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July 10, 2016 / Ronald Chapman

A Killer’s Grace – 2nd Edition & Sequel

A Killer’s Grace – 2nd Edition Release from Terra Nova Publishing

Any author is pleased to see their book in print, but when a new publisher singles it out as worthy for a 2nd edition, that is more pleasing still. And with a new round of editing, the story shines all the more.

So it is with thanks to Terra Nova Publishing that I announce the new release here with information at their site including ordering and purchase information.

Plus Terra Nova Releases My Name is Wonder

As if the good news on A Killer’s Grace is not enough, Terra Nova also decided they’d like to bring my second novel out simultaneously! My Name is Wonder is quite different. It is the tale of an aspiring goat named Wonder and his spiritual treks with his guide, Mac Craack Crow, a shape-shifting, wisecracking crow of undetermined wisdom.

If A Killer’s Grace is the dark path to redemption, My Name is Wonder is the noble path. To me they are bookends on a continuum of awakening and transformation. And I could not be more pleased to have them both released at the same time.

The Sequel to A Killer’s Grace

It is no surprise that with the success of the novel I am in the process of writing the sequel. While not yet titled, its release is expected in the fall of 2018.

The three blogs that follow provide a sense of that tale with a preface and the first two chapters. Enjoy!

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January 9, 2014 / Ronald Chapman

Preface – The Sequel to A Killer’s Grace

Prelude

Light emanates through turquoise skies. A blanket of snow carpets the valley, reflecting the light and amplifying its effect to an ethereal quality. For artists and wanderers that find their way to New Mexico, it is the expansiveness of the light that holds and embraces them.

To the east the light sparkles on snow-mantled mountains soaring upward, their shadowed pinkish hue in perfect contrast to the sky. High desert stretches endlessly westward as the Rio Grande threads its way through the city of Albuquerque. Beneath the river lays a former canyon created when the plates of the earth wrenched apart. Over millennia it filled with layers of boulders, gravel, soil and detritus that is now miles deep.

Atop this makeshift foundation of earth the city is nearly motionless, seemingly poised for an unfolding day.

 

August 7, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

Chapter 1 – The Sequel to A Killer’s Grace

Chapter One

A tall, broad shouldered man stands beside the acequia, the main irrigation channel that parallels the Rio Grande. A few feet away, still and almost unseen, stands a ghostly white dog fading into the blanket of snow that covers the earth. Both of them stare up the waterway watching a dun colored dog bounding above the bank barking at a beaver slipping through the waters.

Kevin Pitcairn shakes his head at the antics of the female boxer. “Another day…another adventure for Lucy.” Extending his hand he scratches Lincoln’s ears. “I wonder what you think of her?”

The male boxer looks up through eyes made opaque by congenital defects. He lifts his nose as if understanding.

“Let’s go get her, boy.”

Suddenly the dog pivots northward to gaze toward an unseen horizon. An instant later Pitcairn feels a tremor in the earth beneath him. He cocks his head and listens, wondering if it is one of the infrequent earthquakes that still occur through the rift of the Rio Grande. A few moments later a dull thud echoes softly through the atmosphere, muffled by distance and the snow but surely an explosion.

Moving off the asphalt path to get a better view through leafless cottonwood boughs, he spies a cloud rising above the distant terrain. “What the hell?” he mutters as Lincoln presses into his thigh. His mind races as he contemplates out loud. “Gotta be east and south of Santa Fe. That has got to be one big blast, but there’s nothing out there.” He pauses to consider. “Maybe a gas line?”

As a part-time news reporter and columnist for the Albuquerque Chronicle, he knows there is a story in the making. Pitcairn squints into the distance as if his concentration will discern the facts. The plume is further aloft and expanding. A thought arises unbidden that this may be some incarnation of violence. He shudders in an attempt to shirk the idea but is unable to do so.

Only fifteen months earlier his life had been transformed by what was now known as the Crucifix Protest, a nation-wide demonstration of sorts that co-opted the Christian crucifix as an upside down expression of distress. He had become deeply involved in matters related to a serial killer and his murder on the tarmac at the Albuquerque Sunport. It had thrust him unwillingly into a national dialogue on violence, innocence and forgiveness. One consequence was a continuing series of pieces on violence and its effects for the North Country Reader, a publication with a progressive angle though it mostly catered to provocative thought. The more important change was an inner one as he reached a kind of reconciliation with himself over his own history with violence.

Regardless of his comfort with the subject and gratitude for the remaking of his insides, he had more than a little reticence each time events conspired to engage him. He had made peace with the fact that his life was not his own in these matters. And as a result he was willing to go wherever he was drawn, though not always happily. Despite his reconciliation with himself, the effects of violence on others remained a source of heartache.

He took a deep breath and looked down as he nodded at Lincoln. “Guess Lucy is not the only one with another adventure at hand.”

With that comment Lucy the Clown appeared racing at breakneck speed only to find her traction slipping on ice beneath the snow. Madly scrambling her legs, tongue lolling from the side of her mouth, she tumbled out of control into chamisa beside the path. On impact the powdery blanket of snow exploded. She yelped then spun like a crab and emerged dappled in white. Looking up at Pitcairn she shook herself them romped toward him with great exuberance.

“Unbelievable…” he muttered as they turned to retrace their steps to his Jeep. He was aware his surroundings no longer felt pristine. In the back of his mind he observed himself fretting about the blast.

The roads in the valley were vacant over the few miles he drove to downtown Albuquerque and the home he shared with his girlfriend. Maria Elena C de Baca was one of the great gifts of his life. She was also an anchor that he could not imagine being without. Emmy, a playful nickname taken from her initials, was native New Mexican, at times emotionally capricious, and fiercely loyal. She was also an extremely talented senior staff member for Albuquerque’s Mayor. Her recent political battles for the re-election of the city’s first female top leader, Carlinda Dixon, had earned her the monicker La Diabla de Albuquerque from the conservative morning newspaper. He admired Emmy like no other woman he had ever met. Yet the foundation for their relationship was nothing more complicated than friendship.

Exiting the Jeep, Lucy and Lincoln raced to the house. Pitcairn stopped to look upward at the light trail of wood smoke above their home and closed his eyes to inhale the pungent odor of burning pinon. That smell rivaled the light as quintessentially New Mexican ambiance. In response, a deep sense of gratitude rose within him.

Several long strides brought him to the front door which swung open with a hearty creak that was immediately followed by the staccato sound of dogs’ nails on tile as they scurried toward the breakfast that awaited them.

An instant later Maria Elena’s voice rang down the hallway, “Cito?” Her nickname for him never ceased to make him smile, Kevincito…Little Kevin…a touching contrast to his actual stature.

“Right there,” he replied just before turning the corner into the kitchen. She leaned over the table with a casserole dish of breakfast enchiladas, her unique interpretation of New Mexican fare with eggs, carne adovada, sour cream, and chile layered between blue corn enchiladas. It combined some of Pitcairn’s favorite items and ensured immediate salivation.

Nearly black eyes gleamed at him as a smile split her slender, sculpted face. Dark wavy hair cascaded nearly to her shoulders, beautifully framing her olive-hued skin.

“Why are you still in your robe, Emmy?”

She cocked her head in apparent surprise. “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a holiday.”

“Ah! I forgot,” he replied with a whack to the side of his head as he leaned down to kiss her lightly on the lips.

She grabbed his head and kissed him back deeply, then pulled away with a caressing touch to his cheek and a shake of her head. “For a guy who makes his living recounting facts for others, I do not understand how you can forget so many practical ones.”

“It’s called contextual memory. A blessing for deeper understanding and a curse for particulars. It’s why I write so many things down.”

“And how it is you could forget to swing by the grocery store on the way home…” she added.

He laughed as he slapped her ass and lowered himself into a chair.

Maria Elena disappeared into the bathroom as he heaped enchiladas onto his plate. Both dogs stood watching him, their breakfast already wolfed down with hopes for table scraps now emerging.

He gazed at them suddenly lost in thought. “Dogs and chile are a really bad idea. Go lay down.”

Shoveling a large bite into his mouth, he chewed and swallowed then hollered. “Emmy, there was some kind of blast up toward Santa Fe. Do you want to go check it out with me?”

There was no reply. He shrugged then returned his attention to his breakfast. As he ate it occurred to him that the timing of the explosion on this holiday might not be coincidental. His inner sense of disquiet increased.

A short time later she emerged dressed for the day. “I just heard on the radio there was a really big explosion at a Sufi compound near Glorieta. No details, but it sounds really bad.”

He had just taken a large gulp of coffee, which he quickly swallowed. “There’s a Sufi place up there?”

“South of the Presbyterian retreat center.”

“I felt a tremor in the ground while we were walking in the bosque,” he commented in referring to the forest of cottonwood trees along the river. “Then the sound of it was a bit delayed and I could see a cloud of smoke.” He paused in a brief reverie. “I wondered about it.”

“Wondered?” she queried with a serious tone.

His face screwed up slightly before he replied. “I have a feeling it’s some kind of violence.”

She advanced to press herself reassuringly against him. Sliding her hand gently across his neck to his shoulder, she kneaded the muscles lightly. “Did you hear the voice?”

Since the Crucifix Protest he infrequently heard what they now referred to as “the still small voice.” On one occasion it had spoken to them both, but only that one time. It had whispered “preciosa,” an endearment Maria Elena had received as a child from a dear aunt. The reverence they felt about the episode was such that they only spoke of it obliquely. It was as if speaking of it openly would be callous.

“No,” he replied quickly then added, “it just has a feeling to it.”

She leaned her cheek against the top of his head and continued to massage his shoulder.

He leaned away from her and turned. “Want to drive up there and check it out?”

She smiled and nodded.

“And there’s a great AA meeting at St. Francis Church.”

Maria Elena eased her face toward him as she grabbed his hair. “No. Period. No drunks.”

“Well, that seems definitive.”

“Cito, this is my day off. I’m delighted to go investigate with you, but I’m thinking a nice dinner or a good soak in a hot tub at Ten Thousand Waves. In fact, I’m thinking of one of those nice secluded tubs with a sauna. With the snow and the night sky it should be beautiful!”

He laughed as he rose. “La Diabla has spoken.”

She smacked him on the arm in response. “I haven’t decided how I feel about my new title. On the one hand, I’m pleased by the impression it creates.” She smiled mischievously. “On the other, it just doesn’t seem to fit my self-concept.” She scrunched up her face. “Then again, nothing wrong with a chica like myself commanding a little respect.”

“If you’re done self-reflecting, I’ll call the boss and let him know I’m on the story. It may be a holiday but Sean Mortensen’s brain never takes a break. And maybe you can call the spa and see about that hot tub.”

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June 26, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

Chapter 2 – The Sequel to A Killer’s Grace

CHAPTER TWO

Fortunately the cold front only deposited black ice on the roads in the lower elevations around Albuquerque. By the time they had reached La Bajada, the long, steep grade that took Interstate 25 up and away from the valley of the Rio Grande, the Jeep moved firmly atop asphalt that was already clear from snowplows as well as solar gain from the morning sun. It was a curious benefit to high elevation, even on the coldest days the sun could quickly make things quite comfortable.

News updates on the radio painted the briefest of stories. It had been a massive blast. There were a number of dead and injured. Local emergency responders were first to arrive with the Federal Bureau of Investigations dispatching field staff from their Albuquerque Office. People from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were in route. Pitcairn turned the radio off when the broadcaster announced that the Department of Homeland Security had raised the terror alert level and mobilized key personnel.

The roar of the tires on pavement masked the quiet in the Jeep until Maria Elena spoke. “That’s some serious shit.”

Though deep in thought, he nodded and glanced toward her. Returning his attention to the roadway, he noticed he had a near-death grip on the steering wheel. The tension within him always grew taut with his first steps into a setting in which violence had taken place. It was a visceral response, a kind of psychological hangover that dated all the way back to his childhood.

He noticed the light touch of Maria Elena’s hand on his forearm and remembered to breathe. Pulling his shoulders back and rolling his head, he drew in a long, measured inhalation then exhaled quickly. After several repetitions the degree of release was dramatic.

It was a technique taught to him by his trauma counselor, Kari Claussen. During the Crucifix Protests, Pitcairn had met Father Anthony de Franco the leader of The Center for Radical Spirituality, which instigated the first demonstration using the inverted crucifix. Tony had become a trusted confidante and spiritual mentor, though it remained curious that the priest was advising Pitcairn, whose beliefs waivered somewhere between atheism and agnosticism.

Tony had referred him to Claussen because he knew a great deal about her and her work. When Pitcairn had expressed some skepticism, the priest had nudged him toward her by intimating, “She knows and walks on holy ground. Now would be a good time to be open minded.”

Pitcairn smiled at the memory and recalled his response. “Tony, I can only be as open-minded as my closed mind permits.”

The priest had persisted and to good end. Kari was now a steady presence in Pitcairn’s program of recovery. Where once he had focused exclusively on alcoholism, the therapist had broadened his perspective considerably by encouraging him into a number of arenas. Trauma recovery was but one of these.

His reverie ended. Reaching over he squeezed Maria Elena’s thigh. “Thank you.”

“De nada,” she replied lightly. “Sometimes a troubled man needs a good woman to remind him who he really is.”

“And …” he cued.

She danced her hands in the air before her. “And…you are an exceptionally good man who is occasionally lost in a history that no longer applies.”

Pitcairn laughed.

“Were you in Traumaland?” she asked using their whimsical take on a theme  park populated by false realities and twisted characters.

“No, I was there for a moment but as soon as I started breathing it released and I was thinking about Tony and Kari.” He smiled wistfully. “Who could imagine that a guy like me would have a renegade priest and the good witch of the high desert for spiritual counsel?”

The question hung in the air as they heard the first of what would be many sirens, an ambulance racing in the opposite direction as it angled to exit onto St. Francis Road just south of Santa Fe. Traffic remained light given the weather, and the last radio report had indicated the interstate had been unaffected by the detonation. Regardless, at the next several exits access to local highways were barricaded by police and other emergency vehicles. They continued up the steep climb to Glorieta Pass. The blast cloud had dissipated but a faint haze of dust hung in the air and dulled the atmosphere.

“Guess we’re going to have to be creative,” he announced as he took the first exit not barred to their passage. Turning south the road quickly narrowed as it climbed a circuitous path into the mountains. At a hairpin curve a marked forest road veered to the right. Quickly shifting into four-wheel drive he steered the Jeep onto the snow-covered route.

The snow was not especially deep though it had accumulated in some shadowed recesses beneath rock and fir trees. That changed as they gained elevation and drifts began to appear. The tires crunched steadily forward. Pitcairn cranked up the heater. Minutes passed.

After a few stops where possible vantage points proved to be non-existent, they crept through a narrow rock passage after which the track turned in a broad curve. The trees fell away as they neared an overlook. He stopped in the middle of the track and turned off the ignition. Reaching into the back seat he pulled out his winter driving duffle and extracted a wool scarf for Maria Elena and leather gloves for both of them.

The doors whined as they opened in the cold then slammed crisply. Twenty paces up a slight slope and they were able to see far to the west. It’s said that on a clear day in New Mexico it is possible to see up to three hundred miles. While on any other day they both might have been delighted with the vista, on this day they were hushed by the signs of the explosion.

In a large flat space in the southern lee of a mountain the debris field radiated outward. Trees were flattened for several hundred yards. Parts of the compound’s buildings and walls remained, but from this distance they appeared just like the ruins of the Anasazi found in many canyons across the Southwest. Crumpled vehicles still smoked and Pitcairn could almost smell the carnage. Tiny black figures crawled the area as a lifeline helicopter rose into air tinged by smoke and dust.

Maria Elena pressed her head into his chest and began to weep. He wrapped her in his arms and held her. Continuing to scan the scene Pitcairn felt the sorrow rise in him, a sweet ache just above his heart. He began the slow, rhythmic breathwork Kari had taught him as a way to blunt the effects of retraumatization. She would add that the breath would also center him and allow him to stay present. Regardless, it brought comfort as they stood quietly.

A short time later Maria Elena pulled away to rub her eyes and blow her nose. He turned to watch her.

She licked her lips and shook her head. “I don’t know how you can be with this as often as you are.

He reached out to brush her cheek. “Tony says I have a very high threshold for discomfort. Kari tells me that it’s the basis for a high degree of empathy that is growing in me.” He shrugged. “All I know is to stand in the presence of it and breath. To bear witness …”

Pitcairn stopped and again surveyed the scene. “Emmy, this is what I seem to have been called to do. And somehow I can simultaneously see a great beauty amid the ugly.” He smiled at her tenderly.

“You know, I always thought it was the violence that lurked in you that was so alluring. But right at this moment I realize it is the compassion that I love so much.”

He quickly raised his hands as if to divert her recognition. “I still cannot see what you and others see in me.” He chuckled. “Most people can’t see their own inner darkness. Me…I can’t fathom anything other than that.”

Maria Elena nodded. “Me. I cry. Then I start trying to figure out how to catch the bastards and make them pay.” A wry smile crept to her face. “That must be La Diabla.”

He turned to look once more at the site of the blast, then grabbed her by the hand to lead her back to the Jeep. The ride back to Santa Fe was very quiet.

Once in town they drove to the Tea House on Canyon Road, a funky, new-age-meets-Tibet place they both loved. After securing a very strong latte for himself and a large hot chocolate for Maria Elena, he pulled out his notepad and wrote for a time. Part of it was the ongoing written inventory he kept as part of his recovery, a place to process and reflect. The balance was notation for reporting. Then he took a break to call his editor.

“Sean, it’s really bad. I can’t imagine how big the bomb must have been. And there must be a whole lot of dead.” He proceeded to describe what they had seen.

Mortensen planned to pass the details along to his reporting team. He also asked Pitcairn to write a reflective piece for the upcoming Friday. Since the national exposure that had come with the Crucifix Protest, the editor knew the violence beat was Pitcairn’s first, best material.

After writing a few thoughts for the column, he closed his notepad, leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head, and nodded to Maria Elena. “What’s up?”

She smiled while looking up from newspapers borrowed from a nearby rack. “After the compound I’m just happy to be sitting here reading in quiet comfort.”

“What time are we due at Ten Thousand Waves?”

“The only time they had is 5:00. Guess I’m not the only one who wants to sit in hot water with my honey underneath the stars.”

Pitcairn chortled. “I like the light at sunset better anyway. Come on, let’s go gallery hopping and see if the beauty can dispel the ugly we’ve been in.”

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April 24, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

Relating as Connection

At the heart of A Killer’s Great is an exceptional relationship between Pitcairn and Maria Elena. Truth be told, I’m a bit envious of the connection they find and maintain. Of course, I should poke fun at myself regarding that statement, since I created that relationship when I wrote the story.

Regardless, each of must establish some kind of connection with others as part of the foundation that sustains us.

I’m reminded of a statement I heard many years ago. I must do things for myself, but I cannot do them alone.

**********

My blog at www.SeeingTrue.com last Sunday tackled this subject of relating …

http://www.seeingtrue.com/3connection-community/when-relating-becomes-relationship/#.UXO8dL-eLjA

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April 14, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

Redemption – At SeeingTrue.com

Given the season, which is a time for renewal, its the perfect time for the theme of redemption.

“The re-member-ment of humanity comes about when the members cease being separate and apart from others.”

See the full blog at the following link:

http://www.seeingtrue.com/1philosophy-spirituality/redemption/#.UWp6Fr8mXok

April 7, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

A Sequel to A Killer’s Grace

Coming Soon Online

After much encouragement from enthused readers of A Killer’s Grace, I’m delighted to announce that the  plot for a sequel is now clear and the writing is underway. Better still, it will be forthcoming as a serial in regular installments right here beginning sometime later in April. Since I’ll be accepting feedback and suggestions, it already feels like fun as well as extremely interesting. Who knows what we might find and learn in the process!

A Few Thoughts in Anticipation

In reflecting on the feedback to date on the novel, it seems there are a few consistent themes:

  • The authenticity of the characters is clearly desired. Whether or not readers have had an affinity for Pitcairn, Emmy or any other characters, its obvious that people like realness.
  • Consistently readers have appreciated the opportunity to be stretched with their beliefs and perspectives. It seems there is indeed a place for philosophical and spiritual considerations in a story that holds one’s attention.
  • The setting has also been of note with many readers. They appreciate getting a genuine feel for the terrain and the community.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this sequel, what you would enjoy and appreciate. And of course, your ideas for how to make it engaging in a serial blog format. So please let me know!

In closing, I’m feeling a bit sleuthish and authorial … so why not an appropriate photo …

Ron Modified

March 30, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

What if I am not in Charge?

At the heart of A Killer’s Grace, and in the underlying philosophy known as Seeing True, the most provocative idea is that we are not the free agents we believe ourselves to be. This is challenging to us because we have so much apparent evidence that we are the “doer,” or so we like to think and believe. Of course, the larger culture in which we are immersed is constantly suggesting and reinforcing the idea that we are in charge of our decisions, our lives and our destiny.

In his outstanding book, The Way of Powerlessness, Wayne Liquorman explores this idea. He uses an analogy of the ocean and its immense power. Liquorman proposes there is only ocean, and that you and I are waves. We are the ocean, the power is us, but we have no power to command the ocean or even the direction of our wave.

If you examine your life deeply, the evidence will grow that a great deal of our lives are not the result of our choices or decision-making. While this will threaten the ego, which desperately wants to have control and to claim credit, it will nurture the soul through a profound sense of trust that only grows over time.

If I am not the author of my own life, I must be part of a larger design with far greater purpose.

ST 2012 Monkey and Tiger

March 26, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

On the Radio – A Killer’s Grace

For those of you who have been wanting to hear more about A Killer’s Grace, I’m pleased to announce that on April 9th, at 8 pm ET, Cyrus Webb will be interviewing me about my novel.

March 20, 2013 / Ronald Chapman

To Change Anything in the World…Start Within

In my latest post at my new blogging site, http://www.SeeingTrue.com (which I obviously would love to have you visit and subscribe to … hint, hint), I explore our insides. (FYI, a variation on the same piece was just published as an e-zine at the link shown below.) The proposition is that our outsides are nothing but a reflection of our insides. Carry it in your heart, and you will see it manifest in your world.

Think of it like velcro, which works when two sets of nylon hooks that face in opposing directions come together and form a very strong locking mechanism. As long as you have a hook of some kind on your insides, i.e. your beliefs, values and perceptions, an appropriate and probably painful hook outside you will lock onto you. While we can peel velcro apart, it’s actually much more productive to examine the hooks inside you and thereby bring them to resolution. Then…nothing can lock you up again!

To change anything in the world…start within.

See the full article at the following link.

http://ezinearticles.com/?To-Change-Anything-in-the-World,-Start-Within&id=7496587

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