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S G Cardin

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Destination: Berlin is avaliable through IUniverse!
8/24/2007 1:30:36 PM

My book, Destination: Berlin is out
Well, I've been meaning to get back here, but it's been a hectic couple of weeks in real life. I made a switch in my work schedule so now I work from 2 pm to 10 pm. I don't mind the hours and I think it's going to work out. That said, this past week, my novel, Destination: Berlin was published with IUniverse.

I originally published the book in 2001, but I went back to edit it. I tightened up the plot, focusing on the action/adventure aspects of the story. I'm really pleased with the outcome. Here's an excerpt from the book. Enjoy!

Steph

*************

Somewhere in East Germany

July 1988

Spies. Espionage. Danger. The Berlin duty train hinted at it all as it carried

the four allies between the West and occupied Berlin. Corporal Sharon

Cates was high on the potential thrill, but her military common sense

kept her anchored to the fact that hints rarely ever gave way to facts.

She walked through the doors and into the duty train's dining car,

wearing her class "A" uniform. It was relatively empty. A lone concession

window was open selling coffee and brötchen. She bought a cup and sat

down next to a window. It was dark outside, and she couldn't see much.

The train itself felt old with its dull, gray cars wearing cracks in its paint

like an old woman's age lines. Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was

two o'clock. Sharon knew she should be asleep, but she was too excited.

Soon she'd be in Berlin, and she was thrilled. Going to Berlin would be

stepping into living history. She put her briefcase on the table and took

out a guidebook to Berlin, thumbing through it as she drank her coffee.

There were so many places to see, but none she wanted to see more than

the Brandenburg Gate. It stood in proud, yet silent testament overlooking

West Berlin as if offering hope to all.

A faint creak pierced the air breaking her thoughts. When Sharon

looked up, she spied a Soviet soldier also buying a cup of coffee. A warm

shiver slid down her spine. After all, she knew the Soviets also used the

duty train; she just thought she'd never see one. He was tall and filled out

his uniform well. From the markings on his uniform, she gathered he was

a non-commissioned officer, but that was all. To her surprise, he

approached her booth.

"Good morning, Corporal. I am Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory of the

Soviet Army. May I join you?"

Sharon looked up. He was talking to her—in English! She motioned to

him to have a seat.

Dimitri sat down and smiled. "If you don't mind my asking, what's

your name, Corporal?"

"Sharon," she answered, as distantly as possible. She never thought

she'd meet a Soviet soldier on the Berlin Duty Train. This felt like a page

out of a LeCarre spy novel. "Sharon Cates."

"Is this your first time on the duty train?" he asked.

Sharon stared at him. Nosey Soviet. Cpt. Heathers had cautioned her

about them during her security briefing.

"Because it is the first time I have seen you," Dimitri continued, sipping

his coffee.

"Ah, yes," Sharon finally answered. Should she finally entertain those

hints of espionage and secret spy scenarios? "It's my first trip to Berlin,"

she added.

"I see. Are you attending the Berlin Orientation Tour?"

"How did you know?"

"Most of the Americans I see on the train travel to Berlin for that purpose,"

Dimitri explained, grinning.

"If you don't mind my asking, why are you on the train?" Despite the

desire to keep her composure, her lips curved into an inquisitive smile.

"I work in the Soviet embassy in London. My headquarters are in East

Berlin. I travel between London and Berlin every two weeks," he

answered.

"And you can tell me that?" she asked, raising a surprised eyebrow.

"It's common knowledge," he added.

"Do you make it a habit to talk to Americans on the train?" Sharon

asked.

"No, I don't. I usually sleep in my train car, but I haven't had much to

eat today so they let me out to do that," he replied.

"Touché," she said curtly. "So, Jr. Sgt. Nagory, what do you do in your

army?"

"I am a translator for my superior, Major Orlov. I'm fluent in German

and English. And you?"

Sharon felt mildly inadequate, but she had to admit this was thrilling,

in a forbidden way. "I studied French in high school, but I wouldn't consider

myself fluent in it."

"Languages aren't for everyone. What do you do? I notice you wear the

cross pistols on your lapel. Are you military police?"

Sharon pursed her lips. "Yes, I'm with the military police," she said

simply. She couldn't take it any further. He didn't need to know she

guarded nuclear weapons at a remote American kaserne in West Germany.

"How long have you been doing … this?" She pointed aimlessly with her

hand out the window. "Translating?"

"Four years," said Dimitri. "And you?"

She chuckled. "A little over three years." He seemed sincere, but was it

possible that a Soviet soldier could be curious as opposed to inquisitive?

The way he smiled at her, he must be curious. But why? Why would he

start a conversation with her—an obvious stranger to him.

"If you don't mind my asking, why did you join the military?"

"I wanted money for college," she answered flatly. "Why did you join?"

"I was conscripted."

"Of course—conscripted. That's like being drafted, isn't it?" said

Sharon.

"Yes, it's like a draft."

"America did away with the draft after Vietnam, I believe," she added.

The Soviet took a sip of his coffee. "Your accent, I can't place it. Where

are you from in America?"

His question caught her off guard. So much for small talk.

"Maine. It's in New England," she stammered, wrinkling her brow.

"I am from Leningrad. I do not have an accent," he said.

"You speak with a British accent," she replied, now befuddled. Enough

was enough.

"I do not!"

"Jr. Sgt. Nagory, with all due respect, isn't this getting kind of personal?

We just met. Why would you ask me these questions? Are you trying to

get information from me? Here we are in a dining car on the duty train

between Bremerhaven and Berlin and we'll probably never see each other

again."

"No, I am not trying to get information out of you for military purposes.

We may never cross paths again, but maybe this would be a nice

story to tell my grandchildren—how I met an American on the duty train

and that the Americans are not the evil people the government believes

them to be," Dimitri replied smoothly.

"I'm sorry," said Sharon.

"It's fine. I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, Corporal."

Sharon realized she wasn't uncomfortable with him, but with the principles

his army uniform represented. She held out her hand. "Friends? For

the night? Tomorrow, when we step off the train, we'll be enemies again."

"Friends … for tonight," he confirmed, taking her hand.

Sharon was impressed with his firm handshake.

The train car violently lurched. After a brief pause, a loud crack filled

the air and the train began to roll over, slamming into the ground end on

end. Sharon plowed into the Soviet junior sergeant. At first she felt a searing

heat surround her. She tried to look around, but the images that

assaulted her eyes were blurry. The heavy metallic scent in the air made her

gag. She felt as if she were soaring, and when she landed, her lungs

exploded. Pain shot through her torso. The bright light that had dominated

her sight was now replaced with cool blackness.

"Corporal? Corporal? Are you all right?"

Sharon stirred and struggled to sit up. "Yes, I think so."

About 500 meters east of the train derailment, there was a fire. Faint

voices from that direction filled the air. The night sky, once black, was

now filled with gray smoke. As her vision came into focus, she found her

dining companion kneeling next to her. The heavy lines of concern

Dimitri wore surprised her. She clenched her fists, tensing, and was met

by a pain twice as impressive as Dimitri's concern. Her hand shot to her

left side almost as quickly as the pain.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Feels like my ribs," she grimaced.

"I think I landed on you when we were thrown from the train. I'm

sorry," Dimitri said.

Sharon nodded. What a way to start her trip to Berlin. They had

already crossed the East/West German border and she had no idea just

how deep they were into East Germany. "What happened?" she asked.

"There was an explosion on the train."

She paused, letting his words sink in. This was serious. Was it an accident

or an act of international sabotage? What could cause such a violent

explosion? Trains in Europe were supposed to be one of the safest ways to

travel.

"The smell of gunpowder is in the air," Dimitri continued.

"This doesn't bode well," Sharon added.

"No, it doesn't," Dimitri affirmed.

Sharon reached over expecting to clutch her briefcase. Instead there was

nothing. "Oh my God!"

"What?" asked Dimitri.

"Where's my briefcase?" Sharon barked. She got on her hands and

knees, squinting her eyes as she looked for her missing luggage, doing her

best to ignore the throbbing pain in her side.

Dimitri put his hand on her shoulder. She stopped. Their eyes met.

"You need medical attention. What's so important you have to find

your briefcase?" he asked.

"My travel papers for Berlin are in there. I don't want to be without

them," she replied.

"I'll help you then," said Dimitri, frowning.

Sharon nodded her head and they began to scour the immediate area.

For the first time since she jumped out of an airplane, a sense of unflinching

panic filled her. Cpt. Heathers stressed to her that she needed to keep

her paperwork with her at all times. The Soviets or East German police

wouldn't hesitate to detain her if she couldn't produce her travel papers.

Sharon's eyes cut to Dimitri. He scoured the dirty ground just as determined

as she was to find her briefcase. If only she had her mini Maglite on

her, but she didn't have any pockets big enough in her dress uniform, so

she put it in her briefcase.

She got to her feet and stumbled to the nearby bushes. Maybe her briefcase

landed in there. In the distance, she could see people scurrying

around the train.

Dimitri joined her, pointing past the shrubs. "They're searching for

people," he said. Several fire trucks, small from the distance, rolled onto

the scene.

"Argh!" Sharon bent over, clutching her side. A sharp pain reminded

her she was injured herself.

Dimitri stopped what he was doing and wrapped an arm around her,

providing her with support. "You need a medic."

"I need to find my briefcase!" she barked.

"Something isn't right," said Dimitri through tight, impatient lips. "I

don't believe this was an accident. I've ridden the duty train many times

and nothing like this has ever happened. Stay here and wait for me. I'll

bring a medic to you."

"No, I am not waiting for a medic. I need to find my briefcase first,"

she replied hotly. Who was he to dictate orders? Her sense of urgency

spiked.

"We'll find your briefcase, but first you need medical attention. You

can barely walk," Dimitri replied calmly. Almost too calmly for Sharon's

tastes. After all, she could walk, her ability just wasn't as pain free as

before. What did she in his eyes? Concern? Yet it appeared laced with confusion

and urgency. About what? Maybe she'd have better luck looking for

the briefcase herself.

"Fine—go find a medic. I'm going to keep looking for my briefcase,"

said Sharon.

"You're exasperating," Dimitri said.

"So are you. No wonder why our armies are enemies," Sharon retorted.

"But we promised to be friends for the night," he shot back.

Sharon went to say something, but nothing came out. For once, she

couldn't think of a thing to say. Dimitri smiled.

"I'll be back shortly," said Dimitri.

"Go," replied Sharon.

She watched him quickly disappear from view, partially concealed by

shadows, yet half in the light coming from the fire's blaze. She walked

across the clearing and stood next to one of the tree's surveying the area,

trying to find even a hint of her briefcase.

From her spot, she felt soothing warmth emanating from the blaze.

Against the dark sky, the roaring fire stood out. The pungent, smoky

aroma coming from the burning wood and metal kept taunting her to

vomit. Still, she held onto her senses, despite the ache in her ribs. How

could this have happened? This was a hell of a reward for winning Soldier

of the Quarter.

Sharon quickly surveyed her clothes. Her class "A" jacket was gone, lost

in the wreckage. Her pumps were scuffed, her nylons had runs in them,

and her skirt was dirty. She wore a short-sleeved class "B" shirt, also dirty.

Surprisingly, her ribbons hadn't fallen off. An Army Commendation

Medal (ARCOM,) two achievement medals, a good conduct medal, and

the army service ribbon stood proudly displayed over her heart, along with

a driving badge and her jump wings. On her right chest, the MP regimental

crest was still there. As per regulations, her nametag, which would have

been under the crest, wasn't worn. Her corporal bars were still firmly

attached to her shoulder lapel. What was going to happen now? She was

worried Dimitri would return with the KGB. Oh, that was a foolish

notion. What would the KGB want her for? She had very tight lipped

about what she did for the army, and she blended in with every other

American on the train.

Sharon closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What a way to cap off

the past couple of months. Three months ago she had won Soldier of the

Quarter for her battalion. This was a great accomplishment, but even

more than that, it gave her legitimacy as a soldier, a good soldier. Her platoon

sergeant recommended her for promotion. She did well on the promotion

board and scored high. She'd only been back from the Primary

Leadership Development Course (PLDC) a week, the month-long leadership

school she needed for promotion to sergeant. On July 1, her company

commander officially promoted her from specialist to corporal, a

junior NCO rank. Her professional life was soaring, which she could

hardly say about her personal life.

The separation had played havoc with her relationship to her

boyfriend, Specialist John Eddington. That and the fact he was jealous of

her professional accomplishments. They'd argued practically every day

she'd been back. Then on Thursday, after a fierce argument in front of her

platoon at the club, Sharon knew it was over. Now, here she was, waiting

for a Soviet soldier to return with help. Her eyes probed the shrubs and

bushes around her for her briefcase.

The four World War II allies rode the duty train. There were two trains,

one that left from Bremerhaven and one that left from Frankfurt. She

caught the train in Bremerhaven. After all, she was stationed in

Osnabrueck, a city in northern Germany in the British zone of occupa-

tion. Bremerhaven was only two hours away. Frankfurt was three and a

half hours away. When Captain Heathers gave her the security briefing on

Friday, he told her she might encounter Soviet soldiers. Heathers' voice

still rang in her ears.

"It's all a cat and mouse game with them. MI will debrief you when you

get to Checkpoint Bravo. If you can find out anything of strategic value,

do your best. If not, just keep any conversations with them casual. You can

bet they'll attempt to engage you …"

Meeting Soviet Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory was like meeting a

nervous chatterbox. She wondered if soldiers in his army were like him—

curious about Americans. She let him think she was a traditional police

officer, but in the army the military police had several jobs, including

physical security. She worked at a NATO site in the heart of British-occupied

Germany. Her job was to guard short-range tactical nuclear munitions.

It wasn't glamorous, but it was important and it required her to be

somewhat secretive regarding her work.

She sighed, as her eyes adjusted to the contrasts between fire and darkness.

Her thoughts drifted to her relationship with John. It had been based

on pure attraction. How could she think of John at a time like this? Was it

because she feared Dimitri would betray her as John had? Certainly his

motives would be understandable. He was the enemy, after all. John was

an American. Even if he was a lousy boyfriend, he had to be loyal to his

country. Didn't he?

Her eyes cut to an unusual sparkle of light about twenty-five meters

away in a tree branch that was just slightly higher than eye level. Could it

be her briefcase? She took a deep breath and walked toward it.






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More Blogs by S G Cardin
• Writing and Current Publishing Trends - Saturday, May 03, 2008
• Catching up - Thursday, April 10, 2008
• Agent Blogs & misc... - Friday, February 29, 2008
• Review for Destination:Berlin - Friday, February 08, 2008
• I Voted! - Wednesday, February 06, 2008
• Review sites for Indie authors - Thursday, November 29, 2007
• Life & Writing - Tuesday, November 27, 2007
• I'm so far behind...catching up - Saturday, November 17, 2007
• Internet Book Signing! - Monday, October 29, 2007
• Honorable Mention Winner 76th Writer's Digest Competition! - Friday, October 26, 2007
• Misc Stuff, Red Sox, fires & books - Monday, October 22, 2007
• Taking a Look at: The Rejector - Thursday, October 18, 2007
• Foreword/CLARION review for Destination:Berlin - Tuesday, October 16, 2007
• Taking a Look: Writer's Digest Online - Sunday, October 14, 2007
• Live interview for "The Wolf's Torment" w/Reader's Views - Saturday, October 13, 2007
• Official October 07 writing/poetry contest - Thursday, October 04, 2007
• Visit Reader's Views for my interview on The Wolf's Torment - Tuesday, October 02, 2007
• A look at: Reader's Views - Monday, October 01, 2007
• More random thoughts on self publishing & other stuff - Wednesday, September 19, 2007
• Character look at: Theresa von Kracken - Friday, September 14, 2007
• 9/11 - Tuesday, September 11, 2007
• Review for THE WOLF'S TORMENT from Reader Views - Friday, September 07, 2007
• National Be Kind to Writers & Editors month & a character profile - Tuesday, September 04, 2007
• Labor Day & work - Monday, September 03, 2007
• Princess Diana & A character look - Saturday, September 01, 2007
• Character look at: Mihai Sigmaringen - Monday, August 27, 2007
• Internet Marketing Tips & Interesting Characters - Sunday, August 26, 2007
• I just finished reading ''The Diana Chronicles'' - Saturday, August 25, 2007
•  Destination: Berlin is avaliable through IUniverse! - Friday, August 24, 2007  

• Romance Genre Writing Rules - Wednesday, August 08, 2007
• My recent experiences in novel writing - Monday, July 30, 2007
• Short Story Writing - Friday, July 27, 2007
• Harry Potter #7 Misc. Musings - Wednesday, July 25, 2007
• Thoughts on: Harry Potter, MWSA, and Judith McNaught's "Whitney, My Love" - Friday, July 20, 2007
• Overview of Traditional Publishing - Friday, July 13, 2007
• Noticing Things as a Reader - Thursday, July 12, 2007
• Self publishing with Lulu - Monday, July 09, 2007
• Feeding the Muse and doing the Housework - Saturday, July 07, 2007
• Pros and cons of Self-publishing - Monday, July 02, 2007
• An agent's thoughts on Self-publishing - Saturday, June 30, 2007
• It's been a long time... - Sunday, August 27, 2006
• Busy, Busy, Busy - Wednesday, September 07, 2005
• Just wanted to say "Thank you..." - Sunday, July 31, 2005


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