Blood Flats: Chapter 18

It was now mid-afternoon—the hour at which Deputy Norris customarily ate lunch—but he was not the slightest bit hungry. As he steered his cruiser through downtown Perryston, he passed the McDonald’s and the Hardee’s entrances without a second glance. All he could think about was McCabe. McCabe might as well have been sitting beside him in the cruiser’s passenger seat.

Continue reading “Blood Flats: Chapter 18”

Blood Flats: Chapter 17

“Hands up, McCabe!” Norris shouted. The command was superfluous. McCabe’s hands were up even before Norris had stepped out of his cruiser.

The deputy held the Beretta leveled at McCabe. He had not imagined the encounter taking place like this, with McCabe surrendering. Norris had imagined that McCabe would attempt to flee, or perhaps put up at least some token resistance.

“I’m surrendering,” McCabe said, confirming Norris’s impression. “I’m turning myself in.”

“Are you armed?” the deputy asked. “Don’t lie to me. I saw that gun you were carrying at the trailer park.”

“Yes,” McCabe acknowledged. “In my belt. Behind my back.”

Continue reading “Blood Flats: Chapter 17”

Blood Flats: Chapter 16

Deputy Ron Norris’s patrol car sped along Route 168, heading south, in the general direction of the town of Blood Flats—a little burg that lay within the orbit of the county seat of Perryston. In the nineteenth century Blood Flats had been home to a substantial meatpacking industry, and the smell of blood had been said to hang in the vacant fields near the slaughterhouse district, filling the countryside with a charnel stink. Hence the name. But by 1880 competition from the meatpackers in Cincinnati had been too severe. The slaughterhouses had left Blood Flats but the name had stayed. Then a few decades later the Cincinnati houses had themselves been bankrupted by meatpackers in Chicago—proving perhaps, that nothing of this world lasts forever. 

Continue reading “Blood Flats: Chapter 16”

Blood Flats: Chapter 15

After dodging the Mustang, Lee loped into the field on the other side of the road. The driver of the Mustang had stopped again and was shouting curses, yelling for Lee to come back.

Lee had doubly offended the man, apparently: First he had stepped into the Mustang’s way, and then he had turned his back on the driver’s shouts of confrontation.

He was dimly aware of the car accelerating again, the roar of all eight cylinders accentuating its driver’s anger. People were like that: They might be spoiling for a fight—but not badly enough to chase a man across a field.

As he ran through the high grass, he did not bother to look behind him. He knew that he would attract attention out in the open. People did not normally exit stores and then arbitrarily head for vacant land. If any customers in the parking lot had noticed him, he had no doubt aroused their suspicions. There was nothing that could be done about it.

A cluster of trees beckoned him, promising at least temporary cover. He permitted himself a brief glance upward just before he completed the final running steps into the shelter of the massive, grey-brown trunks. The helicopter might circle back at any moment, after all.

But for now he had outwitted his pursuers. He did notice a vulture gliding silently overhead, scanning the field and the highway for its rancid nourishment. While the carrion-feeder’s significance of an omen was obvious, he forced himself to dismiss it.

This was too much—to be hunted from the air as well as from the ground. In Iraq the enemy had not possessed helicopters. All aircraft had been friendly. On numerous occasions help had in fact arrived from the skies. This was a new feeling—to fear the sky and a mechanical bird of prey that was stalking him there.

This was not a trail through a great woods, but merely a belt of forest between two areas of cleared land. Lee had to navigate his way through a nasty patch of thorns that were flourishing in the undergrowth. He broke through the briars and his right foot came down on a pile of sticks. One of the sticks bolted and slithered quickly away in a zigzagging pattern. He had disturbed a black snake.

Lee was not afraid of snakes; and the non-venomous reptile might even be a favorable omen—certainly a more auspicious one than the vulture.

Immediately beyond the trees he came to a fence that consisted of three horizontal strands of rusted steel wire strung between rotting wood posts. Thankfully the landowner who had erected the fence some decades ago had not thought to use barbed wire.

As he grabbed a fence post and hoisted one leg over the wire, he was all the more aware of his vulnerability. He had heard that a lot of men had been killed in battle while climbing over fences in fields such as this one—though probably in those days they would have been made of split rails rather than rusted wire.

He was thinking not of Iraq this time, but of a more chronologically distant conflict: During the War between the States the Army of the Mississippi and the Army of the Ohio had briefly clashed in Hawkins County. Confederate General Braxton Bragg and his Union counterpart, Major General Don Carlos Buell, had each been tasked with taking the area for their respective sides. There had been a series of skirmishes nearby that local residents still referred to as the Battle of Perryston. Lee had heard that it was still possible to find the occasional Minié ball in the forest, though he had never met anyone who actually claimed to have come across one.

Lee had barely touched ground on the other side of the fence when a shot rang out. He instinctively hit the ground, his chest pressed into the warm grass.

Then he realized that the shot had been fired several miles away, and it had probably not been fired in anger. An off-season hunter maybe, or a farmer shooing deer or vermin away from his field.

There was no danger from the shot but he was faced with yet another empty field and yet another road beyond it. Lee stayed down while a pickup truck passed along what he believed to be Route 168. Despite the wide open view the field afforded, the highway was a good distance away. The driver did not appear to have noticed him; the truck continued to chug away. Lee could hear its thirty-year-old engine rattle.

And then, overhead, he heard the thucka-thucka of the state police helicopter.

Would this never end? Lee pressed his body against the ground, knowing that his prone position really gave him no protection from the men in the helicopter. If they flew directly over him, they would easily spot him.

The sound of the helicopter’s engine and turning rotor grew closer. At least his tee shirt was a drab color. But would that really offer him any protection? He lay perfectly still, and even held his breath, convinced that his flight from the state was about to come to an end.

His present situation reminded him of one occasion in Iraq. He had been separated from his unit during a firefight in a little town seventy kilometers west of Baghdad. For more than two hours Lee had crouched behind the demolished façade of a clay brick building. The building had been a store of some sort before a tank round or a mortar had destroyed it. Lee deduced this fact from the remnants of merchandise he had noticed in the rubble: candy bars smashed to shapeless masses of stiff, hardened brown goo, punctured cola cans, and shattered CD cases.

On the other side of the street, two young men—Lee did not know if they had been al-Qaeda jihadis or Iraqi fedayeen—had been firing at him from the second-story windows of a fully intact building. The fighters appeared to be even younger than he was, probably no older than sixteen or seventeen.

Lee later concluded that the Arab fighters had not realized their advantage. Lee had been the only U.S. Marine in a three-block area. If they had grasped the degree of his isolation, the fighters could have descended from their perch and attacked him from two opposing positions, enveloping Lee in crossfire that would have been virtually inescapable.

But the two young men in the plaid headscarves had remained in the building across the street. They were able to pin Lee down but they were unable to sight him for a direct shot. Apparently they had possessed no RPGs either. So they had fired almost randomly into the rubble of the demolished store, hoping for a lucky ricochet. Lee, meanwhile, made his body small against the cover of the rubble, radioed for help, and returned fire conservatively: his ammunition had been running low.

Help had finally arrived in the form of a light armored vehicle equipped with a 25-millimeter Bushmaster chain gun. When he saw the LAV, Lee knew that the fight was all but over, and his life was no longer forfeit. The LAV’s cannon took out the front wall of the building that sheltered the two Arab fighters. The young men’s bodies fell to the street in a shower of brown, dusty debris.

In the present circumstances, Lee was even more isolated than he had been that day in Iraq. Today there were no fellow marines to come to his aid. Having landed himself on the wrong side of the law, he had more in common with the two young men in the plaid headscarves than he did with his former comrades-in-arms.

Miraculously, the helicopter veered east rather than passing directly over him. He watched its tail rotor disappear over a high, thickly wooded knob of a hillside. But the helicopter would be back.

There was a simple way of ending this. He could hike back to town now, walk into Phelps’s office, and turn himself in. Phelps wasn’t going to shoot him, after all. He would be treated humanely, in accordance with the law. Yes, he would lose his freedom—for a while. But what choice did he really have?

There would be an investigation, of course. Forensics teams would comb the trailer for fingerprints and fiber samples. With all Fitzsimmons’s drug-related traffic, that would result in a list of dozens of unidentified visitors. Would that help him or damn him? He didn’t know.

The inevitable ballistics test was also an open question. The shots that killed Tim Fitzsimmons and Jody White would not be traced to Lee’s .45; but how could Lee prove that he had not discarded the actual murder weapon after fleeing the trailer park?

There were so many angles and directions that an investigation could follow; and he knew next to nothing about actual police procedure. He couldn’t possibly figure it all out.

He removed his cell phone from his pants pocket and dialed the emergency number for the Hawkins County police department. He still recalled the number from his childhood. He had memorized it when he was nine years old, as part of a fourth grade exercise in local citizenship.

He was about to push the cell phone’s send button when he heard the police siren.

Chapter 16

Table of contents

The ‘Cats’ trailer, and the literal thinking of the Internet

I just got a glimpse of the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of Cats.

Over-analyzed by the Internet

I think it’s pretty cool. And I am notoriously skeptical of anything that comes out of Hollywood.

Then there was this CNN article about the trailer, called, “The ‘Cats’ trailer is here and it’s horrifying the internet”.

Apparently some folks were indeed horrified…or perhaps simply unable to grasp that Cats is make-believe:

There’s a good chance your coworkers are all watching the “Cats” trailer, and there’s a very good chance they’re all horrified by it.

In a teaser clip released earlier this week, director Tom Hooper lauded the movie’s use of “digital fur technology” to create “the most perfect covering of fur.” When the cats were revealed, however — an uncanny amalgamation of the actors’ human faces and a feline-adjacent body — social media users were less than convinced.

Some were perplexed by the specifics of the cats’ anatomy: why the human/cat hybrids had breasts, for instance, or where exactly their tails protruded from.

CNN

You’re kidding me, right?

We’re talking about…anthropomorphic cats. Of course, however you depict them, there are going to be logical contradictions. 

Some folks on Twitter couldn’t get past the fact that the female felines had protruding  breasts…But where were the nipples?

Well, that’s because there is a human female actress inside the cat suit. And many human females have protruding breasts.

For the past twenty years, the cult of political correctness has taught us that we have to comb through  every element of culture looking for reasons to take offense. The result is that we now over-analyze absolutely everything.

(One thing I’ve noticed about many Millennials: They are unable to look beyond the literal, and think in abstractions. This is no doubt the result of this conditioning.)

Cats is a movie. It’s make-believe. See it or don’t see it. But if you’re “horrified” by imaginary, anthropomorphic cats, then you have much larger issues than the question of where these creatures’ tails protrude from.

Our House: Chapter 5

“Well, you seem to have made up your mind,” Clint said, starting the ignition of their minivan, a Kia Sedona that would take them another two years to pay off. 

Jennifer could not tell if Clint was kidding or not. For years their relationship had been one long college romance, and this had continued during their first few years of marriage. Over the last few years, however, they had been forced to collaborate on more complex decisions regarding finances, childrearing, etc. At times they did not collaborate well.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked cautiously.

Clint shrugged, putting the minivan in gear. “Nothing, really. I’m just kidding, Jen. You just seemed so set on that one particular house. It’s like you’d already made up your mind.”

“Is there another one that you have a strong preference toward? Or do you have a particular problem with the Dunham Drive house—other than the basement? Because I think that Tom Jarvis pretty much answered that question.”

“No, I don’t have a strong preference toward another house. And I don’t have any particular problem with the Dunham Drive house—as long as Mrs. Vennekamp doesn’t prevail on her husband to take the house off the market.”

“So we’re in agreement, then?”

“I didn’t say that.” 

“Then what are you saying?”

“I’m saying that you’re kind of rushing ahead on all of this.”

“Clint: At some point we have to make a decision, and no matter which house we choose, our choice will be an imperfect one. Connor is going to be starting first grade in a matter of weeks, and this house is in the Mydale school district,”

“So you’ve noted,” Clint said, smiling, and looking much like his college-era self for a brief moment.

“Yes, I did. And this house—unlike every other house on the market in Mydale—is within our price range. And it’s a good bargain for the money.”

“So this is kind of a no-brainer, you’re saying.”

“Yes, that’s kind of what I’m saying.”

She knew that a part of Clint secretly resented her taking the lead like this. It might be the second decade of the twenty-first century, but Clint had been raised to believe that taking the lead on major household decisions was naturally a man’s job.

And she would have been more than willing to let him take the lead—if only he would have done so. But her husband sometimes seemed oddly out-of-place in the adult world. They had been living in apartments and rented places for so long now, long after most of their friends had established themselves in homes with real back yards. All she wanted was for them to live like real adults. 

But what did Clint want? Sometimes Clint gave the impression that he was still stuck in the mindset of the college milieu in which the two of them had first become acquainted nearly fifteen years ago. 

In those days she had interpreted Clint’s easy nonchalance as a manifestation of masculine self-confidence. After all, Clint Huber had moved easily through the campus social scene. Both good-looking and personable, it had seemed that every woman had wanted to be his girlfriend, and every man on campus had wanted to be his buddy. Clint had not pursued a demanding major, so he had plenty of time to hang around campus bars and attend every party.

At thirty-four, though, that same nonchalance more often than not struck Jennifer as lackadaisical. She wondered sometimes if the man she had married was not a bit of a slacker.

“Well, then, I guess it’s settled,” Clint finally said. He sighed aloud, and she could sense that he might be coming around to her way of thinking. “And there’s no denying that the house is a bargain at that price. We’ll of course put in a bid that’s a few grand lower—even if the house is, as Jarvis puts it, ‘priced to sell’. They’ll be expecting us to do that, after all. We could save even more money that way.” 

“Sure,” Jennifer said, as if this had not been obvious to her all along. “That’s a good idea.” 

They were traveling toward the interstate now, the road that would take them back to Clint’s parents’ house, where Connor was waiting, and then to their rented condominium in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati. 

She leaned across the space between the minivan’s two front pilot seats and squeezed Clint’s arm. “I’m so excited. It’s going to be great to have a real house of our own. You know how much I hate my job. At least home will be a sanctuary of sorts, a place where I can relax with you and Connor.”

“Sure, honey. I understand that. And I think that us buying a house is a great idea. It’s long overdue, in fact. But as I’ve said before, if you really hate your job that much, you should look for something else.”

Jennifer realized that once again, she had said too much and invited suspicion regarding her situation at Ohio Excel Logistics. 

On the surface, Clint was right: If you really hated a job, if you felt yourself growing physically ill each morning as you drove into the office, then the sensible thing to do was to find another job. It was a free country, after all.

But Jennifer could not leave Ohio Excel Logistics—not without risking what meant most to her: her marriage and her life with Clint and Connor. For the time being she truly was stuck in an unworkable situation, and she was unable to discuss her dilemma with anyone—most of all her husband.

“You might be right, babe,” she replied. “Maybe I will update my resume soon. In the meantime, it isn’t that bad.”

“That’s what you’ve been saying for a long time now. But I sense that it really is that bad.” He shook his head. “I don’t get it. I mean, if you hate it so much, you can even quit as far as I’m concerned. Do the stay-at-home mom thing for a while. Then maybe go back into the labor market when Connor is a little older.”

“Clint, we both know that we can’t get by on one income. Especially if we purchase a house.”

What she did not say was that they could not get by on Clint’s income. Her best friend, Moira, was married to a CPA who had recently made partner at his firm. After their first child had been born, Moira’s husband had urged her to quit. He made plenty of money after all, and he didn’t want his wife to have to balance motherhood with the demands of a career. Moira had readily agreed. Besides, the whole “career” thing was much overrated for most people, once they got an actual taste of it. 

Lots of college educated, married women were ditching their careers nowadays once their children were born. The newspapers had even written about the trend as a sort of post-feminist backlash. They had dubbed it, “the opt-out revolution”.  

But that only applied to women whose husbands were high earners. As a salesman at Glutz Machinery, Clint made about the same income as she did. And that wasn’t enough money to support two adults, a child, and a house—not if they also wanted to put something away for retirement, and Connor’s education.

Connor was now buckled into the rear passenger seat of the Sedona, but rather than talk to his parents, the boy had drifted off to sleep. Six-year-olds were like that, weren’t they? Animated one minute, drowsy the next. Connor reported having had a great time at his paternal grandparents’ house. As always. Could he go back to Grandma and Grandpa Huber’s next weekend? Sure—if his parents went “new home hunting” again next weekend, he almost certainly could.

Clint Huber had decided not to press his wife any further about leaving the job at Ohio Excel Logistics—a job that obviously made her sick. He didn’t understand what was holding her there, and numerous appeals to logic had failed to convince her. He had offered to help her find another job. They were both pretty good at researching things on the Internet; and if they combined their efforts, it wouldn’t take long for them to have her resume in the hands of a hundred potential employers. 

For that matter, she could go ahead and simply quit, no matter what she said. The problem was not that they couldn’t live on a single income. The problem was that they couldn’t live on a single income and live like her parents, or like her friend Moira, who was married to the accountant.

Clint recalled his youth: Clint’s mother had been a stay-at-home mom for most of his childhood, and she had worked part-time only after he and his brothers were all at least in junior high. They had all managed just fine on his father’s income—which Clint knew even then to be nothing to brag about. 

No, you’re only making excuses for yourself, he thought. He knew full well that Jennifer was not his mother. Nor was she one of the girls that he had grown up with in his blue-collar, tract home neighborhood. 

Jennifer had a different set of expectations; and he had known that when he married her—against the gentle admonishments of his own parents, and the barely concealed disappointment of her own. Hank Riley was a prominent attorney, and he had wanted his pretty, smart daughter to marry an attorney, or a CPA like Moira Prater had married.

Hank Riley certainly hadn’t wanted his daughter to marry the son of a union machinist, a man who barely made it through college with a degree in anthropology—a man who worked as a machine tool salesman. 

But he and Jennifer had hit it off so well in college. She had been his “rich girl” girlfriend; and she had seemed to regard him as a project, a blank slate that she could mold and refashion into something slightly better.

Fifteen years later, though, it hadn’t quite worked out that way. He had detected the unspoken resentment in Jennifer’s voice when she had made the remark about them being unable to get by on only one (only his) income. Previously, she had made a point, it seemed to him, of announcing that Moira Baxter (nee Prater) would be quitting work now that she was a mother. 

Maybe it’s my fault, he thought. Maybe I need to step up to the plate a bit more. I could find a way to increase my commissions at Glutz—or even find another gig. Maybe I’m the one who needs to look for another job, not her. 

At any rate, this house would be good for them. It would make Jennifer happy, and it would be good for Connor, too. Clint imagined Connor playing in the wide back yard of the house at 1120 Dunham Drive. With its rich green lawn and maze of trees and shrubs, it was a back yard unlike anything that he could have imagined in his own childhood. The back yard of his childhood home had been a postage stamp with a scraggly lawn, covered with dandelions and crabgrass.

A man should want to give his family something better than what he had, Clint resolved.

Turning into the parking lot of their rented condominium, Clint took his wife’s hand in his own and interlaced his fingers with hers.

“We’ll put in an offer on that house,” he said. “First thing Monday morning.” 

Chapter 6

Table of contents

Coming-of-age horror from the 1980s

How about  a coming-of-age horror tale set in 1980?

How about you get to read it for FREE? (Or at least try it for FREE.)

I’m serializing my novel 12 Hours of Halloween here on Edward Trimnell Books, where you can read it for FREE.

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Amazon Prime day, early Amazon homepages

The mega-retailer Amazon.com is gearing up for Prime Day.  

Prime Day will actually be two days: July 15th and 16th.

Among the notable aspects of this year’s Prime Day is that Amazon will be deeply discounting its internal line of products, like the Amazon Echo.

I’m old enough to remember when Amazon was just this trendy online bookstore. The early homepage didn’t look much different from other homepages of that era: the sort of thing that anyone with decent HTML skills could have made at the time.

In the intervening years, Amazon has become a juggernaut, of course. But you wouldn’t have guessed it at the time.

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Facebook changes that will impact authors and content publishers in 2019 and beyond

For several years now, authors and publishers have been negatively impacted by changes that Facebook has made to their algorithms. These changes reduce organic reach.

Organic reach means that potential readers can find third-party content through ordinary searches. For example, you execute a search for “cocker spaniels”, and you find the website of a breeder of cocker spaniels. Or maybe (more to the point here) an article or a book about cocker spaniels.   

Organic reach exists on Google, Pinterest, YouTube, and even Twitter.

But not on Facebook anymore.

Why did Facebook do this? 

Facebook partly attributes the changes to the “fake news” controversies of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. They don’t want you to be misled by Russian spambots, in other words. 

But there’s another reason, too.

Facebook wants you to buy more ads.

Only one way for Facebook to make money

Think about it: Facebook has the largest social media platform in the world. But Facebook doesn’t manufacture devices, like Apple does. They aren’t a retail operation, like Amazon is. 

Facebook’s only real source of revenue is: ad spending. There are thousands of corporate brands, small businesses, and solo entrepreneurs (including authors) who are on the platform to get attention.

And when those entities spend money on Facebook ads, Mark Zuckerberg makes money. Facebook’s ad revenue hit the $55 billion mark in 2018.

Facebook’s new focus: groups

According to a report from Sassysuite, Facebook will soon change its algorithms yet again, to further diminish publisher content in individual newsfeeds. (This is a continuation of what Facebook has been doing for several years now.)

But here’s another twist: The next round of changes to the Facebook algorithms will redirect a large portion of the site’s focus to groups. 

So, according to recent post on Sassysuite, if you want to engage with an audience on Facebook, then you should build a group on Facebook, and engage inside the group.

Groups are problematic for fiction authors seeking to connect with new readers.

That might work for certain kinds of authors and publishers. Anyone who writes and publishes about a particular hobby (coin collecting, fishing) should do well with a group.

But most people who buy books don’t necessarily want to join an author’s group. 

For example, last month I read a great novel by Lisa Scottoline, After Anna. I enjoyed After Anna, and I would be open to buying future books by Scottoline. 

But do I want to join a Lisa Scottoline group? Probably not…Let’s be honest. And if that’s the only way Lisa Scottoline can practically reach me (without a huge ad spend), is Facebook still a good way for Scottoline and other authors to connect with readers?

Most readers don’t read only one author. So is every author supposed to have her own group now? And will authors need to convince readers to join their groups, versus just getting them to read a post? (Like Facebook used to be, in other words.)

Digital sharecropping

Then there’s another issue. I’ve written before about the dangers of digital sharecropping. If you build a group on Facebook’s real estate, Facebook owns that group at the end of the day; you don’t.

And Facebook can take it away from you, anytime. Or (more likely) Facebook can charge you money for every engagement there.

Should authors unfriend Facebook?

Call me cynical, but Facebook is on the verge of becoming more trouble than it’s worth. I still like the platform for keeping in touch with my high school friends, and looking at relatives’ vacation photos. 

As an author and blogger, though…not so much. I’m devoting only a small amount of time to Facebook nowadays. And with skyrocketing ad costs on the platform, I’m in no hurry to give Mark Zuckerberg more of my money. 

He already has a net worth of $72 billion, after all.

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Should you sign up for Kindle Unlimited?

Amazon Kindle Unlimited

As both a writer and a reader, I know Kindle Unlimited from the inside out.

Kindle Unlimited (at the time of this writing) costs $9.99 per month. 

(Keep reading for information about the FREE TRIAL, though.)

Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon program that gives members more or less unlimited access (hence the name of the program) to a vast body of enrolled books.

How many books, exactly? 

I don’t know how many titles are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited at the moment. Probably no one does. But more are added every day. 

It’s a big, big bunch. (That’s a technical term, by the way.)

There are more books in Kindle Unlimited than you are going to read in your lifetime (even if you’re still in your twenties, and you don’t drink, smoke, or eat trans fats). 

Or to put it another way: You will never exhaust the books available to you in Kindle Unlimited. 

I can promise you that. 

So….what kinds of books are included with a Kindle Unlimited membership?

Well, first of all: These are Kindle, electronic books. (You probably already know that, but I should mention this just in case.) 

Not paperbacks or hardcovers, etc. 

Some Kindle Unlimited titles do include FREE audiobooks, too…but not all of them. Kindle Unlimited is primarily about ebooks. 

“Yeah, I get that. But what kinds of books?”

A lot of fiction. 

(Some nonfiction, too…But a lot of fiction.)

Genre fiction abounds in Kindle Unlimited. Romance, science fiction, fantasy, cozy mystery, etc. 

Oh, yes, and erotica, too. (Since you’ll be reading on your Kindle device, no one will know what you’re reading: the modern equivalent of the plain brown wrapper.)

Series

Many Kindle Unlimited authors publish series. So if you find a character whom you like, you may be able to follow that character on numerous adventures, over the course of a long series of books. 

Constant authorial output

Kindle Unlimited authors are largely compensated by page reads. (Like I said, as an author, I know the program from both sides.) Therefore, many of them are writing machines, in the grand tradition of the old pulp writers. 

Are there any downsides to Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited is a great deal for voracious readers who like certain kinds of books. But there are a few other things (not necessarily sales points) that you should know about the program. With Kindle Unlimited, as with almost everything else, your mileage may vary 

In Kindle Unlimited, you won’t find the books that you see on the shelves at Walmart. 

Books by John Grisham, Stephen King, Lisa Scottoline, and James Patterson, etc. generally aren’t enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. 

(You can still order these books for your Kindle, of course—but you’ll have to pay for them.)

Authoritative nonfiction titles are scarce in Kindle Unlimited.

I like to read big, thick nonfiction books, especially about history and economics. For example: Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson

Those aren’t the kinds of books that typically show up in Kindle Unlimited. 

Once again: Kindle Unlimited is mostly about genre fiction.

Maybe you won’t read as much as you think you will.

Life happens, right? Maybe you’ll plan on reading…But you’ll be busy at work…Or you’ll go on vacation, or….

You know what I mean. 

And if that happens, you might not get your monthly fee’s worth.

Moreover, not every reader is a truly voracious reader.  

Are you the sort of reader who reads four or five books per year? Kindle Unlimited (probably) isn’t your thing.

Do you read multiple books per week? Then Kindle Unlimited might be for you.

The bottom line

Kindle Unlimited is a great program. Moreover, it’s an Amazon program, and you probably already have a relationship with Amazon. (If you don’t have a relationship with Amazon and you live in the U.S., you are an extreme rarity, indeed.)

But as I said: Your mileage may vary. 

So…what’s the best thing to do?

In my opinion, your best option is to sign up for a Kindle Unlimited 30-day FREE trial.

That way, if you like Kindle Unlimited, you can continue with it.

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Should the writer plot?

That perennial question…

From my YouTube channel: Should the writer plot?

As I explain in the video, either process can result in a successful story.

But there are two things that you must do…and you can do these either as a plotter or a discovery writer.

I also mention my short story, “The Dreams of Lord Satu” (FREE to read here on Edward Trimnell Books), and I recommend John Sandford’s crime novel, Mortal Prey.

Thanatos Postponed: Part 12

I returned home. After weighing my remaining options, I decided to go to work with my father, in the family dry cleaning business, and this is what I am doing still. 

I have seen the world, and I am done with it. Although I am still young in terms of years, I cannot help feeling that in other ways, I am much, much older than I used to be. 

After returning from Mexico, I continued to think about Marisol, though I knew that she was gone forever. I never expected to hear from her again.

Until I did. One day I received a postcard with a generic Mexican scene on the front—one of the great Aztec pyramids. 

She must have sent me a postcard instead of a letter so that it would immediately get my attention, so I wouldn’t set it aside or discard it, assuming it to be junk mail.

Nor did I long ponder the question of how Marisol had found my address in Ohio. During our long conversations, during our few precious evenings in my guesthouse, I had told her many details of my life in America. Using the Internet, it would not have been difficult for her to find me.

The message on the postcard was simple:

“Thank you, Mark, for what you did—for Ana, and for me.”

There was no return address.

I understood from this that Marisol had no desire to hear back from me. She wanted to cut the cord completely. I briefly thought about searching for her and then abandoned the idea. There was something poisonous between us. It was not something of our making, but it would always be with us, nevertheless. 

I did what I had to do—what I believed was right, as did Marisol. And as a result, a part of me will always remain inside the guesthouse adjacent to mine; and a part of me will always wonder about a woman in Mexico, who, under different circumstances, might have been more to me—and me to her. 

It occurred to me that the older man had stolen the youth of both Marisol and me, even as his sins had resulted in the death of his daughter—and that state after death that was far worse.

Ana was now at peace. But as for Marisol and me, we would spend the rest of our lives trying to forget the abomination brought into this world by Raul Garcia.

THE END

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If you enjoyed this story, read 12 Hours of Halloween next!…A coming-of-age supernatural thriller set on Halloween night 1980.

Start reading it here.

Isn’t it time you owned a Mariner watch?

Y.Y Mariner

Thanatos Postponed: Part 11

I resumed my English lessons the very next day, as it turned out. But I was a very distracted teacher. There were too many unanswered questions, and the situation might be worse than I imagined. 

The smoldering ruins of the other guesthouse had been cordoned off. 

I didn’t doubt that I had destroyed the abomination (to use Marisol’s word) that had been made of Ana. 

I suspected that Raul Garcia had brought in trusted outsiders to dispose of what remained of the body. Perhaps Ana would now be reported missing. Surely the Garcia family would have to account for her whereabouts at some point? 

I couldn’t ask any questions, though, because I wasn’t supposed to know the truth about Ana. So I pretended that the destruction of the guesthouse had no significance—an unexplained fire in an unoccupied, empty building. 

I had not seen Marisol since the night of the fire. I wasn’t too alarmed the first day I failed to see her, but by the third day I had grown actively worried. Had Garcia reneged on his promise to forgo questioning her? Was Marisol’s body now lying in a shallow grave somewhere, mutilated beyond recognition by Garcia’s security men?

On the fourth day I received an answer—sort of. I was brought to Raul Garcia’s study again. This time a member of the household staff escorted me, and there were no burly security men in the room with us.

“I don’t know if you’re aware, Mark, but Marisol has left our employment.”

“Why?” I asked.

He must have detected the shock and disappointment in my face. No doubt I was completely transparent. 

“She said that her father is sick, and her mother needs her help at home. I’m sorry, Mark, it doesn’t appear that she told you about her decision. I wouldn’t think too badly of her, if I were you: Her explanation about her father seemed sincere. And as for you—well, she probably didn’t want to get hurt. She probably decided that a romance with an American who was going to leave the country in a few months would only lead to dolor—to heartbreak for her.”

“Of course,” I said. Then I added, involuntarily: “So you just let her go?”

Raul Garcia laughed. He didn’t know that I knew what he really was. “Of course, Mark. What kind of a question is that? Household staff come and go all the time. Marisol was a good maid, but there are young girls who can work as maids all over Mexico.”

It was apparent to me that much of Garcia’s lightheartedness was forced. He would still be working to track down the parties responsible for the fire; but he was thinking in other directions—not in the direction of either his maid or his American tutor. 

“Thank you for telling me,” I said.

He waved me out. “There are other young women in Mexico, Mark. Many others.”

Two days later I told Raul Garcia that I would have to return home. I told him only that it was a “family problem”. 

“A lot of family problems of late,” Garcia said sourly. He was clearly disappointed in me. But this was a safe, normal level of disappointment. It wasn’t the sort of disappointment that could get me killed. He might have thought that I was lying; but he would have concluded that I was despondent over Marisol’s departure—not that I wanted to leave before his security team’s detailed investigation of the fire somehow led to me.

I had brought my cell phone and laptop to Mexico with me, so I could plausibly support my claim that I had received urgent communications from home. Would he ask for hard proof? I didn’t know. I hadn’t planned that far.

“All right, Mark,” he said. “We are sorry to lose you, but we will find another English tutor. I hope your—family problems—whatever they are, improve.”

Part 12

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Thanatos Postponed: Part 10

My lessons with the three remaining children—like most other normal activities on the estate—were suspended in the wake of the fire.

As I was making my way to the main house that morning, a security guard met me halfway. He told me, politely but firmly, that I should return to my quarters. Someone would bring breakfast. An hour later, someone did, an older woman who worked in the kitchen. Needless to say, I was desperate to see Marisol.

I was also terrified now that suspicion would fall on me, and that I would immediately break under questioning, and give myself away. 

Around noontime a security guard finally came and escorted me to the main house. I was taken to a private study where Raul Garcia was waiting for me. Garcia was seated behind a desk. Two large, rough-looking men were seated on a divan on the far side of the room. Their sport coats and Italian shoes didn’t disguise the fact that they were violent characters. 

Garcia’s expression was very grave, but I detected no anger directed at me. He motioned for me to sit in the chair opposite the desk. It was an antique armchair with leather upholstery—not unlike the one that Ana had been chained to. 

Raul asked me some obvious questions: Did I hear anything last night? Did I go for a walk, and if so did I see anything?

I told him, simply and without embellishment, that I had not gone for a walk last night, and I heard nothing that could reasonably be connected to the fire. I was very sorry to learn what had happened.

Raul Garcia nodded. “This has been a bad thing. But it doesn’t have anything to do with you. Within a day or two, you can begin your lessons for the children again. Luciana and I have been very pleased with your tutoring.”

He gestured for me to go. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to get away with this. I had outwitted a Mexican drug lord.

Then I saw the situation from a different perspective: Raul Garcia had no reason to suspect his children’s American English tutor of burning down one of his guesthouses. 

I was standing up when he stopped me, a final thought occurring to him.

“What about Marisol—the maid? Did you see her?” Garcia asked.

I had a split-second to make a decision. I might not be a prime suspect for the fire. But that was mostly because I had no perceivable motive. Raul Garcia was no fool. He hadn’t survived to his mid-forties in his line of work by failing to notice things.

“Yes,” I admitted. “Early in the evening. When she left, everything was fine. Listen, Mr. Garcia, I’m sorry about me and Marisol, but—”

Garcia smiled, but only for a brief moment. “Está bien, Mark. Do you think that I was never a young man, like you? I understand. You and Marisol are both young, and things like that sometimes happen among young people. It isn’t a crime. This is Mexico—not Saudi Arabia. But just to confirm, you say Marisol left your guesthouse early?”

“No later than nine o’clock,” I said.  

“Very well.”

Nevertheless, I didn’t want Marisol to be interrogated. Depending on how well she held up, that might spell disaster.

“Marisol may deny being with me,” I suggested. “She is very—traditional.”

“Since you have told me, there is no need to bring Marisol into this office for questioning. Thank you for your honesty, Mark. You may go now.”

I left then, not wanting to push my luck an inch further. 

I was amazed at how reasonable he had been. When I stepped into that room, I had half-expected to be strong-armed, threatened. But I had been asked a few polite questions, my answers had been accepted, and now I was free to go.

That was all a veneer, I knew. The whole thing was a veneer. I thought of Ana, of what had been done to her. How many people had Raul Garcia ordered killed in a similar way? I could also not forget that Ana’s fate had merely been Garcia’s violence coming back to him. 

I hated Raul Garcia in that moment; and I was more frightened of him than ever. 

Part 11

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Enjoy your next sip of distilled spirits in style!