During this pandemic of the coronavirus, I pray eveyone will stay in and go out only if it is absolutely necessary. Please stay safe. Write, read or watch movies. Those are the things I’m doing. Always remember: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents, are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
This book is dedicated to my mother, Grace, who saw her husband’s ghost after he was killed in an auto accident. She always knew when one of her children needed her help before we ever asked.
Monday, November 20, 2017.
Marine Staff Sergeant Nathan C. Roberts had come to know the smell of war far too well. It had the distinct odor of sweaty fear mingled with death, caused by the apprehension and the dread of what waited in every inch of the surrounding countryside. It was present on this cold morning in hell, as the Marines called the area they traveled. Any spot in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was considered the most dangerous place in the country.
Nate and six others, along with Afghan forces, trudged down a road close to a fifteen-foot mud wall, their boots quietly kicking up dust which drifted away like wistful ghosts of a remembered past. Each man had grown accustomed to the weight of the protective gear covering their bodies. The mission, eliminate the Taliban as a threat. That goal was unachievable. The Taliban was a fixture in this hellhole and always would be. And he had come to realize that the Taliban’s hold on this country would remain until the old way of thinking was changed. Those beliefs were handed down from father to son, and the hatred for anything different was instilled too deeply. Change for the Taliban was a long wait, which would never happen.
And today, the cooler temperature, plus the wind, made the job worse. The air was clear, and the sky was a brilliant blue. Such a beautiful day belied the dangers waiting to claim the life of anyone walking in this sector. The lives of the soldiers were always in peril from being shot or killed by triggering an IED planted beyond the safe zone. If anywhere in hell could be deemed safe. So far, Nate hadn’t found such a place.
Today, the going was slow. His eyes darted from one point to the next, at all times alert for danger. The enemy used any means available from digging out holes in walls from which to shoot, to burying IEDs along the routes the soldiers had to check. The Taliban was merciless in their quest to slaughter any American military personnel.
Ahead, three U.S. Marines worked their way along the narrow dirt path. Two more brought up the rear. Without warning, insurgents rained down heavy gunfire from a position behind a mud-brick barrier, the barrels of the weapons visible in the drilled-out cavities. The troops rushed for cover, but the sergeant never heard the whisper of the bullet. Thud! The impact struck Nate’s neck, and he fell. Close by, multiple loud explosions followed. IEDs ripped limbs from bodies and tore muscles from the bone until identification for some became an impossibility in the mangled mess of body parts and bloody flesh. Some were more recognizable because of less severe wounds. The world for each Marine had dissolved into a cloud of thick gray smoke.
Afterward, a strange silence. Frantic, and not understanding how he was able to move, Nate rolled over and crawled to safety behind what remained of a wall. From that point, he managed to stand and peer over the barrier to try to locate the rest of the team. But the thick shroud of dust veiled any view. It was too quiet. In some ways, the silence was more frightening. Then, wham! Slammed by the force of the noise, he went face down and covered his ears. The roar caused pain in Nate’s head and made him screech for it to stop
When it did, the air had cleared, and he again stood and looked around. At first, Nate didn’t perceive the surrounding scene. As the last bit of haze drifted away, all the men now mere shadowy figures, looking shocked, confused, and left to stare down at what remained of their bodies. The realization stunned each one. They were all dead! And he, Nate, was dead too! The fact struck each man as hard as the bullets and explosives which had destroyed their lives.
The sergeant dropped to his knees and screamed, “Oh God, Hannah. I’m sorry.” This devastation was more intense and more painful. He was never again going home to his wife. Nate had never known such anger. It tore at his soul. His promise of coming home was broken. The worst part, all the suffering his death was going to cause.
Next came the fearful thought, in what condition was his body? Sometimes when soldiers died in a war, nothing was left to send home except an empty casket. Hannah didn’t deserve a vacant coffin. She deserved so much more than he had given. Now, their time together had run out.
The area brightened. A wall of gold appeared and shone so bright the intensity blocked out all the chaos. In the center, a beam of pure white light radiated toward the men. All turned to face it. Voices called, come, cross over, depart this world. As the dead men walked forward into the radiant beam, Nate hung back. Each soldier stepped through and vanished. As the forceful pull grew stronger, Nate refused to move. A disturbance surrounded him. Four dark shadows raced around him and sped away like a cold wind of pure evil headed straight at Hannah. He couldn’t leave. There was no peace on the other side for him if he left his wife unprotected. There was no leaving until he discovered what nefarious force threatened Hannah.
The light continued to blaze for a few moments longer, then vanished, leaving Nate to wonder if this was his one chance to enter? Did his refusal come at the cost of the peace offered on the other side? Would the beam appear again? He prayed so. But, for now, it didn’t matter. Hannah needed him. There was no changing this decision. His wife needed protection. From what Nate didn’t yet know, but trouble was coming fast and he had to be prepared.
I now have completed almost ten thousand words to THE SNATCHER. The story is moving along slow but sure. I have a rough outline that I am working from, which is good. There is a lot to go into this book. The characters have changed direction on me somewhat. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, so I was surprised. It will be interesting to see where it all leads.
For those of you who have read my novels, you know I write about things I have read in the newspaper or saw on the TV news. I take the event and create a book. CREATING KATHRYN CROWN, about a woman who wakes in a city two thousand miles from home with someone else’s face, was created because I wanted to escape my unhappy marriage. Then I read in the newspaper about two women who were friends and resembled each other. They were in an auto accident. One lived, and the other died. Due to severe facial injuries and bandages, the survivor was given the identity of the person who died. It wasn’t until she regained consciousness that her true identity was established.
A CIRCLE OF MURDERS was created from the abduction of a young child in Tampa, Florida. The child was never found. I wanted to bring her home even if it was a fictional story.
THE STONE KILLER happened because I read about a woman being stoned to death in India or one of the Muslim countries because she had an affair. So did the husband, but nothing happened to him. He went on to marry his mistress.
FOR LOVE OF HANNAH was created because of all the families who have lost their loved ones to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. I wanted to let them know they are being watched over by those who have passed. They continue to live in our hearts, memories, and can never altogether leave us. Ghost do exist. I have seen them. My house in Florida was haunted by an elderly woman.
Other than writing, I haven’t been doing much else besides taking care of the fur babies and helping my sister. All these dark rainy days do drive me nuttier than I am. I need to see the sun. Ohio doesn’t appear to have a lot of sunshine. Rain and gray days, yes. Sunshine, no. I do take a break in the evening a watch a movie. I love movies, especially a lot of the old ones. I have one recorded I’m going to watch this evening, VON RYAN’S EXPRESS. It’s an old Frank Sinatra movie and a good one. Look it up and watch it some time.
Well, time for me to feed the pups. Everyone have a great week and stay safe. Remember: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER, especially now.
Well, FOR LOVE OF HANNAH is done and published in Kindle format and paperback on Amazon.com. I worked hard to make that story as perfect and well written as possible. If you purchase a copy, please write a review. Thanks to Janice Franklin, my friend in Florida, who read the manuscript for me and loved the story. I hope the rest of you feel the same.
My novel, TO CATCH A DREAM, has 66,000 words written. I am in the process of writing a chapter by chapter synopsis of the book, 1. To refresh my memory of what I have written and 2. To have a long summary so I can condense it later into a one or two-page version.
The third book in the Jonas Black series, THE SNATCHER, will take longer for me to write as I have a shorter amount completed. I have the outline to follow, which should help, but I want to finish TO CATCH A DREAM first. All I have to do is follow the outline I have for it.
The other day while checking my list of novels, I came across two other ghost stories. The first one, ON GABRIEL’S WATCH, is loosely based on an actual murder that happened in Florida back in the 1980s. The other, STEALING TIME, just popped into my head several years ago about a woman who owns a used bookstore. Both stories have almost 30,000 words written. Once THE SNATCHER is done and published, they will be my main focus, as well as the next book in the Jonas Black series, TEARS OF THE INNOCENT.
Spring can’t be too far away. When I took my pups out this morning, JoJo went crazy. The groundhog had gone into the fenced garden, the gate is open, and when Jo started barking, the frightened animal went nuts trying to find his way out. The poor thing was so scared he kept running into the wire fencing until he finally succeeded in escaping. He made a beeline for his burrow under the shed. He hasn’t ventured too far out since. Also, this morning, the ducks were having a good time playing in the pond, and I heard the honking of the Canadian Geese from somewhere on the water. Spring is on the way, thank you, God.
Well, the weekend is here. Everyone have a great one and stay safe. Remember: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER.
Our Thanksgiving Day was a reflection of what a lot of people experienced across the country, delicious food and drink. Too much for anyone to consume at one sitting, but try we all did, overeating until I was uncomfortable and tired from helping sister prepare the meal. Then after dinner, you all know how it is, comes the cleanup. By that time you’re not in the mood to do much of anything let alone fill a dishwasher or scrub a pot, platter or carving board. But it has to be done. No one wants to face the next day with a sink full of dirty dishes, pots or pans. So, as a good sister, I cleaned up the kitchen. I have to say, it was nice having family around me this year. By not living close to sisters, many holidays, I spent alone or with a couple of friends. The day after we lazed around recouping from too much food, and pumpkin pie. I do love pumpkin pie.
Last night, of course my pups had to go out around 3:00 a.m. The rain was blowing across the back porch and drenching everything. JoJo and Titan hurried off the deck and peed then rushed back inside so I could dry the poor babies off, me included. Then we went back to bed, the pups went to sleep, while I fought with Stanley my big Ragdoll cat. Lately, every morning around 3:30 or 4:00 he decides he wants a drink of water from the bathroom faucet. To wake me up, he bangs the shower doors against each other. The sound is loud enough to wake me, but not break the glass in the doors. I have a spray bottle and use it on him. After a couple of times getting hit with a shot of water, he’ll settle down in his bed, and I go back to sleep. It isn’t that the fur babies don’t have water available; two bowls of fresh are in the bathroom day and night. Stanley happens to like running water from the spigot, and during the daylight hours that’s where he gets a drink. Yes, all my animals are spoiled, and it’s my fault and my sister’s.
This past year has been a lesson for me in writing my novel. When you rush to complete a book, sometimes you have to do a LOT of rewriting. Such was the case with FOR LOVE OF HANNAH. I wrote like a manic for several months to finish the story. First, after I sent the book to literary agents, and post-editing the manuscript numerous times line by line myself and with the aid of three editing program, I discovered numerous mistakes. So I did another round of edits. One agent was kind enough to tell me what kept her from representing my book. The suspense was not consistent throughout the story. I pulled the submissions from any agency I hadn’t heard from and did a review of the events in the novel. All the necessary suspense was there, but all grouped together and not spread throughout the storyline. I did a lot of rearranging and adding to the plot. The book has gone from a little over 82,000 words to almost 88,000. And, I’m not done yet. As sister says, the book will be completed when the story is as well written as I can make it. Keep an eye out FOR LOVE OF HANNAH, TO CATCH A DREAM and THE SNATCHER in 2020. Check out my published novels on amazon.com.
Well, back to work. Everyone have a great week and stay safe. Remember, NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER.
I have perused every sentence in my novel, FOR LOVE OF HANNAH, checking each word to be as sure as I can everything is correct, utilizing three editing programs, which don’t agree about the same correction. That’s been fun and frustrating. Question for all three, can’t you agree when to use a comma? And why haven’t you been coded to know, IT’S means IT IS? No, they can’t manage to do it for some unknown reason. I have done the best I can to produce a clean, error-free manuscript. I am declaring Hannah at last finished. Now, I am praying hard, to find an agent who will believe in my writing as much as I do. I don’t claim to be the best, but I am far from being the worst writer. Pray, I succeed in my quest. To all those individuals who are praying for the same thing, my prayers for your success are with you.
Rain, at last, arrived here today. It has been dry for the last couple of weeks. Sister has had to water the garden several times. But those tomato plants keep on producing big juicy red and yellow tomatoes. The yellow ones are milder and not as acidic. The beefsteak tomatoes are delicious. Soon, the garden will die and winter will arrive. We have four more days of hot weather predicted before cooler temperatures blow in. On the news tonight it appears as if winter has already arrived in Montana. I hope we have a mild one this year, but doubt that will happen. Oh well, you can’t control the weather.
I bumped the back of my left hand last week and also had a cut on the wrist. Last Friday, when I awoke, my left hand was badly swollen, hot and red. I went to the doctor and found out I had cellulitis of the hand. I’m on an antibiotic, and my hand is much better. My left fingers were swollen, and it was difficult to use them, so no typing except with my right hand. All is better, thank you. I was going to post a picture, but, believe me, you don’t want to see it.
new week lies ahead. Everyone have a
great one and stay safe. Remember, NEVER
GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER.
Sister made her salsa the other day. All morning she cleaned various types of peppers, onions, and other vegetables which go into the mix. She was smart this year and purchased a 102-ounce can of diced tomatoes to use instead of having to peel those we’d picked and then chop them. It worked out great. That afternoon, she cooked everything in a large pot until it had thickened. She had to boil the jars and lids in another container to sterilize them. After all that, she filled the jars while I put the lids on for her. Once that is done, the filled jars have to be put in boiling water for fifteen minutes, taken out of the water and we wait to see if the lids pop to indicate the salsa is good to store. Otherwise, that jar will go in the fridge to be eaten. Of course, it’s all to be eaten, but not immediately. After all that work, Sister had eight pints and four half-pints of salsa. As for me, that’s too much work for such a little outcome. The grocery store sells a large variety of salsa. That works for me. But, fresh garden grown tomatoes are wonderful.
last few mornings here in Ohio have been cool.
The trees are changing more each day. The red and yellow leaves are carried by the breeze
all over the yard and porch. Even the
air smells different. Yesterday the
temperature remained low enough we turned off the air conditioning and opened
the doors and window to let the fresh air inside. Tonight the low is sixty-one and tomorrow
night, fifty-one. Crazy.
far, and thank you, God, the fur babies all seem to be in good shape. Well, except Pyewacket. He eats too fast and sometimes upchucks,
which he did at five o’clock this morning.
I’m a light sleeper so heard him immediately and got out of bed to clean
up the mess before going back to bed. My
poor baby. Sister says that what happens
when you have a bunch of children, human or fur babies. I love them just as much as if they were
human. They are my children, and I take
good care of each one, and I’m very protective of them.
Thank God, I’m coming to the end of editing FOR LOVE OF HANNAH. I’ve not progressed as fast as I wanted due to unavoidable interruptions, vet visits, and doctor visits, but I am coming to the end of the book. I am ready to go to work on THE SNATCHER or TO CATCH A DREAM, probably will work on DREAM as I’m working out all the details out on THE SNATCHER. Whatever works is what I will do.
Last year was not a good one for me health-wise. That is all behind me, again thank God. I also promised my friends at the Colorado Police Department another painting, which I haven’t done. The canvas is primed and on my easel ready to go. On breaks from writing, I will work on keeping my promise to my friends at the CSPD. I have a strong urge to start painting again.
Time to get back to work. Everyone have a great week and weekend. Stay safe and healthy. Remember, NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER.