Digger's Bones

Digger's Bones

Archaeologist Angie Cooper's colleague and friend, Tarek "Digger" Rashid, is murdered in front of her. But not before giving her cryptic photographic clues to a hidden tomb and the two thousand year old bones within. Angie must battle a ruthless hitman, hired by a U.S. senator with presidential aspirations, and a sociopathic religious zealot while overcoming severe acrophobia. Caught in a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, she works to unravel the mystery of Digger's bones. Bones that affect the lives of all they touch.

Digger's Bones is an action packed thriller that takes you from the churches and burial tombs of ancient Jerusalem to the harrowing cliffs of Bandelier National Monument and the glacier capped Zugspitze in Germany. Angie Cooper, her career in shambles, finds herself on the run from mercenaries, the Holy See, the FBI, and Interpol while trying to solve one of archaeology’s great mysteries. Yet some things are better left in the past.

Read Reviews >>
Learn More >>

Interview with Kindle Author

January 2nd, 2011

Hey bloggies, check out my interview on Kindle Author. It was fun to answer David Wisehart’s insightful questions, I really enjoyed the process as it made me view my process from a different perspective. The meta-thinking that goes into everything we do can be so automatic that we pay no attention to it. David got me to pay attention to it.

http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/2011/01/kindle-author-interview-paul-mansfield.html

Post to Twitter

Morning Run

January 2nd, 2011

His eyes, blue as the reflected sky, gleamed of the unknown. They fell away . . . down, down, down, seemingly forever. His hand reached out. Terror flamed in his eyes. His eyes!

            A scream choked in her throat. She sat up, breathing heavily, her sheets soaking wet, her heart beating like a war drum, as she woke from her recurring nightmare. So many nights she woke to those eyes, her father’s eyes, staring at her through night’s darkness. She wept.

            Angie’s father left her and her mom to fend for themselves when she was only a small child. It hadn’t been easy. Her mother had never quite gotten over the accident. Everything in her mom’s life had been planned to evoke a feeling of his still being there, still in their lives. Nothing in their home had changed over the years, not the furniture, not the artwork, everything still in its proper place.

            Angie wasn’t that different. Her father was a well respected archaeologist, and Angie followed right in his footsteps. Deep down inside she felt like she owed it to him to continue his legacy. But her failure at Hoi Oidak put a halt to that. She had failed him, she was guilt ridden, and the nightmares grew in strength.

            After a nightmare such as that, she wouldn’t easily get back to sleep. She rummaged around in her purse and pulled out an old weathered photograph. Happiness played in her parents’ eyes. The photo was taken at a dig in Jerusalem at the Tower of David; she standing with her hand on his shoulder, he seated, reaching up to lightly clasp her finger tips. They weren’t much older than Angie was now.

            A distant memory flashed before her, her father smiling brightly, laughing loudly. She could still recall herself in the backyard, five years old, digging with her pail and shovel, her father, squatting down, asking, “What are you doing, honey?” She looked up from her work and answered, “Digging for bones.” She touched the photo, sighing.

            Putting the photo away she got up and quietly made her way to Dr. Lausen’s living room. Reilly was fast asleep on the couch, a pool of drool on his pillow. Angie, against every fiber of her being, found it cute and looked at him affectionately.

            A good book, she felt, might help her fall back to sleep, or at least keep her entertained. Picking up her Sue Grafton novel she had picked up at the airport, she opened to the third chapter. Realizing she was just too depressed to read she put it back on the end table. The memory of Digger was only a heartbeat away and pictures of him flooded back into her consciousness.

            If he were here, he would know what to say to cheer her up.

            But, like her father, he wasn’t here. And he would never be here again. He was only a memory, fading with every hour, a ghost in her awareness. She missed him deeply. The memory of the CityZen shot into her mind like a bullet from the killer’s gun. Gasping out loud, she pictured Digger’s head falling to the side. Tears poured from her and she muffled her sobs with her hands.

            One bad memory leaped to another and she found herself back at Hoi Oidak, fingers pointing at her, friends turning their backs. She cried harder, this time for herself. Then she saw Digger in her mind’s eye cursing out reporters, telling off PhDs, and tearing into anyone that looked at Angie cross-eyed. She found herself smiling through the tears. He really was like family, her truest friend. And now he was gone and she had lost her touchstone to the past.

            Then she remembered Reilly turning his back on her when she needed him most. She had given so much to him. She would have given up everything and moved down to Tennessee with him. She would have gladly worked as a waitress, forgoing her own career, if it meant they could have been together. She loved him and wanted nothing more than to make him happy—to be a family. And he turned his back on her. Anguish overwhelmed her and she kicked the sleeping Reilly hard.

            “Ow! What the hell?” Reilly shouted, almost falling off the couch.

            “Oh, sorry,” she said dryly, “I had a cramp.”

            She got up and went off to the bathroom to take a shower before going for a morning jog. It was the only relief she could hope for from the onslaught of such dreadful memories. Running always helped to clear her head. There was just enough time for a quick run before they left for Israel.

            Once showered and dressed, Angie made her way down Ferry Landing Road, headed for Old Mt. Vernon Road, on a short one mile run.

            She ran track and field in high school and college and simply loved it. At Columbia, she ran the 400m but was nearly always dead last. Her teammates didn’t seem to care, they were just glad that she gave it her all. Besides, none of them were of Olympic caliber; they ran for the love of the sport.

            Willows wept sadly upon the ground as she ran. Images of her college friends flipped through her head like photos in an album, stopping on Digger. She had to sit on a curb for awhile to hold back her tears. The harsh reality of losing her best friend tore at her and she realized she may never get over his death.

            Digger was the one guy that had always been there for her, the one person that stood up for her in Hoi Oidak. A reporter for Scientific American asked him how his colleague could have made such a momentous mistake. Digger read him the riot act. He went too far, as anger pushed him beyond common sense. He said Dr. Lausen was a fool if he didn’t listen to Angie. That she was ten times the archaeologist of any of them, and other such outrageous claims. He soon lost face as Angie’s ship began to sink, drawing him down with her.

            She claimed it was all her fault, of course, trying her best to protect the others caught in her wake. But Digger had said awful things about Lausen and soon found himself jobless. As luck would have it, Professor Rothschild had been looking for someone and had previously spoken with Digger about joining his team. Digger asked the professor how he felt about what happened between himself and Dr. Lausen, Rothschild answered with a typical “c’est la vie.”

            Soon her thoughts strayed to another important person from her college days, Reilly. He was probably the reason she stuck with running in college. After all she had a busy academic schedule. But she got to run with Jack Reilly five days a week, so she made time. Now Reilly had come back into her life as suddenly as he had left it. It was true that she was the one that shut him out, but the emotions felt the same. He was back and he moved her in those same nearly forgotten, or at least denied, ways.

            But she was angry with him. Even though three years had passed since the incident, she just couldn’t let it go. He had abandoned her. He could have stood up for her, but he wasn’t willing to take the risk. When the chips fell on Hoi Oidak, he threw his in with the others. He claimed Angie wasn’t cautious enough and that they had all told her to slow down. He had not. The others had, but not Reilly, at least not to her face. She remembered what he had said to her. “Ang, you know what you’re doing. Go for it.” She did, and it cost her everything.

            Yet, it was her fault; there was no use in denying it. How could she blame him for wanting to protect his career? After all, she was the one who told the press the others didn’t agree with her findings—an obvious lie after Digger’s tirade with the reporter. So, Reilly had stuck with the story, keeping himself at arm’s length from her. So what? Could she really blame him? After all, it was her mistake, not his. She was the one that had let them down with her rush to publish. With her overwhelming need for recognition.

            Idiot, she thought, mouthing the word. She got up and continued her run, noticing just how out of shape she had let herself become.

            And now Jack Reilly was back and it felt as if he had never left, and when she looked into his eyes, all the days between simply washed away like a hard rain in a desert gully. She was back in Tennessee, talking with his mom while they cooked up some wonderful southern meal. Staring out into the backyard, watching the two men, Jack and his dad, smoking cigars and pretending like they didn’t know the woman were watching them. She missed those days more than ever. The life she knew she was meant to live. A life she was ready to live now.

            But mostly she missed Reilly. The intense chemistry between them just couldn’t be denied. It burned deep within her.

            As she rounded the final corner of her run, and Dr. Lausen’s house came back into view, she made her decision. She would forgive Jack Reilly. She would forgive herself. And she would convince Jack Reilly that he couldn’t live without her.

Post to Twitter

2011 ABC Indie Author Challenge

January 1st, 2011

The 2011 ABC Indie Author Challenge is quite simple, read (and review if possible) 24 Indie novels using the first letter of the author’s last name as a guide as to what to read. In other words, pick one for each letter of the alphabet. Okay, that would be 26, you’re very astute. But the challenge is to read 2 per month so that you are not under too much pressure to finish the list. The letters are just a way to get you to move out of your comfort zone and pick up some author you might not have considered otherwise.

My thriller, Digger’s Bones, made the list. I hope many of you will give it a read and enjoy doing so. Check under K.

I’ll be listing my books right here, so grab the link to this page and check back each month for what I am reading.

My Challenge Books:
Batchelder, Dennis — Soul Identity

Join the challenge here: http://quillsandzebras.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/abc-indie-fiction-challenge/

Post to Twitter

Writing Goals for 2011

January 1st, 2011

It’s difficult to set writing goals for many, just how many words should I try to write in a day? How will this add up to the number of words I will need to sell my novel in my chosen genre? There are many theories on how to choose this number.

When I started writing I read up how others approached writing goals, write 1000 words a day, write 100, or write an entire scene. It seemed that many agreed that you should set a goal of 2000 words a week. That sounded reasonable. It allows you to reach 100,000 words in a year. From that I thought that I would do a 1000 on the weekend—only 500 a day—and 200 at the end of each workday.

Before long I had fallen behind, guilt plagued me and I felt as if I had let myself down. Not to conducive to writing, unless you’re writing about how you can never accomplish anything. No, that still wouldn’t work.

I needed a better way to create some consistency in my writing habits. Another author, I can no longer remember who, said the goal should be small enough so that you can always accomplish it, a paragraph or even a single word.

This method worked for a while as it was easy to meet the demand, but it didn’t hold any measure of quality, simply very low quantity. And honestly, the single word seemed silly and so I never really applied it.

Quality, I decided was the key. With that in mind, I created my own writing goal. Write one quality sentence per day. That’s right, just one. It worked like a charm, I wrote large amounts each time I sat at my modern typewriter, my laptop. So, why did it work for me and why might it work for you?

Forcing yourself to write one thing of quality requires all your best writing skills. What you write must meet your best criteria, it must fit the plot of your story, if dialogue, it must truly reflect the personality of the speaker. And once you’ve written something that fits the story, that improves it in some way, well, it’s very hard to stop. This technique works because it allows you to foster what makes you a great writer in the first place, without placing an unneeded burden upon yourself.

Give it a try, you might find your writing benefits from it. And it’s guilt free!

Post to Twitter

CityZen Sample

December 26th, 2010

Angie Cooper dragged herself out from beneath the warmth of her down comforter with great reluctance. The house felt cold, especially for Pennsylvania in June. Her rose print pajamas were twisted and bunched up around her waist and she left them that way, tripping her way across the clothing strewn floor headed to the bathroom down the hall.

            The master bedroom and its en suite bathroom collected dust as Angie slept in the room where she spent much of her childhood and trudged her way to the hallway bathroom instead.

            Brooding in the mirror she thought, Why am I such a loser? Her brows furrowed over her pale blue eyes. Four years out of Columbia and she was writing human interest fluff for the Pocono Record, the local newspaper. A double major in archaeology and anthropology flushed down the john, along with her dreams of a fulfilling career.

            Her clear acrylic hairbrush made prisms dance on the wall, which she ignored like so many tiny rainbows vying for her attention. Instead she concentrated on untangling strands of her shoulder-length ginger-blonde hair that wove in and out like misery through her life. The blame for her failed career was clearly on her shoulders and she wanted to smash the mirror until glass slivers rained down into the sink.

            “You’re an idiot, Angela Cooper,” she said, putting down her brush and staring deep into her own eyes. “Anasazi . . . damn it! You know better than that.”

            The phone’s shrill ring distracted her from her depressing reverie. She listened for a few moments before dashing down the hall. It had been nearly two years and yet she still hesitated as if her mother might call out, “I’ll get it.”

            Pushing aside the National Geographic with the Mayan ruins on the cover from her nightstand, she lifted the receiver of her pink, circa 1985, princess phone.

            “Hello?”

            “Angie?”

            “Digger, is that you?”

            “Thank God . . . thank God, holy shit—”

            Tarek “Digger” Rashid, her best and perhaps only friend left in the world of archaeology. She hadn’t heard from him in at least a year, a very long time for him to be out of touch. They were students at Columbia on their first real dig when they met. They hit it off immediately. Digger’s quirky sense of humor kept Angie from becoming too overly serious, she helped him to buckle down and do some of his best work. From then on when Digger found work, so did Angie. They worked digs as a team and gained in reputation by doing so. That was until she screwed it up.

            Angie sat down on the bed and uncurled the phone cord with her free hand. “Digger, what’s wrong?”

            “Angie, listen to me,” Digger said, “I need you to come to Washington.”

            “Washington—?”

            “Yeah, I need you to come today. I have to talk to you, it’s urgent.”

            After a year out of touch Angie wondered what could be so urgent that Digger would need her to fly to Washington without notice; something was definitely awry. “Digger, what’s going on?”

            “Meet me at the CityZen, 6:00 . . . please be there Angie.” He hung up.

            Angie made reservations at the Willard InterContinental, her favorite D.C. hotel. She packed enough clothes for a couple of days not sure what Digger had in mind. Fantasies of ceremonial clay pots and hidden chambers played in her mind’s eye, but she knew in her heart those days were over. Besides, Digger’s tone was upsetting and she wondered if he had made some sort of career ending mistake, not unlike herself. Still, her boots and khakis made their way into her suitcase, just in case.

~

The wall of wine, the heavy granite pillars reflected in the stone and wood floors, the cathedral-high ceilings, all added to the CityZen’s light and lively atmosphere. Angie slowly sipped her Apple Martini she ordered while waiting for Digger. She looked good, all five-feet-four-inches of her, dressed in a silky short black skirt—designed to show off her athletic shape—and a classic red v-neck sweater. She hadn’t worn two inch high heel sandals since college; they felt good dangling from her feet.

            She almost sat at the bar, more to be seen than anything, but the stools just seemed a bit too high. So instead she sat at a table in the back that had a wonderful view of the place. A smile found its way to her lips for the first time in what seemed like years. That’s when she saw Digger moving quickly across the room, his usual neatly combed black hair tousled, his clothes and jacket in disarray, a Manila folder with its contents spilling out pressed tightly to his chest.

            “Digger—”

            “Professor Rothschild’s dead.”

            “What—?”

            “There isn’t much time,” he said as he sat down across from her. “Just listen carefully.” He looked back over his shoulder as if he were expecting someone to be following him.

            “You’re scaring me, Digger.” Angie whispered, seeing the tension in his jaw from his tightly clenched teeth.

            “Just listen. Remember the kiva at Bandelier?” He continued without waiting for her to answer. “The spot in the wall where we found the hidey-hole? You need to go—”

            Suddenly, a thin man wearing a dark blue Armani suit, a blue shirt with its collar unbuttoned, and expensive looking loafers, sat down beside Digger. Digger leaned back pulling the folder closer to his chest, desperation in his eyes. The man’s arms were crossed, his left hand within his jacket, the other holding the opposite elbow. He smiled at Angie, a broad smile that didn’t hide his arrogance. His tufted white hair and black eyes made him look like some sort of bird, a predatory bird.

            “Tarek, who’s your lovely friend?” The man asked as his eyes moved up along Angie’s body.

            “She has nothing to do with this.”

            “Is that right?” he asked, staring at Angie, his right foot bouncing against his crossed leg.

            “Do with what?” Angie asked indignantly. “Who the hell are you?”

            He twisted his head toward Digger. “She’s got fire. I can see why you’d bring it to her.”

            “Bring what to me—?”

            Even in the boisterous CityZen Angie heard the faint “pfffaat” of the man’s silencer. It was a sound she was entirely unfamiliar with. She didn’t put it together until she realized Digger’s head had fallen back and to the side and the man was relieving him of his folder. Still, it took catching a glimpse of his pistol before real terror set in.

            “So . . . what were you two chatting about?” he asked.

            Angie trembled, words caught in her throat as she labored for breath.

            He smiled his arrogant smile, baring his teeth at her. He lifted his hand, covered by the Manila folder, onto the table. Her heart pounded loudly in her ears. Her breathing became rapid, nearly out of control.

            “I suppose it’s not important really,” he was saying, “I know as much as I need to.”

            “Is he okay?” A waiter carrying a tray of drinks startled the gunman. He turned quickly to see who had spoken. Angie took it as a cue to make her escape. She stood, stumbling on a chair, knocking into the waiter, the drinks crashing down upon the table and the gunman. The waiter falling against the table caused the candle to ignite the alcohol. The gunman’s sleeve burst into flames. Angie ran for the door. People began screaming hysterically. An enormous mirror crashed to the ground as she passed; she didn’t hear the muffled shot over the din of the fleeing crowd.

            Angie was out the door and into a cab before she could quite grasp what had happened. A throng of patrons erupted from the CityZen in panicked terror. She peered out the back window to glimpse the gunman emerging from the building, crushed by the frenzied wave of people, his predatory eyes following the cab as it sped down the street.

Post to Twitter

Silenced

December 23rd, 2010

When I was eighteen, a senior at Mt. Vernon High School, I had an English teacher who clearly hated the very sight of me. Believe me when I say he let me know on numerous occasions that this was the case. I’m not sure why, it might have been the long hair (yes, I once had long hair—no, I did not sport a mullet), it might have been my look of boredom at his monotonous tone, I really can’t say. But he allowed his hatred for me to squash any glimmer of talent I might have shown.

At his bequest, in other words, homework, I wrote a poem about a fledgling bird leaving the nest. I thought it was quite good since my normal poetic take was far darker. Handing back our assignments he smirked at me; at the top of the page was an extraordinarily large, red F. I couldn’t believe it. So, I confronted him—trotting up to his desk I slammed it down and demanded his reasoning. He pointed to a paragraph he had written at the bottom of the page which went something like this, “This work is far too professional for a person like you to have written and therefore it must have been plagiarized.”

I was dumbstruck! Maybe not the first time, certainly not the last, but I was! And I was angry. I told him I could prove it was my work which evoked from him some long forgotten snide remark. I went home and gathered up my rough drafts, of which there were several, and prepared mentally for the next day’s battle. I also spoke with my mother who gladly offered to storm in and give him a good boot in the ass.

The class bell rang, signaling my arrival at the battlefront, and I threw my rough drafts down upon his desk with the vigor of a dueling glove to my enemy’s face. I said nothing. I simply walked to my seat and sat; waiting.

Suddenly, my teacher got up from his desk and walked the long walk to mine, put down my poem and walked away. An A-. Would he give an A- to the professional I had supposedly copied from? Then I read his reason for the minus, “Typing errors marred your paper.” There were three. And they had been fixed by White Out as we were taught to do in the typing class I had taken at the same high school.

I was livid. I brought it up to his desk and looked him square in the eye and said, “You just couldn’t give me an A, could you?”

Nearly thirty years later I find myself writing and wondering where my voice had been; I feel like I had been silenced for so very long. Silenced by one public act of writing, showing my work to my classmates and to my then little world, that was stomped beneath the Jackboot of an uncaring and perhaps jealous educator. No, I don’t believe all educators are angry want-to-be writers. In fact, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few inspiring teachers in history and art for example. But still I wonder, what life might have I led if I had started a writing career as a younger man? What great novel might I have left behind in my silence?

Post to Twitter

BestsellerBound, for the Indie book lover

December 23rd, 2010

If you love to read Indie books—or are a passionate writer—BestsellerBound.com is a great place to hang out. There are many talented and undiscovered writers lurking about at any given time.

For the writer there’s a great wealth of valuable information on the craft of writing, publishing, and otherwise promoting your books. I’ve personally struck up relationships with the great people who founded it, Darcia Helle, Maria Savva, and Stacy Juba and have found them to be extremely generous of their time to their members.

If you’re not a writer, but love a great read, you can easily find something in almost any genre. Authors are always willing to join in on an interesting conversation, so why not start one? There’s also a monthly book club where you can connect with other readers for some lively conversation.

So, come on by and meet the crowd, we’ll be expecting you.

Post to Twitter

BestsellerBound on Goodreads

December 22nd, 2010

BestsellerBound, a great place to hang with other authors, has started a forum on Goodreads.
http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/41570.BestsellerBound

Post to Twitter

One of my favorite reads of the year

December 20th, 2010

Digger’s Bones is a thrilling adventure and great read. The book was well researched and almost felt as if it were a true story.

The likeable characters combined with an awesome plot make Digger’s Bones one of my favorite reads of the year. I really loved Angie, she’s trustworthy and dependable. The supporting characters were awesome and complimented the main character.

The ending was not a disappointment and the epilogue added the cherry on top.
— Greyz, Clandestine Sanctuary

Post to Twitter

The Cutting Edge of Charity

December 19th, 2010

The Cutting Edge, a wonderful and insightful novel by Indie author Darcia Helle, goes on sale tomorrow (Dec. 19, 2010) for one day for only $.99. All profits will go to charity and in the process you’ll be helping Indie authors everywhere by giving one of our/your own a boost. It’s a worthy cause and a worthwhile read. Besides, what else can you buy for a buck?

Post to Twitter