenderest, fondest manner. I fear he will never see his loved ones again.

December 29th, 30th and 31st — The last days of eventful, never to be forgotten 1864. All hope of a speedy exchange is now dying within us. The prospect is exceedingly gloomy. Savannah has been captured by Sherman, and Hood defeated in Tennessee. I am not at all despondent however, and believe the Confederate States will be successful and independent yet. It is rumored we are to be removed in a day or two to Old Capitol Prison, Washington city. Our surgeon confirms the report. Point Lookout will be left with no regrets.

Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. II. Richmond. Va. November. 1876. No.5

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, December 2019 ed., Volume 43, Issue No. 12)

 

Release Day Blitz

The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee

~ Release Day Blitz ~

12th November

The Sinners Banners copy

About the Book:

The Sinners Cover copy

Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.

Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois?

The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.

Book Links:

Amazon * Goodreads

Read an Excerpt:

Agastya picked up the call from a private number after the third ring, taking his eyes off the monitor in front of him.

“Is this Agastya Bakshi?”

“Yes… who’s this?”

“Agastya, my apologies for calling you late. I assure you this won’t take too long. But, we need to talk in private. Where are you right now?” The male voice at the other end of the line sounded authoritative. Agastya could not recall having heard the voice earlier.

Agastya looked around the near-empty office and said, “I am at work, but we can talk. Not too many people around at this time of the night.” His curiosity, by this time, was at its peak. 

It was past eleven. It was the third time that week that Agastya had to work through the night. Hired a couple of years back, his work as an engineer in the Network and Systems Division of NexGen kept him rooted in front of computer screens through his days and very often, his nights. Agastya did not have much of a social life. A clumsy desk littered with pizza crumbs, empty cartons and soda cans, and a paunch growing at an alarming rate – that was what his life had been reduced to. But, he did not complain. Agastya loved his job.

“Great! Then let’s talk business. I’m sorry I cannot disclose my name. I belong to a private investigation agency that’s currently looking into the dealings of the company you are working for. There are reports of certain financial irregularities in the business.”

Agastya sat up straight in his chair.

“Okay! But, what – what do you want from me?” Agastya asked tentatively. “I work in Network and Systems. I don’t think you have the right number!”

“Agastya, I know who I am talking to,” there was an almost imperceptible hint of annoyance in the voice of the man at the other end of the line. He went on, “We need access to the e-mail accounts of some of the top guys in your company to check their correspondences. And I’ve been told that you are the right man for the job.”

Agastya took a sip of the cola that had already gone flat.

“Why – why me? You can speak to my Manager in the morning. He -“

The voice at the other end of the line did not let him finish.

“Agastya, this is a covert operation and we are a private agency. We cannot turn up at your office with an order to gain access to these accounts. Also, right now, we’re not sure how many of the big guys are involved and in what ways. For all you know, your boss – the Systems Manager you are referring to – might as well be a party! Let’s not forget that, he has access to all records of transactions. We do not want anyone getting alert and tampering with the data we are looking for. We cannot risk exposure. It’ll take us some time to complete the basic investigation. And I’d really appreciate your cooperation while we are at it. Once we have enough evidence at our disposal, we will make this official.”

Agastya thought for a few minutes. The whole thing could be a hoax, for all it’s worth!

“Look… how do I trust you?”

“I knew you’re going to ask, Agastya. We’ll be completely transparent with you. One of my agents will get in touch with you. You’ll be working with her. I want you to hand over the details to her in person. This is for reasons of safety. And also, to make sure that you put faces to names. We want to win your trust and make sure that you are comfortable working with us because, as I said, this investigation isn’t going to get over in a day. We’ll need to work together for a while.”

“I – I’ll need to think this through. What’s in it for me?”

“We’ll most certainly compensate for your time and your cooperation. And I can assure you that, you will have no reason to complain about the money. Don’t worry about that,” the voice sounded reassuring. Agastya did a quick mental calculation of the remaining EMIs for his new car. Almost at the same time, the full front-page advertisement of the upcoming apartment complex in South Mumbai flashed before his eyes.

The voice continued, “So I gather we’re good to go here, right?”

Agastya mumbled an uncertain “Well…”

The voice did not seem to care.

“Thanks for your co-operation, Agastya. Ruchika will get in touch with you shortly. Have a good rest of the night at work.” The man hung up.

Agastya looked disbelievingly at his phone. Agastya wondered if he should call someone and discuss. The next moment, he decided against it. The man did sound like he meant business. And, in any case, Agastya was the one in charge. He was the one who had access to the data the agency was asking for. He was willing to give it a shot if the money was good. If, at any point in time, he had any reason to doubt the authenticity of the agency, he could always step back. Maybe even report the guy to appropriate authorities. He could always make an honest confession.

He put the phone down on his desk and went back to monitoring the data backup jobs. In a couple of minutes, his phone buzzed 

“Hey, this is Ruchika” – said the Whatsapp message.

About the Author:

Sourabh Mukherjee

Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.

A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.

Connect with the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Blog

The Sinners 3D Cover copy

Giveaway:

A Paperback Copy of The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee.

Open till 25th November, 2019

HTML Code:
<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/491d1d8b255/&#8221; rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”491d1d8b255″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_de14onjl”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

Spotlight – Justice Gone

Awards-cover-2 copy

About the Book:

cover-2 copy

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

AFA-WINNER-TRANSPARENT-BACKGROUND copyWINNER NIEA copy  RF silver-shiny-hr copy

Winner of Three Awards:

2019 American Fiction Award

National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019

Silver Medal Winner 2019 – Readers’ Favorites Awards

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

Reviews for Justice Gone:

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

Read an Excerpt:

“What does voir dire mean?” Penny asked out of the blue. “The judge said something about…”

“It means that I and the prosecutor get to question each prospective juror directly. Only the judge has that authority, we lawyers have to ask permission to do so.”

They entered the visitation room, a cramped stuffy space bounded by the same pea-green walls, with a wooden table and straight-backed wooden chairs in the middle of the room. It was dimly lit and windowless. They found Darfield already standing by the table, and after greetings, along with hugs on the part of Tessa and Penny, they all sat down.

“I think it’s time I made a proper introduction,” Emily Bodine said. She smiled appealingly. She was a comely woman of about thirty, with honey-brown hair combed sensually around her glossy oval face and down to  her  shoulders, and  possessing jaunty blue eyes, a cute button nose, and alluring lips. She wore a brown lawyerly, Chanel-style pants suit. “You already know I’m Nat’s daughter and his co-counsel.”

“Not as flamboyant as me, but she gets the job done,” Bodine put in.

“Thanks, Dad. Closest thing to a complement that I’ll ever get from him,” she told the others with a fleeting grin before getting down to business. “Today was the formal arraignment, and now we are entering the discovery phase.”

“What’s that mean, exactly?” Darfield wanted to know.

“It means that the State has to turn over all its evidence to us including a list of witnesses they intend to call, the exhibits they intend to admit, things like that…so we can prepare our case. And we have to do likewise.”

“When is the trial going to be?” Tessa asked, getting to the issue that was a priority on her mind.

“Yeah, I’d like to know that, too,” Darfield said.

“Well, I don’t expect before the end of the year. We have the holidays coming up. It has to be within one hundred and twenty days, you heard the judge. Maybe sometime in February.”

Tessa was upset. “February! And Donald will be locked up until then?”

Bodine intervened. “Well, it’s like six of one and half dozen of the other. We’ll at least get sufficient time to prepare. It could have been worse if we waived the right to a speedy trial. Could have been a year or more because the State’s got a weak case and they’d use that time to bone it up.”

Darfield patted her arm. “Don’t worry, Tessa, I can make it all right.”

Bodine continued. “As Emily already mentioned, this is the discovery phase, so the more time the better. You see, most prosecutors play this disgusting game in collusion with the police, to take their time with the paperwork and to withhold things until we have to file motions repeatedly complaining to the judge to get hold of what they got, even though by law we are one hundred percent entitled to it. Oh, yeah, by the way, you got a source of funds?”

Tessa backed off, and sort of shriveled up. “We assumed you were working pro bono.”

“Well I am, but that means I’m only waiving my fees. There are still expenses to pay; you don’t expect me to dig into my own pockets for those, do you?”

“What expenses?”

Emily explained. “Phone calls, photocopying, transport, investigation costs…”

“Investigation?”

“Yes, that’s a must if we’re going to trial. And then there’s the experts.”

“Experts?”

The elder Bodine once again took the reins. “Look, they don’t have any evidence that Donald killed those three men. They need eyewitnesses, and they don’t have any. And the only forensic evidence is going to be based on ballistics. So they’re going to get some expert, who works for the government of New Jersey and who is loyal to the prosecution, and get him in the witness stand and give the jury a whole mumbo-jumbo about how Donald’s weapon is tied to the bullets they found. Except it’s gonna be bullshit. But the jury will eat it up; even if they don’t understand what he’s saying, ‘cause he’s an expert, and if we rely just on my cross-examination, me, a lil ol’ lawyer, a blind one at that, trying to rip apart his testimony, it always appears as a lack of respect when I attack his credibility. I mean he’s the expert, ain’t he? That’s why we need our own expert to show up the other guy, and let me tell you, they don’t come cheap.”

“We’ll do a fund-raising,” Penny said. “How much will we need?

“Shoot for a hundred thousand,” Bodine advised. “Shit!” Darfield blurted.

“There is something that we must consider right from the start,” Emily said. “This case hinges on jury sentiment. There’s nothing else when you come right down to it. And that’s not in our favor. Asarn County is ninety-percent white and is very conservative,  as  well  as  generally  supportive  of  their  local police.”

“I thought I saw a few people outside holding signs,” Penny said. “I think they were supportive of Donald.”

“That’s the last thing we want!” Bodine remonstrated loudly, banging his cane on the floor.

The door opened and a uniformed jailer appeared. “Is there a problem in here?”

“No officer, I was just making a point.”

“Well, could you make it a little more quietly, please?” “Yeah, now shut the door.”

The guard shot Bodine a harsh glance before closing the door. “Little  pipsqueak.”  He  pointed  his  cane  toward  the  far corner,  where  a  camera  was  suspended  close  to  the  ceiling. “They can see everything going on—closed-circuit television. Can’t hear us though… He damn well knew there wasn’t any problem, just wanted to assert the little authority he has…now, as I was saying…any protesters showing up here are likely to be outsiders with a political agenda. The local community is still in shock over those cold-blooded murders; they’ve already forgotten  the  original  incident,  Felson’s  beating,  and  they’ll consider such shenanigans as insensitive liberal nonsense…and if the jury should be exposed to these types of demonstrations, they’ll turn against us.”

“You have to realize,” Emily broke in, “that this is all about assigning blame. Three men are dead and someone has to be held responsible. They can’t just let it hang in the air.”

“What about my alibi?” Darfield shot in.

Bodine turned his head in the general direction of Darfield’s voice. “I sent someone down there, and we’ll get his report soon.” “What about this judge?” Darfield asked. “Is he going to be

the same one for the trial? Looks like a mean sucker.”

“Good question, Donald,” Bodine replied. “I would say yes, most assuredly. He’s an elected judge, and this is an election year.

“Is that good or bad?” Penny asked. “Not good.”

“There’s been a study done,” Emily said, “that shows that elected judges tend to have more convictions and give out stiffer penalties during their election years.”

“And,” Bodine added, “they usually run on a platform of being tough on crime. Last campaign, Tupelo had as his slogan, Vote for Judge Tupelo, ‘cause he just don’t let ‘em go. So the DA already has one up on us, he’s got the judge. But I have a way to put Tupelo on a leash. You see, there’s one thing a judge fears, and that is having their verdicts or their decisions overturned by either an Appeals Court, or worse, the Supreme Court. Makes ‘em look bad. And I’ll be threatening him with that from the get-go.”

“I noticed they dropped some of the charges,” Tessa said. “Surely that’s a good sign.”

“No, not really,” Bodine rebutted. “The police always overdo it, then wait for the DA to choose which of them they’re gonna run with. In this case, it looks like they want to concentrate their case on the most serious charges, and it also shows their confidence in getting a conviction. If they weren’t, they would have kept all those charges hoping for at least some of them to stick.” He addressed Darfield. “Make no mistake about it, son, you’re going to end up doing time for something. If you get acquitted, they’re going to bring you up again on reckless endangerment,  for sure. And that reminds me, if that’s what happens, we can rely on your PTSD as mitigating circumstances, but NOT, I repeat NOT for this case. The prosecution will no doubt bring that up, but for our part, we’re going to downplay that as much as possible.” Bodine cleared his throat, obviously dry from all this talking. “Now there’s one more thing before I go. This matter of isolation. My hunch is that they’re going to keep you in the same cell, but just add a bunkmate. And he’ll be the snitch. Do whatever you can to keep him away from you. They won’t put you in the regular bullpen, because there’s eight guys sharing a single area, and all eight would have to corroborate each other, you get me?” Bodine didn’t wait for an answer, “Otherwise I can call the others to the stand who would testify they didn’t hear shit. But if the State does what I just said, stick him in alone with you, it’s more work for me because without witnesses to contradict him, I’ll have to spend some effort at tearing up the little rat on the stand.”

Tessa sat upright and put both hands on the table. “What about this sequestering of the jury. I noticed you were quite upset.”

“First of all, we’re gonna be restricted when it comes to jury selection. Some of the most sympathetic won’t be able to do it, for example single mothers, those who might need medical monitoring, people who cannot be away for a long time… but what I’m really concerned about is that they’ll hasten deliberation, come to a judgment too quick ‘cause they’re fed up being treated like prisoners, which, mark my word, that’s how they’ll be treated. Now some of them may resent the State because of that, but some might feel some bond with the State because they’re the ones taking care of them. Remember, that in the trial proceedings the State goes first, they can take their time, but it’s gonna force us to rush a bit because by that time the jury members are getting unhappy living the way they’re living. If we want to go meticulously about our case, then the jury will blame us for  taking  too  long and  prolonging  their  suffering. Now, is there anything else before Emily and I take our leave?”

“When will you come back?” Darfield asked. “We’ll be back by the end of the week.”

About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:

Website * Goodreads * Amazon

 

A Grand Review

As I stated in my previous blog post, General Lee is one of my favorite personalities of the War Between the States. In this excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, protagonist David Summers, age 18, meets the general for the first time, and is awestruck by his encounter. This event takes place shortly before the Battle of Brandy Station, which took place on June 9, 1863, and was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place in North America.

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

Later that evening, the men were informed that another Review was to be held, because General Lee had been detained from attending the day’s events. The troopers were required to polish their tack and metal two days later for the benefit of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On June 8, the Review was held between Culpeper and Brandy like before, but no civilians were present this time. General Hood’s infantry came to watch the military exercise. While the cavalrymen rode past to take their positions on the open field of the Auburn Estate, the suntanned foot soldiers jeered at them.

“Come down off’n that horse!” one yelled. “I can see your legs a-danglin’!”

“Come out from under that hat!” another hollered. “I can see your ears a-wigglin’!”

“They’re jist jealous of us because we git all the pretty girls’ attention!” Michael yelled over at David and flashed a grin.

The horsemen reached the open field and lined up in columns, their regimental colors rippling above them. Ordered to halt, they sat with all eyes on their commanding officer. 

General Lee rode the two-mile line at a brisk trot. He searched out saddle-sore horses and deficient carbines, mandating corrective actions as he carried out his inspection. He came to a halt in front of Renegade. 

brandy station

“Is this the little horse that won the race I heard tell about?” he asked.

Stunned that the magnificent general was speaking to him, David’s heart leaped. He found it difficult to reply, let alone comprehend that General Lee was actually addressing him. The general, dressed in flawless brass and gray, his white beard and entire appearance immaculate, gazed at him intensely. He didn’t know if he was required to salute, so he just sat there, stupefied.

“Yessir,” was all he could finally manage to say. 

General Lee nodded, glanced over Renegade once more, and spurred his gray steed away. The cavaliers surrounding David turned to gawk at him. He looked at John, who winked at him. 

“Reckon he’s got plans for you!” Michael said, grinning as he raised an eyebrow.

David wondered what those plans were, and couldn’t help cracking a smile. Although he’d given up on his fantasy of becoming a Pony Express rider, he hoped now to be chosen for some dangerous, daring mission on behalf of the Confederacy, since the adventure he and Jake had dreamed about seemed to have eluded him thus far. His utmost desire was to receive a perilous assignment, one that no one else was willing to take, because he was prepared to lay down his life for his beloved country. If that happened, there would be no doubt that he would acquire exoneration for Tom’s death. He wanted to die in honor and glory, just like his father and Jake had done. But he hoped, most of all, that he wouldn’t be sealed in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

Sitting astride Traveller, General Lee watched from the top of a hillock. General Stuart, with his usual flamboyance, wore a long, black ostrich plume in his hat, and his horse, Virginia, was adorned with a wreath of flowers around her neck. Stuart signaled; the bugles blared. Twenty-two cavalry regiments wheeled into columns of four, and three bands commenced to play “The Bonnie Blue Flag” while General Stuart led the parade of prancing horses. The cavaliers walked their mounts down the length of the field before turning into a trot. An immense cloud of dust billowed up from the ground. There was no mock charge against the guns this time, so following the reviewing maneuvers, the men were congratulated and released.

They led their horses back to camp, and celebrated the splendor of their review. The supply and baggage trains had been loaded, awaiting the cavalry’s departure across the Rappahannock with the infantry, which was now encamped on the other side of a hill. Unbeknownst to David and his fellow cavaliers, however, an ominous presence lurked in the shadows. Morning would come much sooner than expected. 

Guest Post Article

The following is a guest post written by Melissa Chan of Literary Book Gifts.

man writing a contract

Pen and Pad or Laptop? Why the Platform You Write On Matters

It is undeniable that much of writing takes place brainstorming, jotting down ideas on fragments of paper, or just working through plots and characters in one’s mind. But when it comes down to getting the words on paper and into a cohesive draft, there are plenty of different ways in which this task can be accomplished. In recent years smartphones and other writing software have the ability to replace even the classic blank page document. Digital computers and the technology within them has come a long way and really made an impact on the ways it is possible to write.

It can be easy to say, “well this doesn’t matter, writing is simply one’s ideas and the way in which you get them out of your head into a book is not of any consequence.” But I’m not entirely sure this is true. Here are a few reasons why I think the platform you write on matters, perhaps they will help you consider how you write and how it might affect your finished work.

The interface

I am personally a fan of paper over the laptop. I’ve not written anything of substance just yet, but on the occasions that I have tried it to do so, I have had much more success with pen to paper. With ink and unlined paper I am seemingly able to get my ideas out faster. Although this may appear counterintuitive since like most people I can type at a much faster rate than I can write with a pen, it is something that works for me. The digital interface doesn’t allow for arrows, scribbling out parts of sentences while leave traces of what was left behind, or doodles on the edges. New writing programs may have advanced features such as notes in the margins, and embedded in-line notes but none compare to the simple ease of pen to paper.

How you write dictates where you write

There are definitely advantages of the laptop or other digital forms of writing. As I mentioned before, typing speed is a given. The computer can check your spelling and grammar as you write. It can also store thousands of pages of research and writings that you can quickly search through on demand. Instead of an entire library of notes, the laptop’s database can be accessed from a coffee shop, on vacation, or even miles above the ground on an airplane. Writing on paper can be portable. Notebooks of course can be carried everywhere and don’t require electricity to work. This I suppose depends on the need of an individual writer. Sitting on a park bench writing in a notebook is a much more different experience than a laptop, even on that same park bench. For those who write on a monitor with full keyboard and mouse at home, a notebook is perhaps the only way that they will be able to write out of the house.

In Conclusion

Before the rise of technology, authors had limited options for writing platforms. I wouldn’t be surprised if many contemporary authors elect to write directly on the computer because of it’s many benefits which include speed and efficiency. The platform in which an author writes is by no means as important as the writing itself, but as I am always interested in craft, and the human experience of creating art, it’s a question I have contemplated over the years. My conclusion is that the means of art creation does have an impact on the final outcome of any work of art, and that certainly includes literature.

I hope that some of my thoughts on writing platforms help you consider the way in which you write and how that influences your work as an author. Thank you so much for listening.

Melissa Chan is an occasional writer and the founder of Literary Book Gifts, a virtual gift shop for book lovers, readers, and writers. The store features authors and titles from classic books for all to appreciate.

How do you get your ideas into a finished book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

(Special thanks to Melissa Chan for this article.)

 

Post Navigation