Saturday, September 17, 2016

The backstory: Beyond The Falcon

Muriel S. Wolle's 'Stampede to Timberline' was the historical inspiration for 'Beyond The Falcon', based on a true story of a discovery in Southern Colorado by my husband in 1963. Though Wolle viewed the past as a dead zone, Beyond The Falcon brings the discovery by my husband to life through his awe-struck descriptions flavored by his Native American heritage. "Beyond The Falcon" was my maiden effort at writing a novel and began in 1976, while living in Central Colorado, as a handwritten, notebook paper, romantic vision kept in a blue canvas three-ring binder for decades (Which I still have). My first submission, to a large publisher, was rejected on the basis that the category had been filled by Louis L'Amour's coming stories. Though I was encouraged to complete the work by a senior editor who called me at home one afternoon, I shelved it for over twenty years and satisfied my writing urge with freelance and editing positions along the way. In 2009, Beyond The Falcon was completed and subsequently upload on Amazon, where it remains, today, exclusively as an ebook. If you are one drawn to history of the Civil War Era and the West, particularly the Rocky Mountains, or are just those who might enjoy a detailed, romantic journey of dedication to rediscovering a true love - this may be a story you would enjoy. Muriel Wolle never knew that I wrote it, but Francis Wolle, her husband, both pillars of the University of Colorado, corresponded, and he said that she would be excited for me to finish the work. They both touched my heart through their lives, love, work, and kindness. In recognition of that inspiration, I dedicated the book to them and will be donating a portion of the sales to the University of Colorado alumni association. You can go to the Amazon book page for this novel and click on the "Look Inside" icon above the cover to read a portion of this work. Should you decide to purchase one and read it, I would sincerely appreciate a return to the cover page for a review post. All the best - SMS

Amazon Page Link

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Operation: Clouded Judgment

Colonel Gene Vaughn is a retired military intelligence officer who has managed the security system for a major global manufacturing interest for over twenty years, but everything he had sworn to protect is betraying him.  Everyone knows that B&E would engage stealth units to exact advantage by targeting employees as incentive to remain loyal.  When initiated to target Vaughn, his loyalty focuses exclusively on his country.

The company system began to unravel when Rita Wesley’s small engineering database at a B&E facility exposed global shadow fixed asset distribution, and the D.O.J. pursued tax fraud.  Vaughn's team revealed the corrupt network of players and uncovered diverted funding for international covert activities using tax incentive collections.  They discover links alleging White House involvement designed to bring a lame duck president to ruin, assassination, or both.  While incinerating resources, General Vandenberg attempts to divert Vaughn.

Vaughn knows that obscene injections of invisible money are flowing through the veins of this monster, but even he does not yet fully understand the magnitude of the insanity.  All he truly knows is that someone had manipulated his team for surveillance to gain favor and tactical position, and they have Rita.  They had thought that would limit him.

They were dead wrong.

Kindle Edition available on Amazon - US.

Kindle Edition available on Amazon - UK.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Come Ride the Rockies

Sometimes, when you look closely, you can see the falcon in the snow - Wings cupped for the strike and talons braced for the kill.  You may think you can hear the scream.  The warning of the kill that freezes the prey as it echoes through the valleys and beyond.

In 1963, my husband discovered the remnants of a town above Williams Creek Lake near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  There, he saw a huge brass bell on the floor of an old structure.  It was inscribed, ‘1864’.  After much research, I learned that the bells were from Salt Lake City, and sent out with each expedition to settle a new area.  If you ever have occasion to walk the Rocky Mountains along the Great Divide, stop and listen -

You, too, may find yourself, Beyond The Falcon.  All the best – S.M. Starkey

Dedicated to:  My grandson, Steven.

Free for Kindle Unlimited
Free on Kindle Unlimited

Saturday, July 30, 2016

About Authors, Readers, and Reviews on Amazon


Credit: A pinwords production.

I have to say, over the past four years, I have read a great deal of author posts in the 'voice' section of Community on Amazon. I have watched promotional tools discussions, as well. Then, there is my personal experience which aligns with much of what is being written.

Indie Authors are discouraged – and I cannot say that I blame them. I am one, so I walk in their shoes; I bleed from a relative pen. Reviews are hard to come by from nearly anyone, much less the average consumer. It just isn't happening very much, and it is detrimental to the industry as a whole.

I read the other day about the tools placed at the end of an ebook, where the reader thinks they are submitting a review, when in fact, they are merely participating in a data collection that does not appear on the author's book listing and does not help other customers – not really.

Then, there's the Free Promotion of ebooks. It really seems to be a bust for reviews. The statistics recently exposed said that only 2% of readers will post a review. I find that people who download free books, rarely if ever make an effort to go back to the actual book listing and post a comment or review. Oh sure, if you search around on the web – endlessly – you might find a few comments here and there about a book, but it is not helping sales or rankings for Kindle or the authors. If you cannot get reviews, rankings are not elevated and your books do not get any exposure (or very little) across the Amazon structure. Readers need to post reviews. They are missing a real opportunity to elevate the industry for all.

I also found that the free promotions don't do much for sales. They do, however, offer an end around on Kindle Unlimited subscriptions, which ARE beneficial to authors (and Amazon!)

In another twist, there were the pitfalls of exposure of a book to any attention that brings out the snarks. There are those in this world that want to quell any competition, and I find that truly deplorable. Writing injurious posts about an author or a book is not productive or beneficial to any aspect of the industry. Of course, if something is really not worth of a positive review, just go by the old adage “If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all.” Not posting a review is detrimental, so that works.

Most authors seem to be reasonable about their work. They all have their own perspectives, inspirations, and goals. Sharing those in a written work is not an easy task. Giving that work away to achieve, at least, offering the viewpoint to plant seeds in the thoughts of others is not easy, either, but it offers some gratification. Most of us do not think we are writing a Pulitzer piece. Most of us offer some very entertaining work, however. Most of us are not comfortable with agents or editors that take our artistry as an idea for their own agendas and ghost write a 'product', so we self-publish, independently. We choose to remain true to our own voice. It means that much to us. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing; All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He was absolutely right.

So, if you are looking for good reads, and you have a limited budget, take a look at Indie Author works in the genre of your liking. You will find some true gems there, and when you finish the work, post a review on the Amazon listing for that book. It only takes a minute. You can even ask a question in one section of the page for most of them, and the author will respond. If you read a great deal, seriously consider Kindle Unlimited as an option for your needs.

Indie Authors need to support other Indie Authors through social media and buying each others products and writing reviews. Readers need to find our work and participate in the process of elevating those works. It also, might be worth challenging Amazon to re-evaluate the Free Promotions tool in support of Kindle Unlimited, as well.

All the best – S.M. Starkey, an Independent Author/Publisher

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Small town secrets...

Sex, lies, and violence. Murder mystery/Thriller. #Free to all July 1-2. Not for the faint of heart.

Deanna Cruz was a gorgeous young woman.  She could have any man she wanted, and several had let her.  She was tall, bronze-skinned, with raven hair and peridot green eyes.  A real looker, some of the attorneys around town had said.  That did not happen in their sleepy little county seat in North Texas.  They do not hire pretty girls - Too much temptation and too many prying eyes.  This one was the daughter of the most generous ruling Party political contributor in the county, and the number one employer of the constituents.  When she came knocking, they had no choice.  Though they were all certain that she would break hearts, they never considered hers, or the explosive  impact her life and demise would have on their quiet little brand of justice in this isolated and picturesque community.

Disclaimer:  This book is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.  This novel contains material that is not suited for children.  Rated: R  (LVNS)

Author: S. M. Starkey is a retired paralegal with years of experience working for and with former political figures.  Her background includes engineering technology for global manufacturing entities, project coordination for large commercial construction interests, and freelance journalist for the equine industry, as well as a legal, political, and historical columnist until 2005.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The event that changed the world...

Following the death of Augustus in 14 A.D., Rome fell into a downward spiral of rule that forced the Empire into a century of turmoil, wars, corruption, and instability. Followed by the unrest in Roman Judea and the subsequent crucifixion of the religious leader, Jesus of Nazareth, the appetite for the ambitious was insatiable. On trial for treason, a lone Roman commander stood between the forces of life and death for himself, soldiers in his charge, Pontius Pilate, and moral leaders such as Joseph of Arimathea.  His life included personal exchanges with some of the Disciples, Nicodemus, Seneca, Sejanus, the insurrectionist, Barabbas, and a brief intimate interlude with Claudia Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate. As an early student of history and the law, he would lead a revolution of sorts through a Roman Court in Caesarea-Maritima before the throne of Pilate that would reveal the nature and culmination of the events that had changed the world.

This Commander and favored litigator of Pilate was appointed to expedite the execution of what he believed to be an innocent man whom he had come to know as the Son of God as he looked up at the moment of Christ’s last breath. His story unfolds the tangled web of intertwined lives that led to the greatest event known to mankind.

Though history never recorded his name, Septimius Antonius Furia comes to life in For They Know Not as a named central eyewitness to the greatest event the world has ever known.  He lived it, and this is his story.

Find it on Amazon. Free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Net proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Brooklyn Museum to benefit the Tissot Collection.