Category Archives: Guest Post
When Jim and Laura Pepperman find a musty German Olympic jacket and an old journal in their attic, they stumble onto a gripping pre-World War II story of a cousin Jim knows nothing about.
After a career-ending injury forces Hans Pepperman to lose his spot on the 1936 Olympic boxing team, he trades his athletic aspirations for a degree in mechanical engineering and secures his dream job working for the famous Willy Messerschmitt. Tasked to solve the stalling issues of the BF109 fighter plane engine, Hans finds himself smack in the middle of the Abwher Intelligence Service’s radar. Pro-Germany but anti-Nazi, he reluctantly agrees to help flush out the spy leaking secret information on the BF109 engine to foreign agencies . . . and finds himself a suspect of espionage and murder. Unsure who to trust, he must unravel the tangle of lies he’s caught in before he falls prey to the Nazi agenda slowly and stealthily taking over the country he loves.
Award-winning author Bill Briscoe grew up in the oil and gas refinery town of Phillips in the Texas Panhandle. As his retirement was on the horizon, he had an idea about a book. That idea became Pepperman’s Promise, the prequel to The Pepperman Mystery Series, leading to Perplexity, Panic Point, and now Perfect Payback, books one, two, and three of the series. Bill and his wife of over fifty years live in West Texas.
Emilia Altamirano, half Otomí Indian, half pure Spanish, is born in 1814, the year after the Battle of the Medina River, where her father fought as an officer in the Mexican Royalist Army. She grows up in Bexar de San Antonio unacknowledged by her father, raised by her Otomí Indian mother, and “adopted” as an unofficial ward by José Antonio Navarro, hero of the Texas fight for independence from Mexico. She learns to read, write, and acts as a page for the Ayuntamiento (City Council). She learns nursing during a cholera epidemic and later tends the wounded on both sides during and after the Battle of the Alamo. She survives, but as a Tejana, Spanish-speaking, and a loyal citizen of Mexico, she faces an uncertain future.
From Before the Alamo: A Tejana’s Story
By Florence Byham Weinberg
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This episode followed Emilia’s encounter with the Comanche boy and her report to her mother. She is six-going-on-seven and shows her character in the midst of calamity. The flood of 1819 was a historical event, just as catastrophic as I depict it here. I got the details from the governor’s report as I worked in the Alamo Archive. Oddly, the Internet does not record that event as one of San Antonio’s catastrophic floods. Flood reports begin with the one in 1921. To find the earlier one, google “San Antonio flood of 1819.” Why did I delete the episode? Because, although it shows Emilia’s character, I had just done that with the episode of the Comanche boy. This episode did not further the plot, so out it went. Below is the first half of the deleted scene.
Before the Alamo
Episode cut from Chapter Two
Summer came. June weather was increasingly hot, and no rain had fallen since the end of the second week. July threatened to be even more unbearable. Flies swarmed through the kitchen windows, attracted by moist food smells; all sorts of creeping insects appeared, also in the jacal and even in the stone house, looking for cool shade. The river level fell, but typical for Béxar, humidity remained high.
María and Emilia went to bed on July 5, perspiring in the foggy air rising from the river. Far to the north, they could hear the growl of thunder.
“Maybe it will rain tonight, Mamá.”
“Maybe. But it has thundered before, and not a drop of rain here.”
They drifted off to sleep, but Emilia awoke when a blinding flash of light illuminated the jacal, followed almost immediately by an earth-shaking boom. She rose, trying not to disturb her mother, who had slept through the noise. She padded to the door and pulled the cowhide curtain aside. All was silent, and then a few huge raindrops began to plop into the dust beyond the threshold. Dawn light showed gray in the east. She was on her way to lie down again, when she felt the earth tremble beneath her feet. The hair on the nape of her neck and on her arms stiffened. Now she could hear a roar.
“Mamá! Mamá! Wake up! Something terrible is happening!”
María sat up, eyes wide, staring around her. “What’s that roaring?”
Then, abruptly, something struck the side of the jacal with great force and just as quickly rushed through the door. Water! Rushing, powerful water.
“Come, m’hija, we must warn our people in the house!”
They found they could not run the short distance to the back entrance; the force of the water was nearly irresistible. It reached their knees before they got inside the door.
“Señora Carmen! Juan Andrés! Get up! Flood! Water everywhere!” They ran through the rapidly filling house.
Andrés appeared in his nightshirt, sloshing toward his wife’s bedroom. “Come, Carmen, get up! We must save ourselves!”
The water now was knee high inside.
Carmen came to the door, a simple shift pulled over her head. “What shall we take?”
María shouted over the noise of the rushing water, “Yourselves. Nothing more!”
Andrés stopped long enough to pull on a pair of trousers, grabbed up Emilia, and ordered his wife and María to follow him. They heard a cracking sound from behind the house, over the continued roaring. María had made her way to the back door. “The jacal and the kitchen! The water swept them away.”
Juan Andrés shouted. “Out the front door! Now!”
He managed to keep his feet, carry Emilia, and somehow support his wife, the least able to withstand the current and debris hurled against them. He looked wildly for something solid to climb on.
“There’s no… way to reach… the old mission.” He gasped. “Look! That live oak… at the end of the street.”
They struggled in that direction, Juan Andrés and María keeping Carmen upright in rushing water halfway up their thighs and rapidly rising. Emilia wrapped her arms around Juan Andrés’s neck as he fought the current and batted away floating objects that became projectiles. They headed for the huge oak tree on Real Street. Its horizontal limbs drooped five feet above the water, so it should be easy to climb. Unless…
By some miracle, they reached it and Andrés perched Emilia in the crotch of a limb, then lifted Carmen beside her. Next, he turned to María, who had expected no help from her ‘master.’ A second low-bending branch offered a refuge, and she leaped, using the current to boost her, grasped the branch, and with the strength of desperation, pulled herself up until she lay with her body along the branch. Andrés joined her and their combined weight bent the branch within a few inches of the flood.
Andrés gasped. “We must… climb higher.”
Emilia gave a little scream and pointed. A dead body, a man, floated under them, dressed in a nightshirt. His face torn and disfigured by a collision with something—perhaps the wall of a stone house—he floated on too quickly for them to identify him. Emilia, in shock, did not cry.
By now, the sun had risen, illuminating the bizarre scene through heavy clouds, and they could see their town amidst the waters that had filled the valley of Béxar like a huge cup. Hardly anything other than the church still stood, and it, too, seemed heavily damaged. Jacales had been swept away, and the adobe buildings were melting ruins, collapsing before their eyes. Some stone houses were damaged worse than the church, walls partially tumbled or tumbling down, the mortar between the stones melting. Worst of all, they could see many bodies of the drowned, both human and animal. Any horse, cow, sheep, pig or goat that had been enclosed in a barn or tethered, had drowned. The water still rushed swiftly as it drained southeastward toward the Gulf, and the bodies of man and beast alike bobbed along downstream toward a salty grave. Here and there they could see another tree, loaded like this one with survivors.
WELCOME to DAY 7 of the @ENIGMASERIES
#ShortStory Journey Dec 8th to Dec 15th
Gifts available for Day 7 are two ebooks of the featured short story plus one ebook of the newest release Hidden Target. That’s 3 winners.
Multiple generations of the R-Group focused on helping those impacted by oppressors, power seekers, and thieves who steal wealth at the expense of the average person. The primary goal for this group is maintaining a high ethical ground when choosing the path for solving the problems. Jacob Michaels, a continuing character in the Enigma Series and one of the leaders of the R-Group, learned this from his grandfather, Wolfgang
The series as stories set in contemporary times where technology is todays weapon of choice. They were however founded by three men during World War II who fought tyranny at the hands of the Germans. Wolfgang was a founding father of the R-Group.
As authors, we received many questions about our cyber heroes and how they take the battle to their enemies. Jacob and Wolfgang often discussed the right choices to make on behalf of their private clients and the countries they serve. When Jacob learns more history of the R-Group, he discovers it is easy to see right from wrong at multiple levels.
When Jacob and his team mates take the leadership roles, he worries about sharing enough information in meaningful examples with the next generation. In The Enigma Beyond, Jacob held a heartfelt conversation with Wolfgang. Jacob wonders what more he can do to instill the value for the next generation of the R-Group to maintain their integrity. YouTube link: https://youtu.be/Q-pprbk4-iY
This conversation led us to create a short story and then release a complete novella in 2021 to learn about the original men who escaped Poland in 1939. These men risked their lives to stop the German military machine. Out of Poland – Novella is a gripping tale that vividly paints the picture of war, pride, hope, and death for a country without support from its allies. Out of Poland is about how great things come out of extreme adversity.
About the Short Story
Beneath the storm clouds of a deadly war, three men need to unlock the secrets to redeem the world.
The setting is Poland—1939. Germans are marching toward Warsaw, crushing everything in their path. The Polish people feel the crush of their defensives and their brave cavalry. Fighting against the Nazi military machine is a death wish realized all too clearly.
Death, destructions, pillage, and woman brutalized at the hands of soldiers with no honor marks the invaders’ path. As much as the citizens of Poland pray for a different outcome, everything they have known, loved, and grown up with is gone.
Three young men take on the task of finding and extracting the German military communications device, Baby, kept under heavy guard. Polish patriots die to aid the three in getting the information and then fleeing with the prize. The race is on as the Germans try to match wits with the clever patriots who risk detection at every turn.
Ambassador Ferdek Watcowski insists that his son Ferdek with Wolfgang and Tavius, flee with the families while there is still time to reach a border. Their goal—escape with Baby intact.
Hitler’s forces so outclass Poland’s military that survival is key to fighting another day. Facing great peril and odds against their survival, the men resolve to make a difference so those who died helping them would not have sacrificed in vain. They vow to undertake a lifetime of fighting tyranny.
Successful survivors must look ahead.
We consider this the prequel to the Enigma Series. It is available on Amazon https://bit.ly/OOPolandN We look forward to your review and comments on our short stories.
About the Authors
Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey are co-authors of the award-winning Enigma Series. Their characters demand that their stories are told. The storytelling began with a few heroes, then expanded to those with self-serving motives. We love storytelling and hope readers enjoy learning more about our shorts. Looking forward to your feedback and reviews of our stories.
Breakfield is a technology expert specifically in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. Charles is also a fan of wine tastings, wine making, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.
Burkey is a25+ year applied technology professional who optimizes technology and business investments for global customers. She focuses on optimized customer experiences. Rox loves interviewing authors, writing white papers, reviewing books, and loves creating fiction.
Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with men and women, young and experienced adults, and bring a fresh new view to technology threats of today. Please visit their website, look around, and grab some free stuff https://www.EnigmaSeries.com.
Find us and Follow us
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesbreakfield and
Twitter: @EnigmaSeries and @1rburkey
For the other stops on this tour click here https://www.enigmabookseries.com/
Thank you for visiting. Please leave your comment below for a chance to win.
LIFE IMITATING ART IMITATING LIFE –
OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT
GUEST POST BY LOREN STEFFY
Originally published July, 2021, on the author’s blog
Perhaps I should have used a rocket company instead of a semiconductor manufacturing plant.
I found myself thinking that earlier this month, as all eyes were on West Texas for the launch of billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket.
I started writing my novel, The Big Empty, almost 20 years ago, and the idea of a rocket factory in West Texas would have seemed even more over the top than a chip plant. Besides, I knew what chip factories were like. I had toured several of them, and I covered the semiconductor industry.
While my brother is in the private space business, the idea of making the outside company moving into the tiny town of Conquistador an aerospace firm never occurred to me.
At any rate, all this came rushing back to me with the Blue Origin launch, in part because of some excellent reporting by my old paper, the Houston Chronicle. Andrea Leinfelder has a thoroughly reported series on the impact of the private space on small-town Texas. She takes a deep look at both Boca Chica, Space X’s launch site in far south Texas, and Van Horn. The Van Horn piece, in particular, sounds eerily familiar:
This town, like a thousand other rural communities, has seen agriculture diminish and infrastructure deteriorate. Its local improvements often depend on grants. And with Blue Origin’s higher-paid workforce, the town no longer qualifies for citywide grants reserved for low- to moderate-income communities. Residents talk about the tight housing market and problem-plagued water system.
Still, people are excited to see what comes next, with the possibility that Van Horn will become a major launch site for space travelers.
Those were many of the same ideas I tried to capture in The Big Empty. It was what I saw first-hand in the late 1990s when, as I described in my recent guest essay for the Chronicle, I found myself on a sprawling West Texas cattle ranch to cover a tech story.
I’ve always been fascinated with how people live in different environments. When I visit a new place, I like to see what life is like for the residents. I’ve found myself driving through neighborhoods in the interior of Maui and walking through the residential streets of Riyadh (against the “advice” of my government handlers).
Of course, the issues facing small towns in Texas — and across the country — have been going on for decades. But with the Blue Origin launch in Van Horn, I was struck by the old idea of life imitating art (not that I’m ascribing the “art” tag to my book, but you get the point).
In a way, it’s happening again. I’ve been working on a sequel to The Big Empty, which could be described as “a billionaire comes to town.”
Voted #1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes.
T. BOONE PICKENS
“Think you know T. Boone Pickens, the larger-than-life business titan,
energy trader, and corporate raider? Think again. The attorney representing Pickens in his final major court battle and the business writer who covered him most over the decades reveal a whole other T. Boone that few people outside his bubble could have ever imagined.” —
Joe Nick Patoski, author of Austin to ATX and host of the Texas
Music Hour of Power
“Chrysta Castañeda and Loren Steffy have accomplished the remarkable. They’ve taken issues most familiar to lawyers and judges, woven them into an incredible story and presented to all an enjoyable journey through The
Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens.” — Craig Enoch, Former Texas Supreme Court Justice and founder of the Enoch Kever law firm
In his third collection, poet Nick Courtright explores the world at large in an effort to reconcile selfhood as an American in the international community, while also seeking anchors for remembering a wider world often lost to view in our shared though increasingly isolated experience of reality.
Beginning in Africa with investigations of religion and love, The Forgotten World then moves to Latin America to tackle colonialism and whiteness. From there it travels to Asia to discuss economic stratification and Europe to explore art and mental health, culminating in a stirring homecoming to troubled America, where family, the future, and what matters most rise to
the forefront of consideration.
Through all of it, Courtright displays a deft hand, at once pained, at once bright, to discover that although the wider world seems farther away than before, the lessons it offers are more needed than ever.
“In The Forgotten World, Nick Courtright explores the intersections of being a citizen of one country and the desire to live as a citizen of the world…” – Octavio Quintanilla, author of If I Go Missing and 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio