The Culmination #NewRelease #MilitaryThriller @gmplano

Hello, friends. It’s been a full month since I’ve blogged, but taking time off for NaNoWriMo made a huge impact on my WIP. I hope to get back in the swing of things eventually, but December will likely be sporadic for me. The company I work for is undertaking a physical move to a new location and life is chaotic right now. If you don’t see me about in the blogosphere for a few days, I’m likely up to my ears in packing and unpacking, LOL.

Today, I’m super excited to welcome friend and Story Empire author, Gwen Plano, with her latest release, The Culmination. I read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them both. I’ve already grabbed my copy of The Culmination and am looking forward to seeing how this adventurous series ends. Please welcome, Gwen!

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Mae, 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.

kindle reader with book  The Culmination, a military thriller shows silhouettes of couple holding hands with young girl, military chopper in background

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, has flown to Moscow at the request of Russia’s president. She is met by his son, Ivan. Upon seeing him, Margaret flashes back on her experience as a soldier in Afghanistan and wonders if they crossed paths at that fateful time. Margaret begins the conversation…

“It’s possible we were there at the same time. Maybe we were in the same locale.”

“Are you serious? Really? Why would anyone willingly recall such bloodshed?” Ivan’s eyes lower, and he glances to the side.

She presses, “I keep thinking we’ve met. Would you humor me and think back with me?”

“I don’t like such games.” Ivan’s response sounds gruff, and Margaret steps back as her agents step nearer. “Besides, I’m not sure what that would accomplish. This is one nightmare I choose not to recall. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He glares at her.

Margaret nods. “I understand, of course. But if we can travel back in time, perhaps we might decide if we can trust one another.”

He shakes his head and scoffs, “I can’t imagine that to be possible.”

“Isn’t it worth the effort to find out?”

Her persistence wears down his obstinacy, and begrudgingly, he agrees. Ivan stares off into the distance.

Margaret notices his grimace and realizes he’s gone back to the battle.

She lowers her voice and says, “A shell hits the building I’m in, and I rush outside. I can’t see through the clouds of dust and debris. People scream. People run. I hate this place, and it hates me.

“I call to my men, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ There’s gunfire, and we’re unsure which direction to run. I can smell the blood, the sweat, and the fear. It’s musty and thick; it lingers and gags me. Sand and bodies lie beneath my feet. I stumble and recoil at the horror that I meet. I see a female soldier among the masses. She moans from the hit she received. I reach for her arm to pull her up, but the limb is all that follows me. I retch and call for my men.”

Kindle book The Culmination beside map of Middle East with magnifying glass over map

Pomoch’ yey!” Ivan yells. “And my men help her. They put a tourniquet on her arm, and we move on.”

Margaret holds back the shock that she feels and looks at Ivan. He keeps his eyes closed, and he appears to be caught in a battle.

Margaret says, “Another explosion. The shell lands close to me. My face is on fire, and I get thrown backward. I can’t move.”

Ivan reacts with a gasp and reaches for his face, now frozen and white and trembling.

Margaret says, “I’m being moved—my body dragged. The Afghan Northern Alliance is helping me.”

Ivan’s jaw clenches, and he holds his shoulders rounded and slumped. Resignation floats across his face.

Margaret notices his instability. He teeters. She calls out, “Soldier, lean in. Lean in!”

Ivan leans into Margaret. She wraps her arm around him, and time becomes fluid. Ivan chokes out tears, first in agonizing bursts, and then in sobs—loud and wrenching.

Margaret draws Ivan closer. They now stand cheek to cheek, tears blending. “Ivan,” she says. “Ivan, what do you feel?”

He doesn’t respond.

Again, she asks, “Ivan, what do you feel?”

His words are halting, “Failure. I could do nothing. I was only there to arrange for more armaments.”

“All right, what else do you feel besides failure?”

He holds her tighter. “Useless. I’m barely a man now. My body has betrayed me; it is broken.”

“There’s more, Ivan. Tell me what else you feel.”

“Sadness. So many are gone. My friends, my enemies. Gone. And for what?”

“The remorse of a soldier. I understand. There’s more.”

He flounders and struggles to regain composure.

“Ivan,” Margaret says. “What more do you feel?”

He pulls her close and whispers, “I feel hope—hope that maybe the treaty will work. It has to. It must. Maybe the countries are serious about ending this horror. That is my hope.”

Margaret nods. “You’ve identified your purpose.”

Ivan clasps her left arm, and at the firm feel of the prosthesis, he jerks away.

He opens his eyes and looks into hers. “You’re the one, aren’t you? The one we stopped and helped.”

“Yes. You saved my life.”

Contact with Gwen at the following haunts:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Bio box for Gwen Plano

Book Links:
Letting Go into Perfect Love
The Contract between heaven and earth
The Choice: the unexpected heroes
The Culmination, a new beginning

Whether you’re new to this series, or have been following from the start, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating with Gwen on her release. And what a deal at .99c! Please use the sharing buttons and help us spread the word about The Culmination. Don’t forget to GRAB YOUR COPY and drop Gwen a comment. Thanks for visiting today. I wish you happy reading!

88 thoughts on “The Culmination #NewRelease #MilitaryThriller @gmplano

  1. Great post, Mae and Gwen! And what an exciting excerpt, too! Wishing you huge success with this one, Gwen. I’m heading over to get my copy now, so there’s at least ONE more sale. 😀 Sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A powerful excerpt. I can understand why he wouldn’t want to remember the horrors of war. A lot of veterans come home and try to push those memories away. Good luck with your book!

    Nice having you back, Mae, and good luck with your move. Glad you got a lot of work done on your WIP.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I just finished The Contract a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t know that the story continued. The book sounds intense and the excerpt is riveting. Congrats to Gwen on the new release.
    I’m glad you had a productive break, Mae. Welcome back, even if sporadic for now. And a special thank you for your review! I saw it a few days ago and couldn’t have been happier.) ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lovely to hear from you Mae. Don’t take this as pressure to appear, but I’ve missed your presence around the traps. Lovely to learn a bit more about Gwen. I have a collaboration she and John Howell wrote (Contract) sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be devoured. Hope to get into it soon, and add another author to my long list of ‘must follows’!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I miss being around, Jess. It’s likely going to be another two weeks before I can surface. It’s a mammoth move we’re undertaking, and I’m key coordinator for the event. Exciting but exhausting.

      The Contract is the first book in this series, so you’ve got a perfect fit waiting on your Kindle. I’m even behind on my reading these days!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Good to see you, Mae. Welcome back. I can imagine how busy you are, packing and unpacking. I’m glad you had a productive NaNoWriMo. I enjoyed Gwen’s writing and read her first book. I downloaded The Culmination. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for the welcome back, Miriam. It will probably be a while yet until I get back int he swing of things. So far we are still in the packing stage. Lots of fun and excitement, but it’s kind of exhausting too.

      I know Gwen will appreciate hearing you downloaded her latest. I’m looking forward to reading it as well!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Miriam. Yes, I do work physically in an office. The industry I work in (real estate) is considered an essential business, so I’ve been back in my office since late May of 2020. We will be settled in our new home before Christmas. Today and next week are the big move dates. Lots going on but it’s exciting!

        Have a Merry Christmas!


  6. Hi Mae, it’s nice to see you back and I’m glad your November writing month was successful. I have moved offices a few times over the past few years and it is painful. I got so annoyed the last time that I through everything I had away. Now I only have a few textbooks and some stationary and I’m completely mobile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, that sounds like good mobility, Robbie. The last move I coordinated was 19 years ago and we were smaller. This move is mammoth and includes 3 tenants along with us. I can’t wait until we’re settled. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mae, welcome back and great that your writing month went so well! It’s lovely to see Gwen here with the latest in the series. I’m smiling how she had no option but to write it as the characters kept coming to her! 😀 Good luck to her with the release and book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI, Annika.Thanks for visiting to cheer on Gwen. I’m looking forward to reading The Culmination. And thanks for the welcome back, although it’s going to be a while yet until I can resurface. By the holidays I should be in shape….I hope.
      Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

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