Soul’s Surrender

Soul’s Surrender

The damp air assumed the color of periwinkle on my sweaty arms as the moon came from the cumulus like an angry despot, a wisp of cloud appearing like a mustache on its solemn surface. The gently rising hill upon which my steps carried me was covered with freshly mown grass that gave off a delicious smell of watermelon. I stopped at the top of the hill and breathed deeply the olfactory delight, the big house now in view, some three hundred yards down this hill and up another, big centuries-old maple trees dotting its perimeter.

For a moment, the lights in the big house seemed to twinkle for me, perchance a welcome home endearment, but, then, my errand of mercy had only taken me three hours although it seemed much longer. The car would not start. The cell phone would not work. I didn’t want to walk along the highway at night, so, to the rolling hills. We were alarmed and nervous about our cat, Joey. We were afraid we might be losing him as he seemed unable to move about without falling and regurgitating.

The vet was one mile away, and I decided to carry Joey to the vet’s office. Someone was at their small hospital facility at all times. Joey was of petite build and not heavy in his carrier. Laura, the nice lady vet, gave Joey a quick check and decided it was best to leave him there for a day or two to allow for thorough testing and treatment. She indicated his ‘vitals’ were showing satisfactory readings, but she wanted to be certain it was nothing more than a bad morsel Joey decided to ingest.

If the light from the moon was not deceiving me and my old failing eyes could be trusted, Heather was there on the porch waving me on. Waving back, I smiled, and tears slowly passed through the whiskery wrinkles on my cheeks and dropped to mix with the ground dew. It was rather common these days to shed tears in my desperate moments when harsh realities hit and confounded the order and sequences of living. I slowed my pace to give the tears their time to flow before I reached Heather, conjuring up thoughts that were mundane and easy to indulge and toss away.

There was something unrevealed to Heather which, as fate would have it, coincided with Joey’s sudden ailment. Perhaps the lovable cat sensed the secret. My days of doubting ‘cat lore’ and labeling mysteries of the world’s tomfoolery were long gone. Our family doctor gave me his diagnosis of my frequent headaches after EEG test-runs and consultation with a neurologist specialist. It was an inoperable tumor, now the size of a large marble but growing in size steadily. Was there a chance the tumor might just dissolve, just miraculously melt into nothing and its residue get lost in the nerve messages sent via neuronal activities? Doctor Spaulding’s only response to my queries was: “Miracles happen in the Medical field all the time, Jimmy, but take the medication I’ve prescribed to slow the tumor’s growth and we’ll keep a watchful eye. Other scans and tests were subsequently performed and diagnosed. The rendering was the same. The doctor said Heather should know, but I swore him to secrecy. This was my fight alone, and she was not to be part.

The nearer to the porch I walked, Heather’s beautiful smile and the love that shone in her eyes made me quake inside and the tears came again. I managed a smile to go with the tears but she saw the distress behind my quivering lips and ran down the steps to meet me.

“Oh, we lost Joey, Jimmy?” She wrapped her arms around me and was sure Joey was gone.

“No, no, sweetheart, Doc Laura is just keeping him over for some tests. Joey’s tough! He’ll be up and around in no time.”

As I talked she pulled back and eyed me carefully.

“Why are you crying, Jimmy? Tell me, please!”

“Ah, come on, I just saw you there and the moment got to me.  That’s all, honey, really. I’ve been gone for three hours and I missed you. Can’t I miss my wife?”

“Of course, you can – and, better, for that matter!” She smiled again, grabbed my arm and led me up the porch steps and into the house.

I was suddenly and unaccountably happy and unafraid of dying. Heather was with me! That was all that truly mattered to me. After all, dying is part of our living, a moment in time each of us must face. So, I pushed aside those moments of anxiety and weakness. I regaled in thoughts of all those moments yet left to me with Heather.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – July 30, 2018

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A Common Evil – A Bailey Crane Mystery #6

A Common Evil – A Bailey Crane Mystery 

(From the 6-book Series: Bailey Crane Mysteries)

A Common Evil is the last book in ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery’ Series, and, joining An Arizona Tragedy as bookends to the six, these two might be the most outrageously good reads of the series. Believe me, that is not to say the other books cannot stand proud among an unbelievable lineup of thrillers. All books in this series are inspired by true events except for book 3, The Brutus Gate – itself, with the thrills and subject matter, will keep the mystery buffs reading into the night.

 A Common Evil was inspired and written from some of my own experiences while president of the board of directors at a lovely resort on the Sea of Cortez. Of course, there are fictional elements in the story, but plenty of the narrative lends its words to actual events. The characters are built from real bone and flesh people. There was indeed a shootout at the resort in a pre-dawn raid by law enforcement officials and a cartel group renting one of the villas on the property. The snap-snap of gunfire was real. The dead bodies on the blood- soaked ground were real.

That shootout starts the book, and some believe it might have happened because of a letter I wrote to the Governor of Sonora about some culpable folks at the resort and after one of our administrative personnel was kidnapped for several days, beaten, found, hospitalized for a time and released back to the resort.

To experience the dazzling beauty of that resort, to enjoy the cobalt waters of the Sea of Cortez, to gather sea shells along the beach, and, as an ex-pat, witness some elements of a country I’ve loved for many years, made me heart-sick to leave and return to the United States. It was at the loving insistence of family that prompted us to leave that beautiful sea resort.

A Common Evil is particularly close to my heart. There is a haunting nostalgia for me connected with old Mexico. The people, beaten down by their history of cartels and mordida, are thankful for the American home owners in Mexico, are helpful in so many ways and their lined and toil-ridden faces show their story as plainly as any history text could lay out. I think the narrative of this book will bear that out.

Bailey’s wife Wendy is kidnapped! Bailey is fraught with agony and anger! Bailey acts, and it doesn’t seem to be the same Bailey…but, then, his wife is missing.

A Common Evil will keep you riveted with mystery and suspense. The ending is alone worth a read. Don’t miss this one!

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 29, 2018

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Murder in Pueblo del Mar

[This is my ‘Oops!’ – I scheduled this to go out last week. WordPress or I goofed: believe I’m safe in guessing it was ‘I’ who made the ‘goof’! A Mystery series with six books NEEDS to have six books, I always say! SO, here’s that fourth book that should have followed “The Brutus Gate” Book 3 last week…SORRY!}

“Murder in Pueblo del Mar”

Book 4 – ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series

Inspired by a vicious homicide in Mexico of a Phoenix, Arizona wife and mother, this fourth book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ 1-6 has all the characteristics the author gives to Bailey Crane, that is, Bailey’s criminal cases seem always to bring his penchant for musings and mind-wanderings of a special nature – a stranger that he finds exotic in a most unusual way, an event that brings thoughts of a yesterday, some moments that bring a nascent sadness. Love him, hate him, that’s Bailey Crane, wearing his heart like epaulets, sharing his thoughts while he stays true to the chase for the bad guys.

A Poenix wife and mother is slashed to death in a rental villa while on holiday in a small Mexican fishing village on the Sea of Cortez. Bailey Crane and Wendy are visiting long-time friends just around the bend of the old caliche road. These special friends of Bailey and Wendy figure prominently in this brutal murder case. There are the time-consuming battles between the United States and Mexico over jurisdiction, but that in-fighting does not stop the action on both sides of the border.

There is a ‘transsexual element’ in the authenic criminal case and it is also a riveting part of this fictional rendering. There are some sexual parts in the story but they are handled without livid details.

The heart of the case is of course this sensationally gruesome murder, but what makes it more compelling is the author’s connections with some of the characters in this story and the heartache he came to know from his close relationship… In the book, the author refers to close friends living just around the bend of the road from where the wife and mother was murdered. In truth, the couple were his father-in-law and his wife. They are now both gone, the wife no doubt from her vodka consumption, and the father-in-law from illness. The author would live for several years not far from that murder scene on the Sea of Cortez.

Hope you can read Murder in Pueblo del Mar,and, please, let me know what you think. YOU CAN FIND THIS BOOK AND OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES AT MY WEBSITE – https://billyraychitwood.com 

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 21, 2018

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Advice – Advice – Advice

Advice – Advice – Advice

By BR Chitwood

Guess it has come to this…me, making a total ass of myself. But the time comes for everyone to do just that.

What am I talking about?

Guessing again, but I suspect the title above gives some clue in answering that question.

Okay – let the record show I’m swallowing ‘hard’ because this post just might make me some enemies… However, that’s never stopped me if I put my mind to thinking about it.

‘Advice’? Let me put this ‘feeler’ out there!

Don’t you get just a bit tired of all the advice offered to you as writers? (Usually, with some fees coming with that advice!) How to this… How to that… How, how, how!

Don’t get me wrong. There are some good ‘advice channels’ out there in certain areas where you can solicit answers to gnawing questions. And, I’ll be honest here, living in ‘Twilight’, my take on ‘things’ is a bit different from some folks. But, don’t you really get tired of being blasted on the internet with all the advice – from ‘query letters’ to ‘formatting’ to ‘marketing’ (yuck! That hit a nerve!) to just about anything to do with writing.

 Here’s my advice – oops! Here’s what I think! (‘Hmmm… Getting sick of people telling us what they think’ can be fodder for yet another post’!)

At some point in our writing lives, we need to determine if we really can write. That is, do we have some simple fundamentals of the English Language – nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, the simple ability to form a sentence longer than, ‘See Rex run!’ Do we have a fertile mind to give us characters and plots? Have we read enough in our lives of the great authors to get a feel for style and substance? Do we have a burning desire to write? Has a teacher, college professor, someone we respect, suggested we might consider becoming a writer? After my play-periods in life and a career in sales and management, I reached back, pulled my college history professor’s suggestion out of the memory file, and started to write. Do we possess the tenacity to hone our skills, to do our critical self-due-diligence of our growth?

Perhaps the most important question to ask ourselves is, ‘Do we have the patience to be writers? That is, the book reviews of our first title are mixed – some good, some not so much! Can we get beyond that nasty review from some reader who got our book FREE? That first title is your initial foray into the world of book publishing, your first ‘baby’ – and, it got some abuse. We’re not happy! we’re second-guessing ourselves! Can we get over this hump? Those readers who panned our first title? Hey, they’re likely ‘bad’ readers – you know, they were given a ‘freebie’ and they’re all of a sudden experts and don’t have to worry because they’re also anonymous! Hey, again, if there are bad writers there are bad readers. It’s my belief, we can accept our writing mistakes and become good at our craft. ‘To err is human’! (Ouch, another platitude!)

Some of us fool ourselves into believing we are really the true ‘Hemingways’ and/or ‘Alcotts’ at this juncture of the long compendium of life, only eventually to accept our self-imposed dictum that, ‘Well, at least our kids might have some fun trying to decipher, ‘Wow! just who the dickens were Dad/Mom, anyhow’?

The most difficult reality to face in this self-publishing environment is the ‘humungus’ numbers of us out there in the world – millions upon millions, all competing for a spot on the ‘Best Seller’ lists. Along with that difficult reality is, yep, marketing, making sure as much as you can that you’ve provided the best routes for your writing to get noticed and bought.

Now, I’m fortunate in having people feed me enough BS that I think I’m the ‘cat’s meow’ (don’t you hate those bromides?), so I plod along. I’ve come to accept these most beautifully offered bits of praise as genuine and continue happily with my writing. You see, after a while, here in ‘Twilight’, I’m enjoying every one of my sunsets and telling anyone who’s interested that ‘writing is my therapy’, and, believe me, kids, at this age that word comes up a lot!

So, you’ve read these words. Consider them, NOT as advice but as one writer to another. If your answers to the above were pretty much in the positive light, stay on board with your writing and test as many waters as you can. Who truly knows?

‘The shadow knows’! (Shut-up, BR, no one but no one remembers ‘the shadow’!

Who to trust? NOT Dad and Mom! I suggest you Trust your siblings! They don’t like you anyhow!

Now, I had a lot of fun writing this post, and hope my stirring words did not cause anyone irritation. Just don’t label this post ‘advice’ because that would defeat its most beautiful purpose…

Can anyone advise me on a good ‘shrink’?

Write your blog posts and books with the jolly ‘God of Writing’ on your penning shoulder…and utilize the ‘God of Bacchus’ when necessary to keep a cool head. Just, don’t overdo it! like a guy in Texas I know!!!

 

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 24, 2018

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Moody Monday

Moody Monday

                    (A Song by Billy Ray Chitwood – Envisioned in ‘Soft Jazz’ – ¼ beat & melodious Sax! Repeat 3 times… THINK, Kenny G! Here’s to you! @kennyg)

Moody Monday!

Get out of town!

Moody Monday!

You got me down!

Mayday! Mayday!

Moody Monday!  

You see my frown?

Moody Monday!

You hear my sound?

Moody Monday!

Come on, Leave town!

Moody Monday!

Do it right now!

Moody Monday!

Moody Monday!

(Fade after 3 repetitions.)

A Jazz song by: Billy Ray Chitwood

July 23, 2018

(Okay, so I’m not a Jazz-man, but this is what I’ve been singing all Monday morning! )

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 Image:  ©Mike Monahan

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – #Book Review – The Contract by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I have recently read The Contract: Between Heaven and Earth by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano and here is my review.

About The Contract

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they…

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The Brutus Gate

The Brutus Gate

Okay, I’m a little ‘cute’ with the title, but they were the first words to pop into my mind. When the thug at the beginning of this ‘Bailey Crane’ romp was heard to utter these words, I knew it was to become my title for better or worse. Speaking of the beginning, that’s when the warehouse fire nearly consumes our Southern ‘muser’ and crime fighter supreme…take my word for it, it’s a beginning you will likely read again and again…he says hopefully.

The Brutus Gate is the third installment in ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series’ 1-6. The book has just about everything a ‘Crime Fiction’ devotee would want in a book PLUS some romantic moments. You heard right. There’s a big drug shipment due to arrive in the US from Mexico. The Phoenix Police Department’s aces, Bailey Crane, his most capable partner, Wendy, and the FBI are charged with stopping it.

What this great team of crimebusters encounter is political corruption, murder, rape, aforementioned drugs…and, they have to travel to Rome and go through the Brutus Gate…okay, I’m now being a little ‘too cute’. No Rome! No Brutus Gate! The attempt at comedy comes from being too serious all my life.

So, we have all these elements coming together in this fictional masterpiece (Stop it! Already!) – Okay, ‘in this very good novel’. With all the action taking place, you would think Bailey wouldn’t have time for musing and mumbling to himself and his alter ego. Think again! That’s his way of tapping into our subconscious and thinking about our yesterdays and tomorrows. Bailey is cursed with a mind that stores all of his mistakes, all his loves, and all the teenage pimples he had to a minor degree as a high schooler. However, I’ve got to say, I’ve known this guy for some time now, and I really like him – even when he sometimes has to remember he has a crime to solve.

My guess is most of you will find some ‘Baa-relief’ in Bailey, unless there are only two of you reading the book. Then, of course, that statement falls under the label of ‘nonsense’. Well, authors are only worth what their characters tend to put them through and Bailey Crane is an expert at playing with the mind.

The Brutus Gate after all my auditions for humor is a good book, if not in the range of thriller, it’s darn close!

Just saying!

Read it! Let me know what you think!

The next book up in the Series is Murder in Pueblo del Sol, a mystery inspired by an awful murder in Mexico of an American wife and mother. Actually, five of the six ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ are inspired by actual events.

Sure hope you read them all!

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 18, 2018

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A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery #5

A Soul Defiled – A Bailey Crane Mystery #5 

I wrote this installment of the ‘Bailey Crane Mysteries’ while living on the beautiful Sea of Cortez in Sonora State, Mexico in a most lovely resort Called ‘Bella Sirena’. Also, for a period of time, I was President of the Homeowners Association and needed to know the workings of the Mexican system of government and the peso. A Soul Defiled is not total reality but it does give an accurate sense of money transfers and some rather scary aspects of the well-publicized criminal activities.

The characters are my stereotypes, many of whom were built by my imagination and some from the good people who were responsible for care of resort owners’ condos and villas. There is one character in particular for whom I developed a love/hate relationship. You will be able to determine this person’s raison d’être and his Achilles Heel. It’s rather amazing how an author can create a character with all the ‘warts’ of criminality and a ‘distant heart’ that can feel and come to understand his life for what it is. It’s not my intention to be vague here, but I want you to ‘flesh out’ this character with me in the book! I just simply like this character despite what he represents.

A Soul Defiled stays true to Bailey Crane’s character, his rash observations and musings. In this episode he gets kidnapped twice, roughed up, and, in the end, finds himself as always questioning his judgements. Wendy is there with him, his loyal ‘sounding board’ and support system of love and provision.

The current ‘President of the Board’ of ‘Mar y Sol’ is a good friend of Bailey and Wendy. The ‘Treasurer of the Board’ has just been murdered, and the President of the Board enlists the help of Bailey – now a new resident at the resort. It is suspected that there is some sort of criminal operation at the resort.

This relatively short novel provides all the ingredients of a good read – business malfeasance, kidnapping, murder, and love.

Hope you put A Soul Defiled on your ‘Reading List’. It is a book you can easily enjoy at the beach, at the pool, and/or in the evening at your favorite reading spot.

Let me know what you think!

As always, My best wishes.

Billy Ray Chitwood – July 21, 2018

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Satan’s Song

Wherein Be Evil

Is the wolf’s wistful wail to the moon a siren of evil?

A stretch, no doubt, but Hollywood has made a lot of money with Lon Chaney and the Wolf-man…a full moon and a man turning into a werewolf.

Satan’s Song A Bailey Crane Mystery regrettably has no connection with Hollywood where millionaires are made overnight when their books are tailored into screenplays. Of course, I easily salivate with thoughts of that enticing proposition and welcome that ‘producer’s request’ to do just that with any of my books.

Well, that thought remains on a fading ‘wish list’!

Satan’s Song has the ‘evil’ and it has also inspiration from a true Arizona decapitation homicide. Like the first book in the ‘Bailey Crane Mystery Series’, An Arizona Tragedy, this title was also a ‘Cold Case’ for many years. Recently, Phoenix Police Department found their killer.

In my novel, the details of that long-ago murder of a young blond lady is fictionalized and turns into a case of serial murders. The suspense and surprise of Satan’s Song deals with the motive and psychotic mind of the killer. The murder spree of the killer includes young ladies in the states of Texas, Ohio, and California, plus a male victim in Pennsylvania.

Bailey Crane’s life undergoes changes as my hero’s personal life becomes complicated and must deal with some emotionally painful realities.

There is a strong ‘women presence’ particularly in this book, and, in truth, all six books of the Bailey Crane mystery series. Please, partake and enjoy!

Hope all your reads are enjoyable.

Billy Ray Chitwood – June 14, 2018

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