Monday musing: Chasing my hero in the dark

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By Caleb Pirtle III

Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

Writers work alone.

Writers write alone.

Writers walk alone.

Writers are happiest alone.

I was in that state when the Muse came wandering in.

He didn’t knock.

He never does.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Where you been?” he asked.

“Don’t remember.”

“You running away?”

“Probably.”

“Who’s chasing you?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?”

“Haven’t looked back.”

“Why not?”

“Might be gaining on me.”

The Muse sat down and opened the blinds beside my desk.

It was dark outside.

He shouldn’t have been surprised.

It was dark inside.

“Who are you today?” the Muse asked.

“Ambrose Lincoln.”

“I thought you killed him off?”

“He didn’t die.”

The Muse opened a copy of Night Side of Dark and read aloud the last paragraph of the novel:

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

“I thought he was a goner for sure,” the Muse said.

“I didn’t expect him to live either,” I said.

“What happened?”

I shrugged.

“It’s a miracle,” I said.

The Muse laughed.

“You couldn’t pull the trigger,” he said.

“I’ve kind of grown attached to him.”

“So where is Lincoln going now.”

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?

“He hasn’t told me.”

“Do you think Lincoln knows?” asked the Muse.

“He never knows.”

“But he’s in trouble?”

“If I’m writing the book,” I said, “Lincoln’s in trouble.”

“Has he been shot at?”

“Twice.”

“Has he been hit?”

“Once.”

“Has he fallen in love?”

“Twice.”

“Are both ladies still alive?”

“One is for sure.”

“What happened to the other one?”

“I’m trying to find out.”

The Muse leaned back, raised an eyebrow and folded his arms.

“How could Lincoln misplace beautiful woman?” he asked.

I stared out the window.

I stared into the darkness.

“That’s why I’m writing the novel,” I said.

The Muse blinked.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“I want to find out if somebody killed her,” I said.

“Why don’t you ask him?

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“He’s on a midnight train to Munich.”

“So?”

I shrugged.

“I’m not,” I said.

I heard the whistle.

The sound was low and far away.

If I didn’t keep writing, I would never catch Lincoln.

I might not anyway.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

He is the author of more than 65 published books, including the new noir suspense thrillers, Golgotha ConnectionSecrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies and Night Side of Dark. His other novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

He has written such award winners as “XIT: The American Cowboy,” “Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season,” “The Grandest Day,” “Echoes from Forgotten Streets,” and “Spirit of a Winner.” His nonfiction works include Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk and No Experience Required.

Caleb earned a journalism degree from The University of Texas and became the first student at the university to win the national William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. As a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he received both the Texas Headliner’s and Associated Press Awards.

He served as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and his travel writing was given the National Discover America Award three times. For more than two decades, Pirtle was editorial director for a custom publishing company in Dallas.

He has also written teleplays for network television.

Find more about Caleb at his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

You can find Night Side of Dark  on Amazon.

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Memory musings: The stories of strangers

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I meet them. I don’t know them. But I listen to them. Their words have kept me in business.

By Caleb Pirtle III

He was a man growing old before his time and facing death.

It was inevitable, and Harold knew it.

I sat with him on death row in the Texas prison.

He couldn’t remember the crime.

It was murder.

He couldn’t remember the time.

It was night.

And he figured he was guilty.

Harold was a stranger.

He intrigued me.

So I wrote about him.

I met Porter Waggoner on a tour bus heading south.

Mornings were always the same.

Porter Waggoner at the Grand Ol’ Opry in 1999. From Wikimedia.

Nights were always in a different town.

He and his band had already made over two hundred one-night stands for the year, and the miles were still rolling past him.

He wrote songs.

He sang songs.

He was addicted to the spotlight.

He loved to night fish when he was home.

He was on the lake at the end of a long tour.

He had drifted off to sleep.

A boat came around the bend, and the spotlight hit him in the face.

Porter grinned.

“I woke up singing “Carroll County Accident,” he said.

He was a stranger.

He fascinated me.

So I wrote about him.

The old man had lived the blues.

He was blind.

He didn’t have a lot of money.

He sang for tips.

He sang in a little bar at the end of a dead-end Mississippi road.

He had been in love, he said.

She had loved another.

And every night he sang about them.

Lost loves.

Shots in the night.

Unmarked graves.

What did he know about their deaths?

I asked him.

He winked.

He kept right on singing.

The blind blues singer was a stranger.

His story snared me.

So I wrote about him.

He ran a late-hours Fort Worth nightclub he called The Cellar.

Live music.

Loud music.

Waitresses floating from table to table in their underwear.

Bring your own bottle.

Bring as much as you want.

Pat Kirkwood supplied the ice and the cokes and the tonic.

Pay a cover charge.

Drink all night.

Kirkwood didn’t need advertising.

He simply called the law.

Women are taking their clothes off, he said.

Then he called the newspaper.

Police are raiding me at midnight he said.

The next morning, his name and photograph were plastered all over the front page.

Can’t get page one advertising?

Pat Kirkwood did.

Other nightclubs sold booze.

Kirkwood sold sin.

And he was good at it.

But he would never forget the night the Secret Service agents sat all night and drank all night, and by one o’clock the next day, a President lay dead in a trauma room.

Pat Kirkwood was a stranger.

But he was always a person of interest.

So I wrote about him.

And that’s the reason I wrote my Memoir of Sorts.

The book’s not about me.

I’m just the man with the notepad and the nineteen-cent ballpoint pen.

But I talk to strangers.

And every stranger has a different story.

Caleb Pirtle III published his Memoir of Sorts in 2017. Find it Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

He is the author of more than 65 published books, including the new noir suspense thrillers, Golgotha Connection, Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies and Night Side of Dark. His other novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

He has written such award winners as “XIT: The American Cowboy,” “Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season,” “The Grandest Day,” “Echoes from Forgotten Streets,” and “Spirit of a Winner.” His nonfiction works include Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk and No Experience Required.

Caleb earned a journalism degree from The University of Texas and became the first student at the university to win the national William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. As a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he received both the Texas Headliner’s and Associated Press Awards.

He served as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and his travel writing was given the National Discover America Award three times. For more than two decades, Pirtle was editorial director for a custom publishing company in Dallas.

He has also written teleplays for network television.

Find more about Caleb at his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Thursday teaser: Rainy Night to Die

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Read on to see how your could WIN a free e-copy of this week’s featured novel, the brand-new espionage thriller

By Caleb Pirtle III

PAULINE SAT IN silence on the sofa as the hours dragged slowly from morning to late afternoon.

The clock might as well have stopped.

It no longer had any meaning.

Just a tick.

Then a tock.

And time, which would outlive them all, stepped off the edge of the earth and would never be recovered again.

It fell into yesterday.

It would never see tomorrow.

It was lost, gone on a one-way street that ran forever and might run into a dead end before dark, and time had taken Pauline with it.

She had the guilt of murder hanging heavy on her conscience.

She had watched his face as he moved toward her, a red mask of rage, his veins pulsating on the side of his head, his pupils dilating, eyes turning from dark to a deeper shade of black.

His hands were huge, his fingernails torn ragged, packed with blood and dirt.

His naked and bloated body was awash with sweat.

Pauline could not forget the grin that tore across his face as though it had been scarred by a hacksaw.

His pale lips wrapped themselves around a mouthful of yellowed teeth, each filed sharply to a point.

On more than one occasion, Petrov had bragged about biting the nipples off a woman’s breast before throwing her broken body back out on the street.

Pauline did not doubt his story for a moment.

The first bullet had staggered him.

He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.

Maybe if the slug had only erased that sick and wicked grin off his face, she would not have fired again.

Petrov’s death was self-defense, she told herself.

She had no choice.

It was a law as old as the first light to touch a barren earth.

Kill.

Or be killed.

She had borne the brunt of Nikolay’s anger for the final time.

He would never touch her again.

She would no longer bear the bruises delivered by his fists.

But did it really matter?

Who would believe her?

A judge?

Pauline knew she would never see a judge.

Her trial would take place in either a back alley some night while a splinter of moonlight touched her face or on the cold, winter shores of the Ukraine River while a bitter rain tried to wash the demons from her tortured soul.

One bullet.

Her skull would crack.

Would she see death before death found her?

Spies did not die with honor.

They just died.

Were buried.

And soon forgotten.

It was as if they had never left their footprints upon the same dirt that would hold their graves.

Pauline felt isolated.

She was alone.

She couldn’t run.

There was no place to go.

They would find her.

The Russians had eyes in every corner of the city.

They were watching.

Always watching.

They were watching her.

Her life began in one flicker of firelight and would end in another.

About Rainy Night to Die

Roland Sand is the quiet assassin. His missions for intelligence agencies are those no one else wants to tackle. The reason is simple. Sand is expendable. If he doesn’t return, he won’t be missed. His name is erased. It’s as though he never existed.

Sand is sent to Ukraine to smuggle out a beautiful lounge jazz singer who, for years, has been smuggling Russian secrets back to MI-6’s home office in Great Britain. Her contact in London has been compromised. He is found floating in the Thames River. Sand must extricate Pauline Bellerose before the Russians trace the stolen secrets back to her and place a noose around her neck.

He has twenty-four hours to find the singer and remove her to safety. If she is caught, he dies.

A ship is waiting in the fog off the coast of Odessa. Time is running out. He must reach the ship at the appointed hour, or it will leave without them. In the secret world of espionage, the window of escape is narrow and closing all the time. The midnight storm is the only place to hide.

The Russians are waiting on the road to sea. Sand can’t outrun them. He can’t outfight them. He must outwit them. Otherwise, he’s trapped, and it’s a rainy night to die.

Find it on Amazon.

Win a free copy

Caleb Pirtle will give a free e-copy of Rainy Night to Die to one person who can identify Roland Sand’s identifying feature. Leave your answer in the Comments below.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

Pirtle is the author of more than 80 published books, including the noir suspense thrillers, Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Place of Skulls, and Night Side of Dark. He has also written two noir thrillers, Lovely Night to Die and Rainy Night to Die.

Other historical novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award and Best of Texas Book Award, and Bad Side of a Wicked Moon. He has written such nonfiction award winners as XIT: The American Cowboy, Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season, The Grandest Day, Echoes from Forgotten Streets, Spirit of a Winner, and Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk.

Pirtle lives at Hideaway Lake in East Texas with his wife, Linda, who is the author of three cozy mysteries.

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Monday musings: Fiction is often more believable than truth

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Maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right. Maybe life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man can invent.

You might as well write fiction.

Nobody believes the truth.

Why?

The truth often reads more like fiction than fiction does.

Just listen to the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:


Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive of the things, which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city gently remove the roofs, and peep in at all the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, it would make all fiction with the conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.

There are stories taking place in real life that are too strange and bizarre to be believed, yet they are part of the historical fabric that makes up the comings and goings of the world at large.

Take Edgar Allan Poe, for example. He wrote a novel that fulfills every tenet of the author’s literary connection with horror. He called it The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and it told the odd tale of four shipwreck survivors who drifted on the open sea in a lifeboat for many days without food.

Desperate, they made a pact among themselves.

They would draw straws.

The loser would die.

The loser would make several meals.

A cabin boy drew the wrong straw.

His name in fiction was Richard Parker.

The tale was chilling.

Edgar Allan Poe always claimed that the novel was based on a true story.

He was right.

But there was one problem.

The true story had not taken place yet.

It was forty-six years later before the Mignonette went down in ocean waters.

Four men survived.

Four men and lifeboat.

The days passed, and they made a fateful decision.

They would draw straws.

The loser would die.

They would eat the loser.

The cabin boy drew the wrong straw.

His name, ironically enough in truth, was Richard Parker.

The stars do align strangely sometimes.

Try this coincidence on for size.

Wilmer lived the gentleman life of a farmer on the road between two major cities while the storm clouds of the Civil War were boiling overhead.

To the North lay Washington, D. C.

That was where the Yankees had their capital.

To the South, the road led to Richmond.

It was controlled by Johnny Reb.

And Wilmer?

All he wanted to do was farm.

Bull Run was the battle that triggered the war, and it erupted along the road that ran right past Wilmer’s farmstead. The Confederates even confiscated his home and turned it into their headquarters.

Wilmer tried to hang around.

But the shots of war were coming too fast, too deadly, and too often.

Bullets were slowly tearing his house apart.

So, being of sound mind and body, Wilmer packed up and headed farther back into Virginia where, once again, he could find peace and a measure of solitude.

The sounds of war faded, then stopped altogether. He was beyond their reach.

But four years later, the Yankees of Ulysses S. Grant and the Johnny Rebs commanded by Robert E. Lee once again came to Wilmer’s farm.

Wilmer McLean watched Lee surrender his sword.

He watched the Confederates lay down their rifles.

He watched them ride away from the McLean House on the edge of Appomattox.

He watched a terrible war come to an end.

And he later remarked, “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”

Try making somebody believe that in a novel.

Too contrite they would say.

We don’t believe in such coincidences, they would say.

But none of us can escape them.

Maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right. Maybe life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man can invent.

The writers of fiction would never dare to put these stories on paper.

Fear is the reason.

Fear of ridicule and humiliation.

I believe all writing of fiction based on a few facts and a little truth.

You can see how Caleb Pirtle III uses this principle in his contemporary thriller, Lovely Night to Die, available on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including three noir thrillers in the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the DeadConspiracy of Lies, and Night Side of DarkSecretsand Conspiracy are now audiobooks on audible.com. The fourth book in the series, Place of Skulls, was released in 2017. Pirtle’s most recent project is the Boomtown Saga, including Back Side of a Blue Moon and Bad Side of a Wicked Moon.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has also written three teleplays. His narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk, is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and served ten years as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than twenty-five years.

Get to know Caleb through his

BestSelling Reads author page
   |    Amazon Author page
   |    Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter



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New bestseller out: Back Side of a Wicked Moon

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Love, Law and Justice comes to Boom Town Texas

By Caleb Pirtle III

Now available from Amazon

The discovery of oil has broken the stranglehold the Great Depression had on a dying East Texas town. Strangers are pouring into Ashland. Where there is oil, there are jobs, as well as con artists, thieves, scalawags, and at least one murderer.

One stranger drives a hearse. But who is he, and why is he found hanging from the crown block of an oil derrick.

The Sheriff might solve the mystery. It’s his job. But he’s discovered shot to death on his own drilling rig.

No one in town is above suspicion. But who has a deadly motive?

Eudora Durant is the most beautiful widow in town. She’s also the richest. With the charming con man Doc Bannister at her side, she risks everything to bring law and justice to a struggling boom town even if she has to personally keep an innocent man from being sentenced to the electric chair.

As one reviewer said about book one of the Boom Town saga series, Back Side of Blue Moon:

This story set in a small town in East Texas in the Great Depression should go down as a classic in American literature.”

Get it today from Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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Monday musings: When headlines mimic your own writing

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For the next few weeks, your favorite bestselling authors take a few words to describe times when they saw something in the world around them that seemed to echo events they described in their books. This week, it’s the author of Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever.

Headlines echo fiction

Photo by Jon S via flickr

By Caleb Pirtle III

A few weeks ago, I saw the headlines for a sports story, the kind you once never saw, but now see on a regular basis. The unthinkable had happened again. Players from a major college football team had been suspended from the team and from the school. They had all the talent in the world. They had a great opportunity to play football in college and maybe even the NFL. But in the blink of an eye, they faced temptation and made the wrong choice.

There were confronted with allegations of sexual assault. One girl came forward to charge them. Then another. Universities use female students all the time to recruit elite football players. Smile a lot. Show them around campus. Host them at parties. Some of the players think the real party begins after the lights go out. It doesn’t. And a few players take advantage of the situation. A friendly dance turns into assault. It becomes a crime.

Suspension was one thing. Jail time was another, and the right judge under the right circumstances could put them away for a long time. Were the players guilty? I don’t know. Or did the coach just not want them on the team anymore? It happens. Lives are changed forever. The lights dim. Hopes dim with it.

News headlines echoed the events in the bestselling novel Friday Nights Don't Last Forever.It happened in my novel about what goes on behind the scenes of recruiting in college football. In my novel Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever, a star quarterback gets caught up in the wrong party. A coach no longer wants him. He watches his life go down the drain. No one cares about his innocence. They just want his scholarship back to give to another. I wrote:

Casey’s heart began to shrivel. Word somehow had gotten out. Somebody, at last, must have figured out how Bethany Locklar died, and who had been in the bathtub with her the night those sewing scissors were driven between her breasts.

She had been so beautiful. So bruised. So purple. And now it was over.

“Casey,” Johnson continued in that slow drawl of his, “I hate to tell you this, son, but it seems as though we are going to have to withdraw the football scholarship we offered you.”

Casey was not surprised. But he said, “I don’t understand. I’ve already signed it. The news is already out that I’ve signed it.”

“It was a mistake. It doesn’t look like we have that particular scholarship available to us anymore.”

“You can’t do that to me.”

“Yes, we can, son.” J. T. Johnson was silent for a moment, then he pounded each word into Casey as though it were a nail. “Under the circumstances, son, I’m afraid we can do any damn thing we want to. We know what you don’t want anybody else to know. Do you understand exactly what I’m saying to you?”

Casey did. It had been Bethany Locklar’s job to recruit him.  She worked hard to recruit him.

Now it seemed she had died for nothing.

Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

The dream of college football propels Casey Clinton into the best and worst times of his life. On Friday nights in Avalon, Alabama, football reigns supreme. Quarterback Casey Clinton’s magic arm drives recruiters and his opponents wild. Girls worship him. A preacher’s wife seduces him. Life can’t be any better.

But when slick college football recruiters offer the small-town high school player the chance for fame and glory, it’s no longer a game. It’s business. And it’s brutal. Lavish promises of money, women, and a spot at the top of the football world take Casey into a violent world he could never imagine.

Temptation is great. His life spirals out of control. His world crumbles out from under him. Football is no longer a sport. It’s a fight for survival in a game where everyone but Casey knows how to play.

Find it on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle IIIBestselling author Caleb Pirtle III

is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

 

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