StarPassage Book 3: Honor & Mercy

"Book Three continues the saga as the ancient relic directs our travelers on a new quest. Mike meets a struggling new patient during therapy. Ronnie Chen thinks his life is over but the relic has a plan. The expanding group of friends band together as the relic leads them through extraordinarily dangerous historic passages. But this time their quest is complicated by the escape to the present of the Tracker, Clynt. Is there any hope of stopping him from taking control of someone, stealing the relic and leading thousands of evil Trackers in changing history and destroying the world?

The Carsons and their friends must pull together to resist the Trackers at every turn while dealing with a possible traitor in their midst. With the Trackers closing in and the travelers ever more desperate is there any hope of escape? Find out in the thrilling third installment."

My Review

If you have been following these books since the beginning, you are just as excited as me to see your favorites, Mike, Bobby, Tim and Martie back. Tim and Martie were in book one. Bobby and Mike were in book two. Of course, I can't forget the main bad guy or Tracker, Clynt. He has been following these teens since the beginning. He has come close a few times in attempting to take the star.

In this book, I am also introduced to two new characters; sisters, Callie and Courtney. They will play larger parts in the fourth installment in this series. Which I am happy to read that there will be a fourth book. While, these books are geared towards the young adult readers, I have grown to love these books as have my nephews.

The gang travel back to WWII time period. Their mission is to help Ronnie, while trying to avoid Clynt. There is plenty of action to be found within the pages of this book. The best part about these books are that Mr. Burbidge inserts important lessons to be learned. So not only is this a good book but it is informative as well.

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Excerpt from Chapter 1 of StarPassage Book 3: Honor & Mercy
Unexpected Rules
Clynt felt a tremor of excitement buzz through his body. He had waited for over a century for this moment. Every sleepless hour he had plotted and planned for the opportunity to regain his physical life. It all pointed to this moment. He couldn’t believe he actually stood in the Present Time ready to claim the victory due him. Overwhelmed with a hundred years of blocked emotion, he hissed, “I’m free.” It hardly seemed possible. Standing triumphant over Tim’s sleeping form, he’d finally won. Revenge on the Carson family would be sweet, and nobody could stop him. “I’m free!” His words burst out this time in a greedy yell. “Get ready for the ride o’ yer life, boy.”
He didn’t know how it worked yet, but he didn’t care. Nothing mattered except what happened in the next few seconds. Would it hurt? It don’t matter what it feels like. No pain’s gonna stop me from gettin’ my life back.
Clynt hovered at the end of the bed. He closed his eyes and fell forward toward Tim, expecting something new and wonderful. Clynt’s ghostly shade met Tim’s body, causing Tim to stir. But Clynt’s form didn’t stop, continuing through like a child who lands in the water and sinks below the surface. Clynt felt nothing. “Strange. Shoulda done somethin’.”
He opened his eyes and looked around in confusion, realizing he had passed completely through Tim, the mattress, and frame. Initially confused at what greeted his view, he stared at the beams that supported the bedroom floor.
“What’s happenin’ here? I’m inside the floor,” he yelled and willed himself to rise back up into Tim’s bedroom. Clynt floated next to the bed. “Musta missed him.” He kept his eyes open this time and jumped onto the bed landing on Tim feet first.
“Got ’em square. This time it’s gotta work!”
His boots sank through into the floor leaving half of his body visible above Tim. Tim rolled over, eyes fluttering. “The boy feels somethin’. Gonna wake him up if I ain’t careful.”
What’d I do wrong? He tried to think. Clynt felt his frustration building toward explosion. He tried to calm himself. I’ve waited so long. Everything depends on this working. The explosion won out. Clynt howled at the ceiling, rose up, and tried a third and then a fourth time, yelling in anger with each failed attempt. Beaten, he sat down on the floor in the bedroom, shaking his head.
“Come on, Clynt ol’ boy. Think. What’s the problem here?”
He swayed and moaned in such a way that, could it have been heard, it would have been a perfect haunting sound track from a Hollywood movie. But Clynt wasn’t fully part of the Present Time so his rage went unnoticed. After several minutes, Clynt looked at the bed again. Astounded, he froze immediately. Tim was sitting up, looking around the room.
A panic-filled thought rushed through his mind like a runaway train. Does he know I’m here? Tim’s head swiveled back and forth. Clynt watched the boy closely for any sign of recognition.

Clark Burbidge Q&A for StarPassage Book 3: Honor & Mercy
1.      Where did you grow up /live now? I grew up in Utah and live north of Salt Lake City. I have also lived in Los Angeles and in New England. I have traveled extensively for work and for pleasure.
2.      As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Easy answer. I wanted to be an Astronaut. Growing up in the 1960’s meant the space program. Therefore I am still stuck half way between Star Trek and Star Wars.
3.      What is your education/career background? Univerisity of Utah BS in Finance, University of Southern California MBA. 25 years as an investment banker/banker and 10 years as a Chief Financial Officer with three different companies.
4.      Do you have kids and/or pets? My wife and I are a blended family with 10 children. We each brought 5 to the marriage. We have had dogs, birds, and a variety of others. I raised tons of different things as a boy including snakes, mice, fish, turtles, an Iguana, dogs and rabbits. I have never been a cat person. My preference is fish. I love fish tanks and the variety of fish, frogs, crabs etc. that can be added. Plus they don’t shed or bark. Whoo…hooo!
5.      When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write? I have always been a story teller. I made them up as bed-time stories for my kids. The fun was to do it on the fly which made it challenging and fun for all. In 2010 I was between jobs and thought networking 24/7 was burning me out. I had a few stories I wanted to put down on paper and one thing led to another with my first book published in 2011. It is the most fun and hardest job I have ever had.
6.      Where/When do you best like to write? I get up early and in the quiet hours of the morning I sit in my favorite recliner chair, lean back with my computer on my lap and disappear into different worlds. It is awesome.
7.      Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions? I don’t really make an outline. A brief outline which is departed from regularly is the base. I get an idea and it leads me places. I never know when I round the bend who will be there. It is very exciting. I have found occasionally on passages that I ended up somewhere unexpected and had to stop writing while I did the research. It means that writing is very exciting like I am having the experience with the characters. When I stop I can’t wait to get back and start again. That is how a lot of my readers feel.
8.      When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again? See above, don’t really get it. Once in a while if I’m stuck I go on a long bike ride or swim and it clears my mind and things start to flow again. Also I get thoughts when I am waking or in the middle of the night and I keep note pads around so I can jot them down and remember them later.
9.      What do you think makes a good story? Strong characters and a meaningful, intriguing story. The roller coaster ride of adventure is always there to keep the pages turning but its about the story and the characters. Do they draw you into the story so you have an experience with them and not just read. That’s the secret.
10.  What inspired your story? Current topics. I am tired of the pop culture narriative that if you can’t have it exactly how you want it then give up. That’s a stupid narriatve. We become great because of the challenged and trials and “Monsters” in our lives. Heroes in literature could not be so without them either. Our trials are what give us the opportunity to be great. They are tools of success, not weapons of destruction. It is what you dwell on that matters. You can choose that. My characters lose physical, emotional or social capabilities often in sudden change. I want my readers to know that they can use even the worst events in their lives as stepping stones to be heroes rather than as excuses to become helpless, hopeless victims.
11.  How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you? It is usually a thought that I jot down that comes at an unexpected time. Keep a note pad with you.
12.  Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp? See above. That you can be something great and your trials are tools to do that. Your future may change in an instant but you still have a future…whatever that is make it the best possible future.
13.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? The inspiration I see in the eyes of those who read them. It is so rewarding to witness the impact in lives. It really is why I love what I do.
14.  What was your greatest challenge in writing this book? Coming up with additional passages that took the story somewhere meaningful. I always knew about where it would end but the road in between makes all the difference. I could not just have gratuitous passages and throw them at people. They had to move the story along and tie together in a logical and compelling way. It had to stay fresh and exciting and introduce new twists. You can’t just rely on the things that work for book one.
15.  On a Friday night, what are you most likely to be doing? Taking my sweetheart out on a date. Sometimes with one or more of our children or friends but that is our date night and we cherish and protect our time together.
16.  What do you like to do when you are not writing? I love cycling. I ride between 60 and 110 miles per week. Working in the yard is also enjoyable. But most of all I love participating in life with my wife, our children and our community.
17.  Who are some of your favorite authors? Tolkein, Bobrik, Dickens, Scriptural Writers, Bernard Cornwell, Dan Brown and Clive Cussler.
18.  Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it?
19.  Have you won any awards or honors (not just for writing)? A number of educational and business awards and of course many writing awards as can be seen on my Linkedin page. My favorite award hangs above my headboard. It is the worlds greatest dad award from my youngest daughter and it simply says in her vernacular “You da bomb”, Anotehr from another daughter from years ago includes a piece of chocolate and relates all the things she loves about me. I am so glad my kids are easy graders. But these sentiments are better than any awards and much more meaningful.
20.  What person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career? My father taught me to never give up and be generous. My Mission President who was a pilot in three wars taught me to take pride in what I do and that I could do anything if I was willing to work hard and my Uncle taught me how to enjoy every day of the path along the way. That brings me to my wife who teaches me every day that there is a higher reason and purpose to our lives and that we can and should lift others up along the way and the great secret that serving others is the surest way to personal happiness.
21.  What’s the best writing advice you have ever received? Take all the advice you can but never give up your own voice in your works.
22.  What was your favorite book as a child? Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. At least that’s what I remember. I was a bit of an unconscious child.
23.  What is the one book no writer should be without? The scriptures, I read them daily and they keep me grounded with the right values and perspective.
24.  How do your spouse/significant other/friends/family feel about your writing career? It is exciting but bounces back and forth between a real career and a hobby depending on the ebb and flow of things.
25.  If your book was turned into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters? We are talking about StarPassage now. Hummm…. I will pick a few characters because there are so many. I will also pick living people although some who have passed on would be even better.
Jim Carson – David Boreanaz from the TV show Seal Team
Natalie Carson – Emily Brett Rickards from the Green Arrow
Tim Carson – A younger Chris Pratt or Ryan Reynolds type
Martie Carson – A teenage Sally Field type
Clynt – Harrison Ford minus a few years
Horst – Ewan McGregor
Winford Lincoln Jones – A 20 year old Dwayne Johnson or Denzel Washington
Sorry that’s not very helpful, I really haven’t given it much thought.


How I researched for StarPassage 3
The StarPassage series required a ton of additional research. There is an entirely separate effort with each passage introduced. I want to get the details correct but recognize that there are times when some things are unknowable so I need to take a little literary license. Knowing when to do that is an art. For example I have ridden in a B-17 on four occasions. Each time was exhilarating as it taxied on the runway, began revving up and let loose the brakes for take-off. Sitting in the rough seats with only a seat belt seemed inadequate as we bounded down the runway. Then in the air flying through canyons below the tops of the mountains rising on either side viewing the countryside below. They allow you to move around to all the different stations. The narrow walkway through the bomb bay with bombs hanging on each side (unarmed ones) and crawling from the pilot’s cockpit down through the narrow cave-like passage to the nose where the navigator and bombardier sat was the most interesting. I sat out in the plexiglass bubble where the bomb site was still affixed to its post and looked down thousands of feet and imagined what it would have been like with flak bursting around having to concentrate feeling so exposed. Then it struck me. I was not alone. It felt like the small compartment was crowded with the spirits of those who had actually lived and too often died in this small space during times of conflict. It was a moving experience to sense some small part of their souls. Emotion overwhelmed me and tears ran down my cheeks as I felt these great souls trying to encourage me to tell part of their stories in a way that others living in freedom today would understand. “Help them to know that we did this for them,” I felt them say. “And never forget how dear life is.” It was a powerful and unexpected moment in that crowded space. It isn’t just the research you do in libraries or understanding the times and places one writes about. It is reaching across time and touching the souls who lived it, feeling the spirit of their lives, their emotions, fears and hopes. It is part of understanding why they did it and how they endured such unimaginable torment on a daily basis.

I have also walked the Gettysburg battlefield on three separate occasions. I have stood more than once at the stone marking the end of the Union line on Little Round Top where Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine stood with their line reversed against the furious charges of Oates’ Alabamians. I have crawled through the rock outcropping of Devil’s Den and climbed the hill from the Confederate’s point of view. Again as I stood on Little Round Top and at other places on the battlefield I felt, as many others have reported, the spirits of those long past who stood against incomprehensible ferocity of war with no possibility of retreat. Again I wondered how any human could bare the stress and fear and remain. 
Every person, young and old, should take the opportunity to stand where others stood and reach across the generations to touch them, understand their time and know the real meaning of freedom. Yes, one might say that to effectively write the StarPassage series with its time travel/paranormal theme that I had to engage in time travel/paranormal myself. And so I did. That is where my research took me, far beyond libraries and diaries. It took me through time and space to better understand in some small way the people of that time. Our young generation would be well served by reading the results of my research and then reaching out to understand as well. There is too much wasteful in-the-moment roller coaster riding that take them nowhere and protesting or resisting when they have little personal knowledge of that which they object to or of the real people who lived it. We are all better served by a little personal time travel.

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