Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.

FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.

The knock on the door came a few minutes after the shower stopped running. Frazier smiled at the good timing and got up to answer the door. He dug in his pocket for his wallet, to tip room service, as he opened the door.

"Hello, Doctor," Preminger said, his voice more dry than usual, in contrast to the renewed showers. Two agents with drawn guns stood behind him. "May we come in?" the man said, when Frazier could only stand and stare open-mouthed at him.

"Bennu isn't here." Frazier winced as the bathroom door creaked.

"We know that." He stepped around the doctor and into the cabin. "My men saw him come in, but didn't see him leave -- but what they did see was very interesting."

Frazier felt the blood leave his face. Someone saw Rhea start the fire.

"Rhea," he called, trying to keep his voice steady. "We have company." Frazier managed a grin when Preminger's eyes blazed with anger.

"What's going --" Rhea stepped out of the bathroom. She had toweled her hair dry and was barefoot, dressed in threadbare, gray sweats. "Who are you?"

"Agent Justin Preminger." He smiled, a hungry look. "I'm very pleased to meet you -- Mira."

"Who?" She met Frazier's eyes, then looked over the three agents again. "My name is Rhea, not Mira."

"Giving her an alias was a good try." Preminger drew his gun out of his coat. "Why don't we just forget the charades and get going?"

"The heck I will." Rhea backed up a step and pivoted on one leg for a roundhouse kick to the agent who leaped at her. She dodged and rolled out of the grasp of the other man and managed to swing an arm around and punch Preminger in the back, just above his kidneys.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Book of the Week: STARBLUE

"By the void," Danil snarled.

Blue turned to look where he and Keegan were both staring.

Neona knelt on a softly undulating, murky black surface, surrounded by a swirling cloud of that same odd blue-but-not-blue. She smiled, looking perfectly at ease. As Keegan continued to shout, struggling to move forward, reaching for her, Neona tipped her head back, looking up at the sky, and laughed. The not-blue cloud thickened. A thin stream of sparks tinged blackish green, the color that Blue had always imagined pain would be, shot out from the center of that cloud.

Keegan choked and went to his knees. The sparks became a semi-transparent cable. As it rippled, struggling like a live thing, it grew more opaque, filling with sparks of that blackish green, and stretched out... to attach to Keegan.

"Danil, do you see--"

"It's their bond." Danil shifted his grip on Keegan and pushed him forward, toward the cloud enfolding Neona. She continued to laugh, her mouth open and shoulders shaking, though now they couldn't hear her.

Blue saw the cord between the twins growing thinner, even as the blackish green sparks thickened, turning almost completely black. She joined in pushing Keegan toward his sister. Maybe if he touched the cloud surrounding Neona, he could break through to her.

"Neona!" Keegan convulsed as the cord vanished in an explosion of black sparks that shot through Blue's chest like a fishing spear.

She grabbed hold of him, even as he twisted and fell, and for a moment they were almost nose-to-nose. Keegan's eyes widened and she knew he saw her. Blue sparks wrapped around them, then he convulsed again and vanished from her grip.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book of the Week: STARBLUE


"How long a delay?" Keegan asked. He glanced at Blue before meeting Loris' gaze.

"No telling until they start mop-up operations."

"Then I say we evacuate." His voice was calm, thin, almost unfeeling.

Blue caught her breath. Not from the shock of hearing him so easily decide to abandon his sister -- because it wasn't easy. The force of the pain and fury that swept through him hit her in the chest with near-physical intensity. She reached for Keegan's hand under the table. His fingers wrapped around hers tight enough to make her bones ache.

"Fifteen of them -- but fifteen Shades controlling them, possibly accessing all their knowledge of Rover weaponry and equipment and tactics." Loris sighed and nodded slowly. "And security codes. Communication codes. Everything they need to infiltrate... but if we abandon them, set up an interdiction so no one can land and give them a way off the planet, maybe keep their creators from coming back for them, what can they do? Both ships have been running full-array sensor scans of the planet's surface and surrounding space, and there is nothing anywhere within hailing distance, nothing hidden underground. The Shades are effectively stranded here, once we leave."

"What happens to our people when the Shades realize they're stuck here?" Katha said.

"Do they even want to get off the planet?" Aryl said.

"Wouldn't you?" Keegan's voice said he didn't care. Blue could feel how much he cared, the battle in his heart, just through his tight grip on her hand.

"It makes sense that their next step after taking over our people is to get off this planet, move through the galaxy... but they haven't done anything yet."

"Everything changed when Danil and his team left," Blue said. "They were all resistant to whatever the Shades might have been trying to do to them. It took the arrival of less experienced Rovers, younger minds, and..." She shivered, feeling she had come close to understanding, but unable to put it into words

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The War Room

Today, it's all about Odessa.

Odessa Fremont, that is.

As in Book 1 of the Guardians of the Time Stream series.

First, you have 2 weeks left to get a free ebook download of the The Blue Lotus Society, Sanctuary, and -- coming out in October -- the fourth and final book, Music in the Night.

WHY would I be giving away a free copy? Well, in hopes you'll write a review, and yeah, the totally mercenary hope you'll want to know what happens next to Odessa and the friends and allies she picks up along the way in this Steampunk adventure, and you'll look for the other books:

If this sounds like a tip of the hat to Phantom of the Opera ... hmm, you might be right.

How do you get the book? Go to Story Cartel, and they'll take it from there.

Second ... my incredible cover artist, Gwen Phifer at Desert Breeze Publishing is up for a Rone Award, presented by In D'Tales magazine, for doing such an incredible job with the cover art for Odessa Fremont.

In fact, Gwen is up for TWO Rone Awards -- for my book, and for my friend, Tamera Kraft's novel, Resurrection of Hope. Doesn't she do incredible work?

Here's hoping you get your well-deserved recognition, Gwen!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book of the Week: STARBLUE, SF Romance

This week's Book of the Week is the sequel to last week's: BLUE FIRE.

It's the story of Rhianni and Petroc's daughter, Starblue, who helped to save their starspanning civilization from aliens long before she was born. So she has a lot of expectations to live up to.


Published by Desert Breeze Publishing.

Starblue Ash swore never to do two things: join the Rovers and
leave Mallachrom. Commander Day of the Rover Corps didn't care -- she was the last of their family and her heritage was the Rovers. 

When Rover Pilot Neona Creed needed rescuing from creatures that mimicked the Shadows of Mallachrom, Blue's psionic bond with Neona and her twin brother, Keegan, was their best chance of breaking her free. Blue teamed with Keegan and a ship full of Rovers to chase the kidnappers across the galaxy. 

The long journey deepened their bonds and changed their friendship to love. If they survived this crisis, they might change the universe.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Another book I found on the discount shelf that struck me as a good resource book. Honestly, what is wrong with these stores that don't realize the great value of these books they mark down to 1/3 their original price? However, I'm not going to complain too much, because yeah, it benefits me! I'm on a tight budget these days ...

FIFTY MACHINES THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY kind of builds on each machine that came before it, moving up through history and the developments in technology. It's fascinating, giving just a taste of what the machine does, a little of the history that led to its invention, something about the inventor, even the personal life, the cultural changes and politics, that sort of thing.

The title page of each chapter offers a lot of info in a glance: designer, manufacturer, a picture of the gizmo, and then the category it belongs in -- industry, agriculture, transport, science, computing, energy, and home. There are quotes from the inventors, a thumbnail sketch of the gizmo in question, and timeline of similar devices. Very useful.

Looms, lathe, engines, early computers, sewing machine, ships, bicycle, telephone, etc. This could be the kind of book you just read for fun, learning bits and pieces that come in handy while watching Jeopardy or trying to get on Jeopardy to compete, or like I do, use it for research in writing, creating new worlds and figuring out what level of technology an alien or fantasy civilization has, that sort of thing. Try it. You might be surprised what you learn.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.

FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.

Frazier returned with an odd feeling of warning traveling up his back. He moved quietly and paused in the doorway. The stranger knelt in front of the fireplace and pressed both hands against the logs waiting for a match. She frowned, her lips thinning into a line.

The logs burst into flames with a muffled thump -- echoed by the heavy, cold jolt of Frazier's heart.

Anna burst out in delighted laughter and nearly fell from her chair in her hurry to get closer to the flames. Rainbows flickered around her fingers, reflected in the sparks from the fire. The young woman caught her by her arms and gently pushed her back into the seat.

"Remember what I told you already? We can't let people see we're special."

Anna chuckled and looked at her hands, where the rainbows still danced. She wiggled her fingers and the colors vanished.

"That's good." The stranger sat back on the hearth and wiped damp strands of hair out of her face. Suddenly, all her energy left and she looked too pale and thin to sit up by herself. A wave of pity washed over Frazier. He understood her situation, knew the strain she felt.

"You're safe here," Frazier said softly, coming into the room the rest of the way.

"I'm not sure I know what you mean." She stood and reached for her discarded coat.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book of the Week: BLUE FIRE

Two days later, Rhianni landed at the spaceport on the edge of Core, the main city of the colony, in a Rover Corps shuttle. The official story said she was on medical leave from the Rovers.

It was the truth. Just not the whole truth. Her father had died ridding a Gen-Tek operation on the other side of the galactic axis. As a Rover, Rhianni was entitled to one Standard year of rest and recuperation leave.

That didn't mean the Corps would let her take it.

She accepted this job for her father's sake. He had lived for years believing he had abandoned Mallachrom when his adopted home needed him most. Military documentation said otherwise, but as her father would say, when did bureaucracy override the heart?

"Is it possible to borrow a two‑man sled for the morning?" Rhianni asked the field security team that met her at the shuttle hatch.

"No, Captain. The sleds are for official business only. Sorry," the leader of the team hurried to add, with a nod of deference to the Rover Corps knife-and-flame emblem, scarlet and black on her green fatigues jacket.

"Oh. Could I send a message, then?"

"Until you clear security, no private communications. Verbal?" The leader held out a recording wand.

Rhianni nodded and frowned to fight a grin. She refused to let these brainless drones know they had aided her strategy. She nodded for the man to press the recording button.

"To Mistress Shoreel of the Council," she said, speaking slowly and louder than necessary. "Grandmother, this is Rhianni. The Colonel -- my Dad -- is dead. I'm home on medical leave. When I've completed an errand, I would like to visit you. I should be back in Core by this afternoon."

Silence. The field team barely hid their panic. They had said no to the granddaughter of a Council member -- forget her status as a Rover Corps medic. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book of the Week: BLUE FIRE

Excerpt 1:

Rhianni Day went to sleep with the planet Mallachrom staring at her from the screen in her cabin on board the Rover ship, Star Sword.

For the last nineteen years, since the Talroqi invaded the planet of her birth, she had sworn she would never return. She didn't want to see the devastation caused by the hive creatures, didn't want to see the mass graves and the memorials erected after the Talroqi had finally been driven out. Her father, then-Rover Captain Joras Day, had left Mallachrom reluctantly upon the military's insistence that the colony world was too far from the battle lines to ever be invaded.

They were wrong, and Rhianni's father had carried a burden of guilt for nineteen years. Now he was dead, and Rhianni had come home to pay his debt -- if possible.

So she wasn't surprised when the dreams began almost before the image of Mallachrom, the rich colors of life dulled by the ship's sensors, faded from behind her closed eyelids.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The War Room

Lots of new developments.

Keeping very busy!

Right now I have over 70K words on the 1st draft of book 1 of the fantasy series that right now has the working title of "Magic to Spare." The first book is called "Magic and Thorns," and details how a princess with a lot of magical potential gets ... sabotaged. Turned into a spoiled brat. She ends up marrying a wicked king, and then spends the second book, currently titled, "The Kindness Curse," being forcibly reformed.

At least, that's the plan.

Want to sign up for my newsletter?
The plan is to do a newsletter twice a month, featuring news on upcoming Book of the Week titles, sneak peeks at cover art, the 1st chapter of the next book coming out, links to free reads before anyone hears about them, inside news on booksignings and books on sale, maybe some contests. I might just be asking for your input on titles, story ideas, and maybe handing out ARCs in exchange for reviews on Amazon and other sites.

Sound like a plan?

You'll hear from Vertical Response, which provides my newsletter software and service, to confirm that you really did want to sign up.


I've posted new fan fiction on Wattpad -- "Flame from Another Fire," part of the Phoenix universe, and another story where I "test drove" an original character and storyline. You might enjoy it.

The plan is to post a new piece of fan fiction every month, and then post a snippet from that story every Saturday that month. Up next: "Gizmos," set in the TV series, "Beauty and the Beast."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book of the Week: BLUE FIRE

Today starts a new "feature" on the blog.

Each week, you'll get the cover art and some excerpts of one of my published books.

When a NEW book is out, the book will be featured 2 weeks, plus the weeks beforehand will be a lead-in featuring other books either from the same series, or similar. For instance, when a new romance book is released, you'll get samples from other romances. When a new Commonwealth book is released, you'll get some samples from previous Commonwealth books.

So here we go!

Published by Desert Breeze Publishing

Rover captain Rhianni Day returns to Mallachrom, burdened with her father's guilt over abandoning the colony decades ago. She intends to find out the truth about the Taken, survivors of an alien invasion, leave, and never return. Mallachrom is no longer home.

Petroc Ash leads the Taken. His responsibilities to the Taken and their secrets are too great to risk, even for Rhianni. Loving her will bind her to Mallachrom forever -- and could kill her.

The quest to solve the mystery of the Talroqi invasion and protect the Taken from destruction pushes them together, shattering secrets and the barriers around their hearts. As time runs out, they take the risk of love, and become a weapon that has waited generations for completion.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: PROPOSAL, A Mediator Novella, Meg Cabot

The other day I was talking to someone about books, comparing what we'd read, what we liked, making recommendations, and I mentioned Meg Cabot's Mediator series. On a whim, I checked B&N -- because I have a gift card waiting to be spent -- and to my joy I found a new novella and a new novel in the Mediator series. Joy!

Essential points to know: Mediators can see and talk to and fight with the dead. They also have other powers that our heroine, Susannah Simon, learns about as she goes through her various adventures.

She's a Buffy-type tough girl from New York, transplanted to California when her widowed mother remarries. Fish-out-of-water story, with complications and culture shock. The most important element in her story, right from the first, is when she moves into her bedroom in her new home and finds it haunted by a young man who was killed in the 1800s.

I'm not gonna give away their trials and tribulations, vengeful ghosts, psychotic rival Mediators, time travel and other problems, but by the end of the series, they're in love, Jesse is alive again and you'd think -- you'd hope -- the two of them would have earned a happily ever after.

Flash forward to PROPOSAL. Susannah is in college, Jesse is a medical student, there's a really pissed-off ghost who's been falsely accused of murder, and is tearing up the cemetery on a regular basis. The novella is fun, a good segue into the story line after several years' absence. I love Meg Cabot's snarky narrative voice, comments on the stupidity of the TV shows that don't tell the truth of what it's like to be a Mediator-type person, her frustrations of having a secret life, a boyfriend who's too good to be true, and oh yeah, that psychotic other Mediator is threatening to return to her life.

The next full-length Mediator novel is REMEMBRANCE. Will they make it to the altar? Read and find out -- that's what I'm doing. Among other books I have on various devices and in print. Yeah, I read several books at the same time. 1 on my iPhone, 1 on my iPad, 1 print book on my bedside table. Something wrong with that?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.

FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.

Dr. Frazier leaned against the window frame and looked out at the thundering downpour. The other conference attendees milled around the lobby behind him, complaining about the weather, trying to borrow umbrellas, or settling down to read or play cards. He didn't mind the storm, actually. He rather enjoyed the noise and crowds, the protective wall of people around him. The storm meant some discomfort or inconvenience for Preminger, whom Frazier had seen across the conference hall two nights before. Maybe the agent would help search for the missing child and get lost.

The main doors banged open as more refugees fled the storm. Frazier looked up and froze at the sight of Bennu helping a little girl across the lobby. Both were dripping, their faces red from the cold lash of the rain. Bennu helped the child into the unoccupied fireplace room and Frazier followed. He knew his face had lost its color and he likely moved like an automaton.

"Stay right here," Bennu said, helping the child into a chair. "I'll get some blankets and -- hello, Ward."

"Hello, Bennu," Frazier said softly.

Bennu turned around and his smile flashed, bright and warm. "I'd like to stay and talk but --"

"Preminger was here two days ago. I don't know if he's still here."

"Take care of Anna for me?"

"You can count on it." Frazier clasped hands with Bennu. Half a moment later, the other man slipped through the door and vanished into the rain.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: MILITARY MACHINES

Subtitle: Combat Vehicles for Land, Sea & Air.

I'm going to get a lot of use out of this book. The title might make you think of just a catalog of fighter jets and battleships and tanks, but this handy little reference book loaded with detailed drawings as well as photos and discussions of how the different vehicles are/were used. There are "cutaway" views of things like siege engines and chariots, pirate ships and bi-planes.

Divided between land, sea and air, there is some history of warfare, as well as diagrams of battles. The back flap of the cover lists all the machines discussed, ranging  from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Korea, to Italy, Russia, Germany, and the USA. Specs, notable military figures, details of engines, flight patterns. Pretty cool.

I can see role playing gamers using this book, as well as military history buffs and writers of both fantasy and futuristic military novels.

Published by Parragon Books, there were no editors listed. Publication date is 2015. It's a small book, and I bought it at a discount store, but for those who need this kind of information at their fingertips, a book like this could prove to be priceless.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fan Fiction: FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, Phoenix fan fiction

Now available on Wattpad, a trip very far back in my writing roots in fan fiction: The Phoenix.

You know fandom is really, really strong when there were dozens of fanzines based on a TV show that only have 1 pilot movie and 4 episodes.

FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE is another story where I test-drove characters that would someday appear in my own published books.


Bennu stopped to indulge in a few hours of quiet thought in a clearing on a forested mountainside, despite his longing to hurry back to Satra and Heru. The morning sun shattered into prisms on the heavy dew, creating a garden of rainbows. Like a favorite childhood spot back home. He found a dry spot and sat, closing his eyes and drinking in the peace and overflowing life energy.

He sensed the mind close by after only a few minutes. A girl-child. Bennu felt her silent laughter as she walked barefoot through the dew, kicking up drops and watching them sparkle. He smiled and let the song of her soul join the life music soothing his mind.

Bennu drifted until a gust of cold, damp wind made him open his eyes. Gray storm clouds moved across the sun. Another spring storm, it would attack and pass quickly.

"All the colors are gone," a soft voice said from the far side of the clearing. She was Amer-Asian, six years old, delicate as a fairy. Her name came to him with a soft touch on her mind -- Anna.

"A storm is coming. Can I help you get home?" He stood and gathered up his bag. Another gust made
him shiver.

She tilted her head back to look up at Bennu. A delighted sparkle lit her eyes. "You can do it too." Anna held out her hands to a dying beam of sunlight. It shifted, warping into rainbows around her fingers. Anna giggled. "I can make pictures, but this is prettier."

"Very pretty." Bennu touched her mind, seeing the parents who had brought her on vacation. Deeper, he saw the beginning of her talent less than a year ago. Anna had looked at her night light and wished she could make the light grow. It had twisted away from its straight path and did whatever she imagined. No one believed her stories, and Anna learned to keep her toy to herself. "It's going to rain any --" He stopped as a fat drop hit the bridge of his nose. "Any second now. Which way home?"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

From the War Room

Recycling is big -- has been for a long time -- but there's a lot more to recycle than just plastic and metal and all that ecologically friendly -- or maybe it's unfriendly, so that's why need to recycle? -- stuff.

I'm talking recycling stories. Finding new uses for old tales told long ago. Especially in the days of learning to write, when it was fun to play in someone else's playground, because the characters and tools and vocabulary and a lot of the rules were already established. You didn't have to create anything new except the characters and problems that made it entirely YOUR story, even if you were playing with someone else's toys.

Case in point -- fan fiction. And case in point again -- using fan fiction as a testing ground or a test drive area for characters that will someday get their own universe or series or playground, whatever you want to call it.

I just posted another fan fiction story on Wattpad. This was part of the Phoenix fan fiction that I
wrote, some of the earliest stories I got published. Lots of fun. Some really hokey stuff out there. Some corny dialog and big goofs in grammar and POV and head-hopping like you wouldn't believe. But what's really surprising and a relief and a pleasure is to discover that -- dang! -- some of it's good.

The newest story is FLAME FROM ANOTHER FIRE, where my -- at that time in my writing -- newest creation, my favorite "Barbie doll" -- met up with Bennu and Dr. Frazier and mean old Agent Preminger.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: CREATING CHARACTER ARCS, by K.M. Weiland

Character arcs is one of those writing-related topics that can send even experienced, published authors running for Mommy. Right up there with writing the synopsis and the query letter and creating characters that are believable and avoid being stereotypes.

What is a character arc?

It's basically the change that takes place either in the main character or in the world around the character. And no, it isn't that simple. Because if it was that simple, it wouldn't drive some writers to massive doses of chocolate or other social drugs of choice to self-medicate from the mental strain and agony.

Planning how your character is going to change and grow and learn -- or be so strong in his inner truth that he forces the world to change -- means knowing your character down deep. You have to know the things that have made the character what she is before the story starts. You have to know the weaknesses. The dreams. The fears. The little lies and hopes and secret pains that are going to be revealed during the progress of the story, so the character changes, positively or negatively, depending on how she reacts to those things.

Yeah -- not that simple. But you get the idea? Weiland goes through several different kinds of character arcs, including a FLAT character arc. How can an arc be flat? Easy -- read the book and learn. Weiland walks through each step of the process, figuring out the character's past and present and hopeful or dreaded future, and charts where in the course of the story each revelation or challenge or change needs to appear, for the story to work and for the arc to make sense. Yeah, that does sound simple, but still not that simple. It takes practice.

This is one of those books you'll need to read at regular intervals, to brush up on the advice and tips and patterns during your writing career. Thank goodness someone wrote it!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fan Fiction -- BAIT AND SWITCH -- A Starman fanzine story, sample 3

From the Starman fanzine story, which first appeared in On Wings of Light -- the full story is available on Wattpad

"Are you going to tell me what's going on now?" Scott demanded, his voice low and husky from strain.      

"Listen to your instincts, Scott. They're more reliable than people any day. Instincts say you can trust me. And I'm going to prove it in a few seconds."          

"Yeah, right."  

"We have to figure out what to do before Mr. Fox gets here."

"Fox? Why's he coming here?" He stalked over to stand in front of the couch, exactly where Malone had stood. Rhea wondered if the whole day would be like this.  

"He wants us to help catch you and your father. He was on his way here when he saw you. Bad luck, huh?" Rhea felt choked by the slow fury in Scott's eyes.       

"How long did you wait there?" He looked down at her, hands on his hips. Rhea sensed his struggle not to dash for the door.

"I wasn't waiting; and I only learned about my mission now, when Malone gave me this folder." She handed the photos to him. "Fox won't tell, but I can guess why he's hunting you. Different is dangerous, no matter who you are."           

"Why did you help me?" he shot back.           

"Because that's what I do." She sighed, feeling more tired than ever. Scott only stared back at her, his face a mask of confusion and hurt. "I travel the country looking for people who have learned -- usually by accident -- how to do the impossible. With their minds. I can tell where they are by the vibrations they give off. I felt your panic, so I helped. I know what it's like, watched, in danger of becoming a lab rat. I won't let it happen to anyone else."

She got up and went to the refrigerator. She was thirsty, and she needed to give Scott time to digest what she had told him. Rhea poured the last of her cranberry juice for them both. Scott would not take the glass she handed to him. It was almost amusing -- and reminded her of a time when she trusted no one and nothing, not even the stray dogs she met on the street. Rhea sipped from both glasses. Scott finally accepted the glass.

"You sensed something in me, or you would have waited longer before taking my help," she said. Rhea wished she had more energy to push against this boy's mental and emotional shields and make him see she could be trusted. Force, though, would only negate the message.

"Well...yeah," Scott admitted. He took refuge in his glass, downing most of it in a few swallows.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: SIREN'S FURY, by Mary Weber

The second book in Mary Weber's Storm Siren trilogy is ... painful!

No, not the writing. Not the voice or style. Not the experience.

The torture she inflicts on her characters. The struggles of growth and sacrifice and self-doubt.

At the end of book 1, Nym was ready to celebrate defeating an enemy. She had a bright future ahead of her. Instead of being thoroughly reviled, living as a slave, she was considered a heroine, even though she was still feared. She was learning to control her Elemental powers. There was this guy ...

Then on the last pages, she found out that the enemy she thought was dead and defeated ... wasn't. Even worse than that, this particular nasty had taken over the body of the man she was ready to try to find some "happily ever after" with, which kind of kills the mood, y'know?

This book is about her struggle to face her duty -- kill the invader before he can ruin everything she spent the previous book sacrificing and bleeding for.

So yeah, painful.

But it's  a beautiful, terrible struggle and battle and learning time. Wow ....

The end of this book, despite seeming to be so very dreadful and frustrating, has an upward tilting mood, because there's hope. Maybe. Then again, the second book or second movie of a trilogy always has this "we're never going to get out of this in one piece," sensation, and the awful suspicion that the worst is yet to come. Yet there's hope.

Love it.
Read it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fan Fiction -- BAIT AND SWITCH -- A Starman fanzine story, sample 2

Here's the second taste of the fanzine story that first appeared in On Wings of Light. Remember, you can find the whole story on Wattpad. Just search for my name.

Rhea sighed. She hated this kind of mess. Lately, it seemed like she had faced more than enough. She had sensed the power, the talent in Scott from far enough away, she knew he had enough potential to be dangerous in the wrong hands. She had not thought the encounter would end up like this.

"Just hold on a second, Scott," she said. "Let me and Malone straighten this out, then you and I will talk. Okay, Malone. You know by now, I can't take this job." She looked down at the file folder with the photos of Scott and his father, sitting on her lap. "He's one of mine -- I could feel his energy a mile off. He could be the main target."

Malone grunted agreement and stalked across the room to stand in front of her. He gave Scott one distrustful look, then turned his back on the boy. Rhea wavered between laughter and frustration. Malone was worried about her -- he wouldn't believe if she said Scott was no threat.

"No more data?" she asked, flipping through the folder. All she had read was background on Paul Forrester's last few encounters with people -- his narrow escapes from Agent George Fox -- and copies of the office memos that resulted in her presence in this city, waiting to meet with Fox and help him catch his prey. She tapped Scott's photo with her fingernails. There was a pulse of energy that wrapped around the boy -- it put a wall between her and him.

"He won't say," Malone admitted. He looked uneasy, and Rhea wondered if part of his anger and caution was because of that lack of knowledge. "When he briefed me, I felt he was almost afraid to tell me what he wanted."

"Not the Future of Man, then?" She chuckled when Malone stiffened.

"You reading my mind again, Jones?"

"We both know the futurists haven't pulled all their spies from the agency." She stiffened as a mental leap flashed through her brain. Forrester. Rhea cast one look at Scott, really studying his face this time. The boy only glared at her, his growing impatience clear on his face.

"What is it, Jones?" Malone demanded.

"I managed to get hold of my file -- the one with the truth of how they changed my identity and records. There was a photographer covering the air crash that killed my parents, before the FOM's government people hushed everything." She tapped the photos and Malone nodded that he understood. Rhea picked up Paul's photo and studied it. "I wonder how he got on their wrong side?"

"You think he worked for the FOM and fell from grace?"

"If his son has the potential I felt..." Rhea shuddered. "They want me for breeding -- what if Scott is a result of their work?"

"Too many ifs."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: FLYTE, by Angie Sage

FLYTE is the second book in the Septimus Heap series.

It's magic -- or according to the title of the first book, Magyk.

Septimus is the 7th son of the 7th son, which means he has great magic potential and is destined for incredible things. Which is the whole reason he was kidnapped at birth -- in the first book -- to turn him into the apprentice of an evil magician trying to take over the kingdom. Fortunately, there was a lot "switched at birth" confusion going on, and he ended up some place not quite as nasty and dangerous -- but close.

In FLYTE, Septimus has been reunited with his family and is now in his destined place as the apprentice for Marcia, the leader of all the wizards in the kingdom. She has some problems to deal with, starting with a nasty shadow that's trailing her, and including more treachery, more deception, and a dead enemy who just won't give up. Then there's Septimus' oldest brother, who believes that he's been robbed of what was never promised to him in the first place -- apprenticeship to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard. He's out to get revenge and put someone else in power, and that makes things rough for Septimus and the family he's just starting to get to know, including his adopted sister, Jenna -- who just happens to be the heir to the throne, born on the same day as Septimus, and who took his place when the midwife kidnapped him.

Yeah, complicated but a lot of fun. I love the details of this magical world, the humor, the sense that this is all so very believable.  Oh, yeah, and FLYTE refers to, well ... the ability to fly.

You don't really have to start with book 1, MAGYK, to understand what's going on, but you really should. Great fun. And I'm so glad that the next book is sitting in my bookshelf (Thanks to a humongous sale at Half-Price Books) and waiting to be read. Not right away, though. But soon!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fan Fiction -- BAIT AND SWITCH -- a Starman fanzine story

Many years ago -- a lot more than I want to remember -- I got my fiction writing fan fiction for various fanzines that followed some of my favorite TV shows and movies.

You can find my posted fan fiction on Wattpad -- just type my name in. Every other month or so, I will post snippets from a fanzine story here on the blog, and then post the whole story in Wattpad for your enjoyment. At least, I hope you enjoy it!!

So .... here's the first installment, from the fanzine On Wings of Light, which was for fans of The Phoenix, Starman, and Beauty and the Beast.


Scott gasped for breath. Between the booming of his heart in his ears and the slap of his sneakers on the pavement, he heard the rumble of Fox's car. Less than a hundred yards behind him now, he guessed.
Paul had decided they should split up. Fox should have followed him, leaving Scott free to hide. Either Paul had managed to get away, or Fox had decided the alien's son was the easier target.
Scott glanced to either side. The mid-afternoon, downtown traffic gave him a little advantage. He had no idea why Fox didn't use tranquilizer darts and get it over with. How had Fox found them so soon? The false trail Paul left at their last stop should have led the agent 300 miles away.
He reached the intersection as the light turned yellow. Scott put on a burst of speed and crossed the street. An impatient old man in a red truck tried to jump the light, saw Scott, squealed to a stop and pounded his horn at the boy. Scott grinned -- Fox was stopped at the light. Even if he got out of his car now, Scott had a chance to get away.
The sphere leaped in his pocket. Scott nearly stopped as it went hot, then cooled a scant second later.
No response. Behind him, he heard the cross traffic slow as the light changed. His respite was gone. He looked in all directions for some place to hide -- a narrow alley -- shadows -- some place he could duck into before Fox saw him -- some place Fox could not follow.
"Hey, kid!" a woman called as a motorcycle roared up to him. The driver kept pace with Scott's staggering steps. "Get on. I know trouble when I see it."
He had no time to consider the safety of the offer. Scott swung his leg over the back of the cycle's seat before he came to a complete stop. He grabbed hold of the driver's coat and they were gone.
"Thanks," he gasped in the driver's ear, nearly smashing his lips against the scarred blue helmet.
"No problem. Helping is my specialty." She gave him a grin over her shoulder. Scott had a glimpse of green-brown eyes, a narrow face and bronze hair.
Scott buried his face in the back of her worn navy pea coat and felt the sweat dry. He couldn't catch his breath. He felt the bike twist and sway around the corners, heard the rise and fall of its engine's song. Far behind, he heard a car horn blare, an angry sound. He grinned, imagining Fox pounding his steering wheel in helpless rage.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The War Room

Gonna be trying something new, coming up this Saturday.

Instead of posting "tastes" of new books, I'm going to look back and some really old stuff I've done.


That's where I got my start writing, after all -- writing stories in established universes, playing in other people's playgrounds, before branching out and creating my own.

I got a lot of short stories and some continuing stories published in fandom. And I'm going to post pieces here on the blog, and then upload the entire story to Wattpad.

Ever been to Wattpad? It's kind of a fun place, where people can post fan fiction, or current works-in-progress, or just test out ideas for stories, and hopefully get some feedback from people. Not that I'm asking for any feedback, because these stories were published many years ago. Maybe longer than I want to consider.

It's my way of paying tribute and saying thanks to the TV shows and movies that gave me my start, my inspiration, and caught my imagination. I already have some old fan fiction posted on Wattpad if you want to go over there and read what's already loaded. You might have fun with it. You might laugh and groan just because some of my really old writing was ...*phew* awful! You might be encouraged, because heck, if I could improve and get to the place where genuine publishers would take on my books, then so can you!

See you here on Saturday, and see you over at Wattpad.