Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Relax, It's Father's Day

Relax, it's Father's Day!
Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. We're getting ready to celebrate Father's Day on Sunday, June 16. We recognize all those dads and mentors who step in for dads in the lives of children.

My Dad
My dad influenced my writing as I grew up. He supported my efforts in writing poetry and stories. Sometimes I could hear the awe in his voice after he read one of my pieces. His reaction encouraged me to continue writing.

He was a funeral director. No, I didn't grow up in the funeral home. We always lived in a house not even close to the chapel. His personality, his love for people and his care in details contributed to his success in caring for grieving families.

Dad was my model for the main character in my romantic suspense, Deadly Undertaking. It was a lot of fun writing that book and remembering growing up with my dad.

I hope you have good memories of your dad or the person who made a difference in your life.

And to all those men, Happy Father's Day!
***

Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Romantic Suspense
 Back of the Book: 
Lauren Staab knew there would be dead bodies around when she returned home. After all, her family is in the funeral business, Staab and Blood Funeral Home. Still, finding an extra body on the floor of the garage between the hearse and the flower car shocked her. Lauren’s plan to return to her hometown to help care for her mother and keep the books for the funeral home suddenly turns upside down in a struggle to prove she and her family are not guilty of murdering the man. But will the real killer return for her, her dad, her brother? Her mother’s secrets, a killer, a handsome policeman, and a shadow man muddle up her intention to have a simple life. Welcome home, Lauren!

Download your copy now. Print available at amazon. Click the link below to take you to your favorite digital bookseller.


***
J.Q. Rose
Forever her Daddy's girl.

Keep up-to-date on the Focused on Story blog by entering your email address in the Follow by Email space in the right sidebar.

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Thank you.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

IWSG Blog Hop: Make Mine Mystery

IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.
Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop! 
Always on the first Wednesday of the month.
What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link:  Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. Click here to sign-up to join.
***


June Question 

June question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Plain and simple answer: Mystery
Deadly Undertaking
Romantic Suspense
I got hooked on reading mysteries when I discovered Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries. I delighted in sorting out the clues and making the guesses on the answer to the who-dun-it. Then along came Janet Evanovich with the hysterical Stephanie Plum series. Those stories spurred me on to writing quirky characters in odd settings --like the Staab and Blood Funeral Home in Deadly Undertaking. 

Mysteries can include so many sub-genres. For some reason, I find myself adding paranormal elements in the latest ones. I challenged myself to write romantic suspense too. And then I combined paranormal and romantic suspense. So much fun to mix it all up. 

I have a blast with our weekly writers group meeting at the local coffee shop, the Koffee Kuppe, just in case you're in Fremont, Michigan, on a Friday morning. We do get carried away brainstorming on how to murder characters or how to catch the bad guy or gal. Patrons have gotten used to us sitting in the back of the restaurant laughing and scheming. They have learned we aren't actually planning a real murder. Er, at least I hope so!

 ***

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MY, UM, ER, FRIEND(?), IB NOSEY

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR FAVORITE OFFICIAL UNOFFICIAL INTERNET REPORTER'S NEWSLETTER NOW!!
Sign up now so you will receive Nosey's newsletter in your inbox on Monday.
Miss Mae tells me he has
 a guest star interviewee. You definitely do not want to miss that!


Writing is easy.











Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Who or What is Killing the Seniors on Sunshine Boulevard? #MFRWhooks

Book Hooks Blog Hop #MFRWbooks


Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog. Today we're joining the Book Hooks Blog Hop sponsored by the Marketing For Romance Writers Group. (#MFRWbooks) Each participating blogger shares an excerpt from a novel. I'm featuring my paranormal suspense, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard. Hope it will give you smiles and chills.

You're invited to
 c
ome on along to visit authors sharing their books with you. The link to the list of participants is at the end of the page. Have fun!


Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
Paranormal Suspense

Back of the BookRescuing a naked woman lying in a geranium bed? Investigating mysterious murders Not the usual calls for first responder Jim Hart. He expects slip and fall accidents or low blood pressure emergencies in his retirement community of Citrus Ridge Senior Community and Golf Resort. The ghastly crime scenes turn the winter time fun into a terrifying season of death and mystery when the authorities cannot track down the predator responsible. 

Jim and his wife Gloria could escape the horror and grief by returning to their northern home, but concern for their friends and residents keep them in Florida. With the entire community in a dither over the deaths, the Harts participate in the normal winter activities of golfing, dancing, and pool parties with their friends to distract them from the sadness and loss.


Can Jim and Gloria work with the authorities to discover who or what is killing the seniors on Sunshine Boulevard and stop the increasing body count?

Excerpt: Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose

The entire community buzzed with the news about the strange death of George McDonnell. The Tampa newspapers reported it in the regional sections and the radio station interviewed local officials and the county health department on the situation.
Until the cause of death could be determined, those who were in the house on the afternoon of the discovery were quarantined. Not knowing what kind of disease, poison, or accident killed the poor man, authorities were not taking chances to allow a possible outbreak. Police were brought in to guard the house twenty-four hours a day to keep sightseers from the danger of whatever or whoever was in or around the property.
There were many curiosity seekers. Even Mr. Tweeble drove his electric wheelchair over to the McConnell residence. His little dog, Jingles, barked and whined, refusing to go within a block of the place. He finally picked up the feisty terrier and put it on his lap to drive past the house. The dog jumped off and raced the other way until he was brought up short on his leash. He howled until his master turned the cart around and left the area.
* * * *
“Jingles! Jingles! Hush up, will you? It’s three o’clock in the morning. You’re going to wake the neighborhood with your barking.”
Jingles produced the most pitiful howling Mr. Tweeble ever heard.
Fearing his dog was sick, Mr. Tweeble rolled himself out of bed, fumbled putting on his glasses, and shuffled into the kitchen. Using the night light in the hood vent over the old stove to see the dog, he discovered the animal scampering back and forth near the back door.
“Jingles, come ‘ere, boy. Are you sick?” Mr. Tweeble picked him up and gently held the dog close to his chest. He switched on the ceiling light so he could see the precious face he dearly loved. He checked Jingles’ brown ears and his brown and white furry body for any injuries, and then cradled him to his rotund belly.
“It’s all right, little guy. Come on. Come on to bed with me. You must want to go out to chase a rabbit, eh?” As he slowly shuffled his way back to his bedroom with the dog, he wondered what was wrong. Mr. Tweeble made a mental note to check behind the couch for an “accident” in the morning.

He lay down on the rumpled bed and enfolded the trembling dog in his arms. Suddenly Jingles wriggled free and sprang up barking non-stop. He leaped from the bed and raced out of the room. A flash of searing yellow light filled the bedroom blinding Mr. Tweeble, and the smell of his own scorched flesh burned his nostrils.
***
Available in Paperback at Amazon and in ebook formats at major digital retailers.
Click here to order at these online booksellers.
***
Birthday Gift for YOU
Image by Holger Grybsch from Pixabay 

Birthday Gift for YOU: I celebrated my birthday this past weekend and I want to keep the celebration going.  So let me send you a PDF copy of Terror on Sunshine Boulevard.  Then you can leave a review on the amazon and/or Goodreads site. A new book to read for you AND a review for my book. Now that's a great birthday gift!

If you would be interested in reading this paranormal mystery and writing an honest review for it, I will email the PDF format for your reading pleasure to the first ten readers who request the copy. Offer ends on Sunday, June 2 at 11:59 pm ET. But there is no deadline to write the review!
Thank you for your consideration.

My email address is jqrose02 at gmail dot com.



Click here to visit bloggers who are participating in the Book Hooks Blog Hop. Enjoy meeting new authors and visiting your favorites. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Memorial Day at the Vietnam War Memorial



Memorial Day, May 27, 2019
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog.
The upcoming weekend in the US is Memorial Day Weekend, usually what is considered the beginning of summer with the celebrations usually centered around a cookout on the grill of hot dogs, hamburgers and brats. 

But there is a somber part of the holiday also. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring persons who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Flags are placed on the graves of the service personnel who bravely served to protect our freedom and time is devoted to reflecting on their service and sacrifice.

I recall a trip to Washington, D.C. where my husband and I visited the Vietnam War Memorial. The path that takes a visitor along the length of the memorial brought tears to my eyes as I read the names of the soldiers who died in that turbulent war. Perhaps it was because this was my generation's war and I knew many who served and suffered from the after-effects of such atrocities and those who lost their lives in the jungles of Vietnam.

When I came across a poem found in William Zinsser's Writing About Your Life, I was touched by the story he tells about meeting the poet, Duong Tuong Tran when he and his wife visited Hanoi in 1996. Duong Tuong was one of Vietnam's most influential art critics, writer, poet and translator of American and Russian literature into Vietnamese. Zinsser included Duong Tuong's touching poem he wrote after visiting the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In Remembrance
"When we visited this memorial with the list of names of those who lost their lives in service to our country inscribed on the long, dark wall, I was moved to tears. This poem brings me back to that solemn visit so many years ago as if it just happened to me." William Zinnser

AT THE VIETNAM WALL

because i never knew you
nor did you me
          i come

because you left behind mother,
father and betrothed
and i wife and children
          i come

because love is stronger than enmity
and can bridge oceans
          i come

because you never return
and i do
          i come

          DUONG TUONG Washington, D. C., November 21 1995



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Format an eBook for Publishing by J.Q. Rose, #Authortoolboxbloghop

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog and to the Author Toolbox Blog Hop #AuthorToolboxBlogHop which meets every third Wednesday of the month to share resources and tips for authors. Thanks to Raimey Gallant for hosting this venture. 

Please join us to learn more about the craft of writing and to meet bloggers who are dedicated to helping each other become the best writers possible. Click here for the list of participants. Take a break and visit them. 

I will be away from the office this week so I can't visit hop participants, but I'll catch up when I can. 
***

Format an eBook by J.Q. Rose

Format an eBook by J.Q. Rose
#Authortoolboxbloghop
Indie Publishing--If you want to publish your ebook to amazon, Kindle Create is a tool provided by amazon to build your eBook. I haven't used it, but I plan to with my next book! Click here for information on Kindle Create.

Smashwords offers the FREE Smashwords Style Guide to create, format and publish an ebook. Click here to get this helpful guide.

I have used Draft 2 Digital for my latest indie-published eBooks. Just download your ms file to the site and D2D does all the formatting for you. They're very helpful. I had a glitch with my Table of Contents and they explained what I had done and fixed the headings for me, so all I had to do was to download the file they sent me. What a relief! In 2011 when I downloaded a file to Smashwords, I spent hours and hours and days and days working on a TOC. Thank you, D2D! Click here for information about self-publishing with support from D2D.
***
Traditional Publishing--Procedures for book publishing have changed so much since eBooks have come into our lives. Formatting the manuscript can be different for each publisher. The best advice is to read the guidelines from the publisher you plan to submit to and format EXACTLY how the publisher wants the ms. Your ms may not even get a look if it is not formatted according to their instructions.

If you would like templates for formatting your manuscripts, click here to download templates from the William Shunn site. This also provides a rounded word count. I haven't used them, but they are well-known in the industry.


Please leave a comment below letting us know about your experience in formatting and suggestions for other possible places for distribution of your books. Thanks!

Thanks for stopping by. 
Now hop on over to more bloggers to discover nuggets of information 
you can use in writing, publishing and marketing.
 Click here for the list of participants.
*** 

About J.Q. Rose

Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.”  
Author J.Q. Rose
She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven within the pages of her mystery books. Her published mysteries are Deadly Undertaking, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard and Dangerous Sanctuary released by Books We Love Publishing. 

Using her storytelling skills, she provides entertainment and information in articles featured in books, magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. With her non-fiction book for girls, Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, she returned to her first love, writing about real people. 


Click here to visit and like the J.Q. Rose Facebook page.
Thank you!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Memorable Mother's Day 1976 Excerpt



Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!
This Sunday, May 12, we celebrate Mothers, always the second Sunday in May. It's a special day to honor our mothers or the person who was so important in a child's life.

When we were in the flower business, Mother's Day was the biggest day of the year. I bet you thought it would be Valentine's Day or Christmas. But no. I was surprised when we bought the shop and the owner told me how crazy busy this day would be. And she was right!

I'm writing a memoir about that first year in business, so I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what my first Mother's Day in 1976 was like. You can imagine being a newbie in the flower industry and being thrown into this whirl of activity.

Memorable Mother's Day 1976 by J.Q. Rose--Excerpt


Boxes of special Mother’s Day containers for the wired flowers service like Teleflora arrived. We didn't really receive wires, like a telegraph line. The orders were phoned in. Of course, there were no emails since the internet wasn't even on the horizon in 1976.
Like a kid at Christmas time, I reveled in unboxing the lovely vases that only Teleflora members could offer to their customers.
We were also members of Redbook and Florafax. I was a bit fearful of having so many wire services opening us up to delivering flowers from people all over the country. But they also allowed us to send flowers through florists located throughout the country. We kept a percentage of the sale and charged a service fee for the flower service.
The week of Mother’s Day, we had even more buckets of fresh flowers in the cooler than for any previous holiday in order to make arrangements for the anticipated sales. Colorful sweetheart roses and orchids for corsages also took up space. The cymbidium orchids created elegant corsages which could be made several days in advance because they held up so well out of water. 
Cymbidium orchids for Mom's corsage
Image by Takashi Murakami from Pixabay 
I quickly learned how to put an orchid corsage together by covering the wire with floral tape, forming a hoop with the covered wire  and  placing it behind the orchid to protect the fragile petals rather than piercing the stem with the wire. 
Other flowers made into eye-catching corsages kept the secret that the poor flower was pierced and wrapped and twisted into that lovely balanced shape, but all the wicked piercings and twistings were covered with floral tape and leaves, so no one saw the behind-the-scenes torturing of the flowers that went into the design to become a delicate corsage.
In 1976 there were no big box stores selling corsages or plants and fresh flowers. No grocery stores or gas stations on the corner sold flowers. Florists were kings in the domain of supplying moms with a gift of flowers. Flowers were what you bought mom. Not a new Keurig coffee pot or Ninja blender. Not even jewelry. So you can imagine how that one day was so important to florists in order to make their money for the year because it was even bigger than the Christmas season.
***
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed as we went through Mother’s Day week and the piles of orders for delivery in time for Mother’s Day tested the strength of the clips. Yes, clips, not just one clip for the day. We had to grab several clips to hold all of the orders.
I separated the floral orders into separate piles-- potted flowering plants and hanging baskets, planters, fresh arrangements, and corsages. Bringing order to the piles soothed my ragged nerves a bit, and I felt I was contributing to helping with moving the order-filling along. Although we had worked nights before Saturday to try and get ahead of the orders, the work on the design table on the Saturday before Mother’s Day was daunting. I’d get the pile trimmed down, but Winifred kept taking orders! I remembered my floral design instructor’s words—“No matter if you have $50 worth of orders on your table or $500 worth, you’ll have them done by the end of the day.” I hoped he was right!
This memoir is not completed. I am looking for a title. Any ideas? Please leave a title or comment below. Thank you.
***
I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day, and even if you don't celebrate the day on Sunday, you can always say, "Thanks, Mom" any day. 
My Mom in 1956
Thanks, Mom. Have a Heavenly Mother's Day!

To all Moms and those who were like a Mom to a child, have a relaxing Happy Mother's Day!
* * *


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ISWG Blog Hop: Insecure About Book Signings, Hoping for a KNOCKOUT at the Write Club Contest

IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.
Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop! 
Always on the first Wednesday of the month.
What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link:  Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. Click here to sign-up to join.
***
I was very insecure on Saturday, the day I had committed to being a part of the Author Jamboree at the Book Nook and Java Shop to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day.
IBD Logo Small (PNG).png
 #undependentbookstoreday

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at

THE BOOK NOOK AND JAVA SHOP, MONTAGUE, MICHIGAN on Saturday, April 29


Join more than 550 independent bookstores in 49 states for

parties, author readings, in-store events, and

exclusive day-of merchandise.

The fifth annual National Independent Bookstore Day is sponsored in part by Penguin Random House, Ingram, and The American Booksellers Association. Last year participating bookstores saw an average increase in sales of 200% on Independent Bookstore Day, with some stores up as much as 1000% over their average Saturday sales in April.  In just five years, Independent Bookstore Day has become a book-buying holiday, increasing book sales on a national level. 

Authors will be at the Book Nook from 4-6:30 pm signing books and talking about their writing journeys. Please come and visit!! Enjoy the celebration!!
Click here to locate an independent bookstore in the USA.
***
Me at the book sales table at the Author Jamboree
Photo courtesy of Nan Pokerwinski
Previous to this event, I had only done one book signing with my print books and that was at a small town festival. I have done others with my writer's group, but I had eBooks to sell. Let me tell you, you CANNOT sell an eBook at a book signing. So I gave up trying to sell them at events.

The gentleman organizing the event tried sending a notification through FB to me, but I never received it. He finally FB messaged me to tell me to come over at 3:30 pm. So I invited my friend Nan to go with me. She has a memoir that will be released in October and was excited for the opportunity to hand out cards to potential readers and meet local authors. She also wanted to attend a workshop at the bookstore about pitching your book at book signings.

Adding to my insecurity was the uncertainty of the weather for that day. The threat of snow forecast for the evening's return home on 30 miles of country roads added to our consternation about actually making a day of it. We were thankful we knew the event was indoors, but Nan, nor I, wanted to stay for the signing if it meant driving on snowy, icy roads that evening. We both watched the weather forecasts on Friday night and in the morning.

I packed my books up and wondered if I needed a chair or a table, but since it was a coffee shop, I figured they'd have tables and chairs.

The MichiganAuthors Facebook website, where I learned of the event, assured authors there was no charge for being a part of the jamboree. The gentleman in charge explained the bookstore was keeping 40% of the book's retail price.
The Upper and Lower Peninsula of  the State of Michigan
So this led to more anxiety about making sure I price the books so I wouldn't lose money on a sale. My newbie's nerves kicked in when I realized how little I knew about the retail brick and mortar business end of selling books.  I have never left books on consignment. Have you?  I also had to decide the number of books to make available for sales.

So many questions and no answers bothered me. I forged on with the plan believing this would be an education and experience I could use for future book signings.

After studying the weather, we decided to take off for the workshop and decide later if the weather was going to be a problem for the drive home. I was pleased to discover warm, welcoming authors at the workshop. And though they knew each other very well, they were open to talking to us newcomers and advising us. We worked together on developing each other's pitches and sales acumen. The leader of the workshop was engaging and full of information. Nan and I felt the workshop was fun. And it was free too.

Piling insecurity on top of insecurity, we learned each author had ten minutes on the stage to do a reading, talk about their books, explain their writing life, their inspiration, and a Q and A, etc. Talk about not being prepared! But as the evening wore on, I became more comfortable knowing the audience was friendly and genuinely interested in each of us and our books. So, I actually looked forward to speaking and sharing with them when I hopped up on the stage.
Me, on stage, blabbering about my books
Photo courtesy of Nan Pokerwinski
Thirteen authors showed up for the jamboree and I only knew Nan. So it was an exciting evening meeting fellow authors. I must add that the bookstore is in a city of about 2500 people and its neighboring town, Whitehall, has a population of about 2500 too. In the summer though, the tourists come for fishing the rivers and lakes, water sports and sightseeing the gorgeous scenery. I was impressed by the distance some of the authors traveled to get to Montague and to this little oasis of book enthusiasts.

What a night. Did I tell you I sold books too? But you know, even if I hadn't sold one, I would declare the night a success. Not only do I feel more secure about book signings and bookselling, the realization there are so many readers in small towns and big cities wherever you go adds fuel to my drive to keep writing and entertaining and informing every one of them.
* * *

NEWS:

I submitted a 500-word writing sample to a crazy contest known as Write Club. 
Its founder, D.L. Hammons explains--"It started off as a modest competition loosely derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB."

This is WRiTE CLUB, the contest where the audience gets clobbered!
"Here’s the ABC’s of how it works. When the submission period opens (Mar 18-Apr 14), you simply send in a 500-word writing sample using a pen name (details on how to do that below). Once the submission period closes, all the entries are read by a panel of twenty volunteers (I call them my slushpile readers). The slushpile readers are a diverse group of avid readers and they each will select their top samples. Their selections narrow down the contestant pool to the thirty writers picked by the most judges. Over the course of the next eight weeks, we’ll hold daily bouts (M-F) right here on this blog – randomly pitting the anonymous 500-word writing samples against each other. The winners of these bouts advance into elimination rounds, and then playoffs, quarter-finals, and then ultimately a face-off between two finalists to determine a single champion. The writing sample can be any genre, any style (even poetry), from a larger piece of work or flash fiction -- the word count being the only restriction. It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, receive a ton of feedback, all without having to suffer the agony and embarrassment of exposure. How cool is that?

And how are the winners of each bout determined? By you and other WRiTE CLUB readers! Anyone who visits my blog during the contest can vote for the writing sample that resonates with them the most in a bout. All I ask is that you leave a brief critique of each piece to help the contestants improve their craft."--DL Hammons,


So do you want to check it out and play along? I don't even know if my sample was selected to be in a bout. I have to check each day to see if it's posted on DL's blog. I love that the contest is NOT a popularity contest, but rather determined by votes for the best writing. I look at it as The VOICE for writers.

Click here  to take you to the Write Club page and you can begin reading the samples chosen by the 20 judges. It's too late to join in this year, but there's always next year. Good luck. I'm sure you can KNOCKOUT the competition with your great story!

What tip do you have about participating in book signings? Do you have a FB group for authors in your state or region? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.

















Wednesday, April 24, 2019

#Storytimebloghop Storytime Blog Hop: Say Please by J.Q. Rose and Celebrate Independent Book Stores #independentbookstoreday

Storytime Blog Hop

Hello and welcome to the Storytime Blog Hop! You're in for some fun reads today. Be sure to take a break and escape into Storytime! Look at the bottom of the page to find more stories after reading the one below. 



SAY PLEASE by J.Q. Rose
A new SUV driverless vehicle
Sam and his wife Erin shepherded their two young children into the back of the family car. Erin buckled four-year-old Jeremy into his seat, then maneuvered her bulky body into the passenger seat.
Sam secured two-year-old Weston into his car seat then stepped back and shut the back door. 

He couldn’t help but admire the new SUV they had purchased last week. The candy red color sparkled in the summer sunlight. He gave a love tap to the roof of the car before easing into the driver’s seat.

“It won’t be much longer until we’ll have the backseat filled with kids,” he said as he fastened his seat belt. His dark eyes twinkled with amusement as he watched Erin stretch the seat belt over her large baby bump.

“Josh, start the car.” The electric car lighted up on command.

“Are you getting used to giving up control to a machine?” Erin asked.

“Well, it’s a big adjustment from my old Mustang, but I’m okay with it. More room too.”

“I feel like this big SUV is a lot safer than that little car. Right?” She cocked her chin up.

“Talk about safety. This car is loaded with cameras and sensors that make it an autonomous car. So much safer than the ordinary driver cars. And we save a LOT of money plugging it into our house electricity. Hey, do you realize how many sensors and…”

“Yes, honey, now let’s get moving before the kids get restless.”

“Josh, take us to the city zoo,” Sam commanded.

The electronic voice answered, “Sure, Sam.”

“Daddy, you didn’t say please and thank you to Josh,” little Jeremy shouted from the back.

Erin smiled. “Looks like that lecture on saying please and thank you sunk in, eh?”

Sam adjusted the rearview mirror to catch Jeremy’s reflection. “Yes, you’re right, but I’m not talking to a real person, just Josh who’s a computer. He doesn’t care if I say please and thank you.”

The car pulled onto the street and headed toward the highway. Sam checked the dashboard and the GPS, still amazed he owned a car that could drive itself, purr with an electric motor and talk to you.

“You know, Sam, I would like a please and thank you from you once in awhile,” the male computer- generated voice said.

Sam’s eyes widened in surprise. He glanced over at Erin, but she was busy digging through her bag. 
The car had never talked to him until Sam gave it a command. “Are you joking, Josh?”

Josh didn’t answer him.

“Hey, Josh, are you talking to me?”

“I’m busy, Sam.”

“What?” Sam’s face turned red. “I’ll be damned. Act like that and you’ll never get a please and thank you from me.”

“Did you hear that, Erin?”

She looked up at him with her hands full of goldfish snack bags. “Hear what?”

“Never mind.”

He tried to calm himself but his anxiety ramped up when he noticed the car turned off the highway onto a route he never used to go to the zoo. But, he trusted the advanced GPS installed in the car.

“Damn. I left my debit card on the desk. Did you bring yours, hon?” Sam kept his eyes on the road.

“Oh, yes. Planning for a shopping trip at the mall after the zoo.” She gave him one of her flirty smiles he could never resist.

“Good, Miss Erin. Glad you brought the card because we’ll be stopping at the bank to withdraw your money from your account.”

Erin laughed. “That was good, Sam. How’d you get the car to say that?” She chuckled.

Sam was nearly speechless. “I-I didn’t.”

“Yes, I said it. We’ll go to the bank and get the money, then we’ll deliver it to my boss,” Josh said.

“Well, we most certainly will not.” Sam reached for the steering wheel and pushed the button to shut down the self-driving control.

The car door locks clicked and a buzzer sounded, disengaging Sam’s control of the car.

 “Josh, you’ve gone haywire. I command you to stop this car immediately.”

The computer voice, with no expression whatsoever, boomed through the speakers.  “If you don’t help me accomplish this assignment, I have the ability to blow up this car with your family in it.”

Erin gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.

Sam’s face colored red in anger. “It’s a machine, Erin. Don’t worry. We can control it. Grab the car manual in the side pocket of the door there. Look under, um, I don’t know what to look under.”

“Oh dear Lord. We’re going to die. You’ve got to get the money and deliver it.” Erin’s voice ratcheted higher and higher.

The SUV stopped near the curb in front of the First National Bank. “Go in the bank and withdraw your money from your account. My boss knows exactly how much you have, so be sure to take it all.”
Erin unfastened her seat belt, dug around for her wallet in the bag, and handed Sam the bank card. 

“We have no choice, honey.” Her pleading eyes brimmed with tears.

“Mommy, what’s the matter?” Jeremy called from the back seat.

“Nothing, son. Don’t worry. Mommy’s okay.” Sam squeezed her arm gently with one hand and showed her the key fob in the palm of his other hand. “Be ready,” he mouthed to her.

“Okay, Josh. Open the doors.”

“Just your door, Sam.” The click of the lock and the door opened signaling freedom for Sam. 

“Remember, I can blow up this car with the family in it if you don’t cooperate.”

“But, Josh, I love my family.”

“Honey, don’t,” whispered Erin. “It’s only a machine,” she said as she fished deeply into her bag.

“Hurry back. I love you.”

“I love you too, babe.”

“I’m ready, Josh.” He caught Erin’s eyes and looked down at the fob in his palm. Erin flashed the fob in her hand. “I’m getting out now.” He nodded at Erin. “Ready.”

Sam eased out of the driver’s seat and stood up. With one giant step he was beside the back door. He clicked the fob twice. The doors unlocked.

He flung it open and dragged Weston out. Erin moved as fast as if she weren’t seven months pregnant, but before she could get to Jeremy’s door, she heard the lock click. She punched her key fob and opened the door.

“Hurry, Jeremy. Hurry. We have to race Daddy. Get out! Get out!” she screamed.

Jeremy jumped out giggling and running to the sidewalk. As the whole family dashed into the safety of the bank, the brand new autonomous car exploded in the street.

The onlookers and the family dived to the safety of the floor. Screams and cries filled the bank lobby.
Sam ignored everyone to focus on his family. He helped Erin to her feet. She stood shaken, but not hurt. She held her baby bump.

“You okay?” Sam yelled. She shook her head. 

“The kids, get the kids.” 

He scooped up the frightened children and held them close. “You’re okay. It’s all over. We’re safe here.”
Transferring Weston to Erin, he clutched Jeremy tight and used his free arm to hug Erin.

“No more driverless cars,” Erin said.

“Please, Daddy.”

Do you own an electric car, a driverless car, an SUV? Please leave a comment below tell us about your driving experiences. I hope they aren't similar to Sam and Erin's!
***
Hop on over for more short stories from the following bloggers--


0 – The Fool by Raven O’Fiernan
Big Enough by Elizabeth McCleary
Grumpy Old Demeter by Vanessa Wells
Say Please By J. Q. Rose
Provoking the Muse by Moira K. Brennan
It all Started… by Bill Bush
Zombies by Barbara Lund
Before The Dreams by Katharina Gerlach
To Wake A God by Juneta Key
The Sprite In The Well by Angela Wooldridge

Something Different by Karen Lynn


COMING UP!
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 #undependentbookstoreday

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at

THE BOOK NOOK AND JAVA SHOP, MONTAGUE, MICHIGAN on Saturday, April 29


Join more than 550 independent bookstores in 49 states for

parties, author readings, in-store events, and

exclusive day-of merchandise.

The fifth annual National Independent Bookstore Day is sponsored in part by Penguin Random House, Ingram, and The American Booksellers Association. Last year participating bookstores saw an average increase in sales of 200% on Independent Bookstore Day, with some stores up as much as 1000% over their average Saturday sales in April.  In just five years, Independent Bookstore Day has become a book-buying holiday, increasing book sales on a national level. 

Authors will be at the Book Nook from 4-6:30 pm signing books and talking about their writing journeys. Please come and visit!! Enjoy the celebration!!

Click here to locate an independent bookstore in the USA.