Category Archives: heroes
A former Navy SEAL, Ty Ryan, is kidnapped by the Chinese intelligence agents in Taming the Telomeres, my first Telomeres novel, and is released in a complicated swap of prisoners towards the conclusion of TTT.
In Targeting the Telomeres, the second in this series, and still a work in progress, Ryan has a much larger role in the story, and the working manuscript is over 75% complete at this point.
I have been busy writing in the last few months, but here are sneak previews of two chapters inside Targeting the Telomeres, involving Ty Ryan, and a new character, Liza, who both interact with Amanda Michaels in pivotal parts of Targeting the Telomeres.
Excerpt from Targeting the Telomeres, Challedon Publishing Co.
By: R.N. Shapiro ©2017 All Rights Reserved
The man stares at the large photographic reproductions mounted along the wall of the exhibition hall from his vantage point on the flat horizontal bench. Several somber looking people slowly shuffle through the alcove ensconced deep inside the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in lower Manhattan. They hardly notice Ty Ryan seated along the opposite wall from the iconic photos. He sits like Buddha, hands resting along his thighs, motionless, gaze focused on the falling man. Tiny, dwarfed against the enormous black and white grainy image of the World Trade Center. What absolute inferno from hell, what immense fireball, impelled this seemingly voluntary decision? But it was not at its bottom a voluntary decision. Hardly. Ryan knows this. He understands hell. Hell forced this man to free fall out of a high World Trade Center floor. Death by inferno or free fall to death? Was that a choice? No. This one image haunts him. Each time he returns, he finds his way here, like a magnetic pull. The free fall guy didn’t deserve to die. Only the terrorists deserved to die, and wanted to. This conundrum bothers Ryan.
He feels his phone vibrate in his pocket. He looks at the screen, its from Liza.
I will text you when I am leaving the MOMA.
The pulsating bass line of the loud techno music pulsates inside Liza Chang’s stomach. Ba-ba boom. Ba-ba boom. She sits two rows back from the catwalk at New York Fashion Week for her company’s most important stateside presentation of the year. People are packed in like sardines on folding chairs lining either side of the runway under the mammoth white tent in Bryant Park, Manhattan. It has earned the nickname “7th on 6th” because most New York design houses are on Seventh Avenue, but Fashion Week events are held off Sixth Avenue at the park. The Michael Morse line is slated for 7:00 p.m., after Tom Lord.
Marco, one of the designers for Morse leans over to Liza. “Oh my God, here we go! I can’t stand it anymore!” Thundering synthetic music plays and a choreographed light display begins.
Camera flashes burst from all directions as the first model in the Morse line makes her way down the catwalk, looking frighteningly thin and somewhat androgynous; short dirty blonde hair, exotic makeup in multiple shades, including pastels that would look ridiculous anywhere but here. Those lucky enough to be in the front row point and converse about every detail of the model’s look, from her shoes and the dress to the jewelry and makeup. In quick succession, a series of additional models appear in Morse outfits until they fill the narrow stage in a single line. At the far end, the first model turns and walks back, giving the audience a second chance to see all the ensembles.
Leaning again toward Liza, Marco excitedly says, “Here’s the dress that I managed! Don’t you love it?”
“Absolutely, Marco. It’s amazing.”
The announcer comments on various facets of the clothing as the models stream by. Between the music, the clapping and the chatter of the industry pros packing the venue, Liza can’t hear herself think. Fortunately, the hour goes by quickly. Then Liza, Marco and five other of the designers and national sales representatives rush behind the stage, hugging, giggling and high-fiving each other.
“The reception was amazing.” Marco lifts his plastic champagne glass high in the air. “The Nordstrom and Dolce reps congratulated me on the way here. Can’t wait to talk to the buyers at the after-party.”
Liza faintly hears the familiar tone from her phone emanating from her small purse. She glances at the message. Ty Ryan, her old friend and occasional fling is meeting her after the party at the Conrad. She texts back, confirming she’ll find him in the lobby bar.
The MOMA after-party is an immense success for the Morse line. Liza and her colleagues foresee job security, at least for one more fashion cycle. Liza has a unique role as an industry regional sales and quality control representative with the company for their accessories, mostly made in China. It’s a well-kept secret that the accessories—and even some of the upscale clothing—is made in China. The mandatory “Made in China” labels are sewn into the clothing in the most discrete locations possible, away from the splashy hang tag stating “Designed by Michael Morse, Seventh Avenue.”
* * *
An Asian-American woman, now 30 years old, Liza’s mother and father emigrated to the United States from Beijing. She grew up in Brooklyn before her parents relocated to Arlington, Virginia, where her dad was a professor at Mary Washington and her mom ran a successful upscale nail salon. As a child she learned Mandarin, Beijing’s main language, and Wu, commonly spoken in the Shanghai area, as well as Yue Cantonese. They traveled back to visit her extended family about once a year; her parents were hard-working and frugal, but reconnecting with family was a vital family ritual for them.
Valedictorian of her high school class in Arlington, she was offered an academic scholarship at Yale, where she graduated summa cum laude and was recruited by the CIA. Speaking multiple Chinese languages at a time when keeping tabs on China was of increasing interest made her valuable to the agency. Her affinity for languages also allowed her to master Arabic while at Yale.
One of her first covert operations for the CIA was to Iraq, embedded with SEAL Team 7, part of the so-called surge—when the U.S. thought it successfully marginalized the “insurgency.” History proved the victorious surge to be a hollow success—much like the entire Iraq war and ill-fated occupation thereafter. During her Iraq assignment, her world collided with Ty Ryan’s. Every night the SEALs, along with Liza and their Iraqi interpreter, would engage in missions to take out terrorists and so-called insurgents. Liza didn’t take out the bad guys, that was for the SEALs to do, including Ty. She handled mission organization and logistics. Ryan had observed her acumen with a pistol and a semi-automatic at the firing ranges between their almost nightly missions, and he became smitten with her exotic beauty. She was different than any woman he had been involved with in his life “BL,” or “before Liza.”
In their first months together she often shared her innermost feelings with Ty and confided that she did not think their Iraqi missions would ever win over the hearts and minds of the Sunnis and Shiites, who had a centuries-old blood feud that would not be settled by a weak government propped up by Americans, who most Iraqis distrusted. During her time in Iraq, two SEALs died, and every few days an IED would kill or maim a U.S. soldier, sending a chill through every member of the unit.
To the chagrin of her supervisors at Langley, and Ryan, she tendered her resignation at her six-year anniversary and surprised everyone by taking a position with Michael Morse, filling their need for an East Coast representative willing to travel to China and handle interaction with their overseas factories. Get as far away from intense stress was her paramount thought. A clothing line rep for god’s sake.
She soon discovered she could earn significantly more taking private contracts than she did with the agency, though some of the shadowy figures were downright spooky strange. She often didn’t know who hired her, but for the right money, usually paid in full up front, she didn’t care. Hong Kong has long had a cottage industry of managing agents, who front for limited liability corporations, tasked with retaining confidentiality for businessmen hiding their profits offshore from their host nations. Liza established a managing agent and a bank account to receive her off the books funds. Her account there was in the name of her fictitious name on her fake U.S. passport. The contract ops she had accepted frequently involved honeypotting a clueless businessman, which required the use of her femininity in seductive ways. With some assignments she assumed the sex was filmed, but her marks never once suspected she targeted them. She was careful to wear disguises and not take any repeat jobs in the same cities.
Another lucrative side business for her was a bit of smuggling from China to the U.S. Never expressly apprised of what was being smuggled, her involvement was oblique—she would simply advise her contact when various samples were being shipped from one of the Chinese factories back to the Morse warehouse in Brooklyn and her contact did the rest. She presumed they were paying intermediaries at the factory and the warehouse, to collect the illicit contraband at the warehouse. She got paid for each shipment she initiated, and the money had encouraged her to collect as many potential accessories or clothing samples as reasonably plausible.
Approaching the hotel bar to meet Ty, she wears a sheer white button-down blouse and above-the-knee black suede skirt from the Morse line, black nylons with seams running up the back of each leg, and black stilettos. Shoulder-length brunette hair infused with red highlights. Ryan stands and gives her a big hug beside the barstools. His muscular, almost six-foot-tall frame easily envelopes her petite, trim body.
“Good to see you.”
Liza looks him over carefully. His wavy brown hair does a few untidy flips and is slightly longer than a military cut. He has chiseled facial features, high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes, and he wears a simple black t-shirt revealing his strong arms. She admires his faded jeans and black leather belt with silver diamond-shaped studs surrounding it.
“How was the big show?”
Ryan smells the wine or champagne on her breath, recognizing she had a few drinks before catching a cab to meet him.
“Unbelievably stressful. With it being the biggest show of the year, the whole next buying season rides on it. As far as I can tell, it went very well, at least all the company reps think so. At the MOMA, everyone raved about our line, and you know Marco, my friend, he was really excited because a bunch of his designs were popular.”
“Awesome. Can I buy you a drink you hot thing?”
“Of course, let’s celebrate. The show, all the glitz and glam. And why not celebrate us too?”
Deep down Liza hates the fact that Ty shows up to fall into bed with her only once in a blue moon, such a completely undependable relationship, though she voices not a word of her frustration. She was trained to maintain a fierce front. She finally focuses on the small menu of specialty drinks, then sets it down on the bar, where it sticks to several drops of over-splash from the previous occupant’s drink. “How about a Stoli martini, dry, with two olives. Please.” Moments later, the bartender whips up the cocktail, and slides it in front of her.
They exchange small talk before she asks if he wants to go to the Loopy Doopy rooftop bar. They down their cocktails and head to the elevators. As soon as the doors close they engage, bodies pressed tight, tongues diving and caressing. When they arrive on the roof, they release each other and find their way to the railing, passing a bunch of couples on couches near a glowing fire pit. They gaze out over the Hudson towards New Jersey, observing the myriad lights of office buildings and high-rises.
Ryan breaks the silence. “Your job seems more copacetic for you than at the agency.”
“It is, but some of my private contracting work has been pretty damn stressful. The good part is I know I’m not locked into anything. I can just make good money, not ask a lot of questions, and move on.”
“Be careful. You haven’t been eliminating targets, have you?” He’s actually curious because they’ve never discussed it.
“No.” She turns and looks him in the eye. “Unlike with the agency, I don’t have to accept every proposed task, and I don’t want that kind of guilt on my head. Who needs it? I’m not planning to die young. You?”
“Nah. I do some shady side stuff for the P.I. group, but its child’s play compared to handling international assignments like you do.”
“Not all have been in China.”
“Wrong. Sure, I won’t work against the agency here at home. But if the job is just honeypotting…”
Ryan soaks this in, peering out across the Hudson, noticing the shimmers of light reflecting off the surface of the river.
“I can’t block out some of the things I did, particularly in Iraq. Like blowing away teenage insurgents. But I deal with it.” Ryan says.
“One job haunts me.” She admits cryptically.
“Honeypot stuff on the surface, but I have a feeling it was a lot more.”
“I’m sure that kind of work can take many different forms. I won’t push it if you don’t wanna tell.”
Ty takes a swig of his drink and stares out over the city. The same bartender returns. Ty places another order but Liza declines, she started way before he did.
“I agreed to it because I could visit my parents in Arlington before the job,” she explains. “It was in Northern Virginia. I was assigned to seduce a married guy. I honeypotted him at a bar he and his pals frequented. I needed to convince him to meet me at a hotel the next day, get him to call in sick, which I, um, accomplished.”
“Yeah, I don’t need the details about the seduction. But I gather that’s not all.”
“Right. The next day I boarded an Amtrak Acela train at Union Station and headed back to New York City. On the way, I saw the news on my laptop about the Hemispheres jet crash. Well, my target was the electrical inspector supervisor for the Hemispheres fleet at that airport.”
She looks out across the river. Ryan contemplates this bombshell for a moment.
“So, you’re saying you were the reason he called in sick that day, and maybe someone sabotaged the jet?”
“That’s pretty heavy.” The wheels start turning fast in Ryan’s mind. “Who hired you?”
“I can’t tell you that Ty. Even if I wanted to, I don’t know who it was. They use proxies.”
“Can I ask how they paid you?”
“I have an agent who manages an account in Hong Kong. That’s all I’ll say.”
Ryan mulls over mentioning he’s working for a lawyer who is trying to unravel a $200 million mystery about why the government paid hush money to Hemispheres, but he decides not to go there. Not yet. Maybe after they head to her room he’ll try to pry enough information from her to narrow the players involved.
_____ _______ ________
Thanks for reading!
For more on Taming the Telomeres or what the author is up to:
Author website: www.RNShapiro.com
Facebook: taming the telomeres
Pinterest: Taming the Telomeres inspired scenes
Enjoy a playlist while you read Taming the Telomeres or just for enjoyment:
Ever wonder what kind of music one of your favorite characters in a book was listening to on their playlist? I have joined some of my author colleagues, and curated music playlists of two of the lead characters in Taming the Telomeres (TTT), Amanda and Andy Michaels.
The playlists are inspired by dialogue, actions or scenes in the award winning novel, Taming the Telomeres on Amazon.
Residing on Youtube, some of the songs in the playlists have videos as well which can immerse listeners into a whole new perspective.
The unpredictable protagonist of Taming the Telomeres is Amanda Michaels, a high school girl who is the sole survivor of a commuter jet crash, and her playlist is here:
Andy Michaels is her uncle, the high-profile DC trial attorney who ends up representing her and other victims of the hemispheres jet crash, and his playlist is here:
Both of the playlists are found on the Taming the Telomeres channel on YouTube. You can shuffle the Youtube playlists or listen to them in the order presented.
Also, scenes and action inspired by TTT can be found on the Taming the Telomeres Pinterest page and a video interview of author Shapiro can be found here.
On Saturday night, August 5, 2016 the Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA) presented its prestigious annual President’s Awards for the best books of 2015 and the first half of 2016 by authors and publishers in Florida and throughout the United States, and Taming the Telomeres, A Thriller was awarded two separate 2016 book award silver medals. The event, which took place at the Hilton Orlando/Lake Buena Vista Resort, recognized outstanding books by awarding gold, silver, or bronze medals.
“The 2016 award winners exemplify excellence in publishing both regionally and nationally. The awards continue to command the attention of industry professionals and readers.” said Terri Gerrell, FAPA President. The winners were selected by the competition’s sixty-five judges—librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.
In the Adult Fiction-Mystery category, Taming the Telomeres, by author R.N. Shapiro earned the Silver Medal, and in the Adult Fiction-Suspense/Thriller category, Taming the Telomeres, was also awarded the Silver Medal.
2015 Gold Award Winner-fiction thriller-Readers Favorite Int’l book award contest.
Apple Literary Book Awards, 2015 Medalist for E-book mystery thriller.
Silver Medalist-2016 eLit Book Awards, for mystery/suspense/thriller category.
The novel introduces high schooler Amanda Michaels, the lone survivor of a commuter jet crash who possesses breakthrough biological secrets that intelligence agencies will kill over:
The author is actively writing “Targeting the Telomeres” which is book two of the Amanda Michaels Telomeres series, and has recently added sneak previews of Targeting the Telomeres book two after the conclusion of Taming the Telomeres paperbacks and ebooks. Previews will also be added soon to the author’s website, www.RNShapiro.com .
Tags: biological, book authors, DC, e-books, ebook, FBI, Florida Authors & Publishers book award, Florida Authors & Publshers, Middleburg, mystery, NSA, R.N. Shapiro, survivor, taming the telomeres, telomerase, telomeres, thriller, thriller novel
Scenes and places inspiring the suspense thriller Taming the Telomeres pinned on my Pinterest page:
Just want to say “wow” and “thank you” to every reader of Taming the Telomeres, as the novel about Amanda Michaels, and her tale of survival and redemption, held the #1 position on Amazon’s best seller charts in the suspense action thriller category in early May.
Taming the Telomeres is now available in ebook, paperback or audiobook on Audible.com and on iTunes.
Working hard on the sequel with the working title ‘Targeting the Telomeres’ which will pickup within a year of where TTT leaves off.
They say that heroes leave behind a little part of themselves in each of us. I don’t know if that’s true, but I want to tell you why I wish I’d met Matt Schnirel, who I think was a hero. And he’s not the only one either.
Singer songwriter Jack Johnson asked: “Where’d all the good people go? I keep changing channels. I don’t see them on the TV shows…” But–if heroes surrounded us every day, they wouldn’t seem heroic, would they? Why? Because heroes are rare. And, they make you aspire to be a person of integrity. Someone you hope you can be.
Michael Doran was a fantastic trial attorney from Buffalo, and a professional friend of mine. He hired Matt Schnirel right out of law school to work at his small law firm. He didn’t hire him because he finished at the top of his class. He hired him because he had clerked for his small law firm in Buffalo, and everybody that met Matt loved him. Michael was a very successful, persuasive attorney in front of juries. And he was a great judge of a lawyer’s character.
I was as shocked as everyone in Buffalo that knew Michael and Matt when I heard the news that Michael Doran’s small Cirrus plane crashed in 2009 after it took off from a municipal Cleveland airport, after Michael and Matt had attended a hearing there. Something went horribly wrong right after take-off and Michael tried to get the plane back to the airstrip when it crashed not far from the airport. And, it was one of those planes with a special parachute that can be deployed, but only after the plane reaches a certain altitude.
I went to the funeral for Michael Doran, and that was where I heard a lot about Matt Schnirel, who was a new, young lawyer working with Michael’s law firm and who was the only other passenger who lost his life in the crash.
Heroes don’t panic in life threatening situations. I learned a great story about Matt Schnirel after Michael’s funeral at a tribute for Michael and Matt. Matt and a group of his high school friends accidentally went down a wrong trail on a Jay Peak Vermont ski slope in 2003 on a frigid winter afternoon-ending up stranded at nightfall in a deserted valley with no ability to get out (and no cell phone service).
Night fell, and the temperatures dropped to 30 below zero, and as each hour passed they all became more and more desperate. One lighter proved pivotal—Matt and the others broke off tree branches and built a fire and continued to feed it hour after hour, fighting off frostbite. At dawn, Matt led his friends to try to find their way up and out of the valley, and during that effort rescuers found them.
Matt Schnirel retold this story in his personal statement to Buffalo school of law in his application, and he was (you guessed) accepted there.
Other heroes don’t help save anyone, but still are heroic. My late aunt, Annette Halprin, may never have “saved” anyone but she lived live with a certain savoir-faire, meaning she was adaptable, knowing what to do in any situation. She treated everyone around her with dignity, she was funny, and she was always someone who I looked up to. She’s another hero, and I was privileged to give a eulogy at her funeral.
Perhaps that’s why I wrote about a hero named Amanda Michaels, the leading female character in my first fiction thriller, “Taming the Telomeres.” I am sure I infused a part of Matt and a part of Annette in the character development for Amanda. Though Amanda seems imperfect and perhaps not heroic at the beginning of “Taming,” she manages to pull through against her seemingly insurmountable obstacles after being the sole survivor of a jet crash.
I wish I had met Matt Schnirel. We all have heroes. I’m sure you know someone like him or my aunt, and no, all the good people are not gone. They are just hard to find.
Taming the Telomeres was named the Medalist in the 2015 New Apple Literary award contest, for ebook mystery/thriller.
Click to head to New Apple Literary Award website:
Profuse thanks to Patrick Austin, who now is the editor of the Virginia State Bar Docket Call Newsletter, for a nice interview about the ethical dilemmas faced by trial attorney Andy Michaels in Taming the Telomeres, my fiction thriller. The Judges also have some serious ethical issues as well. Click below for the interview.
VSB interview RNS [Click link].
This discussion is about the moments when Andy Michaels first learns his close family members were on a Hemispheres jet that crashed in PA. Click here to read the full interactive bublish.com chapter discussions.