Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trapped with George Bernstein

by George Bernstein

GeorgeAbout The Author:

George A Bernstein is a youthful seventy-six-year-old, with a B.A. from Northwestern University, now living in south Florida, and the retired president of a publicly-held Chicago company. George's main interest is as a serious novelist. He has attended numerous writers’ conferences and seminars, including that of famous fiction agent, Donald Maass, and he has worked with independent editor, Dave King, all with the goal of improving his craft. George is also a “World-Class” fly-fisherman, and has held a dozen various IGFA fishing World records. In his life before writing, George ran Outdoor Safaris, a World-wide fishing & hunting tour operator, working with airlines and travel agencies promoting premier sporting trips. He has also published the definitive book on fly-fishing for pike & musky, Toothy Critters Love Flies.

George's first novel, Trapped, is published by TAG Publishers, after being a finalist in their Next Great American Novelcontest. Dee Burks and her staff really love the story, and her revision suggestions helped make Trapped the best it can be. Trapped was also a finalist at the 2012 Florida Writers Association RPLA fiction contest in 2012. Trapped has received virtually all 5-Star reviews on Amazon.

16095673Genre: Mainstream Suspense
Publisher: Tag Publishing LLC
Release Date: October 15, 2012
Buy: Amazon

Book Description:

The darkness is still, silent. Jackee Maren’s heart pounds reverberating through her body as fear sears her veins. Someone’s coming. No way out. This time they will kill me. Her breath is short, her chest burns. Must run. Faster. Faster! Her eyes fly open, her heart still racing with blinding fear. Jackee breathes deeply with relief and stares at the ceiling desperately trying to calm herself. The same dream. Something, someone is watching . . . and waiting.

A tragic car accident leaves beautiful, vibrant Jackee Maren completely paralyzed, in “Locked-in Syndrome,” able to move only her eyes. Jackee’s husband, Phil, is devastated and her two young boys left with nothing but a shell for a mother, but still, Jackee senses the foreboding of an evil presence and knows time is short.

Slowly, Jackee learns to communicate with her physical therapist, Kevin, by blinking her eyes. As evidence comes to light that her car accident was no accident, Jackee doggedly strives to expose the person who wants her dead before they get a second chance.

While Jackee struggles to put all the clues together, she’s stunned to discover she has the ability to sense the thoughts of others, but she hides this talent from everyone but her sons, not knowing whom she can trust. By actively exercising her new psychic ability, Jackee finally learns who masterminded the “accident” but feels helpless to stop them from trying to kill her again.

Desperate to survive, she slowly concocts a psychic plan to not only ensure her boys are safe forever, but to exact retribution on her would-be murderer. Jackee vows not to rest until this villain understands what it is to be TRAPPED! But she must hurry. Her psychic manipulations of the players in her “skit” of revenge are sapping her meager reserves, leaving her with only months to live.



Turn signal flashing, she eases into the right lane in front of a large, battered pick-up, with less than a half-mile to the Old Orchard Exit Ramp. Jackee Maren rarely drives so aggressively, but first delayed by her two sons’ late departure from school, and then navigating around a minor fender bender on Dundee road, she is already ten minutes behind, and she’s never late. The Northern Illinois Chapter of the United Way won’t start their planning session without their chairwoman, and Jackee hates the idea of keeping so many busy people waiting. Peeling onto the ramp, her attention is drawn to her two boys, bickering and shoving in the back seat. Glancing back at the road, a ridge of goose bumps cascades down her spine. They’re hurtled toward a string of glaring taillights… cars unexpectedly stopped by a red light at the first intersection off the expressway. Jamming a foot on the brakes, she’s stunned when the big Mercedes slews sharply right, smack into the path of the huge pickup truck, which had exited behind her. It slams into the rear fender of the sedan, sending it careening off the road, the seatbelts gouging her shoulder, crushing the breath from her lungs. “Hang on boys,” she gasps. Oh God! My sons! They can’t die here. They spin down the embankment like an eccentric top, ricocheting off a bridge column. The wheel torn from her grip, the air filled with the screech of rending metal and the stench of burning rubber, the car rears like a great angry beast, its rear legs hamstrung. Slamming down, it hurtles backward into the culvert, bucking and skipping along the steep embankment. Despite seatbelts, Jackee is flung around like a rag doll in the jaws of some huge terrier. The air bag erupts in the midst of their tumultuous downward plunge, rushing out at 200 MPH, just as frontal impact slings her forward. Her face catches the brunt of the blow, skewering lips on her teeth, smashing her nose. A searing bolt of pain fires across her brain, igniting a burst of red heat behind her tearing eyes. A sharp pitch right crushes her left cheek against the window, knocking her momentarily senseless. The sedan teeters, enveloped in a cloud of dust, hunkering precariously on its haunches before crashing down on its wheels, coming to a thunderous, grinding stop. She awakens to wailing and blubbering from the two small boys in the rear seat. “Mommy!” The call gasped through ragged breathing. “Mommy!” Now a frantic screech. “I’m…I’m here.” We’re alive! Thank God, we’re all still alive. She sags against the seatbelt, every joint singed with agony, unable to will herself into action. Help should be coming. She moans. Gotta hang on… She slips out of consciousness. The continued bawling and moaning of her sons stir her, drawing her out of the fog of semi-consciousness. One of her eyes is swollen shut, but the other flickers open, glazed with shock. Where the Hell’s Fire/Rescue.

Follow The Tour Here



I saw a recent blog post by a writer unhappy about the critique she received from someone she was using, who “didn’t get” what she was trying to do.
One of the problems we writers can have IS getting our readers to “get it.” And if they don’t, whose fault is that?
It seems pretty obvious it’s the author’s responsibility to see that his readers understand what he or she is trying to do or say. If your critic doesn’t get it, surely your audience won’t either. Many authors have a problem with criticism. “How dare you challenge my work, that I slaved over and love.” That’s a prescription to failure.
Dave King, an independent editor, and later, a top literary agent at William Morse separately recommended I remove my side plot in TRAPPED, that involved Phil with the Chicago Mafia. I had slaved over that, building tension and danger, and weaving the climax into the ending of the novel, but both experts felt it detracted from Jackee’s story and it wasn’t necessary. So I pulled it out…but it’s not a total loss. Writers NEVER discard any work, so I’m using that story in my in-progress 3rd Al Warner detective novel, changing the venue from Chicago to South Florida.

Then Dee Burks at TAG Publishers called me, saying they all loved TRAPPED, and it could be a winner in their “Next Great American Novel” contest, but felt it needed some content editing. Wow, was I excited. I LOVE positive input, but ultimately, it’s up to the author to decide what works and what doesn’t. I embraced her suggestion of a single viewpoint (Jackee’s) throughout the novel, and felt some of her other suggestions were excellent. I balked, however, at changing the ending, and after some discussion, she agreed with my take. Overall, our collaboration made TRAPPED a great novel…and the most prevalent comment I get from readers is, “I LOVED the ending!” One wrote me she read it 3 TIMES, she loved it so much!
Ultimately, critiquing is still a matter of taste. A smart author listens, and isn’t too proud to make changes that work, but is willing to resist things they think will compromise their story. It can be a delicate balancing act, but when well performed, can have wonderful results. But, like in all things, opinions can widely vary.
Shortly after I made those challenging revisions to TRAPPED, I decided to enter it in the large Florida Writers RPLA contest, where it became a finalist. Successes in large contests are another way to validate your work and heighten prestige.
A while after TRAPPED was published, I got the results…and the rating sheets from the 3 judges from the RPLA contest. Although a finalist, I was not the winner in my genre.
Typical of many contests, 2 judges read the synopsis and the first 30 pages. In the RPLA, they rate 10 areas, from 1 – 5 points…so a max total of 50. An entry needs at least 80 combined points to become a finalist. TRAPPED received 92, and both judges loved character development, the plot, dialog, and the way I described the action, solely through my protagonists eyes. As I said earlier, Dee Burks, my editor at TAG, suggested a single, 1st person point of view throughout, and I agreed. It wasn’t easy, but in the end, we both felt it was terrific.
As a finalist, the 3rd judge read the entire manuscript. Unfortunately, he (or she) didn’t agree with Dee…or the earlier judges. He down rated TRAPPED because he wanted scenes from other characters’ viewpoints…all the ones I’d carefully removed at Dee’s suggestion, and that was enough to keep me from winning that contest.
And the First Person viewpoint is a major factor in what seems to make TRAPPED so engrossing to those who have read it.
 As I always say, “That’s why they make chocolate, vanilla and 39 other flavors.”
This isn’t the 1st time I’ve had one judge rave about something, like characters or scenes or settings, while another denigrated them. My other novels have been past finalists in the RPLA, with similar results: raves by the preliminary judges that weren’t echoed by the final judge.
It’s the same reasons authors like Louis L’Amore (America’s top Western writer…for EVER) was reputedly rejected 350 time before finally getting published. And J.K. Rowling, probably the wealthy woman in the World right now, struggled for years before finding a small publisher to take a chance on Harry Potter. The stories of rejections that become Best Sellers are legion, because you can’t accommodate for taste.
Luckily, TRAPPED has already received loads of 5-Star reviews at Amazon, and I’ve fielded a plethora of calls and e-mail raves from readers. So I think I’ll cherish the good reviews and evaluate the others for merit.
I suggest this attitude should work for all of you, no matter what your endeavors.


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BK Walker said...

THank you for hosting George :)

Rebecca Graf said...

I just don't like the comments from reviewers and such that are nasty and unfair. I've read so many that are downright mean. There is no cause for that.

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