Saturday 24 April 2021

Branching out with V S Holmes, an International Bestselling Author from Ohio.



Due to a successful partnership with Creative Edge of Saskatchewan in 2020, the Scribbler played host to accomplished authors selected by CE. It was so much fun for all involved, we are doing it again in 2021. Watch the last Saturday of each coming month for authors under the CE banner.

This month we are extremely pleased to have V.S. Holmes as our guest. Better known as V, they have graciously agreed to a Branching Out interview and are sharing an Excerpt from Heretics.

V. S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the BLOOD OF TITANS series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary's Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold in 2020. Travelers is also included in the Peregrine Moon Lander mission as part of the Writers on the Moon Time Capsule. In addition, they have published short fiction in several anthologies.

As a disabled and non-binary human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds. When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode.







Allan: Thanks for being our guest this week, V. Before we chat about your novels and writing, you mentioned in our correspondence that you once lived in New Brunswick. Care to tell us about your time here in Atlantic Canada?


V: Thanks for having me! I lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick for a year during undergrad. I was attending Renaissance College at UNB at the time. While I opted for a more hands-on approach to learning and ultimately transferred back home, I loved the natural beauty of the Maritimes, particularly when visiting the Bay of Fundy.


Photo by Bay Ferries Ltd.


Allan: When I visit your website, I’m particularly intrigued by your novel – Blood of Titans – and the wonderful review that headlines the page. “The atmosphere surrounding this epic tale is intoxicatingly real… Holmes weaves a tapestry of the forthcoming events with the skill of a thaumaturge.” The San Francisco Review of Books. Wow!  Can you tell us a bit about the novel but before you do, maybe you would like to clarify the word “thaumaturge?”

Book one of the series.

V: Blood of Titans is my dark, epic fantasy series. The first book is Smoke and Rain, which became an internationally bestselling fantasy in 2018. As for “thaumaturge,” it means magician! The series follows the--mostly--human characters who are caught in the crossfire of a war between the gods and the titanic creatures that created them. I delve into the psychological effects of war, loss, and sense of self through characters who experience dissociation, isolation, and other symptoms of PTSD within a fantasy setting.



Allan: What’s the one main thing about your writing or your novels you’d like to tell our readers about today?” Something new? Something amazing?

V: While my fans will already know this, new readers can expect imperfect heroes, and complex villains. I strive to craft worlds where marginalized characters--specifically queer and disabled ones--not only exist, but thrive. Something exciting that happened recently is an excerpt of Travelers, the first of my Stars Edge: Nel Bently Books, will be headed to the Moon! I was lucky enough to join the Writers on the Moon project, and both the excerpt and a poem I wrote will be included in the literary time capsule aboard the Peregrine Moon Lander Mission headed for Lacus Mortis on our Moon.



Allan: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote with us.


V: This is one of my favorite memories. Until I was about 10, we lived way out in the woods. There was very little light and so at night, my dad would set up his telescope on the balcony. We spent hours looking at all the craters on the Moon, pointing out the Pleiades and Canis and the Horsehead Nebula. Once, on a very cold winter night, my dad woke me up to glimpse a ribbon of the Aurora. He adored science and space so it was incredibly moving for me to be able to also include a memorial of him on the Peregrine mission.


The Horsehead Nebula.


Allan: Once more, referring to your website, you tell your readers and followers – “As a disabled and non-binary human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.” Would you like to expound on that statement?


V: Using my passion for world building and creativity to help advocate for people like myself was a natural progression for me. Like my bio states, I’m a trans non-binary person and I have a chronic degenertive disease and PTSD. The way our world currently views those things has affected how I navigate my life and it was a long time before I actually saw a person like me in fiction. Honestly, it was also through fiction where I finally started to find words for what I had always known about my gender. A lot of the portrayals of marginalized demographics in fiction are stereotypes and pretty harmful--it does a number on you when the only people you see represented are villains or the butt of the joke.

Since I am an author, I wanted to pay it forward and write about trans and disabled characters in a way that turned a lot of the bigoted tropes on their head. I also like to focus on stories where the characters are “casually” queer or disabled, but it’s not a main feature of the plot, since all of us, while trans, or gay, or disabled, or neurodivergent, have so many other interesting facets to our lives and personalities.



Allan: Tell us about your main character – Nel Bentley and her series. As an archeologist yourself, is there a bit of V.S. Holmes in this character?


Book One in the Series.

V: There’s a bit of me in all my work and characters, of course, but Nel is certainly the most similar on a superficial level, as we share a field of study and she’s queer. However, she’s a woman and lesbian and works in academic archaeology (I work in the contract sector). When her pristine dig site ends up at the center of an intergalactic feud, sceptic Nel is thrown into a world of high-tech and higher stakes. She’s a lot of fun to write! In this newest book, she returns to Earth to track down the victims of a deadly radio transmission while navigating her anger and frustration at an unjust world, and her complicated relationship with her mercurial--and alien--girlfriend, Lin.


Allan: Your stories have won awards, received tremendous reviews, etc. What has been your proudest moment being an author?


V: It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m so honored and humbled with each of these achievements, but I think the most powerful moments for me are when readers reach out to say that they saw themselves in my pages. Knowing I’ve helped them, that I showed that they weren’t alone, and that characters like us can fight the baddies and save the world without being the “perfect queer” or able-bodied is the best feeling. I remember the first time I saw a character that looked like me and I’m thrilled to pay that forward.



Allan; Anything else you’d like to share with us?


V: If folks would like to dive into the Blood of Titans or Stars Edge worlds, they can try two free short stories that are available on my website. The first is The Tempest, an epic fantasy survival story following Nubon, who’s tossed out to sea for a trial-by-leviathan to win her kingdom’s crown. The second is a prequel to Travelers, and follows the events leading up to the first book, but through Lin’s eyes as she struggles with her brother’s orders not to get involved with the archaeological site they’re monitoring on Earth.

**** To find this great offer from V - go HERE.

And, of course, if you’re into snarky queer sci-fi that leans toward space horror, Heretics, Nel’s fourth adventure hits stores on May 8th!







An Excerpt from Heretics.

(Copyright is held by the Author. Used with permission)

Stiffness woke Nel. She rolled her neck with a groan. “I don’t think I have the body for camping anymore,” she muttered, peering against the sunlight bathing her face. Somewhere above, a hideously cheerful bird chirped, and she fumbled for her sleeping bag zipper.

There was no sleeping bag. Or tent. Sunlight was beaming from mirrors and lamps just overhead. The chirping continued and she glared at the holographic message displayed over her wrist.

REMINDER: Shuttle Departure for Le Fe De Amor in T-105 minutes

She peered at the glowing red letters for a moment before parsing that if she didn’t hurry, she might miss saying goodbye.

“Fuck fuck fuck!” She scrambled to her feet and bolted to the nearest elevator shaft. Shoving through the doors, she jabbed at her communicator. No messages from Lin or Zach, or frankly anyone. Only one unread thread blinked in her inbox, and it was the four system reminders that she had apparently slept through. She swiped it clear and bounced on the balls of her feet, trying to blink exhaustion from her bleary eyes.

“C’mon,” she muttered to the elevator as the floors rolled past. Weight draped over her as the capsule hurtled outward. Another two seconds and it hummed to a halt at the residential level. She broke into a jog. Whatever she and Lin had was complicated, made even more so by the layers of their increasingly complex world and Nel’s own mercurial temper. But I’ll still miss her. More than she’d like to admit.

Tense voices slowed Nel’s steps as she rounded the last bend to Lin’s room. Shrinking back against the wall, she peered around the corner. Dar lounged beside Lin’s open door, feet crossed at the ankle. Despite the relaxed stance, a dark glare knotted his features. Lin blocked her doorway, arms crossed.

“I don’t really care what you think,” Lin snapped. “And I don’t want to get into this at all, let alone here and now. Just because you’ve suddenly grown some emotions doesn’t mean I have to put them above my own. You had your chance to see things my way years ago. You had another chance back on CE7.”

“I’m not suddenly interested in ‘seeing things your way,’” he spat, “I’m interested in my baby sister’s safety! I’m concerned this rabbit hole, this obsession whatever it is, will get you killed. You were on track for a promotion—”

“You demoted me! I could have been Ndebele’s intern—”

“I had my reasons. What kind of person follows someone across fucking space—” he hissed.

“Dar, language.”

She never corrects my cussing. So why was she bothering with her brother’s? Lin’s voice was tired but tense with something else. Fear? Nel fought back the urge to rush from behind the corner and wedge herself between them. Except Dar didn’t look like he was going to hurt her.

“Lin, please just think about it. Ayah and Ibu are worried too, you know.”

Lin’s hand slammed into the wall with a sickening thud. Tendons bunched in her throat, but Nel couldn’t say if it was pain or fury. “Is that why I haven’t heard from them in months? You’re holding them over my head until I sharpen up and fly straight?”

Dar looked away and his gaze halted on Nel, tucked by the door. She opened her mouth to apologize, but his head shook almost imperceptibly.

“You know I haven’t heard from them either. But they mentioned it before. And again, when Nel’s transfer docs came over their screens this morning. Associating with her is going to get you killed.” He shoved off the wall and made to reach for her shoulder but stopped a few inches shy. “Please, just consider it.”

Nel jerked out of sight again. A second later he almost collided with her as he strode around the bend. His gaze pinned her, but he said nothing, boots stomping long after he disappeared up the hall.

She peeked at Lin’s door again. It was shut, the corridor deserted. Dar clearly felt she threatened Lin somehow. Why do I feel like he just entrusted a huge secret with me? Drawing a deep breath, she stepped up to Lin’s door, heart hammering. She pressed her brow to the door, palm spreading across the gleaming metal. None of them want me here—fuck, I don’t even want to be here.

And every nasty comment her exes’ bigoted parents spat at her now drifted in the space stations recycled air lightyears from home. Intellectually she knew it wasn’t anything to do with sexuality—not if she was to believe Paul’s anecdote about his relationship with IDH’s hotshot Komodor Muda Udara Dar Nalawangsa.

She pressed the private intercom. “Lin?”


“Sorry I’m late. Can I see you before you go?” Still nothing. “I saw Dar in the hall, looked kinda pissed. Do you—”


She whirled to see Lin striding down the hall. Her gleaming electrosuit was perfectly fastened, long hair braided and tucked carefully away in preparation for the helmet of her space suit. The shadows under her warm eyes rocketed Dar’s words to the forefront of Nel’s thoughts. “What kind of person follows someone across fucking space?” She pulled a smile she didn’t feel onto her face. “Hey, babe. Just looking for you.”

“Me too.”

Nel stared after her for a moment. They hadn’t kissed since the gala. “Sentimental” was the last word Nel would use to describe herself, but the undercurrent of exclusion gave her new sympathy for all the exes she ghosted over the years. “You sleep okay?”

“Not really. Been up since 0500.” Lin frowned at Nel’s half-done suit. “You packed?”


“Is your comm on? Did you get the messages?”

Nel glanced at her wrist. “Just a bunch of updates about your mission—”

“Our mission,” Lin interrupted. Her expression might have been a smile, were it not for the hardness in her eyes. “As of 0200 today you’ve been transferred to the Field task force.”

Excitement blasted through every one of Nel’s more complicated emotions. “What? Thank you!” She wrapped Lin in a tight hug. When it was only reluctantly returned, however, she stepped back. “You pulled strings?”

“Not me. Harris, I guess. Said he wanted someone like you on his team.”

Confusion dampened Nel’s thrill. She barely knew the man. What about the woman who almost single-handedly destroyed their second home appealed to him? Cut the shit, Bently, and be grateful. “Any idea what I’ll be doing?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe research? They’ll need data on CE7, Los Cerros—”

“Yeah, I know the abbreviation.” At Lin’s closed expression Nel forced tenderness into her voice. “Sorry, just got a bit of mental whiplash. I’m happy to help any way I can.” Tagging along behind a stranger was better than nothing, but it was far from ideal. But I could try to find Mom. And Tabby. And Annie. And everyone else who went dark. It could be just the radio silence, but the shadow behind Emilio’s eyes at the gala and Lin’s extra avoidance frayed Nel’s tenuous trust.

Both their wrists flashed. “You better get ready,” Lin suggested. At long last, something close to amusement graced her regal features.

Nel backed toward her own room down the hall. “Don’t let them leave without me, okay?”


Read the rest of Heretics at



Thank you for being our guest this week, V. It’s been a pleasure having you here. All the best with your future stories.


For all you fantastic visitors wanting to discover more about V and their writing, please follow these links:










Saturday 17 April 2021

Branching out with Award Winning Author, Bobby Nash of Bethlehem, GA.




Bobby’s back!  Second guest in the new Branching Out Interviews on the Scribbler.


It’s been a long time since Bobby’s first visit to the Scribbler. Way back in 2014 when the Scribbler was starting to gain traction, Bobby was a terrific guest then, sharing an Excerpt from Alexander Holzer’s Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt. See it HERE.

Moving on to 2019, he visited us again and we got to know a bit more about Bobby’s novels and a childhood memory, his involvement with Patreon and other good stuff. If you missed it, go HERE.

If you want to read a bio on Bobby, check the last Scribbler visit of have a look at his website –

So, Dear Reader, pull up a chair and let’s chat with Bobby.



Allan: Hello Bobby. Glad to have you back again. Before we get into writing topics, tell us about yourself, not an author’s bio, but how did you end up in Bethlehem? Did you grow up there? If not, where did you spend your childhood?


Bobby: How I got to Bethlehem isn’t overly interesting, I’m afraid. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and we lived in Doraville. When I was twelve, we moved to Winder, way out in the middle of nowhere back then, not so much now. Bethlehem sits next to Winder and when I moved out on my own, that’s where I ended up. See, not very exciting. Our middle of nowhere area has boomed in the past couple decades though. We are no longer as middle of nowhere as we once were.

I will add that I do like it here. It’s far enough outside of Atlanta to be the country, but it’s close enough to be in downtown Atlanta in less than an hour, traffic notwithstanding.




Allan: I've had the pleasure of reading Snow Falls, Book 0ne in the Abraham Snow series. You can read my and other reviews HERE. Tell us, Bobby, where did Abraham Snow come from? Is there part of Bobby Nash in this hero?


Bobby: The idea for Snow started as a film idea, actually. I wanted to do a series of minisodes (as they were called at the time), maybe 10-15 minutes each that, when watched together made a movie. The opening idea for the movie became chapter one of Snow Falls when it became a novella.

The reason the Snow books are novella length is that I was contacted by a new publisher about doing eBook novellas. They were looking for pitches and I had this movie idea laying around so I pitched that and they liked it. I wrote Snow Falls and it was published. I wrote Snow Storm and sadly nothing happened. The publisher eventually went the way of the dodo and I was able to retrieve my rights. I tried shopping it around, but at that time, no publisher I talked to was interested in doing novellas so I was left with two options. One, I could do a rewrite and make it a novel, which I didn’t want to do as I had come to like the format for this series. That left me with option two. I published it through my indie press, BEN Books and haven’t looked back. I’m currently working on book six as well as the Snow Shorts line of $.99 eBooks.

Snow is basically my love letter to the p.i. and cop shows and books I grew up with in the 70’s and 80’s. You’ll see a lot of The Rockford Files and Magnum p.i. in these tales. They are big fun, heavy on action and character. Character is very important to me. Character always comes first. Thankfully, the audience has liked these characters because I fell in love with them too. I hope to be writing Snow adventures for a long time to come.

Shameless self-plug: You can learn more about the Snow series at




Allan: You are often out on day trips with your father. Being the good son. Care to share any incidents on these trips with our readers?


Bobby: Sadly, these stories aren’t what I would call super-exciting either. My dad is not a big talker so mostly, our trips involve long periods of silence as we travel down the highways and back roads seeing where the road will take us. We do talk, but there are long periods of silence. I sometimes nap since he drives. The past few years have been tough on our family. In a very short span, we lost my mother and brother, plus my dad and I both had some health scares. Oh, yeah, then there is that whole pesky pandemic thing on top of everything else added an extra layer or two of stress to our lives.

It’s basically just the two of us now and to avoid going stir crazy at home, we go for rides. No destinations, most of the time. We just go and ride. It gets us out of the house, gets us some sun, and is relaxing. We have fun. Because of the pandemic, these are day trips so we’re back home in our own beds at night. That means we stay in a fairly small-ish area, although we can visit up to four states in close proximity. When things get back to normal, I hope to push for a longer trip that gets me to a beach. It has been far too long since I stood on a beach and listened to the crashing waves hit sand.

I also take photos on our trips, which I’ve used in stories. In the Snow book I’m currently writing, I’m using a real location with a waterfall that I discovered on one of our excursions. That’s been a nice bonus.

Another surprising bonus has been the reaction to my posts about our road trips on social media. I’ve started taking photos to add to the posts by request. My dad doesn’t do social media and he thinks it’s hilarious that people follow our excursions.





Allan: You’re a big comic book fan. You even write comic books. When did your fascination with comics start and how has it developed over the years?


Bobby: Comic Books were my first love. I remember the very first comics I ever owned. I still have them. The store had these three packs and two of the books were Spider-Man comics. I knew Spidey from reruns of the various cartoons. He was my favorite hero. I begged my mom to get them for me and she relented. It turned out to be Amazing Spider-Man issues 192, 193, and 194. I was hooked, much to my parent’s chagrin. They were not really a fan of my being into comics and tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade me from reading them.

Like most, I started writing and drawing my own comics on typing paper (some of you may have to Google that). I had big dreams of being a comic book artist, but alas, my art is not quite at professional comic book standards. Thanks to some tough love advice from a friend, I focused on writing and within a couple of years, I had my first professional comic writing gig.

Sadly, I don’t get to do comics as often as I would like. I don’t have the money to hire artists and I’m not really knowledgeable enough about Kickstarter to try and make it a go. I take my comic writing work where I can get it. I have a Domino Lady comic trade coming out this April that I’m really proud of and am happy to see released. It’s been in limbo a while.

There’s a small part of me that still dreams of writing The Fantastic Four one day. I would also love to write Thor or Captain America at least once. It’ll probably never happen, but there’s always that small sliver of hope.

 ***We all need dreams and goals. Good luck, Bobby.



Allan: You have a great collection of books and stories. You’ve won awards. Which of your works has been the most popular with readers?


Bobby: Oh, that’s a tough one. Over the years, I think I’ve gotten the most comments about my work on Domino Lady and Evil Ways, which was my first novel. I have been referred to as “the Domino Lady guy” and “the Evil Ways guy” before so I guess there’s something there. These days, Snow gets a lot of attention, which makes me happy. I’ve actually received letters telling me that nothing bad ever happen to Archer Snow or they’ll revolt. I love that the character has connected with them so well. Now, I put him in jeopardy all the time. I’m so mean. Ha! The awards are just icing on the cake. It’s a great feeling to know that these characters and stories are connecting with readers.



Allan: Which book was the most fun to write? Which one was the most difficult?


Bobby: I have a lot of fun with my characters. Snow and his pals are a hoot to write. The same is true with Sheriff Myers and his deputies. I feel as if I know these characters and I have fun hanging out with them. I’ve also had a couple of special projects like writing AC Comics’ Nightveil. I fell in love with that character when I was in high school. I remember telling a friend back then that I would write her one day. It took thirty years, but holding a copy of Nightveil: Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity in my hand was a huge thrill and a big feeling of accomplishment.

They’re all difficult in some way or another. Sometimes I get started at full steam and I fizzle out and lose my way. Other times, the characters stop talking to me and I flounder. Other days, I’m lazy and don’t feel like writing. Recently, this happened on the third book in a series. Somewhere along the way, the story went off course and I couldn’t course correct. It took time, but eventually, the characters showed me what I needed to do and I was able to get the story back on track. It meant losing a lot of words and starting over, but in the end, the story is better for it.



Allan: What’s new? What’s next?


Bobby: In 2021, part of my focus is on BEN Books, my indie press. There’s focus on Snow and Sheriff Myers as well as finally getting Evil Intent completed and in the hands of readers. Snow Shorts launched in January. I’ve invited a handful of other writers in to write stories with Snow and/or his supporting cast. That’s been a fun, and somewhat terrifying project. It’s hard to release control of your babies, you know. I’ve been very pleased with the results though. I mentioned the upcoming Domino Lady Threesome comic trade coming out at the end of April and there are at least three more Domino Lady stories coming throughout the year. The publisher has commissioned three. I’ve already completed two of them. I’m also doing a The Lone Ranger short story for an anthology, which is a fun character to write. The Horror Houston: Horror Hunter series will debut soon. It’s a four-book series and three are written. There will be a novel follow up to my horror/western story in The Devil’s Due Anthology that will be fun. I’m also planning more Lance Star: Sky Ranger too. Oh, and a couple other novels and novellas in production that haven’t been officially announced yet. Whew. Somewhere in there, I may take a nap.



***It’s been a great interview, Bobby. Seems like you have lots to look forward to.


An Excerpt from In The Wind – A Tom Myers Mystery

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)



The character of Tom Myers, and other characters in the story, first appeared as secondary characters in my novel, EVIL WAYS. They also made an appearance in DEADLY GAMES!, again in a secondary capacity. They will also make a small appearance in the upcoming EVIL INTENT. IN THE WIND is the first book in a series where Tom Myers is the main character.

This is the opening chapter to IN THE WIND – A Tom Myers Mystery. Oddly enough, Tom Myers does not appear in this chapter, but it sets up the tone and style of the book. I hope you enjoy it.




Pete Messer hated his current assignment.

It wasn’t a tough gig, but what it also wasn’t was very exciting. He had been tasked, along with two other U.S. Marshals like himself and an FBI Agent to baby sit a witness at a safe house out in the middle of nowhere.

On paper, it sounded like a plum assignment.

In reality, he was bored to death.

Their witness was a mid-level scumbag who kept book for the Manelli crime family named Bates Hewell. Although the Manelli’s had been keeping a low profile in recent years, save for a slight altercation a year earlier that ended in a shootout. Instead, they had focused the investigation on their legitimate enterprises as opposed to their less than legal means of income, they hadn’t abandoned their criminal ways. They just learned how to keep those endeavors out of the limelight.

What their witness knew would mean mass arrests and convictions. Once the word got out that Hewell had turned State’s evidence, if it hadn’t already, all hell was going to break loose. This guy’s life wouldn’t be worth a plugged nickel if the Manelli’s got a hold of him. For the past two months, Agent Messer and a revolving team of agents had been babysitting the witness, moving every few days to a new secure location in an effort to keep anyone looking for Hewell off balance. They had to keep him safe until his deposition later in the week. After that, they would repeat the process until the trial, which could take anywhere up to a year or more to begin. Longer no doubt, once Manelli’s high priced attorneys got in on the act.

Messer hoped there was a plan to rotate him out of babysitting detail soon. He needed a break, not just from the monotony of the assignment, but from the annoying protectee in his charge. So far, he was the only Marshal on the detail to not be swapped out and he was starting to wonder if he was on someone’s shit list back home or if they had simply forgotten about him.

“Ours is not to question why…” he muttered and dropped the cigarette on the driveway before grinding it out with his shoe. He had given up the cancer sticks once upon a time, but when on these seemingly never-ending protection details, he craved a smoke if for no other reason than to have something to do. Out of respect for his coworkers, he always took it outside when time to light up. Slipping on a sweater jacket and hoodie over his button up shirt and tie to keep up the illusion that it was a nice, normal family renting out the old Patterson place off Old Country Road 3 near the intersection of Highway 81.

To his co-workers, he was walking the perimeter while grabbing a smoke.

The safe house sat on a fairly secluded piece of land in a quiet northeast Georgia area just a few miles north of the middle of nowhere, a perfect place to hide out. The house they had rented under false, government created identities, was a ranch built in the 1980’s when the house had once been a farm house. There were several acres of fairly flat, overgrown with grass, terrain surrounding them, which meant they would see anyone coming their way long before they reached the house.

From the outside, there was nothing extraordinary about the old Patterson place.

The inside wasn’t much different, which made it the perfect safe house to keep their witness on ice until time for him to stand before the grand jury and spill his guts.

The safe house was your typical ranch style house that was built in the 1980’s all over the southeastern United States. Three bedrooms, two of them tiny, two bathrooms, kitchen, den, living room, dining room, small fireplace, and two car garage that only fit two cars if you didn’t have to open the doors on either of them. The house sat on fourteen acres of flat farm land, which allowed them to keep an eye on all directions. It was a foreclosure that had been purchased under a dummy corporation’s name to keep it secure. On paper, it was a rental property.

Only a handful of people knew its real purpose.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Messer walked into the living room and yawned. The sun had set less than an hour earlier and since he had been on duty since midnight, he was ready to crash.

“I’m beat,” he told the Parker and Cutler, who were playing what was probably their hundredth game of poker. One of them had brought cards and chips. Messer wasn’t sure if they were actually playing for real money or not.

Messer, along with Deputy U.S. Marshal Simon Parker, Deputy U.S. Marshal Amy Street, FBI Agent Mike Cutler had spent the past week rotating shifts around their witness, an annoying man who rarely slept and watched a lot of TV when he wasn’t pacing nervously. He was an anxiety attack just waiting to happen.

“Yeah, sack out, man,” Parker said as he folded and tossed his cards atop the pile of chips he had just forfeited. “You look tired.”

“You’re a peach, Parker,” Messer said.

“Knock first. Street’s in there.”

Thanks. He knocked and there was no answer so he assumed she was asleep. Messer HHHH gave his colleagues a half-hearted salute before heading into the master bedroom and quietly closing the door behind him. In the dark, he couldn’t see Amy Street in either of the two beds that sat against opposite walls of the master bedroom, but he entered the room quietly anyway.

Both beds were empty. Once the door was closed, he heard the shower running in the bathroom and saw light from beneath the door. It didn’t take a twelve-year law enforcement veteran to put two and two together.

Messer kicked off his shoes and climbed into the bed farthest from the bathroom without bothering to change clothes, although he did loosen and pull off his tie and unbutton his shirt. He hung his shoulder holster on the bed post along with the tie then laid on his back and stared at the ceiling. He was tired, but sleep constantly eluded him, especially on the job. It was not a new problem. He couldn’t shut off his brain long enough to doze off. There were too many variables running through his head, schedules, check ins, perimeter searches, things like that. His mind was on the job twenty-four/seven. While that made him good at his job, it had killed more than a few relationships. Occupational hazard.

Messer could still hear the TV from the living room through the door, but it was a muffled roar. Their witness was obsessed with old TV shows. Thanks to the abundance of cable channels showing classic TV lineups these days and the witnesses inability to sleep for more than two or three hours at a time, each night he was able to watch one episode each of each Star Trek series, the A-Team, Quantum Leap, Magnum p.i., Nash Bridges, Night Court, Cheers, and Simon & Simon before passing out for a few hours when the house fell into blessed silence.

The deputy marshal did not see the appeal, personally. He had seen many of those shows as a kid, but after seeing an episode once, he never felt the need to watch it again. He couldn’t understand people like his brother who collected box sets of old shows and watched them over and over again. It seemed weird.

Messer had just started to doze off when the bathroom door opened and Street came into the room. In the short time he had known her, he came to realize that she never walked through a door so much as she burst through them.

“Sorry,” Street said softly as soon as she realized she wasn’t alone. She flipped off the bathroom light and plunged the room into darkness. The only light came in under the door from the living room, the red numbers on the clock, and from around the edges of the closed blinds on the window.

“Did I wake you?” Street asked as she tiptoed across the room on bare feet.

“Nah. I just got in,” Messer mumbled. “You turning in or heading back to the final frontier out there?”

“Nap time,” Street said. After securing her weapon in the nightstand, she climbed into the other bed. She was dressed more comfortably than he was, in sweats and a baggy T-shirt, her long, dark hair pulled up into a ponytail.

He and Street got along pretty well, probably because he was the only man in the house that hadn’t tried to hit on her yet. He found her attractive, but she wasn’t really his type. He hadn’t been able to say the word gay out loud yet, despite John pressuring him to at least tell his parents about them moving in together. They both agreed that keeping it out of the workplace was probably smart, especially on these long babysitting gigs. Based on the way some of the guys acted around Street, he could only imagine the kind of bullshit he would have to put up with if they knew. He hated having to hide who he was, but there were some fights he found were easier to avoid than have. This was one of them.

Messer said good night, then rolled over to face the wall, and eventually drifted off.

He woke to an out of place sound.

Marshal Messer’s eyes snapped open at the sound. Without sitting up, he glanced around the room. The clock showed that it was twenty minutes to four in the morning. He could still hear the TV playing in the other room, but the sound that woke him had not come from there.

He sat up on the edge of the bed softly, quietly. He focused, carefully listening for another clue that he hadn’t dreamt the sound that woke him. He slipped his feet into his shoes, then stood and pulled the service weapon from his shoulder holster still dangling from the bed post.

“Time to get up?” Street asked sleepily from her bunk.

“Shhh…” he said. “I thought I heard…”

That’s when the shooting started.

Messer eased open the door for a look. The living room was empty so he opened the door all the way and stepped out.

Amy Street was two steps behind him, gun also in hand. She was still barefoot, which seemed like a bad idea, but he wasn’t about to admonish her in the middle of a shootout. She moved toward the fireplace that jutted out from the wall off the master bedroom to divide the living room from the dining room. It provided good cover.

Messer went wide, heading to the far wall so he could back her up.

Street pointed two fingers at her eyes then pointed in the direction of the dining room and the kitchen beyond.

He shook his head. He didn’t see anyone.

He pointed toward the open door leading to the other bedrooms, bathroom, and stairwell to the attic that was on his side of the room.

She shook her head. It was clear.

Messer inched forward, ready to head toward the kitchen when he heard glass break.

He turned into the hallway, gun leading the way. The bathroom was ahead. It was clear. So was the back bedroom.

Where the hell is everybody?

He heard glass shatter again and bolted for the front bedroom. He entered just in time to see their protected witness leap out of the broken window into the bushes below.

He’s escaping! Where’s his detail?

Hewell shouted as the prickly bushes bit into his flesh, cutting and scratching him as he freed himself from their grasp. Once free, Hewell ran for the field ahead, hoping to lose himself in the tall grass.

“Stop!” Messer commanded.

Hewell looked back, but kept running.

For a second, the marshal considered shooting him, but couldn’t risk it. Hewell was a scumbag and a crook, but he was also under the protection of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Shooting him would not be looked on favorably.

He heard the sound of footsteps come up behind him. They were heavy. Boots. Not Street. She was barefoot, he recalled.

He turned just in time to see a stranger enter the room.

The man was armed and seemed just as surprised to see someone there as Messer was to see him.

The man raised his gun.

Messer pulled the trigger first, two slugs to the heart, dropping the man where he stood.

He ran back into the living room.

“Street! We’ve got a runner and shooters! Watch your…”

That’s when he saw her.

Street was leaning against the fireplace, a pool of blood beneath her. She had been shot, belly wound.

“I got… got him,” she said through the pain.

There was no time to question her. He had to get them both to safety and call in medics for Street. He decided he would catch up with Hewell after he was sure she was okay.

“We got to get out of here,” he whispered into her ear as she helped her back to her feet. With one hand, she put pressure on the wound. She still held her gun in the other. They reached the front door without incident.

Messer opened the door and stepped out onto the small concrete porch. It was barely large enough to hold a chair. There was one step between the ground and the porch. He took one step forward.

He didn’t feel the blast until they were airborne.

The house exploded in a giant blazing ball of fire and smoke. Walls were reduced to shrapnel that hammered Messer and Street like tiny missiles as they were propelled across the front lawn.

They hit the ground hard as wood and plaster rained down all around them like a fiery thunderstorm. The grass ignited and spread quickly to the nearest tree.

Street was lying face down in the grass.

She wasn’t moving.

Messer tried to get to her, but he couldn’t move either. He tried again and felt something tear in his side. It was the most unimaginable pain he had ever felt in his life.

Before he passed out, Pete Messer caught a glimpse of Bates Hewell before he disappeared into the tall grass.

Their star witness was in the wind.


And that’s the end of the opening chapter (I always start my BEN Books releases this way. Consider it Chapter 0).

You can learn more about In The Wind at It is available in paperback, ebook, and audio. You can read it for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. You can find it here:






Thanks again Bobby, for being our guest this week. Wishing you all the success you deserve.


Bobby: Thanks for having me back, Allan. It’s always great fun to chat with you.


For more information on Bobby Nash please visit him on-line at
among other places across the web.