Book Excerpt: Country Justice

The following is a brief excerpt from another novel I have in the works.  Country Justice, a post-apocalyptic story that takes place the spring after a nuclear terrorist attack lead to a limited nuclear war the prior autumn.  Most of the U.S. has been without power for months because of an electromagnetic pulse.  We join the story the day after Jam and his wife Lisa have killed the men that shot her father.

Country Justice is the second book in a series.  The first book, as yet untitled, includes all the details about the war started and how people react to it. This one takes place months later with all new characters.

Country Justice by Mitchell Cane
Country Justice by Mitchell Cane

We were just sitting down to breakfast when the driveway alarm beeped.  A moment later we heard the crunch of gravel under the tires.  We were both wearing our pistols but I moved towards the door where my M4 and my FN shotgun were within easy reach.  I relaxed when the sheriff’s car appeared on our driveway.  I took it as a good sign that he came alone.

Before long the sheriff was seated at our kitchen table, joining us for a cup of coffee.  “It’s been a few days since I’ve had a cup of coffee,” he said, as he savored his mug.  “We’re out at the station.  And they stopped serving it at Shirley’s on account of no resupply.  I expect they’ll run out of sweet tea before too long.”

I nodded.  “We’re running low ourselves.   I know it’s not good for me, but I sure will miss my morning coffee.”  We had several bags of coffee in the pantry, but I that wasn’t news I wanted to share with anyone.  Dan had used his Costco membership to get stocked up, which had been a good thing because after the power went out, the trucks stopped rolling, and the store shelves emptied in a hurry. 

“So Sheriff,” chimed in Lisa, “Have you made any arrests regarding my father’s murder?”

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A New Arc for Flight of the Condor

Plots and Subplots

I’m excited to report that my current work-in-progress, Flight of the Condor, has taken an important step towards completion.

I have finished plotting the third section of the book and now know how the story ends. 

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Who would write a book not knowing the ending? But that wasn’t the case.

A ring ship like that in Flight of the Condor
Flight of the Condor is a sciences fiction story that takes place in a dystopian future. It features a colony ship not so different from the one pictured above.

I thought I knew the whole story when I started, but it twisted and evolved as I was writing it. That left me in the middle of the book with an ending that no longer made much sense. I had to stop writing and figure out where we went from there. What did I want to achieve? How will the characters grow? Who lives and who dies? What is the endgame here, and will it fit with the rest of the story?

The broad arc came to me one morning this week while I was lounging in bed. (I get some of my best ideas during this non-structured time where I have no concerns, no appointments, no demands to meet, solitude, comfort, and a clean mental slate.) The next day I filled in some more details and came up with a great new subplot that ties back to the earlier sections of the book quite nicely. 

Any good story has an arc, but I believe great stories have multiple arcs. Subplots within plots, if you will. Tying up most of these by the end of a novel is one of the tougher jobs an author faces. 

World Building

Condor starts in a dystopian future on an earth that has seen portions of the planet left uninhabitable after a nuclear war. 

I had fun creating the world, its rules, the society’s moral code, its religion, how it is governed, and its institutions. I know far more about it the world than makes it into the book, but such knowledge makes the story more real. It’s the infrastructure that supports the story like a foundation supports a house.

Later, the main character escapes Earth on a colony ship and starts raising a family while the ship travels to a new start system. When they land on a virgin planet, we get to see how people who have lived their entire lives in a sealed, man-made environment react to open fields, unending skies, dirt, and mud.

If you have not already done so, you are welcome to read an early excerpt from Flight of the Condor.

Book Excerpt: Flight of the Condor

Below is an excerpt from Flight of the Condor, a novel that takes place in a dystopian future where much of the population is crammed into small apartments in 100-story buildings, known as towers.

In this excerpt, which comes early in the book, Gabby introduces her boyfriend Jed to her family. Jed’s family is well below hers in terms of social standing and lives in a much smaller apartment.  You will note that due to the plague years (I wrote this while on quarantine due to COVID-19) no one shakes hands; they bow instead.

Likewise, the formality the characters display is intentional. It developed in their society to give inhabitants the illusion of personal space in a crowded state.

Please keep in mind that this is only a small part of a much larger work-in-progress and not a short story. The first draft of this novel is only about 70 percent complete. Consider this your sneak peek, and feel free to leave any feedback or comments below.

Flight of the Condor by Mitchell Cane
Flight of the Condor by Mitchell Cane

Gabby let go of his hand, straightened her shirt so the buttons aligned, and palmed the lock, opening the door. Her mother was waiting for them and arose gracefully, bowing slightly. “Daughter, welcome home. What good timing.”

Gabby bowed in return. “Thank you, mother. Please allow me to introduce my boyfriend, Jedediah Johnson.” Jed felt a grin cracking his face at the word “boyfriend,” so he held his bow a little longer than necessary while he regained control.

“Mr. Johnson, it is a pleasure to meet you at last. Gabriella has mentioned you several times. Please come in and be welcome in our home.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said, stepping over the threshold and presenting her with a small, carefully wrapped box. “A small token of my appreciation of your invitation.” She accepted the present with a nod and a slight smile.

He saw two younger children peeking at him through a doorway. Their mother beckoned them into the room.

“These are the twins, Jessica and Joseph. Children, this is Mr. Johnson, who will be our guest tonight.

“Please call me Jed,” he told them.

There was a steamer near the door. Gabby opened it and used a pair of tongs to hand a hot towel to Jed. A common cleansing ritual developed during the plague years, Jed thoroughly wiped his hands, enjoying the smell of citrus while making sure to get the backs of them as well as in between his fingers. Then he looked for a place to put his shoes. Most families had a row of shoes just inside the door. Gabby opened a closet door, answering his unasked question, and joined him in slipping hers off.

“Mother, do I have time show Jed my studio before the lighting of the candles?”

“Yes dear, at least ten minutes. I’ll send one of the kids to fetch you when your father is ready.”

But Jed was already staring at a canvas on the wall. “Isn’t that The Umbrellas by Renoir?” he asked. Then he realized that the girl in the foreground was a younger version of Gabriella. “Oh! A self-portrait,” he breathed. He approached closer and peered at it before turning towards Gabby in amazement. “You even duplicated his brush strokes. You never said you were an impressionist.”

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I love books, and I love a good story. Even better when they go hand-in-hand.

Once upon a time
Sometimes I yearn for the simplicity of a fairy tale.

Sure, I have a Kindle Fire, but reading it is so sterile compared to turning a physical page. I like to go to the bookstore or the library and feel the heft of a book. I want to look at the cover art, read the flyer or the blurbs on the back, check when it was published, and look at what else the author has written.

In my opinion, the online browsing experience leaves something to be desired. Unfortunately, it’s here to stay, with many books, especially those by indie authors, released only as ebooks.

I’m going to do my best to offer my books both ways.

Thank you

Thanks for your interest in my writing. If you’d like to know more about me, I refer you to my bio.

This is day one of the Website, so it’s a bit early to be making promises, so let’s just say I hope to be posting news, updates on projects, and perhaps the occasional article, essay, or short story here. Please subscribe for regular updates or check back a couple times a month.

The Images

None of the images on the home page and book pages are official or even 100% accurate.  They are not cover art, but simply art that I picked to represent the book.

Putting them together was a fun intellectual exercise.  I’ve always been told that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in these cases, they have to represent closer to 75,000 or 100,000 words, and that can be as much a challenge as summarizing a book in a three sentence blurb.

Art from Six Billion Reasons and Flight of the Condor
Art representing Six Billion Reasons and Flight of the Condor