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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Protectors and a HARD CASE Review

Just wanted to add this addendum to my post. My action novel HARD CASE garnered another 5 start review on Amazon
here: Reviews

"The definition of Noir - This is how you do hard boiled. I've read 10,000 books and written 20. This is how you do it. Relentless action. Terse sentences. A protag who is believable if only because he never breaks character. If you enjoy action, and a character who stays true to form, this WILL satisfy."

The new cover for my novel 'THE PROTECTORS' is above. My marketing partner, Publisher/Author RJ Parker, and Graphic Artist/Author William Cook, are helping me launch the next novel. THE PROTECTORS was released this morning. Some of you may remember my story about the Oakland cops, Connor and Ellie. They'll finally be out in full novel form. Here's a small blurb:

Two wise cracking Oakland, California cops run headlong into a career changing crossroads. When Ellie James and her partner, Connor Bradwick, drive into the middle of a monstrous kidnapping ring while on everyday patrol, the kid gloves come off. Bradwick executes three adults holding four kidnapped children. After coldly setting up a scene of self defense for the investigation that follows, Bradwick and his stunned partner embark on a stepped up course of law enforcement. When an Alameda County staff psychologist takes more than a passing interest after Bradwick’s department ordered post shooting examination, the two partners begin a convoluted relationship with Dr. Julie Morrison. When Ellie James wounds a suspect in a sting operation, her interaction with the psychologist reveals a dependent relationship between Ellie and Connor the two officers are forced to confront. Budding romantic entanglements between the three begin to compromise Dr. Morrison’s position.

Here's an excerpt of a domestic violence incident the two partners handle with Dr. Morrison in their squad car for a ride-along:

They rode in silence for a time. As they neared Ransom Avenue, Ellie added a danger they could not rule out.
“Connor thinks one of these days we’ll get to their house and there’ll be a gun battle going on. You can’t trust them not to turn the guns on us so we’re real careful around them. Okay, here we go.”
Ellie turned left on Ransom Avenue, coming to a screeching halt as she passed a telephone pole on the left. The largest woman Julie had ever seen, wearing a huge pink tank top and shorts had a small in comparison man pinned to the pole. Sweat poured down the woman’s pale face. Her lank brown hair lay plastered wetly around her cheeks. The man clung gamely to the woman’s wrists, his knees bent slightly under the pressure. Ransom Avenue was deserted as if the inhabitants were in hiding. Julie cringed back against the seat, all thought of leaving the squad car’s safety fleeing in the face of Fanny Camacho’s rage. Ellie left the driver’s seat with stun gun and mace in hand while Connor jogged around behind the combatants to the right.
“Let him go, Fanny!” Ellie yelled at the woman from three feet away. “I will zap your ass if you don’t let Jorge go right now! I’ll put so much damn juice through your ass you’ll smell like barbeque for a week!”
Fanny’s arms lost some of their rigidity. She glanced at Ellie. Jorge took advantage of the reprieve, twisting down to his right and out of Fanny’s grasp. Connor pulled the gasping man over behind him.
“What’s the problem, Fanny?” Ellie asked, watching Fanny’s heaving form closely as she bent over at the waist, hands on knees, her pendulous breasts nearly tearing free of the tank top.
“I…I put on my new outfit… and…and the bastard told me I looked like… one of the pink elephants in ‘Dumbo’.”
A tortured laugh broke free of Ellie’s clenched lips as she struggled to hold it in. Fanny’s head jerked up. With a low growl she charged Ellie. Ellie let off an arc into the charging woman but had to let go of the trigger or get zapped herself. Fanny bore her down to the yard. Fanny’s body jerked reflexively from the shock while all breath exploded out from Ellie’s mouth in a huge grunting bark. Connor ran over and pulled the massive woman off Ellie - but not before Julie watched in horror as Ellie’s hands and feet twitched helplessly under Fanny, nearly her whole body obscured from sight. Julie got out and ran over to Ellie as Connor released Fanny into Jorge’s arms. Julie grabbed Ellie’s hand in both hers.
“Ellie! Ellie… are you okay?”
Ellie gasped for air in weak ragged breaths, her arms and legs moving spasmodically. Jason Ladd and Luis Arvizo ran up onto the lawn, having just arrived on scene, hands on their weapon grips. Arvizo slipped the cell-phone he had been holding after arriving into his jacket.
“Holy shit, Connor! What happened to Ellie?” Jason asked. “All we saw was Fanny spread-eagled over her. Should I call for an ambulance?”
“No…” Ellie gasped, fumbling around with her left hand for the stun gun she’d dropped.
“Lie still, El,” Connor told his partner. He was reluctant to leave Fanny. The big woman was on her hands and knees, already shaking off the stun gun charge, while Jorge had his hand comfortingly on her back.
“The… hell… I… will,” Ellie snarled, tearing free of Julie’s hands and pin-wheeling toward Fanny. Her left hand shot forward before Connor could react. Ellie triggered an extended crackling burst into Fanny’s exposed arm, dropping the woman to her stomach. The burst launched a startled Jorge into a sprawling heap, his concerned contact with his wife proving inadvertently painful when Ellie zapped her.
Connor caught Ellie’s wrist in time to prevent a third burst.
“Let me go, Connor! I’m going to do her until smoke comes out her damn ears!”
Arvizo cuffed the still twitching Fanny, struggling with every fiber of his being not to start howling in laughter. Jason Ladd turned away, small hissing grunts of restrained amusement escaping every few seconds as he helped Jorge Camacho into a seated position. Connor easily lifted Ellie to her feet. He slapped the dirt off his partner’s uniform with his right hand while warily holding onto Ellie’s stun gun armed left wrist.
“Are…are you okay, Ellie?” Julie asked hesitantly as she helped Connor dust Ellie off. “I thought she killed you for a moment there.”
“I’m okay.” Ellie allowed Connor to take the stun gun. “Another second under Fanny and I would have looked like the coyote after the roadrunner drops a boulder on him.”
“Sorry, El, I didn’t see it coming.”
“Me either! It was the damn pink elephant remark.” Ellie shook her head. “She does look like a damn pink elephant.”
“Don’t arrest her… please,” Jorge called out. “She’ll kill me when she gets out.”
“Fanny’s going into lockup while I make up my mind whether to charge her for assault,” Ellie told him. “Pack your things and get the hell out of there, you moron.”
“I…I can’t. I love her,” Jorge said, looking down at his feet.
“Let’s wrap this up before I throw another shot into both of them,” Ellie said through clenched teeth. “Want us to put Fanny in with you, Jules, so you can ask her a few questions?”
“No!” Julie yelped.
Ellie smiled for the first time. “Good choice.”
“Jas, can you take Fanny in for us?” Connor asked.
“Sure, but you’ll have to help get her into the car.”
“Let’s ease her up into a seated position.” Connor supported Fanny’s shoulders while Ladd and Arvizo rolled her over. Connor propped the woman up until she started to moan. “C’mon, Fanny, wake up. We need to get you onto your feet.”
“Wha…what happened?” Fanny asked groggily, her head swaying.
“You attacked me!” Ellie shouted, heading over with determination. “Get your fat ass up before I get Mr. Sparky out to help!”
“Don’t…” Fanny pleaded, twisting with Connor’s help so she could get on her knees and then to her feet. She looked down at Ellie’s face in fear. “Don’t let her zap me again!”
“You’re riding with Officers Ladd and Arvizo,” Connor told her as he corralled Jorge Camacho with one arm.
“I’m sorry, honey… I didn’t mean to-”
“Oh shut up!” Ellie ordered Jorge. “Not another word out of you! Get the hell in your house!”
The startled Jorge did as he was told. Jason and Luis helped Fanny into the backseat of their squad car.
“Damn Connor,” Ellie complained, tentatively prodding her chest area gingerly, “I think she cracked one of my ribs.”
“We better get you an x-ray, El. Can you guys read Fanny her rights and put her in holding until we get back from the hospital?”
“Sure,” Luis agreed. “Take care, Ellie.”
“I hope it’s not cracked, Ellie,” Jason added with a wave. “Don’t worry. We won’t say a word about what happened.”
“Mum’s the word,” Luis called out, driving away after Jason was inside the car.
“Shit, it’ll be all over the East Bay before we get back from the hospital,” Ellie muttered, glaring at the squad car speeding away.
“I think I’m done on the ride-alongs,” Julie said.
“We’ll help you with your paper, Julie.” Connor helped Ellie into the passenger side seat.
“Yeah, Jules, we’ll give you enough stories to sour you on the sacrament of marriage for the rest of your life,” Ellie added as Julie entered the backseat area.
“Oh wonderful,” Julie replied without enthusiasm.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2008 Honda Accord 2.4L Stalls

I looked up from the Buick I was working on to see a tow truck backing a late model Honda Accord into the shop. Since I hadn’t had a call or any hint of a tow in, I’m hoping I at least know the owner. That hope was dashed a moment later when a man in a business suit, complete with earpiece, briefcase, and a you’re wasting my time look on his face strode in. He was of course busily talking on his invisible cell-phone gizmo. I recognized in a flash he was going to finish his important business before deigning to converse with me. I hurried instead to the tow truck driver. He was getting ready to unload the Honda on me.
“Can you wait until this guy talks to me before you unload? I had no clue anyone was coming in and I don’t know this guy.”
The TT driver stopped immediately. He grinned over at the suit. “He talked like he was your long lost son. I’ll wait.”
“Thank you.” I returned to the waiting line for Sonny Honda to talk with me. After a long moment making eye contact, I could tell he didn’t quite understand how things worked down here in blue collar land. I moved closer. “Sir! Either get off the phone and talk to me or I’ll have your tow truck driver haul the Honda out of here without a conversation.”
He looked surprised, but ended the call. “That was very rude.”
“No, you towing your Honda in here without notice, then ignoring me and the man doing the towing is rude. Why don’t you let me know what you did come in for, and we can decide whether you can leave the Honda or not.”
More surprise. Yeah, Sonny probably has that look down pat. He points at the Honda. “It won’t keep running. It starts and dies every time. Can I wait for it?”
“No.” I give him the figure for diagnosing a no run problem and explain he’ll have to leave it until I finish the appointments I’d made.
Sonny smiles at me. “The diagnostic fee is fine, but you don’t understand. This is an emergency. I’m-”
“I understand your problem, but this is a one man shop, and I don’t push back scheduled appointments for emergencies. If you can’t leave it, you’ll have to tow it elsewhere.”
Sonny blanks out on me, mouth open in a little cute O. He’s rapidly dropping down the list of my favorite relatives. I wave. “Hello. Can you leave it or not?”
“I...I guess I’ll have to.”
Not really. I had a feeling I should boot this guy, but informative and humorous blog encounters are hard to come by lately. This 2008 Honda Accord might have something wrong that could help me and others in the future. I give the TT driver the okay to land it, fill out Sonny’s estimate, get a signature, and give him a copy before bidding him adios. It took me a little over three hours to get to it. By that time I was blessing wireless phones a shop owner can hook to his belt for quick ‘no comment’ answers to estranged fake relatives who called every half hour.
I opened the hood on the Honda. The 2.4L engine in it was a solid performer, even with the near hundred thousand miles Sonny had logged. I looked for obvious signs before starting it up with my scanner hooked into the system, like loose ground wires, or power leads, connectors burned through, etc. – nothing out of the ordinary. The oil looked clean, air filter dirty – yes, people still do drive their cars until the air filter becomes so clogged the car won’t run. The scanner data doesn’t turn up anything.
I decide since I’ve found a dirty air filter to see if it has allowed debris to screw up the down the line Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor. I first start it to confirm the issue. It stalls. I next unplug the MAF, which will send the computer into limp in mode. The Honda starts and runs even with the dirty air filter. I price the MAF and air filter, call my fake son, and all is well. Sonny seemed pleased to get his Honda back in the same day so we parted amicably. The lesson here is don’t neglect those little maintenance items like air filters. They can screw up more expensive parts.

On a writing note, I’m hitting the 20,000 word point in my third book of my YA trilogy DEMON. It’s been so entertaining for me writing it, I’ve practically given up reading except for a few pages of a novel at night.  :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July Scuba Dive

In writing news I made it to 12,000 words in my third part of the YA trilogy DEMON.

Otter’s Point down in Pacific Grove near Carmel was beautiful yesterday. I went down to scuba dive and try my luck with another dive movie. I did film a Sunflower Starfish. They’re pretty common around in that area, but I hadn’t seen one in quite a while. The ocean was rough, both on top and underneath, but any day’s a good day now.  :)  I also took a great shot of a huge Pelican, a gull, and a shot of the rough waters after my dive. The traffic going down and coming back was light. All in all, a great July 4th in the middle of the week, especially with getting back in time to do some writing.