Sold a copy of AFTER JEWEL

On Sunday, because my house was without internet, my son and I drove to our local Atlanta Bread Company only to find it closed. So we continued on to Panera Bread, settled on a table with an electrical plug along the wall. While my son got his computer running, I strolled to the front to buy a cup of coffee and get a glass of water. While getting the water at the drink station, a woman approached me. Frankly I don’t remember what she said first only that her words had something to do with finding a “peaceful” location to — here I became confused — sit and have coffee or perhaps find a place to stay that would also be “peaceful.” I was bewildered. Then she said, “You are obviously spiritual…” and she added something beyond this but I was standing with hot coffee in one hand, a glass of water in the other and my wallet tucked under my arm against my side. She continued, and I suggested a bed and breakfast near the middle school my daughter attended years ago. At some point, the woman repeated “you are obviously spiritual” and that the numbers of the highways “were meaningful” to her — one highway number was her birthday, another her birth year and so on. She indicated that God had brought her here. While she spoke, I decided to direct her to a nearby abbey where the monks take a vow of silence.

“A great place for a spiritual retreat,” I told her.

She smiled, her eyes gleaming — literally.

Finally I gestured that I needed to take the water to my son and get the hot coffee out of my hand. She followed me to a table next to my son. We sat down and chatted about the abbey and the monks as well as about her views on the church.

The church — the conclusion of our talk was a realization that the church — not the body of Christ but the man-made institution — is a lonely place because God is missing from it.

“He’s left, hasn’t He?” I asked her, almost making a statement.

At any rate, over the next ten minutes, we discuss my novels. She wants to support me, she says. And so, I tell her that most of my novels are in the back of my car in a box if she’s really interested. Turns out she really is. So, I bring her METAL MAN WALKING and also show her AFTER JEWEL which is the one she settles on.

Hmm — does God work in mysterious ways? He certainly did Sunday morning.

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Journey In the Mind of A Madman, a review of AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL

By J. Bickley on March 21, 2015

How does the mind of a serial killer work? Max Peterson gets a frightening glimpse of it as he interviews notorious killer, Richard Mock, who has renamed himself David Stone.

What I like about As From A Talented Animal is the ambiguity of the “killer.” The book is presented from the perspective of three different people, the journalist Max Peterson, the alleged killer Richard Mock/David Stone, and the prison guard Felix.

As Max interviews and learns more about Mock/Stone, the tale gets more chilling. For one thing, there is much question about whether Stone even committed the crimes. You see, he has confessed to 30 killings over a number of years. He has been convicted of eight of them, and is serving a sentence in a mental institution. The reason he was only convicted of eight of the murders is that his confession didn’t match up well enough with the other 22.

The problem is that he sporadically announces that he never killed anyone. But who is claiming that? Stone or Mock? He claims (along with the psychologist), that Stone is just a pseudonym, made up by Mock. But Max Person swears that he can tell which one he is talking to by “something in the eyes.” At one point, Max is pretty well convinced that Stone is telling the truth when he says that he never killed anyone. As the reader, I’m never quite sure.

The book is a gripping journey through the mind of a madman. Did he kill or not? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

First Look — SEA COWBOYS, a novel by Carley Eason Evans

SEA COWBOYS

a novel by Carley Eason Evans

2015 Copyright

All Rights Reserved
1 Chaos

Ben Spillman doesn’t know he is about to fall. The black sea water below appears exactly like the black ceiling above. In between, only the rope is visible. Ben clings to it like a lifeline in that it is his lifeline. He dangles, bouncing his feet against the starboard inside wall as the whole ship lists far to port. The ocean swells are calm; otherwise Ben would not be on the rope climbing down at the end of his shift. Suddenly, he hears Max from the deck: “Ben! Ben!” Then the rope goes slack for just a moment before he’s falling. Ben hears his own screams as he falls. Then, he sees the steel stanchion emerge from the darkness below; he strikes it with a mighty thud and for a split second feels the blood gush from his right temple. Then, he loses consciousness.

Max shouts, “Ben! Ben! Oh god, Ben!” He quickly pulls up what’s left of the rope.

Three other men attached to loops of rope on the deck lean out to look down into the dark. No one can see Ben. No one can even see the surface of the slack water. Each man looks to the other.

Finally, Lon says, “Oh god; I think we’ve lost Spillman.”

Max, Randy and Skip look at one another. Skip protests, “That’s not possible! Spillman’s our best!” Then Skip says the obvious, “My god, he’s got an unlimited master’s license. He can pilot any ship out there!”

Max and Randy nod in agreement, peering once more into the deep black. Randy yells, “Ben! Ben Spillman! Yo!” He hears only the sound of his voice as the ship lists into the sea. Lon ventures, “He must of drown.” Max shakes his head. “No,” he says, “more likely, he died on impact. That’s a long way down, fellows.” Indeed, the Striker Ace is as high as a seven-story building and as long as two football fields. “Maybe,” offers Randy. “Maybe, he managed to grab ahold on his way down. Maybe he just can’t hear us.”

Lon shakes his head. He looks to Max who holds up the frayed end of what’s left of the rope; Ben’s lifeline still tied – not clipped, oddly enough – to the upper deck. “I’m afraid that’s not possible, Randy. He fell.”

The four Sea Cowboys, as they jokingly call their salvage team, grow quiet. Lon protests again. “We have to climb down; we have to make sure.”

Randy vigorously nods in agreement. Max shrugs his shoulders, hands the frayed rope to Lon. “Okay, I’ll climb down. Randy, you get to Captain Lawrence. Have him radio to get the Coast Guard back with a rescue helicopter.”

“Roger. Wilco,” barks Randy and moves off as quickly as he is able.

Before Max climbs out of sight, Lon says, “We’re gonna have to let the main office know. Cindy’s gonna want to get a report, asap.”

Max continues Lon’s thoughts, saying, “And we need to let Rob, Greg, and Pete know, too.”

“Jesus,” says Skip. “I don’t wanna do that.”

“Well, we have to,” insists Max. He hesitates. “Well, we’re probably gonna have to, that is.” Then he climbs down. Every six or eight inches, he ties a rope loop to any nearby sturdy structure, and anchors himself so that he won’t fall like Spillman.

Meanwhile, Lon and Skip follow Randy as he gingerly walks along the deck which is nearly perpendicular to the black ocean below. When they come to the ladder leading to the bridge; each one hooks in and climbs it in the same manner a mountain climber scales an overhang. The effort each makes is enormous. The three men are sweating as they come through the door to the bridge. Captain Lawrence is at the helm. He looks up as they enter. He greets them, “Hey guys. Everything okay? Did Ben find a gash in the hull? Did he find the first row of cars? Are they intact?”

Randy shakes his head. “No sir. Ben fell. We think he’s dead.”

The Captain looks shocked. “He’s dead? You’re kidding me; right?”

Lon says, “No, we’re not kidding! God, why would anyone kid about that?”

The Captain strikes a button on a panel before him, and a claxon begins. He barks, “Man down!” into a loudspeaker. Then, stops. He looks at the three men, drops his chin. “I’m sorry,” he says. “No point to it?”

Randy nods, agrees. “Yes, sir. The fall probably killed him; Max is climbing down now to make certain.”

“Belay that,” says Captain Lawrence over the loudspeaker. He strikes the button again; the claxon stops blaring.

Randy says, “But, Max wants you to get a rescue helicopter from the Coast Guard asap.”

Ben Spillman is a career man; he’s been with the Sea Cowboys since the beginning, over 30 years of service. He leaves a wife and four boys – grown men now. He leaves grand-children, too – three girls, two boys. Max holds back tears as he stands on the bridge, staring out at the black sea.

After contacting the Coast Guard to secure the helicopter, Captain Lawrence offers his office so that Randy can relay a message via the ship’s satellite phone. Randy waits for the phone to connect to the mainland. He knows there is a 20-second delay between when he speaks and when Cindy hears him. He’s careful in his approach.

“Cindy? Over.”

“Yes. Over.” responds Cindy, seconds later.

“Randy here. Over.”

“Hey Randy,” she says. “What’s up? Over.”

Randy swallows; his tongue is so dry it seems glued to the roof of his mouth. He starts, “We’ve had an accident.” He waits for the signal to reach Cindy. He hears her sharp gasp before he continues, “Ben Spillman fell.” He waits. “We think he’s dead, Cindy. Over.” Randy doesn’t hear any response, so he repeats. As he begins, he hears Cindy’s voice, “Did you say Ben’s dead? Did I hear you right? Ben Spillman? Over.”

“Yes,” confirms Randy. “Ben Spillman’s dead. Well we think he’s dead. His line broke; he fell from just inside the deck into the cargo hold not more than an half an hour ago. We’re waiting on a rescue helicopter now. And Max is climbing down to him now. Over.”

“Oh god,” says Cindy. “I’ll need to call Jane. How am I going to tell Jane that her husband is dead? Over.”

“I don’t know, Cindy.” Randy weeps quietly. “Do you want me to call her? Over.”

From the distance, Randy hears Cindy say, “Well you know her better than I do. It might come easier from you. Over.”

Randy nods to himself. He speaks into the satellite phone, “Okay, Cindy. I’ll call her. Over.”

“Do you need her telephone number? Over.”

“No, it’s stored in my cell phone down in my berth. Over.”

Cindy says, “Tell Max that I’m so sorry. Over.”

“Thanks. Will you let the big guys know? Over.”

“Yeah, sure. Over.”

Randy says, “Signing off.”

“Okay,” says Cindy. “Over and out.”

Randy puts down the satellite phone, and steps out of the Captain’s office. He doesn’t say anything; instead, he walks out of the bridge and starts down the ladder, hooking in again so as not to fall himself. What happened to Ben’s climbing gear? Why wasn’t he anchored to the inside hull?

He reaches his cabin about ten minutes later. He steps in, and holding on to various fixtures, he pulls himself around the small enclosure. He finds his cell phone in a drawer beneath his berth. He turns it on, finds the Spillman’s home telephone number. He scribbles it on a slip of paper which he stuffs in his front pocket. He leaves his cabin, goes back to the Captain’s office, walking by both Mr. Lawrence and the Sea Cowboys.

He listens as the Spillman’s phone rings and rings. Finally, a connection.

“Jane? Over.”

“No, this is Rebecca. I’m her granddaughter.”

Randy says, “You have to say ‘over,’ Rebecca.”

“Oh, okay. Over.”

“Rebecca,” begins Randy. “Is your grandmother at home? Over.”

“No sir. Over.”

“Do you expect her soon? Over.”

“In about half an hour, maybe. Over.”

“All right,” says Randy. “I’ll call back. Over.”

Rebecca asks, “What’s wrong? Over.”

Randy refuses to answer. He knows if he speaks again, his voice will betray him. He shakes his head; tears sling from his eyes. He suddenly thinks he shouldn’t be the one to tell Jane this anyway. Max is the one; he’s closest to Ben.

“What’s wrong? Over.”

Randy gives Rebecca only silence. He hears her once more, “What’s wrong? Hello? Hello? Over.”

“I’ll call back. Tell Jane. Over.” And he hangs up the satellite phone.

Randy steps out of the office. He leans against the wall, suddenly exhausted. He realizes it’s very early still; the night sky remains dark.

One of the ship’s crew – Randy doesn’t recognize him – comes onto the bridge. “Captain Lawrence, sir; we didn’t strike anything. It’s the starboard ballast tank sir. It failed to refill so we’re listing. We’re definitely capsizing sir.”

“The first chapter intrigued me.”

Another reader of mine told me on Friday that she’d gotten through the first chapter of AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL and was intrigued by it. She said, “Your novels keep getting better and better.”

“Oh,” I said, “you’re liking this one –.”

“Yes,” she said, “I’m liking it a lot.”

“I liked it. You surprised me.”

My friend who purchased GANI & SEAN last Saturday morning told me at breakfast this morning — one week later — that “Yes, I liked GANI & SEAN.” Then she smiled and said, “You surprised me there at the end.”

“Oh,” I said, “you didn’t see that coming?”

“No,” she replied. “No, no; I didn’t.” And she grinned.

“Oh, that’s great,” I said. I added, “I think you’ll like the sequel even more.”

And we went back to our coffee.

Just when I think, it changes

Just when I think I’ll never sell another book, I sell one or two or three or even more. Just when the sky seems to darken to a threatening black, the sun peeks from behind the cover of darkness and says, “hello there.” If I wrote for myself, the black clouds overhead wouldn’t matter, but I don’t write for myself. I write for others. I write to be read. So, once again, I must thank my readers, few though you be. I so appreciate your willingness to support me and my endeavor to be a novelist — one who writes novels.

Thanks again.

“I Need Something to Read”

Five of my more favorite words strung together are: “I need something to read” but six of my most favorite words strung together — that follow closely after the first five words — are: “I want to read your book.”

These two phrases — uh, sentences — were “heard” by me via text yesterday, and this morning my friend — one of my readers — bought my novel GANI & SEAN.

I signed it to her, “You know I love you.”

Facebook friend buys METAL MAN WALKING

A Facebook friend I’ve chatted with for at least several years bought METAL MAN WALKING today. I’m very excited to hear this.

Every sale of a novel is special.

Thanks friend! Wonderful to have you as a reader.

P.S. My third sale of 2015!

Response to A Writer’s Path

Well, of course, I can’t find the original post (I’m almost certain it was entitled “HOW NOT TO PROMOTE YOUR NOVEL” or something close to that) on A WRITER’S PATH — why not a search box? At any rate, the post was a rant against self-absorbed, self-centered writers who wish to promote their novel on social media. I recognized myself in this post — yes, I don’t particularly like to read blogs; yes, I know there are thousands upon thousands of novels published each year; yes, I know few people are interested in discovering an unknown writer; yes, I know I should read other writers’ novels; yes, I know I can be annoying when I post about my latest work, etcetera.

I stop here to ask — what novelist is not self-centered?

After all, a novelist — one who actually sits down and writes a 50,000 plus manuscript — is alone most of the time. A novelist — one who creates another world filled with imaginary persons doing imaginary things with each other — is completely absorbed in his or her creation. A novelist — one who writes multiple stories over many years — has little time for much else (especially if writing these novels brings no or only little money to their bank accounts) other than writing and the work that pays the bills.

As for reading other novelists — I don’t have time for that anymore. I used to read. In fact, as a young person, you would not have seen me without my nose stuck in the pages of a real book. I read all the time. In fact, if I didn’t write now most of my time, I’d still be reading.

Presently, I keep writing while I continue to share my work with others. I don’t write for myself (like I did as an adolescent in angst). Instead I write for others — for my very small fan base, which I am trying to establish on my own, without much help from anyone else — except them.

Thanks, little fan base! Thanks.