Tag Archives: young adult fiction

Man with the Golden Falcons

The next Gems young adult spy novel is coming out tomorrow and I’m so excited! This will be number four in the series and here’s a sneak peak at the first chapter…

Chapter 1

Emma Rothchild peered through the high-powered binoculars at four armed terrorists guarding the entrance to a small Namibian village with circular huts and thatched roofs. Three out of the four wore some sort of headscarf while the fourth terrorist wore a Yankees baseball cap. Emma didn’t care much for the hat. Not that she didn’t love the Yankees, because she was still a New York City girl at heart. However, that Yankees cap didn’t belong on the head of some dirt-bag who kidnapped young women and assaulted them because they had the nerve to want an education.

“May I see?” Miyuki’s sweet voice asked.

Miyuki Kaiko wore sunglasses as her straight dark hair flapped in the desert wind. Her normally pink-tinted skin had a slight orange burn. The rubber wheels of the Yamaha motorcycle she sat on were half buried in the hot sand.

Emma gave her friend the binoculars, then checked her own face in the dune buggy’s side mirror. Her creamy white skin was baked orange as well. Even with a gallon of sunblock, the desert sun was still brutal on a girl’s skin. At least her blond hair didn’t look too bad, although it was probably dry as heck now.

“If you can distract them, I should be able to race inside for a little mischief,” Miyuki said with a hopeful grin.

Emma shook off her personal appearance and studied her target instead. The terrorist-held village was tucked under a high cliff that overlooked the South Atlantic Ocean. Any ships passing by would easily miss the village. Something the terrorists had obviously thought of when they took over the village and ran off all the people. Emma noted a barbed-wire fence that protected the perimeter of the village.

“I wish there were a ramp on the outside so I could jump the fence like Evel Knievel!” Miyuki said.

“Who?”

“Evel Knievel! He jumped all kinds of things with his motorbike. One time, he jumped over a row of thirty school busses.”

“Why did he do that?”

“Because it’s fun!”

Emma ignored her friend’s enthusiasm and listened to the nerves poking at her stomach. Personally, she wasn’t looking forward to this part of the operation. Driving a dune buggy in the desert wasn’t a problem—there were fewer things to hit out here as opposed to a city street—no, the problem was the creating-a-diversion part. If Emma didn’t get close enough to the terrorists, then her diversion wouldn’t work, and her friends would be trapped inside that village forever. And getting close meant Emma would be close enough to get shot.

But those men wouldn’t shoot a pretty blonde girl in a dune buggy, would they? Not if she acted friendly. Emma found that most guys would loosen up when she smiled at them.

“Are you ready?” Miyuki asked.

Emma took in a deep breath. She reached for the sand goggles hanging around her neck and placed them over her eyes. “No, but let’s do it anyway.”

“Okey dokey. I’ll wait for you.” Miyuki jumped on the starter and the Yamaha roared to life. She put on her helmet and slipped on a face mask with a pipe attached to a slim oxygen tank on the bike.

Emma started the dune buggy and put it in gear. Lately, Nadia had been teaching Emma how to drive a stick, and so far Emma had the basics down. Well, kinda. At least she didn’t stall the car most of the time by letting the clutch out too early. Emma concentrated as she eased her foot off the clutch and squeezed the gas pedal. The engine revved and the transmission engaged…throwing the buggy backward.

“Damn it.”

Emma hit the brakes. Wrong gear.

Miyuki watched her through those scary-looking black goggles, probably wondering why Emma couldn’t get her crap together.

“I got it. Don’t worry,” Emma said as she found first gear and the dune buggy went forward through the sand.

As she cleared the second dune, Emma knew the terrorists at the front gate had now spotted her. She was committed. Emma put her foot to the floor and let the buggy bounce along the sand like a happy dog playing in the snow. When Emma was about five hundred feet away, she turned the wheel and did a few donuts, kicking up sand and letting the wind carry it into the air. She then eased her dune buggy back on course towards the checkpoint.

Emma noticed the men gripping their weapons as they spread out into defensive positions.

At two hundred yards, she waved at them and smiled.

They aimed their weapons at her.

Her heart beat faster than the dune buggy’s pistons. This was a terrible idea. Olivia’s grand plan was about to get her shot. But the actress inside Emma was still in character. She was portraying a fun-loving girl out for a joyride, and that girl wanted the whole world to have fun too. Her character would say, What terrorist camp? That girl only saw some local people standing around a fence, and she wanted to brighten their day.

Emma yanked the wheel hard to the left and did a few more donuts, causing the sand to kick up and surround her dune buggy before she braked to a stop. She allowed the sand in the air to clear before she climbed out of her buggy.

The men had their weapons drawn, but Emma could read their faces from here. They weren’t sure what they were looking at.

Emma slipped off her goggles and waved at them again. “Hi! I didn’t mean to disrupt your large family get-together. I’m only passing through. I’m sure having fun in your desert. My family and I are from Texas—the Lone Star State. Y’all have a lovely country. It’s so sandy.”

Emma felt her character would be from Texas. Maybe her daddy had hit it big in oil and gas a long time ago and invested it in real estate. Anyway, Emma went with that and her thick Texas accent.

The three men with head scarfs all checked with the man in the Yankees hat. That man lowered his rifle.

“You’re American?” he asked in decent English.

“Well, I’m a Texan. But basically, yeah.” Emma rubbed the sand off her legs and readjusted her tank top. The other men were shouldering their weapons. A few cracked some grins. Yes, they were all getting a better look at her. So far they didn’t look too alarmed. “Do you mind if I play around in your large sandbox out here? If I’m disrupting anything, you just let me know, and I’ll go elsewhere.”

The man with the Yankees cap walked toward the buggy. “Come here.”

Emma played stupid. “What’s that, sugar?”

“Come. Let us speak with you.” The man with the Yankees hat was getting closer. His eyes wandered down her legs and stayed a little too long on her tank top.

A shiver went down Emma’s spine. Her body was telling her to run. Her eyes were noticing a pistol strapped to the man’s side as well as the rifle hung over his shoulder. If she let him, he would grab her and drag her into the compound to do God knows what

Emma swallowed her fear. She needed to act. “My daddy warned me about talking to strange men in the middle of the desert.”

The man in the hat gestured for her to approach him.

Emma backed away. “It’s nice for y’all to invite me to lunch, but I have other places to visit, so I’ll just be on my way.” Emma hopped back into the dune buggy. As her hands touched the steering wheel—the muzzle of a pistol pressed against her cheek.

The man with Yankees cap was not smiling now. “You…come with us.”

Emma knew she would mess this all up. Now these men would kidnap her too.

Olivia would be pissed.

A motor revved in the distance.

The man took his attention off Emma as he glanced over at the dunes.

Emma seized the opportunity. She slapped his arm to the side and fell back on the passenger seat while twisting her body towards the threat. Then she used both legs to drill the man in the face with her sneakers.

Emma jumped on the clutch, shoved the stick into first, and feathered the gas pedal, coaxing the dune buggy forward. As the men were breaking out their rifles again, Emma spun the dune buggy in circles, kicking up the sand around her to obscure their vision. She then pointed the dune buggy away from them as she felt around in the back seat and took out a gas mask.

She slipped it over her mouth, turned on the oxygen, then pointed the dune buggy towards the checkpoint. The men were struggling to see through the sand, but they fired anyway. Emma’s windshield exploded.

Emma ducked down and turned the wheel hard to the right, making more circles in the sand. But this time she clicked a switch on the buggy’s dashboard, which unleashed a plume of gas that blew out of a third tailpipe. The wind carried this gas toward the checkpoint, making the men cough and cover their mouths.

Wearing a gas mask over her face, Miyuki raced her motorcycle towards the checkpoint. All four guards were passed out. Miyuki stopped her bike to pull open the large wooden gate.

Emma put the dune buggy in gear and gunned it through the front gate while Miyuki followed her inside the camp.

Buy it now on Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Brainstorming A Gems Novel

Hello from Oklahoma.

I hope you and your family are doing well. Here in my state, some places are beginning to open up from the virus lock down. Normally I’m an optimist but I’ve decided to keep my own self-distancing habits up for a while as well as wearing a mask in public settings. Let’s hope things get back to a “new normal” later this year. Now, let’s switch gears and talk about something fun!

At the beginning of this month, I began brainstorming a new Gems novel. The way I start that process is by asking myself some questions. Which Gems character will this book focus on? What will the book reveal about them that a reader doesn’t already know? I might ask myself where will this new adventure take place? I like picking locations that I’d love to visit one day. This makes researching fun. How about a foot chase along the great wall of China? Or a motorcycle pursuit through the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii?

Hey, that sounds awesome! *writes down idea feverishly in a notebook*

Where was I? Oh yes…

Next, I decide what kind of novel it will be. It could be a standalone adventure with some character development thrown in. Or maybe another Venomous vs. The Authority confrontation. There could also be an interesting story element or subplot that started in another book that I could expand and explore in a new book.

After that, the real brainstorming begins. What’s the Gems mission? What do they have to do? What horrible tasks can I create that will force the main character to do things they don’t want to do? Soon I place these tasks into a three-act structure like you see in the movies. In the first act we find out what the Gems have to do. In the second act they begin their adventure and encounter tasks and obstacles that are in their way. The third act is the fun act. That act will always have some huge mountain to climb in terms of a character’s task. It will be the most dangerous. Most dramatic. And hopefully the most exciting part of the book in terms of bringing all the story and character elements together to make a great ending.

When I’ve brainstormed all those various elements, I now have a road map for the next part of my process–which is the actual chapter-by-chapter outline of the novel itself. But I’ll tell you more about that in another email.

What would you like to see in the next Gems novel? More spy gizmos? More action? More kissing with car chases and explosions? Reply and let me know in the comments below.

Stay safe and all the best,

Doug

The Last Book

Blog Header Champions Now Available

I’m so excited to announce that Champions is finally out! This is the final book of the Skid series and I’m so happy its long journey has finally come to an end. I’ve enjoyed writing this series and have learned many things along the way that have made me a better writer. But I’m now going to focus on other book projects that I’ll hope you’ll like.

By the way…the eBook is now 40% off list price during launch week. After that it goes back up to its normal price so now is the perfect time to buy yours.

For all eBook versions click here.

Paperback versions… Barnes & Noble   Amazon

Have a wonderful weekend,

Doug

Coming September 9th

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So happy to announce on the blog that Champions, the final book in the Skid young adult racing romance series, will be coming out soon! Below is a quick synopsis of the new book and a sneak peak of the first chapter!


Is her spirit finally broken?

Nineteen-year-old Samantha Sutton has risen to become one of the top drivers in Formula One, but that was before a horrible accident burned her face and broke her spirit. Now she questions herself, questions her future, and wonders if what she did to her father has cursed her for life.

Manny’s love for Samantha is unbreakable. He promises to support her, but his attention is diverted when a new threat promises to destroy the Wolert racing team forever.

Can Samantha gain her confidence back and win the world championship?

Will she even have a team to race for next season?


 

Now a sneak peek of chapter one…
 

Manny
Paris, France

Drawn metal shades extinguish most of the afternoon sun reaching Samantha’s lifeless body, half her face covered with bandages, a tube down her throat, her hair singed by fire. The ventilator uses the tube to blow air into her lungs, giving the girl life as her body struggles to survive. The heart machine beeps at a rhythm that I’m already quite familiar with. Some may think it’s an annoying sound. But to me, it means Samantha is still alive. I pretend that she’s talking to me. That her beating heart is a constant plea for me to stay.
To keep her company.
To not give up on her.
Samantha appears so delicate, her small body swallowed up by the French hospital bed. I guess she’s shorter than I imagine because the girl’s personality is so much bigger than the body she inhabits. She’s like a tiger inside a lamb’s body. The type of girl that makes things happen. The type of girl who doesn’t know how to give up on what she wants. The type of girl that lifts up others around her. I’m lucky she picked me.
Now I’ll be lucky if she survives.
I can’t keep having thoughts like that. She’s tough. Tougher than I am. Yet I’m scared. I don’t know what I would do if I lost her. Would I go insane like my friend Hanna? There’s a chance I may. When you love someone with this intensity, the fire in your heart is so hard to extinguish.
“She’ll pull through. Samantha is young. Vibrant. Lovely.” My uncle Ralf pauses. His familiar salt-and-pepper beard hugs his face. Even through the man’s glasses I can tell he’s holding back tears. “She’s a lovely young woman. She’ll be fine.”
My uncle has more hope than all the world put together. I know he’s in as much pain as I am. And he’s in his seventies. I worry about him a lot. My uncle doesn’t need this strain on his conscious.
“Yes, she’ll be fine.” I’m lying of course. The doctors had to put Samantha into a medically induced coma to prevent her brain from swelling. They don’t know how this will play out. They act optimistic. But when you push them for true specifics, they give her fifty-fifty. They say the shock to her body cannot be overestimated.
The door opens and Graham, Samantha’s sports agent, slips in with some flowers. He’s always so well dressed, not even a thread out of place. But his eyes are red. He’s been crying too.
“Still the same?” he asks.
My uncle nods.
“Poor girl. Our poor, brave little girl.” Graham approaches Samantha, leans down and kisses her on the forehead. He whispers something to her before placing the flowers on a table. He wipes his eyes. It’s hard not to become emotional in this place. Hospitals seem to breed sadness.
“I have to be getting back to London,” Graham says. “You’ll contact me when she awakes?”
“Of course. Let me walk you out.” My uncle pats my shoulder. “Can I bring you anything, Manfred? A sandwich, something to drink?”
“No, thank you. I don’t feel like having anything.”
Uncle Ralf squeezes my shoulder. His kind eyes acknowledge my feelings as he escorts Graham out of the room.
We’re now alone.
I move my chair up to her bed, where I can be close to Samantha. I lean over and brush a few strands of hair out of her eyes. My fingers linger on her forehead. Her skin is soft and warm to the touch. A sign she’s alive and simmering with life. Her fantastic personality just waiting to burst out again and flood my life with her awesomeness.
I wonder if she heard Graham. I wonder if she can hear me now.
“Samantha?” I whisper. “I’m going to pretend that you can hear me so you know I’m still here. I don’t want you to wake up from this and be alone.”
Her eyelids are frozen shut. No sign of any reaction from her.
“You will wake up, alright? Do you know why? It’s because having you ripped out of my life would destroy me. You can’t do that to me, Samantha. Please don’t do that to me.”
Her chest rises as air inflates her lungs and then relaxes.
I rest my cheek on her shoulder and fight back the darkness threatening to strangle all my hope.


Champions will be available on September 9th.

 

Celebrating World Book Day

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Why do I love to read?

When I was young I was a history nerd. Reading about the past allowed me to experience it in a vivid way that captivated my young mind. The different people. The different cultures. The different ideas that shaped their world and ours. I loved how these mere history books could take me to past civilizations which could only be experienced through the pages of a book. It was my time traveling device in a way. Open a book. Turn the page. Explore a new ancient world. And when dinner was ready, I could close the book and come back to my own time.

Although doing all this with a DeLorean would have been much cooler, but I digress.

When I was an adult, reading young adult fiction allowed me to understand a perspective I still couldn’t get my head around, even at the age of 40. That baffling question? Women.

By reading about the young female heroines in those books, I began to understand a different viewpoint. One which gave me a new insight on concerns and worries that women had which I had no clue about until I read about them. I can also understand the anxieties and fears we both share and see the similarities between us. The similarities that make both men and woman human beings.

To me, reading is a meaningful leap forward towards empathy, something I never want to lose and I hope most human beings on this earth will try to strive for.

This is why I love to read.

Spies Like Me Book Release!

Hi Everyone!

I know this blog had been quiet for a long time. It’s hard to write posts when you’re focusing all your creative energy and free time writing more books. In future, I hope to post more about various things that I find interesting and I hope you will too. At least, I’m going to try and that’s all I can promise you.

In the meantime…I’m releasing a new book! This young adult novel starts a brand new spy series called The Gems. Book number 1 is called Spies Like Me and features four teen girls who kick butt and make the world a safer place. Bellow is a quick trailer to give you more of an idea about the book.

If you’d like to find out more, here’s the universal link with all the retailers.

And, to celebrate the release I’m running a giveaway where you can win a Grand Prize of a free Kindle Paperwhite. First Prize is a signed paperback copy of Spies Like Me. Second Prize is an eBook pack of all five of my books.

Important: This giveaway closes in 72 hours – so if you plan to buy the book anyway, doing so right now will give you five additional giveaway entries. But there is no purchase required for entry.

All the best,

Doug

 

Legends Book Cover Reveal!

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Here’s the final cover for Legends (Skid #3) and I couldn’t be more happy with it. I think my cover artist Travis Miles did a fantastic job. I wanted something a little different from the other two books, but still have the same feel as the rest of the series. Some friends have told me it looks feminine and fierce.

What do you think?

The eBook release date for Legends is set for Tuesday, September 1st. But you can pre-order the book right now for the special price of $2.99.

The paperback should be available in October.