Thursday Thing – week 1

It’s a new year. Time for a new thing; a new direction; a new challenge.

Eight years ago, I decided to venture into the writing arena and soon discovered that I could achieve levels of mediocrity to which most people could never hope to aspire. Since then, I have self-published in excess of a dozen books. I wrote them for the sheer joy of it and with no promotion, marketing or external assistance whatever, they have made not a ripple in the great pond that is the body of global literature. They were never expected to. They are there on my Amazon author page if anyone wants to buy them. The link is in the sidebar.

For reasons that I may go into at a later date, I find it necessary to cut back on the time I spend trying to focus on screens and so shall reduce my output.

Until I started this journey in 2014 I had attempted no creative writing since probably my second year in grammar school, which was a while ago – 1962 to be precise. It was about the same time that I dropped art – compulsory only in the first year – and started concentrating on languages.

What better new project for 2023, then, than one of the visual arts?

Having painted nothing except the odd wall for more than six decades, the obvious craft that I should aspire to master is, of course, painting. More specifically, painting with acrylics. I do not possess the natural talents of a Warhol, Hockney or Lichtenstein or the laid-back coolness (or the skills) of the late Bob Ross. I do have limited space available to practise painting and limited cash for materials and tuition. After looking closely at several online resources, I came across The Art Sherpa and particularly her Beginner Acrylic Painting Course. It is described as a complete painting program designed to take you from never having painted before to creating art that you can be proud of. The course is completely free and teaches you the basics so that you will paint with success and confidence from your home based studio, regardless of whether it’s the kitchen table or a fully decked out art studio.

That’ll do me, I thought. So I started. It’s presented live on Facebook and YouTube, and is archived and permanently available via YouTube or on the dedicated website. I’m currently in the middle of the seven background (theory) lessons and should start on the first of the ten practical sessions next week.

I’ll let you know how I get on — maybe with scans of my disasters!

 

Guest Post – The Last Drive by John W. Howell #newbook

Today, I am delighted to welcome to KeithKreates one of my favourite authors and bloggers, and one of the most supportive people I know.

John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites and is here today to introduce his latest book, The Last Drive.

Over to you, John.

I am so pleased to be with you today, Keith. You and I have been doing the Tuesday Kreative Kue prompt for many years. I have to say I enjoy doing that photo prompt because it keeps the creative part of the brain active. Also, I find it fun to just let go and try to write something that no one would expect from looking at the photo. I have never met Lucifer (at least I don’t think so) and I’ll bet if I did, he would look nothing like I imagined. In this book he looks pretty normal.

Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.

The Blurb

In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey takes the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.

An Excerpt

James takes off his helmet and stares at it. “Oh my gosh. You’re so right. Look, I even have a rifle. What the heck are we doing out here? We should be in one of those trenches. That damn Lucifer has done it again.”

Sam whispers, “Yeah, I agree. But tell me this …?”

“What?”

Sam points. “Which trench? They both look the same. There’s no flag or anything.”

James stares in each direction. “We need to take time to look more carefully.” James glances at Sam. “Oh, you have a Red Cross armband. I’ll bet you’re a nurse or something. If we pick the wrong trench, at least—maybe—we can call on the convention of war that frowns on killing people wearing a red cross.”

“We’d better decide soon. The sun will be up, and with the light, someone will start shooting. We should go a couple of minutes ahead and disappear.”

James nods and reaches for Sam. They each close their eyes. He thinks them 60 seconds forward and opens his eyes. “I don’t think it worked.”

“Why not?”

“I didn’t feel any movement. Because Lucifer sent us here, our normal methods of protection don’t work.” James puts out his hand. “Okay, time for an executive decision. I see the sun coming up to our right. That means the west is to our left.”

Sam looks into the sun and shields her eyes. “Okay, but how does that help?”

“Ever hear of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front?’”

“Yeah, sure. It’s a book.”

“And a movie.”

“Please get to the point.”

James sighs. “The Western Front was called that because the allies were to the west and the Germans to the east. I’m betting the allied trench is to our left.”

Sam raises out of her crouch. “That makes sense. Let’s go.”

Sam and James stay low and move as best they can to the trench they chose. About a hundred yards away, someone challenges them. Relief hits James when the challenge comes in English. “We got separated from our company,” James calls out. “The Germans captured us, and we escaped.”

A Link to the Trailer

You Tube https://youtu.be/HEUninXiibI

Buy Links

The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.

Kindle https://mybook.to/FYmkKr

Paper https://mybook.to/BCsWV

Author Bio

John_Howell_Headshot 2

John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written Six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author links

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

Eternal Road Buy links

Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad

Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

Sunday Serialisation – Back Paige. Chapter twelve, part two.

At eighteen hours twenty, a proximity alarm sounded on the bridge of the Clive Pillmore. The sensors pointed to a number of objects having appeared less than ten kilometres off the port bow.

“Let’s take a look,” Ishmael said.

The large display showed the view from the port-side cameras. The view was clear. Suddenly, standing alongside there appeared a ship about half the length of C-pill. It was sleeker and had a more business-like, or at least meaner aspect. Looking like something from one of the more evil Star Trek empires it carried, seated on its upper surface between the missile bays and laser banks, six smaller craft that were as sleek as the infamous Nubian Royal Starship used by Queen Amidala of the Naboo [Hang on. Isn’t that the third of the cake-made ships mentioned in Chapter 3?].

“We’re being hailed,” the comm officer said.

“Acknowledge and display,” Andrea said.

Joan’s face appeared on the monitor. “Hiya, Andy. You are there? Can you unhide for me?”

Ishmael nodded as Andrea looked at him. He switched the ship’s SEP module to ‘visible’.

“Thanks, Andy. Merry says you’re expecting me.”

“Well, yes, I was. Kind of.”

“Kind of?”

“The admiral informed me yesterday, but I was on-planet when it came in and only saw it an hour ago. We are ready, though, if you wish to come aboard.”

“I’ll be on your pads in two.”

“How will you manage that? Our pads only link with Packway.”

“Pass-through. Packway will bounce my energy to you.”

“You trust that?”

“Why not?” She closed the link.

“Ishmael, send a welcome party to the pad bay, please.”

Five minutes later, the honour guard appeared, piped and escorted onto the bridge Rear Admiral Joan Weinberg and her ship’s master, Commodore Gertie Elliott.

“What do you think of her?” Joan asked Andrea.

“Looks good. Tell me about her.”

“She’s the latest iteration RX-class heavy cruiser, HMDSV King Charles V – we call her Chucky – and she’s accompanied by a squadron of six MX-class attack craft. All seven are QBE-equipped. It takes a lot of power to drive those things but, by golly, do they speed up operational decision-making.”

“So why exactly are you here?”

“Mostly for my engineers to fit some upgrades to C-pill. But, whilst we’re here, we can put Chucky through her paces and see what the new capabilities can really do.”

“New capabilities? What are you planning to destroy?”

“Nothing, Andy. Don’t worry. It’s the new scanners I want to try out. They’re supposed to be able to detect life up to five kilometres underground and up to twenty-five kilometres underwater. The deepest in the solar system is the Mariana Trench, but that only goes down to eleven kilometres. I’m hoping you’ve got something deeper here for us to look at.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. We haven’t been looking at the oceans, and we couldn’t even see the large population on land, because we couldn’t penetrate the forest canopy.”

“We saw a small population centre in the forest as soon as we arrived. Lily, our QBE, named after King Charles the fifth’s queen, Lilian, counted two hundred and thirteen thousand, eight hundred and forty seven by heat signature and life-sign. The forests are teeming with life, too; large and small.”

“I think I like your scanners.”

“We have upgrades for you,” Joan reassured her.

“Come with me, both of you,” Andrea said, “and you, Ishmael. There’s something I want to show you.”

They walked together to Andrea’s office. There, in a display cabinet on a table behind her desk, stood three large and exquisitely detailed tri-metal models: one was a scaled-down but uncannily accurate replica of the Clive Pillmore, one of the Sir Prijs and one of a ship that was sleeker than either of the others and carried, on its upper surface between the missile bays and laser banks, six smaller craft.

“Recognise anything?” Andrea asked.

“That’s Chucky!” Joan shouted excitedly.

“I have to say, she makes C-pill and Sir Prijs look positively antiquated.”

“They don’t need to be that sleek in space. It’s mainly to look like fighting craft. On a diplomatic mission, I’d rather turn up in C-pill any day, but it’d be comforting to know that Chucky and her entourage – KCV1 to 6 – were there in the background if I needed support.”

“So, Joan, what’s our timetable?”

“Team one will upgrade your AI. That should take a couple of days, maybe three if they hit any snags. That will also upgrade your pads, too, as they’re controlled by the AI. Team two will work on your sensors. Again, should be no more than a two-day job. Team three will look at your manufacturing capability and upgrade it to permit manufacture of more robust defensive armaments. You won’t need offensive capability; if our QBEs have instantaneous communication, we can be here within seconds if you need us. Maybe not Chucky, but certainly a team of support fighters which will be happy to submit to your QBE’s command.”

“That sounds good. What think you, Ishmael, from a tactical and engineering standpoint?”

“More than happy with that. As long as the aliens aren’t aware that we have offensive-capable company up here.”

“That’s a good point, Ishmael. Joan, I shall be bringing up a pair of visitors from the planet tomorrow. Can you and your entourage run invisible whilst they’re here?”

“We usually do, the same as you do; it’s the most efficient way to run the SEP. Any reason you particularly want us to now?”

“We are moving gently towards seeking to coexist with them on their planet…”

“Of course. That mission’s still on, isn’t it?”

“Do you know something I don’t, Joan?”

“I’ll brief you later. Flag grades only, I’m afraid.”

“Okay. But can you? Run invisible?”

“We probably won’t need to. I plan to spend two or three days on a sensor survey of the planet, using our new scanning capability. As you know, the normal SEP setting that absorbs light significantly reduces the range of the scanners. I’ll need at least a full day for the oceans alone, and to get maximum effect, I’ll need to be on the minimum SEP setting so I’ll start on the opposite side of the planet.”

“How will you know when it’s safe for you to move into our quadrant?”

“Your QBE will be able to tell Lily as soon as it’s active, and also whether your visitors have left.”