Tag Archives: family relationships

Alpha/Beta Readers Wanted for Mapped Out Murders

I am requesting readers and helpers for my first contemporary “how will they catch them” murder mystery, Mapped out Murders, which is also to some extent a police procedural. I have completed a draft of almost 74,000 words and have the basic story, characters, and steps in the process mostly the way I want them.

Here are the basic elements so you can see if you are interested in reading:

Sarah and Don Groben are an ex-military couple married about 20 years, no children. She is a homicide detective. They lived in the Fargo, ND area but 5 years earlier transplanted to L.A. He is a pastor and director of Martyrs for Christ, a group similar to real life Voice of the Martyrs, specializing in the 10-40 window. Because they could not have children they have invested in helping troubled families experience godly home and family through Bible teaching and loving them in Christ.

Sarah refuses to work with a male partner or be alone with men. She does this out of respect for her father and husband. Her female partner gets the flu and she has to go alone to a crime scene where a Middle Eastern man was murdered. She finds her husband and a pastor friend there and learns that the dead man was building a small group of Middle Eastern converts from Islam to Christianity.

Don becomes her temporary partner as they uncover six murders and a conspiracy to wipe out these converts and people they may have influenced. A small version of a CAIR-like organization may be involved. Family bitterness and fear also plays a role.

Don’s expertise in Middle Eastern languages and customs and inside knowledge of the outreach plan for these local former Muslims helps but Sarah must ultimately sort through the complex mountain of evidence to get at the truth. Bitcoin, persecution, and attitudes toward Christianity in Muslim and American cultures factor in to making her job harder.

1. Setting is Los Angeles area, but I need help with determining a region in or near the city proper that has a smaller feel, with a police precinct and a neighborhood where you could buy a small house and get to know your neighbors. I need local color, takeout options, and generally things to make the setting real. I do not want to get into too much detail about life in the city or police procedures but don’t want to be clumsily out of date or too sparse, either.

2. Need help with realistic names, customs, and cultures for various secondary characters who are transplants from Middle and Far East countries. All come from Islamic backgrounds.

3. Positioning of some flashbacks (set off in italic in the text) doesn’t seem quite right, and would appreciate input on how much info to include and where the best place to place them would be.

4. Timeline of the murders vs subsequent events. 5 happen in one day (in fact, in one hour), but I need to properly place resulting funerals at a reasonable distance for investigation progress.

5. Generally, being up-to-date and authentic about people, language, and situations. Help in better understanding Bitcoin would be great!

If you can help in any way, general critique, specific suggestions, or the points listed above, please email me at mjmcfindley@gmail.com

Thank you!

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Rolling Along Through Breakdown and Blessing

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I attended a church Book Club meeting last night and one of the icebreaker questions was “If your life was a book, what would the title be?” The title of this blog post is the one I came up with. Many readers know hubby has been an over-the-road truck driver off and on since 1998. Employment has always been tough to find while we wait for fame and fortune as authors (ha ha!) so truck driving has always been his most successful source of income. I also had the opportunity to “ride shotgun” with him for the last eight years. God has provided “just enough” for us financially as we lived in the truck and traveled the lower 48 and Canada.

However, in January, truck #3’s engine blew. We paid for diagnostics and discovered needed repairs that exceeded the true value of the truck. Even people with cars can relate to that Catch-22. We tried to qualify for a loan but apparently paying off 3 trucks did not constitute enough credit history (nothing current), so we had to scrap the truck for $3500 and come to stay with daughter in Tulsa OK at her apartment. We pay half rent, but the future still seemed pretty uncertain. BTW our daughter Vicky has been such a help and encouragement to us through the years, and more so now, putting up with me fulltime and all the rest. God bless her as she goes through her own transitions.

I applied for local jobs and Michael investigated some options, including going for a PhD in History at OU. I am now a proud part-time employee at a Walmart I can walk to, and my muscles and joints are groaning in protest about all this activity.

The results of Michael’s GRE exams were a bit disappointing so he was not sure what to do next. He met online a small truck company owner based in the Dallas area. He was looking to expand and agreed to take Mike on as a driver. Unfortunately that job has not worked out for various reasons. He is going to take the GRE again but in the meantime, a trucker friend had recommended the company he works for, a very small (4 trucks) outfit based in Ohio. Michael finished his last load for the previous company this week and has made his way toward the orientation for the new job, leaving most of his equipment and other property here at the apartment.

We have been pretty discouraged these past few months. The truck was our home and our income, and we had the freedom to choose the best loads as well as to travel and most of the time get work done on our books. But we got a bit stalled with all these life happenings. It felt like we were back in Basics for Believers, at the 101 course level, saying, “God, what is Your will for our lives?”

But there has been some encouragement. I am making progress on Conflict of the Ages Five, the next module in our homeschool curriculum, with the editing, formatting, and questions and images that need to be added.

Now, back to the Book Club meeting. The books we will read were already chosen, and I was a little discouraged about not having an opportunity to maybe insert one of our books. But the lady leading the group did acknowledge me as a published author, and I got to tell them about a couple of our books. The lady who is in charge of women’s and children’s ministries at the church asked for a list of all our books. That was exciting.

Hubby arrived at the airport for his new job orientation this morning. Unfortunately his checked bag(s) did not. (Everybody knows checking bags is a bad idea, but he had to take some extra things in case he goes straight out onto the road for a week or two before coming back here.) When the driver arrived to pick him up, he agreed that waiting for the next flight, which the missing bags are supposed to be on, was the best idea, so he is doing that while the driver makes other runs. But the driver said he has read our books Antidisestablishmentarianism and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Readers’ and Writer’s Guide for Believers and is eager to talk to Michael about them. Wow! Plus I had a fan of the Alexander Legacy series ask on the blog when the fourth book in that series is coming out. Encouragement! These are both people we don’t know!

We hope people who follow this blog are sticking with us through these transitional times. we are certainly not giving up on writing, and we are making plans to get back into video production, too. Stick around, folks. We don’t know what’s ahead, but it’s pretty certain breakdowns and blessing will always come. We hope you’ll pray that through both we can extend our reach and be a blessing to others. — post by Mary C. Findley

 

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The Great Thirst Part Six — Protected is now live! And Part Seven is in pre-order!

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The Great Thirst is almost complete! Here’s a snippet from Part Six:

“David, where are you?” Drew’s voice came over David’s satellite phone, scratchy and indistinct. He had been out to the village again with a small team, trying to be sure the cartel was not looking for the expedition or questioning the shooting incident.
David gave him the co-ordinates of the ball court, but he had to repeat it three times before Drew acknowledged.
“What’s wrong, Drew?” David asked. “Your signal is awful. We told everyone at the base camp where we were going.”
“…Not at … base camp.”
“Then the GPS should – where are you?” David demanded. David pulled his phone back and stared at it. “I’m not getting GPS on you. Is there a threat?”
“Red lights … all directions,” Drew said. “… No contact … base camp … no GPS … finished … village … started back … can’t raise anybody …”
“Try your phones and the corundum chips,” David ordered the others.
Keith already had his phone out. “Talia?” he said, holding his corundum pendant close. “Are you guys okay?”
“We’re fine,” Talia replied. Her signal was clear and strong. “Why?”
“Drew’s signal’s getting blocked,” Keith answered. “He’s on his way back to you but something’s wrong. Be careful.”
“Wait a minute ‘til I have someone check around the camp to be sure,” she replied. After a moment she spoke again. “Drew’s team here relayed reports that everything is quiet and normal.”
“Hey, look, it’s one of those cool rubber balls,” Jiggly said, pulling a round gray object about the size of a cantaloupe out of the underbrush. He tossed it back and forth in his hands.
“Do we need to go back and make sure everything’s all right?” David asked.
“Talia says everything’s fine there,” Keith said. “Maybe it’s Drew who’s in trouble. Can we find him with the ‘copter?”
“Drew made me personally responsible for your safety,” David answered. “I can’t risk taking all of you with me, if Drew is in trouble, and you’re safe here,”
“Whoa!” Jiggly stopped tossing the ball back and forth as a rumbling sound froze them all.
“What was that?” David unlimbered the machine gun hanging on a strap over his shoulder. The vibration died out and they relaxed.
“What just happened?” Talia demanded over the phone.
“We heard a rumbling, or, more like felt it,” Keith said. “Why?”

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Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Great-Thirst-Part-Six-Archaeological-ebook/dp/B016PP5U4O/

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And be sure to get your preorder of The Great Thirst Part Seven, also 99 cents … for now

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Talia snuck her hand into Keith’s as they parted ways from the tour bus and headed back toward Veracruz.. “Are you really okay?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Keith said.
“You have a weird look in your eyes,” Talia said.
“I have a weird feeling in my head,” Keith said. “Kinda like when Jenny Kaine was in the room at the hotel. This guy … is he demon-possessed, or what, exactly?”
“I’m not sure. Keith, you threw up and passed out with Jenny Kaine,” Talia said softly.
“Not gonna happen this time,” Keith said. “Feel … stronger. Ready … but not now.”
“Ready for what?”
“Tell me, why are we bringing these two?” Anne demanded. “Are you putting assets in danger again?”
“These assets happen to be, indirectly, my employers,” Drew said. “In spite of the fact that you and I would prefer to just put a bullet in the head of whoever is back there in the cargo bin, these two have bigger fish to fry. We need to know what the plan is, for … umm … all the sub-assets. The only possible source of information we have, since we can’t hog-tie any … anyone else … is Angel.”
“We have to try to question him,” Talia said. “He’s a wild card at this point. I don’t have any idea why he’s involved. I can’t plan how to protect against a threat if I don’t know who’s doing the threatening and why.”
“What do you expect us to do? Torture him?” Anne asked.
“We need him to talk,” Talia replied. “I’m praying for wisdom about how to make that happen.”
Spanish erupted from behind them. Talia said something sharp in reply and the words choked off.
“Do I want to know?” Keith asked.
“He said, using many more words, that we wouldn’t dare do anything to him,” Talia said. “I quoted part of a Psalm to him.”
“Which Psalm?” Keith asked.
“Psalm 35:7,8,” Talia replied. “Let their way be dark and slippery, With the angel of the LORD pursuing them. Let destruction come upon him unawares; And let the net which he hid catch himself; Into that very destruction let him fall.”
“Okay,” Keith said. “I’m just gonna pray now, too.”
The jeep went silent. Even Angel did not speak again.

Amazon Preorder: http://www.amazon.com/Great-Thirst-Part-Seven-Archaeological-ebook/dp/B016QKSLMQ/

Smashwords Preorder: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/585608

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From The Great Thirst Part Six — Eva takes Keith and Talia to meet her son Angel

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“You’ve made your point,” Drew said to his wife.
“Obviously I haven’t,” Anne snapped. “She’s risking your two biggest assets in this mission on lunch with a drug cartel insider. Instead of being able to at least admit that, she tries to makes this about me!”
Drew looked from Eva to Anne and then risked a glance at Talia and Keith. “Your call,” he said to Keith.
“No. Really, it’s not his call. We need to get these two back to the camp, and then we need to move it,” Anne said, pointing at Keith and Talia.
“Angel!” Eva gasped. The others turned in the direction she was staring and saw a slight, heavily-tattooed Mexican boy walking toward them. His eyes widened as he took in the distraught look on his mother’s face and he started to backpedal.
“Stop!” Anne shouted. “We need to talk to you.”
Eva screamed something in Spanish.
“Eva, no!” Talia cried. “He’s not in danger. Why would you tell him that?”
Anne strode toward Angel. “Just calm down, kid. Your mother’s overreacting. We don’t mean you any harm.”
Angel spewed a flood of harsh-sounding Spanish and retreated farther. Anne sprinted after him.
“Stay down!” Drew shouted at Keith. Keith enfolded Talia against his chest and crouched over her as shots rang out. Eva shrieked and sobbed, fighting against one of Drew’s people as she tried to pull her behind cover. Drew and four of his men made a human wall around them and hustled them to the Rover. Drew sat beside Keith and Talia with his gun resting on his thigh.
“Where’s Eva?” Talia cried.
“Peg Talbot is taking her to a separate location,” Drew said through gritted teeth.
“What about Anne?” Keith asked.
“Anne and Angel exchanged shots,” Drew said. “I’m not sure what their status is. My people who stayed behind will clean up and report as soon as they can.”
“Clean up?” Talia repeated, a quiver in her voice.
“Look, you people can tell me all you want that everybody is a priority,” Drew exploded. “But my employees, and outsiders who never should have had access to you – they take their own risks. Don’t concern yourself about Anne. She did her job.”
Keith heard a crackle and he saw Talia start and touch her ear.
“Cleanup complete,” the voice said. “Two returning to base, two to backup location.”
“Give me those things,” Drew commanded, holding out his hand. Keith and Talia surrendered the earwigs. “That wasn’t for your ears.”
“That’s wrong,” Talia said shakily. “The count is one person short.”
“No, it’s not,” Drew said tersely. “Everyone who’s alive is on the move. We transport bodies, but we don’t count them.”

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The War on Christmas

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Christmas originated in the Roman Empire when Christians gathered together to worship Jesus during the feast of Saturnalia. Since most Christians were poor or slaves, when the pagan majority celebrated Saturnalia, Christians were given the freedom, for that one day, to do whatever they wanted. They had “the day off.”

So when their masters, neighbors and friends went to drunken orgies to worship their gods, Christians gathered in purity to worship the true God. For almost two thousand years, very little has changed. As Christians attempt to exalt the God of Heaven and turn every heart to Him, unbelievers use every possible excuse to hearts away from Him.

“The Christmas season” has become an endless string of time consuming and expensive distractions. The purpose of Christmas has become making children happy or pleasing family members or helping poor people or anything else to divert our attention and energies from pleasing the God of Heaven.

That does not mean that we should not help the poor, or spend time with family members, or make children happy. It means, as Jesus said, “these things you should do and not leave the others undone.”

So what is a Christian’s responsibility to Christmas, since it is not even a Christian holiday? First, exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Second do all to the glory of God. Do not allow others, events, traditions or even job responsibilities drive or distract you. Third, do not look down on the decisions other people make.
Let your moderation be made known to all.

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Spending the Night at the Principal’s

My Work in Progress — What Will you Die For? — Mary C. Findley

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“Hey, not to insult you, but we could run down to the mall and get you some clothes – my treat. You’d have some clean stuff to wear, anyway, sans bubbles. Jo-Jo really soaked you. Sorry.”

“No, I always have extra clothes in my duffle in the car. I was just so tired I didn’t think about how I must look. I’ll go get it …”

“Oh, yeah, the Doomsday Dufflebag.” Keith seemed to be probing to Talia looked up at him and said nothing. He recovered the fumble pretty quickly. “No, please, let me get it. I just want you to know, I haven’t heard Joana laugh like that since she got sick. Dad and I didn’t think about how good it would be for her to have a real friend again. People get so creeped out by how she is. We never hear from her old friends anymore, except she chats with them online sometimes. They don’t come to see her.”

Keith bolted away. Talia started crying again, and barely got herself under control by the time Keith knocked and handed her the duffle. She stretched up and kissed him on the point of his chin. He kissed her back, just a peck, on the top of her head, like he had Joana. “Okay, good night, then,” he stammered, and fled.

The debate within herself didn’t last long. Talia tossed the duffle on the bed and headed into the bathroom, twisting the knobs on the whirlpool. The sound of sweet, tinkling brass camel bells sounded over the rush of water. She hurried back to the bed and dug in the bag for her tablet.

“Hey Talia, where are you? The GPS on the Tesla is showing a location I don’t know.” Talia loved hearing that bear growl voice, but his words made her temper spike.

“Uncle Remmy, you set the GPS to spy on me?”

“I’ve never spied on you, my baby niece, just looked out for you best as I could. What are you doing that would make spying necessary?”

Talia flushed. “Nothing! Some kids from school missed the bus and needed a ride home. One of them lives pretty far away. Another teacher came along, and then the principal invited me for dinner. I’m spending the night at his house.”

“You’re spending the night at the principal’s house? Really? Were you that naughty on the first week of school?”

“Uncle Remmy,” Talia started to giggle. “He has a handicapped daughter, and I helped get her ready for bed. It’s really late, and I’m really tired, so they offered to let me stay.”

“Yeah, it is really late, isn’t it. I’m sorry, Tchatchki. I never know what time it is. Any new information about the Testaments?”

“I keep finding the same stuff over and over again, Popo. It’s like there’s a wall around Spain, hiding everything new.”

“That’s good, though. That means they have something to hide.”

“That’s what I thought, too. I know they’re there. I knw they are. Anyway, how’s the dig going? I didn’t expect you to even have satellite there.”

“Don’t tell the government, but I’m bouncing off one of theirs. It won’t be in position long, so I’ll have to wrap this up. Any problems with that Bible course yet?”

“We just had the first class today. I almost messed it up really bad, Popo, but Keith walked in and fixed everything.”

“Who’s Keith?”

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“The principal said I had to have a co-teacher. His son, Keith, is the one he picked. It’s good, because he’s really strong in the Science areas. And he’s super-good at discipline, too, which is how he fixed my mess-up. Two kids go saved, Popo! Right after class!”

“Praise God. Praise God. But little one, you will tell me if there’s any trouble, and you know what kind of trouble I mean. We need this trip to Spain. We need it badly. But we need it hiding in plain sight. No one can know the real significance of these Testaments.”

“I understand, Popo. I remember everything we talked about. What I’ve told people makes it sound like they don’t really exist, or we don’t know for sure what they really are, anyway. They have no clue.”

“Peace, perfect peace, Natalia. Get some rest.”

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Guest Post by Precarious Yates: A Worthy Disciple and new release book “How Shall We Then Love?”

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“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” ~ Jesus (Luke 14:26)

This is one of the most difficult sayings of Jesus. In classic hyperbole language, He tells us that the weightiest part of our finite love should be directed at God.

But even knowing that this is hyperbole, it doesn’t make it any easier.

Cornelia, the main character and narrator of How Shall We Love?, is asked by Shepherd, her father, to lie about his relationship with one of his students. Before this moment, Shepherd is Cornelia’s biggest hero. She wants to love him no matter what and to live with him instead of with her mom, but he’s all but outlawed her pursuit of Christianity. (You find out why later on in the novel.)

This brings up the question: Do we value family so much that we’d disregard the commands of God?

Cornelia struggles with this question throughout the novel. Some say that if you don’t love people in the way that they feel loved then you do not love them.

Life gets messy and complicated, but that doesn’t excuse us from the commands that Jesus gave. He said the two greatest commandments are to love God and then to love people. Jesus goes so far as to say that loving people is like loving God. So, how shall we love?

Jesus didn’t give us these commands only to leave us as orphans to live them out. He gave us His Holy Spirit to partner with us in this journey of learning how to love. God is love, and He will produce that fruit in our lives.

If, on our journey, we place the philosophy of our loved ones above God’s commands, we cannot be his disciple.

But if we place such a high value on God’s commands that we’re unfazed by the philosophy of man, we will be worthy disciples.

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Precarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their mastiff. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

The book, “How Shall We Then Love?” Is available here: http://www.amazon.com/How-Shall-We-Love-ebook/dp/B00B8VOHZ4

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