The Solitaire Series: The Jack of Clubs

The Solitaire Series: The Jack of Clubs

The Solitaire Series Reminder: Each week, a story will appear on my blog, and be free to read for one week only. The next story will take its place, and the first story will be available on Amazon and other e-retailers. But if you follow this blog, you can read the stories for free every single week! Read more about the Short Story Deal here.

Throughout the series, there will be collections of stories, and we will even be producing some really cool swag along the way. Watch for contests, prizes, and even some fun “in-person” events!

“He calls the knaves Jacks, this boy!” — Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The Jack in a deck of cards was originally called a Knave, or in some cases a Knight. The low-class usage, Jack, became more common when the designation of cards was moved to the corners, and the Knave, abbreviated Kn, was easy to confuse with the King, or K.

Either way, whether a Knave, a Knight, or now commonly called a Jack, typically this card represented a servant of the king, but a very specific type of servant.

The Knight served as both a protector and a warrior. Think of an elite fighter, a mercenary, or even a bodyguard.

I’m kind of a modern knight if you will, a lower member of the royalty, a servant of the Ace and the King. More often than not, just as in a deck of cards, the Queen stands between us.

Or in my case, behind me. Because my purpose is often to guard her. The organization I belong to may be called Blackjack, but within that organization, I am known as the Blackjack.

That’s because I’m short, powerful, and often used to bludgeon people when necessary. It’s my favorite part of the job.

* * *

“Just stop! Give me a—”

THUD

The sobbing starts, always with the fucking crying.

“I’ll answer your questions. Just—what do you want?”

THUD

I hit his bicep this time. It would bruise, give him a helluva Charley horse, but wouldn’t do any permanent damage.

I don’t want to do that kind of damage, at least, not yet.

The leather strap around my wrist enhances my grip on the short, blunt object. It weighs way more than it should, but that’s because it’s filled with lead.

I hear ya’, but there’s no danger of getting poisoned by this thing. I ain’t licking it, and besides there is a leather covering around it, one with tight stitches like a baseball. I had to get that cover replaced once, but that was because I got blood on it, and some fucker’s teeth actually tore it open. I wouldn’t have shoved it in his mouth so far if I’d known he had those bad boys filed.

But that aint’ this story. That’s another one for another time.

They call me Blackjack. That’s not ‘cause of who I work for, or the weapon I use so much as how I resemble it.

It’s short, black, heavy, and tough. So am I. Difference is, I’m covered in tailored Armani, not leather. To the guy on the ground, that ain’t gonna make a whiff of a difference.

“I think you’ve been asked nicely before,” I say. Even to me, my voice sounds like gravel bein’ tossed around in a cement mixer. Twenty years of smokin’ and slammin’ a shot of Johnny Walker every night startin’ on your sixteenth birthday will wreak havoc on your throat, let me tell ya’.

No one believes I’m thirty-two when I tell them, but I am. I also almost never tell them.

THUD

Damn, I heard a crack on that one. Maybe a broken bone. Best to stop for a second.

So I did.

“Ace wantsta know where the card is, asshole.”

“What card?”

I turn to the other fella in the room with me. You might think an Italian mafioso would be some kinda cliche. You’d be right. Tony looks, sounds, and even smells exactly like you’d expect him to.

Before you ask, he is a spaghetti-eating wine snob too, so there’s that.

“Your playing card, kid. You work for Solitaire, right?”

The kid on the floor stays quiet. For that, I give him credit. At least he isn’t a goddam snitch, or he’s more afraid of his bosses than of us.

It’s my job to change that.

 

* * *

Read the rest of this story and the rest of the series on Amazon now!

I hope you are enjoying reading this series as much as I am. You can the rest of this series on Amazon here! Stay tuned for another FREE story right here next week. I hope to see you then!

Stray Ally: My Own Writing Five Years Later

Stray Ally: My Own Writing Five Years Later

Just recently, I got the rights back to one of my books, titled Stray Ally. It did okay in sales, pretty well a few times, and came out in print from a digital publisher. People liked it. There were good reviews on Amazon, and I thought it was a pretty good book overall.

The editor I worked with was thorough and professional. The story idea itself was pretty solid. The publisher I worked with had (and has) a good reputation. The cover was pretty amazing, and professionally designed. A lot of people liked that too. Actually, I still like the old cover.

I thought it would be an easy turnaround. I thought I would simply do a quick brush re-edit and release it with the original cover under my own publisher and brand. Nope. Wrong answer.

The Story

Okay, the story was not bad. Let’s get that out of the way first off. Second, I usually don’t read my books once they are written and published. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I am my own worst critic, as I am sure you are your own. So I could spend my life re-writing those first books, or I can move on and write more and better ones.

But in this case, I had to look. And there were issues. I’ve learned things about story and story structure since then, and I left some important elements out of the story. Enough elements that I was not content to just “put it out there again.”

So I did some re-writing and editing. And the story is better now, one I can live with.

The Editing

I’ve worked as an editor, and I know for a fact that I have gotten better over time. I catch mistakes I never did before, even when it comes to plot, pacing, and story. I’m sure my editor at the time, who is still editing, has gotten better. But there are some things in the old version that I could just not let go.

So I fixed those too. Hopefully, I caught them all, and those who read the book after that caught more. I hope it’s perfect now, and I know it is not.

The Cover

Old cover: great. But new story elements, new editing, all those things told me a new cover was the answer. So I talked to my current designer, and I can tell you that Elle at Evernight Designs knocked it out of the park. The new cover is amazing, and it fits right in with the fact that I have always wanted to turn this book into a series. She also did the cover for Harvested, and many of my other books.

That—well, that is another part of the story.

My Part in All This

Okay, so for a few years I had some personal issues, ones I won’t go into here. So a part of what happened is that I stopped promoting my work in large part, and actually (gasp) took a day job for a while.

The second was that I stopped writing fiction nearly as much. That means the second book in that series—well, it languished. But not anymore. I came out of the other side of that dark passage swinging, writing like crazy. And that meant my muse went: “What about book #2 in that series?”

What about it? The Good Shepherd has had stops, starts, and restarts. But now it is back in the writing mix and ready to be finished. The Dog Complex series is revived.

On September 30, Stray Ally will be revived. You can find it at your favorite e-book seller, and hopefully in print a whole bunch of places too. In fact, you can go to your local bookstore and request that they carry it, or order it for you if you like, or you can order it directly from this website once it is out.

Your own works, five years later? If you are a writer, you might see just how far you have come. For you, the readers? This is probably the best Stray Ally will ever get. But there are more stories coming. I can promise you that.