Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Do you have a novel that is good enough to snag a publisher?  If so, you might want to think about entering it into the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough novel award.

Prize: 15,000 advance AND a publishing contract with Penguin Publishing

When can you submit: Open submissions are accepted between January 23rd and run through Feb 2, 2012

What type of manuscript can be submitted?  Amazon is offering submissions in two categories.  General and Young Adult.

Who can submit?  Anyone with an unpublished or self published novel

How can I find the submission guidelines?  Follow this link.
I entered this competition in 2011 with my debut novel, Defiance Rising.  I made it through a couple cuts before my novel met its untimely end.  This year I plan to submit my newly self published teen fantasy, Forbidden.

If you have a novel that you want to submit, now is the time to give it a thorough once over.  Look for the basic mistakes that could cost you a place in finals.  Shine up your novel until it’s so brilliant the judges can’t help but fall in love with it.

Best of luck!  Let me know how you do!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Running rampant

For those of you that are patiently awaiting a post of your book review or author interview, I want to say thank you.  Illness has been running rampant through my home the past couple weeks and I haven’t had near the time to post as I would like to.  Not to mention read!

With the holidays quickly approaching I will do my best to post as often as I can, but as I’m sure it’s the case with your families, things tend to get a bit insane closer to Christmas.  Thank you for your patience. 

Wishing each and every one of you a very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Christmas Messenger

I have just finished putting the final touches on my new Christmas short story, The Christmas Messenger. 

Have you ever wondered what the angels were thinking during the events leading up to Jesus' birth? The Christmas Messenger is a short story that gives you a glimpse of one angel's role in bringing forth the Savior. Experience Gabriel's doubts, his confusion and his joy as he walks step by step with the people whose faith changed the world.
This short story is now available on Smashwords in all ereader formats and will be available on Amazon within 48 hours for only $0.99

If you or someone you love are looking for a new version of the traditional heartwarming Christmas story, then The Christmas Messenger might just be what you are looking for. 

This Christmas I want to share the love that I have for Jesus with as many people as I can.  If you download The Christmas Messenger and enjoy it, please tell your friends and church family's so together we can help pass on the good news of what this season is really all about. 

Free Author Interview: Y. Correa

Author Name: Y. Correa

Where can we find your book?

How much does it cost?
It is free to the public. I like to share my art. Not charge for it.

Tell us a little about your book.
My stories are Interracial/Multicultural, paranormal, fantasy stories.

Do you have any upcoming projects?
I am in the process of writing two more stories. The first is the third part of my Fate Books Collection. “In Love With Death” was the first. “La Encantadora/the enchantress” was the second. And the third, which is what I am currently working on is called “Finding Death”. Besides that one, I am also writing a Medieval Interracial love story that I've named “MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis”.

What has your journey as a writer been like?
Like a Rollercoaster. Some good days. Some bad days. But all adventurous. I love writing, so I feel like the good goes along with the bad and vise-versa. Because the bad times, just make the good times all the better.

Why did you choose to self publish?
I refused to let anyone bring me down. I knew that I had a great story. I knew that the public would love it, and the only reason that traditional publishers rejected my stories was because they believed that the genre was too competitive. However, they all agreed that the story was great and the writing style was also good. So, I decided to make my own dreams come true.

Would you do it again?
Yes! Yes! Yes! I would do it again, and again, and again! In order to share my stories with the public, I would self-publish for the rest of my days if necessary. I love my art. I want to share my art with the world, and if self-publishing is the only way of doing that – then, yes! Absolutely, yes.

Please share some advice to help future authors.
Don't let “the man” get you down! Make your own dreams come true. An opinion is like an unnamed body part, everybody has one... yet, only you can make of your life, what you want of it. Go for it!

Do you have a favorite character and why?
Yes. I do. All of the Archangels that I created in my stories are my favorite characters. Everything that they are is amazing to me, therefore they are all my favorites!

Who is your favorite author and why?
I have two. Stephenie Myers and Nora Roberts. I just love their stories. I think they are amazingly talented. I truly respect them.

What one person has impacted your life the most?
My youngest son, Gino. He is Sabot-Autistic. And seeing him live everyday just as happy as could be, regardless of his limitations make me push forward no matter what the obstacle. If he can do it – then so can I.

What drives you to write?
Everything. Everywhere I look, I find inspiration. Every day, I see something that pushes my mind to unexpected places and makes me want to write about it. It may be because of the way that I see the world, or maybe because of the way my mind works, but whatever the reason; I write.

How did you create your characters?
My characters were mainly inspired by my own family, but also by my own imagination.

What time of day do you write best?
In the middle of the night.

How do you juggle life around your writing?
I have no idea... I just do. Lol

Sample of “In Love with Death”


I never really thought that there was much more to life, than what I was already living. The monotonous day to day, non eventful, flow of things that continued each and every day. Get up, get ready, go to work, deal with day to day problems, listen to family fuss and moan and do it again... Every day.
So, my choice of escape and excitement? Horror movies. I mean, honestly, something had to give... I would hope. Don't get me wrong. I loved my family, friends and work. But, at the end of the day, I still felt empty. Lonely.
It's amazing what can happen when you least expect anything to happen. How one crack in the thin glass of life, can shatter it entirely. So, we have to choose. Do we mend it or leave the crack there? And, if we leave it there; is it worth letting everything fall apart into a million teeny tiny pieces? Well, honestly, I didn't know. One thing I was sure of though, I chose to let my heart mend. Would it be for good or for bad? Well, only God knew.

You see, what most of my family didn't understand was that I really did love her. My abuela (my grandmother). Her loss, completely left me at a loss. Abuela, was my mentor, my guiding light. She was capable of showing and teaching me things that no one else could. She was also so loving and comforting in almost every way. My grandmother, was my shield. It hurt more than words could explain to lose her.
I must admit though, it's funny what unexpected things can occur when you least presume anything to happen. Things, that wind up changing your life entirely. For ever. He was there, in the most unexpected place, at the least anticipated time; and much like a whirlwind blew me off of my feet. With something as simple as saying, “Hello again, Sophia. Are you well?” Why should he have cared? It was not his concern, but he made it his own, and in doing so, made me his own.
All that being said, the last thing that I would have anticipated, was all that would follow, when he came into my life. Everything! Every last thing, changed, never to return to it's original form. The irony of life.... or death, is truly staggering.

Chapter 1

A dull roar. That's all I could hear. Souls. That's all I could see. What was this that I was living? If you could call it “living” at all. I didn't see people, but shadows. I didn't feel life, but death. I didn't feel emotions, but emptiness. I didn't feel... anything. It was all a blur. Clustered together in an array of colors and shapes. The sound, that low roar... it was difficult to make out. My thoughts were focused, not so much on the sound, as they were on the colors. So many people. All different. Some good. Some bad. Some breathing. Some barely breathing. ALL SOULS. It was funny what you could see when you stood in the middle of the Emergency Room. Who survived. Who didn't. Who cried. Who laughed. Who mourned. Who celebrated. Yet, all of them, everyone; A soul. A soul for the taking.
I remembered... almost.... what it was like when I floated in the middle of this cluster myself. Before my life... or should I say; my death... changed forever. It felt like aeons ago. I didn't want this. I never asked for it. Why was I not allowed to be like everyone else? “Fate” This was the answer I was given. “Fate” What a bleak and meaningless word to express something no one can truly explain.
I wanted... No! I needed, a change. My vast emptiness had drowned me in a lagoon of unwillingness. In a river of curiosity. In an ocean of questions. Questions, unanswered by the Higher Sources. Questions, that still lingered in the clouds of my emptiness. Why am I? Why do I exist? What's the purpose? When (if at all) would it change?

I had a plan. A plan to subtly replace myself once again into this world of colorful souls. To persuasively introduce myself yet again, to THIS my most intriguing temptation. I believe I am, whom I once was. This, wasn't me. This, is who I was forced to be. Yet, I fought. I disputed this unwanted persona that had been involuntarily cast upon me. One day! One day, I would be who I once was. One day! This monster would cease to exists.

Bed two. The doctors, the running, the yelling. The focus on bringing her back. It was futile. It was sad to say that she was just a child. A baby. Five years of age. Why did FATE find in necessary to take her? She had yet to even start to live. It was not my choice. I only followed orders. Her soul was lovely, just as a little girl should be. A soft pink. Like a princess. Beautiful.
“Come child.” I extended my hand so that she would take it.
“Where am I going?” she asked. The innocence in her voice was heart breaking. Or would be, if I had a heart.
“I'm taking you to a safe place. Somewhere that you will never feel pain again. You will be happy there, sweet child.”
“Cindy” She said. “My name is Cindy.”
“A beautiful name, for a beautiful girl.” her smile seemed as if it could quite literally light up the room.
“Well Cindy, do you see that very pretty light?”
“Yes.” she said with bright eyes.
“Walk into it. Go on child. Pretty Cindy.”
“But why? Where's mommy and daddy? Why do I have to go?” there they were. The questions that always came up after I had collected them.
“Don't worry, Cindy. Your grandmother is there waiting for you. I promise. Before you know it, Mommy and Daddy will be there with you also.” What else was I to say to such a new and delicate creature?
“Okay...” she said, not so convinced that what I was telling her was the truth. She obeyed nonetheless. When she entered, she realized that my words were true and secure.
“Grammy!!” she called out with utter happiness.
I turned. The mother, yelling. The father, failing at his attempt to be strong. The doctor, saddened. The confusion. The horrified faces. All of it, ALL too familiar. ALL too real.

Time for my next assignment...

I could see them. I could see through them. They could not see me. They could not hear me. I was invisible to them. My lifelessness simply hovered in the emptiness of it's days. Following orders. Swiftly moving like a shadow in the night. Not seen. Not heard. Not felt.
Inevitably, unwillingly noticed. Noticed only, by those whom had entered into my realm. Into my Principality.

One A.M., darkness, silence. He was depressed. The prescription was strong enough. Strong enough, not to ease his pain, but to rid him of it once and for all. Twenty-five, in his prime, yet blind. Blinded to the people who cared about him, and to the life that could have come; had he held on just a little longer.
These were not my favorite. I despised collecting them and passing them on to eternal darkness. I had no choice. He had made the choice for himself. Leaving me no alternative but to collect him.
He should have waited for the Higher Sources to give him relief. Yet, he didn't.
“Peter.” I knew his name well. I'd been watching him for some time.
“What? Who are you? Why are you in my bedroom?” The confusion was the consequence of his own actions.
“I'm here to get you.” A simple notion; I would have thought.
“To get me for what? I should be sleeping.... I.... I took... You shouldn't be here!!” He remembered, however, he thought that something else should have happen. Possibly, he thought that he would be sleeping forever. He was wrong.
He looked back, “Oh my God. That's me.... on my God! Oh no! No please... No!” It was too late to plea.
“Come with me, Peter.” I instructed.
“But... th-th-this can't be..... right...” he swallowed hard, it was obvious that he was scared.
“You made your choice. Now follow me.” I had to be cold. I was not allowed to feel. The fear was oppressing him. They'd arrived for him. I truly despised this part.
“It's easier if you just go.”
“I don't want to go! I want to stay! I want to sleep!”
“Then you leave them no choice. They will take you.”
They grabbed him. Screaming, crying, fear! Dreadful fear! They dragged him into the utter eternal darkness. I was able to hear his last supplication for help. More fear. I was unable to help him. I was meant to simply follow orders.

Centuries have passed since my life, or my death, was changed forever. I still remember it clearly...

Comoros Africa
200 A.D.

I'd just turned twenty-one years of age. I was during that time called, Amari (meaning, Prince), this being my birth name. I was my father's, fourth wife's, first child. Kamau (meaning, Silent warrior), was my mothers sixth child; only the two of us being male. The rest of my mother's children were female. My father, Afolabi (meaning, Born with high status), was the Tribe Leader, he was allotted six wives. The other men in the tribe were allotted only three.
My mother was, Nandi (meaning, Strong willed). I could see her face as if it were just yesterday. She was proud. I was my father's first born son. And, I was the only one whom resembled him the most. Which made me a preferred child in his eyes. This made my mother happy to the point of almost gloating.
My tribe and I were celebrating the twelfth birthday of my littlest brother, Kamau. The tradition called for a tribe wide hunt. This hunt was meant to prove the boy child, a man. The hunt, consisted of only the men in the tribe. The women, stayed behind in preparation for the enormous feast and festivities that would follow the hunt.
I was excited. Happy to be able to finally show my little brother the exhilaration of the hunt. It was a rush that had no explanation. Your blood pumping, your heart racing, your will at the brink of losing control. When you hunted – you were a man! Not just any man, but a “Man of the tribe”. This feeling had purpose. It had meaning. It defined me... Us!
I can not put in to words the elation of the tribe when we unanimously lifted up a cry of triumph, when our prize animal had been slain. It was, right!

I saw it. About fifty feet away. It was glorious. With a shinny golden coat and glowing blade like teeth. If I had to guess; I would say about two hundred pound of pure strength. A lioness. Bewildering, almost. However, not enough that it would cause me fear. My little brother crept up behind me. I motioned swiftly and quietly. Putting one finger over my mouth as to inform him of my instructions. I wanted him to be as quiet as possible. With my hand, I made a motion telling him to wait there. I moved forward carefully. I could feel the stares of my fellow tribes men, looking at me from in between the jungle greenery. I moved forward some more. Slowly lifted my spear, preparing to launch it to the beautiful beast.
A sharp pain hit my back! Agony! Disorientation, confusion, then pain! My spear fell. Hit the ground. The lioness ran off. I look around. I saw Kamau. Shock in his eyes. His hand extended. Positioned as if he had just launched a spear of his own. More agonizing pain. I fell to my knees. Screams surrounded me. Running. More screams. I touched my back. I felt it lodged in the middle of my back. I felt it rip through my ribs and lungs. I gasped for air. I gasped again; harder this time. I heard my name being called from afar. Nothing now. No air, no movement, no pain. Just nothing... Blackness, darkness, emptiness...

My eye's opened. I was standing. I reached for my back and felt nothing there. I tried to look around and the area was foreign to me. This place was dark and empty. I could feel myself there, but I could not see myself there. I tried looking at my hands, but the darkness was so deep that my eyes failed to adjust to it. So, I could not make out my own hand in front of me. Or any other part of me, for that matter. I heard something. A wind. A motionless movement, as if something floated in the air. The lights came back on, yet, I still saw nothing. Nothing except for it. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. Possibly, over six feet tall. A ghost if you will. A white ghost, whom spoke in my language. In my words. It told me that I was chosen. That I would not pass on. That I was meant to linger amidst life and death. I was “The Collector”.
“What is 'the collector'?” I asked
“You would better know it as, 'Azriel Dévas'. The 'Angel of Death'...” the white ghost replied.
“What? Why me?” I could not grasp it. It seemed too surreal. Too unbelievable.
“I told you. You have been chosen. This is your fate.” Coldness in it's voice as well as a small hint of contempt.

Such was the beginning of my existence; or nonexistence, as I prefer to call it.


Gabriel, had been itching for a good fight. It had been many, many years that he'd been planning on proving his point. Of what? Well, only he knew. Many years had past since the Higher Sources broke the news to Gabriel...
The Highest Ground
Spirit Realm
200 A.D.

“It seems that it's time once again to choose a new 'Angel of Death'. Have you made a decision on my proposal, yet, Majesties?” Gabriel's, voice was calm, yet, anxiety hid behind his words.
“Yes. We have.” the function of acting as a Unit defined Them. Therefore, They thought as one, They acted as one and They spoke as one.
“So, what be your choice?”
“You are not yet ready, Gabriel.”
“What? Why? I've served you faithfully since the beginning of time. What is it about these humans that you must grant them all their hearts desires? You allow them freedom of will, yet, they walk all over you. And even still, you bestow unmerited privileges upon them. I deserve this much more then any of them do! None of them deserve a single thing!”
“We've chosen someone already, Gabriel. We believe that he will serve Us well.” proclaimed decision sounding in Their voice.
“Whom? If I may ask?”
“His name is, Amari. Go fetch him. His time has come. Tell him, what his destiny has become.”
“Amari. Well.... As you wish, your Majesties.”
Watching as he walked away, His thought intertwined with Hers, “It seems that Gabriel is not very pleased with our decision.” to which They both agreed, “We fear that things are going to be difficult for our new, Azriel Dévas... We must keep watch.”


I had been watching an older lady in the ICU. Lourdes. She'd been here for weeks. Heart disease. What an odd family she had, though. I don't really think I'd ever seen anything like them before. Most families I have come across, either hated or loved each other. No in between. These people were different. It seems as though they loved and hated each other. Lourdes, however, was the grandmother. Her soul was a brilliant yellow. It was quite impressive. A mother and a teacher.
I could see that she was genuinely loved and respected by them all. That much was obvious... To anyone. I can't say for sure why I'd been so intrigued by her and her family. It's almost like I'd been magnetized by the humor and the drama amidst them. Their souls were also quite interesting. They were all pure in their own way. All bright in color.
The grandson, I recall her having called him Frankie; he was blue. I can see and understand why. He was very outspoken, open & honest; yet quite the clown from the look of it. A jester and a judge.
The daughter-in-law, Maria, she was red. Outspoken as well, yet dramatic and overly sensitive at times. It was very clear, however, that her heart was in the right place. She meant well. A strong rock and a frail feather.
The son, Fransisco, he was green. Which explained his quiet personality. His happy demeanor and his pensive mind. He was definitely a thinker, that only used his observation upon utter necessity. A mentor and a peacemaker.
Fransisco's sister, Jesenia, she was purple. I can see that she thought of herself as the glue that held the family together. She was the protector who stood in her self given right to keep this family from falling apart. A warrior and a guide.
I had heard the mention of a granddaughter. Sophia, I believed was the name. I had yet to see her. I was looking forward to it. She must be like the others as well, I thought. Some sort of bright color. Possibly yellow, like the grandmother. Or red, like Maria. It would really interest me to see her.
I was sure, nonetheless, that when the time had come and I had collected her; Lourdes. A piece of their puzzle would be lost forever. I wondered, if they would make it. I wondered if this family would see themselves through the blackness of loss, and the desolation of mourning. What would become of them? Would the hatred win or would the love overcome?

Soon...”, I thought, “We will all know.”...

Free Author Interview: Stephen O'Connor

Author Name: Stephen O’Connor
Where can we find your book? The novel The Spy in the City of Books is available on, along with my collection of short stories, Smokestack Lightning.
How much does it cost? I believe the novel is 17 dollars; the Kindle edition is 6.99.
Tell us a little about your book.
A little over ten years ago, I met a man who had served in the OSS during WWII. (The Office of Strategic Services was the forerunner of the CIA). He had grown up in “Little Canada” here in Lowell, MA, and went to a French-speaking school. After volunteering for what they told him would be “dangerous work,” (“I was young and stupid,” he confided), he parachuted into France and operated undercover as a spy and liaison between London and the French Forces of the Interior. I had lived in France when I was young, and already had a keen interest in the “Maquis,” or French Resistance. So I began to interview Edwin while developing a good plot for a historical novel.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
They say that drink is the curse of the working man. Work is surely the curse of the writing man, or woman. I have 50,000 words of the next novel, The Nine Hazels, but as a high school teacher I’m buried in work from September to June. I’ll try to finish it next summer. I’m also doing some free-lance writing, and developing a story for an anthology. 

What has your journey as a writer been like?
When I was in high school, my mother came home from parent night and said, “Brother Bernier says you have a ‘literary mind.’” I always thought I would write, always wrote long letters to friends (remember letters?), and academic papers. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I said, my God, life is running out-you can’t keep thinking you are going to be a writer, you have to write. I must have written millions of words since that realization.
Did you self-publish?
I was considering it, but I was able to find small presses that were willing to publish my work. There isn’t a lot of difference, actually. You can’t get into national chains, and you have to do a lot of your own promotion.
Please share some advice to help future authors.
Well, as Eric Burden once said, “Mothers, tell your children, not to do what I have done.” I waited too long to get going. You cannot begin too soon. I used to be hypercritical. I wanted a perfect first page. That kind of attitude can paralyze a writer. Just tell the story-you can rewrite all you want.

Who is your favorite author and why?
Well, Jack Kerouac was a Lowell boy, and I love his energy. His lived for a while right up the street from my current house. One of the stories in Smokestack Lightning, “The Hipster’s Hopper,” deals with a man’s obsession with J.K. I love the masters, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, and the grace and style of Henry Thoreau.
What one person has impacted your life the most?
Aside from my parents, I’d go back to Thoreau. Again, Walden Pond is a short drive from here, so I often walk there and stop at the site of his cabin. All the philosophy you need is in the last chapter of Walden.  “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”

How did you create your characters?
Many of the characters I’ve written are based to some extent on people I’ve known, or combinations of characters. An old friend asked me, “Is this guy supposed to be me?” Maybe 40%, or one aspect of his character is you, but I’m not going to be bound by reality. I try to make reality more dramatic and characters more compelling-that’s why they call it fiction. License to lie, or should I say, invent. But I once saw a guy open a bar door and shout, “Is there someone in here I’m supposed to be afraid of?” I couldn’t invent a better way of showing a character to be a reckless brawler.

Sample Chapter:


At six in the morning, not only his apartment, but the entire Pollard Mansion was quiet. The dim rooms were rich with the aroma of coffee. It had been brewed by timer–to Martin LeBris’ mind one of the greatest practical uses of technology in the modern world. “As quiet as the turning of pages in the holy books at dawn,” the poet had written, and there was something sacred in the stillness that pervaded the dim apartment–his "City of Books.” In the thin light of morning, Martin went to examine them; he had been a bibliophile from the distant days when his mother had brought him to the Andover Book Store, where the little boy watched the fireplace glow among the rows of mute testaments.
With money she’d set aside from her job at Woolworth’s, she bought his Christmas presents there, two books he selected called Corsairs of the Gold Coast and Indian Warriors of the East. The fierce Mohawk, and the grizzled pirate perched with his spyglass in the rigging still peered from the ragged jacket covers among the other volumes ranged about him in leather and gold. He went to the bookcase where he had stored some of those that were in sets, or whose bindings were gilded. Most had been published in the 19th century.
He paused for a moment, watching his reflection in the glass doors of the old bookcase. It was as if his own French-Canadian grandfather were looking back at him. “Bonjour Maurice,” he said. The short thick snow-white hair, glasses, the ruddy face and even the flannel lumberjack’s shirt. He could almost hear that gruff familiar voice: “Veins ici, toi.” Come here, you.
How the years had flown, as he donned this livery of age. He shook his head and smiled at the reflection; he had become his grandfather. Martin turned the key once and opened the glass doors. He inhaled the beloved mustiness of leather and paper. Green, black, and brown were the spines, but the letters were gold. Saintly companions, soft whisperers, undying confidants. They spoke of forgotten sieges, duels, palace intrigues, falconry, conquests; the solitary guard at the king’s door, betrayed and bleeding–unwilling to yield. The secrets of the dead, the dreams of the living, and the rhymes of the forlorn poet who put trembling quill to parchment under the myrtle bough and wrote can love be rich and yet I want?
There were histories, diaries, epics, romances, speculations, musings, ramblings, essays–there was bilious colic and laudanum; currants in the orchard and tea by the fire. And of course, there was one whole shelf dedicated to the classical Greek and Roman works he collected. Between sips of the hot Colombian coffee, his hand glided over Coleridge's Table Talk and Omniana, Stevenson's Virginibus Puerisque, Kingsley’s Hypatia, and settled on a slim blue volume by  Lord David Cecil called The Stricken Deer because the title struck his fancy.
"The Stricken Deer…what is this?" he wondered. Something that he'd picked up at the Brattle Bookstore, or some flea market, and forgotten, or had never had a chance to look into. He returned to the kitchen, where Hannibal, his aged cat, raised his head, ears twitching, but did not stir. “Look at me now, Hannibal,” he said to the cat curled in its bed of fleece, “an old man in his slippers, rummaging through dusty books older even than himself. Is this the promised end?” He sighed and laughed softly.
He sat at the table and opened the book. It was a life of the poet Cowper. The tenor of the morning changed as he read the inscription on the frontispiece:

I was a stricken deer that left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charged, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shade.

Martin put the book down, closed his eyes and saw the face the verse had conjured–Odette. There were so many faces that lived only in memory now, but they were vivid. “I couldn't save you, Odette," he said aloud, “I'm sorry.” In the last half century, he had apologized often, through wakeful vigils in the solitary night, to that lingering ghost, which spoke to him from amid the echoes of the guns of 1944from beyond the thin veil that separates the living from the dead in time and memory.
He gulped some coffee, and his gaze ran along the rows of books that lined the floor to ceiling shelves, this world he had created for himself–for what? To remember? To forget? To wait in a fortress of tranquility for revelation, or just for death? And waiting, to call back the days of fire-placed, rocking-chaired bookstores, the world of youth, the world of peace, before he had known killing and had to steel his mind against the smell of death, sickening wounds, and all the grim havoc of war.
Yes, he was an old man, tired of the tumult of life. He’d lived much in his mind since 1945 and sought only the companionship of the ages, of blind Homer and Marcus Aurelius. And yet he wondered whether the duty that the philosopher spoke of did not demand that he had now lain sixty years in a damp, unmarked grave near the broken remains of the woman who died for France, and for him, or for the man he was back then: Patrice Quenton, spy, inserted into occupied France to serve as a liaison between London and the French Forces of the Interior for the Office of Strategic Services. That had been his real duty, weightier than anything he owed her for love, or so they told him.
Duty–that was a word that could create moral dilemmas for a man beyond any other in the language. "If I could’ve saved you, Odette," he murmured, holding her image in his mind like a withering flower. He hadn't even been able to save her body. He would like to have placed it under a stone of black marble inscribed with her name, and the simple epitaph: Morte Pour la France. That would have been right for her. But her grave was unknown. He shook his head slowly; his eyes narrowed and his mouth turned down, the morning tinged with gray as in a low voice he spit out the words, "Nazi bastards!” Hannibal's ears twitched as he watched with eyes like yellow marbles the silent old man gazing long through the brightening window, an empty cup hanging from his hand.
The world was on fire.
The pilot, or some crewman forward, was screaming at him to jump. Martin's knees were trembling. He wanted to know if they were over the drop zone, but the Liberator shook so violently that he and the men behind him were knocked to the floor. Flak tore at the fuselage as the rattling shell of the cabin filled with choking acrid smoke.
He heard a desperate shout, "Jump for Chrissake! They got our number!” His static line was hooked. He crawled to the open door, which was not in the side but in the belly of this airplane. The craft lurched and he was thrown out before he could jump. A rush of wind and flapping fabric–then he was jerked up like a puppet on a string as the silk chute billowed.
The deep hum of engines faded from his ears as he fell away from the airplane, but the hiss and glare of anti-aircraft fire still shocked the night, exploding above him with a force that jarred his teeth, and in a matter of seconds Martin heard a roar. A fireball lit the white hemisphere of his chute, searing the dark soffit of the ragged clouds. Flaming wreckage tumbled earthward like defeated angels.  He recalled for an instant, vividly, the face of a crewman who just a few minutes before had been telling him that Winston Churchill could drink any man in England under the table and wondering at the reality that the man, and the entire  crew of nine, had been incinerated. All dead–only he–falling, falling through the night, young and scared and everything yet to come as the fates unwound the threads. Odette, I’m sorry.