Hey, everyone. I’m super excited to welcome Gwen Plano to my site. Gwen is a fellow author and contributor at Story Empire. She’s here to talk about her brand new release, The Culmination. Gwen, take it away!
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Joan, and for helping me launch The Culmination, a new beginning. Just a couple of days ago, it went public on Amazon and I’m super excited. To celebrate, the Kindle edition is on sale at 99¢ through December.
So, what’s the book about? The Culmination can best be described as a military thriller. It tackles difficult topics such as denuclearization, the power struggles over oil in the Middle East, as well as the ever-present danger of war. Readers will find themselves sitting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walking in the historic Red Square, and laughing with children in an orphanage in Turkey. They will glimpse the horror of war and watch the give and take of a negotiated peace. Readers will also meet the two Heads of State who fall in love and subsequently commit themselves to creating a world in which all are family.
I never expected to write this book, but in some ways, I had no choice. The characters crowded into my office and insisted that I listen to them. In a very real way, they wrote the book. I simply tapped the keys.
The Culmination, a new beginning is the third book in The Contract thriller series. After an assassination attempt on an Air Force base in northern California, tensions mount. Heads of state meet to craft a denuclearization agreement. The meetings between these nuclear powers take a murderous turn. A nefarious conspiracy re-emerges and leads the characters into the heart of the Middle East, where they encounter the unexpected and find a reason for hope.
Margaret Adler, the Vice President of the United States, and Ivan Smirnov, the acting President of Russia, fly to the Incirlik Air Force Base in Southern Turkey for a humanitarian visit. From the base they travel to the Hatay province to visit one of the largest orphanages in the world. Margaret has particular interest in one child—Amira. She noticed her on a 60-Minute exposé which focused on the struggle of the Syrian people and this one orphanage.
Aids lead Adler and Smirnov to a back area where cribs and wheelchairs, crutches, and modified tables fill the special dining room. The children are quieter because most of them don’t speak. Some of the orphans have lost limbs, and others are severely disfigured. Some cannot see, and all have experienced the worst of the Syrian war.
Margaret’s gaze travels from table to table and stops at a make-shift highchair, where a small girl sits alone, facing the window. She has one arm.
“Could this be Amira?” Margaret whispers to one of her team members.
“I’ll check.” The member talks to one of the nurses and then returns to Margaret. “Amira doesn’t speak, but we can go see her.”
Margaret approaches the child and stares through the window. Instead of addressing the girl, Margaret kneels, removes her sweater, and rolls up her shirt-sleeve to reveal her prosthesis. Then she stretches and moves the fingers of her artificial limb. Slowly, Margaret removes it and lays it on the floor.
After a few minutes, Amira climbs out of her chair and limps to the window. She paces and sneaks quick glances at the prosthetic. Finally, the child sits on the floor beside it. She runs her fingers across the artificial arm, and dares to speak, “Can I have one too?”
The nurse shrugs in disbelief. She whispers, “This is the first time Amira’s spoken.”
Margaret turns to the nurse, “She speaks English?”
The nurse says, “Amira’s mother was a schoolteacher and taught all her children English.”
Margaret focuses on Amira. Burn scars cover half of the girl’s face, and one eye barely opens because of the disfigurement. Margaret reaches out her arm to Amira. “Maybe. I hope so.”
To everyone’s surprise, the child climbs onto Margaret’s lap. “A bomb took my arm away.”
“Mine too,” Margaret says. “It took my arm and killed my friends.”
Amira opens up about her family and her friends and finishes by saying, “I’m alone.”
“You have friends here, right?”
“Eh, maybe. But I can’t play like they do, because I only have one arm.”
“We’re alike, you and I. And I’ve discovered that I can do lots of things with one arm. My special arm helps too.”
Ivan watches intently and smiles. Then he joins Margaret and Amira by the window.
“Hi, Amira. I’m a friend of Ms. Margaret. Can I show you something?”
The girl stares up at him. “Uh-huh.”
“Just like Ms. Margaret, I have a special leg.” Ivan rolls up his pants leg to his knee and shows Amira his brace.
“Did a bomb take your leg too?”
“Yes, the bomb was in the ground, and I stepped on it by accident. It took part of my lower leg.”
“Did it take your family?”
“No, but it did take some of my friends.”
Amira looks down. “Bombs are bad.”
“I think I need a hug, Amira. Could I have a hug?”
She climbs out of Margaret’s lap and goes to Ivan. He fights back the tears as she wraps her arm around him and gives him a kiss on his cheek.
Amazon Author’s page: https://amzn.to/3eAU2Bt
Letting Go into Perfect Love – https://amzn.to/3bToO7t
The Contract between heaven and earth – https://amzn.to/2U2Lgmv
The Choice: the unexpected heroes – https://amzn.to/3lcz8eA
The Culmination, a new beginning – https://amzn.to/3eEWkj9