Monday, March 9, 2015
Return to Sender by Mindy Halleck Excerpt with Giveaway!
1955 ~ Father Theo Riley never wanted to be a priest, nor a killer. The former boxing champion and Korean War veteran gave up more than a career when he went into the Army. He lost the only thing he ever wanted: his love, Andréa Bouvre. Friends thought Theo entered the priesthood to mend his broken heart or atone for the massacred orphans he couldn’t save in Korea. However, the truth is much darker and more damning, tied to a blood debt and family secret that has haunted Theo since he was a boy. He drinks to forget he ever had a life of his own—waits for death, prays for mercy, and hopes for a miracle. He gets all three when a child goes missing, another shows up on his doorstep, and the love of his life drives back into his world; the seaside hamlet of Manzanita Oregon. Theo’s dream reunion with Andréa becomes a nightmare when a serial killer who considers himself a holy man targets the town and everyone Theo loves. Drinking days decidedly behind him, Theo and some old warriors set out to send evil back to hell and a few good souls to heaven in RETURN TO SENDER.
POV of protagonist, Theo Riley;
All night I listened for cars, footsteps, noises that didn’t belong. All night, every sound reminded me of Korea’s Karst Caves: sounds, smells, threats hidden in every echo. I tried to recall in which letter I wrote to Andréa about the noisy bats. Was it October ’52, or later?
The children had been terrified of the Daubenton bats that built colonies inside the caves. At night, the scratching sounds and flapping wings was as threatening to them as the sound of footsteps and the CCF running up on us at night was to me. The nun told them the bats were good luck, there to protect us, that they stayed awake at night to keep watch.
The oldest boy, Hai-bin, was the first to call me “Teo.” He rolled his eyes back in his head when the nun said that. In any other world, he’d have been a budding teenager full of angst and attitude, not an undernourished warrior ready to fight, ready to die, not old enough to understand the meaning of either. Not old enough to understand any of Korea’s madness. But then, who was?
As the days, nights, and weeks had gone on, those brave orphans folded the strange noises from the waking Daubenton bats into that place where they carried the heavy, heavy burden of acceptance—they slept through the night with those mysterious guardians taking flight above them. They slept. It became part of their new existence. An existence brittle and rickety as the bamboo bridges that sooner or later would lead us back to a world ablaze outside those caves.
About the author:
Mindy Halleck is a Pacific Northwest author and writing instructor. She grew up the daughter of a celebrated beauty queen/songstress, and a retired soldier in Portland Oregon. Her career began early when at nine years old she stood behind the counter of the family business (shoe repair) on a whisky crate and was dubbed 'queen of the cash register'. It was there, surrounded by vibrant emigrants where she developed an ear for good stories. It was no wonder Mindy later developed a career in finance, good taste in shoes and a love for storytelling.
Portland was home except in the summers, when the cozy inlet of Manzanita Oregon was her family's escape and her father's hideaway from city life. Mindy's father was one of the hopeful gold diggers who honeycombed unsuccessfully through Neahkahnie Mountain in search of the elusive pirate's treasure rumored to be buried deep in the mountain. These settings are prominent features in Mindy's writing.
Writer's Digest Magazine published one of Mindy's first stories, Mr. Ed, in 2001, and in 2007 she
received Honorable Mention in the Writer's Digest Mainstream Literary Short Story Contest for an excerpt from Return to Sender. Mindy has written three novels, and one nonfiction book, Romance & Money - 12 Conversations Every Couple Should Have. In addition, hundreds of her articles have appeared in local and national publications, including her financial advice column, titled Romance & Money, and numerous travel essays.
Mindy has written her blog Literary Liaisons for seven years and is dedicated to the Pacific Northwest writing communities as a member of Willamette Writers in Oregon and Pacific Northwest Writers in Seattle. She is a steering committee member for the Edmonds Write on the Sound Writers' Conference in Edmonds, Washington.
Mindy is married and has one daughter and two grown grandchildren whom she adores. When not writing, she is happiest traveling Europe with her husband Joe; their most recent travel was a Rick Steves 21-Day Tour of six countries, which she highly recommends.