Monday, November 28, 2022

The Tattered Book


Well, the book is officially released and doing well, thanks to you guys. This was a super fun book to write, though it was complex. It took swimming a lot of laps to figure out how to make a main character fall in love with the person reading the book, but I did it and I'm in better shape! :)


I tried using a seller from Fiverr again, but once again they claimed to be able to format for Smashwords Premium catalog and couldn't. Once again I had to format it myself. This inspired me to try making my own 3D mock-ups for media purposes. I did fairly well and it was free on Canva. Canva is also where I designed my book cover. For the first time, I've done the whole process myself. I did pay for some mock-ups (for the last time) and I did get an Amazon formatted PDF of the book from my Fiverr guy, but I could easily have done that myself.

So, here's to being an Indie-Author. If you want advice or help going this route, let me know.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Pre-Order The Tattered Book


Going for a morning run, Cassi stops at a garage sale and buys a mysterious Tattered Book. Her family accuses her of living in a fictional world. Cassi disagrees, but as soon as she starts reading it her carefully ordered life begins to unravel. Every time she reads the book, she dreams about it… about what hasn’t happened yet. And the main character seems to see her, even in the written pages of the book she’s reading. Shy by nature, Cassi attempts to talk to him, but every time she does, she wakes up.


Detective Marco Marino is working an intricate and dangerous case. The Scutari mob family has threatened another business in Florence. As he works the case a woman keeps appearing and disappearing like a phantom. At first, he’s unnerved by this constant distraction from his work, until he realizes she is helping him solve the case. If only she could speak! When he takes her into his arms for a fleeting kiss, he knows she’s real. This is a mystery he must solve.

Order now at Smashwords or Amazon (either eBook or paperback). The Tattered Book will be released on Black Friday 2022.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Bringing Apollo Home



FIRST CHAPTER OF BRINGING APOLLO HOME

SERENDIPITOUS

I glanced at the quiet, fair-skinned gentleman sitting next to me at the bar. I’d seen him here before. Il Forno Classico is like that. People come in several nights a week, just to touch bases with the local community. If you’re single, or want to meet some friends for dinner, this is that kind of bar… like Cheers, but with excellent Italian food.

This guy next to me was in his eighties, eighty-seven it turned out. His name’s Clay Boyce. He always had his iPad and a glass of something clear on ice. If no one struck up a conversation, he sifted through the internet. I struck up a conversation. I like talking to old people. Now, now, that’s not meant to be patronizing! I really do. They’ve got really interesting stuff to say (Usually… there are complete bores in every generation), and I plan to be old, so it behooves me to learn the ropes.


As a physical therapist specializing in geriatrics, I’ve heard it all, and it seems to me we are all making world history. Maybe just tiny chunks of history, but we each have a story to tell. Clay’s story really is world history.

Back to the bar. The first item of conversation was me asking about a photo he had open on his iPad. It showed a young man half dressed in fatigues on what appeared to be a dry hillside.

He said, “That’s me camping in Germany.” His eyes were definitely twinkling as he waited to see if I would bite.

“Really? Where in Germany?” I grinned as I bit the bait.

“On top of a mountain. I was one of a team of three officers and thirty-five Airmen (I was second in command). We had the electronic equipment needed for the Matador.”

I raised a brow. “What’s a Matador?” I knew it wasn’t a piece of physical therapy equipment.


“The Matador was the U.S. Air Force’s First Pilotless Bomber… today it would be called a drone. It carried a warhead eight times the power of Hiroshima. My job, besides guiding the missile, was to move its operating equipment around… the Russians couldn’t figure out where we were, so it kept them in check. But they were always looking. Always trying to find us. This photo was taken when I first got there, in Germany.”

“Where in Germany?” I asked again.

He looked thoughtful for a moment, and replied, “It was spring 1954, my unit was in Northern Germany (the British Controlled Zone of postwar Western Germany), we moved around a lot. We weren’t on a base. On orders from our Squadron Command Center, we would move our guidance equipment as quickly as possible to another location. The problem was the amount of time it took for us to pack up and move two tractor-semis loaded with the electronic guidance equipment and twenty other trucks loaded with support equipment. It took an hour and a half from receipt of orders ‘till we were able to move out. We knew it only took the enemy (Russian) planes fifteen minutes to reach us if they knew exactly where we were and decided to attack. That was a problem,” he added laconically.


“So, what did you do? What was your job?” I asked.

“I sat around and waited,” he said with a laugh. “Well, I was self-training. I was assigned as a Guidance Systems Officer, which meant my primary job was to guide the missile if a war started—no prior training in that. I rapidly became quite competent at it.” More on this later. “Also, as a brand-new officer, I was learning real time how to help manage the thirty some Airmen who kept the electronics, other equipment, and services functioning… that was interesting. As I said, just the guidance equipment took up two semi-trailers full of electronic components.” He swirled his glass as he talked.

“If the Soviets wanted to start a war, during the Cold War—that’s what the Cold War meant—having real missiles ready to launch was a good deterrent. All of Europe was inundated with destruction from WWII. The Allies didn’t have enough manpower or equipment to stop the six or seven thousand tanks that Stalin had accumulated, so our Air Force created this remotely guided missile we could use to wipe them out if they rallied and tried to start another war.”

The bartender set a glass of wine in front of me. After I took a sip, I asked him to finish his story. I couldn’t help but think my father would have loved to talk to this guy.


“I was assigned the task of figuring out how to shorten the amount of time it took to pack up all this equipment and get ‘em moving. The two semi’s trailer vans were easy—unhook electric cables, close the doors and they were ready to go. However, the enormous bundles of electrical cables that connected the vans to each other were extremely heavy. [Nerd Alert: Three multi copper wire conductor cables were over 100 ft. long and each were about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.] They would be laid out between the two semi-trailers, which were usually parked about thirty feet apart. It took a lot of men to lift those things and coil them into the back of a truck. I requisitioned a small trailer and parked it between the two semi-trailers and coiled the cables inside it. When we arrived at our new hide-out, we simply parked the small trailer between the big ones and pulled the cable ends out just far enough to reach each semi-trailer and plugged them in. It cut the moving-out time in half! They were happy with me for that one,” Clay grinned.

My husband poked me in the ribs and asked me what I wanted for dinner. So that was the first time I spoke to Clay.

I told Clay that night he should write all his stories in a book. It would be cool to have all this crazy life written down. He explained that though he’d heard that before, he wasn’t a good writer, and in fact he hated to write. Well, I’m an author… I like stories…


I agreed to meet with him once a week and chat (back in February, 2017). It was a win-win decision for me because he’s fun to talk to, and I can learn more about American space history for my writing. The first thing I did was to confirm he is who he says he is. Thankfully a simple internet search brought up Clay Boyce and even had multiple photos of his bright-eyed little face to confirm this wasn’t some lunatic who thought he was Clay Boyce. Other than that, I won’t be doing much research to write this story. It’s his story richly seasoned with one of his favorite sayings: “I was in the right place at the right time,” or “There’s a story behind that,” and “It was just Dumb Luck.”

When I entered his home the following week, I was escorted to his kitchen and placed at the head of the kitchen table. This was my routine for several years. Once the stories were exhausted, we began the editing process, which was Clay’s job. As I copied his stories down in real time, I made multiple errors in locations and time frames. His job was to correct all my mistakes. His part took a year… why? Because Clay Boyce is a nerd. He felt compelled to research and investigate every detail. He would get deep into the rabbit hole of science and history on the internet.


I can’t really emphasize enough what an honor this was to hear his story. It was both complex and remarkably simple. After he completed his part, I organized it in chronological order to give it continuity, but that’s definitely not how it was told. I hope I made the right choice. I wanted each story to stand alone, but flow through time.

A second thing I want to point out is the use of the Nerd Alert. As a rocket scientist, Clay could describe things with intricate detail. Sometimes it would take away from the story. In those cases, I enclose the details in a bracket with the warning; [Nerd Alert]… so be warned.


Well, here we go… pull up a chair to the table and join us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

New Book Cover For Counterpart


My original book cover for Counterpart was very cool (I thought), but apparently it was a little outdated.


My audio voice-over artist, Jim Foster had an updated version made for me. Though it's good, it just never really resonated with me. Something about the shape of the guys face kinda turned me off.


Last week I decided to start from scratch... again. This time I turned to Pexels.com. This is a fabulous way to get free photos. Then I used Canva.com to create it, but it was too small, so I turned to Instasize.com to enlarge the pixilation. Finally, here's the end product.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Save The Date!


I hope to see all of you at 6:00, July 31st, 2021 for the official release of Save The Girls. This has been a long time coming because I published it last year and, well... anyway, I'll have a book signing party in the wine room at Il Forno Classico, Gold River CA. Pop in for some yummy Italian appetizers and a no-host bar. They're known for their wine selection.


I'll bring all four of my books if you want to get one there.

I've also finished Clay Boyce's Biography! Loud applause please. This was a three-year project, and it's finally in the hands of the proofreaders. So far we've gotten good feedback. Clay will be there and we're going to have some fun asking for ideas for the title, showing pictures we hope can be included in the book, and book cover voting.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Heidi's Interview with Capital Fund


Capital Fund had a sweet deal the other day... They sent out an email with interview questions. Just copy and paste, answer the questions, and send a photo in case your interview gets selected for their website. I thought, hey, I can do that. I tapped out my responses and sent it off, and they picked it! I love free marketing, and Capital Fund is a good company. ;)

Check it out!

http://capitalfundscreenplaycompetition.com/h-schussman/

Sunday, January 31, 2021

El Tiburon Research

 


Heidi:
Pastor Marvin Garcia, thank you for joining us today. Since writing El Tiburon (published by Vinspire), I’ve given many book talks and am astounded with the interest in the plight of the Guarejos—the people-group living in the Guatemalan garbage dump. At the time of writing El Tiburon, there were 11,000 people living there… 6,000 of which were children. Since that time the Guatemalan government changed the boundaries of the dump to place the Guarejos on the outside of the dump. Now they go through an opening in the fence. In response to their questions, I would like to return to you, my main source of information. In El Tiburon, the Guarejos play an important role in keeping the main character alive.

I will preface this with an introduction to our readers as to how I know you. About ten-fifteen years ago our church asked if anyone could house a visiting youth pastor from Guatemala for 6 months. We offered our spare room and now we consider you to be a member of our family, along with your sister, Karina (who came and stayed with us later).

Pastor Marvin, you were born and raised in Guatemala. When did you become a pastor?

Marvin and Karina

Marvin
: Indeed, I was born in Guatemala City and all my life I have remained in the city. (I must confess I know very little about the rural area of Guatemala) Now I have tried to visit more of the rural area that definitely has beautiful places and views.

I was born in 1978 and when I was 9 years old I accepted Jesus into my heart in an American church (the pastor was an American named Charlotte Lindreng at Shekinah Church), I currently take the time to visit this church, every time I am there I feel I'm coming home. We were in this church for 6 years. Then we moved to another church closer to our home. When I was 20 years old, I was appointed youth pastor at the Iglesia Principe de Paz Central. We stayed there for 6 more years.


Then my dad received a call from God to open a church in the area we live in. And until today, Mission Maranatha has been an important part of our life. When I was 35 years old, I was appointed pastor at the Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala. And I have spent 5 years pastoring a Ministry that together with my wife we form, called Ekklesia Guatemala.

Heidi: When did you first hear of the Guajeros at the Guatemala City garbage dump?

Marvin: When we are at Shekinah Church, they had an evangelistic program. Every December 23, they would give food baskets to each family that lived in the Garbage. Also, every day that Children's Day is celebrated, they had programs with piƱatas, food, clothes and shoes for the children who lived there. I was probably 10 years old.

Marvin in California redwood forest

Heidi
: What was your reaction when you learned about their needs? Were you shocked or did you not fully understand at that time what their lives were like?

Marvin: For a 10 year old boy, it was very difficult to understand the needs they had. I had a good childhood (to call it that) we had our needs at home, but when I asked mom about food, food would magically appear on the table. (That's how I saw it. Today I know we have to work so that there is food at home).

And when it was my first time visiting these places, it was creating in me a perspective that my needs, although for me they were enormous... they had many more enormous needs. And after my first visit, throughout the next year, I remember saving 5 cents every day, in those days with 5 cents you could buy a soda and a cookie. But I kept every day, (although there were days when I was hungry and spent those 5 cents for myself) but I remember that at the end of that year, I gave my shepherds an envelope with a 20-quetzales bill. ($ 3 USD) and so a need grew in me to see the gospel of Jesus reach those places.


Heidi
: I know you’ve been involved in the ministry who helps the Guajeros… when did that start?

Marvin: When I was a youth pastor in the second church, one of the first projects was to create a program for the Guajeros. It was a difficult process because the churches were not knowledgeable in these areas of work. Since I was 10 years old, I had been gathering experiences that had marked my personal life and my ministerial life. And my wish was to transmit those emotions to others. Thank God the program that I founded, to this day continues to work for the Guajeros. Also to this day, I have been able to found 15 projects with different churches for the benefit of the Gaujeros. God has been good in every project and they are all working to this day.

Karina

Karina
: This is true, the ideas of my brother and a group of people provided projects that made it possible for the Guareros to have a job and they received God in their hearts.

Heidi: Have you ever been to see the community they live in? Is that community called La Limonada? Were you ever there when it was actually inside the dump?

Marvin: When I was working on projects for the Guajeros. within their community. I heard about another community called La Limonada. This community is in another area of Guatemala City, with a population of almost 3,000 families living in extreme poverty [60,00 people in a massive ravine]. At that time, I left people in charge of the main project we had and I began to visit this new community. At that time I had the possibility of arranging mission trips for American churches. And in both communities we were very blessed, new projects were created that continue to function to this day.

Karina: I was part of these projects together with my brother. It was my beginning to support him in the ministry. He met many missionary groups and it was the way to learn to speak English by translating, also I still have friends who continue to volunteer for the ministry of La Limonada.

Heidi: What is the community like? Give me good and bad examples of life for them.

Marvin: The city of the garbage is a community where garbage from all over Guatemala City arrives in trucks at all times. The smell is hard to get used to. Their life is literally about garbage, they eat, they sleep on other people's garbage. Although there are simple house projects for them, the common denominator is trash. An area of 5 hectares is used for garbage and for the families of the Guajeros.

Now, the La Limonada community is a garbage-free area, but it is a ravine, with a river of dirty waters at the bottom, and all around the ravine, small houses were built of cardboard, wood, and sheet metal. And it is an area where the gangs choose to live.


I believe that only a person with the passion of Jesus in his heart can see the bad in the community and turn it into an opportunity to bless. Good and bad experiences I have lived in each of the communities. But the passion for them makes you come back the next day, knowing that another experience will come. I remember that one day I was walking with boxes of medicine for the Guajeros, in an alley, a young man stole my cell phone and money that he had for my whole week. And when the Guajeros found out what happened, they got together and looked for this person who did not belong to the community, they found him and killed him. Then the community put together some money and a cell phone used for me. Crazy right?

Karina: It is a community that continues to need help, but the type of people that live around it is becoming very dangerous.

Heidi: Do you know anyone personally who lived/lives there?

Marvin: Yes, I have very good friends who live in both communities, people I trust who always have the opportunity to sit down and have a coffee and dream of new projects for the benefit of both communities

Karina: My brother still has communication and friendship with the Guajeros, they keep calling him and asking for prayer for their lives when they need it.


Heidi
: Do you have a special story about your work there that you’d like to share?

Marvin: I remember that with a missionary group we went to the La Limonada community and built a small house for an 80-year-old woman. At that time I had two jobs, I was as national director of the Festival with Luis Palau, a very important evangelistic event in Guatemala. One day before handing over that little house, I had a meeting with very important people in the local government. We went to a very expensive restaurant in the city of Guatemala. I remember ordering shrimp, (my favorite food) it was an incredible meal moment.

The next day we went to deliver the little house to Grandma. It had rained very hard the night before. We were wet, dirty, but with a smile on our faces from the old woman's expression. The impressive thing was that she in gratitude, took some corn tortillas, (I think they were there for more than 2 weeks) and took a pan, a small piece of butter and put the tortillas on the pan and moistened the tortillas with the butter, and he gave us 2 tortillas each, ... and said (thank you very much) for me they were the best tortillas that I had never eaten in my life. I enjoyed them so much that I am satisfied. The day before I was in a nice restaurant, the day after I was sitting on the wet floor of this old woman, and I remembered what the Apostle Paul said... In abundance and scarcity, I thank God.


Karina
: Yes, I remember that moment. I was working on Luis Palau's project as a secretary and my brother was on both projects. I was not present at the old lady's house but I did know about that moment.

Heidi: Did my writing a crime novel set in Guatemala and the dump have any impact on you?

Marvin and his wife, Evelyn
Marvin: I think there is no better place to set a crime novel than Guatemala. But I also believe that if through this novel we can present a little of the needs that exist in our country and create awareness in people…I think it will be worth it.

Karina: It is worth continuing with that passion, my country continues to present these problems and no one does anything for them.