Excerpt for Reading: A Love Story for a Nation

I’m doing an author reading tomorrow at Penangpac’s 4th Anniversary Open Day. Below is a portion of the passage I’ll be dramatically performing. After horrible tragedy strikes the former writer Gerald Sanpatri’s life, he joins the mass protests happening in front of the presidential palace. But he comes to realize that this cannot possible be the way.

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“Fire!”

The word echoed over the loudspeaker, and a deafening round shot into the crowd. Screams of anguish rang out in all directions. The crowd panicked and ran backwards, trampling hundreds under the feet of the frenzied masses. Bodies fell to the ground, both dead and wounded.

A second round of shots. A third volley.

A young woman standing next to Gerald grabbed his arm as she buckled over. A bullet ripped through her abdomen and blood erupted in all directions. Gerald tried to pull her up, but she fell, twisted and torn, trampled by feet trying to flee the gate. Bodies—alive, dead, and wounded—bounded into Gerald from all sides. He contorted himself in several directions at once, surrounded by an escapade of chaotic sight and sound. The girl who had grabbed him fell quickly out of his mind as he, too, thought of nothing but survival. He tripped over someone but luckily balanced himself on a gentleman who had fallen down. The shots continued to ring loudly, until they were drowned out by the firing of the tank. Its piercing ordinance soared over the crowd, magnifying the screams of the frantic exodus. The large traffic circle at the back of the square had been closed off by another military unit, forcing people through the park on the right, or up the side of the boulevard which led to Reoux. The military nabbed dozens of runners, whipping them to the ground to be handcuffed and taken away. Gerald navigated the square about as well as anyone else. He tried to make it to the trail near the boulevard which led down to the river and over towards his home. When he finally made it to the side of the bank overlooking the square, he looked back and saw the tumultuous scene, a grand epic from Hollywood’s golden era; it was like the Egyptians had caught the Israelites on the wrong side of the Red Sea. Bodies lay like flies over the square. Screams and pleas sounded over the firing of the menacing rifles. He stood watching history unfold in front of him; a tale being played out with pawns, kings, and willing participants who would never see another day.
Gerald stared at it all out of obligation. He watched it through his tears and felt sick to his stomach, knowing intimately that life would never be the same again for both himself and his nation.

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New Release Post on Storybook Reviews

Storybook Reviews recently posted about my new novel, A Love Story for a Nation. The post also included an exclusive excerpt.  Below is an excerpt of the excerpt. Do head over to the Storybook Reviews and check out the complete post:

“Standing firm. In the native dialect of the Banti hill tribe, Meneshmi Bula means ‘standing firm’,” offered Gerald.

“This man is a walking metaphor. A literary reference who has come to life,” continued Horace, pointing at Meneshmi.

“But why would you choose that name, Meneshmi?” asked Sonni.

“It’s not difficult to guess,” said Gerald, feeling uncomfortable and regretting his decision to visit.

Horace shook his head in disbelief. “He’s an example of the young, uneducated saps whose only schooling comes through the current system of modern manipulation-matriculation. Don’t worry, Sonni. It’s not your fault.” He turned back to Gerald. “Can you believe what these people learn these days? Sonni was telling me about a class he takes called, ah…”

“Patriotic Socialization.”

“That’s it, Patriotic Socialization and the… what was that? The crappiness of…”

“Patriotic Socialization and Citizen Contribution.”

“Yes, exactly. What a young memory he has! Let’s hope he’s half as clever when he becomes an engineer. Have you covered two plus two yet?”

 

Exclusive Excerpt: Meet the Characters of “A Love Story for a Nation”

My newest novel is releasing TOMORROW – July 3 in both Kindle and Paperback. You can buy a copy HERE!

Today, I’m pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from the novel which helps to introduce some of the main characters. I hope you enjoy:

A LOVE STORY FOR A NATION – Excerpt from Chapter Three “Independence Day”

“My best friend,” started Gomez, looking right at Gerald. “This is a very rare vintage. I was saving it for my son’s wedding. But as you know I have three daughters, and you can be sure that the groom’s family is going to be paying for the champagne at my daughters’ wedding.” Everyone laughed. “Therefore, I present this to my favorite couple. The beautiful Rosia and the broken-down old man who was lucky enough to snag her.” Gerald and Rosia hugged their friends and laughed heartily with the rest of the revelers of Independence Day.

The lively love and friendship shone warmly that evening as they sat on the riverbank waiting for the fireworks to end the celebration. He mentioned nothing of the ID, or work, or the tanks, or the A.S. National Bank, or the smelly river, or the crowded back alleys where they all lived.

Music could be heard in the distance, a marching band, no doubt playing the patriotic tunes they knew so well, but they were faint enough to luckily be indistinguishable. Gerald kept stealing glances at his bride, his burden temporarily lifted by each glimpse of her. His heart felt full.

As the raucous fun and stories continued, a loud call from the street rang out clearly—a familiar voice and a constant barrage of laughing and yelling made its way through the house and onto the river bank.

“Well, well, well. A bunch of rabble-rousers.”

Gomez and Gerald stood to see a large elderly gentlemen, accompanied by three young adults.

“Horace? Is that you? Look everyone, it’s Uncle Horace!” yelled Gomez.

Everyone stood to greet the legendary Reoux figure, who used to live right across the street from Gomez until the regime arrested him during the revolution nearly two decades ago.

“Horace, it’s been so long.”

“I was thinking that myself the other day. A year, I think. I haven’t seen you in a whole year. And Gerald, good to see you.”

“And my wife,” said Gerald, pointing to Rosia.

“Married? Gerald, the old scholarly bachelor married? To such a pretty young wife. What’s wrong with her?”

“I ask myself that every day,” grinned the father-to-be.

Horace grabbed Rosia in a convincing bear-hug.

“Careful. She’s going to have my child.”

“You don’t say!” said Horace. “God in Heaven, please allow the poor child to look like his mother.”

Everyone roared in laughter as Gomez escorted the new arrivals to the blanket area and handed them some cold drinks.

“Oh how I’ve missed this view of paradise. A city on a hill cannot be ignored, right Antoine?” yelled Horace into the black of the evening. “I’m sorry; I haven’t introduced my entourage. See that? You live long enough, you too might have an entourage that follows you wherever you go.”

“Uncle Horace always had a vivid imagination,” said Gomez with a smile.

“I’m not imagining anything. I can’t get rid of these characters. They follow me everywhere.”

“From what we hear, a lot of people follow you,” said Gerald.

“Oh for sure, those damn spies would take up residence in my arse if I let them. Ladies, please pardon my French. I hope the British word somewhat softened the blow. But don’t worry. I gave them the slip when we entered Reoux. This place makes their skin crawl, but it makes me feel alive. Sorry. I still haven’t introduced my friends. This is Hobart, Tana, and Jonah. All students at the National University, if you can believe that.”

The three college students nodded and shook hands with everyone.

“Gomez is my nephew,” continued Horace. “This is his wife, Cecilia, and this, my friends, is Gerald Sanpatri, former author and lecturer at the National University.”

“Oh, so you’re the famous Sanpatri,” said Tana. “My father told me about you.”

Gerald almost shrunk in embarrassment as his wife looked over at him inquisitively.

“Please, no. Where did you hear such nonsense? I’m just a security guard.”

“A guarder of hearts, I say,” said Horace. “Are you writing yet?”

“I haven’t written anything in twenty years. I’m no writer. I just stand on my feet and protect the bank all day.”

“Nothing wrong with saving the greenbacks. Don’t be too hard on Gerald,” Horace said to the three young students. “Survival is the key to happiness. It’s hard to be happy in a pine box.”

Rosia continued to look over at Gerald as if something wasn’t right.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about. And my poor wife seems to be the most in the dark,” said Gerald.

“You were a writer?” Rosia asked him.

“Ooops! The cat is out of the bag,” joked Horace, who took a swig of his drink.

“My father said he really admired your novels when he was young. And then he said when the era of the revolution began that you wrote a series of children’s books and then were never heard from again,” said Tana.

Gerald’s face blushed red with embarrassment. He looked over at Rosia and shook his head.

“Gerald, you never told me that you used to write,” repeated Rosia.

“It was a lifetime ago. That’s long gone. I’m happy to serve the republic and guard the bank.”

Horace nearly spit his drink all over the ground upon hearing such a statement.

“Oh, you clearly know how to stay alive. Clearly,” laughed Horace.

A Quote from my New Novel: One Mustn’t Begrudge Sorrow

My new, yet-to-be-released novel is on Kindle Scout through May 15. Please head on over and read the first couple chapters and if it looks good, please nominate it. If you nominate it, then:

  • I could win a publishing contract with Kindle Press. That’s pretty cool for me!
  • If I win a publishing contract, then you, who nominated it, will get a free copy of the Kindle version of the novel upon release. That’s pretty cool for you!

Nominate on Kindle Scout HERE!

I’m really fond of this novel. I’m not sure if others will be, but it is focused around a remarkable character – a former writer and revolutionary who turned his back on everything for love. But when his love encourages him to once again get involved, he reluctantly takes up his pen and writes a love story for an entire nation.

I hope you will like it. Here’s an exclusive excerpt. I don’t want to give you any details about the setting of this quote because it might give too much away. No spoilers here. But here goes anyways. Thanks for your nomination on Kindle Scout.

“We mustn’t begrudge sorrow, for it will always be with us. It will be our companion throughout our entire life, so we should learn to live uncomfortably with it, like a battle wound that will never fully heal. The only moment we control is the present. And the only emotion which will help one to embrace life in the present is happiness. Smile and live. Be happy and live. In trials, live. In sadness, live. Live at all times with a smile on your face and hope on your tongue. For what else is there in this life to be worthy of your time?”

ALoveStoryforaNation Cover LARGE

Exclusive Excerpt: The Recluse Storyteller (on sale for a limited time)

The kindle version of my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller, is on sale now through April 6 for only 99 cents.

You can pick up a copy: HERE!

I’m happy to give you an exclusive excerpt. If you enjoy, please check out the full story.

Escape from the Margaret Meeting

The Friday evening meeting commenced, and Janice started.

“First, I’d like to thank Mrs. Johnson for hosting us here this evening. I’ve called all of you together, so we could talk freely about my niece, Margaret. Each of us knows her in one way or another, and I wanted to get an opinion from all of you about Margaret and how you think she is doing.”

“Might I ask what prompted you to call us all together to talk about another person? I’m not really comfortable with that,” asked Reverend Davies, who sat next to Michael Cheevers, who crunched his way through a bag of potato chips.

The rest of the room consisted of Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Trumble, and Chester Tomsey.

“Mrs. Trumble, would you like to address this issue?”

“Yes, I most certainly would. Now I’ve never been one to speak ill of someone without cause, and I’ve been greatly tolerant of being the recipient of coarse manners from Margaret, but I have seen her behavior become much stranger and, should I even say, violent recently.”

“Oh, come now,” interjected Chester Tomsey. “We all know that Margaret does not have the most heart-warming of personalities, but she is anything but violent.”

Reverend Davies did not like the start of this. He kept thinking about what Margaret had said when leaning up against the supermarket shelves.

“Mr. Tomsey, is it?” Mrs. Trumble inquired.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“And just what is your relationship with Margaret?”

“My firm employs her on a job-by-job basis. She writes and revises technical manuals for us. Actually, she’s a verbal genius.”

“Verbal genius! I think you are talking about the wrong Margaret,” belted out Cheevers with his mouth half-full of chips. “She’s no Margaret Queen of Scots.”

“That was Mary,” said Reverend Davies.

“That’s right, Reverend. She’s no Mary Mother of God either.”

The reverend exhaled heavily and rolled his eyes in Cheevers’ direction as did everyone else.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have said verbal genius. What I meant was that she has a way with words—written words. I can’t tell you how much grief and stress that she has eliminated from my life. I think you are sorely mistaken if you think she is violent,” said Tomsey, trying to clarify his point.

“And how many times have you actually met her?” pressed Mrs. Trumble.

“None. I’ve never talked with the woman. We do everything over the Internet.”

“Well, I hardly think that makes you an expert on her character and behavior.”

“I’m basing my judgment on the quality and judicious nature of her work. She has an impeccable work record. Punctual. Detailed. Insightful. Any company would be lucky to have her. I know her character because it comes through in her work. If we are to suggest that she is anything but a wonderfully productive member of society, then we are mistaken.”

“And what exactly are we suggesting here?” Cheevers added. “Mrs. Johnson, do you have any beer?”

“No.”

“Mr. Cheevers, please be patient. We are trying to get to the heart of the matter. Mr. Tomsey, your opinions about her work habits are duly noted, but I would like Mrs. Trumble to continue,” voiced Janice with a slight hint of annoyance.

Mrs. Trumble stood up and started addressing every incident and run-in that she ever had with Margaret. Everyone sighed with resignation that they would just need to wait it out. As the address continued, Sam and Pam crawled along the living room wall on all fours. The only person who could have seen them was Mrs. Trumble but not in her state. Sam reached safety first behind the kitchen island and waved Pam over. By the time they reached the door, Cheevers had a small window of opportunity to see them between the corner of the island and the wall of the hallway which led to a spare bedroom, but he was busy licking his fingers and sticking them back into the bag, trying to pick up the last few crumbs on his saliva-wet finger tips. Sam reached up and unlatched the door, quietly opening and closing it. They had spent the whole dinner hour planning their escape once they heard that the meeting was on. Pam even volunteered to cook her world-famous three-egg omelets so that their mother wouldn’t be in the kitchen. As Pam cooked, Sam got the WD-40 out of the hallway drawer and sprayed the front door hinges, so they wouldn’t squeak during their escape. They made it safely into the outdoor hallway.

New Excerpt from “The Reach of the Banyan Tree”

In this excerpt, the small teen, Long, who is large in spirit and hatred for the French colonialists, insists on trying to shoot a rifle and almost ends up shooting an Allied plane. Setting: Tan Trao – Tonkin, French Indochina – July 16, 1945. Enjoy.

“Can I try?”

“We don’t allow skinny school boys to shoot,” said one of the gruff soldiers.

“I’m not a school boy.”

“Well, you should be.”

“I wouldn’t go to a French school if you paid me,” snapped the precocious teen.

“Well that’s good because there aren’t any French schools around here, and I wouldn’t pay you to wipe my boots. What are you? Eight?”

“I’m fourteen, and my uncle says I can join the revolution in eight months.”

“I didn’t know they were allowing babies into the army now,” another soldier jested with him.

“I’m not a baby.”

“You could have fooled me. You have to be taller than a rifle to actually shoot a rifle.”

The gaunt, malnourished, height-challenged youngster scoffed at those petty remarks. He may have been small, but he had the spirit of a warrior who wanted nothing more than to help the revolution. His uncle had taught him a hatred for the French that bred easily amongst the weary-laden souls living in a war-torn colony that had suffocated under eighty years of the foreigners trying to squeeze blood from their Asian turnip. The French, somehow, found a steady stream of income where there was no money or resources, with only the raw-boned determination of the Vietnamese peasants willing to work all day for a bowl of rice gruel. The abuse was all well documented—the rubber plantations that used corvee labor in near slave-like conditions to produce the sap to profit the large French corporations. The French imposed a quota on alcohol that each village was required to purchase whether they wanted it or not and whether it took away from their necessary grain purchases. They opened opium dens, addicting large portions of the male population while forbidding the sale of opiates of any kind in France itself. They purposefully kept the education system unattainable for the vast majority of the population, giving a French education to just enough Annamese to fill the necessary low-level administration posts in order to serve the colony and the French Empire.

“Come on. Let me try one.”

“Go ahead. Teach him a lesson,” said one of the soldiers.

“All right. Here you go.”

He put the outdated French relic on his shoulder and pointed it down-field towards a broken wooden crate with an “x” painted across it.

“Watch this,” said the cocky young man.

His eye lined up along the barrel and pulled the trigger hard but nothing happened.

“You have to pull it back further.”

“I know,” said Long.

“You know about as much as my ox.”

He flinched once and pulled back with his finger as hard as he could. The barrel went flying upward and the shot rang out into the heavens as Long blew back onto the ground.

“What are you shooting at?”

“Must be that plane there,” chimed in another soldier.

On the horizon, the rolling hum of a C-47 pierced the sky.

“Idiot! That’s a friendly plane. It’s the Americans.”

Long hoped that the trajectory of the bullet didn’t find its way into the path of the Allied plane. As he watched it get closer, shouting could be heard in the camp.

“They’re coming! They’re coming!”

“Slim. You better hurry or you’re going to miss it!” yelled Long.

You can pick up a copy of The Reach of the Banyan Tree HERE!

Kindle $2.99  Paperback: $10.79

 

New Excerpt from “Banyan Tree” in honor of 99 cent Kindle sale!

The Reach of the Banyan Tree – only 99 cents on Kindle. Now through December 7. Pick up your copy HERE!

And to celebrate this sale, here’s a fun excerpt from one of my favorite characters, the loud brash C.R. Carson. Enjoy!

All the Air Sucked out of the Room

Charles Regal Carson II, CEO and majority owner of Carson Oil Subsidiary, never talked. He yelled everything; a troubadour announcing Christ’s second coming, or so everyone around him had to act. He stood a caricature of every loud-spoken American who ever lived. He had a red, chubby face, with a large beer belly that took up the half of the room not already occupied by his ego. His silver-gray hair, parted on the side and slicked back like a greasy car salesman’s, would have made him seem regal if his ego would have let him stoop that low. A half-chewed cigar would have felt at home in his mouth, and he had the aura of a master black marketeer, comfortably sitting in a dimly lit room at a table with stacks of cash on it. But he made his billions the legal way—paying off cronies and cuddling up to lobbyists. A force of nature who always wore a blue sports jacket with a white collared shirt, unbuttoned at the top, with no tie.

C.R., as everyone called him, had no idle, whether walk, talk, or do. Everything was full-tilt in overdrive. His administrative assistant had been taking stress counseling for three years now, and her therapist insisted that she quit working for the human hurricane. She would have quit, too, if he didn’t pay her so handsomely and piled her perks high enough to offset the abuse she had to endure. Billie went everywhere with C.R., as did his accountant and publicist, Fuller, who had learned to just keep his mouth shut and try not to ruffle the feathers of a bird already engaged in a daily war of survival. It was the oil business, after all, the greasiest of them all.

C.R. and Chip had had their share of disagreements; everyone knew that. When Chip left the company two years ago and ended up in Vietnam, C.R. threatened every sort of banishment and exile possible from a father to a son. He didn’t mean any of it. He rarely meant anything he said; he just talked like he breathed, in and out, not knowing up from down or left from right. He could charm the fur off a malevolent cat on the same day he could coax a frown out of a bride during the processional. He had rare verbal magic, the kind that most people avoided, except for Billie and Fuller. And so it was no shock when he cursed his son for quitting the company. But when he heard that Chip was in prison, he was on his private jet as soon as visas could be secured, ready to take on the Vietnamese bureaucracy and legal system with nothing but a loaded mouth and a pile of cash.

The jet landed without incident at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport, and C.R., Billie, and Fuller whisked through immigration to meet an assistant of the chief minister of the Department of the Interior, which had sent a car to pick up the three. A young professional, Nguyen Thi Thanh, charged by the minister to ‘handle’ the ugly American on his visit to his son in prison, waited patiently for them outside the exit. She had no idea what she was about to encounter as she greeted them politely as they walked through the immigration doors and into the airport’s small concourse.

“Mr. Carson, welcome to Vietnam,” she spoke in proper and clear English.

“If you want to be welcoming, you can release my son from prison. He didn’t do anything, and you have no idea what you are dealing with.” C.R. charged right past her. “Where’s the damn car?”

Thanh, completely taken back, drew a complete blank and couldn’t say anything.

“What kind of translator are you? Do you speak English or not? Fuller, what the hell kind of arrangements are these?”

Fuller came up to C.R. and spoke in his relaxed, accommodating manner. Billie introduced herself to Thanh and told her not to mind C.R. and that he didn’t mean any offense. It was the first of many lies that Billie would have to tell about her boss in Vietnam.

Thanh finally composed herself and pointed over to a black Lincoln sedan sitting by the curb.

“The car is over there, sir.”

“Well, it’s about time. Do you think I’m on vacation here? I’m here to save my son from the antiquated, communist legal system that shot the hell out of all the G.I.s I ever knew that were stuck in places like this.”

C.R. made his way towards the car as Fuller and Billie scrambled behind with the suitcases. Thanh looked on the scene in a bewildered manner.

“I’ll never understand how my idiot son could be stupid enough to walk away from his responsibilities and come to a third-world country. Vietnam. A country that killed over 58,000 of our soldiers. I should know. I was here. Right, Fuller?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Which car is it?”

“Here, sir,” spoke the intimidated Thanh.

“Black Lincoln? Well, I am impressed. Somebody got the message.”

“I informed them, sir, that an American car from the airport would show their grace and goodwill towards you and your company.”

“Good job, Billie. It’s about time somebody does something right. Fuller, if it was up to you, we’d probably be in a Yugo.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll try better next time, sir,” said Fuller, juggling the suitcases.

Thanh stood in shock. She had translated for numerous Americans before and had found every single one of them courteous and friendly. She couldn’t understand the vulgar man who put his nose down at everything he saw. The forty-five minute trip to the hotel was a complete rant and rave from C.R., who was on a jet-lag high, wound tighter than usual. Billie and Fuller felt great sympathy for the milquetoast Thanh, who sat in the corner of the limo, sulking and nodding politely at the force of nature.

Eventually, they walked into the lobby of the Hanoi Opera Hilton. All eyes seemed to be on the man who pronounced the supremacy of American neo-colonialism with every foot forward. Charles Regal Carson II was exactly the type of person Vietnamese immigration would have been happy to deny a visa to, except for one important fact: he controlled one of the largest oil companies in the world, the same oil company that in the last year had secretly signed multiple agreements with the Ministry of the Interior to build a dozen oil platforms off the coast of southern Vietnam in the disputed territory of the Spratlys. They had dug their heels in deep with a man who could give the Sicilian mafia a run for their money. Carson Oil had huge investments in China, so the Vietnamese government thought that C.R.’s leverage might be to their benefit as they explored the oil capacities of the disputed territories off their coast. They had not anticipated a personal matter getting in their way. Now they had a mad dog inside their borders, cornered and ready to attack.

PICK UP your Kindle copy for only 99 cents! Very limited time offer! ON SALE HERE!