Fight to Survive

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Thursday teaser

This week’s #excerpt comes from the upcoming third Eva Driscoll action thriller

By Alan McDermott

Pre-order the third Eva Driscoll thriller on Amazon.

As Eva Driscoll arrived home from the restaurant, violence was the last thing on her mind.

She could still taste the buttery lobster and fruity wine she’d had for dinner, and all she wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a box set and a cup of hot cocoa.

The screams coming from the house next door put paid to those plans.

Eva had lived next to Sally and Jake for three months, ever since arriving in Melbourne, Australia. Raised voices had become a regular occurrence. Based on what she’d observed, they seemed like a normal couple most of the time, but when the sun went down it was a different story. Eva didn’t know if it was alcohol-related, or the stress of Jake’s job as a cop, but most evenings she had to turn up the television to drown out the shouting.

But the sounds currently coming from the neighboring house were on a whole new level.

As Eva locked her car and got her key ready to open the front door, a female scream made her pause.

Eva had had coffee with Sally a few times, but the state of the marriage had never come up in conversation. She’d delicately probed, but Sally had dodged the issue like a pro. That in itself told Eva that something wasn’t right within the Holman residence.

Jake was a big man, at least six-two and 230 pounds, with a physique that told of an athletic youth. Sally was built like Eva, a few inches shorter than Jake with a lean body. Hardly a fair match if things got physical.

Leave it, Eva told herself as she put her key in the door. It wasn’t her fight, and she didn’t need the aggravation. She was lying low, staying off the radar, and that meant she had to avoid confrontations that could quickly escalate. She would visit Sally tomorrow when Jake was at work and give her some friendly advice.

She almost jumped at the sound of something heavy hitting a wall in Sally’s house, followed by a burst of shouting and another high-pitched scream.

Eva sighed. She really didn’t want to get involved, but she also hated the idea of leaving the diminutive Sally at the mercy of her much larger husband.

Eva had met Jake on just one occasion, at a barbecue the couple had hosted. He’d come across as a real man’s man, full of confidence and aware of his good looks. He’d flirted with Eva a couple of times that day, though she’d been careful not to reciprocate. Her appearance attracted unwanted attention wherever she went, and being married hadn’t seemed a barrier to Jake. He also didn’t seem the type to put up with anyone questioning his actions—male or female.

Another cry came from their house, and Eva recognized the sound of a woman in pain.

She had to act, but she couldn’t simply rush in. This needed to be handled delicately, without any chance of blowback. She would try to defuse the situation, but if Jake pushed it, she’d need a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Eva went back to her car and locked her purse inside, then walked across the lawn to the Holman residence. She opened the camera on her phone, set it on top of the mailbox by the sidewalk, and zoomed in so that the front door filled the center of the screen. She pressed the Record button, then walked up the path and rang the doorbell.

Fight to Survive

is the third Eva Driscoll thriller following Run and Hide and Seek and Destroy.

She’s working for her enemies. Or so they think…

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.

But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?

When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final installment really be her last?

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series.

Alan can be found:

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

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Thursday teaser: Forever Still

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Sample the new Vampire Brides novel, launching May 15.

By Corinne O’Flynn

The singer of country song on the car radio promises to make me the queen of his castle. With a name like Delilah Cecelia Elizabeth Rae Worthington, I should have been born a princess at least. But the closest I ever got to anything like that was growing up in Royal Hollywood Mobile Home Estates. Not to let the cliché end there, my father left when I was still in diapers and my mom chased one bad-news boyfriend after the next ever since.

Mama wanted to be an actress. She came to California like a bumpkin off the bus, and instead of working hard and going to auditions, she fell in with the party crowd and got into drinking and drugs. Then she got pregnant with me. I’m not disparaging her; she was always the first one to tell her story like that. She told me it was her cautionary tale about staying focused. 

She’d always remind me about it while I was finishing high school, then when I was in college working on my bachelors in nursing. 

“Nobody can ever take an education away from you, Delilah.” She’d poke her cigarette hand at me. “Don’t do what I did. You keep your head down and you work hard. Don’t give in to the temptations.” She said it like there was an official list of tempting things to be avoided. Maybe there is.

I did all right, in general. I finished school and I am a nurse, I don’t drink much, I don’t smoke, and I have never done drugs. But, in the boyfriend department… well, the spare tire doesn’t roll far from the mobile home.

My boyfriend, Earl—no royalty there either—isn’t much better than many of my mother’s choices. None of this comes as a surprise; I mean, when considering the potential role models of my childhood, the bench isn’t deep. He hit me so hard last night that I spun around. When I opened my eyes I was face-to-face with the two urns containing my mother and her fiancé, Cleveland’s ashes.

Something in me had snapped to attention as I stared at my mother’s urn. I heard her voice in my head saying, Stop this. Break away. You don’t have to live like this, Darlin’ D! And that’s all it took. I decided in that moment to change my life. 

I’ve never been one to stress about choices. I make up my mind and I do the thing. So, I waited for Earl to get the beating out of his system, and then I dropped an Ambien in his beer when I served him his dinner. Once he was asleep, I cleaned my stuff out of our mobile home, packed my car full of everything it could hold, and I hit the road.

I don’t have a plan, and I don’t know where I am going to end up, but I do know one thing.

“That’s all behind me now.” I speak to my reflection in the rear-view and touch my fingertip to the bruise that’s been rising on my cheek all night. It’s a big one, damn it. I’ll need to get some makeup on that when I stop.

Forever Still is one of 11 Paranormal Romance Novellas releasing this month with the Midnight Coven group.

It releases May 15, 2019, and you can pre-order it now.

Love never dies. But it can be damn bloody…

Miles

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after more than five hundred years on this earth, it’s that history always repeats itself, and usually in the worst way possible. So when Delilah checks in to my hotel, all the signs are there—she’s stunningly beautiful, achingly irresistible, and as history has taught me, one-hundred percent dangerous.

The last time I took a chance like this, it broke my heart and almost cost me my immortal life. I’ve managed to survive all these years by heeding the warnings my instincts raise. Ignoring them now feels foolish and short-sighted, but I can’t stay away; she’s everything my soul wants, history be damned.

Delilah

With my mother’s ashes riding shotgun, and my loser ex-boyfriend passed out in our trailer in my rear view mirror, I am finally free. I’ve had enough of being told what to do and how to live. It’s time for me to take charge of my destiny on my terms and see what fate sends my way. When I stop in Lake Tahoe and Miles crosses in my path, it feels like fate is testing me to see if I will throw myself into the the arms of the first guy I meet—just like I always do.

He’s beautiful, kind, and completely enamored—all the things I have never known a man could be. But how can I ever make a new future if I keep reliving my past?

The Midnight Coven presents: Vampire Brides

Tall, dark and handsome, these vampires are no strangers to the art of the hunt. Seduction and secrecy have ruled their lives for centuries, but these eleven alpha vamps are about to meet their matches and say “I do” to their forever mates.

From eleven bestselling paranormal romance authors comes an all new series of standalone novellas set in a shared world. Grab your kindles and get ready to meet your new favorite vampires.

Find all the Brides here at their Facebook group. Join for exclusive updates.

Corinne O’Flynn

is a productivity geek, graphic designer, ghostwriter, and the author of an ever-growing list of fantasy and mystery novels and short stories.

Married, raising four kids, she is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organization, and a professional napper. She also serves on the board for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

You can check out all of her books on her website or on Amazon.

Anyone interested in staying connected can sign up for her emailsWhether you’re a fan of mystery or fantasy stories, or a fellow busy human looking for ways to build your own productivity systems, Corinne O’Flynn invites you to join her as she shares what she learns on her adventures.

“I believe in doing things with intention, and making sure those intentions are good. :)”

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Thursday teaser preview: The Bonding Blade

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Book 2 in the Desert Goddess series

By M.L. Doyle

Now available for pre-order.

In my previous life, before I’d become a soldier and deployed to Iraq, I’d never have imagined that I would be running around in caves searching for supernatural creatures. All of that changed when I picked up a shiny coin in the desert and became the living vessel of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna. I know. It sounds crazy.

There is nothing crazy about it, my vessel, said Inanna, her voice heard only by me inside my head. I have traveled throughout millennia, operating in the supernatural world. As the goddess of love and war, plenty and …

Yes, I know, I said, mentally rolling my eyes. You’re a goddess, you’re amazing, yada yada yada.

English may not be my first language, but I am certain yada is not a word.

Whatever!

Sometimes, my head felt crowded with my thoughts along with hers.

So unnecessarily insolent, she grumbled.

I watched as Rashid followed me up and away from the rat stampede. “Watch out for the stalagmites,” I yelled, my voice almost drowned out by the rush of rodents flowing through the cave.

Photo by Andy Mabbett, licensed under Creative Commons

“Stalactites,” Rashid shouted back.

“What?” I said.

“They are stalactites, my queen. Stalagmites are the ones that come up from the ground.” He had quickly, but far more calmly followed me to the higher perch and away from the rush of rodents.

“Okay, stalagtites.”

“Ah, it is, stalactites, my queen,” Rashid said. “With a k sound. Stalactites.”

I gave him a hard stare. “How is it you can speak English better than I can?” My Persian warrior spoke with a precise, clipped accent. Long hair, thick eyelashes, high cheekbones and naturally tanned skin made him movie-star handsome, which completely masked how deadly he could be in a fight.

“I can do nothing better than you can, my goddess.” A sly smile accentuated his snide remark.

Along with the goddess in my head came a few other accessories, like two warriors; Rashid and Quincy who are sworn to serve me. I also have two cougar-sized war cats for protection; Granite and Pearl, both of whom can switch into human form when necessary. Not to mention, becoming Inanna’s vessel made me immortal and gave me supernatural strength and the ability to propel myself from here to there. Oh, and there’s also a demigod. But I’m not speaking to him.

Precisely, my vessel. Such an infuriating man.

Photo by ZulaikhaN; licensed under Creative Commons

“Can we concentrate on what the fuck we’re doing here?” Quincy yelled at us from the other side of the stream. His raised voice and his barely contained fury made his usually pleasant, freckled face almost unrecognizable. He stood where we had left him, directly in the path of the thousands of rats that flowed from deep within the vast cave system directly under downtown Minneapolis. He remained rooted to the spot even as rats scrambled over and around his feet, making it appear as if he stood shin deep in oozing, thick mud.

“They’re obviously running from something,” he said, pointing his sword in the direction from which they came. “How much you wanna bet it’s the trolls?”

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

Former Army Sergeant Hester Trueblood struggles to find the answer, seven years after fate bonded her to the ancient Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. Whether engaging in battles to the death with demons or entering fight club scraps, Hester’s life is forever subjected to Inanna’s whims and insatiable lust. It hasn’t been easy to juggle the mounting perilous challenges, or to tolerate the demands of her demi-god lover, Gilgamesh.

When her warrior Quincy is stricken with a mysterious illness, Hester thinks a supernatural blade could be the answer to save him. Or it just might destroy the world.

One thing is for sure. Nobody is immune from the painful reality of loss and suffering—not even a goddess.

The Bonding Blade publishes on June 20. Pre-order it now.

M.L. Doyle

has served in the US Army at home and abroad for more than three decades as both a soldier and civilian. She calls on those experiences in her award-winning Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series, erotic romance writing and coauthored memoirs which all feature women who wear combat boots.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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Monday musings: The inspiration of memory

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By David C. Cassidy

Do memories inspire my writing?

Human Chess at the World Bodypainting Festival in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Carinthia, Austria.
Photo by JIP – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41470182

In a word, yes. I have always had a vivid imagination, one that’s immensely visual, and that shines through in all of my stories. But at another level, recollections of past events—whether they happened to me or to others—have always inspired my writing in one way or another.

In Fosgate’s Game, a creepy tale of greed, dark magic, and murder, I pit two well-to-do Englishmen in a battle of wits over something as innocuous as a game of chess. It’s not that simple, of course, as they’re playing with dark forces that neither truly comprehends. The story was actually inspired by a memory of me playing chess as a young boy against one of my brothers. During a rather lengthy turn where he was taking his sweet time to make a move, my mind began to drift, and I began to wonder what might happen if the chessmen were somehow alive.

The Dark is an atmospheric supernatural thriller where a young child has lost his father in a dreadful accident, and in his desperation, is seduced by an ever-present evil that draws him into another realm—a wondrous place that includes his father. In my younger days, I used to enjoy tobogganing down this rather treacherous sledding hill in a park, and on one particularly fast run, I nearly spilled into an ice-cold creek at the bottom. I was this close to disaster, barely stopping myself in time. It was getting rather dark, and when I picked up my sled and turned to head back up the hill to go home, I suddenly froze, staring up at this towering—and rather ominous—oak tree. It just startled me, and to this day, I don’t know why. It was just one of those eerie moments when one gets a case of the chills for no obvious reason. Little did I know then that that hill and that very tree would be the basis for an award-winning novel.

A short story of mine, Never Too Late, was inspired by a deeply painful personal event. The story is a cautionary tale about regret—how we all, at one time or another, figure we have all the time in the world—only to learn the agonizing truth when the unexpected happens. Years ago, my mother passed away quite suddenly, and I was devastated. I never spent nearly enough time with my parents, always figuring there was plenty of time for that. You know, I’ll seem them soon. I’ll make time later. Well, I was wrong. It was the hardest lesson I ever learned.

Velvet Rain, a supernatural thriller with elements of time-travel and alternate realities, was not so much inspired by memories or personal events. And yet, a lot of the characters in the book, including the main character, Kain Richards, possess those human frailties and personal characteristics of people I’ve known—including family. One character, Al Hembruff, a no-nonsense farmer in 1960s Iowa, at one point refers to his daughter, Lynn, as “honey-child”. My father, God rest his soul, used to call his own daughters the very same. I hadn’t heard him say it in years, but as I was writing Velvet Rain, the memory came back, and it just seemed to work in the moment.

In all honesty, I don’t consciously write out of memory—I write out of inspiration and imagination—but I certainly don’t discount the subconscious when it strikes. If the shoe fits, I wear it.

David C. Cassidy

The award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Get to know David at his:

And follow him on Twitter @DavidCCassidy.

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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: The difference between imagination and memory

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Photo: Photo by Vidar Kristiansen on Unsplash

What’s the difference between the way a writer imagines a realistic scene, and the way a reader experiences something? Could it be similar to the difference between the way we watch a motion picture about, say, a day at the lake, and the way we remember a day at the lake?

I sometimes edit novels for other writers, looking for ways to improve the story and the way it’s told, without changing the author’s voice.

I have noticed I often change or suggest a change to a particular kind of writing: excessive description of a sequence of small actions. They’re little things that happen in a story, but that the reader doesn’t need to read. And it makes me think about the difference between the way we remember and the way we imagine.

I’ll make up an example here:

She pulled the lever and opened the car door. She stepped onto the dirt driveway in front of the summer cabin, and walked past the old porch in front. She passed the little cedar trees that had never grown very high, past the big old maple and down to the wooden dock. She walked to the end, and sat down on the boards. She removed her sandals and dipped her bare feet into the lake, only to jerk them out—cold!

It’s way too wordy. Sure, it describes what happened. It takes the reader through all the action. But it doesn’t actually bring the reader into the setting. And do we really need to read every single action?

When I think back to summer days at the lake, I don’t really think of long sequences. My memories are things like seeing my grandfather standing in his wooden boat, tinkering with something in his hands as the boat bobbed gently on the water. Or the backs of my father and grandfather, looking up at the big tin barrel that collected rainwater as the wind rippled the backs of their shirts. Or sitting on a dull, cloudy afternoon on a big rock over the shore, my uncle beside me, holding a toy fishing rod in my hand.

Which brings me to the original question: what’s the difference between imagination and memory?

It’s an important question, as things like “false memory syndrome” have a bearing on criminal cases. And maybe it’s part of the profound influence of motion pictures on our whole society.

Think about the passage above. It’s not from any particular book, but it’s typical of what I tend to tell a writer to re-write. And it’s kind of cinematic. It might be the way a screenwriter would provide instructions to a cinematographer. It has all the action, something that an actor and a camera operator could follow.

This is how I remember arriving at my grandfather’s summer cottage.

Thin fir boles and low-hanging evergreen branches framed the back of the cottage. The tires crunched softly over the dirt and forest litter before the car bounced to a stop. I popped out of the back seat—no thought of seat belts then—to be greeted by the scent of forest and water and the outhouse tucked behind a thin screen of bushes.

I ran around the log cabin, reaching out to touch the structure supporting the tin barrel that collected rainwater. The lake gleamed far below the cabin, separated by a steep slope crowded with dark evergreens and lighter deciduous bushes. A bright leopard frog leaped away, into the bushes as my sneaker-clad feet made soft drumbeats on the beaten ground of the path down to the dock.

See? Flashes, like the “Live” setting on photos on my iPhone these days. Not a long cinematic sequence.

What do you think? Are your memories more like cinematic sequences, or short live photographs?

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