ABOUT C.K.Gurin: An Informal Introduction

Professional editor, author of eight books, and co-author of six others.
Resident of Stuart, Florida
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/c-k-gurin-97154040/

My name is C.K.Gurin. I am a professional editor, author of eight books, co-author of six others, and a resident of Florida. A native of Miami, I attended Miami Dade College.
Professional History: Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker and appraiser of luxury real estate (License # BK48019), a partner in Everglades Land & Development, and a Vice President with The Morello Companies, luxury real estate.

When my husband accepted the position as managing director of a large multinational holding company, we moved to Europe for several years. Upon our return to Florida, we invented, patented, and manufactured several products, including wired, mobile, lift-enabled computer furnishings entitled The Office™ and The Learning Station™, both of which received international recognition and sequentially took Grand Prize at NeoCon, the World's Trade Fair for Interior Design, Facilities Management & Communications, two years in a row.
Visual: https://www.the-office.com/office/events.html

LITERACY ACTIVISM: Since its inception in 1996, I have been active in the Bedtime-Story Literacy Project, an effort featured by MSNBC, the BBC, MIT's Invention Dimension, and Readers Digest. Some of my own writings have appeared in the nationally distributed textbooks of several educational publishers (Macmillan, Scholastic, etc.) Additionally, one of my better-known short stories has been particularly popular with children. The tale was featured as number 7 in a Yahoo! top 10 list of recommended stories for parents to read to their children. It's admittedly flattering to find one of my own works mentioned in the same breath as such renowned children's literature luminaries as Dr. Spock, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, and Maurice Sendak.
Visual: https://www.the-office.com/TheQuantumCat/tenbest-2010a.jpg

MARKETING EXPERTISE: I enjoy a reasonably respectable IQ, writing is my passion, and I'm considered adept enough at marketing to have been featured in the Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, and an assortment of other publications.

ADDITIONAL BUSINESS ACTIVITY: I owned and operated a small, well-regarded Estate Jewelry boutique in Stuart, Florida, for fifteen years.
Visual: https://www.the-office.com/TheQuantumCat/mjsa.htm

When I closed the estate jewelry business, I shifted my focus to writing and editing professionally full time, broadening my client base and working on virtually every kind of book, including Mystery, Adventure, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Young Adult, Children, Romance, Memoirs, War, LGBTQ, Business, Motivational Speaking, Substance Abuse, and a personal favorite, Mountain Hawk, the inspirational story of a six-year-old boy who overcame all odds and beat cancer.

WRITING SKILLS: I have edited hundreds of stories for all age groups and audiences. I have also ghostwritten a number of books for clients.






















I thought last night's view of the city had been spectacular, but I was totally unprepared for what the daylight view held in store for me. It felt as if I were attending the unveiling of a jeweled canvas. The golden sky formed the backdrop for a veritable rainforest of living, breathing, blooming colors. There had to be at least a half-dozen shades of green alone.

Cascading waterfalls and waterways added a shimmering touch of aquamarine to the scene while fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs joyously erupted in vibrant splashes of color.

High-rise and mid-rise buildings throughout the city had been constructed in a variety of geometric shapes and hues, which took their design inspiration from nature. A sprinkling of towers, domes, and minarets added a touch of the exotic to the supra-modern architecture of the city.

I had no idea what construction materials had been used for the various exterior finishes, but one building, a massive, open-centered octagon-shaped high rise, the base of which spanned one of the many waterways, particularly fascinated me.

I couldn't decide whether it reminded me more of a stained glass Ferris wheel or a giant, blueberry-colored candy Lifesaver balanced on end. I simply shook my head. This approached sensory overload. The underground city on Mars was nothing short of breathtaking.


Jeremiah Reason was thirty-two years old. His parents, a handsome, well-educated bi-racial couple, had adopted him in Paris immediately upon his birth.

Adoptions of French orphans by American citizens are virtually non-existent. France is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, which basically ensures that French children available for adoption will be adopted by French parents.

Jeremiah fell into a different category. First, he wasn't an orphan. Second, his biological mother had been an American student living abroad and studying at the Sorbonne. Both of Jeremiah's adoptive parents had been American educators who spent a year teaching English at the Sorbonne.

The Paris-Sorbonne, or Sorbonne as it is traditionally known, is the largest institution in France dedicated to the study of literature, languages, civilizations, arts, humanities, and social sciences. The university encourages its students to think freely to construct their own judgment "so that they may become responsible and inventive citizens who can promote dignity and a culture of peace."

Detailed information about Jeremiah's biological father had never been forthcoming from his biological mother, but for the sake of the adoption proceedings, a notarized statement from the mother had been provided, stating that Jeremiah's father had also been an American citizen. There was no way of knowing whether this was actually true or not.

She confided to Jeremiah's adoptive parents that Jeremiah's biological father had never known that she was pregnant. There was only that one memorable weekend together in Paris. The only other tidbit volunteered was that Jeremiah's father was a tall, good-looking pilot with a sky-high I.Q. He had mentioned in passing that he flew jets, but she hadn't thought to ask which airline he was with.

Jeremiah's biological mother, a very bright and very pretty, blue-eyed blonde, had died in an automobile accident in London a mere six weeks after his birth. The attorney who had handled the adoption recognized the name and photograph in the French daily newspaper Le Monde. The article mentioned that an American student studying at the Sorbonne had been instantly killed when a vehicle she was a passenger in was broadsided by a taxi during a visit to London. He had mailed a clipping of the article to Jeremiah's adoptive parents, who were back in the U.S. by then. When Jeremiah was old enough to understand, his adoptive parents told him what little they knew about his biological parents.

As to Jeremiah's actual heritage, it was anybody's guess. He had an exotic look about him. He was 6' 4", weighed 220, and worked out on a regular basis. His skin tone was bronze, his hair was jet black with loose waves, and he had inherited his mother's striking, cornflower blue eyes. His IQ was literally off the charts. From a biological standpoint, the child of that amorous union in Paris had basically won the genetic lottery.

Jeremiah also lucked out with his adoptive parents. They had simply adored him.

After college, having achieved advanced degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics, Jeremiah earned his pilot's license and then spent a few years in the military, doing some covert work and learning to fly things that most people on this planet firmly believed were just science fiction. He had also traveled to places that few people imagined even existed.

After leaving active military service, Jeremiah became a private consultant to several of the nation's most powerful aerospace firms. He held a Top Secret security clearance, which, along with his specialized knowledge, experience, and expertise, allowed him to charge his clients accordingly. Financially speaking, Jeremiah was, as they say, extremely comfortable.

Up until a year ago, Jeremiah had been in a long-term and what he had naively assumed to be a happy relationship. He and his fianceé had shared his spacious home on the water in Palm Beach.

Jeremiah had come home from a business trip one day to find the joint bank accounts empty, the house newly devoid of all its expensive furnishings, and a six-week-old black and white tuxedo kitten, who had apparently wandered in through a door left ajar by the movers, sitting in the middle of the cavernous living room.

He had taken a deep breath, christened the kitten F.U.B.A.R., a name aptly reflective of the day's events, put the house on the market, and moved to another county in Florida.

Jeremiah actually counted himself lucky. He had been just about to suggest to his fianceé that they set a wedding date.


The last thing sitting on the lace tablecloth which covered the dining room table was a small but valuable old vase.

Sarah was only seven, but she knew to be extra careful. She had done this before. She would carry it into the kitchen and carefully set it on the breakfast table.

Sarah had firmly grasped the little vase with both hands and was walking slowly, headed down the hall to the kitchen. Her spoiled and spiteful five-year-old sister Jackie had snuck up behind her and deliberately lodged a vicious kick at the back of Sarah's right knee. Sarah had screamed in pain when the hard-soled patent leather Mary Jane shoe struck, rupturing a small vein in her leg in the process. Her leg had buckled, pitching her forward, and the valuable old vase had gone flying, jettisoned from her hands onto the cold porcelain tile floor, shattering into a thousand pieces.

Five-year-old Jackie had launched the sneak attack on her sister, then turned and sprinted stealthily back into her own bedroom to establish her alibi. She had kicked off her Mary Janes, thrown herself on the floor, and pretended to have been playing with her dolls.

Naturally, everyone came running at the sound of the scream and the crash. Everyone but Jackie who finally padded out of her bedroom, wearing her lace-edged white socks, timing her arrival on the scene about a minute after everyone else had shown up.

"What happened, Mommy?" little Jackie had asked her mother, feigning wide-eyed innocence as she looked at the debris field. "Oh, NO! Did Sarah break your special vase?"
Sarah was gasping with pain and shock. She was literally covered with streaks of blood, having landed on the sharp porcelain shards.

There was much screaming and gnashing of teeth, and when Sarah had struggled to her feet, she tried to explain that Jackie had run up behind her and kicked her with her hard Mary Janes.

Pauline had flown into a full-blown rage, screaming at the top of her lungs, and slapped Sarah so hard the blow had literally knocked her halfway across the room. Her father had run over to her, yanked her up by the arm, and whaled the living daylights out of her butt, screaming in outrage that nobody had wanted her, and he wished she had never been born.

Seven-year-old Sarah had washed the blood off all by herself, applied iodine and band-aids to the largest cuts, put her jammies on, then crawled into bed and pulled the covers over her little head.

She dared not allow herself to cry. She didn't want to make anybody mad.


Why are you teaching night classes," Nick asked curiously.

"I have no life?" Sarah questioned with a laugh. "No, actually, I'm on a year's sabbatical from the university. I'm designing a new course and writing a textbook. They were short an instructor for this class and asked if I'd be willing to take it. I said sure."

"What about you?" she asked.

"Marine. I'm from here in Wake County, a bit north of Raleigh. I was one of six men in a Humvee that hit an IED during my fourth tour in Afghanistan."

"Damage report?" Sarah asked, point blank.

"All six lost their lives. I just happened to continue breathing."

The finality of his statement shook Sarah to her core. Jeezus

"You planning on staying dead?" she asked.

Her question startled him. It certainly hadn't been what he thought she might say. So, for the very first time, he actually considered the matter.

"You already know I'm on meds. I have to take a bunch of pills every day."

"How many?" she asked.

"About thirty."

"Yep. That's a bunch," she agreed.

"Also, I was locked up a couple of times."

"For what, drugs?" she asked.

"Hell, no. I was locked up in the psych unit because I was pretty much intent on self-harm." Nick didn't blink an eye, and his tone was casual as he spoke.

She just let him talk.

He told her about some of his nightmares.

Not all of them. But some.

"There were six of us. We were friends. We were in an up-armored Humvee equipped with CROWS, a remotely operated weapons station. That's where the gunner sits inside instead of being a friggin' target on the roof. You feel safe, you know? So we were driving. Somebody made a joke, and we were all laughing. Paulie had the wheel. We thought the road had been swept. It hadn't been. It was mined, and he hit an IED.

"I was reliving all of it, again, and again, and again," he told her. "Every single time I closed my eyes, I could see the inside of the Humvee, all the blood and the body parts. Pieces of men I knew and liked. I could hear the screams.

Paulie… Paulie's head landed in my lap. His eyes were open. He was looking at me."

Jeezus God Almighty. Sarah thought, but somehow, she managed to maintain her composure and continued listening without comment.


The front door was the only way in, and Barry was extremely security-conscious. It was a pawnshop, after all. His exterior polycarbonate display windows were indistinguishable from glass, but they'd take a shotgun blast, or a sledgehammer, or even a .44 Magnum bullet without yielding an inch to a smash-and-grab robber. His transparent bulletproof door was similarly protected. It was fabricated from ballistic glass and mounted in a bullet-resistant frame with both a standard bolt lock and an automatic magnetic locking system.

Barry eyeballed and mentally screened everybody when they first approached the bulletproof glass door before hitting the under-counter button that released the magnetic door lock. He'd had an uncanny knack for judging people. If you didn't look right to Barry, you simply wouldn't get buzzed in.

There wasn't even a way for anybody to get behind the counter once they were inside. One literally had to back up to the chest-high counter, put his hands on the edge, hoist himself up, spin around on his butt, and then hop down on the other side.

There was no way in hell that Barry, even though he was in his sixties, wouldn't have sensed that kind of movement. Barry still had the reflexes of a cat. He'd have instantly spun around and confronted an attacker, yet the police report had attributed his death to a point-blank gunshot wound, effectively a contact shot, into the back of his head.

For some reason, the cops who responded to the call had also made no attempt to preserve or recover fingerprint evidence either from the front door or from the countertop.

Barry's ex-wife, with whom he had still been on good terms, hadn't been asked to identify the body. It appeared that nobody had. No autopsy had been ordered, which Jeremiah thought particularly strange, and bizarrely, the body had immediately been cremated without the family's permission. They had simply been handed a white cardboard box full of ashes. OK, Jeremiah figured, with that close of a shot, it certainly wouldn't have been an open-casket funeral, but...


Bernard Bearcat - "I Found Your Phone" with advice column "Go Bother Bernard"


("I escaped from an exotic animal pet shop. I had the run of the shop. The guy who worked there had a smartphone. He let me play with it. He wanted to see if I could be taught to communicate, you know like that gorilla, but typing instead of sign language.")


Logan Forrest of Forrest Robotics had been putting in long hours lately. It was after midnight, and he was still sitting in front of his computer in the den. The weather was pleasant, so he had the sliding glass doors to the floodlit pool patio area open.

That's probably why he heard the splash.

Rufus, a zaftig rescue dog of indeterminate parentage who had been peacefully napping until the sound of the large splash, quickly leapt to his feet.

Rufus was affable, he made good company, and he was a reasonably decent guard dog, but his spatial reasoning was markedly deficient.

If you grabbed a yardstick and measured Rufus's height from the floor to the top of his head, you'd notch the 20" mark. The height of the glass-topped coffee table he often napped under was 18". The problem was self-explanatory. Fortunately, the glass was thick.

Rufus shook his head and made a beeline for the dog door in the screened slider.

"Bloody hell," came an annoyed voice from the pool.

Startled, Logan grabbed an old wooden baseball bat that was leaning against a wall and headed for the patio.

Rufus stood at the edge of the pool steps, his entire chubby butt wagging with absolute delight as he watched a lone figure slogging its way through the water, heading for the pool steps.

The figure in the pool appeared to be female, slim, petite, and highly annoyed.

"Where am I this time?" she demanded.

"Excuse me?" Logan asked as he extended a hand to the sopping-wet intruder.

"Who are you, and how the hell did you get in here anyway?" he asked. "There's a six-foot wall, and the alarm system is on."

His dripping-wet guest sighed heavily and gratefully accepted the large beach towel he'd retrieved from the back of a patio chair.

"I don't suppose this is part of Cliffside Castle, is it?" she asked dejectedly.

Logan shook his head slowly. "You haven't answered my question," he said suspiciously. How did you get over the wall?"


Jeremiah pulled the Mercedes into the empty hangar, shut off the engine, and dialed his cell phone. "Stanley? You ready? I'm here. Let's blow this pop-stand."

At only 723.5 miles from Witham Field to Nashville, this was going to be a fairly short trip.

Jeremiah's Learjet Bombardier 45XR had a top speed of 535 mph, with a range of 2,301 miles, and it could reach an altitude of 51,000 feet. Whatever Jeremiah was likely to need in the air, the Bombardier 45XR, considered the "Swiss Army Knife" of jets, probably already had it. It comfortably sat 8, but it could carry 9 passengers in a pinch.

It fell into the "very light" class of jets, which require less runway space. The operating cost for fuel was economical, and the 905-gallon tanks could be filled and ready for takeoff in a mere ten minutes. Since very light jets also have access to a network of over 5,000 smaller local airports, that made for a pretty user-friendly personal jet.

Unsurprisingly, the Learjet Bombardier 45XR came with a bear of a price tag. New, the price was eleven million dollars. Jeremiah had picked up a mint condition two-year-old 45XR at a government auction a little over a year ago.

While lying in bed casually browsing through auction listings late one Sunday evening, the online notice for the 45XR had caught his eye.

The U.S. Treasury Department doesn't fool around with their weekly auctions. The bidding instructions state, "All Offers Must Be Accompanied By The Entire Purchase Offer Amount."

On a whim, his gut instinct telling him to go for it, Jeremiah had emailed a buddy and arranged to have the jet inspected first thing the following day. By 8AM Monday morning, he had already received word that the plane had checked out and that it was in pristine condition.

Jeremiah downloaded the bid form, filled it out, faxed it back, and wired the full amount of his bid, a lowball offer of five hundred thousand.

Serendipitously, as a result of a clerical error by a new government employee, a typewritten zero had been missing on the government's original auction authorization, which specified the minimum reserve.

Instead of a minimum reserve of five million dollars for this auction, the minimum listed in the government's file had been typed as $500000.

Jeremiah had been the only bidder. The Treasury Department's paperwork showed a 5 and a bunch of zeros, and Jeremiah's wire transfer payment showed a 5 and a bunch of zeros. The two numbers matched. His offer was accepted. The aircraft title was delivered to him, and the document was properly recorded.

The Treasury Department eventually figured it out, of course, but by then, it was too late. The Learjet Bombardier 45XR was his, fair and square.

The 45XR taxied up to the hangar, and Stanley dashed down the steps to help Jeremiah with his bags. When he saw Fubar on Jeremiah's shoulder, he burst into a wide grin and held up his hand. "Fubar! How the hell are you, man?"

"Rowf," the cat replied and raised a paw to high-five the Captain. Stanley shook his head. "That is the weirdest damn cat I have ever seen, Jeremiah."

"Thank you. I think," Jeremiah replied.


Timothy Gray and his sister Amanda burst into their grandmother's den.

"Gram...on the news..." Amanda began breathlessly.

There was a news report, Gram," said Timothy, his eyes wild. "We were at Billy's house...and Billy's father said we should come home right away...because...he heard...we heard...something happened...and it was on the news...and they...they said that...that..." faltered Timothy.

Timothy's face was flushed. His heart was pounding wildly, and his hands were beginning to shake.


Timothy and Amanda's grandmother sat very still in her big wingback chair. She stared out the window at something very far away. As if frozen in place, her hand clutched the telephone receiver that lay in her lap. It was making those beeping sounds, the way it does when you forget to hang the phone up.

With a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, Timothy quietly took the receiver from his grandmother's hand and hung it up.

"Gram" Amanda rattled nervously, "It happened where they are, right? So we better call to make sure they're OK, hadn't we? Gram? We'll call them up and see if maybe they knew the ones it happened to...I mean, because...because...we know that it was some other people this happened to, right, Gram? We've gotta call right now, because...it's not...it wouldn't be...it couldn't be...them..."

"It was, honey," she whispered.

A tear rolled quietly down Grandma's cheek as she fought for control.

Amanda gasped, trying to understand.

"This is not happening," Amanda's mind said calmly. "Rewind. Select alternate ending."

"So...so...when...this happened...they...they got hurt...right? Amanda's voice began to shake. "But they're...they're gonna be OK, right, Gram? And we'll go to the hospital, right? And we'll tell them they're gonna be OK."

Amanda was finding it hard to breathe. "They're gonna be OK, aren't they? Gram? Grandma?"

Amanda's grandma turned to the two of them, and her eyes were filled with pain. She shook her head slowly.

"No, honey," she said softly. "They're not going to be OK."

"They're not dead?" blinked Timothy, shaking his head as if to deny this was happening. His anguished grandmother closed her eyes to the words.

"They're dead?" he said, dazed. "They can't be dead, Grandma," Timothy said firmly. It was not possible to comprehend this. His head was beginning to spin.

"They can't be dead," he said again. "Grandma, they're young," as if the inherent logic in that statement could somehow overcome the horror of the news he was struggling to deal with.
"Grandma, they're young," it was a whispered plea.

Timothy's knees went weak. He doubled over as if he'd just been hit in the stomach. The pain was so awful it made him want to throw up.

Amanda's hands curled into fists, instinctively rising to her head, as if to ward off invisible blows to her mind. "NOOOOOOOOO!" she wailed. "NOOOOOOO!"

Amanda's scream was like a knife to her grandmother's heart. She held her arms out and gathered the pair to her. As she did so, she closed her eyes and offered a silent prayer.

"Dear God, help us get through this."

Amanda leaned back and took her grandmother's face in her both her hands. "You make this not happen, Grandma. You make this not happen," she pleaded with a sob.

Amanda's voice began to rise.

"MAKE…THIS…NOT…HAPPEN…GRANDMA!!" Amanda commanded, her voice shaking.

"MAKE ...THIS...NOT...HAPPEN!!" she shrieked hysterically.

Her grandmother cradled her in her arms.

Timothy sat down on the floor with a thud. He drew his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, absentmindedly rocking to and fro as he sat there.

"Not even Grandma can make this not happen, Amanda," he said woodenly.

His body felt like lead. His mind was numb. His rested his forehead on his knees. He couldn't think past the words This can't be happening. No way can this thing be happening.

"I'm so sorry, love," said Grandma, with a sob. "I'm so sorry. For us, and for them. For everybody." She reached out and touched their faces, stroked their heads.

Timothy drew back, looking at his grandmother with fury in his eyes. "You can't be sorry for anybody who did this?!" he demanded.

Amanda collapsed onto her knees on the floor and sobbed uncontrollably. Her head lay in her grandmother's lap, and like a drowning child, she continued to hold on to her grandmother's hands for dear life.

"Everyone's family is going to have to live with what happened, Timothy," she said with a ragged sigh.

"Why did this have to happen?" he shouted angrily. "How could it happen?"

Timothy balled up his fist and hit the arm of the chair as hard as he could. "Why would somebody want to hurt innocent people?"

"Why them?" he screamed.

He rose up on his knees and hit the arm of the chair again, this time with both fists, screaming "Why hurt people WE care about? Why would somebody do this? What did it accomplish except to hurt us, and everybody else this happened to?"

"Grandma..." Timothy wailed in helpless anguish, "What's the matter with somebody's head? What would make them do this?"

"Damn them!" he raged. "Damn, damn, damn!" Timothy hit the chair again and again, sobbing, overcome with rage and grief.


"Bad people," moaned Amanda. "Bad people did this."

Amanda's grandmother held them close again.

"So many lives shattered," she thought wearily. "And for what possible purpose?"

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
God Bless Mommy and Daddy and Everybody.

Goodnight, sweetheart.
We love you.



Paul quickly reversed the trust on the engines to slow the aircraft down and frantically tried to judge the direction of the waves beneath the aircraft, visible only by the light of the moon. Pilots are trained to keep the wings level and land parallel to the waves.

Even in optimum conditions, an ocean landing would be like a hard belly-flop on a slip-n-slide. You never knew if you'd be able to stay on track because it all depended on how you hit the surface. Gauge the angle wrong, and you could go careening off course, with disastrous consequences.

An emergency water landing under these conditions was a pilot's worst nightmare.

"Keep the nose up! Keep the nose up! Don't let her plow in," Paul shouted to Austin.

There was a jarringly abrupt impact when the fuselage hit the water, but the pilots had managed to keep the aircraft upright. The jet turbines were positioned toward the rear of the aircraft and sat higher than the wings. They were still running.

The three of them sprang into action. Austin lowered the stairs, and thankfully, the cabin floor was still a few feet above the water line. They tied off the painter line, threw the raft in the water, gave the line a hard jerk, and the raft instantly began inflating. Pulling the raft closer to the stairs but still far enough to keep from accidentally damaging the raft, Bradley instructed Austin to board it while he and Paul passed survival gear and baggage to him to evenly position inside the raft.

"Paul, you board the raft!" Bradley shouted once they finished loading what was needed. He took one last look around to make sure they hadn't forgotten anything they might need. Struck by one last thought, Bradley ducked into the cockpit as a small film of water began to touch the edge of the carpeted cabin floor. He grabbed the mic and made one last Mayday call before he heard Paul and Austin's frantic warning. It was probably a stupid thing to do but their lives were at stake. Either somebody would hear it or they wouldn't. All he could do was hope.

"Bradley! Get out, get out, get out NOW!" they screamed to him. They had already disengaged the painter line fittings and were manually holding the end to make certain the raft wouldn't be dragged down with the plane, which by now had begun taking on water. Bradley appeared at the cabin door, saw that the raft's line had been safely freed, and then practically threw himself into the raft.

"Oh shit!" yelled Paul. The turbines, still running, were partly in the water by then as the tail began to tip back. The aircraft suddenly began to be propelled forward. "The bastard's gonna run us over!" Paul shouted. He quickly passed out the raft's small paddles, and the three men frantically began paddling the circular raft away from the fuselage.

Once out of the line of fire, the three watched, in a combination of fascination and horror, from far enough away to see the aircraft slowly go past, turn, and then take on water through the open cockpit door. The starboard wing slowly rose out of the water, then the entire plane slipped neatly into the sea with nothing but a muffled gurgle as the jet turbines were enveloped in water.

Then, there was nothing but silence and the sound of waves slapping against the big, double-floored raft.

Nobody said a word for a good ten minutes as the full weight of their dire, life-threatening predicament suddenly became clear to all three of them.


I ran my ad for just that one day, just that one Sunday. My ad wasn't very long, and unlike other advertisers, I didn't specify what I was looking for; I simply tried to give enough of a description of myself so that the right person would be able to recognize me.

My ad read;
"Long auburn hair, longer legs. Personality shy to outrageous. Blue jeans to ball gowns. Enjoys sailing, power-boating, quiet evenings at home. Plays terrible tennis. White horse, shiny armor, and vast kingdom considered charming in a respondent. Former Boy Scout given equal consideration."


"So what have you been up to, Mark? Are you married? Engaged? Still a bachelor?"
"I was engaged for a while," he shrugged. "It didn't work out. Turns out she was a good bit more shallow than I realized. Glad I figured that out before we were married."

"Dodged a bullet, did you?"

"Indeed I did, Sis," he sighed. "So if you happen to know of any nice… damn…"

"If I happen to know of any nice damn?" I said blankly.

"Sorry, no. I just caught sight of a woman I would really like to meet."

I turned and followed his line of sight.

"The really pretty blonde? That's my friend Wren."

"Introduce me to her, and I swear I'll put you in my will," he joked.

"Not necessary." I raised my hand and waved, gesturing for her to join us.

"By the way, although she's dating Lawrence Starr, she told me it's not serious."

"I owe you big time for that information, Catherine."

I laughed, and when Wren joined us, I made the introductions, then wandered back to the bar to get that glass of wine I had originally sought.

I hadn't been there five seconds when I felt a hand take hold of my arm again.
"Mark, I thought you …"

This time, I was looking up into the eyes of a totally different person.

"You don't want to date Mark Huntington," said the tall, dark, and… holy shit, was this guy handsome or WHAT?

My brain automatically registered his appearance. An easy 6'4", his weight maybe 220, athletic build, wide shoulders, narrow waist. Nice outdoor tan. Thick, ever so slightly wavy dark brown hair, warm brown eyes, and a perfectly wonderful smile.

He still had a proprietary hold on my elbow.

"Really," he said. "I don't want my future fianceé to date Mark Huntington."

I looked him straight in the eye.

"Is anybody actually dumb enough to fall for a bullshit pick-up line like that?"

His jaw dropped.

"It usually works," he confessed.

"Sorry. You just struck out, buddy," I informed him. "You want to turn loose of my arm, or would you like me to demonstrate my admittedly limited, albeit defensively effective, knowledge of Krav Maga?"

He released my arm and stared at me.

"I should probably apologize and start over, shouldn't I ?" he asked.

"I don't know that it'll do you any good, but you could try," I replied with a straight face.

"You don't want to date Mark Huntington?" he offered.

"You mentioned that. Do you want to tell me why?"

"I'm richer than he is?"

I laughed right in his face. "Who the hell writes your material?"

"Damn, you're a tough audience," he complained. "That usually works too."
"If you're trolling for bimbos, I don't doubt it," I rolled my eyes.

"I'm one of the ten richest men in the world," he announced.

"And your point?"

"Last time they held this auction, somebody paid a half-million dollars for a date with me. You should be flattered."

"Last time, somebody paid a half-million dollars for a date with a nice guy. You don't fit the description."

He sighed. "Listen, I'm sorry. I'm not really an asshole. But if you don't agree to go out with me, I'm going to lose a bet."

"How much, and to whom?"

"Fifty grand. To Mark Huntington. I mentioned that you were really pretty. He said he knew you and that if I were to come on to you the way he'd seen me come on to some other girls back when we were both young and stupid, you wouldn't go out with me."

"He's right. Besides, if you're that rich, why would you care about losing fifty grand?"
"It's not about the money."

"It's not?"


I narrowed my eyes. "How much is it worth to you to win that bet?" I asked.

His eyes grew cold.

"How much will it take?" he asked.

"A half-million dollars," I replied flatly.

"You want me to give you a half-million dollars to go out with me, so I win a fifty thousand dollar bet with Mark Huntington?" he asked in disbelief.

"No. I want you to donate a half-million dollars to the children's hospital. Right now. And then I'll agree to go out with you. And you'll have won your bet with my brother, Mark Huntington."

His jaw dropped, and then he literally howled with laughter.


Co-Author of Josh Walton's fantastic adventure;
Peter Thomas and The 5 Realms

Medieval Sword & Sorcery Fantasy series

For the duration of the magnificent display, Peter managed to turn off the rest of the world and allow himself to simply enjoy the moment. As the fireworks display came to an end, the other four headmasters disappeared from view, and the instructors from Elysius quickly and efficiently marched offstage, heading for their respective classrooms. Students referred to their scrolls for directions and then began filing through the castle doors in an orderly fashion.

Peter's young companions were promptly herded off by their official instructors. Peter hung back and watched as the school year officially began with well-ordered discipline replacing a celebration carefully crafted to reassure students and faculty that all was still well with the world.

As the crowd thinned and then finally dissipated, Peter caught sight of a single child who sat quietly, her eyes riveted on the outer doors as if expecting the arrival of someone whose unusual tardiness was greatly distressing. Her appearance reminded him of a picture he'd once seen of his late wife, which had been taken when she was a little girl. If Diana had lived… Peter thought wistfully. If we'd had a daughter… she'd probably have looked a bit like this child.

He shook his head, attempting to dislodge cobwebs of grief that had suddenly resurfaced.

A single tear ran down the child's cheek, and Peter instinctively went to her side, taking a knee so as to better converse with her.

"Hello," he said gently. "Don't you want to go inside with the rest of the students?" he asked.

She looked up at him with sad eyes. "I'm waiting for Daddy," she said simply. "He said he'd be here."

A wave of ice-cold dread washed over Peter. "Where's your mommy?" he asked.

"I don't have one," the child replied matter-of-factly. "She died when I was little. I spent the night with our neighbors because Daddy said he had to work last night. But he never came home, so they had to bring me to school today."

Peter closed his eyes for a moment. Oh please, he begged an unspoken entity, already knowing in his heart what the answer was going to be. Please don't let it be this child's father who was killed last night.

"My name is Peter Thomas," Peter held out his hand as he introduced himself. "What's your name?" he asked as she politely slipped her tiny hand in his and replied, "My name is Elizabeth Edgar."
Elizabeth. Take care of Elizabeth. The words of a dying man echoed in his memory. I will, Peter had promised. I will.

"It's nice to meet you, Elizabeth," Peter said softly.

"It's nice to meet you too," Elizabeth replied with a shy smile before turning her attention back to the doors that were never, ever going to open to welcome her father.

Doors that would never open to allow a good man to share his pride in his beloved daughter's accomplishments, Peter thought as he struggled to clear his throat.

"You know," Peter said, "I met your father once, Elizabeth. He told me how much he loved you, and he said how very proud he was of you for being accepted to Elysius. But you know, sometimes… sometimes things happen… that make our lives turn out differently than what we might have planned…"

Elizabeth turned and gave Peter her full attention.

A single tear ran down Peter's cheek. Elizabeth reached out and brushed it away.

"Why are you crying?" she asked.

"Oh…" Peter quickly improvised. "I guess I'm a little bit afraid."

"But you're a grown-up," she said in surprise. "Why would you be afraid?"

"This is my first day, you know," Peter replied. "I don't know anybody here; I don't have any friends here at all. I guess maybe that scares me a little bit."

Elizabeth reached out and patted his cheek. "It's OK, I'll be your friend," she reassured him.

Another tear rolled slowly down Peter's cheek, and Elizabeth watched it through the eyes of an old soul.

She looked directly at him. "Daddy's not going to be able to come, is he?" she asked, demonstrating remarkable prescience for a child her age.

Unwilling to lie to give the child false hope, Peter slowly shook his head No.

"I'm going to be all alone?" the child asked plaintively, her lower lip beginning to tremble.

"No, Elizabeth," Peter said decisively, discretely wiping his eyes on his sleeve. "I'm going to take care of you."

Elizabeth sighed heavily. "Well, that's certainly not going to work," she announced.

"Excuse me?" he asked, totally taken aback.

"Well, just look at you," she said, standing and putting tiny hands on her hips as she looked him over. "Here you are, a grown-up, and you're scared of your first day at school."

Bemused, fighting to keep from laughing, Peter could only watch as she came to a conclusion.

"There's only one thing to do," she announced firmly.

"And what's that?" Peter asked her, a sparkle in his eye.

"We're simply going to have to take care of each other," she announced decisively.

Peter rose to his feet.

"If you hold my hand, you won't be afraid," Elizabeth suggested shyly.

"Thank you. That's a very good idea," Peter agreed, and she smiled happily.

"Are we ready?" Peter asked her.

"As ready as we'll ever be, I suppose," she replied, as Peter opened the door and they stepped inside the castle Elysius.

They hadn't gone more than five steps when the two of them stopped cold.

"Wow…" said Peter, and Elizabeth clutched his hand a little bit tighter.

"Wow is right," agreed Elizabeth.

Background and cast:

Dimitri is a gender-selectable android. Jeffrey is an old friend, talented inventor, and interim bodyguard.

Boyfriend is a cat. Sort of. His first name is actually Brendan. I named him Boyfriend on a whim when I thought he was just a stray cat who turned up at my front door. He was something else entirely. He hails from a parallel dimension in which cats are the dominant species. His profession there is that of a theoretical physicist. He had been engaged in a research project when he accidentally tumbled through a dimensional portal and somehow landed in my world.

As it happens, Boyfriend is also independently wealthy. He inherited, as he describes it, several titles, a Dukedom, and an obscene amount of money. Amongst Boyfriend's vast holdings is a timeshare on the planet Mars.

After a failed attempt on his life, Boyfriend quickly arranged for the four of us to depart Mars City, so here we are, aboard the luxury Starship Athena.

The brand new, never before occupied, and hugely prestigious Zeus suite aboard the Starship Athena was . . . strangely fascinating, even weirdly beautiful in its own way. It had sort of a Star Wars Hogwarts Disneyworld Titanic thing going for it.

Jeffrey simply burst out laughing.

Possibly, they changed interior designers three or four times while it was under construction.

And truthfully, until after nearly having a heart attack when a colorful school of parrotfish suddenly materialized underfoot and swam up the sweeping staircase to the second floor, I didn't even know that animated three-dimensional virtual reality floor art even existed.

Boyfriend, Jeffrey and I decided to begin exploring our curiously decorated new suite.

The place was huge. According to the brochure in the Foyer, it contained over 6500 SF of living space, spread out over two levels, and that space was made to feel even larger with the addition of fifteen-foot ceilings throughout.

It became obvious in relatively short order that animated three-dimensional virtual reality floor art had been a favorite of one of the interior designers and that the stuff had been installed all over the place.

Not only were we presented with a diverse collection of images tearing about, meandering, or sometimes gently floating underfoot, but we also learned that those images had the run of the entire suite. Not only that, mind you, but we also learned that some of the bloody things had even been equipped with sound effects and low-resolution vibration.

We discovered this accidentally when most of the perfectly normal-looking marble flooring underfoot in the main hallway suddenly became transparent, and we found ourselves perched on what resembled a narrow ledge overlooking a thundering and mooing herd of cattle rumbling through a narrow canyon beneath the main hallway. Even the walls were vibrating. Jeffrey and I instinctively flattened ourselves against the walls, precariously balancing on what looked like a narrow ledge overlooking the stampede. Moments later, as the thundering herd turned a corner, the floor promptly resumed the appearance of marble.

Jeffrey was clasping his heart and laughing so hard he was crying. Boyfriend had instinctively extended his claws and climbed halfway up the nearest door frame, and I was shrieking with laughter while desperately trying not to pee my pants.

"There has GOT to be an off-switch somewhere," muttered Boyfriend, as he shimmied back down the doorframe with as much dignity as he could possibly muster.

We were still giggling when we opened a door and walked into Jeffrey's bedroom. We could tell it was Jeffrey's room because his bag had been placed on a white canopied, king-sized bed, cleverly designed to look like a half-submerged boat.

The first few steps of the floor in his bedroom had the appearance of soft golden-colored sand, the kind typically found at the edge of a tropical seashore. The bed's white canopy resembled a softly fluttering sail. "Oh, how pretty!" I exclaimed.

The boat bed was sitting upon another example of animated three-dimensional virtual reality floor art, which in this room, resembled roughly two and a half feet of crystal clear sea water, gently rippling above a sandy sea floor.

You could look through the virtual sea water and see coral. And seaweed. And starfish. And pretty little neon-colored tropical fish happily darting to and fro. And a six-foot shark, whose nose could just be seen peeking out from beneath Jeffrey's bed. We heard the sound of a large tail slapping the water. It was very realistic.

"Fuck this," muttered Jeffrey.

Editing and Semi-Ghost Writing often go hand in hand, so an actual example is often helpful.
Note: Character names and locations have been changed on this chapter sample.
RECEIVED: Chapter idea, based on an author's old recollection. 593 words

ASSIGNMENT : Edit, semi-ghost write to lengthen, then polish for story coherence and smooth reading, but maintain feel of author's writing.
PRODUCED: Finished chapter.

COMPLETED WORK: Edited, semi-ghost written to lengthen, then polished for story coherence and smooth reading, while maintaining author's voice.

FINISHED WORD COUNT: 1186, an increase of 593 words, original word count doubled.

TIME SPENT: 1.5 hours


One Sunday morning, Mama and us kids woke up to discover that Daddy hadn't come home the night before. Mama was beside herself with worry. Although Booger was hardly ever fazed about anything, LuLu, Annie, Paul, and Sharon were thoroughly distraught. My brother Tyrone, on the other hand, figured that if Daddy was missing, he had been granted a reprieve. He had blown his curfew a day earlier, having come home late from playing baseball and hanging out with his friends, and Daddy would have been none too amused. So when Tyrone didn't see Daddy's truck in the driveway, he figured he might have gotten away with it. Personally, I was so distracted by the way everyone else was acting that I don't even recall how Daddy being missing even affected me.

What I do recall is that Mama was just sick with worry. She called the police station in town, the county seat, and then the hospital in Dispatch. Daddy wasn't at any of them. I overheard her when she was talking to various people and heard her say that occasionally, Daddy might come rolling in as late as four or five in the morning, but he had never, ever arrived after sunrise, so she was seriously worried. This was actually news to me. My brothers and sisters and I were generally asleep by midnight, so we'd not been aware that Daddy occasionally came home in the wee hours of the morning.

Tyrone and I were the eldest of the children who were still living at home back then. I was twelve years old, and I was pretty much at a loss as to what to say or do, so I felt fairly helpless. Tyrone, on the other hand, was quietly rejoicing at his good fortune at not being on the hot seat for blowing his curfew.

I think Mama was so consumed with worry that she just basically tuned the rest of us out for a while. But as the clock ticked closer to noon, we heard the rattling of Daddy's truck as he pulled off the road and into the yard. Everybody rushed to the windows, and we saw Daddy casually climb out of the truck and head for the house. He didn't seem to be injured or anything. He just marched directly into the house, casually took off his hat, and laid it on a table.

Now that everybody could see that Daddy was home safe and sound, Mama's worry did a one-eighty. My normally stoic and unflappable four-foot-ten-inch mother looked at my father as though she was about to choke the life out of him.

You know, I never saw my Daddy pick up a book, but the one thing that man sure did know was how to read an audience.

He fell wearily into his favorite chair and asked Tyrone to bring him a glass of water. Daddy took one swallow, and then he began to spin a story that left all of us with our jaws agape. He said he'd had the most disturbing experience of his life.

Daddy told us that he had been off hunting deer in the hills in the late afternoon when a powerful rain came pouring down. He'd earlier killed a nice-sized deer and had slung it over his shoulders to head back to where he'd left the truck when that sudden rainstorm hit. It was already late and getting dark fast that time of year. So instead of sticking to the path, he said he'd decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery. By that point, it was nearly pitch dark of course, but like most folks, Daddy knew that old cemetery like the back of his hand, so he just kept on walking.

Thing was, he didn't know that the cemetery workers had dug a fresh new grave earlier that afternoon. Daddy tripped over a pile of dirt; the deer went flying, and so did Daddy. The deer landed on the grass. Daddy landed at the bottom of a six-foot-deep open grave.

Daddy told us that at first, he couldn't see a thing in the pitch dark, but after several minutes, his eyes gradually adjusted enough for him to figure out where he was. It was not a comforting place to be. But finding himself six feet deep in that narrow hole, try as he might, he couldn't manage to get a good enough grasp on anything to climb out. The sides were too steep and the angle too sheer for Daddy to be able to lift himself out of a grave he had no desire to claim as his own.

You could have heard a pin drop in that house as we all listened to Daddy tell us what happened.

It was about an hour later, Daddy told us, that old man Jones, one of the five village drunks, was on his way home, and he too had taken a shortcut through the cemetery. Daddy said he figured that maybe Demetrius Jones had tripped over the deer. Because in the pitch dark, Jones had tumbled head-first into the open grave, and he'd landed right beside Daddy.

"I couldn't quite make out his face at first," Daddy told us, "but I could smell the corn liquor, and I know his grunt, so I figured out who it was. My eyes had already adjusted to the dark, but his hadn't. All Demetrius knew was he was in the cemetery and had fallen into an open grave. I tell you… that man's eyes were as big as saucers. I could see him, but he couldn't see me."

"So I spoke up. I said, 'Demetrius, man, I'm glad to see you here.' "I swear to you… Demetrius screamed so loud it startled whatever was out there in the dark. You could hear the skittering and the footsteps of whatever it was that was hightailing it out of there. From my vantage point at the bottom of that grave, it sounded like a stampede.

"Well, Demetrius, I guess he figured I was a ghost 'cause he took one giant leap and propelled himself straight up out of that hole. I want to tell you that old boy can jump! "I hollered out his name, but he was runnin'so hard by then I doubt he even heard me.

"If he hadn't jumped so quick, I figure I'd have told him that if he allowed me to stand on his shoulders to climb out, I could have extended my hand and hauled him back out, too.
"Instead, I ended up spending the whole night sitting in the bottom of a cold, damp grave in the middle of a cemetery. It is not an experience I would care to repeat.
"Anyway," Daddy sighed tiredly. "I had to wait until the cemetery workers arrived this morning to get me out of there."

It was a great story.

To this day, I still don't know whether Mama bought it. But it was a great story.


One Sunday morning, we woke up, and Daddy had not come home. Mama was worried and quite beside herself. Lu Lu, Annie, Paul, and Sharon were distraught. Booger was hardly ever phased, and that day was no different.

Tyrone, on the other hand, felt he had a reprieve. The day before, Tyrone decided to come home late from playing basketball and hanging out with his friends when he didn't see Daddy's truck in the drive. I was so consumed with how everyone else reacted, I don't remember how it affected me.

What I do know is that Mama called the police station in town, the county seat, and then the hospital in Dispatch, and he was not at either. I overheard her tell various people who she spoke with that he had on occasion been out as late as four or five in the morning. But he had never arrived after sunrise.

Siblings and I were always asleep by midnight, so we were not aware that he ever came home much later.

Tyrone and I were the oldest of the children who were still at home at the time. I didn't know what to say or do, and Tyrone rejoiced over his temporary good fortune. I was only 12, and I had never felt so helpless or worthless up until then.

I think Mama ultimately became oblivious to the children after a while, but at just before noon, here came Daddy's truck pulling into the yard. He stepped out of the vehicle, seemingly perfectly intact, and he marched directly into the house and took off his hat.

Seeing that he did not seem sick or injured, my normally stoic and unflappable four-foot-ten-inch mother looked at my father as though she was about to choke the life out of him. I never saw him pick up a book, but one thing I know about my daddy is that he knew how to read an audience.

He fell back into his chair and asked Tyrone to bring him a glass of water. Daddy took one swallow, and then he began to unravel the most disturbing experience of his life.

He said that he had been hunting in the hills when a powerful rain came pouring down. Because he had killed a doe and the heavy rain, he decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery and fell into an open grave. At first, he couldn't see a thing in the pitch blackness, but after several minutes, his eyes adjusted. Still, the climb was too steep to lift himself from the pit that he had no desire to claim as his own.

About an hour later, old man Jones, one of the five village drunks, was on his way home. "He must have tripped on the deer I dropped when I fell in and stumbled and fell right beside me.
I couldn't quite make out his face at first, but I could smell the corn liquor, and I know his grunt. His eyes were as big as saucers, and I could see him, but he couldn't see me."

"I said, LeRoy, man, I'm glad to see you here.

"Jones screamed so loud, it startled all the wildlife, and they began a stampede. He took one leap and propelled himself out of the grave. I wanted to tell him that if he would allow me to stand on his shoulders, I could climb out, and then I would extend my hand and lift him out. Instead, I had to wait until the cemetery workers arrived this morning." - END

CHILDREN'S BOOKS: (Additional samples upon request)


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Believe in your dream. Others have believed in theirs.

Don't give up. If they can do it, so can you.



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A Day At The Beach

Spending a day at the beach with your friends can be a real treat.

Once in a while however, provided that you stay especially alert while you're there, it might even turn out to be more of a treat than you ever imagined.


Because sometimes things are not always what they seem to be.




C.K.Gurin - Author/Illustrator Mentor, and Pro-bono editor of the award-winning Bedtime-Story Literacy Project since 1996.

Editing feedback of my work in diverse genres may be found on the opening page of TheQuantumCat.com