NOTES: Thanks for your kind words yesterday. I'm glad you enjoyed a snippet of my grandfather's life.
Amazon's Kindle Unlimited (KU): G. Younger asked a question about the NY Times article (read it HERE) that talked about author's current struggles with Amazon, specifically with the new Kindle Unlimited program (this is the $9.99 monthly subscription that allows you to read an unlimited number of books per month within the list of books enrolled in the program).
Here's my quick take: I love Amazon. I bought most of my Christmas gifts there and its publishing arm has allowed me to make a full-time living as an author. Up until Kindle Unlimited went live this past summer, I had no complaints.
I'm am an entrepreneur. I ran businesses before I started writing novels. I understand what Amazon is doing as a business. They want a huge market share. They're not stupid.
Starting this past summer, I went along with the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program and enrolled all my Corps Justice titles. While this cut my per unit profits to roughly half (and now a third), I thought it was giving me more visibility, which would hopefully increase the number of units I could sell, and maybe boost my gross income.
After a few months in the program, I'm rethinking my decision. I did not enroll Disavowed in KU, and plan on taking the rest of my books out once my exclusivity time requirement runs out. (the other rub is that I can't sell my books on Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc... while enrolled with KU. I'm required to be exclusive to Amazon.)
So to answer G. Younger's question of "What can you do as readers to support C. G. Cooper?"
Hmmm...KU is a good program if you read a ton and you like the books that are included in KU. Not all books sold on Amazon are in KU. I won't tell you to boycott the program or demand that Amazon tear it down. Just know that I am making the informed decision to not include my own titles. This is actually good news for most of you because I'll be allowed to sell my titles on other websites. So if you want to help, keep reading my books and recommending them to friends :)
Hope that answers you're question. Now back to the story...
(CAUTION: The following contains unedited material that may be unsuitable for the grammatically inclined. Keep in mind that I don’t review what I write until after the first draft of the whole novel is done, so please keep your spelling and grammar fixes until the Beta Reader rounds.)
Disney Yacht Club Resort
9:03am, December 6th
Cal was just leaving. He’d spent the last two hours trying to help the Ellwood family in any way he could. It turned out that the best thing he could do was entertain the kids as the adults went about their duties. The little girl, Lily, had taken an instant liking to him, saying, “Up, up, Cow,” every time he put her down.
The adults had finished their packing with drawn faces and puffy eyes. More than once Cal felt their eyes on the back of his head.
He knew the healing would take time, and judging by the tone of Gen. Ellwood’s son’s voices, they were far from understanding what their father had done.
Cal sat down and waited for the bus that would take him to Downtown Disney. From there he would walk to the Hilton where he and Daniel were staying. They were supposed to be calling the Commandant at noon. He hadn’t heard from Daniel since he’d left earlier that morning.
The bushes behind the bench rustled. He turned to see what animal was back there, but was surprised to find Daniel’s face instead. Cal noticed faint traces of mud along the sniper’s jawline, like he’d unsuccessfully tried to clean off his face.
“What are you doing back there?”
“We’ve got a problem,” said Daniel. His calm face was a stark contradiction to the comment.
“What happened?” Cal asked, rising to join his friend. He took in the rest of Daniel’s appearance. His jeans were scuffed and wet at the ankles. They moved deeper into the tree line, Daniel not answering the question.
They came upon a man sitting on the ground, his head between his legs. He was rocking slowly and looked up when he heard the two Marines approaching.
Cal’s eyes went wide. The man looked ten-times worse than Daniel. His preppy clothes were soaked through and there were multiple tears on both his paisley shirt and his tailored pants. It took a moment for Cal to recognize the guy. It was that NCIS agent. Cal frowned.
“What the hell is he doing here?” Cal asked.
“They tried to kill us,” blurted Special Agent Barrett, wiping a droplet of blood from the gash on his forehead.
Cal looked at Daniel. “What’s he talking about?”
“My hunch was right."
Daniel shrugged. “I told you I was going back to take a look at the crime scene.”
“I found a sniper’s nest.”
“What? You never said anything to me.”
“I didn’t want to get your hopes up.”
Cal shook his head, trying to understand what his friend was saying.
“Are you telling me that General Ellwood was shot by a sniper?”
“No way,” interrupted Barrett. “The ballistics all came back positive for a self-inflicted wound.”
Daniel nodded in agreement. “I’m not saying that anyone else took the shot.”
Cal exhale almost came out in a huff. “So what are you saying? How do you even know it was a sniper’s nest?”
He knew it was a stupid question as soon as it left his mouth. Daniel wasn’t just any Marine sniper. He was the Marine sniper. Cal had never seen or heard of anyone better.
“First, from the faint markings and general settling in the area, I’m eighty percent sure whoever was in that nest was there when General Ellwood pulled the trigger. Second, whoever it was, and it was one man without a spotter, they knew what they were doing.”
“You didn’t say anything to me about that!” said Barrett. “Are you telling me that there’s a sniper running around?”
Daniel cocked his head, regarding the disheveled NCIS investigator. “Who else did you think was shooting at us?”
Barrett’s mouth dropped open.
“Hold on. You’re telling me that a sniper took the time to infiltrate the area, setup a perch, watch the general shoot himself, and now he’s dumb enough to come back and shoot at you guys?” Cal shook his head. “It doesn’t fit, Daniel. Why would he do that?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe he left something. Maybe he was checking in on the investigation. Who knows.”
Cal tried to imagine what might possess a professional to risk detection by revisiting the location he’d successfully exfiltrated. It didn’t make any sense.
“Okay. Let’s assume it was the same guy. Let’s assume that he’s just dumb enough to snoop around again. Why was he there in the first place? Why didn’t he kill Ellwood himself?”
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest and said, “Because he was only there to make sure General Ellwood took his own life.”
The sniper cursed as he watched the smoke from the small fire he’d lit at his former hide. He’d misjudged the Commandant’s emissaries.
If it hadn’t been for that Boy Scout troop who’d literally almost tripped over him the morning of Ellwood’s suicide, he wouldn’t have even considered coming back. He heard them before Ellwood took a shot, and assumed incorrectly that they’d take a more circuitous route, or even run away from the gunfire. Instead they’d found the highest point they could. That spot happened to be right where he was gathering his gear and preparing to leave.
The six Boy Scouts and the parents hadn’t seen him. He was too good for that. But in his rush he hadn’t had time to fully cover his tracks. That had necessitated the return trip. If he hadn’t it would have nagged at his fastidious brain for months.
What he hadn’t counted on was Daniel Briggs make his own visit. The sniper had hoped that Briggs had already had his fill of the scene. Briggs and Stokes were reportedly booked on a three o’clock flight back to Virginia. But once again all his planning was for naught.
Luckily his rifle was in the trunk of his car, just in case. He’d stalked his prey and whomever the companion was. His shot was ready, crosshairs leveled. But at the last moment he’d recognized the other man. It made the sniper hesitate. Killing Briggs and stashing the body was one thing, but getting the NCIS even more involved could mean real trouble, trouble he and his employer didn’t need. His hesitation not only cost him the killing blow, it also complicated the situation. They’d gotten away, somehow disappeared. He didn’t dare chase them down. Not now. It would have been too risky.
But his employer would understand. He knew the uncertainties of the battlefield and the fog of war whose untimely presence rarely failed to make itself known.
He smiled as he put his car in drive and pulled out onto the dirt access road. If he and his employer could make a Marine three-star general take his own life, it would be easy to take care of Daniel Briggs and Special Agent Barrett.
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