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What's NEW About It?

2022 hits like a freight train on fire. A good friend of mine posted something to that effect and I don't necessarily disagree. The last couple of years have come with their share of trials and tribulations. Every new year, I pick a word . . . something to live by over the next year. I've done it for almost twenty years . . . since before the "One Word" and "My One Word" books that made it trendy.


This year, that word for me is "ENDURE."


Endure through this prolonged virus that interrupts our world.

Endure through the divisions plaguing us as people draw lines in the sand based on principle over people.

And . . . positively . . . ENDURE to the release of At Fault on 4.14.22!

I know that third purpose of enduring for me may seem trivial in light of this chaotic world, but the creation of the series began more out of an emotion than a plot idea (which came later). I began creating this new five-book series out of a desire to see people come together over what they have in common rather than battle over the far less important things we don't share. So, in the midst of the ugliness, I'm hoping to bring a bit of light. Of course, these characters will have to go through some of their own darkness along the way, too.


Enjoy this little excerpt to kick off your new year and stick with me as we countdown to the 4.14.22 book release!


The first thing she noticed was how loud it was. With her eyes still closed, Linda listened to her surroundings: footsteps running back and forth, calls for supplies and other orders shouted between people across what must have been a massive room based on the echoes, beeping and buzzing and alarms of digital machines, the muffled sounds of zip choppers overhead outdoors, something wheeled by – squeaking as it passed on a hard floor. And then there were the voices of countless people, too many to distinguish, as a chorus under the soloists who pretended to be in control. The choir was crying, moaning, whispering, and begging. The noise was all blended together into a single symphonic soundtrack. It was the soundtrack to confusion. To chaos. To pain. To loss.

Linda awoke on an all-white bed in an all-white room surrounded by other beds squeezed so tightly together that, had she wanted to, she could have reached out and touched the man next to her. He was perfectly still. She turned her head to look at him, a tiny act that unexpectedly brought dizzying pain. She could not see his chest rising and falling. She squinted harder but nothing changed. Her eyes slowly traveled up to his face. His skin was yellow and gray, and his mouth was unmoving and slack with a tube hanging out of one foamy drool-covered corner of his parted and cracked bluish lips. A muted hissing was the only sound coming from the bed, the tube in his mouth blowing air that was no longer being breathed. No. She did not want to touch the man.

She wasn’t sure if it was her imagination or her reality that caused the smell to hit her at that moment. It was rot, but so much stronger than she’d ever experienced. It was an assault on her nose –vomit and feces and compost and something somehow even worse. Death, she thought. She knew in her soul that it was the scent of death. There was disinfectant, too, but its failed attempts at covering the other odors of decay made it just another complex layer to the air she didn’t want to be in, much less want inside of her lungs. She gagged and looked away from the empty body beside her.

It was the gagging that made Linda aware of her next unpleasant sensation. Her throat closed on something foreign. It felt hard and tight and scratchy. Her mouth and throat were dry. She looked down at herself as much as she could with her eyes, not wanting to repeat the pain of lifting or moving her head. She realized that there were tubes connected to her. She also had a digital core monitor closed over her torso. It took scans every minute or so, giving readouts of her heartrate, blood pressure, circulatory blockage, vitals, and general healing process.

Or, maybe dying process, she wondered as she tried not to think of the man beside her.

The monitor scanned across her body from right to left and back again, humming as it went and sending readouts to a screen at the foot of her bed. Linda realized that the beeping, buzzing, and alarms she’d heard had come from right here; above, and around, and attached to her body.

She hurt.

Everywhere.

She was groggy and sensed that she might hurt a whole lot more if whatever was making her feel groggy wasn’t being pumped into her system. Maybe it was pain and not sound that had awakened her. Throbbing began to return to her head, back, and abdomen. As if on cue, a mechanical arm moved over her face. Padded braces came up out of her bed and held her head in place while the mechanism angled in toward her jugular and, with a metal-tipped tube, pushed a painkiller into her neck.

After the small puff sound, and as the needle drew away from her, everything went black once more.


ENDURE . . . better is coming.

~JS

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