Sunday, March 11, 2012


An age-old method of enticing prospective customers to buy your new product is offering sample bites, free trials, movie trailers and test rides. Authors do it with excerpts, those selected passages lifted from text to pique the readers’ interest in the hope that they actually become book owners. The Boss and I devised a stretch to the excerpt theory with my collection, Gunshot Echoes.

From Gunshot Echoes (2008), a single complete story, “Mexican Holiday,” was extracted in 2011 as a stand-alone, promo-priced, short story volume complete with its unique cover. Since the story in itself is an excerpt from the parent volume designed to entice readers to the complete book, here I must resort to a second-level excerpt to convince the reader first to purchase the quick-read PDF, and depend on that acceptance to take them to the complete collection in paper print or full length ebook—a nibble, then a bite and then the whole plate.


“Mexican Holiday” is anything but, as it unravels into an international kidnapping and drug smuggling terror experience. The protagonist is a travel magazine freelance writer who, with the aid of some friends and fellow travelers, saves the day for, and most of the lives of, a tour bus full of panicked vacationers from north of the border.

EXCERPT, from “Mexican Holiday,” from Gunshot Echoes:

Our Mexicana Oro tour bus pulled into a restaurant in the border town of Sonoyta for the scheduled lunch stop. The last rest and shopping stop was arranged for San Luis Rio Colorado, 200 kilometers back and we were ready for a leg-stretcher. The newly refurbished bus was air-conditioned, obviously designed for the comfort of the nearly all-North American passengers. In fact, all passengers were American when the bus departed San Diego the day before for Ensenada and Mexicali. Following a leisurely morning around Mexicali after the first overnight stay of the tour, many of the American tourists were astonished and some offended when two surprise Mexican nationals responded to the driver, Carlos’s, “All aboard.”

…I did not pay particular attention to the two Mexicans during our souvenir-shopping stop earlier in San Luis, but did notice now they sat together in the restaurant, not sharing a table with any of the other passengers. Had I been alert to them at the time, I probably still would have dismissed any concerns, assuming it to be expected for two Mexican outsiders to bond with one another after having been thrown together in this assemblage of North Americans.

…I became uneasy when Carlos tooted for our departure, and a third Mexican man appeared and asked to join the tour. This newest member of our group did not dress as well as our earlier hitchhikers who were in sports jackets and ties. He was in workman’s clothes and carried a canvas valise, which likely contained his tools I deduced, unlike the earlier two who were traveling without luggage.

…All was right with the world—until I became aware that Carlos was bringing us to a stop in the middle of the highway.

Two police cars angled across the two-lane highway, with blue lights flashing on top, made a substantial and imposing roadblock. An adventurous driver with something to hide and who may have considered speeding past them on the open shoulder, and then outrunning them, would have to think twice. With one cruiser pointed in each direction, a rabbit would have a cruiser on his tail in no time. Carlos indicated no such notion: he was already reaching for his wallet when the two troopers climbed aboard.

…One of the uniformed policemen wandered through the coach, looking left and right, seemingly examining passengers’ faces for some particular recognition, but saying nothing. I was sure he was going to stop and question the three Mexican men who obviously were out of place on the luxury tour bus. The last of the three to board slouched low in his seat as the officer approached and tilted his hat further over his face. Ah, he’s the one they’re after, I surmised, but no—the officer walked on by. The officer stood at the back of the bus, hand on the sidearm at his belt, I noticed, somewhat suspiciously. The officer who remained up front with Carlos spoke:

“Ladeez and gentlemen: I warn you all to do nothing foolish and to cooperate. You will not be harmed if you do as you are told.”


Jim Woods has published some four hundred articles in nationally distributed print magazines, contributed to various fact and fiction anthologies, and is the author of sixteen print and e-books with treatments ranging from writing tutorial to fictional political assassination. He is a world traveler, so far having logged his presence in eighty countries. He also is a former Editor, Managing Editor and Editorial Director with Petersen Publishing Company of Beverly Hills; and Senior Field Editor with Publishers Development Corporation, San Diego. He’s a former big-game hunter and has written extensively on African safari, both the hunting and camera varieties. He lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona. Find him on line at:

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