Make something every day.


Seth Godin sent me to my blog! So here I am!

“My work is to figure out how to share emotions and stories with people to turn lights on for them. And the part of it that scares me is wasting the privilege, wasting the leverage, wasting the opportunity. So that’s why I keep pioneering and pushing new ways to do it encouraging people to copy me.”

“After you innovate, you have to keep pushing forward, coming up with new ways to move things forward.”

Writer’s block is a myth. Being a professional is showing up everyday and making something despite how you feel. The world needs more artists, who love what they do, and do it despite uncertain outcomes.”

Whoever fails the most, wins. Now if you fail too big, you don’t get to play anymore. So we have to learn how to fail, just the right amount to keep on going. Make small calculated risks so you can be in the game long enough to succeed.”

“If I come to your barbershop for a haircut. I don’t care if you had a fight with your girlfriend and don’t feel like cutting my hair. I came to you for a haircut. Cut. My. Hair. That’s what it means to be a professional.”

I think I’ve given you a few key notes to think about. Sometimes I’m asked questions on Quora about writing. Often times it centers around story ideas or writers’ block, or ‘what should I write?’ The reality is if it’s your job to write, don’t talk about it, write something! And don’t waste your readers time. If my reader expects to learn something or be entertained on my page, then it’s my job to deliver that to you/him/her each and every time. No excuses. The same when I write a novel or a non-fiction book. You are trusting me to deliver what you are paying for…entertainment or ideas and knowledge. 

It’s become a habit that even when I am working on the marketing and sales of my books, I will not go to bed without writing something. It might be a blog like this or a few fun things on FaceBook, but if time is limited, I go on Quora and answer questions. A writer writes. No excuses. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed a few ideas I picked up on You Tube today. I love to share with my readers and will answer anything and everything you throw my way. If you have any questions about any of my areas of expertise, feel free to send me an email or drop a note in the comments. And remember, I spend far too much time on Facebook so feel free to connect with me there and get my latest news. 

And speaking of news: I have a free prequel for you. 

Drop by Amazon and download a free copy of Luke Raven and Code Raven, how this exciting and fun series began. 

https://amzn.to/2QuCgnf

CODE RAVEN PREQUEL free!   

https://amzn.to/2QuCgnf

Should an author put all her Book-Eggs in one online basket?

Lynda Filler Author 

Yikes, this weekend saw so many authors with books that dropped out of the Amazon system. I experienced half of my novels directly “not available for sale,” or they disappeared altogether. I don’t know what happened, but apparently, it was a technical issue. If I lost sales for 3 days, can you imagine what this international glitch cost the company in lost revenue?

But, after all that, I finally got SHOOT ME up and running, linked with the paperback and the ebook on pre-order. But the question remains, should an author put all her book eggs in one online basket? I don’t know. The top authors are not too upfront about this specific issue. Are the other online retailers responsible for a large percentage of sales? Or do they represent single digit percentages?

Read any book you want for free?

Yes, at the moment, I’m a total Amazon groupie–loving the fact that half my revenue comes from readers who have Kindle Unlimited and read my books for free–and I still get paid! Check it out!

Readers’ Favorite Best in Contemporary Fiction 2018

In Lie to Me, an exposé on sex for money  I introduced you to Layla an American writer who has an insatiable curiosity about the men in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico who sell their bodies to vacationing women. Yes, it is as interesting as it sounds. Who wouldn’t want to know how a male prostitute feels about his life and the clients he services.

Tomorrow I head for Miami, Florida to receive the 2018 Bronze Award for Contemporary Fiction Social Issues for Lie to Me. I will be posting from the Miami Book Fair, and the Readers’ Favorite Awards show. It should be so much fun. A wonderful side benefit will be the interaction with fellow authors that I only know online.

I’m also excited for my new release book 2 in the series, SHOOT ME, on pre-order for .99 cents this week!

 Purchase NEW RELEASE  $.99 CENTS

Layla wakes up one morning to an empty bed in steamy Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 
She drowns herself in wine, espresso, and pot but nothing seems to dull the ache of losing Mateo. A change of scenery in the trendy city of Guadalajara might be the answer.

Insert Pablo, a hot young fashion photographer.
Add forty-something writer Layla, her pink stilettos and her insatiable appetite for hot young men.
Complicate things with Omar, a musician, and a one-night-stand.
Enter Mish a University student who is relegated to the friend zone in Layla’s life. But will he stay there?
Then invite the cartel boss’ son to a private opening of the fashion photographer Pablo’s latest erotic exhibit.
A bomb goes off, and the action goes into overdrive.

If you love sexual-tension, and a complex series of titillating and exciting twists and turns, you will want to read Shoot Me. 
Layla is a woman with a heart who keeps searching for love in all the wrong places.
Will she finally find it?   

BUY SHOOT ME on Amazon

How do you do that thing you do so well?

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It’s a common question asked by those who want to write a novel. I hear this all the time on Quora. Where do you begin? How? Where do you get your ideas? Do you plot? Do you ‘wing-it?’ How do you do that thing you do–so well?

Let’s talk about my latest release, SILK ROAD Code Raven 6. It’s a great example of my personal writing process and may help you to get started on yours!

It starts with a word. I asked a friend, fellow author, to give me a country. In this case, it was Kyrgyzstan–a country that had no meaning to me. If you’re familiar with the Code Raven Series, you would know that not only do I love my characters and develop them further with each story, but I also love to take them to different countries around the globe to get into–and out of–trouble!

In my research about Kyrgyzstan, I came across the history of how this country was once a part of the Soviet Union. I already had a rough idea of the Russia/Asia part of the world but didn’t know much about the terrain. If you are anything like me, once you go on the world-wide-web, one search turns into another, and another, and before you know it, you’re off on a tangent for no particular reason. In my case, my interest was piqued by the crime lords who moved in to fill the void of a legitimate government. Corruption of all types runs rampant in this predominately Muslim country.

At this point, I became intrigued by the historical implications of this centuries-old area and the original Silk Road–the trading route moving through Asia from the East to the West.

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Without giving away the plot, let’s just say that I became intrigued by the human condition and in particular how turmoil and greed affect women and children around the globe.

HERE’S MY PROCESS:

  1. Out comes the excel spreadsheet. 
  2. Usually, I reprint the Characters names across the top of the sheet so I don’t mix up attributes, history, or activities, timelines, etc. This is important when writing a series. You would work the same way as you introduce new characters in your novel even if it’s a stand-alone book. I also used this process on my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On
  3. Chapters numbers down the left side column.
  4. Next column a key phrase to summarize what will happen in that chapter.
  5. The next column will give more detail, possibly a paragraph of key events.
  6. In the planning stages, I might color code the chapters. If it’s fiction and action, I might color code an action event RED, something that moves the plot along in YELLOW, and a relatively soft aspect, emotional, resting chapter might be soft green. This way you can make sure you don’t lose your reader by dropping the pace. Inevitably all my reviewers say this series is ‘fast-paced.’ You want that when writing a mystery. Otherwise, your fans will get bored and put your book down! We want them to read it in “one sitting!”
  7. The chapters continue down the page until the end.

Why a spreadsheet?

I use this concept if I’m writing Action/Adventure/Mystery or Contemporary Romance or Non-fiction like my memoir. Why?

  1. It’s easy to cut-and-paste therefore changing the sequence of events, or slotting in a new chapter!
  2. You can see the entire story in one place. 
  3. The spreadsheet allows you to edit the events along the way inserting, expanding where you find your plot to be weak.

My process is always fluid. I never set a rigid plot.

Sometimes I start with one idea and watch the following events move down the page. The thoughts, ideas I have may never make it to the final story. But here’s the key: one idea leads to another, and another, and another. And my story starts to take shape from that original one word. Example:

Silk Road. Trade. Smuggling. The new Rail service from the coast of China all the way to London, England! Think about the potential here. Imagine all the events that could happen along the way! And that’s how the story moved along. And then I found activities in the Maldives that I decided to connect. And one of my main characters, Zach was summoned to Washington DC by the frightening pleas from a SEAL friend he served with in his Afghanistan/Bin Laden days.

Here’s a couple of teasers so you get a feel for the final story:

A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

“They stole my baby Daddy! They’ve got my boy!” Will a team of ex-SEALs break US law to exact revenge?

A teenager is abducted in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

A new Silk Road train stretches from the eastern shores of Yiwu China to London, England. Its precious cargo is not what’s written on the manifest.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these horrific events linked?

If I’ve peaked your interest and you want a great read, written in the style of Lee Childs, David Baldacci, or Clive Cussler, get your copy on Amazon: Silk Road

 

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Lynda Filler Amazon Books 

Lynda Filler on Goodreads

Follow Lynda Filler on Facebook

 

Books! Thoughts, cells and science.

 

If I’m not writing, I’m reading, or watching NETFLIX or videos on Amazon. I love to learn new things about our bodies, how our minds work, culture, and other countries. This year I seem to be fixated on India, the Middle and the Far East and will be traveling there next year.

I might be reading the latest in the top 10 in Mystery, or watch a video recently recommended by a friend from India like this stunning musical message.

This made my heart sing.

 

Or the wise and quite stunning information revealed in the Medical Secrets from Dr. B M Hegde. His theories are not new to me as this is how I healed my physical heart, and wrote to tell the story about it in LOVE, The Beat Goes On.

Love front with quotes

 

And all this beauty and enlightenment takes us places we have never been. Maybe it spurs the desire to travel to far-away places. Or read about the world, and gain a better understanding of the Universe. I wrote down two titles that Dr. Hegde recommended and have started to read the following one.

All of this made me think about the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program! When you think about it, one month’s membership. $9.99, pays for one book! Everything else you read is free! I love it as an author also because I know I have dedicated readers: they win by not paying every time they want to indulge in their passion to read, and I gain a new reader too!

Here’s the book I recently began reading from Dr. Hegde’s suggestions. 

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This 10th-anniversary edition of Bruce Lipton’s best-selling book The Biology of Belief has been updated to bolster the book’s central premise with the latest scientific discoveries—and there have been a lot in the last decade. The Biology of Belief is a groundbreaking work in the field of new biology. Former medical school professor and research scientist Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., presents his experiments, and those of other leading-edge scientists, which examine in great detail the mechanisms by which cells receive and process information. The implications of this research radically change our understanding of life, showing that genes and DNA do not control our biology; instead, DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts. This profoundly hopeful synthesis of the latest and best research in cell biology and quantum physics has been hailed as a major breakthrough, showing that our bodies can be changed as we retrain our thinking.

And why not read it for free?

Join Kindle Unlimited and you can download any of my titles for free!

 

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Enjoy, and don’t forget to sign on to my News Letter and received notice of New Releases, FREE books, and so much more!

Thanks for following me!

New Pre-order $.99 cents! Crazy, I know!

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A former Navy SEAL gets a terrifying message from his estranged daughter in Washington, DC. “I’m desperate! I need your help, Dad. Bring your friends!”

A teenager is forcefully taken in Kyrgyzstan. Has she become one of many kidnapped brides? Or is something far more frightening going on? The corrupt authorities ignore the parents’ pleas for help.

When two young children are abducted in the middle of the night from Raven’s sanctuary in the Maldives, Luci, Luke, and the Raven Group will stop at nothing to get them back.

Are all these events connected?

BUY THIS NEW RELEASE ON AMAZON

SILK ROAD Kindle/e-book Link 

SILK ROAD Paperback Link

 

ABOUT LYNDA FILLER and the writing of Silk Road. 

Writing a novel is like dating and relationships. You start in wonder and amazement at the magnificent gift (a book idea!) life has given you. The first weeks are exciting (plotting), sometimes frustrating as you try to blend personalities (character development), likes, and dislikes. As you continue, something beautiful (the real story) begins to emerge. Yes, there are surprises (plot twists!!) that drive you crazy or in my case, give me a shiver at the sheer magic of the process! And inevitable little quirks (new, unexpected characters pop up!!)

Life is a journey with many twists and turns. And so is this process that authors go through when we write. I’ve got a vivid imagination and I love to tell stories. I write Mystery, Adventure, Action, Contemporary Fiction and Romance, and I’ve also written a memoir.

Code Raven is my magnificent obsession. The Code Raven Series is based on the lives of a few unforgettable individuals who have served their country with bravery and honor and have lost their lives because of their unwavering beliefs. I chose to honor them by creating acts of incredible selflessness, patriotism, and heart-pounding action in my stories. If YOU are listening from wherever Warriors end up in the after-life, I hope you are enjoying the antics of Luci, Raven, Zach, George, RB, Maggs, Lorena, and now Himanish.

We killed a lot of bad guys in this series. We’ve hunted down terrorists in the Middle East, dealt a blow to ISIS, and the Drug Cartels in Mexico and South America, stopped the abduction of a beauty queen, prevented cyber-heists from China, dropped bodies off 50-story-towers in Shanghai, rescued a kidnapped British-Arab female journalist in Dubai and prevented deadly usage of WMD designed in the USA. We even solved the world-wide refugee crisis in Displaced.

Every time I add to this series, I believe it’s the best Code Raven story ever! But this one is truly special. And as in personal relationships, we always say “But THIS time, this ONE, is the best! 

I love to interact with my readers. We banter regularly on Facebook. I have an Author page but the Facebook personal page is where you get the real scoop! I also hang out on Twitter. And BookBub will keep you posted on New Releases. You never know what I’ll post over there! And I’d love you to follow me here. I will send you my newsletter, if you sign up, and a few freebies will make their way to your inbox.

Thanks for stopping by! If this is your first Code Raven book, it can be read alone. I added a glossary with an overview of the main characters just for you!

 

Here’s what readers have to say about the Code Raven Series.

If you like Lee Child, David Baldacci, and James Patterson, you will enjoy this wild ride with billionaire patriot, Luke Raven, and the Raven Series.

“Get In, Sit Down, and Read like there is no tomorrow. You will not be sorry.” E. Wojdyla

“What an action-packed page-turner! XPOSED is a suspenseful thriller that leaves you wanting more. It was fast-paced, and anxiety filled book!” Amazon Reviewer

“I am absolutely loving these books, I’m worn out because I feel like I’m working as hard as they are to save the US. Luke Raven is got to be one of my favorite lead characters ever, and actually, I’m loving all of them. I’m feeling a little bad for Zach and hope that something happens in the next book to make him smile a bit more.” Kirschersmiles

“I’m hooked on this series and can’t wait to see what will happen next. I love the strong heroes and heroines that help make our world safe. If you like thrillers and spy books this is the series for you!” S. Barnaby

 

Everything you love about Amazon. For your business.

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In case you missed this:

 

What is Amazon Business?

 

Amazon Business is changing the way companies buy supplies. For most small businesses, buying supplies can be time-consuming and frustrating. Finding the best product at the best price with the most convenient payment terms can be a challenge, especially when they have other tasks that need to be completed. Amazon Business is the solution and brings big benefits to businesses of all sizes and industries.

How does Amazon Business work?

Amazon Business is a business-to-business marketplace that combines selection, convenience and the value customers around the world have come to know and love from Amazon.com, with additional business-specific features including bulk pricing, Pay by Invoice*, downloadable invoices and spend management tools.
In this marketplace, multiple sellers compete for your business orders. It’s like a “reverse auction” where customers save time, money and hassle in the process.
Choice, value, and convenience: Amazon Business simplifies the entire purchasing process for businesses by helping them find, compare and order exactly what they need with fast, reliable shipping and flexible payment options. It’s a shopping experience Amazon customers will instantly recognize and understand. Plus, it includes features that are especially helpful for business buyers. Helpful purchasing tools: Amazon Business gives users access to helpful purchasing controls that can ensure that only authorized purchases are made, together with tools to integrate with their existing purchasing system and provide detailed purchasing analytics.

Free accounts: Unlike warehouse clubs or subscription-based online retailers, Amazon Business accounts are free, even for companies with multiple authorized purchasers.  Once registered, those with accounts are able to search hundreds of millions of products in the Amazon Business inventory, where multiple sellers can compete for their business.

*Subject to satisfactory credit checks and credit limit

 

12 Books Every Man Should Read

Reblog from CRISTIAN MIHAI

Whether sexual in nature, or books that deal on subjects such as family, history, or the relationship between men and women, these are must-read books for any man, true treasures of information when it comes to a man’s place in today’s society.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Gabriel García Márquez

It is almost impossible to read this short novel and not be moved by the life of G.G. Marquez’s main character. An old man wishing to feel alive, wishing to spend his 90th birthday in the company of a virgin woman, so full of life. How many have found love at a young age? How many have located it at 90? How many lived to be 90 years of age?

The day the old man meets his love, that’s when all fear of dying is obliterated. The simple act of contemplating a naked woman, without any sexual desires being involved, that’s what some of us might call love. Real love.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores need to be read at least once. Maybe more than once.

Two of Us
Alberto Moravia

Released in 1971, Alberto Moravia’s novel is all about the cold war between a man and the lack of performance of his organ. So to speak. Yes, this might shock the faint of heart, but this novel deals on subjects that are all too relevant in today’s world. A lack of self-worth, the idea of finding one’s physical appearance disgusting, the obsessive nature of man.

 

The 120 Days of Sodom
Marquis de Sade

 

The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage, was written by the Marquis in 37 days while imprisoned in the Bastille.  Considered the most perverse book ever written, a true encyclopedia of sexual excesses, a long time thought to be lost, it was finally published in 1904.

It is worth reading by those who believe that love-making is repetitive in nature, that one cannot imagine new pleasures (depends on how you defined them) into existence.

 

Emmanuelle
Emanuelle Arsan

 

Eroticism as a concept, as a code, as ceremony, as art, as science.

“No one is born anything. One must learn. Our way of becoming men, of mutating into men, is to reject our ignorance and our myths, like a hermit crab casting off its old shell, and don the truth like a new garment. Thus we can be indefinitely born and reborn. With each ‘abrupt mutation,’ we’ll be more human and we’ll remake our world to suit out pleasure better. ‘Learning’ is learning to enjoy. Ovid already said it, as you’ll recall: ‘Ignoti nulla cupido!’” (you cannot desire what you do not know), Nihil volitum nisi praecognitum (Nothing is wanted that was not previously known.)”

As Oscar Wilde said, everything in life is about sex. Except for sex. Sex is about power.

 

Dangerous Liaisons
Choderlos de Laclos

 

Published just years before the French Revolution, Dangerous Liaisons is a novel of moral and emotional depravity is a disturbing and ultimately damning portrayal of a decadent society. The Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two rivals (and ex-lovers) use seduction as a weapon to socially control and exploit others, all the while enjoying their cruel games and boasting about their manipulative talents. Merteuil challenges Valmont to seduce an innocent convent girl, all the while being occupied with the conquest of a virtuous married woman. Eventually, their human pawns respond, and the consequences prove to be more serious–and deadly–than the players could have ever predicted.

Often compared with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Dangerous Liaisons has been adapted a number of times.

Sexus
Henry Miller

 

Or read some other of his novels. Tropic of Cancer or something. But you must read something by Henry Miller, if only to be dumbfounded as to how someone can be so pornographic, have such a disgusting way of describing certain depravities and such pitying views when it comes to certain characters, yet you cannot stop reading.

It is shocking, yet you must read more.

A brilliant writer, one of the most influential writers of the last century, Henry Miller deserves the most to be on this list.

Women
Charles Bukowski

 

“I was sentimental about many things: a woman’s shoes under the bed; one hairpin left behind on the dresser; the way they said, ‘I’m going to pee.’ hair ribbons; walking down the boulevard with them at 1:30 in the afternoon, just two people walking together; the long nights of drinking and smoking; talking; the arguments; thinking of suicide; eating together and feeling good; the jokes; the laughter out of nowhere; feeling miracles in the air; being in a parked car together; comparing past loves at 3am; being told you snore; hearing her snore; mothers, daughters, sons, cats, dogs; sometimes death and sometimes divorce; but always carrying on, always seeing it through; reading a newspaper alone in a sandwich joint and feeling nausea because she’s now married to a dentist with an I.Q. of 95; racetracks, parks, park picnics; even jails; her dull friends; your dull friends; your drinking, her dancing; your flirting, her flirting; her pills, your fucking on the side and her doing the same; sleeping together” 

Writing fanfiction is against the law. Should fanfiction authors be held to account for their copyright violations?

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I visited Quora tonight to answer this question. I think my answer will surprise the readers and should generate plenty of comments in the next 24 hours. Especially since 99.9% will disagree with me.

Here it is!

Now I have an entirely different response to this question. The premise of the question is debatable according to the agreements I signed with Amazon and JET author Russell Blake.

In 2015 Amazon Kindle Worlds went into contract with RB of the USA Today Best Selling series JET, to produce and pay the original author a portion of the proceeds for fan fiction. I was one of the first authors invited to write into his world. He and I were both paid for every novella that was sold in his “JET World.” It turned out to be a great opportunity for me. I piggy-backed off his exciting character and created my own world around his main heroine.

This year KW was dissolved. We have no idea why. All rights to my characters and stories were mine to keep. At first, I panicked, but I was ready to take my ‘world’ out of the closet and create my own lead character who has blended perfectly with my series. Code Raven, the prequel debuted less than two weeks ago and is already in the top 100 of Amazon shorts alongside James Rollins, Lee Childs, Tami Hoag, and Stephen King!

So this success, although not yet in the same class as E L James, is on its way thanks to the foresight of Amazon to jump on the fanfic bandwagon and pay both the author and the fan/writer.

You can pick up a copy on AMAZON for $.99 cents. Thanks!

 

CODE_RAVEN

Would you leave witness protection …

 

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Excerpt from VANISHED in the Sun   

Chapter 3

Werthers18L03in@lrzzz.com

Every day Mia and I say thanks for everything you have done for us. You saved our lives, and we will never forget you. You found a safe place for us, and it’s very peaceful and fun here. Sunny weather like Mexico, tourists too, so nobody pays much attention to us. I think Mia’s happy.

I walked down the cobblestone streets to the ocean late in the evening last night. Someone followed me, but when I turned around it was only a young boy of seven, maybe eight. I think he was hungry. So, I stopped and sat on a bench and invited the boy to share Orelletes. These are lemon cookies with lots of sugar. Mia loves sweets, and they are the first things she learned to make in this paradise.

He had no shoes, and his eyes were so sad. I’m sure he lives on the streets. He wouldn’t speak to me, but he took the cookies. I’m going to find out if the orphanage can help him. I know he will be back looking for me. I remember what it was like to live on the streets of Zihuatenejo when I was six.

It’s good that you are letting me email you.

Yes, Mia knows we chat, and she is not jealous!

 Lucia’s iPad mini was encrypted. Without the correct password and process, no one could read the emails Carlos, or anyone for that matter sent to her. Raven had set her encryption up when he and his team became involved in the rescue and subsequent disappearance of Carlos and Mia.

She treasured the connection she’d formed with Carlos over the years. And as part of her journey, she was re-reading many of the emails Carlos had sent her over the last few months and some of the personal ones Mia had posted so many years ago.

Everything shifted in her personal life when she received that first email from Mia. Rescuing Carlos and Mia had been the beginning of the end of her career as an FBI agent.   She remembered that very first email like it was yesterday.

Mia; Puerto Vallarta. February 2012

 There is a great sadness surrounding my friend Carlos. I have known him for a few years now. I love him in ways I cannot explain, even to myself.

Once we became physically and emotionally involved, I knew he needed to tell his story. I asked him to try to write it down. He thinks he is telling his story to me. But I believe that in writing down his feelings, he might find peace and start to heal from his horrifying journey.

Anyways, what I think is not essential. This is about Carlos.

I am sending you my journals also, including our emails to each other.

This is very emotional for me. You will read many things between the lines. Most of them will be accurate.

He helped me save my life. So, I want to help him keep his.

I live by the philosophy that there are no accidents in life. If there are past lives, as some people believe, then this is the continuation of that life for Carlos and me.

Be patient with him and please try to understand. He is a beautiful person. He has spent a lifetime suppressing his feelings.

Stephen King, a favorite author of mine, once said that a story is like a fossil hidden in the ground waiting to be unearthed. Sometimes you dig with a shovel. Sometimes you search with a tiny brush. It’s taken me years to sift through his story and his life.

I have changed many names to protect Carlos. He does not yet realize the repercussions of his narrative. He is in many ways innocent and in other ways an old soul. I know you will find that hard to believe as you read about his life. Is it possible that I am the naive one here?

In any case, this is a story of love, of violence, of death and the sickness that afflicts our society today.

I hope you can find it in your heart to help us.

Lucia looked down on Sin City. The pilot turned on the seatbelt sign and announced the approach to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

Landing was smooth and easy. Yet, her heart was racing. She grabbed her carry on and slipped quickly off the plane. People walked with purpose, the excitement of dreams of big wins buzzed in the air. She walked past several vending machines, listened to the ding of slot machines, and grabbed a package of caramel Werthers to feed her insatiable sweet tooth.

The headlines on the daily news rags touted the war on terror, the war on drugs and speculation on the presidential campaigns, all of which were ultimately tied together if the world were ready for the truth. But these problems were no longer her life. She was formally retired and happy to say goodbye the stress of living in the USA. She’d earned her freedom. And she’d given up a husband to terrorism, and a police officer father caught in drug war crossfire in Texas. It was enough. Time to make a clean break and go home.

The limos stood in line awaiting those that lived to gamble and those that gambled to live. Lucia’s life had also been a gamble, but cards, dice, and horses didn’t do it for her. She walked half a block and slid into the first available cab.

“The Bellagio.”

“You must be from NYC.” The taxi driver smiled into the rear-view mirror.

“Why?”

“It’s the no-frills, let’s move it attitude. I’m from there too.” Like the Brooklyn accent and the Yankees cap wasn’t a dead giveaway.

“Really? Wow.” Lucia yawned and popped another Werthers into her mouth.

“Yep. Retired here fifteen years ago. The missus and I married forty-two years, five kids, and eleven grandkids. Took an early buyout from the telephone company. We don’t miss the cold for one minute.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“Yep, and a good thing too.”

“What’s a good thing?” Lucia sighed.

“The buyout. After me, the company eliminated jobs, cut back. You know, cell phones took over. Hardly anyone has a home phone anymore. Companies merged. Yeah, if I’d hung in there, I might have lost my pension altogether. You? What do you do?”

“I work for one of those cell phone companies.”

“Oh,” hardly a pause. “Here for a convention?”

“No. Just a quick trip to see a friend.”

“Uh huh. What’s your poison?”

“Poison?”

“Yeah. Cards, craps, roulette, slots. What game do you give your money to?”

Lucia laughed. “I like poker.”

“Really, I would have said blackjack.”

Lucia returned to her cell phone and feigned interest, scrolling with intensity. She was small-talked out. She closed her eyes and pretended to nod off.

Chapter 4

“Welcome to the Bellagio!” A young stud, working as a doorman, no doubt able to procure anything your heart desired, attempted to help Lucia with her bag.

“No thanks. I’ve got it.” Lucia paid the driver, nodded her thanks and exited the cab. The doorman had already moved on.

She moved along with the crowds, pulled out the straps on her carry on and hoisted the bag onto her back.

For the next fifteen minutes, she blended in with the oohing and aahing tourists, mesmerized by CélineDion show tunes and the thousand dancing water fountains in front of the hotel. As the music culminated in a romantic 460 dance into the air, she slipped away without a backward glance.

She took a quick right down on Las Vegas Boulevard and dropped her old cellphone into a garbage bin wrapped in photos of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère. She continued walking towards the Cosmopolitan Hotel then stood in line for the taxis.

She entered the next available cab. “The convention center please.”

Ten minutes later, she walked into the FED Ex on Hughes Center Drive.

“Parcel for Mary Lou Jones.” She handed over a business card made last week in NYC.

The senior citizen desk clerk returned from the back of the store with a large bulky envelope.

“Sign here.”

Lucia stuffed the envelope in her bag. She exited the FED Ex store, turned right, and walked seven minutes to the Fashion Show Mall.

Twenty minutes later she had a new cell phone with prepaid minutes, a skin-tight black t-shirt, a pair of black GAP distressed jeans, a jean jacket, a baseball cap and sunglasses. She paid cash.

She undressed in the east end washrooms by the food court and folded her old clothes into the new plastic GAP bag. She casually stuffed the bag through a bin set up for donations for the homeless located near the food court.

She took a quick food break trying to decide between a salad and tacos.

“You only live once.” She smiled at the young Hispanic chica behind the counter. She added a diet Coke, and potato chips to her order of carne asada with chili and guacamole. She found a lone table in the mass of orange plastic chairs filled with hordes of ravenous mostly overweight people.

Back to the garish tile wall, she was afforded as much privacy as she needed to nonchalantly open her brown envelope and study its contents.

A driver’s license with her photo in the name of Margaret DeSantos, and a Visa credit card matched four business cards. She peered into a secondary envelope but did not pull anything out. Inside, she could see a Mexican passport in the name of Luce Garcia Espinoza and a Bancomer Visa. She checked out a driver’s license from Mexico City, Distrito Federal in the same name. Then placed it back in the package. The pictures were recent. She’d emailed them from a private server set up by Raven. The new black Raven iPhone, no doubt carrying hidden features, was a bonus.

She knocked off her tacos, drank her diet Coke, and put the chips in her pack. After a quick online search on the burner phone she’d bought, she made a call.

Lucia smiled to herself. Talk about a seduction. Top-secret servers, ability to issue passports, driver’s licenses and set up credit cards, definitely got her juices flowing. And of course, she now knew that Israel used Raven to secure the transfer of Mia and Carlos out of the country to witness protection. It was the only way they could be totally safe until all the arrests had been made in the Diaz cartel family.

She moved the DeSantos Visa and driver’s license into her jacket pocket, cleaned up her trash, tossed a Werthers into her mouth, and strode to the mall exit.

A lone chubby security guard admired the hot woman with the long black hair and formfitting black jeans as she moved through the revolving doors out into the lights of nighttime Las Vegas Blvd.

 


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