Sneak preview of Nikki White: Polar Extremes … Chapter 1 … SHARKS!!!

Here’s a teaser to the third installment in the trilogy, NIKKI WHITE: POLAR EXTREMES, which is out today, March 24, 2017, the very day the sun sets for six months of darkness at South Pole Station, the setting for much of this story.

But first, Nikki must survive a swim with sharks near Dyer Island, South Africa … here is Chapter 1, in its entirety. Enjoy …

Cheers,
Jack Chaucer

PART 1

CHAPTER 1: DYER SITUATION

Nikki Janicek’s
point of view

January 1, 2020
Off the coast
of South Africa,
near Dyer Island

The sea gulls taunted me with their freedom.

They had it and I didn’t. And they could fly anywhere, but no, they had to show off, shrieking at me as they cruised alongside the boat.

After months of indoor isolation and captivity, I suppose I should’ve been rejoicing at this “reward” of fresh, saltwater air; a new start and new training for the new year. But the sun that I hadn’t seen or felt in so long was a no-show, masked by thick, dark-gray clouds; the air was stained with the stench of fish guts, and my own guts were roiling from sea sickness.

To add insult to indignity, a sea hag kept heckling me from the rear of the boat in German, Dutch or whatever the hell it was.

My only consolation was Roy, the biggest and blackest of my abductors, looked even more nauseous than I did. He sat on the bench a few feet to my left and held his breakfast back with a massive hand over his mouth.

That’s when the mystery captain, driving the boat behind tinted glass on the upper deck, suddenly cut the engine, leaving us to pitch and roll in lazy, 6- to 8-foot swells. The torturous motion immediately forced me to get up and stagger to the rail. I might have fought it back, but the sound of Roy hurling over the opposite rail was too much. Out it came, pouring into the sea below.

Happy Effing New Year.

And not one drink the night before to make it remotely worth it.

Then the short, stocky sea hag approached me with a big gray scooper in her hand and a prankster smile on her weather-beaten face.

“To settle the stomach, ja,” she attempted in gruff English.

She showed me the fish head and cackled. I seized up and wretched the rest of my innards overboard. Before I could regroup enough to curse her out, she was already back at the stern stirring her revolting cauldron of dead fish.

I just flipped her off with zero satisfaction, turned around and headed for the bow. The island was in front of us, its hilly outline barely visible in the haze. Yes, it was summer here, on the underside of the world. Little did I know at the time how far under I would go.

Could I jump off and swim fast enough to escape a speed boat? Definitely not. Even if I just swam normally without fear of being caught, would I reach the island before hypothermia set in? Not likely. They had warned me the water was cold, even in the summer, due to the Antarctic currents. And all they had given me to wear was a skimpy, two-piece turquoise bikini. There were no wetsuits in sight.

Was there anyone even on that island who could help me? And if my father couldn’t help me escape from The Bridge, who could?

Tears stung my eyes just as I instinctively felt someone else’s eyes on me. I turned to look up at the second deck and there he was: Dr. Peter van Wooten, smiling down at me. The rage took a second to fully engulf me, but then came his predictable wink, setting me off like a bomb.

“You!!! Where’s my father?! What did you do with Bill?! Where’s Adam and Max?! Why are you driving me around on this boat?!”

But he just kept smiling … and the next thing I felt was a hard shove from behind, and nothing hard beneath my bare feet.

The sea hag had bull-rushed me overboard, her laughs suddenly silenced when I belly-flopped into the ocean. I got my mouth above water and screamed from the pain, not from my collarbone — that had fully healed since Hurricane Felicia — but because that’s how frigid the water felt.

As I forced my shocked limbs to swim back toward the bow, the engine kicked on and the boat whipped around. It began moving away from me, so now I was chasing the stern. Peter had climbed down the rear ladder and joined the hag, both clearly amused by my predicament.

With no wetsuit, I knew I wouldn’t last long in this water before hypothermia set in. The island was too far away. I had to catch the boat, no matter how much it killed me to swim toward these assholes.

My lungs and body ached as I churned after the boat as fast as I could. Again the sea gulls taunted me, trailing the boat with ease and hovering around a big blue barrel next to the hag. That’s when she began reaching into the cauldron with her scooper and dumping the fish heads/guts into the water in front of me.

I slowed down for a second, repelled by the hideous smell, the gruesome chunks all around me and the terrible thoughts knifing through my brain.

“Fucking shark week!” I shouted, tredding the icy water and shooting Peter evil-yet-futile looks as the sea tossed me up and down.

He had grabbed a megaphone and directed it toward me, some 20 feet behind the slow-moving boat.

“Maybe now you’ll listen to my mother,” he said with a laugh, while wrapping an arm around her shoulder. “She can still kick some ass.”

She smiled, nodded and poured more shark bait into the sea.

“Nothing like starting the new decade off with a nice, brisk swim, eh Nikki?” Peter ribbed me into his megaphone. “But I’d advise you to pick up your pace and get back on deck as soon as possible.”

I swore at him through gulps of water, gagging and crashing through the waves as I resumed my ragged and desperate pursuit of the boat.

Then I heard the hag cry out. “Shark!!!”

She didn’t need a megaphone. I heard her well enough for the paralyzing chill to rip through me. And I’m sure she was only too happy to shriek that word in my language.

My response was to scream like a banshee until I realized maybe I better not draw any more attention to myself beyond my flailing and splashing.

Then my drenched eyes locked on the massive gray fin and I froze in the water, my teeth chattering as a wave washed over me.

The fin disappeared just as quickly, swerving around the front of the boat, so I surged forward again, but those foreign idiots kept driving the boat away from me.

“I’m really going to die. A great-white shark is going to have me for lunch,” I chattered to myself out loud, perhaps somehow trying to jinx the inevitable.

That’s when the boat stopped, still 20 or so feet away from me.

“Please … let me get back on!!” I shouted at Peter, who just eyed my predicament with morbid anticipation, like any fan of the movie, “Jaws.”

“Two sharks!!” the hag bellowed, pointing past me.

Now I would be a chew toy for two competing sharks, half of Nikki for each. I literally pissed into the sea and closed my eyes. I refused to even look back.

“Save her!” Peter suddenly yelled into his megaphone.

I faux-laughed, swallowed a rogue wave, choked and then wanted to scream, “Oh, now you fucks decide to save me, when it’s too fucking late!!”

But I never got the words out of my mouth for two reasons.

One, I saw what I thought was Fin No. 1 again, directly between me and the stern.

Two, a man in a hooded black wetsuit dove off the second deck and splashed into the water to the right of the boat.

He swam toward me and I rushed to meet him. He whipped around in front of me and shouted, “Put your arms around my neck!”

His voice sounded oddly familiar, but I didn’t get a good look at his face. He was young. And strong. I clung to his back through a wave and he swam us toward the boat.

“Thank you,” I yelled into his hooded ear as my eyes darted left and right to see where the next fin would pop up.

But my jaw dropped when he suddenly stopped in mid-stroke and jerked me off his back, still a good 8 feet from safety.

“What are you doing?!!” I screamed.

He grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes.

“No fucking way!” he shouted.

I shuddered.

“B-but h-how?” was all I could stutter before I pushed away from his grasp and dove underneath the water. The cold didn’t even bother me anymore. I just dove and dove, ready to die — either by shark or lack of oxygen. I was done with this world.

However, the sight of a great-white shark under water, maybe 15 feet away, made me change my mind in a frozen heartbeat.

I shot back up to the surface and swam for the stern with whatever energy I had left.

“Save her or we’ll leave you both to die!” I heard Peter shout at Thomas “Lee” Harvey, his black hood bobbing in the water. The boat had moved slightly further away from us while I was under.

It was too late anyway. One of the sharks circled us both on his menu, mercifully choosing Thomas as the appetizer.

Yet Thomas refused to be lunch. When the shark’s head came up toward him at an angle, he reared back with his right arm and punched it hard near the eye. That caused the shark to swerve sharply away from us, enough so that I exploded toward the boat, thrashing violently until I reached the outstretched hand of our tormenter, Peter.

“That a girl!” he had the gall to say as he yanked me up with ease and placed my hypothermia-ruined body on the lower deck. At least I was still in one piece, I marveled to myself.

Peter tossed a warm blanket over my quasi-corpse, and then shouted toward the water, “Great job, Tom! There’s hope for you yet.”

“Fuck you!” Thomas shot back, refusing Peter’s attempt to assist him as he got back on board.

“Hey, shut the hell up and get yo ass back up here!” Roy shouted down from the top deck. “This ain’t some pussy prison.”

“No shit, I just punched out a shark.”

“A baby shark, really,” Peter pointed out, extending his arms as the boat dipped between waves. “Only about 3 meters long.”

Thomas shot him a homicidal stare, one I knew well. Peter just smiled, daring him to take a swing. Roy descended the ladder a few rungs and towered over both of them, but he glowered at Thomas.

“OK thug. Get back up there … or take your shot at a great black and see how that goes down,” Roy challenged him.

“And I wouldn’t call Roy a baby,” Peter quipped.

Thomas kept his mouth shut, started unzipping his wetsuit and dripped his way up the ladder following Roy. Thankfully, he never looked down at me, still a miserable heap on the deck.

Peter, on the other hand, flashed me his best anchor-man smile and, of course, a wink. I hissed and pulled the blanket over my head.

Thomas “Lee” Harvey — who should still be in prison on the other side of the world until 2039 for shooting me and Adam Upton because we derailed his plot to shoot up our New Hampshire high school — somehow had been reinserted into my real-life nightmare. He also had stared down a great-white shark and survived.

Looking at it another way, The Bridge had sprung my would-be killer out of jail and tricked him into rescuing me so they could apparently torture us both even more.

Perhaps succumbing as a chew toy for a “baby” shark would have been a more merciful fate after all.

Read the rest of the book on Kindle ($2.99) or in paperback ($13.99) at the Amazon link below. The book is also available at Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, Conn., and all major ebook retailers. The first two books in the Nikki Janicek series, STREAKS OF BLUE and NIKKI BLUE: SOURCE OF TROUBLE, also are available at all of the same retailers.

Trifecta … 3 rave reviews in one day

NikkiBlue

Two 4-star reviews for “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble” and one 5-star review for my short story “heroinE” all on Sunday!

Natalie Limardo Wilburn of Arizona on “Nikki Blue”:

Yet another great book by Jack 🙂

This book is about action, love, loss, mystery, suspense and so much more.

Nikki is a gal that has been through so much before the age of 21 that I’m not sure many of us could handle, although there are so many that have. I don’t wanna spill too much considering this is a series. Just know that Nikki is a strong and sassy lead character and is followed by a few great men including her dad.

I only gave this book 4 stars because The Bridge kind of lost me with all the craziness for a little bit. But Once I hit about 70% I was hooked for the rest and couldn’t put it down. Don’t get me wrong this was a good book regardless but it gets a little frustratingly odd.. The people that are part of the bridge just confused me and made me want to jump ship. I kept thinking why aren’t you seeing this crazy behavior Nikki. That being said when someone hands you the amount of money that Nikki got I think I might want to believe their BS too. LOL I have a lot of faith in Jack since his first book was so awesome and this one had an exciting ending chapter. I am so excited to start the next!!

Angela Auten of New Jersey on “Nikki Blue”:

Story Line: 4 stars out of 5. It’s been four years since Nikki graduated from high school. She started as an intern for a newspaper. She goes to a groundbreaking for The Bridge. A company that is trying to launch people into Mars. They would like to colonize Mars by the year 2029. The Bridge offers Nikki a PR job. They force her to confront her biggest fear. Talking to Thomas “Lee” Harvey. She had nightmares about him. Once she confronts him it makes her feel better. After that she breaks up with her boyfriend of four years. She ends up meeting her favorite author Bill Oz at a gala in Watertown, Massachusetts. This book was weird in a good way. Nikki had to go through a lot in this book. The ending of this book makes me want to read on. It had a surprising and shocking conclusion. Although I didn’t know how to feel through a lot of this book either.

Characters: 4 stars out 5. Nikki was still a great character. Since she’s now 21 she has made a lot of changes in her life. She’s grown up, but she’s not the same person she was in the first book. She didn’t make a lot of smart decisions. Like joining the Group the Bridge. She should have thought it through before she joined such a big operation. Also her relationship with her father is growing. Her relationship with her mother is deteriorating. I really didn’t like that. She already came from a broken family.
Adam also started to turn his life around. He became a mall security cop. He had a lot on his plate as well. He knew his father murdered somebody that was bullying him. He ended up joining the Bridge as well. He was stabbed in the back for this company. I was so worried about this poor kid. By the end of the book I am more worried about him.
Bill’s character was entertaining in the beginning. He really started to worry me at the end as well. I loved the fact that he was an author. I also like that he was the love interest for Nikki. Yes, he’s 39, but I liked him all the same. I also loved his son! He was really cute!
The Bridge Group people…hated most of them. I found them to be creepy the whole time. They really freaked me out. I thought there plans were completely insane, but that is completely and totally understandable.

Writing Style: 4 stars out of 5. I did love the intense scenes that Jack wrote in this novel. The ending makes me want to read the third one. I can’t wait for it to be released! 2017 can’t come fast enough.

heroinecoversmash300Angela Auten of New Jersey again on “heroinE”:

Story Line: 5 stars out of 5. This short story was to show the effects of heroin. It just proves how addictive a drug can be. Once you get hooked on it. There is no stopping it from taking over your life. This short story was amazingly written. I loved the twist at the end also. Didn’t really expect it.

Characters: 5 stars out of 5. Evie was able to see that she was ruining her life with heroin. The reason she was able to throw it away was because of a cute little boy with blue eyes.

Writing Style: 5 stars out of 5. Your writing always impresses me Jack. Great read.

Thanks ladies!!!

Jack

Second draft complete for Nikki White: Polar Extremes

mybooksathickoryThe third book in my YA/NA/Sci-fi series, which follows the adventures of Nikki Janicek, is another major step closer to release now that I’ve completed the second draft and major revisions. I should be able to wrap up final tweaks and edits by sometime this fall, and I’m already looking forward to seeing what Damon Za of South Africa will pull off for a cover for this one.

I’ll shoot for a cover reveal before the end of the year and plan to have ARCs ready on NetGalley by early 2017. I’ll likely publish it in paperback and e-book some time in the first half of next year.

“Nikki White: Frozen Upside Down” had been my working title for this project, but “Polar Extremes” is shorter and works better on multiple levels. I think it’ll make life easier for Damon as well.

“Nikki White: Polar Extremes” resolves the cliffhanger ending from “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble” and sends Nikki off on a new adventure, which primarily is set in Antarctica and South Africa.

I’ll be teasing blurbs and excerpts later on, but I just wanted to update my fans and followers that the book is coming along well.

At 46,400 words or so, it’s much shorter than “Nikki Blue” and slightly shorter than “Streaks of Blue.” There are four parts and 50 chapters, but the story moves along at a crisp pace. Though the first chapter begins on New Year’s Day, 2020, the book’s full time span is between August 2019 and September 2022, so there are some leaps.

“Nikki White” is less dark than the first two books and even provides one of the worst characters in the series a chance to change and grow. The third book circles back well with “Streaks of Blue” and provides some closure to the series, but it also leaves the door open for a fourth book. If I do write that book, it will be called “Nikki Red,” but I plan to do something different with my next project before resuming this series. I think three books are enough on these characters for now, and I’d like to experiment with a different type of story or genre next time around.

I’ll provide a full chapter listing later, but for now here are some of my favorites for teasers: Dyer Situation, Root Beer Lolly, Men’s Room Fight Club, Filling the Crevasse, 10-Below Barbershop, Siberia on Steroids, Summer Wind, Race for the Hollywood Showers, $19 Million Burnt Rug, Mars Isn’t Enough?, South by South Pole, The 300 Club, Sugar Snow, Here Comes the Sun and Red Confetti.

And last but not least, the best new character in the series:
Sam “Snowbow” Archambeau, a snowcat driver, handyman and bartender who just can’t get enough of wintering over at South Pole Station.

5-star love for Nikki Blue in Illinois …

mybooksathickoryHere’s the kind of 5-star review Jack Chaucer loves to read.

Christina Jackson, 20, of Shawneetown, Illinois, posted this on Goodreads on Feb. 7 about “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble,” the sequel to “Streaks of Blue”:

“This book was a great read. I was overwhelmed with the emotions of the characters. I felt I was a character myself and that I was there experiencing it all. I found it to be enthralling and a very unpredictable sequel. I commend Chaucer and hope to read more by him soon.”

As a side note, Chaucer lived in Freeport, Illinois, from 1991-93. He worked as a sportswriter at the Freeport Journal-Standard newspaper. Good times.

Nice pop in sales since this Nikki Blue review in the Sunday Republican …

NikkiBlueBY ALAN BISBORT
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble
By Jack Chaucer (380 pages, $13.99 on Amazon, $11.99 at Hickory Stick Bookshop, $2.99 ebook)

When we last checked in with Nicole “Nikki” Janicek, she had put herself in harm’s way to stop a deranged teenager from carrying out a massacre at her New Hampshire high school. That event — depicted in Jack Chaucer’s previous novel, “Streaks of Blue” — took place four years before “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble” begins.

The added twist in this sequel is that the action takes place in 2018, when 21-year-old Nikki — recovered physically but not emotionally from the gun wound she received during her act of teen heroism — has moved to Connecticut to make her way in the world with virtually no safety net. That is, she aims to start a career in print journalism. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire!

As the book opens, Nikki is on her first assignment as an intern reporter for “The Brass City Bulletin.” Suffice it to say that things get off to an inauspicious start. Ah, but out of that event, the scoop of the century arrives, hand-delivered to her by a minion from a cult called The Bridge, comprised of disgruntled former Scientologists: Mayor Phil Battaglia is having sex with a prostitute and her young daughter in Bridgeport. Does that sound familiar?

Many other local touches and locations also will sound familiar to anyone who’s lived in the area for more than two weeks. For these alone, “Nikki Blue” is worth reading, largely because they offer Chaucer a chance to make subtle commentary on the scene.
Indeed, Chaucer puts his intimate knowledge of big-city newspaper newsrooms and local settings to good use here — Chaucer is actually John Cullen, the Litchfield County editor for this newspaper. And the characters at the newspaper bear some passing resemblance to staff members. Particularly well drawn is the restless, wisecracking reporter Steve Pearson, who accompanies Nikki on her big scoop to bust the mayor in Bridgeport, and then serves as the voice of conscience for the rest of the novel.

After receiving a surprisingly lucrative offer, Nikki quits her internship at the newspaper to become the director of information (ahem, the public relations flack) for The Bridge Group, which is planning to open a branch here in Waterbury. The irony is not lost on Chaucer: she’s a director of information for a secretive cult that does not issue any information. Not only that, but The Bridge has plans so big that the Earth can’t hold them: it is planning to launch rockets to Mars, with 24 hand-picked colonists (Nikki among them).

While on the surface The Bridge seems creepy and manipulative, the organization’s professed aims are to save humanity from planetary destruction by addressing massive environmental issues head on [–] sort of a combination of Greenpeace and Esalen. They convince a skeptical Nikki that they are not a cult. As one of the leaders tells her, “Religion is more trouble than it’s worth.”

The narrative moves along crisply, incorporating some of the characters from Chaucer’s earlier novel, and introducing some appealing new ones, including Bill Oz, a dueling pianist and middle-aged writer who has lost his mojo … until he meets Nikki. Together, the pair meet the perfect storm of power-mad bosses, family tensions and a hurricane that makes Katrina seem like a shrinking violet.

The cliffhanger ending leaves open the likelihood of, yes, a sequel to the sequel. Nikki is an appealing enough character to pull something like this off.

To contact Chaucer, visit his blog queensarewild.wordpress.com or facebook.com/jackchaucerbooks.

Today is the day I came up with the ending …

Flags fly at the ceremonial South Pole in front of the Elevated Station in honor of the 12 original signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty. (February 2008)

Flags fly at the ceremonial South Pole in front of the Elevated Station in honor of the 12 original signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty. The flags are set in a semicircle and are spaced about 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart. The US flag is directly flanked by the Norwegian (grid east) and British (grid west) flags in honor of Amundsen and Scott. The remainder of the flags are represented in the order of their signing the Antarctic Treaty. The nations represented include: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Russia, New Zealand, Norway, USA, UK, France, Japan, Belgium, and South Africa. (February 2008)

for “Nikki White: Frozen Upside Down.” I’ve just finished writing the first chapter in Part 2, but the ending twist just hit me this morning and it’s gonna be sick … just like The Bridge.
It will impact book four, “Nikki Red,” in a huge way, too.
We’ve really got a series brewing now.

NIKKI WHITE: FROZEN UPSIDE DOWN
PART 1
CHAPTER 1:
Dyer Situation (Nikki’s POV) near Dyer Island, S. Africa, 2020
CHAPTER 2: Heaven and Hell (Nikki) Cape Town, S. Africa, 2019
CHAPTER 3: Call Center (Adam) La Jolla, Calif., 2019
CHAPTER 4: The X Factor (Thomas!) New Hampshire State Prison, 2019
CHAPTER 5: Second Chance (Nikki) Cape Town, S. Africa, 2019
CHAPTER 6: Root Beer Lollipop (Nikki) near Dyer Island, S. Africa, 2020
CHAPTER 7: Bathroom Fight Club (Thomas) Hermanus, S. Africa, 2020
CHAPTER 8: The Whale in the Cave (Nikki) Hermanus, S. Africa, 2020
CHAPTER 9: Point of No Return (Nikki) Christchurch, New Zealand, 2020
CHAPTER 10: Tables Can Turn (Thomas) McMurdo Station, Antarctica, 2020
CHAPTER 11: Yellow Ice (Nikki) En route to the South Pole, 2020

PART 2
All chapters at Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, 2020
CHAPTER 12:
Enter Snowbo (Nikki)

Nikki’s looking good at Hickory Stick!

mybooksathickoryWow, this was a nice surprise this morning. Fran Keilty and Pat Moody already have “Nikki Blue” and “Streaks of Blue” displayed with pizzazz at Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington, Conn., and they posted this photo on their Facebook page. Be sure to grab a paperback copy there. I made sure it’s $2 bucks cheaper at Hickory Stick ($11.99) than via Amazon ($13.99). Support your local independent bookstores!!