Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The War Room

Want a chance to get a FREE book?

Go to Goodreads and enter the drawing to win a free print copy of STARBLUE, the sequel to my SF romance novel, BLUE FIRE, from Desert Breeze Publishing.

The giveaway runs until September 11. Plenty of time to enter.

In fact, go to Goodreads and check out ALL their giveaways. You could enter a drawing every day of the week -- every day of the month. Not saying you'd win every single time, but your chances go up if you keep entering. Just imagine all the books you could win and read.

So what's STARBLUE about?

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.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book of the Week: JA'HANNA, Wildvine Book 1

Wildvine Series
Fantasy

From Writers Exchange

In multiple worlds, universes and dimensions of reality, there are tales of Hub Worlds, where many different realms can meet and intersect. Some travel between worlds through the power of the mind and Talents born into the blood, while others are chosen through vision and prophecy and step between worlds with the power of talismans. None can go to the others' worlds, except when they meet in a Hub World.

Wildvine County, somewhere in the United States, is that pivotal point where the travelers from

multiple worlds and universes meet.


Dayree was born to a powerful family in the Taksearhe Clan. She was expected to have strong Talents, yet her gifts never emerged. Mocked by some, ignored by others, she took the opportunities offered to her and explored other gifts, becoming a craftsman and then a teacher. In the process, she found her soulmate, Jayx.


Years later, when their village was threatened by rebels who wanted to control their world, Dayree's gift awakened, enabling her talented cousin to evacuate the entire village to safety--stepping through the vortex between worlds, to a planet called Earth.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

TURNABOUT: Phoenix Fan Fiction

Footsteps. They ducked into an open doorway, and Bennu leaned out in the cover of the shadows far enough to see a man come out of a room, locking the door behind himself. Another walked out of the room opposite, and they talked in normal voices. No fear here. The first reported to the second that "the kid" was still asleep. Preminger's hand tightened on Bennu's shoulder, and he smiled. He had always known Preminger had some soft, sentimental spots, well-hidden. A little half-Indian girl named Joanna Wolf claimed one of those spots.

When the two guards were gone, they went straight to the locked door. Bennu grasped the handle, pressing himself against the doorframe to muffle the thrumming as energy poured from his hand, breaking the lock. He touched Preminger's shoulder as the other faced away to guard them from discovery, and pushed the door carefully open. Sliding through like ghosts, they closed the door behind them. Preminger turned on his flashlight.

The room was dingy, the windows covered with blankets, a few crates scattered around to make tables and bookshelves. Their target was curled up on a cot, fully clothed. The sweep of the flashlight over the girl woke her and she flinched and opened her eyes. Preminger dashed towards her to keep the girl from crying out, but she just sat up and looked at them. No fear, just curiosity and acceptance. And old beyond her years.

"Joanna." Preminger knelt in front of her, staring into her wide, dark eyes. "Do you remember me? It's Uncle Jay," he whispered.

The veil of age dropped from her face and Joanna nodded delightedly. She pointed to the door, her questions very clear on her face. Preminger nodded, and her smile grew wider as she hugged him briefly. Then she slipped off the cot and began pulling on a ratty pair of tennis shoes.

"How is it?" Preminger whispered, going to stand with Bennu at the door. "We still have time. When do the others attack?"

"In about --" he checked his watch "-- five minutes. It'll be close." He took hold of Joanna's hand as she came up behind them. He took the lead and Bennu guarded the rear as they backtracked to the stairs and up to the roof. This time they stayed together, going down one fire escape. Joanna didn't make a sound, even when she slipped and smashed her ribs against the iron ladder. Preminger refused to wonder what her captors had done over the years to keep the girl so quiet.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book of the Week: NOVA VENDETTA #2: The Truce

Commonwealth Universe
Downfall Era/Era I

The Sorendaal/Pirate novels


“What’s been going on outside?” Niall finally asked, when the hubbub finally calmed down and people went back to their bunks, got in line to use the sanitary cabinets now that there was hot water available, or gathered at the other table groupings to talk. Kimber and Sureena and the leaders of the prisoners in the other compartment joined the command team and Dr. Hallbar. It was time for a serious conversation, to finally get facts and decide what they could do.

“All clear, Doctor.” Selendon’s voice came through the medical insignia pin on the doctor’s collar. “Tell them whatever they want to know. It’s the only way we’re going to survive.”

“Tell me, Commodore,” Niall said, struggling to keep his voice calm, though it still felt like his throat had been scraped with sand, “did you authorize--“

“Absolutely not. And you should know that the ship punished those skabblenaqs before we even knew what was going on.”

“How?” He met Dr. Hallbar’s gaze, saw the shift to bleakness mixed with something like weary horror.

“Everything that could go wrong in the room where they conducting their questioning,” the doctor began.

“This is no time for niceties, Dru,” Selendon cut in. “Call it what it was, torture, plain and simple. The ship turned everything backwards in the room. We’re still trying to untangle the programming, figure out if it was a cascade failure on a massive scale, or this ship of … it’s our ship, not mine any longer.” A gusting sigh came through the connection, buzzing a little. “Our ship might just be sentient. Somehow. An angry, confused, hurting, frightened child, lashing out at the ones who hurt its friends. Or maybe even part of its consciousness. Who knows? We have no access to any of the research, any of the theories or science behind what the researchers were doing when they built the ship. Too much was either lost or deliberately destroyed and hidden.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book of the Week: NOVA VENDETTA #2: The Truce

Commonwealth Universe
Downfall Era/Era I
The Sorendaal/Pirate novels



At the end of twelve days, Niall was escorted to the captured RA ship -- expected. The cargo bays had been modified into dormitories, and all the former crew of the Nova Vendetta were housed there -- also expected. The section where Niall was left contained almost all of his command crew -- not expected. He hadn’t identified anyone by name, but then again, Selendon also hadn’t asked about any of his tribe.

Everyone wore clothes similar to his. Simple, long tunics and loose trousers and shipboard-boots with magnetic plates in the soles. Dark cloth in blue, green or brown, with the silver sensor threads woven into a loose square over their hearts. Niall looked around the dormitory room with bunks for thirty and found an unoccupied bunk. He assumed it was unoccupied because the sleeping sack was still rolled up on one end, unlike the other bunks. Most of them had bags hanging from the support posts, just like the bag given him when he was finally dismissed from Selendon’s office for the last time. There were a few personal items in his bag, retrieved from his prison quarters. He assumed everyone else had been given the opportunity to find something they valued, to take to their next point of incarceration.

“They fixed the engines,” Nesta said, approaching him.

“Their mistake.”

“They’re listening,” Doc said from a bunk two rows away.

“We’ve had bigger challenges.” Niall sat down and settled the bag at his feet. He closed his eyes and felt the rumble of the engines coming up from the deck, through his boots. Flickers of his hallucination-dreams came to him, and he shivered deep inside as he imagined the Nova Vendetta had welcomed him home.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book of the Week: NOVA VENDETTA #2: The Truce

Commonwealth Universe
Downfall Era/Era I

The Sorendaal/Pirate novels


Niall and his crew were just centimeters away from freedom, escaping in the stolen starship they had christened the Nova Vendetta. Then disaster struck, paralyzing their ship. Retaken as prisoners, they found themselves transported on the very ship that had been their ticket to freedom.

Then the unthinkable happened: experimental technology and a risky gamble put the ship under their control. The escaped prisoners headed for the furthest reaches of known space, determined to stay free at any cost.


Labeled rebels and pirates and criminals, they held to the principles that had let them survive and stay Human during their time in prison. To the outlying colonies slowly being abandoned by the disintegration of the Central Allied Worlds, the crew of the Nova Vendetta and its slowly growing fleet of allies were heroes in the truest sense of the word.

Then the revolution reached out to threaten Niall's homeworld. It was time to go home. He had to protect Sorendaal, even if it meant giving himself into the hands of the very people who wanted him dead.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS, Terry Brooks

The subtitle is: Lessons from the Writing Life

In case you've been living under a rock for the last forty years, Terry Brooks is the author of the Shannara and Landover books. He's been compared to Tolkein -- all other comparisons don't really matter, do they?

I remember reading Shannara in college, with the incredible Brothers Hildebrandt illustrations. The glory days when I was buying every book I could afford from the Science Fiction Book Club.

Yes, this book is about writing. I love seeing inside other writers' heads, getting glimpses of their struggles, the processes they go through, the breaks they got and didn't get. Brooks offers some insights and wisdom applicable to all writers of fiction, no matter what genre you love or loathe. It's a shorter book compared to some of the massive explorations of other writers' careers and minds and journeys that are on the market. Easy to digest, but a lot of "writerly nutrition" packed into it.

Read it. You'll be glad you did.

And when I get my to-be-read skyscraper whittled down a few million pages (yeah, that big!) I'll have to pull out the first books of Shannara and Landover and read them again, and see how different they are, now that I've had a glimpse through the eyes of the wizard behind the words.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

TURNABOUT: Phoenix Fan Fiction

John Wolf was the best -- as partner, agent, and friend. With Preminger, he was all three. The agency took care of their men and their families, and when John was murdered during a very important case two years ago, the agency took responsibility for his orphaned daughter. But there was one problem: Joanna had been kidnapped by the very people her father had been investigating, to use as a tool against him. His death was kept secret to keep her alive, and the investigation went on. But now the group had been found and the agency men were closing in. Preminger was allowed in on the operation for the sole objective of getting Joanna out. He was an old friend, and would be able to handle her easier than a stranger, no matter how well-intentioned. It was imperative she be rescued, for the information she would have about these people and their operations, as well as being a ward of the agency. She was fourteen years old now.

"I need your help to get her out," Preminger concluded, his eyes fastened wearily on the dark road in front of him.

"She means a lot to you," Bennu observed.

"A lot? If my wife had ever had children..." His voice trailed off. "She couldn't pronounce my name when she was little, so I was always Uncle Jay. You wouldn't believe the red tape I had to fight to be allowed to be the one to go in after her."

"And you want me as insurance." Bennu smiled at the crooked grin and hasty nod the agent gave him. "John Wolf was a good friend for you to do so much for him."


"We were brothers. Blood brothers, by an old Indian ceremony. John was a full-blooded Indian, descended from Shamans, and the ceremony meant a lot to him. John Snow Wolf." Preminger shook his head, a fond, reminiscent expression on his face. "He was a born hunter. Instincts like you wouldn't ... well, maybe you would believe. Always claimed his bloodline had given him the ability. Magic, he called it."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book of the Week: NOVA VENDETTA #1: The Injustice

Commonwealth Universe
Downfall Era/Era I

The Sorendaal/Pirate novels


“End the suspense already,” Garen said, reaching as if he would take the box from Niall’s hands.

The other four laughed, mostly because Garen was usually the one who tormented the others by making them wait for news or to find out the latest rumors or which professor was taking interns and apprentices.

“All right.” Niall pulled out the multi-tool his professor of field service had given all the graduates. In a moment, he had slit the outer sealed skin. The box was held shut with straps that he cut in a moment.

Inside were small translucent green cubes.

“Old-style video cubes,” Garen said, picking one out of the box. He turned it over between his hands. “I think I know where you can find a player.”

By the time Niall, Amber and Garen tracked down a machine that would play the cubes, they had lost the other two friends, who professed sleep interested them more than video cubes. The trio ended up in one of the machinery archives. They were just as amazed as the archives keeper that there were more than a dozen of the obsolete display and playback units in storage. One cube was marked, “play this first,” so they did.

“Hello, son.” Gaellon Encardi smiled from the screen, looking even more battered and worn and browned from thin ship shielding than he had the last time Niall saw him -- when he was twelve Standard years old. His Exploration Corps uniform looked new enough for all his badges and insignias and honor citations to be crisp and clean and bright. That meant he was heading out for another long-range mission. The elder Encardi specialized in finding habitable planets and clearing them for colonization. If there were any conditions that would threaten the security and success of a colony, especially the health and reproductive ability of the colonists, he could identify it faster and with more accuracy than most others. It made him a valuable asset to the CAW’s colonization efforts. If the truth were ever admitted within the Niallon household, it gave him an excuse to stay away from Sorendaal and his wife’s family, the dynastic leaders of the colony.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book of the Week: NOVA VENDETTA #1: The Injustice

Commonwealth Universe
Downfall Era/Era I

The Sorendaal/Pirate novels

Niall Encardi heard the news of the coup at the beginning of the final lecture in MERAH, before graduating as a doctor from the Merkator Medical Academy. His classmates spread the rumors and speculations in harsh, rapid whispers, punctuated by curses, as they waited for the team of professors to step up to the lectern in the center of the lecture amphitheater.

The timing of the news struck Niall as symbolic and ironic. The new regime called itself the Restoration Alliance, and had been threatening the entrenched government of the Central Allied Worlds for nearly three years now with strong backing from the Set’ri, who insisted on “purifying” the Human genome. Their dogma included sterilizing all “defective” genetic variations, and making slaves of any humanoid race that didn’t match their narrow, exclusive criteria. 

MERAH stood for Medial Ethics Relating to Augmented Humanoids – meaning Wrinkleship pilots, Khybors, and all the lesser mutations and variations that had come about by accident or as byproducts of the tinkering of generations of scientists. The ones who couldn’t reproduce were safe, and perhaps to be envied. The Set’ri didn’t care about them. The ones who could pass their augmented genetics on to their children -- especially Khybors -- or whose tangled genetic side trips could show up in future generations of their family line even if they themselves didn’t or couldn’t reproduce -- such as Wrinkleship pilots -- were their targets.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The War Room

Works-in-Progress: Second Wave, book 1 in the Bridges series.

At least, that's what it is called right now. Doggone it, but as I write more and discover more characters and details about this mysterious alien world I stranded the colonists on, I'm thinking I have no idea what this book is supposed to be about. It's gonna be a LOT bigger than I planned, when I sent the proposal to my agent.

*sigh*

CAN you call it a YA series if the first 70K words are from the POV of adults? The story is supposed to be about Jess and Bridge meeting up, two fugitives on an alien world, and forming an alliance that will remake the entire society when they're both older and the process of changing a group of Human children into a bridge between the species has finished.

Maybe. Right now I've told the story from her parents' POV.

I keep getting more IDEAS!!

Love it and hate it. Just don't tell my agent I'm having these problems, would you?


WANT A FREE BOOK???
Next week, the giveaway opens up for my SF romance novel, STARBLUE, from Desert Breeze Publishing. It's the sequel to BLUE FIRE -- because the heroine, Starblue Ash, is the daughter of my heroes from the first book, Rhianni Day and Petroc Ash. Makes sense, huh?

Go to Goodreads and click on the Giveaways page, or just look up the book by its title, and you can enter the drawing. I'm giving away three print copies.

Or you could just skip the waiting and go right to Amazon or Desert Breeze to get your copy in either print or ebook. I don't mind. Go ahead. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book of the Week: NOVA VENDETTA #1: The Injustice

Commonwealth Universe
Downfall Era/Era I
The Sorendaal/Pirate novels

From Writers Exchange

Niall Encardi was ready to graduate after long, intensive years of medical training, and go home to the colony world of Sorendaal. His life-long dream was to be a healer and help the people led by his uncle, the governor. 

The revolutionaries who overthrew the current government of the Central Allied Worlds had other plans. When the homeworlds of Niall and his classmates didn't immediately give support and approval to the revolutionaries, the medical students were labeled enemies of the state, and transported to prison.


Despite every effort to stay focused on his first calling, healing and medicine, Niall became a leader, first on a prison planet, then on the prison space station known as the Abyss. Every time the government changed hands, he and his friends and then his allies in the prison society were labeled conspirators and sympathizers and condemned to yet more imprisonment.

By the time the Abyss was attacked, Niall and his people had become a force to be reckoned with. Their goal: freedom, even if meant turning pirate like the falsely imprisoned nobleman who sailed the ancient seas, on a ship called the Vendetta.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: HAVAH, by Tosca Lee

The subtitle is: The Story of Eve.

Should say it all, right?
Umm, no!

One-word reaction when I finally finished reading this (after kicking myself for taking so long to get to it?):  WOW.

Beautiful writing. Beautiful imagery. Intense.

But don't read it just for a compelling literary journey. This is the kind of book that keeps you up late, reading past midnight when you're supposed to get up early because you have a long day of physical activity in the July sun ahead of you. Yeah, that intense.

When you think about it, what could be so compelling about a book that covers a story we all know? Or at least, a story we all THINK we know?

That's the genius and the skill and the gift of Tosca Lee. We all know the bare bones of the story of the first people, the Fall, the Curse. All the slanted variations of the story to fit in with different ideologies and trying to place all the blame on one or the other, or even rewriting the truth -- another way of saying we've been lied to. We all know who is at the bottom of every attempt to change what God said, don't we?

No, this puts flesh on the bones, and tears, and joy, and wonder, and innocence and pain and an aching sense of that oneness that was lost, the tragedy of the destroyed Paradise. This makes Eve's story more real, more understandable, and yet doesn't excuse anyone.

Bravo. And again, WOW.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

TURNABOUT: Phoenix Fan Fiction

For August, we're going waaaaay back to some really sentimental (maybe semi-mental) Phoenix fan fiction. I must have been going through a maudlin, depressed stage, because so many stories have someone dying in them .... and none of them were Preminger!

If you don't know who Preminger was, maybe you should watch the series first, then come back and read the fan fiction for the Phoenix. Honestly, some fans were really, really nasty to poor old Justin, who would have locked up Mulder as a basket case and advised Scully to get a lot more skeptical or she'd lose her badge.  Anyway ...

TURNABOUT IS NOT FAIR PLAY takes place after a number of stories were written in fan fiction where Preminger decided he was better off helping Bennu, rather than hunting him down to put him in a cage as the ultimate illegal alien.

As always, the full story will be available on Wattpad.

Preminger felt himself dozing off, his head tipping forward and the paper coffee cup slipping from his fingers, and for a moment he could do nothing about it. With a jerk, he pulled himself upright, shaking his head to get rid of the cobwebs of sleep. He looked around himself, sitting on a bench in a deserted park, late at night. Now was not the time to nod off. Time was running out. He had to --

"Waiting for someone?" a quiet, familiar voice asked out of the dark mass of trees behind him.

Pulling out his flashlight, the agent whirled around and turned it on, pointing it at the speaker. Bennu put up his hand to shield his eyes from the sudden brightness. He stayed in the relative shelter of the trees until the flashlight was turned off.

"You came," Preminger said, half unbelieving. He prepared himself for the torrent of words he felt he would need to convince Bennu to help him.

"Yes. It seems our adventures together have linked us closer than I suspected. I could sense you wanted and needed my help." Bennu shrugged, spreading his hands; "Here I am."

"Just like that? No questions? What if I was leading you into a trap?"

"We both know you wouldn't do that -- not now. Your impatience and worry are rolling off you in waves. Shall we get going?"

Shaking his head, Preminger gestured back the way he had come, and led Bennu to his car. Mentally, he sorted through the long list he would have used to persuade Bennu, throwing most of it out now that the other was obviously willing to help. He felt lost -- he had always had to fight for assistance before. Nothing ever came this easily.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book of the Week: THE TALON

A breath of chill, stone-scented air drifted across his face, and Edrian opened one eye to see a thin, flickering beam of light come out of the wall, right where his floor-to-ceiling bookshelves should have been. Oddly, in the soft moonlight spilling through the sheer screens, the bookshelves were almost a meter to the right of where they belonged, and the light came from an opening between bookshelves and stone wall.

“Grandfather?” he whispered, understanding, and sat up quickly. Edrian grimaced as his mattress creaked. He preferred the old-fashioned bedstead, with ropes and natural cloth and fluff-bush filling in the mattress. That would have to change if he wanted to get up without alerting half the building.

“First lesson, my lad.” His grandfather held up the cylinder that produced the soft, flickering glow. It wasn’t a candle or a lantern or lamp, and the source of the light shimmered from gold to green to soft amber-orange and back again, pulsating just enough to be visible.

“The passage or the light?” Edrian asked, once he had followed Elbarto through the opening and the bookshelf slid softly back into place.

“Many things to make up one lesson. And here’s something it takes people their whole lives to realize -- the older you get, the more you realize you spend your whole life learning.” Elbarto handed him the cylinder. “Light without heat. How can that be?”


In the soft glow, a passageway extended in both directions behind the wall of Edrian’s room. His grandfather gestured to the right, where another opening revealed a narrow passageway filled with steps going up and down. They started downward. Edrian studied the light, which was soft enough that he could look directly at it and still see well enough to make his way down the steps without having to wait for his eyes to adjust. That pulsation … was it breathing? He hefted the cylinder. That was liquid surrounding the thing … a living thing?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Book of the Week: THE TALON

“Now,” Elbarto said, turning to look across the wide expanse of flat ground, where Government House perched, a massive, sprawling building that had been the first habitation on the colony world. It had grown beyond that, exponentially, so it was the government offices, the center of learning, the center of healing and science and military activity. And in times of fear, it provided shelter for refugees, both in the multiple layers of building dug down deep into the butte, and even in the caves. “Let’s see what we can do to frustrate the too-obvious minders the Council has set over us, shall we?”

“Booby-traps and bombs and sleeping drugs in their food?” Edrian whispered, leaning closer and glancing toward Government House, as if he feared someone would come running from over six hundred meters away and slap them in restraints.

“Hardly. And not half as much fun. Although some nasty potions in their food to make them sick might be a good idea.” The elderly man chuckled. “Or at least a good start. No, our duty is to defend our colony and our people and most especially our home. It’s a given the Council has called your father and Eryk away to try to … hmm, shall we say … re-educate them? Try to plumb the recesses of their minds and determine their loyalty, if nothing else. And while they’re away, these babysitters set over us, to ostensibly help me act as governor --“

“You don’t need help, Grandfather. None of us need help.”

“Hmm, yes. We’ve done just fine without the Central Allied Worlds for generations, but anyone who tries to convince them of that gets re-educated. We’ll just let them think they’re helping us, and we don’t suspect anything. When they’ve relaxed and become even more oblivious and obvious than they already are, that’s when we strike.”

“And do what?”

“We’ll figure that out when the time comes. For now, though … you’re in charge of protecting the Nightskimmers.”

“What are you going to do?” Edrian asked, while his pulse tripled and he could barely restrain a howl of delight. He had known since infancy that restraint was a matter of survival when it came to the spies the Central Allied Worlds inflicted on them on a regular basis.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The War Room

Got an INCREDIBLE 5-star review from Long and Short Reviews for my most recent Neighborlee, Ohio fantasy novel, "Growing Up Neighborlee." It tells the story of my semi-pseudo-superhero and soon-to-be-sit-down-comic, Lanie Zephyr -- whose story is also featured in the 3rd Crossover Alliance anthology, SUPERHEROES.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book of the Week: THE TALON, THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

Commonwealth Universe
Colonies
Downfall/Era I

The Talon is, basically, Zorro set on a futuristic, alien colony world. Plain and simple.

Except this masked vigilante rides through the sky on a winged ... well, not a horse, that's for sure!

THE TALON
From Writer's Exchange

It is a time of turmoil in the Central Allied Worlds when the governor of Rensler, his wife and eldest son are forced to attend a "conference" of colonial governors, leaving his youngest son, Edrian, in the care of his grandfather--the former governor--who must now take charge of the planet.

The two begin a secret project: befriending the sentient, nocturnal Nightskimmers.

As Edrian grows up, and unrest intensifies, he learns real heroes sometimes operate in secret, and that his position as younger brother of the next governor requires him to present a false face to the world, against the day when he must strike out on behalf of the colonists if they are to keep their freedom.

When the expected revolution does erupt, Edrian's father and grandfather are taken away, accused of treachery. His older brother flees to the wilderness to lead the rebels, and Edrian and his mother become hostages.

Edrian hides behind his false reputation of being sickly and studious, allowing him to move freely at night, freeing prisoners and striking in defense of the colony. He is only a boy on the verge of manhood, but the Talon's reputation has already taken root.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: FOOL MOON, Jim Butcher

Book 2 of the Dresden Files.

Moon refers to werewolves.
Lots of werewolves.
It's like a crash course in the types of werewolves, how someone becomes one, and especially how to fight a werewolf -- and survive.

Our hero almost doesn't.

Regulars in the series are being established -- the spirit adviser residing in a skull. The reporter for the newspaper specializing in arcana. The tough lady cop stuck in a rough situation, caught between the FBI and Internal Affairs. The big-time, heavy-handed mob-type boss who wants Harry to be his personal specialist in the weird and otherworldly.

It's the full moon and people are dying. Just like people died last month. There's a pattern. Harry goes investigating, and because people are keeping secrets and manipulating others, of course he walks into dangerous situations where people are immediately out for his blood. Literally. Along with large amounts of his flesh.

He goofs up. He hacks off people. Potential allies turn out to be the worst possible enemies he could ever have, and someone he's trying to help nearly kills him. Plus some dollops of more of Harry's interesting back story -- and things he never knew about dear old Mum.

It's gonna get interesting for Harry Dresden. I'm really looking forward to finally having time to watch the TV series based on the books. One of these ... decades, maybe.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

GIZMOS, Beauty & the Beast fan fiction

Robin smiled as she took in Mouse's chamber, filled with gizmos all sparkling and clicking and whirling and humming. She walked around, her mouth hanging open, eyes sparkling. She didn't give him puzzled, exasperated looks like some people did and she actually understood what he was talking about, when he explained what each gizmo was supposed to do.

"And him?" Robin asked, spotting Arthur sitting among all the spare parts on one table.

"Arthur. Helps me."

"Uh huh." She sank down on a stool and looked around, grinning. "I can't believe this place." She laughed. "You're so lucky, I'm positively green."

"Jealousy -- green-eyed monster." He smiled, glad to be in territory he understood.

"Mmm-hmm. Shakespeare." She rubbed at her eyes.

"No. Vincent," Mouse corrected without thinking. His mind whirled around all the things Mary said a proper host should do when entertaining.

"Huh?"

"Need things." Mouse wracked his brains. Robin was his guest, so he had to take good care of her. He decided he needed a girl's help. Jamie would keep Robin a secret if he asked. "You wait here. Gotta get someone. Don't leave?" he nearly pleaded, pausing in the doorway of his chamber.

"Where would I go?" she responded with a chuckle. "Why would I leave, anyway? This
place is fantastic." Her laughter followed Mouse as he hurried down the passageway to Jamie's chambers.

Jamie was skeptical, when Mouse told her. Something in her voice made him think she didn't like Robin -- but that was ridiculous, because Jamie hadn't even met Robin yet. He explained about getting new clothes from a Helper and going Above to attend the symposium, how Robin explained things to him, about Robin's reservation getting lost, and the man waiting in the hotel.

"Gotta help. Friends. Almost as good friends as Jamie and Mouse," he added, voice softer. "Please, Jamie?"

"It sounds like you already did everything." Jamie shrugged. She didn't sound happy -- but she didn't sound upset anymore, either. "What do you need me for?"

"Girls know what girls need. Robin needs friends. You're my best friend. Share."

Mouse couldn't understand why, but those words worked better than all his pleading had before.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Book of the Week: THE SADDLE AND THE SLEUTH

            Soon after the arrival of Inspector Kreeng, Randi had bigger problems than distracting and keeping track of a bruiser-turned-dandy and his gang of powder-puff thugs. The Talon’s network of informants usually sent information in regular pulses, and she worried when rumors trickled in separately, instead of in bundles. It meant the people sending the rumors, stories and fragments of confirmed details were worried enough to bypass the routine established when her father and uncle were younger than her. Randi sent out a request for more data to the older men who acted as clearinghouses for information sent to the Talon. The request went out less than twenty minutes before Inspector Kreeng’s ship came into orbit around Rensler, so Randi didn’t have time to let Uncle Eryk know about this newest development. The welcoming dinner and formal meeting of the governor’s cabinet exhausted him. Organizing the schedule of tours for Kreeng and his assistants took up all the rest of Randi’s time, so that it was two days later before she was able to slip away to the series of caves under Government House and check her messages.

           Borderline folk vanishing. Twenty rumored. Eight confirmed. Six found dead. Eleven missing short while but gaps in memories. Suspect testing. Set’ri.

            Randi cursed when she got to the last word, the worst word anyone could use or hear in these unsettled days. To call someone a Set’ri was an insult almost worthy of death.


            The Set’ri were purists, dedicated to preserving the pure Human genome. The only problem was, they considered themselves intelligent and moral enough to determine what belonged in the Human genome and what didn’t. They worked through the government whenever possible to have defective genetic traits stamped out, through forced sterilization. And when the government wouldn’t cooperate, they resorted to midnight raids, killing children and sterilizing adults who had something ‘valuable to contribute to humanity, despite their defective genetics.’ Usually that meant a slave labor force.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book of the Week: THE SADDLE AND THE SLEUTH

            Erianda Rensler’s world, and apparently the fate of the Human race on the colony world of Rensler, changed just a few Lunars after her twenty-third birthday. The change started simply, innocently enough. Crises had arisen, drastic enough for the Council of the Central Allied Worlds to call a meeting that included the governors of the colony worlds. Her uncle, Governor Eryk Rensler, had been suffering from some illness that wouldn’t go away, and changed symptoms on a semi-regular basis. He sent his younger brother Edrian, Randi’s father, because his physician didn’t recommend Wrinkleship travel, with strain on every major organ.

            Her mother Aura, who usually acted as hostess for Government House, went with Edrian. That left Randi the task of looking after her uncle, double-checking his security, and running a few discrete tests to make sure the physician was still a friend and not in the pay of some new enemy. She accepted her assignment with minimal grumbling. She was needed at home; she just didn’t care to be saddled with the onerous duties of acting as hostess.

            “On the bright side,” her uncle said, when she grumbled to him over an after-dinner game of Strategems, “with the way I’m feeling, you won’t have to suffer through any ridiculous parties for a while.”

            Randi knew she had been acting and feeling like a child. She let her uncle win two of their five games, to make up for her attitude. He felt bad enough by the end of the evening that he didn’t seem to notice, and retired to bed before his usual midnight.

            The reprieve from social obligations was short-lived. Less than two days after her parents’ ship left orbit, a Council starship slid into orbit and the Honorable Inspector General Asmondias Kreeng shuttled down to the colony.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book of the Week: THE SADDLE AND THE SLEUTH

Commonwealth Universe
Colonies
Downfall/Era I

As mentioned last week, PIRATE and SADDLE are novellas, about the daughters of heroic men -- based on two of my old-time movie heroes, Captain Blood and Zorro.

THE SADDLE AND THE SLEUTH
From Writers Exchange

On a remote colony world, the daughter of the Talon, the defender of the people, takes over her father's mask and identity. At the same time, an investigator comes to the colony in search of the Set'ri, to stop them from hastening the disintegration of the galactic civilization.

Can the two work together for the sake of the future, or will their necessary deceptions push them apart forever?


Monday, July 24, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: WINTER, by Marissa Meyer

The fourth book of the Lunar Chronicles.

Wow. Does the author put her characters through torture after torment after catastrophe after torture after despair or WHAT?

Can you believe it took me this long to figure out that Winter = Snow White? Well, duh, evil stepmother ... but a lot of faerie tale characters had evil stepmothers.

How come it's always stepmothers, never stepfathers? Well, there probably are faerie tales or folktales out there that do have evil stepfathers in abundance, but the stories I grew up with all seem to have ... okay, was there an evil stepfather in the Ring Cycle? Lots of Norse or maybe Welsh mythology? And of course, in Greco-Roman mythology many heroes had nasty stepfathers, but wouldn't you be kind of nasty to the kid you had to raise as your own, knowing that your wife fooled around with one of the gods --whether she knew it or not?

I'm getting off the subject.

Love the book. Biting my nails, silently shouting "When is it going to end and they get their happily ever after?" Haven't they earned it by now? Well, yes, and there are hints that everyone gets at least closer to settling down with their prince charming -- or roguish captain -- or mutant soldier-hero -- or loyal, honorable guard captain .... but they've all been changed and scarred and bruised by what they've gone through. It's gonna take a long time to recover from that. (Speaking of scars, Meyer did a masterful job making me kinda-sorta sympathetic for nasty old Levana. Almost. The nasty twitch made her choices. I'll probably have to read Fairest next to get her POV of the whole situation. *sigh*)

And if you read the graphic novel, Wires and Nerve, which is Iko's story, basically, you get a good idea of what everybody is going through as they heal. Love Iko, by the way. You really should read the graphic novel.

Here's where I wonder what the author is going to do for an encore, but I already read that book, Heartless. If you ever get a chance to see Meyer in person, do. It's a fascinating time, just getting a glimpse into how her imagination works.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

GIZMOS, Beauty & the Beast fan fiction

Robin, Mouse decided, knew everything worth knowing. She didn't make him feel stupid, or that he wasted her time when he asked questions. She got him in to see symposium exhibits that almost everyone else was prohibited from seeing. He was impressed when she pulled out a gold plastic card with her name on it and flashed it at the guards at the doors, then gestured Mouse in with her. At one place, she even introduced him to a man in a white lab coat as her friend, Arthur. That was when he told her that his friends called him Mouse. Robin smiled wider, eyes sparkling, as though he had given her a wonderful present. As they walked through more exhibit halls, she explained anything he wanted to know. He hung on her every word, as breathlessly eager as when Father read aloud.

"How do you know all this?" he asked, when she paused for breath.

"I just do. I read it, or I hear people talk about it." Robin looked around the hall. Dismay crossed her face when she found the clock.


"What?" he blurted, sure something terrible had happened.

"I was supposed to check into my hotel an hour ago. If I'm late, I could lose my room, and I'll probably miss Dr. Maximovich's lecture." She rubbed her eyes, like Father did when he had a headache. "The story of my life -- always goofing up somewhere."

"Then run." Mouse couldn't understand why she was so worried about time. To his delight, Robin laughed.

"Mouse, I am so glad I met you. Will you save me a seat, if I don't get back in time?"

"I'll go with you."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book of the Week: THE PIRATE AND THE PROFESSOR

            Common sense said the pirate vessel blockading the colony world Sorendaal wouldn’t be very impressed to know he was on board the Stellar Peace. Not unless they wanted him to do some weapons research for them.

            “Getting a signal,” the communications officer said. He sounded surprised.

            Darrak didn’t turn to look at the man. He could tell by the rank, salty damp odor that the man had ruined his uniform with nervous sweat. If he had been part of the military instead of a volunteer for a semi-suicidal peace mission, he would have been booted from the service. Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on the viewpoint – this wasn’t the military. Darrak hoped he never saw any military belonging to the Central Allied Worlds, because they were the enemy.

            Ironic, considering that the pirate crew that effectively blockaded Sorendaal from the rest of the universe was high on the list of preferred allies in this battle to hold civilization together. It just proved how turned around and inside out everything had become, when the government he once served was the enemy and the pirates that had claimed control of this colony world presented the best chance of stability and safety.

            “Stellar Peace, this is the Nova Vendetta. We have received your signal,” a woman said. “Why should we believe a word you say?”

            “Can’t be,” Captain Marker whispered, and turned in his command chair to lock gazes with Darrak.

            “Wrong, captain,” the woman said. “This is the Nova Vendetta. We are not a ghost ship, as we will prove if you give us any reason to believe you’re here to cause trouble.”