Family Reunion “J” Now Available on Amazon!
I started writing the second book in my series shortly after publishing Family Reunion, however, I was about 18K words in when I realized that it was going to be a long project and a long book. I decided I would write another short story for my fans to enjoy while I continued to write the second book. So, I sat down with every intention of writing and publishing a 10-20K word story about Ryan’s family back on the east coast. Jay (his wife), Mark (his son), and Auddy (his daughter). At about 15k I thought hmmm, this is going to have to be a long short story, or maybe a novella. The next thing I knew I was approaching 50K. The characters took over and drew me into the story… I couldn’t stop myself. So, Family Reunion “J” ended up at about 82K words (200+ pages). It takes place at the same time as the first book and gives a different perspective of the beginning of the apocalypse. Jay is 49 years old and has been married to Ryan for 26 years, they’re like most couples and have had their ups and downs. Real people with real issue that they deal with on a daily basis. Work, the kids, and their own quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Where Ryan is a type A personality, Jay is the exact opposite. He goes out of his way to meet new people, she would rather get poked in the eye with a sharp stick, than to have to stand up and introduce herself to a group. He says things without thinking, she contemplates her words and their consequences. She’s been in the FBI, but left it in favor of a private sector job as a fingerprint analysis/technician. She has grit, maybe even a bit more than Ryan. If you were to mistake her quiet demeanor as weakness you would be wrong, oh so wrong. If you come between her and her kids, then it’s on you, you will regret it. We don’t learn a lot about Mark in this book (possible book 4?) but we learn quite a bit about his sister Auddy.
Auddy is a confusing and intriguing mix of both Ryan and Jay, and it leads to some conflict. She doesn’t want to be singled out and called upon, but subconsciously draws attention to herself. She can choose a direction and focus in like a laser beam, or drift off the path down a rabbit trail. She is self aware, but like her father she speaks her mind regardless of the outcome. She’ll cuss you for cutting her off in traffic only to forget to turn on her blinker at the next intersection. She has the capability to love hard, but also can carry a grudge. She is not good at hiding her emotions and you usually know when you’ve step over the line just by her demeanor. Like her mother, she may get mad, but she will damn sure get even. She wants to be loved by everyone and can be the sweetest, most generous, kind hearted, and loving person you’ll ever meet, but god help you if you poke the bear.
Family Reunion “J” has something for everyone. A detailed description of the vaccine and how it was a medical miracle gone wrong; some romance and (blush) some adult interaction; the small joys in life and the great heartbreak that comes from loving someone. The people who are affected by the vaccine and turn are a constant threat (they go by many names), but in this book you’ll come to fear your fellow survivors almost, if not more, than the turned. There will be blood and violence and this book is rated R and is not recommended for your kids(Although I’m sure they’d enjoy it). The main thing remains consistent with my first book… When the Apocalypse happens only one thing matters, Family.
Clay is Maddie’s brother. A veteran sea captain, he is stricken with Parkinson’s disease. He has been forced into semi-retirement and hates that he must rely on others to make it through the day. Doreen, his wife, tries to rein him in and make him live realistically. This very seldom works, and it takes its toll on her. Jennifer, their daughter, just wants to be a normal teen. The circumstances will not allow any of them the luxury of their wants, hopefully they will survive their needs.
Conner is Jacob and Carla’s youngest. He has never had to fend for himself until now. He is thrust into manhood without the benefit of his father’s guidance. He could go off the deep end, or become the man of the family and rise to the occasion. The ball is in the air and only time will tell if he makes it.
Lauren is Ryan’s great niece, the daughter of Carla and Jacob. Her husband Steve is an ROTC graduate that studied to be a Navy Chaplin. Lauren is a nurse who has just come to the realization that she cannot save every patient. This comes as a shock and may cause her to give up on surviving the apocalypse. She is full of faith, but is truly a fatalists. When faced with the terror of someone attacking her she becomes a killing machine that cares about nothing else, until the episode passes, then she reverts to a young nurse that doesn’t know why God has forsaken her family.
Let’s take a look at Lynn and Jean. Lynn is a motivational personal coach. If you were looking for a weak link in the Brant family you should keep looking. She is as opinionated as any of the Brant men and proud of it. She takes pride in her strength and sometimes over estimates her abilities. She has no fear, and it may be her end. Lynn stepped up and stepped in when her grandchildren needed her. Her force of will may run afoul of her personal relationships. She has her mother’s heart and her father’s strong will and self-confidence. Which will win the day? It is hard to say, but her grandkids are counting on her to make the right decisions. Let’s hope she make the right ones. Jean is a lot like Lynn, but she is ruled more by her head than her heart. She will not allow anyone to make excuses. Jean is a female version of her father, and she would kick your ass if you were to ever accuse her of that fact. Strong willed, intelligent, and like most of the Brants… always right. The only thing to remember about Jean is that you should not underestimate her willingness to give her all to protect those she cares about. She drinks as much as any of her brothers and could out-swear them without a thought. She will save your life.
Crazy Rancher- He is only looking out for his family. He is desperate to save his little girl. He has no regard for anyone else’s safety. In short he is what most people would be given the current circumstances.
Deric is a foot loose young man who doesn’t have a clue about how to survive the new world. He lost his friends and family, his band, his purpose. He can’t shoot, and has no idea what to do with himself. Parker takes him under his wing, and hopefully will keep him from getting eaten before the next sunrise.
Molly and Henry are salt of the earth farmers. Molly is a cousin to the Brant siblings and has lived her entire life on Whidbey Island. Her Mom died when she was young and her dad raised her. She takes no guff and gives none either. Henry works hard every day and is a no nonsense guy that is very sure about what he knows. He can fix almost anything and has a wisdom that most folks accept at face value. He is a natural leader, who isn’t afraid of taking a bottle of whiskey to the barn to work out a particularly difficult problem. He is loyal to his people and will do anything to keep them safe and fed. He does not suffer fools lightly.
Thomas is not a member of the Brant family, but he becomes an integral part of the story when he joins Maddie and Harry. Thomas is the engineer that brings the new Marathon Coach out of the factory to deliver it. He is a widower that lives alone accept for his faithful lab Rico. He is 46 years old with no ties that keep him from joining forces with Maddie and Harry on their quest to find the rest of the family. He is not a people person, he fixes things. He is quietly efficient, but also has a wry sense of humor that is lost on most people. He is lonely but has little hope of finding love in the situation he finds himself in. He is a mentor, a no nonsense kind of guy. Technically you won’t find anyone better, he is more suited to make a bomb than he is to make a friend.
Well I have been sick for about a week and I haven’t added any more bio’s for awhile. So here is a new one to start off this week. Parker is the oldest boy in the Brant family and yet he is fifth from the top in order of birth. He was his father’s favorite but turned to a life that was much different than most of his siblings. He lives modestly in a small rural community where he loves to be out doors, in the woods or out on the Puget Sound counting birds. He is quiet, thoughtful, but with a subtle sense of humor that most people never even notice. He once held back key cards in the trading game “PIT” while the rest of the family screamed at each other trying to gain enough cards to corner the market on any one commodity. (if you never heard of it google “pit” the trading game.) The entire time he sat there with a sly smirk on his face. Parker is a secularist and is an ideologist. He doesn’t believe in God. He does believe that there are enough resources in the world to provide for everyone and is convinced that mankind should share these resources equally. Like most of his siblings he finds it hard to believe that anyone could disagree with him on all of the above. He is has a vast knowledge of the wilderness in the Pacific Northwest and can identify ever mushroom, slug, or bird found there. He thinks he can sing, and that he looks a bit like Robert Redford. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.
Barb is Ryan’s oldest sister. She is a Godly woman. She was sixteen when Ryan was born and cared for him much of the time while her mom managed the other kid’s many issues. Ryan actually called her momma more often than not due to all the time she spent with him. She is the backbone of clan now that mother Brant is gone. She comes from the old-school of thought about marriage and her place in the world. She has supported her family financially as well as spiritually while staying behind her husband. It was a role that she believed in whole heartedly. However, she runs her family, and protects them, she cleans the pants of the family and wears them well. Her faith in God is tested as the apocalypse occurs, but she never wavers from it. She doesn’t swear, or drink, she never has; she is a virtuous woman above all else.
Hope is Ryan’s oldest niece by his sister Barb. Hope’s husband Dale, their daughter Diane and her little girl Lila all ride together in their new Lexus. Hopes other daughter Denise runs a food truck and isn’t going to make it to the reunion. Hope is a teacher and Dale is the president of a small private college. They have provided well for their girls and look forward to a little time away from home. Hope is saddled with corralling the family members that will travel with Barb and Grandpa Don’s little caravan headed to Whidbey Island. Hope is a steady, strong and dependable woman. She is beautiful, in her appearance and her demeanor. She could have been a model, but chose to be a mother and wife. She gives everything for her family without hesitation.
Here is a start on Ryan’s travels. Before he meets anyone. Click on Map1a & Map1b. Then Map2. Then Map3. This one was a little more challenging. See what you think. We will pick up his travels with Max and Lisa a little later.
Today we get a glimpse into what’s up with Carla. How does she fit in to the Brant family? She is the second daughter of the eldest Brant sibling, Barb. She is Ryan’s niece but is only six years his junior. She is a strong minded individual who has more to offer than most people suspect. She is loving, kind, and as ferocious as a mother bear where her family is concerned. Carla is the woman that the biblical proverb was written about. “A wife of noble character… She is worth far more than rubies”. Yet she is not some kind of door mat for others to wipe their feet on. Don’t cross her or you may be sorry, no, you will be sorry. The story is not kind to Carla, but she will overcome, we hope. She is all about traditions and keeping them alive. At Christmas she makes cinnamon rolls and delivers them to all the neighbors. She was a teacher who moved on to become an administrator. Carla is an organizer, she has a sharp mind that is being stretched to its utmost limit. The apocalypse is going to test her faith, it will test her ability to persevere through multiple hardships. Can she survive and thrive? Or will she fold in on herself and succumb to madness.
Okay, it’s Friday and I thought I would throw out a map of Carla’s groups travels to see if this works. Just click on the word map to check it out.
By Special Request we will look at Maddie today and see how she fits in. Maddie is Ryan’s cousin. Maddie’s mother (Gay) was the adopted sister of Ryan’s mother. Maddie grew up in the Seattle area and loved horses from an early age. She’s always been a rebel and when she was just sixteen she moved out on her own. She went to college and became a nurse and worked in Bellingham Washington’s ER for her day job. She has a voice that sends people into another dimension when she sings, which she did regularly at the local bars and nightclubs. She moved to Texas where she quit nursing and went full time with her singing. Maddie never did break through the impassable gauntlet of the record business but she was always in a band. She went back to school and got her masters and became a Nurse Anesthetist and married. She has one son (Branson 28) who is out on his own and lives in Austin Texas now. She divorced her first husband and just recently met and married Harry Towes. They have a hacienda in southern Texas just north of the Mexican Border. She is an avid horsewoman, she raises highly sought after cutting horses and show horses, her favorite are the appaloosas. She is a full on prepper and has been for quite some time. Her home is equipped with many special features some of which include a solar array capable of supporting her stored emergency food and operation of an endless supply of well water. She loves all animals and has cows, pigs, and a wide verity of exotic breeds of chickens. She does not beat around the bush, you never have to wonder where you stand with Maddie. You will know!
Sarah, poor Sarah. She is Meg’s daughter and is a bit overwhelmed by the whole end of the world thing. Who can blame her? She has lost so much, and let’s face it, raising three kids in an apocalypse is pretty daunting. She is dedicated, and always has been, to being a good mother. Sarah is another one of Ryan’s neices and she spent her formative years living close by him and her grandmother Brant. She and Ryan are therefore very close, she is actually closer to his age than Barb his oldest sister. The years of being separated by three thousand miles has done nothing to make their relationship any less relevant. Sarah is a thinker like Ryan. She dwells on things, which normally is a good thing, but in the current situation it makes it hard to fight off depression. Hopefully she can will herself into the fight and make it.
Meg is the third oldest Brant sister. Barb and Jean are above her in the pecking order. Ryan is her baby brother and she will always look at him that way. Today we will look into what makes Meg tick. She is a caretaker, a healer, an empath. She is a pillar of her community, people rely on her. Meg is a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a grandmother. She brushes aside compliments as if they are undeserved. She thinks people don’t know her true self, that she isn’t worthy of the praise people give her. The truth is that her actions are what draw people to her, she is a doer not a talker. She lost her husband early in their life together and it has made her strong, and yet it crushed her heart. The biggest joy in her life are her grandkids, and she would do anything to protect them, she would give her life, and yes, she might have to.
Okay, by request we are going to look into Meg and her clan. How are all these folks related? Well, hindsight being 20-20 I should have done this one first. I will endeavor to clue you in to how this particular branch of the Brant family tree lays out. Meg is the third oldest sibling in Brant family. It goes Barb, Jean, Meg, Lynn, Parker, Max, and last be certainly not least Ryan. Meg’s is a widow and her only child is Sarah. Sarah married Tim and they have two biological children and two adopted children. I did not make a big deal about them being adopted in the book because I didn’t want to stress that as being relevant to the family. Andy and Sadie are Sarah and Tim’s biological offspring, Peter and Beth are adopted but no less important to the family. The Brant family has a history of adoption, and those adopted into it are fully vested. I will profile Meg and Sarah further in next weeks post.
Josh is Ryan’s nephew and is Barb’s oldest son. He’s 45 years old and has had bad luck with women his entire life. Not tall, nor short, ruggedly handsome, and very loyal to his family. His determination to reach the reunion is tested every step of the way. If Josh didn’t have bad luck he wouldn’t have any luck at all, however, he is relentless, always pushing forward. He was raised in a strict home and as a result he has a rebellious nature. He is good humored to a point, then he lashes out with fury that is bordering on loss of control. Josh smokes and drinks on occasion and when pushed can cuss a blue streak. He is quick witted and has a smile that ingratiates him to women, who find him cute, and irritates most men, who think he’s a bit of a smartass.
Lisa is Ryan’s niece and Max’s stepdaughter. She is five foot six with raven black hair and brown eyes that can smolder or burn holes straight through you if necessary. She has curves in all the right places, not petite but not big boned either. She’s outgoing like her dad and quick to lay the smackdown on you if you step on her toes. She’s funny and quick witted, intelligent, and can take care of most situations she finds herself in. Some people mistake her forward behavior for insensitivity, in truth she is very sensitive and a bit insecure. She’s seen troubles in her life, she doesn’t always learn her lesson the first time around but is quick to backup and start over when she realizes her mistake. She can be stubborn and downright fiery at times. A girls girl but can call on her darker side to deal with conflict head on. When I forget how old she is and ask, she says, “old enough to know how, too young to care”.
Max is Ryan’s next older brother. He is twice divorced, six foot one inches tall and is three years older than Ryan. He has his hair dyed Blond and has a foot long pony tail. He is a bull-shitter from way back. He wheels and deals his way through life and when that doesn’t work he fires from the hip. He has two daughters. Trish, his oldest from his first marriage lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her mom, and Lisa his stepdaughter who lives in Arkansas with her husband. He drinks, he smokes, and he swears, with no moderation at all. He spent several years in the army a long time ago, but remembers what he learned there. He lives in southern California where he is a Construction Superintendent for a well-known contracting company. He was a hell raiser in his youth and now he tries to hold the Brant family together. He claims to be the moderate of the family, neither right nor left wing, but to keep the peace he usually just agrees with whichever one of his family he happens to be with at the time. He’s has a tough exterior but a soft heart where his family is concerned.
Ryan is our main character. He is a six foot two inches tall, 54 years old, and overweight. He is a computer engineer that is nostalgic for years gone by. He is the youngest of seven kids and is married with two grown children. He is a little paranoid about the government and has recently begun to prepare for a possible collapse of society. He is by no means an expert in military tactics but has common sense and a willingness to help his fellow man. Ryan believes in God but is not religious. He has a good moral compass, but he doesn’t always follow it. He drinks, he smokes, and he swears, all in moderation. He loves his family more than anything in the world, he would die for them, and he may have to.