Sunday, January 18, 2015

Release Date Set

Release Date: March 23, 2015

After THE NIGHT TRAIN, Jayrod Nash, Arnold Wise, and Farley Milo went their separate ways, until Arnold’s abduction threw Jayrod and Farley, aka Frank Mayo, together again for a cross-country rescue mission that soon leaves them wondering if they are the hunters or the hunted.

Frank Mayo is a fry cook in a greasy breakfast restaurant in Atlanta. His home is the back room of an abandoned building infested with homeless addicts. Among them he is respected. To the rest of the city he is invisible. Enter Reese — a ghost from Frank’s past, with a newspaper article that throws Frank’s world into chaos. Soon he is reunited with Jayrod Nash, the abused boy he took under his wing in another life. Together they track the man who abducted Jayrod’s friend Arnold, but things aren’t always what they seem, and time has a way of changing people you thought you knew. The hunters become the hunted, and trust is a commodity best spent with caution.

Red Eyes is a story of friendship, betrayal, and second chances. 

Pre-order your copy today by clicking HERE and Amazon will automatically send it to your Kindle them moment it become available to the public.

I never intended to write a sequel to The Night Train.

Since its release, The Night Train has received more reviews and triggered more reader comments than my other two novels combined. I have had the honor of speaking to middle school students who read The Night Train as part of their curriculum, as well as to teachers (retired and active) who have told me it should be required reading for all middle school students because of its subject matter.

Again and again, readers have repeated two comments: it should be a movie, and I should write a sequel. I can’t do anything about the movie request, but there came a point when I felt I could no longer dismiss the second request without failing the very people who have made these past few years so special — my readers.

So often sequels fail to live up to the original. When I decided to do this, I made a commitment to write a novel that can stand on its own merit. I wanted readers who haven’t read The Night Train to enjoy the full experience of reading a novel that is not part of a series, while not including too many spoilers should they choose to go back afterward and read TNT. At the same time, I didn’t want to subject those who have read The Night Train to excessive repetition of the original story. Striking that balance proved to be the most difficult part of creating Red Eyes. I eagerly await your verdict.

Pre-order RED EYES by clicking here. If you haven't read THE NIGHT TRAIN, get it now for only 99 cents.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Red Eyes

Sequel to The Night Train
Coming in 2015
It has been almost three years since I released my first novel, The Night Train. Since then it has garnered 38 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.8 stars. I've received countless comments (Facebook, Twitter, in person), emails, phone calls, and even a lengthy letter from a fellow author who survived child abuse.

Child abuse is the dominate theme of The Night Train, but I didn't write it to be a book about child abuse. I wrote it to be a book about a boy who happened to be abused.

Since The Night Train, I've released two more novels -- Norton Road and Blinders. All three are stand-alone books. Series books aren't my thing. Along the way, so many readers asked when I was going to write a sequel to The Night Train that I decided to do something about it.

Red Eyes is the story of Farley Milo -- the scruffy, often lawless, hobo who took Jayrod Nash and Arnold Wise under his wing and guided them (pushed, pulled, sometimes prodded) through the adventure that made up the pages of The Night Train. In this sequel, readers will learn more background on Farley (who goes by the alias of Frank for much of the story), and they will follow him on a suspenseful journey that rips him from the alleys of Atlanta and throws him into the fight of his life when an old adversary kidnaps Arnold and lures him into a cross-country pursuit rife with pitfalls and stacked with characters old and new.

You don't have to read The Night Train in order to make sense of Red Eyes, but I suggest you do because it will enrich the reading experience of the sequel.

But what good would a blog post about an upcoming novel be without a teaser? Following is the opening lines of Red Eyes:

In prison they called him Red Eyes — a variation of red eye, which meant hard stare. His given name was Farley. In Atlanta, they called him Frank.
A noise awoke him. The city peddled noise like a drug, but this was different. This noise stood out. He pushed himself up to one elbow and cocked his ear toward the steel door and listened. There it was again. One small metal object probing another.
Frank visualized a pick tool probing the tumblers of the disengaged deadbolt, guided by hands taking direction from a brain that didn’t know about the length of pipe laid across two L-brackets just above the doorknob on the inside. Frank didn’t use the deadbolt because he didn’t have the key.
He threw back his blanket and groped the darkness for his boots, then pulled them on without making a sound. The noise at the door stopped, then restarted with less caution. Not the police, Frank thought. Cops would have reconnoitered the abandoned restaurant first, and would know the steel door that opened into the alley was the only way in or out of the ten-by-ten storage room. Besides, cops didn’t pick locks, they knocked down doors with rams, or blew them with explosives.
If not cops then who? A bounty hunter, perhaps, or someone out to settle an old score. Frank had lots of old scores against him. He also had more sense than to seal himself into a room with only one way out.

Red Eyes is scheduled for release in early 2015. For the most up to date information, like my Facebook Page, follow me on Twitter, check out my website, or subscribe to this blog (enter your email address in the subscription box to the right of this post).

As always, thank you for reading.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Passing It On

Logan will turn twelve next month. So far he has accompanied my wife and me to every author-related event in my brief two-year stint as a published author. But more than that, Logan loves to create. In addition to writing stories, he comes up with new ideas for video games and movies (both of which he develops by acting them out in the living room, often in front of the television). For the past few weeks he has spent most of his spare time creating comic books.

Logan has a great capacity for understanding things. Sometimes I bounce ideas off him -- ideas for a scene, or a direction I'm considering for one of my novels. Most of the time his insight is spot on. He's into zombies and The Walking Dead, though, so there's that.

If you are a parent, I don't have to tell you what a thrill it is to see your child involving himself in artistic and/or intellectual activities, especially if he is following in your footsteps. Not a parent? I could probably expend a thousand words and you still wouldn't fully understand. Parents and children share a bond that can't be replicated outside that experience.

The best we can do is instill in our children an interest in positive things. A spark, then stand back and let them do with it what they will, encouraging them every step of the way without smothering them. It's a fine line to walk as a parent. I didn't do it alone, though. Not by a long shot. Sharon introduced him to our local library and makes it a regular part of their routine. Done correctly, parenting is a team sport.

Early on we noticed how much Logan looks like me. Not now, but in the old pictures of me at his age.

Logan and I have a long-standing tradition of "storytime" before he goes to bed. Not so much now, but we still do it from time to time. Storytime for us has never been a retelling of the old standards. Early on he let me know he doesn't care a wit about three billy goats, or a trio of bears breaking into a little boy's home and sleeping in his bed. Logan wanted originals. Stories I made up on the fly, with him lying there on my arm. Coming up with a new and different story every night, day in and day out, year after year, was a challenge, but he has a sharp memory and refused to let me tell the same one twice.

A few nights ago he asked me to read the latest scene in the comic book he is writing. Our conversation went something like this:

"I used to wonder how you came up with all those good stories," he said. "I wondered where your ideas came from. All those stories and you never told a bad one. I just realized that I'm coming up with ideas for comic books. They just come to me and it's not that hard."

I said something about being proud of him, and told him he has a huge talent. As he walked away, he stopped and turned to me and said, "I get that from you."

Yeah, it felt every bit as good as you're thinking it did.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Meeting Readers

book signing

Basically, I'm an introvert. More Type B than A. In school I was so shy the shy kids probably wondered what was wrong with me. On the other hand, once I'm comfortable around someone, or some group, I tend to make up for all those other times when I didn't say much. Hint: if you find yourself wishing I would shut the hell up, it probably means I feel relaxed around you, so much so that it's okay if you tell me to shut up.

As a little boy I used to hide under the kitchen table when company would come. Sometimes, if they stayed long enough, I would come out and talk their ears off, probably making them wish I would crawl back under and leave them alone.

I still get nervous when I speak to groups, but I think (hope) I'm getting better at handling it. The unexpected thing for me was how nervous I get at book signings. Book signings can either be great (you sell a lot of books and meet a lot of readers), or they can be not so great. When I first started, I feared the day I would have a signing and no one show up. Okay, I've done that. That one is out of the way. There may be more, but there will never be that first time again, so it's okay.

Last weekend I had the honor of signing books at an event to benefit a local hospice. It went well. It went great, in fact, and not just because of how many books I sold. It was a great day because of how many people stopped by my table and said good things about my books, or simply told me they had heard good things about them. What made it more special was that I didn't know any of them. Don't get me wrong, I love it when friends, family, and acquaintances tell me they like my books, but when people you don't know tell you, it lets you know your circle of readers is expanding. You sense something of a momentum, and it makes you work harder to build on it.

I'm still an introvert. I've always considered myself a bit odd. Out of my element in almost any crowd, but meeting my readers face to face, signing a book for them, posing for the occasional picture ... those are the parts of being a writer that I never saw coming. For someone who considers himself fairly good with words, I find it hard to encapsulate exactly what that feels like. Readers, by nature, are intelligent and insightful. To have your work -- your creation -- accepted by them, sometimes praised by them, is a very satisfying thing. It's exciting, inspiring, and humbling. Yes, humbling, because you realize that without your readers you would serve no purpose. Because of them, you are able to live a dream.

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You can find my books all over the place. To date I've released three: The Night Train, Norton Road, and Blinders. You can find me at my website, on Facebook, or Twitter, but you won't find me under any tables.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Halloween Story

A Bag of Snickers

by Carl Pardon

Cort Hatcher hadn’t always been a drunk, but a drunk he was and there was no denying it. He opened the door of his mobile home and stepped out onto the plank porch in his bare feet. It was cold, the first cold morning of the season. Soon the frost would come and coat the landscape with brown. His was a small lot but private, with trees of varying species dotting his yard. Fall was his favorite time of year but it never failed to plunge him into melancholy.
            He eased himself into the wooden swing that hung from the rafters by chains and cradled a hot cup of coffee between his massive hands, hands that had once been hard and calloused. A gentle breeze blew right through his white cotton t-shirt and green checked pajama bottoms.
            “It’s cold this morning.” Sometimes Cort talked to himself. He raised the blue cup to his lips and took a sip. “That’s hot. Feels good, though.”
            The coffee warmed him but his system needed more. “Not today. We’re not giving in this time.” Even as he spoke the words, his mind slipped through the door, to the kitchen, and into the cabinet beside the refrigerator. Whiskey. “No. It’s Halloween and I can’t be drunk when they come this time.” He remained in the swing and took a deep breath. It was not quite cold enough yet to see his breath when he exhaled. “Not this time.”
            Every year Cort decorated his yard with square bales of hay and jack-o-lanterns. Ghosts and goblins hung from his trees by the dozen. Some people go overboard with Christmas decorations but not Cort. Halloween was his obsession. When he finally rose from the swing he descended the concrete steps, three of them, and made an inspection of the decorations. It wouldn’t do to appear sloppy tonight.
            Each tick of the clock brought Cort one second closer to nightfall. His hands trembled as his internal organs thirsted for alcohol. By noon his head pounded. Even his eyes ached. “Just a few more hours. We can do it. A promise is a promise.” He paced the floor, ate a sandwich for lunch, then went out into the yard and checked the ghosts and goblins again. Not a second passed that the bottle in the kitchen didn’t cross his mind. At two o’clock he drove to town and bought a single bag of miniature Snickers and a dozen red roses. When he returned home, he placed them on the coffee table and stood back to admire them, then sighed and checked the clock again.
            At long last the sun began to slide below the tree line. Inch by inch it fell until all that remained was a faint splash of orange in the western sky. They would come soon. He had to be ready. How surprised they would be to find him sober this year. He made one more pass through the yard, this time lighting the candles inside the jack-o-lanterns. Nine glowing pumpkins would greet them. Last year there were eight. Next year, ten.
            Cort stepped back inside and turned off the living room light, leaving the porch light on of course, lest they think him not at home. There was no bottle on his mind now, not now. Sobriety felt strange to him, though, like some long lost recollection that can no longer be. “They should be coming any minute now.” He waited.
            An hour passed. They were late. Then another. Perhaps they weren’t coming this year. Suddenly he wondered if their visits had been no more than drunken fantasies? His heart raced. His throat grew tight. He needed a drink. “No! Not yet. They’ll come. They have to come.”
            Fifteen more minutes and still no lights in the driveway. The tremble in his hands was violent now, so violent he could barely hold a glass of water without wetting the floor. “Just one little drink. Something to calm me. They can’t see me shaking like this.” He rushed to the kitchen and pulled open the cabinet door. There it sat. All day it had taunted him. He reached in and grabbed it, then hesitated. “Just one drink. One! Not two.” He twisted the cap off and raised the bottle to his lips. The aroma of the dark whiskey calmed him. The doorbell rang.
            “Trick or treat!”
            Cort jumped at the sound. “They’re here! And to think I almost ruined it.” He recapped the bottle and returned it to its spot beside the crackers then hurried to the front door. On the porch stood a boy of six and a woman of twenty seven, both dressed in costumes. Cort knew their ages because he knew their identity.
            “Ah, look at you! You’re a pirate this year. Grand.” Cort pushed open the door and stepped out onto the porch and immediately fell to his knees in front of the boy. “I was afraid you weren’t coming.” He reached out but the boy withdrew. “Yes, I’m sorry. No touching.” He looked up at the boy’s mother and strained to see her face behind the black veil. Her costume never changed. She wore the garb of a lady in mourning.
            “Take off your mask, Timmy, and let me look at you,” Cort said to the boy. The boy raised the pirate mask and smiled. “I’m sober this year,” Cort said. “Just like I promised. Are Snickers still your favorite?”
            “Yes, daddy,” the boy said.
            “Oh, look at me,” Cort said, fighting back the tears in his eyes. “I’ve forgotten to bring them out. Wait right here. Don’t leave.” He pushed himself to his feet and quickly retrieved the bag of candy and the roses from the coffee table. When he turned back toward the door his visitors were gone. He ran outside and called for them, yelled for all he was worth, then fell to his knees and sobbed like a child, clutching the bag of Snickers and the roses to his chest. Almost an hour passed before he righted himself and began to walk down the driveway. When he reached the road he turned left. Gravel crunched beneath his feet with every step.
            With nothing but the moon to light his way, Cort walked for two miles then turned right into a narrow drive, then through a metal gate. He could navigate the cemetery with his eyes closed, as the moon was not always so bright when he came here. There is nothing more private than a cemetery at night. He walked leftward, along the fence for twenty paces, then right for fifteen more. Sometimes he counted them off as he walked, but not tonight.
            Two headstones stood side by side, the bottom dates the same. Nine years ago today. Halloween. “Timothy Ray Hatcher. Born June 23, 1995. Died October 31, 2001,” he said aloud. There were no tears now. He had cried himself dry. “Janet Ann Hatcher. Born August 3, 1975. Died October 31, 2001. In God’s loving arms.”
            Cort stared at the granite for a long time, then placed the bag of candy before one and the roses before the other. It was a slow walk home. At times he forgot where he was or what he was doing, such was his grief. When he reached the end of his driveway, the eastern horizon had an orange glow. The nine jack-o-lanterns in his yard were silent, their faces dark. The ghosts and goblins hung motionless out of respect as he made his way up the driveway, onto the porch, and into the kitchen. “Three hundred and sixty five more days,” he said, as he opened the cabinet beside the refrigerator.

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For more information on me and my novels, please visit my website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mississippi Library Association Review - NORTON ROAD

My second novel, Norton Road was recently reviewed by Mississippi Libraries, a publication of the Mississippi Library Association. The review is viewable on the Mississippi Library Association website in PDF format, but it is not easy to link to, so I am posting it here in its entirety, unaltered (except one instance where I corrected the spelling of my last name). I would like to give a special thanks to the writer of the review, Heather Pohl for giving me permission to use her review in promotional materials.

Purdon, Carl. Norton Road. Createspace, 2013. 332 pp. $14.99 (paperback)

Oscar ‘Pap’ Jones is at war. Armed with a small red toolbox and flashlight, Pap leads a campaign of mechanical sabotage and mischief against the “noisy, dirty, sawdust-belching invasion of his privacy” next door, Khane Manufacturing. For two years Pap has conducted nighttime raids against Davis Khane, trying to put the furniture factory out of business. His raids soon cause the owner Davis Khane to retaliate and enlist the help of former deputy sheriff, and aspiring sheriff candidate, Bodie Craig.

Pap’s war with Khane, which includes the unfortunate skunk and microwave incident, comes to an abrupt end when he is accused of murder and hauled off to jail. In order to survive he must destroy Bodie, whose passion for money, power, and a woman he can’t have has quickly turned into deadly obsession.

Norton Road is a multiple viewpoint novel that successfully transitions between the three main characters: Oscar ‘Pap’ Jones, Sheriff Sam Gant, and sheriff candidate Bodie Craig. Through these transitions the reader is able to see the story from all sides, making the characters much more than one dimensional. Purdon gives a clear picture of Pap’s hatred for the factory, Sheriff Gant’s life outside of the small-town police department, and how Bodie Craig’s many passions become one giant twisted obsession. The reader really gets to know the characters; wanting to not only know where they will end up, but also rooting for them along the way.

While Norton Road does not contain strong adult language, it does contain mature themes and is not suitable for young children. The novel will, however, appeal to Mississippians who have lived in similar places as well as anyone who is a fan of contemporary murder mystery fiction. Public libraries, especially those interested in collecting works written by Mississippi-born authors, should consider Norton Road when purchasing for their collection.

Heather Pohl
Acquisitions and Adult Services Librarian Columbus-Lowndes Public Library 

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For more information on me and my novels, please visit my website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mississippi Library Association Review of BLINDERS

My third novel, Blinders was recently reviewed by Mississippi Libraries, a publication of the Mississippi Library Association. The review is viewable on the Mississippi Library Association website in PDF format, but it is not easy to link to, so I am posting it here in its entirety, unaltered. I would like to give a special thanks to the writer of the review, Tamara D. Blackwell for giving me permission to use her review in promotional materials.

Purdon, Carl. Blinders. Lexington, Kentucky: Carl Purdon, 2014. $14.99 (paperback)

Blinders is Pontotoc County, Mississippi, native Carl Purdon’s third novel. Set in Mississippi, it is the story of Dale Criss who, after serving 25 years for killing his high school sweetheart, has just been released from Parchman Prison and is now returning home. No one in his hometown is happy about his return and most think he should never have been released; when a former police officer is murdered, it seems to confirm everyone’s suspicions.

The novel opens with a prologue depicting the final hours of Dale’s trial in a seemingly corrupt courtroom with an arrogant sheriff and a gun-toting judge, combined with an inexperienced court-appointed lawyer and a gallery that’s clearly out for Dale’s blood. The scene resonates with the reader, leaving the distinct impression that Dale did not receive a fair and impartial trial. The reader’s sympathies are tested from the beginning, though, by Dale’s recklessly irresponsible choices and behavior – indeed, at times he appears to be his own worst enemy.

Thrown into the mix are two lawmen with very different attitudes towards law enforcement and how it should be implemented, and who are constantly butting heads to see who will prevail. Trap Malone is a by-the-book kind of man that believes there’s only one line to follow and it should never be crossed. Challenging Trap’s authority is Chief Deputy Carson Webster, a remnant of the former sheriff’s administration who preferred his old bosses’ style of justice and is a constant irritant to Trap. While Carson’s adamant desire to put Dale back behind bars at any cost tests Trap’s resolve, it is his wife’s betrayal, however, that has him questioning everything he believes in.

This well written book has a fast-paced plot that will appeal to contemporary fiction readers who enjoy action and suspense. While the book does have violent content, the violent scenes are short and the worst takes place “off-page.” Carl Purdon’s exciting book is suitable for most adult audiences and is recommended for all public libraries.

Tamara D. Blackwell
Reference Services
Bolivar County Library System 

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For more information on me and my novels, please visit my website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.