Monthly Archives: January 2016

Chapter reveal: The Day the Dollar Died, by Robert V Baynes

book cover (1)-1.jpgTitle: The Day the Dollar Died

Genre: Political/ Christian  Fiction

Author: Robert V Baynes

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ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a novel about an ordinary farmer who finds that his country is changing and it affects his own life. He loses more than he ever imagined and has to make some hard choices to save his family.

The main character is John Birch and he has a pretty good life. He has a great wife and children and is doing pretty well financially. He gets to do a job he loves and still spends time with his family. He finds that circumstances beyond his control change his world so that he ends up losing the financial security he worked so hard to build up. All he has left is his family and now he has to risk everything to try to save them from an ever growing government.

This book is very realistic and follows a line of thinking  that many find very logical and possibly inevitable.

Chapter 1 

The wind coming across the open field still had a bit of a bite to it. John was thankful that his 10-year-old John Deere tractor had a heated cab. This was the first day he had been able to start planting corn this spring and it was already the 24th of April. This past winter had been one of the coldest that he could remember. It seemed to take forever for the ground to warm up and dry out enough for him to start working the ground.

Hunger was starting to make his stomach growl, but he was hoping to get this 80-acre field done before he quit for the day. At 54 years of age, he was still lean and in good condition. With his salt and pepper hair and lean muscular frame, he was thought of as handsome by women 20 years younger than him. He also still had the appetite of a 24 year old.

This field had been in the Birch family for three generations. He had taken over the family farm when his dad decided to change vocations nearly 16 years ago. His dad never did have the love of farming that he had.

The original farm that he took over was 216 acres and he had added to it over the years. At this point he farmed nearly 440 acres, most of which he owned. He never considered himself a big farmer, but he got nervous about buying more farm ground once the price went over $5,000 an acre. Maybe some of the really big farmers knew what they were doing buying ground at nearly $10,000 an acre, but he didn’t have the confidence that it would pay off.

The faint sound of a car horn interrupted his thoughts. As he looked toward the road, he could see Anna’s car parked on the side. He had just turned the tractor and planter at the end of the field and would be down there in a few minutes.

He knew His wonderful wife of 33 years would have supper ready for him when he got to the end. He was so lucky to have her! They had been high school sweethearts and they got married when he was twenty-one. She was a year younger than him, but she looked more like 33 than 53. She had auburn colored hair and though she dressed modestly, she could still turn quite a few heads.

After stopping the tractor near the road, he climbed down from the cab. She rolled down the window and hollered, “Hey, good-looking, do you have time to stop long enough for a bite to eat?”

“Boy am I glad to see you!” he exclaimed. As he climbed into the passenger side of the car, he could smell the warm food. Anna pulled out the covered dishes. Anna was one of the best cooks in the area and the aroma of her meatloaf was making his mouth water.

As he took his first bite, Anna asked, “So how’s it going so far?”

“Mphf, prett goo so fer,” He mumbled as he scarfed down his supper.

“Tommy called today.” At 19, Tommy was their youngest son. He was in college working on his teaching degree.  “I asked him if he had met anyone he would consider dating, but he just doesn’t seem very interested in that right now.”

“Well don’t rush him,” John replied. “He’s got plenty of time. He’s certainly not a confirmed bachelor yet. The good Lord will bring the right girl along when it is time.”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Will you be very late tonight?” Anna asked.

“Well, I want to get this field finished tonight. I figure it will take about 3 more hours. Then I’d better get started pretty early tomorrow morning. They’re calling for rain Thursday, so I need to get as much as I can done before then.”

“By the way,” he continued, “Will the kids be coming over Sunday?” He never tired of seeing his grandkids.

“They said they would be able to make it. Tommy may have to leave early to get back to school, he hates to make the 2 hour drive late at night.”

_________

 

John managed to get 210-acres planted before the rain hit late Thursday morning. He spent the rest of the week working on one of his tractors that he used for cultivating. Ever since he went organic, he had to cultivate more.

He decided to go completely organic about 12 years ago. It made it harder to find non-GMO seeds and he had to travel a little farther to take his crops to market, but he got a better price for them. Besides, he felt better about growing things more naturally.

Another downside of organic farming was that he had more government inspections than before. Sometimes, he longed for the days his grandfather told him about, when farmers just farmed the way they saw best and then sold their crops for the highest price they could get.

A few years back, he had a couple hundred head of cattle also, but he sold most of those when the price of cattle got low and feed prices were too high to make it worth his while. Now he just kept a few head to butcher for their own use. He usually split them with his kids.

He had been hauling manure most of his life, but a few years ago, the government decided that farmers should take classes and have to get license to be able to spread manure.  That seemed like a little too much regulation to him. He had also heard that the EPA was toying with the idea of regulating dust that farmers created.

With the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies, he was getting tired of all of the regulations and extra paper work he had to do just to satisfy some bureaucrat somewhere. After all, it is not likely that anyone in the government knew as much about farming as he did.

The crunch of tires on stone interrupted his thoughts. He decided to step out of the shop to see who was here. Visitors out here in the country were fairly rare.

He didn’t recognize the pickup truck, but when a dark haired guy got out wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, he recognized him as a farmer he had met a couple of times.

“Hello Jim, what brings you over here on a rainy day?” John asked. Jim Rush lived about 3 miles away from John. Though he was nearly 20 years younger than John, he farmed nearly twice as much ground. John had heard that Jim was willing to take more risks in some of his business dealings than most people.

“John, do you have a minute? I’d like to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, come on in to the shop, and we can talk there.” John held the door and motioned for Jim to have a seat on a stool near the window.

“So what brings you over here? Anything I can do for you?”  John asked.

“Well,” Jim began, “It’s a long story, but I’m planning on selling out and I was wondering if you’d be interested in buying my tractor I bought 2 years ago. If we don’t have to go through a dealer, I’d be willing to sell it for the same price a dealer would give me for it.”

“What gives, Jim? Are you tired of farming, or don’t you want to talk about it?”

“Well it’s kind of a long story, but if you really want to know, I could give it to you in a nutshell.”

John replied, “I’m just about done putting my tractor back together, so I’ve got time.”

“John, even though we go to different churches, I know from what I have seen and heard about you, that you are a Christian, so you might understand where I am coming from. I believe that it is time for me and my family to leave this country. I have 3 young children at home and I don’t want them to grow up here with what I see coming.”

“Now wait a second Jim, I’m not real happy with a lot of things that are going on here either, but this is one of the greatest countries that has ever been. There are still a lot of good people here. Don’t you think that leaving the country is a little extreme?”

“I’ve thought about it long and hard for over a year now. I’ve looked at the options and I don’t think I’ve got any other choice. I don’t think our national debt is a solvable problem and I don’t think many of those in power want to solve it. I also think the dollar is very shaky and it could fall drastically if anything happens to destabilize it.”

“On top of that,” Jim continued, “I think God has allowed us to have the leaders we have today to bring judgment to America. I think we have turned our back on God too many times and I don’t see any sign of repentance in this country.”

“I think before long we will have a major financial crisis and I believe we will see martial law here. At that time, I believe the government will begin nationalizing the farms and other property. I honestly believe that things will get worse from there.”

“I’m sure you think I’m probably crazy right now, but I have to protect my family, and this is the only way I can do that.”

“Wow,” John said, “That is a pretty big nutshell! I’m not sure what to say. I can see some of the problems you’re seeing, but I can’t imagine it could get that bad that soon. Not here with the constitution we have. But, I guess that is up to you. Where would you go that things would be better?”

“I’ve looked at a lot of places, but there are a couple of countries in South America that look pretty good. I will probably go down and check them out to see what seems best. I will definitely do a lot of praying about it.”

“Jim, if you are sure about this, I have thought about buying a new tractor but I hated to pay the prices they want for the new ones. I would be interested in looking at yours. Here’s my email address, if you do leave would you let me know how it is going for you?”

“Sure John, I’d be glad to. Not trying to talk you out of buying my tractor, but give what I said some thought. I’d hate to see good people caught in the disaster I believe is coming.”

As Jim left, John was lost in thought about what Jim had said. He knew Jim was a risk taker, but everything he had heard about Jim was that he was stable and pretty smart. Could there be something to what Jim was saying?

He heard the dinner bell ringing, so he headed to the house. As he was washing up for dinner, Anna asked, “Who was that you were talking to in the shop?”

“Oh that was Jim Rush. He lives over on County Rd 300.”

“What was he over here for? Seems like an odd time to come for a visit.”

As John sat down at the kitchen table he replied, “He wanted to know if I wanted to buy his tractor.”

“Well why doesn’t he trade it in on a new one if he needs one?” Anna asked.

John paused, “He’s thinking about selling out and moving.” Then John proceeded to relate to Anna everything he and Jim had talked about.

Afterward John said, “I don’t know if he’s crazy or not. It seems kind of radical to me. I’m not sure why, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch.”

“Well, he might be saner than the rest of us,” Anna replied. “He does make sense in some of his logic.”

“So do you want to leave the country too?” John asked.

“No, I could never leave the kids and grandkids.” Anna said.

 

Categories: Christian Fiction, Political Thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter reveal: The Flying Dragon, by Georges Ugeux

9781480818569_COVER.inddTitle:  THE FLYING DRAGON

Genre:  THRILLER/SUSPENSE

Author:  Georges Ugeux

Website: http://www.georgesugeux.com

Publisher:  Archway Books

Find out more on Amazon

About the Book: 

Celebrated non-fiction author Georges Ugeux delivers an intense, imaginative and intriguing financial thriller in his debut novel, The Flying Dragon.  Set against the backdrop of the high-energy, high-tension world of global finance, The Flying Dragon plunges readers deep into a world where power, greed, money, and passion can intersect in a most dangerous way.

The Flying Dragon introduces protagonist Victoria Leung, a beautiful, brilliant, fearless, and highly accomplished financial fraud investigator.  Responsible for taking down Sun Hung Kai Properties’ Kwok Brothers, a real estate empire, Victoria not only established herself as a formidable talent, but earned the nickname “The Flying Dragon” in the process. When she leaves the fraud department of the Hong Kong Police, Victoria accepts a position as a senior detective at Pegasus, an international security firm based in London.  The Pegasus job affords Victoria much-needed freedom, but that calm is shattered when Victoria receives an urgent message from her close friend Diana Yu. It seems Diana’s ex- boyfriend Henry Chang is in danger.  Henry’s co-worker, Bertrand Wilmington, head of the derivative trading desk of a global bank, has fallen from a window of the twenty-second floor trading room.The Hong Kong Police Force quickly concludes that the death was a suicide, but is there more to this story than meets the eye? Henry Chang thinks so—and knows that if anyone can find answers, it’s Victoria, the Flying Dragon herself. Hong Kong and Mainland authorities are unsuccessful in cracking the case, but Victoria uses her expertise to discover key clues. And Victoria, a dogged, tough, tenacious investigator, won’t back down until she gets answers. As she races to piece together the puzzle of what really happened, Victoria is swept up in a world of danger, deception, and deadly consequences.   Can she extricate herself from this perilous web of arrogance, power, money and greed? Will she expose the corruption and bring down a financial giant?  Or will time run out? The clock is ticking….

Chapter 1 

The crowd around the Hong Kong Arts Center seemed happy as they streamed out of the concert by talented Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. They enthusiastically shared their impressions about her beauty, musicality, and talent. Some of the patrons had seen videos of Yuja Wang playing Chopin at the age of six. Victoria Leung was so in sync with the music she had played tonight: Schubert’s impromptus. She also felt so close to the pianist, who commanded the keyboard and seemed on the verge of tears when the third impromptu moved from lightness to depth and passion. At twenty-seven, Yuja Wang was one of the best-known pianists of her generation and now lived in the United States. She had the same drive, intensity, and grace as Victoria herself.

The Center’s superb architecture had always given Victoria pleasure. It was modern without ostentation, and its acoustics were close to perfect. Over the years, classical music had increasingly been a source of inspiration in the Chinese world, and the public was ecstatic. For a Chinese pianist to reach this level of excellence and artistry was a source of pride.

Since she had left the financial fraud department of the Hong Kong Police Force, Victoria Leung had enjoyed the freedom attached to her new status of senior detective at Pegasus, an international firm headquartered in London. She intended to fully enjoy this period of her life. Having a family was not on her agenda. Like most thirty-six-year-old women, though, she was starting to give it some thought. Her biological clock inexorably ticked. She knew it. But at the same time, she didn’t know what to do about that reality.

Victoria was an assertive and attractive young woman well aware of the impact she had on the male-dominated financial world of Greater China. She had initially faced difficulty demonstrating her leadership and competence, partly because of her good looks, femininity, and youth. She had learned to turn these qualities into assets that she used subtly and wisely. While she remained vulnerable to some aggressive behavior from male colleagues, she knew how to garner respect. Her body was slim and strong; she exercised regularly. She liked having the freedom to wear dresses and skirts rather than a police uniform. But what struck everybody who met her was the power of her demeanor and her smile, which revealed her complexity.

 

++++

 

Wearing a short red dress, Victoria drank her green tea as she peered through the glass of her office windows into the Hong Kong morning: Kowloon Bay on one side and the old British Empire buildings and parks at the center of Hong Kong on the other.  The traffic was penetrating and created an impression of energy and intensity. Hong Kong was not a city for the fainthearted.  Victoria was an early bird, and relished the atmosphere of the office before anybody else was in. She was in control and serene.

Victoria looked down at the document on her desk:

Henry Chang is in danger. I urgently need to meet you. Meet me at 9:00 a.m. at the Mandarin Oriental for coffee.  I desperately need your help. —Diana Y. 

Victoria was stunned. For Diana Yu to send such a dramatic message was unusual.  Henry Chang was Diana’s former lover until he broke it off and publicly humiliated her. Now, Diana was asking Victoria to help the bastard. It didn’t add up. Did Diana still have feelings for him? Victoria hoped not, but it was the only explanation that made sense.

She sighed. If it had been Chang asking, Victoria would have said no. But Diana was a dear friend. If she was willing to swallow her pride and ask for help, then the least Victoria could do was find out why.

Diana Yu and Victoria had started together at the Hong Kong Police Force. Soon after, Henry Chang became Diana’s boyfriend. While she had given the relationship all she had, she was never sure whether Henry was playing or being earnest. Unexpectedly, after they had dated for a year, he dropped her for a Hong Kong socialite, Helena Lee. He then became head of the fixed-income department of the Bank of Hong Kong and Shanghai, or BHS.

The breakup had been particularly painful for Diana since Henry had been cruel enough to do it publicly at a 2012 New Year’s party.

Diana was now reaching out through a confidential police cable; whatever had happened to Henry must have been fairly dramatic. The Wan Chai Police headquarters was close to Hong Kong Central and near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

 

 

Categories: Mystery, Thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter reveal: Karma’s a Killer, by Tracy Weber

Title: KARMA’S A KILLER

Genre: Mystery

Author: Tracy Weber

Website: www.tracyweberauthor.com

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

A fun, fresh, feisty new mystery featuring Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her trusty canine companion Bella, Karma’s a Killer is a taut tale with more twists and turns than a vinyasa yoga class.   In this charming, clever and utterly captivating cozy mystery, Kate Davidson discovers that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like om. 
When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems… The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.   And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with the estranged mother who abandoned her over thirty years ago.  Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?

CHAPTER 5

The shouts that drowned out Maggie’s words were impassioned, if a little misguided.

“Break down the cages!”

“Close the dog warehouses!”

“Animal ownership is slavery!”

Over twenty people, all wearing black shirts with orange flame insignias, cut a swath across the grass, waving picket signs and yelling at top volume.

Two teenage girls held onto opposite ends of a banner that read “Humans for Ethical Animal Treatment. Turn up the HEAT!”

Raven—the younger woman I’d seen arguing behind the paddle boats earlier—marched next to them holding a sign in one hand and a leash attached to the neck of a handsome, thirtyish, olive-skinned man in the other. Eduardo, I assumed. I shaded my eyes with my hand and examined the object of the two women’s confrontation.

Even from a distance, I could understand his appeal. With broad shoulders, deep cocoa eyes, and wavy black hair that curled under his ear lobes, this man would easily make more than one woman’s heart go atwitter. His one glaring fault was the sandpaper-thick layer of dark stubble covering the lower half of his face. No amount of shaving would keep that beard-in-the-making under control. Even thinking about it made my skin itch.

His dark leather jacket and matching motorcycle boots contrasted hypocritically with the sign that he carried: “Animals Are Sentient Beings, Not Possessions!” His face wore a trapped, agonized expression, though that might have been part of the show.

I scanned the area behind him, looking for Dharma and Goth Girl. I didn’t see either.

The dog walkers stopped talking, stared at the ruckus, and scowled. No one seemed to be having fun anymore, which was probably the protestor’s intention. A short, rail-thin young woman stomped away from the picket line, knocked a hot dog out of a child’s hand, and yelled, “Meat is murder!”

Michael pulled out his cell phone. “That’s it. I’m calling the police.”

Maggie closed her eyes and sighed. “I can’t believe she’s actually going through with this.”

“You know one of them?” I asked

She shuddered, but her eyes never left the protesters. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. Sally, take Mrs. Abernathy to the pet first aid tent and …”

Her voice trailed off. She glanced left and right. “Where on earth did Sally go?”

The Bunny Lady wrinkled her nose, ill humor back in full force. “Sally left a few minutes ago, which is exactly what I should have done. You obviously don’t have control over this fiasco.” She slipped the rabbit into her bag and stomped several feet away before turning back to spit out two final sentences. “Don’t bother cashing that check I gave you earlier. I’m putting a stop payment on it as soon as I get home!”

Maggie cradled her face in her hands. “Can this day get any worse?”

She shouldn’t have asked.

The words barely escaped her lips when Dale’s head jerked up. “Do you smell that?”

I did. I would have recognized that smell anywhere. Gasoline.

I heard a loud swoosh, punctuated by a louder explosion. New, significantly more frightening, words rang out across the field.

“Fire! Somebody help! The garbage cans are on fire!”

Dale’s face turned as white as his beard.

“Oh no! The goats!”

Michael and Maggie ran toward the registration desk, while Dale, Bandit, and I tore off to the petting area. Picketers and dog walkers scattered in every direction.

By the time we rounded the corner, the fire was already spreading. Hot yellow flames licked from the recycle bins to the loose hay surrounding the petting area. Within seconds, the entire line of straw bales had ignited, creating a flaming, Hades-like fence.

The teenage volunteers had already rushed the children outside the fenced area, but the goats were still trapped, huddled together in the corner farthest away from the fire. Michael skidded to a stop behind me and blasted the straw bales with an extinguisher, but the fire was spreading too fast. He may as well have been spraying the Towering Inferno with a garden hose.

Dale tossed Bandit’s leash to a gawker. The blond volunteer held the gate open while his brother, Dale, and I scrambled inside. Michael kept spraying the extinguisher, holding the flames back as best he could.

The goats refused to move.

“Force them to the entrance,” Dale yelled.

I channeled my inner Goth Girl, waved my arms, and yelled. “Go you stupid goats! Run! Get out of here!”

The three of us screamed and clapped and pushed and stomped, until the terrified animals bolted from the enclosure and charged into the park, straight past the onlookers, who were too transfixed by the flames to do anything but watch.

Dale gathered the final fear-frozen spotted kid in his arms and carried it away from the flames. Sirens wailed in the distance.

“Get the truck,” he said to the blond teen. He handed the baby goat to the other.

It seemed like a century passed, but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before firemen started dousing the area with cold water. Dale kept a watchful eye on his skittish herd, huddled several hundred feet away. A few people broke off from the crowd and tried to approach them. “Stay back!” Dale yelled. “Just block them from the road. And for lands sake, don’t chase them.”

Michael came up behind us. “Shouldn’t we try to round them up somehow?”

Dale’s expression was grim. “They’re too riled up. Give them a few minutes to calm down. They’ll come to me.” His voice didn’t sound confident.

The blond teen drove a livestock truck onto the field and parked. He jumped out of the cab, opened the back, and pulled down a wide ramp. Dale grabbed a metal pail from inside and filled it with grain from a five-gallon bucket.

“Hope this works,” he muttered.

Categories: Mystery, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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