Solar Dawn, the third book in the Survival EMP series, is now available on pre-order for just 99c at Amazon and Amazon UK. The book goes live on December 12, 2018, after which the price goes up to $2.99.
Since Amazon doesn't provide the 'read inside' function during the period of the pre-order, I have pasted the first chapter below for you to sample.
The storm has ended, winter is over and a new dawn will rise in American history. It may not be the bright future many hoped for.
Rick’s family and friends have survived the predations of raiders and the ravages of winter. Now they have to leave the radioactive city of Charlotte, striking out for the mountains. Following in the wake of previous refugees, they encounter a land picked clean of resources, with embattled settlements hostile to strangers and gangs dominating the areas in between.
Rick finds that safe havens are hard to come by, and his military experience might not be enough to keep his family safe. New forces are rising that could spell doom for them all.
Sample Chapter 1:
If the walls of the Myers Park clubhouse had ears, they would have heard many things: From the jubilation of the wealthy members at the building of the clubhouse in 1921, to the dismay of the same members as their stock values crashed during the Great Depression that followed soon after. From the upsurging economy during the Second World War, to the whispered worries about sons or grandsons leading companies and battalions in Europe and the Pacific. Thoughts about America’s position as a global power would have been tempered with gossip about colleagues with communist leanings, the stubbornness of workers’ unions and their mob affiliations, and the blatant lack of patriotism among the Vietnam War protesters. Business deals would have been hashed out over a bottle of Chateau La Legune in the restaurant, political deals and requests for funding over bourbon in the bar, and advice about offshore accounts and tax loopholes by the ninth hole. The resignation of Nixon would have been quietly celebrated, Carter commiserated and Clinton generously indulged. The rise of the financial industry in Charlotte would have brought in a new breed of member, and the second financial crash in 2007 would have had them pursing their lips in despair. The devastating solar flare of 2017 would have been met with silence in the empty corridors as the lights went out, and the building’s last memory would have been the crashes of the gunfire, the whimpers of the dying and the tears of those who survived.
Lauren, stalking the corridors of the clubhouse with an old M16 rifle, had zero knowledge of what might have preoccupied the minds of former members, but she retained a vivid recollection of the latter event. The blood spilled in the boardroom and the scorches from the gas-bomb fire still stained the floor boards. Such things had passed to the back of her mind in the immediate aftermath, with everyone focused on the day-to-day work of survival, but now that they were planning to leave, she couldn’t help but think about such things, adding her memories to whatever secrets the old building might have retained.
Perhaps someone else would move into the building after they left and wonder at the bullet holes on the walls, the chain-link on the windows and the grave markers out on the golf green. Lauren felt the urge to carve her name into a door, simply to mark her passing and show she once existed. If she had the talent, she would have painted a mural depicting the last battle and everyone who took part in it, and in that way nobody would be forgotten. She should have commissioned her daughter Lizzy to begin the work, but it was too late now, and Lizzy was too obedient a child to have considered drawing on the walls by herself. Lauren knew that her son Josh had already carved his initials into a windowsill, which was to be expected, but he’d also carved the name: Skye. When asked why, he’d just said it was someone he once knew, but she couldn’t get any more information out of him than that. He’d been quiet since the battle, but she couldn’t tell whether it was because he was depressed or simply re-evaluating his life. He’d been forced to grow up fast and she was barely keeping up with the changes.
Passing Packy’s room, she saw that he hadn’t been shy about scrawling on the walls. He had more graffiti than the average prison cell, with gems like, You DO have to be crazy to work here, to the more cryptic: They lied. Dream all you want. In among his meandering thoughts, there was also the more heartfelt, Mom. Simply that. It was a brief clue to some of the deeper churnings of Packy’s unpredictable mind, and about the only thing that made sense, given the recent loss of his parents in this very building, but it remained hard to tell what his feelings were, given he still acted like a goofball. In his own way, he was as opaque as Josh. While Josh was clearly growing up, Packy seemed to have ditched that concept in favor of his own unique and unfathomable path.
In the grand ballroom, the others had gathered their remaining supplies, ready for transportation to the promised land – or at least someplace else that hadn’t been affected by the radioactive cloud that covered Charlotte after the McGuire nuclear plant blew. They’d waited out the winter for want of a better place to hole up, but now the weather was improving, it was time to get moving again. April was three months pregnant, and the safe development of the fetus was foremost in her mind. She didn’t go outdoors anymore, but considering they all drank water from Briar Creek, which flowed from the north, it wasn’t enough to just stay inside. They needed somewhere clean where they could grow food without thinking of the long-term effects.
Chuck brought in another tray of seedlings from the greenhouse, adding them to the trays laid out in the ballroom. He carried them in his left hand as his right arm was still weak from the shoulder wound he’d sustained. At his age, Lauren suspected the arm would never heal right.
“Lizzy, give Chuck a hand bringing the plants in.”
Lizzy and Daniel should have both been helping, but they were distracted by a kid who was even younger than they were: Baby Jacob. Sally was giving him his daily examination, trying to keep the stethoscope on the baby’s chest, but Jacob was more interested in rolling over to dash across the floor.
“He’s fine,” said Sally, letting him go.
Sensing freedom, Jacob sped off, his little limbs pumping the floor at a fast crawl, his bare butt wiggling. Lizzy and Daniel both giggled as Jacob tore a determined path to the plants.
Lauren snapped her fingers to attract Lizzy and Daniel’s attention. “Hey, there’s work to do.”
Jacob paused, wobbling as he stared up at Lauren, then resumed his journey with renewed gusto. His mother, Dee, scooped him up before he reached the plants and laid him on a table to put his cloth diaper back on.
“I’ll give Chuck a hand,” said Sally, closing her medical bag.
“I’m good,” said Chuck. “You worry about the little feller there. He’s so full of beans, there’s no telling what he might try to do. I say we hitch a trailer to him. He can bring in everything in one shot.”
“You won’t be laying a finger on him,” said Dee without looking up.
April sat on a chair, stroking her belly. She was barely showing, even at three months, but she did that every time she was close to Jacob. “He was joking, Dee,” she said gently.
Dee acted like she hadn’t heard, focusing totally on Jacob. Apart from allowing Sally to examine him, she remained aloof from everyone in the clubhouse. Lauren noted that April spent a lot more time trying to ingratiate herself with Dee, softening her demeanor in an attempt to connect with the young mother, perhaps identifying a common bond now that she was pregnant. Dee simply ignored her the same as she did everyone else. To Lauren, April’s efforts were painful to watch. It was like seeing a school-kid trying desperately to make friends with the snobby bitch from the in-group. Whether that was down to April’s hormones or not was hard to say, but the regression was embarrassing.
“Okay, people,” said Lauren, “it’s time to get everything squared away. The guys should be back this afternoon and we need to be ready to go.”
Chuck shrugged as he turned away. Overhead, the alarm-cans jangled on the pulled wire. Lauren shouldered past Chuck and ran along the corridor to the service ladder that led to the OP on the roof. Josh waited, crouched behind the sandbags, sighting along his rifle at some distant target.
“Group of people coming this way,” he murmured, keeping his head low.
Lauren slid down next to him and took out her binoculars. A small procession of people were coming across the golf greens. Lauren focused, counting eight of them. They weren’t moving tactically, and Lauren couldn’t see any weapons. They appeared to be wandering refugees, but they were headed straight for the clubhouse.
“Should I fire a warning shot?” asked Josh.
Lauren glanced at him. He’d learned a lot from this winter’s encounters, especially from his father. It was comforting to know she could count on him right now, even though he wasn’t old enough to shave.
“No, but keep your sights on whoever might be the leader. I’ll go down and see what they want.”
Sliding back down the ladder, she called out: “We’ve got company! April, you watch the children. Sally, you back me up.”
Unlocking the side door by the kitchen, she went out onto the pool terrace. There were two pools and a Jacuzzi, all filled with stagnant water. The burned-out apartment block next door loomed over the fence – another reminder of the fierce fight during the winter. Checking that she had a round in the chamber, Lauren slipped the safety catch off and took position behind a semi-circle of sandbags. The group of refugees kept coming. Looking up, they saw her, and began walking past the raised terrace, up the slope toward the barbed wire.
“That’s far enough,” called Lauren, aiming her rifle.
There were five men and three women, all in their thirties or forties, though with the straggly beards, dirty faces and unkempt clothing, they could have just appeared older than they actually were. After the harsh winter, everybody looked older.
“Hey there,” said the leading man, halting. He had a pinched face and he squinted up at Lauren, studying her. The whole group did, assessing her without a trace of emotion on their faces. Having survived this long, they probably weren’t impressed by much anymore.
“What do you want?” said Lauren.
“Major Connors sent us,” said the man. “Told us you had supplies and you would help us out.”
“And why would he tell you that?”
Sally came out onto the terrace, toting a shotgun.
“Because it’s true,” said the man, his gaze switching from Lauren to Sally, then back again. “Major Connors is in charge of this district now and said you had an obligation to help. Said that you were soldiers and these were his orders. Wrote it down on this piece of paper, he did.”
The man reached to his pocket and Lauren called out, “Keep your hands where I can see them.”
The man held his hands out, eyeing Lauren. Behind him, the others were unmoved. “Can’t really show you your orders if you don’t let me get them out,” said the man.
“We don’t take orders,” said Lauren, “and I don’t know where the Major got the idea that we would, but he’s mistaken. We don’t have a lot of supplies and we can’t help you.”
A thin smile spread across the man’s face. “He said you’d be awkward about it.”
“Awkward’s got nothing to do with it. We’ve only got enough to feed ourselves. I suggest you go back to him and let him know this isn’t a military outpost and we’re not under his command.”
“You want to keep it all for yourselves, is that it?”
“There is no ‛all’.”
“Prove it to us. Let us in to take a look. If what you say is true, you’ve no reason to object to that.”
Lauren couldn’t understand why he was so insistent. “Turn around and go back the way you came. There’s nothing here for you.”
The man turned around to address the others. “See? She wants us to starve. Doesn’t care whether we live or die.”
One of the women screwed up her face in disgust. “You’s lying,” she said to Lauren. “You got a basement full of food that you’s meant to be giving out. You a liar.”
Lauren scanned the group, looking for signs that someone might be reaching for a weapon while she was distracted, but all she saw were eight pairs of feral eyes glaring back at her. Whatever these people were like before the storm, the months of hardship and starvation had changed them. The hatred was palpable.
“You’ve got the wrong idea,” she said, taking up the slack on the trigger.
“No, you’ve got the wrong idea,” said the man. “I’ve got a signed statement here that says I have the right to shelter here, and you got the responsibility to take us in on behalf of the state of North Carolina. That’s the law.”
He reached toward his pocket again.
“You keep your hands clear,” ordered Lauren. She ran hastily through her options. Who the hell were these people with their strange demands? She could see Sally from the corner of her eye, no doubt waiting on her cue, but Lauren wasn’t sure how to defuse the situation.
Dee came out onto the terrace, hugging her baby and gazing impassively at the group.
The man’s smile broadened as he looked at Dee, his hand still moving toward his pocket. “Well,” he said. “It’s just a few women here, that’s all.”
End of Sample