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indie writer

There’s a reason I keep writing no matter what speed my life may be running at on any given day. Words strung together in books have always given me the ability to dream of bigger things and even the courage to go out and try.
I’ve been blessed to have four books published, www.WallisJones.com and each time there have been plenty of readers who have said that I helped them let go of what no longer worked for them and dream, too.

We talk a lot about our purpose for being here in this life and yes, you can even do that with a thriller. Maybe even have a little fun. I’ve come to believe mine is to be of service in whatever ways I can figure out. So far, translating the common man’s dream into something worthwhile, something doable and something that’s even full of a little God-magic wrapped up in a page-turner has been mine. Not the big, change a country, build a corporation dreams. The smaller moments that stay in your heart.

It’s a message that I took in from the very start.

My first experiences with books and stories are three of the strongest memories I have as a child. The very first one was the first time I walked into a library, the Philadelphia library and found out they let you check out as many as you could carry, a parent’s rule, read them all and bring them back for more. My world opened up that day and I found out there were a thousand possibilities when it came to living a life.

The second has to be explained a little bit. We were so poor when I was growing up that my father talked a friend of his who worked at a local bank to lend him a hundred dollars so he could buy us a used black and white television. We screamed with delight when Dad brought the set home. So, when a Reading is Fundamental bookmobile came through our neighborhood and the driver told us we could pick out any new book and keep it, I felt like a little big of magic had settled over us that day. I took my time and tried to choose a book that I could read over and over again. I still have it and read it to my son when he was little.

The third memory is my brother, Jeff and myself when we taught ourselves to read, Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. We had the book read to us so many times we knew what part of the story went with what pictures and on our own figured out which words went with the sounds. That’s when I understood a secret about books. They have their own power to transform. They don’t know if you’re rich or poor, beautiful or an ugly duckling, a wealthy doctor or a poor cabdriver, and they don’t care. A book will take you on an adventure whenever you’re ready, regardless of how you see yourself and as a bonus may even change the definitions.

Books made it possible for me to envision a way to become someone I couldn’t even define yet. They gave me the faith to set out when I couldn’t find it anywhere else and the hope that somehow things would all work out.

I’ve seen it happen just often enough. A lost human being feels like they’re the only one who has ever felt this much pain. They don’t know how to reach out for help but then, inside of a story some writer concocted out of whole cloth they see every emotion or secret or hope-for happy ending that they’ve kept bottled up inside, acted out, and they start to believe – maybe there’s more to this world.
That’s why I keep writing and that’s why I’m so grateful for every writer out there who struggles to tell a good tale. It’s why I’ve started a series, The Wallis Jones Series so that I can get to know the characters better right along with the readers and keep on writing.

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Author Steve Piacente

Guest Post by Steve Piacente

Isabel took the paper and stared at the name for long seconds. I knew what she must be thinking. Marcus Ravoli, barely out of college. A scared kid who tossed a grenade at the enemy and killed my husband. “I gotta’ go,” said Bart Jefferson. “Please don’t try to contact me.”

“Hold on.” I read back through my notes. “What about this Sgt. Falk? What’s he about? Where is he now?”

“Falk’s still in-country, somewhere near Kabul, I think. He’s a lifer – never married, served in the first Gulf War, a hard-ass, but loves his Army.”

We stood and shook hands like businessmen. “Something might come up where I need to get to you, Bart.” I gave him my cell number and he said he’d get in touch in a week. Isabel stayed seated, her eyes wet, the paper still in her hand. “Good luck, Mrs. Moss,” he said, gently squeezing her shoulder. “I loved your husband. We all did.”

When he was gone, I said, “Quit crying on the paper; you’ll smudge the address.”

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She laughed and turned into me. She hugged me hard, arms slung around my neck, and I brought her closer and she started crying again, big, heaving sobs, and my damned shoulder started getting soggy and then we were drawing attention, so I whispered we should leave. She kissed me quick as we pulled apart and her lips were sad and sweet and I thought, how staggering that so much life would, could, start, end and begin again between the two kisses I received from such different girls at Mel’s Diner. I wondered whatever happened to Tanya Rodriguez. When I tried to tell Isabel what I was thinking and how small and inconsequential it all made me feel, I found she was amazingly composed. She pressed two fingers to my lips and said, “Shh. Wait. See what happens.”

Martha Note: Steve Piacente self-published Bella, and in 2011 was named one of “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” by The Authors Show. Steve is now deputy communications director at a federal agency in Washington, D.C., and teaches journalism classes at American University. Contact Steve at steve@getbella.com. Buy Bella now and read on!

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Author Steve Piacente

Guest Post by Steve Piacente

“And you’re saying a drone caught what happened to Hank, and that a tape of it exists.”

“That’s what I was told, sir.”

I slid forward. “Told? What are you saying? Either you know or you don’t. Have you seen it or not?” He hesitated.

“Bart?” Isabel said.

“I was told they have it. I haven’t seen it myself. I’m sure it exists, that it shows conclusively that — ”

“— You think you’re sure. Are you kidding?” I took his wrist, not realizing that under the hairy cover, it was the size of an average man’s ankle. He looked at my hand. Both of us knew he could crumble my five fingers like almond biscotti before I uttered another syllable.

I was too far in to stop. “You’re sure someone told you it exists, but you haven’t seen the tape. Therefore you’re not sure about anything. Unless you have a copy, that is. Do you have a copy of this alleged tape?”

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He brushed away my hand. “No,” he said. “I didn’t see the tape and I don’t have a copy. What I have is this — a name and an address.” He passed me a torn square of loose leaf paper. I looked at the name, written in a precise, steady hand with a black, fine-point. It meant nothing. The address was in Charleston, South Carolina.

“That’s the guy who threw the grenade. Marcus Ravoli. Went to the military college in Charleston.” Bart closed his eyes and moved a fork from thumb to pinky the way a cheerleader transfers a baton across her fingers. “Ravioli. We called him Ravioli. They cut him loose. Honorable discharge. Find him and he might tell you the truth. Do it fast; I hear Marcus’ not doing so great. None of us who were there are doing so great. That much I’m sure about, Mr. Patragno.”

Martha Note: Steve Piacente self-published Bella, and in 2011 was named one of “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” by The Authors Show. Steve is now deputy communications director at a federal agency in Washington, D.C., and teaches journalism classes at American University. Contact Steve at steve@getbella.com. Buy Bella now and read on!

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Author Steve Piacente

Guest Post by Steve Piacente

Isabel hadn’t said a word since we’d sat down in the booth opposite Bart Jefferson. She wore jeans and a pale orange polo that looked nice against her black hair. She’d spent the last few minutes with both hands wrapped tightly around her coffee cup. Now she looked directly at Bart. “Hank told me about drones once. UAV, for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.”

“Yes, ma’am. High-altitude, long-endurance. They give our field commanders near-real time streaming video of the theatre.”

“Good quality?”

“Yes sir, very high resolution.” So the video — the embodiment of modern warfare, more precise and conclusive than DNA — would clearly show Hank and the events leading to his death. “How big are these drones, like a kid’s radio-controlled plane?”

Bart looked at Isabel to see if I was kidding. She rolled her eyes, he chuckled, and the tension eased.

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“I know the specs,” he said. “I’m studying integrated and unmanned systems. Top to bottom, it’s about 14-and-a-half feet; wingspan, 116 feet; length, about 45 feet. Gross weight at take off: 26,000 pounds; maximum altitude, 65,000 feet or so. Not a kid’s toy, sir.”

“How long can they stay in the air?”

“About 35 hours.”

“So what we have is like a guy robbing a convenience store getting caught by the surveillance camera.”

Again his eyes went to Isabel. “Something like that, sir. Like I said, our drones fly at up to 65,000 feet. They send surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance info to our commanders on an area that measures 40,000 square miles. That’s a little bigger than your average 7-11. And it’s not a static camera.” Isabel smiled. “But you’re right,” he added quickly, “drones don’t pick and choose what they record. Everything that goes in gets sent back to command for analysis.”

Martha Note: Steve Piacente self-published Bella, and in 2011 was named one of “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” by The Authors Show. Steve is now deputy communications director at a federal agency in Washington, D.C., and teaches journalism classes at American University. Contact Steve at steve@getbella.com. Buy Bella now and read on!

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Author Steve Piacente

Guest Post by Steve Piacente

I counted four witnesses: Bart, his teammate Sanchez, who was still overseas, the soldier who threw the grenade, and Marlin Falk. When Bart Jefferson said Hank Moss was the most selfless man he’d met in the Army, that he wouldn’t ask his men to do anything he wouldn’t do, and that he spoke all the time about his wife and little girl, I reached for Isabel’s hand under the table. She pulled away and stared at the kid from outside Chicago until he began looking uncomfortable. I caught his eye. “Bart, I know it’s a longshot, but I thought there might be satellite imagery showing what happened that night.”

“Satellite photos. No sir, no way.”

“I know. They don’t zoom in that close, plus it was raining, and what would the odds be of — ”

“ — There is a tape, though.”

“A tape.” Bart scanned the diner, looking jumpy for the first time. His burger sat untouched. I could see a small patch of grease spreading on the plate. I’d probably eaten 200 of Mel’s burgers waiting for rides home when I was a kid or taking breaks when I helped out at our store. I took a wide angle look out the window and saw that Jim Dandy Cleaners was no more. The real estate company I’d sold it to when the folks died turned it into a cell phone store. Business was good; we never had a line of customers out the door, not even on Saturday mornings. Bart leaned toward us and said softly, “Streaming video shot by a drone.”

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A drone. I thought of Star Wars and tried to remember if the drone was the tall, chatty gold android or the squat, dome-topped thing with camera eyes and arms that reached to the ground. Military drone. I imagined a rolling, whistling, whirring, silver-plated robot with camera eyes in Army fatigues.

Martha Note: Steve Piacente self-published Bella, and in 2011 was named one of “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” by The Authors Show. Steve is now deputy communications director at a federal agency in Washington, D.C., and teaches journalism classes at American University. Contact Steve at steve@getbella.com. Buy Bella now and read on!

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