Running on Emptiness


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The Book:

Running on Emptiness is Book 4 of John Dolan’s ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series, and, for me, it is the quintessential example of this Englishman’s wordsmith mastery.

Running on Emptiness has government coups, an exciting ‘Capulets and Montagues’ – Romeo and Juliet element – with two Thai drug gangs fighting for supremacy, and David Braddock fighting a dichotomy of emotions… There is something else that makes this novel so exquisite…

That something else is the absolute mastery of the English language. John Dolan is ‘word wizardry’ personified. He is a metaphorical genius, and he will keep the reader glued to the pages with his pen strokes – between some smiles and tears. Perhaps my favorite sections of the book are the ‘David Braddock Journal’ chapters.

David is still the consummate detective, part Sherlock Holmes and part Sam Spade, solving cases, and people he cares about are being killed…he is on someone’s hit list, and that part of the story is most engrossing and tense.

The Author:

John Dolan is truly a Polymath – let us all hope his brain doesn’t burst! John is also down to earth and a jolly fellow. It’s been my pleasure to know JD for a few years. We’ve only met on Skype and chatted a few times, and it is very easy to fall under his charm…even though he talks ‘funny’ – you know, the stuffy, pedantic, talk of an Englishman! (Okay, I’m through with the jesting.) It’s interesting that I feel a strong bond with John and say rather clumsily I consider him my friend.

John, wife Fiona, and family live in Koh Samui, Thailand, visiting often his native England. He travels, is still in the business world, and it beats me how he can have the time to turn out these novel masterpieces. Everything I wrote above about the book is no exaggeration – you will find the same ‘Review’ on Amazon US, UK, and Goodreads. Be assured that my praise of this novel and his other books is not a trivial quid pro quo. My words are genuine and sincere. Running on Emptiness is destined to be a best seller… You heard it here! Get your copy, Kindle or Print, and I’m betting you agree.

I hope Mr. Dolan doesn’t mind but I’m including a few of my favorite excerpts from Running on Emptiness:


(There are with this noble work of literature so many delightful metaphors and a display of a giant English talent…)

All around her, people went about their daily business, indifferent to the lonely women consumed by mortal thoughts. A pang of envy shot through Kat; she coveted their superficial contentment, their apparent ability to settle for what they had. She no longer belonged to their society. She was now one of a smaller class of humans who had glimpsed the reality behind life’s mask. The veil had been drawn aside, and daylight allowed to shine in on the magic. She could never again see the world with the same eyes.


(From David Braddock’s Journal)

 I know what you’re thinking.

 You’re thinking that I accepted Kat’s lascivious offer; that I am a man whose moral boundaries have been long washed away by the incoming tide of selfish indulgence. And, in fairness, I am not far off being that person. However, for now, a faint residue, an unfaded fingerprint of ethical volition remains, and occasionally pokes its way through the clutter of wisecracking indifference that constitutes my habitual behaviour.


 I opened the grubby window and lit a cigarette. My watch informed me it was just after two-thirty.

 Below me, Bangkok continued to breathe. Cars puffed out exhaust fumes and multi-coloured sleepwalkers wandered the psychedelic pavements. The garish signs of unloved buildings telegraphed their messages in reds and blues; and the hum of life’s aspirations and disappointments rose up from the streets and lost itself in the night sky.


 Chapter 23 is quite a chapter!


 For reasons that are obscure – unless you subscribe to the theory that I can no longer cope with the endless succession of Bad Things Happening, and have lost contact with all human sensibilities (which I admit is a possibility) – I am calm. My brain is as settled as it ever gets. The Samui morning sun shines on a composed, confident private detective; even if later it may shine on a decomposed, panicked, wreck of a man, once the flywheel of my neurosesis again set in motion.


 While sprawled across my bed, I fantasise about my fingertips tracing their way down Kat’s naked spine, a rumpled sheet positioned modestly across her smooth bottom, as in some classical art painting. That vermiculate flesh now dust, we go no more a-rovin’. The sweat of lust has dried up, and risen into the air as foetid, organic motes. Our animal movements, and the senses they awakened, now inhabit a fleshy pigeonhole in some semi-truthful compartment of my memory. The remembrances of Kat have already begun to re-write themselves, to open up, to metastasize like her disease, only into something more wholesome. 

 It was an affair, not some shrieking, humiliating ripping at each other in the darkness. Of course, it was . . . meaningful. Kat Charoenkul: moneyed Thai chatelaine of the Kohl-edged eyes. She with the garish, red gash of a mouth; with the vampiric, white canines; with the wet, pink tongue given to verbal mischief and sensual pleasure. Now dead. Dead: the word exudes inertia, like lead, disclaiming all potentials and possibilities. Of course, it was . . . meaningful. I venture another drink and wonder whether Papa Doc Charoenkul is drinking too.

 (End of Excerpts)

 Here are some links and book covers for John Dolan’s other books, and you can follow him on – @JohnDolanAuthor

DSC_1252A-dolan – About Me (John Dolan) Facebook







Blog by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 30, 2016


My Website – profile and books –





Lovely room!

Speaks of opulence and success!

Am I envious?

Sure! Would love to have such a room in my home – it’s magnificent and its beauty draws you in.

My envy does not bring me to a point of anger and hatred for the person who owns this room. The occupants of this room – and, presumably, mansion – worked hard and long to attain this marvelous environment. On the other hand, all of this could have been willed to a son and/or daughter – with a lot of cash to go with it. That’s okay, too.

My memories are of Appalachia, kerosene lamps, and out houses…parents divorcing and family disconnect.

Surely, no one is envious of that scenario!

I was fortunate. I was lucky. I achieved a modicum of success in my life – made it through college on the GI Bill and working for Sears. There were plenty of mistakes to go with my successes, and there were (and, are) occasional visits from my guilt demons. All in all, this great country and its people made it all possible for me. Opportunities came, and I took advantage of them…democracy, freedom, liberty at work.

When I hear politicians talking about ‘inequality’ and how we need to even the ‘playing field’, I’m thinking: What the hell are they talking about? Surely these people know that equality for the masses is implausible and impossible given the nature of so many factors – mental deficiency, propensities for crime and idleness, family breakdowns, mobility, sub-standard education, a whole range of factors.

So, these politicians who talk about inequality, who want to tax the wealthy, increase taxes on the middle class, add stiffer regulations for corporations, add to the stack of entitlements already in place, they must have superior intelligence on how to make this happen. Can they not understand that these acts would crush our economy…corporations would leave the country – as they already have – and find friendlier benefits in other countries.

There are some things of which I’m reasonable sure. There will always be this inequality. There will always be those who seek their money and political power from the taxpayers of the country, and you seldom hear them say that twenty per cent of the top wage earners pay eighty-four per cent of the income taxes, or, one per cent of top wage earners pay almost 50% of taxes. It is impossible to have equality, and there is never going to be Utopia.

What we can do is elect wisely, looking for dignity, honesty, and wisdom in our next president. In my humble opinion, we cannot afford another four years of socialistic-flavored politics. Remember what Winston Churchill said about Socialism: Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Billy Ray Chitwood– January 24, 2016


Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon Worldwide:


I include above one of my thirteen books: despite the embellishments, THE CRACKED MIRROR is 90% the story of my life. If you decide to read it, I think you will enjoy it…

You can preview the other twelve books at http://www.– Mysteries, Thrillers, Suspense, Romance… Some of the tales are inspired by true events.

Happy Reading.

Some Links:

http://www. (@brchitwood)

(Proud member of #asmsg, #IAN, #AHA)

(Proud to have been nominated for eleven blog awards)

Awake and Asleep

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Awake and Asleep

I’m a simple man and it is not my intent to bore people with the mundane and obvious…though, at times, I’m sure I do. My attempt is to be engaging and to have something important, perhaps witty, to say – to promote one of my books and be self-conscious that those who might read the promotion will be deleting me and calling me a spammer. Now, it is possible that I’m a certified malcontent or a chronic ‘whatever’!

Like now, this moment, I’m re-reading what I just wrote in the first paragraph and saying to myself, ‘get to the point, hillbilly hotshot’. So, I shall!

I’m awake, sitting in the sunroom, looking out at the rolling hills of Lincoln’s Kentucky, and all’s really right with my world. That is, I’m not going to think about the chaos, the mind-bending killings taking place all over the world, the rosy spin our president inserts into the ‘State of the Union’ message. It’s good to pump up the people, to give them positive signs that we’re better off today than when he took office seven years ago. We buy his eloquence in delivering his ‘legacy’ message or we doubt the veracity of his emotional and passionate oratory… No, I’m not going to think about this or the other thought patterns of economy, education, jobs, freedom, liberty, security, those noble principles and values carefully and tediously recorded in the Constitution of the United States of America… No, the sky is a wondrous blue and the sun touches my face and body bringing languid moments. Why squander such beauty with negative mind-absorption?

Now, I’m asleep and in a dream…a terribly flighty, unorganized puzzle put together by my sub-conscious…that’s an assumption. I’m here! I’m there! With people I don’t recognize! I’m flying, not in a plane, me, I’m flying, using breast strokes to pull me higher into the sky where I glide over the land and buildings below. When I begin to lose altitude I use my breast stroke to regain the space I lost. With a steady sync of fall and breast stroke, I’m again on the ground and wondering why I’m lying in this ditch. Now, I’m on a real plane with people I don’t know and it’s about to crash! Suddenly, I’m not on the plane but a night bystander on terra firma some 500 feet away, watching the jet fly out of sight behind a hangar-type building and crash. I see the red flames with black tint shooting upward. The dream shifts to a parking area where I’m trying to find my car… I can’t find it, and I’m in a panic!

I’m awake again, reclined in my Lazy Boy, looking across the sunroom at my sweet Julie Anne, dividing her time between finding genealogy nuggets on the web and cat napping… Oh, and George the cat is napping as well.

Well, that’s my blog post for this week… If anyone can possibly tell me what all of this is about I shall be eternally grateful. The best I can sum it all up is by generalizing: ‘Awake and Asleep’ we fight our ‘demons’!

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 14, 2016

Okay, I’m going to spare you this week and not promote one of my books. Nope, I’m going to promote all thirteen of them by sending you to my website, There, you will find mystery, suspense, action, thriller, romance, memoirs. Aside from a couple of non-fiction books, there are several novels that were inspired by true crimes and events. Many have 5-Star reviews. The books have entertainment value and the style of writing has clarity and a musing quality. Please take a look at the website for summaries of the books, some excerpts, and some bio information about me. Thank you very much.

Some Links: (@brchitwood)

Member: #asmsg #IAN #AHA

(Proud to have received eleven blog award nominations)

A Parable of Sorts


Because so much is happening in the world today, I thought I would get 2016 started with a short story I wrote back three years ago. It conveys the ugliness in the world but it has faith and love as well. Hope you enjoy:

It’s curious how the mind can wander off into a story.

During a ‘time out’ from working on my WIP (a new book) my mind began its wandering and somehow settled on some of the world’s more problematic issues – at least, from the perspective of someone living in the USA and being bombarded each day with unsettling news from far away places, news of Syria’s internal devastating turmoil, of Iran’s new leadership, plus a ‘new treaty’, and how it might hold little promise for relieving old angers and hatreds, news of a North Korea that seems always deleterious and scary…

I reached for my laptop and began to type this rather small piece that became a fanciful story. I decided at its conclusion that it had some ‘nuance’ here and there and decided to give it a title, “A Parable of Sorts.” I’m posting it here because I’m a writer who can hardly ever let anything I write, good or bad, go to waste. Hopefully, this little tale will not be too disconcerting to the senses. With this said, here’s the tale…

A Parable Of Sorts

Sasha begged him not to go. “You belong here with me, Leonid. The battle is within you, not with North Korea. What of us?” She tugged at his tattered coat.

He smiled benignly, “You’re a lovely and silly girl. You do not understand the reality of our time. To stay would be to defy my beliefs, my convictions, and, yes, my anger and hatred.”

“You would die for these beliefs and convictions, this anger and hatred?”

“We all must die, Sasha.”

“You brought me here to be left alone in a strange country?”

“Hong Kong is not a strange country, foolish one. We’ve been here sometime now. You know many of our native people. Go to them when your money runs out. Stay with them. Should something go wrong, I will return for you.”

“Please, Leonid, you go to die and you know it. You’ve told me of your plans. You go on a suicide mission. I’ve begged before and I beg of you, now, please stay!”

At the door of the small efficiency apartment, Leonid paused with his hand on the door knob. His dark eyes and handsome face held a strange and wistful look. He removed his hand from the door knob, returned to Sasha where she stood by the tiny dining table. “You are so beautiful, my blue-eyed wonder.” He embraced and gave her a long passionate kiss.

He then quickly twisted her head until he heard the snap. The lips were still in a half-smile as her head dangled and fell to his right shoulder, her blue eyes large and vacant in their death stare. In a whisper, he spoke, to the face he had loved, “Better you go this way, my dear Sasha, than to linger in life’s pain. You cannot know but I did love you.”

Leonid gently lowered her body onto a soiled stuffed chair just a few feet from the dining table, gazed upon her splayed form for some seconds, then slowly left the apartment. Tears welled but he willed them away, a final and essential part of his being had snapped and was forever lost to him.


Night, reluctant to shed its vagueness, was slowly showing its lightened eastern clouds as the sun gave way to earth’s perpetual orbital pattern. Leonid walked in the shadows along streets leading to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. It was still quiet in this city known as ‘Flat Land’ in its translation. In his backpack he carried explosives with timer mechanisms that he would plant at key buildings. The explosive carefully strapped to his body he would save for the KMP.

His thoughts were well focused on his morning’s mission but he could not deny the flashing memories that brought him to this point in time…

His father, mother, and brother had been ruthlessly killed here in Pyongyang in 2012 by a squad of government gangsters of the ‘People’s Republic of Korea.’ His family was shown no mercy as they were chopped to death by machetes, labeled spies against the state. Four hours later his older brother and sister were pulled from their lodgings, beaten, and then chopped to death. The government squad had no ears to listen to his family’s protests of innocence, their legitimate reason for being in the ‘Flat Land,’ their labored cries of mercy.

Pyongyang’s government never wavered from their ill-gotten information about his family. Never mind that his mother had pleasantly refused to cater a special luncheon for the squad and their friends, the sole event and motive that brought the hatred and the killings. Never mind that his sister would be raped before she was chopped. The killings were all justified, each query quashed and forgotten by the government.

His marriage to Sasha prior to the family murders made home life an hourly ebb and flow of emotions. When sleep would come there were the hellish nightmares, waking, screaming the names of his dead family, his body slick with sweat and tears, Sasha clinging to him, sobbing, trying desperately to slay the night-dragons that possessed him.

Then came the job loss and it was as though the people of Hong Kong could see the rage in his eyes, the stench of hatred from his body. He became a man avoided and feared. Sasha tried to get him help, would set an appointment for him to see someone who might be able to help him, but he would not arrive at the set time. Sasha was the only person in the large city who could give him moments of relative calm, but then those times of surcease became fewer and fewer.

He would not bathe nor shave, only when Sasha would run his bath and physically pull and push him to the tub and wash and rinse him. For those few precious moments Sasha could almost sense some warmth come to him…but it never lasted long. The strange hatred that occupied him never resulted in personal damage to her. She did the talking, asking questions of him, and he bluntly answered the questions – until the fateful day he killed her! It was only some modicum of revenge that would fulfill what was left of his putrid life…

As he walked in the shadowy stillness, a voice came to him from an alleyway just a few feet away: “Leonid, I must talk to you. Come walk with me in the alley.”

Leonid stopped, momentarily startled…no one knew his name, knew that he was here in Pyongyang. “Who speaks my name?” He braced himself against a building corner near the alley, moving his hand near a detonator that would vaporize him and much of the immediate area.

“A friend, Leonid. Please come these few steps and talk to me. There is no harm intended. We will talk, and you can do then what you will.” The voice had a calm and soft cadence, and Leonid knew that the man spoke the truth.

Leonid walked a few feet into the alley until he saw a man’s form. What struck him were the man’s eyes. They glowed in the semi-darkness, matched the tenor of the stranger’s voice. Oddly, Leonid was not afraid of the stranger and walked some fifty feet further down the alley, stopping when the stranger sat on a wooden crate. The stranger bid Leonid to sit on another wooden crate nearby.

“How is it that you know me and what do you want?”

“I’m just a man who knows the pain you carry within you and the mission that you are on.”

“How could you possibly know such things?”

“I have been with you all the way from Hong Kong, Leonid, mourning with you the loss of your beloved Sasha.”

“I killed her! With these ugly knotted hands, I killed her. How can you know this, Tell me who you are and why you are here, or, I will…”

“Leonid, just a few questions I have and you can be on your way.” The stranger’s voice was mesmerizing, measured in softness and tone. “Why is it, Leonid, that we are here on this spinning orb we call earth?”

There was rapture in the stranger’s voice that commanded a response. “We are here to live in parables and to die and be no more.”

The stranger’s eyes seemed to glow more brightly and the long beard he wore was a pellucid whiteness that seemed somehow unearthly. Leonid quickly considered whether of not he was awake or in a dream.

The stranger spoke. “So, why is it that the moon falls from the sky, the sun does not bring us daylight, and birth has no precise process to follow?”

Still taken by the stranger’s soothing voice, but a bit nonplussed, Leonid responded. “But you know that is not so. What is your motive here?”

The stranger seemed not to hear the question. “Why is there no evil and good in the world?”

“Stop confounding me with your Socratic silliness. Of course, there is evil and there is good in the world.”

“And why do you think that is so?”

“God only knows.”

“You speak His name as though you know him, Leonid. Do you know God?”

“There is no God!”

“Yet, you say He knows about evil and good.”

“Look, your aura wraps me in some kind of spell and I seem compelled to listen to your words. Please tell me what it is you wish me to know.”

“One last question, your response, and I will say my final words to you. “Did you truly love Sasha?”

“Of course, with all my heart I loved her, but my heart and soul is heavy with grief and hatred.”

“Like the hatred of Jesus’ enemies as they crucified Him on the cross? Like the hatred of the Americans for the Japanese during World War Two? Like the psychotic hatred of serial killers?”

“Yes, yes! How else can I answer such questions?”

“You can answer such questions by having Faith that there is more to come beyond this life, by believing that evil only spreads when good people are paralyzed by anger, fear, and hatred. To Love is to have Faith. To have Faith is to have Love. These noble elements of living decide our ultimate destinies. People have choices to make all their earthly lives. They will not always make the right choices, but Faith and Love will make all the wrong choices bearable and inconsequential when the last grain of sand is gathered.”

As more light came to the alley Leonid thought that he understood what the stranger was saying to him. He wanted to say something but no words would come.

The stranger lifted himself from the crate and stood in front of Leonid. “May I touch your head, Leonid, so that it might bless you?”

With tears now flowing, Leonid merely moved his head downward. The stranger touched his head. Leonid sensed warmth on his head and a coursing flutter through his body. Then, the hand left his head.

When Leonid raised his head, the stranger was gone and daylight streamed throughout the alley.


When Leonid awoke, his head was on his own pillow. He was gazing at the adjoining pillow into the wondrous blue eyes of his beloved Sasha, a sweet smile upon her face.

“You look different somehow, my love. Do you still intend to carry out your vendetta against North Korea? Please say that you will not.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled her face to his chest.

“No, my precious love, there will be no vendetta, not ever…” Leonid tightly wound himself around Sasha and gave her a long and tender kiss. “I’m torn,” he said, “making love to you, or, bacon and eggs?” He paused only briefly, “Oh, to hell with the bacon and eggs…”

[END of ‘short story’]

Billy Ray Chitwood – January 2, 2016

Bill Chitwood

(Story was first written in June of 2013)

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See my main website and blog at: – I hope you will read my books…there is definitely entertainment value and clarity of style. Amazon reviews are always helpful to purveyors of books.

There is a short bio sketch and further links at:

My thirteen books can be previewed at the above mentioned site: (Go to ‘books’ menu and scroll down the page).

I’m proud to have been nominated for eleven-+ blog nominations.