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.


"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


            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


            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


Commonwealth Universe
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.

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


            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.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017


            Kiryn emerged from her bedroom with her tears dry and her head aching, and found her father’s former crew waiting. They were a vast difference from the refined, powerful people of Sorendaal’s colonial government who had surrounded her when the news of the starship’s destruction first arrived. No wine or other refined, expensive beverages for these men. Tanned by radiation, scarred by shipboard explosions, grim and heavy-set, they sat around the oval table where her father, the governor, had entertained ambassadors and officials. Their glasses were filled with murky brews that could have come from the coolant tanks of their battered, fierce starships.
She was gladder to see these men than anyone else who might have come to console her. Kiryn knew they wouldn’t speak soothing words and offer useless philosophy and homilies to to ease her pain. They would be just as angry as she that Captain Niall Encardi, the Terror of the Spacelanes, had met his death at the hands of the government that had once begged, long ago, for his help.

            What did it matter if galactic civilization and the government of the Central Allied Worlds shredded a little more every day, and the soldiers in the attacking ships had been rebels? The government provided those weapons and trained those soldiers, and failed to keep its vaunted control over the far-flung colonies throughout the galaxy. The end result was the same. Her father and mother were dead, despite their ship being clearly marked an ambassadorial vessel and transmitting their identification on all frequencies.

            Their deaths hadn’t been an accident.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Commonwealth Universe novel
Downfall/Era I

This week's book is actually a novella. This week's and next week's books were once part of an anthology called Damsels OF Distress -- meaning the damsels caused the distress, rather than being in it.

For those who might be interested, PIRATE and SADDLE were based on some fun speculating based on two favorite old movies. First: What if Captain Blood had a daughter? and then: What if Zorro had a daughter? And what if their stories weren't set in the past, but on a far distance planet in the future? And so we have stories of two strong young women filling in when their heroic fathers aren't around.

from Writers Exchange

As civilization crumbles, Kiryn realizes the only way to protect her planet from pirates is to become one. She takes up the mantle of her father, a reformed pirate who saved his homeworld.

As captain of the legendary pirate ship, Nova Vendetta, she makes her homeworld a haven for the downtrodden. Then the scholarly representative of a neglected colony comes as a peace envoy and makes her think of more than just surviving. When the two of them are shot down in the badlands of her planet, they become partners to survive, then friends, then maybe something more.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: REMEMBRANCE, Meg Cabot

The most recent Mediator novel.

Jesse and Suze are getting on with their lives. Or at least, they're trying to. He's doing his internship, on his way to being a doctor. She's earning her counseling degree and working at her former high school. Unfortunately, a former ghost and the mediator who time-traveled to bring him back to life aren't allowed to settle down into happily-ever-after. At least, not without some complications and ghostly bumps along the way.

An old, egotistical nemesis returns. He's using his millions and his power and influence to force Suze to team up with him. And if he can send Jesse back to the world of the dead, even better. Then there's the very angry, protective ghost who doesn't seem to understand that Suze is trying to help her very trouble, best friend from elementary school. Then to make things even more complicated, Suze's step-nieces seem to take after her side of the family ... but they aren't blood relatives, so how did that happen?

Another fun romp with some serious, more grown-up overtones. I hope this won't be the last Mediator book, now that Cabot has returned to the trials and tribulations of the mediator and her (former) ghostly true love. I was disappointed to read that she has stated there will be no more 1-800-where-r-u books (Hint: read them!) but since she hasn't stated there are no more Mediator books ... hope remains!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

GIZMOS, Beauty & the Beast fan fiction

"Do what?" Robin asked, typing her initials into the scoreboard.

"Score so high."

She glanced over her shoulder, smiled at him, and turned around so she leaned back against the game. "If I tell you the secret, promise not to tell anyone else?" Her smile grew wider when Mouse nodded. "Okay. You watch for the patterns of the program. It's all on computer chips, right?"

"Chips?" Mouse muttered, lost. "Oh -- yeah -- chips."

"Computer programs. Once you figure out the pattern, you can predict what's next and avoid getting zapped." She glanced over her shoulder at her score, and shrugged. "At least, predict most of the time. Never said I was perfect."

"Neat. How long?"

"How long for what?"

"Figure the pattern." Mouse wished he had a quarter.

"Three days, and I still don't have it down pat."

"Three days? How many quarters?"

"I cheated. My mother bought the game for me."

"Not cheating."

"Want to try?" She smiled at him, dug in her pocket, and came up with a quarter.

"Can I?" Mouse's face lit up like the game had exploded all over him.

Friday, July 14, 2017


Commonwealth Universe novel
Khybors story

From Writers Exchange

“Interfacing?” He sat up straight, alerted to the implications that didn’t quite solidify right away in his thoughts. Rorin always loved that churning of theories and possibilities, and waiting for a brainstorm to hit.

“Never mind that. You were asking about Elin. She’s out on a training expedition right now. Don’t expect her back for three, four days.”

“Training who?”

“The children. All the children who survived. She’s the only mother they have now, and the way they cling to her … it’s a little frightening, if you take enough time to sit back and really think about it.” He settled back further in his chair and clasped his hands on the cluttered surface of his desk.

“What’s frightening about it? Elin’s always been especially protective of children. That’s her whole dream, inherited down through the family line. Finding a place where the children can be safe. You’d think a poisonous place like Norbra, our enemies would leave us alone and hope the world would kill us off, so they don’t have to expend time and resources.” Rorin grunted and fought off a shudder of pure disgust. “That hope certainly didn’t pan out.”

“Definitely not, and they’re going to regret …” He sighed. “It didn’t occur to me until now, the way you’re talking, you’ve taken the big step, haven’t you? No turning back.”

“If you mean that I’ve made it impossible for my superiors to ignore that I’ve got Khybor blood and Khybor sympathies, absolutely. I’m committed.” He grinned. “So … how is Elin doing with instant motherhood?”

“It’s been an interesting experience. She’s ready to die for those children, and they know it, and they also know she won’t tolerate even one second of rebellion. It’s life-and-death, even inside the walls here. I might be the administrator, and officially I’m the final authority, but the truth is that Elin is queen of Norbra. We’re all here to support her vision, her plans.”

“That makes more sense than anything I’ve heard in a long time. So, how do I find her majesty and pay my respects?”

Dr. Teller tipped his head back and laughed.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book of the Week: SLIPPING THE WEAVE

Commonwealth Novel
Khybors story

From Writers Exchange

“The only Khybor?” Dr. Teller frowned as he settled into his desk. Then he shook his head and a weary chuckle escaped him. “Is that what they’re telling all of you back in the core worlds?”

“Well, all the adults were slaughtered and the children were so badly damaged they needed life-support tubes and had to be shipped off-planet to better equipped medical facilities. There were all sorts of stories of equipment problems and sabotage, and needing to do a purge of the staff here, because the Set’ri had infiltrated some of their own to prepare for the attack.” Rorin thought for a moment, while the administrator just watched him, that hint of a smile waiting to emerge. “What is idle speculation, what is hopeful theorizing from our enemies, and what is self-defensive lies?”

“Granted, we did do all we could to hide the numbers of the children who survived the massacre and what condition they were in. Yes, all of them required life-support tubes. And yes, we did consider shipping them off-planet for more sophisticated care than we could offer them. However … we’re a long way from Vidan. It wasn’t just the communication lags that slowed down our decisions and asking for assistance.”

“The higher-level facilities were reluctant to help, reluctant to take the children? Public sentiment was entirely in our favor for a while.” Rorin sighed. “For a while.”

“Exactly. We couldn’t guarantee that the hangers-on of the attackers weren’t still in the area. All we needed to do to complete the massacre was let the children out of our custody, put them on a ship, under the control of one person with Set’ri tendencies. All their ethical guidelines and healer vows wouldn’t matter, like wet paper in a tornado, compared to Set’ri dogma. We chose to take our chances with the equipment we had, with people here who valued the children and supported Khybor survival. Then …” That hint of a smile returned. “Then it didn’t matter anymore.”

“How many children did you lose? The stories that filtered back to us said there were major equipment problems, all sorts of strange things going on. No one could be sure if it was the planet itself, the supposed curse of Norbra from the ancient myths, refusing to let any children live on this planet, or something worse was happening.”

“Hmm, that’s interesting. I know the first generation or two that tried to settle here did reinforce the stories of the ancient queen and the punishment of the higher powers, but … Yes, that much is true. We did have equipment problems, but it was related to khrystal interfacing with the equipment.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The War Room

Want to win a FREE book?

Yeah, the most dangerous and most fun four-letter word in the English language ...

Here's what you gotta do:

Go to Goodreads and enter the drawing for my SF romance, BLUE FIRE.

That's all.

I'm giving away 3 print copies of this Desert Breeze novel, with the entry period running until August 7.

Then when that one is done, I'm doing another giveaway, this time for STARBLUE, the sequel to BLUE FIRE, which deals with the quest of Starblue Ash, daughter of our heroes, Rhianni Day and Petroc Ash.

And keep your eyes peeled. Only 3 more excerpts for the current fan fiction short story, "Gizmos," set in the Beauty and the Beast universe, then in August the fan fiction -- available in full at Wattpad -- will change to a Phoenix fan story, "Turnabout is not Fair Play." You can read excerpts of fan fiction here every Saturday, and full stories all the time on Wattpad. Every month, I post a new fan fiction, taking from my archives. If you want to get a PDF copy of the stories for yourself, I'm giving away an old story each month to subscribers to my newsletter. The form to sign up is to the right, here on the blog. How much easier could it be?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book of the Week: SLIPPING THE WEAVE

A Commonwealth Universe novel
A Khybors story

From Writers Exchange

Khybors fled to Norbra for a safe place to raise their children, far from enemies who wanted them declared non-Humans, and either enslave them or annihilate them entirely. 

Like the selfish, arrogant queen of legend for whom the planet was named, Norbra had a reputation for destroying all life. Elin and those who settled the planet believed and hoped that no one would want the planet, and their enemies would leave them in peace and wait for Norbra to destroy them.

However, Khybors were made to survive. They made Norbra their home and used the dangers of the planet for their own defense. Then as the generations went on, they made a long-range plan for survival, because they knew their enemies would not give up. 

The only way for Khybors to survive as a race was to go so far away that the Set'ri and other enemies would never find them, and in time, maybe even forget about them.

Rorin Pace came to Norbra to win Elin's heart, follow his dream of pilots "becoming one" with their ships, and find a way to protect all Khybors.

Kheeran, their daughter, reached new dimensions as a pilot.

Banjer, their son, dove deeper within the computer world and discovered the vital element in the long-range plan of escape to the far reaches of space for Khybors.

Zeph, a Wrinkleship pilot, allied with the Khybors in building their fleet and brought them a damaged ship full of prisoners and pirates and a growing artificial intelligence: the Nova Vendetta. 

Errien, Kheeran's daughter, led the pilots who searched for new gateways to other universes.

Meanwhile, their enemies grew stronger and came closer, and the countdown began to the destruction of the Central Allied Worlds.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: NAMELESS, by A.C. Williams

NAMELESS is Book 1 of the Destiny Trilogy.

I recommend you get hold of the free short reads offered by A.C. Williams and Crosshair Press, the publisher (at least, they were free when I got hold of them) to get to know some of the crew and the relationships on the bounty hunter ship, Prodigal, before you read the book.

The title refers to a lost girl named Xander -- and she only has that name because it was on the jacket she was wearing when she was found.

No memory, no identity, no money, no friends. She does have some pretty nasty people out to capture her -- why, no one knows. And considering how powerful and nasty those people are, she's better off not knowing. Her quest brings her in contact with an assortment of people who, for a while at least, make the reader wonder if all of human society is going downhill in the future. Nobody is willing to help, everyone is out for themselves, and quick to jump to the worst conclusions possible about Xander. Even the crew of the Prodigal. Of course, people jump to the wrong conclusions about them, too, because "everyone" knows that bounty hunters are the worst of the worst.

This is a gritty, painful ride of a story, and doggone it, I want to know what happened to the starship Destiny -- where the trilogy gets its name -- and why those nasty people want Xander so badly when, as far as anyone knows, they have the ship. What's going on?

Thanks a lot. The last thing I need (sarcasm here, folks) is yet another series where I need to and must obtain the other books, ASAP -- yeah, and just add to my to-be-read list. Maybe I should just not do any writing for the whole summer, so I can catch up ....

Saturday, July 8, 2017

GIZMOS, Beauty & the Beast fan fiction

REMEMBER: You can find ALL my fan fiction on Wattpad:  

Four hours later, his head swam from the lectures he had heard. Mouse knew he was smart — he could figure out any gizmo Helpers and Tunnel people brought to him. So why did these lecturers speak a language he couldn't half understand? He would have got up and fled to the display halls, except the girl next to him sat there, listening with that gleam in her eyes that meant she not only understood every word, she enjoyed it. He had to step in front of her to leave and he didn't want to disturb her. Mouse wondered if his head would burst before the break was called.

Now he fled to the exhibit hall. He let his gaze wander over spacecraft models sitting next to DNA diagrams, and tried to put all the odd words and concepts from the lecture into some kind of organized whole in his brain.

"Maybe not so smart," Mouse muttered after he reached the end of the hall and couldn't remember anything. He followed the traffic flow to another room.

His confusion faded as an electronic chorus met his ears. The room was long, narrow, and every square foot of wall space was lined with video games. Mouse wore a delighted grin and he walked up and down the room with slow steps, filling his eyes and ears with mechanical wonders. This was more like it!

A crowd stood around a game at the far end of the hall. Mouse gradually joined the students, pressing his way closer in to see the game. He recognized Robin at the controls, whizzing her way through level fifty-eight of Tempest.

"Another player," a boy standing in front of Mouse grumbled. The game let out a burst of music and spilled lights over the watchers. "That makes five." He gave Robin a disgusted look and walked away. Three followed him. Mouse stepped closer and watched.

He watched until the other onlookers left. Robin didn't pay him any attention. Mouse grew dazed by the geometric puzzles the game threw at her. He winced every time she miscalculated. When she finally lost all her men -- at level eighty-nine -- her score was 60,000 points higher than the posted high.

"How do you do that?" Mouse sighed in admiration.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book of the Week: NORBRA'S CHILDREN

Commonwealth novel
Khybors story

From Writers Exchange

            “Hello, be-u-ti-ful!” A tall, lean figure in the sloppy, eye-aching purple fatigues of the Wedge, the exploration-and-rescue arm of the Galactic Fleet, stood in the doorway of the next checkpoint.

            Elin nearly barked a response that bordered on crude, but she knew she was under surveillance as much as she kept those idiots at the last checkpoint under surveillance. She was a Khybor, and no matter how valuable her services to the government, no matter how flawless her record, she still had her family reputation to live down. Her multi-great grandmother had been the first Human to successfully carry bio-crystal in her blood. Kheeran had been classed a rebel and a danger because she refused to let the paranoid military lock her in a dark box for the rest of her life. All her descendants had proven themselves just as stubborn about freedom and personal choice, and just as willing to seriously damage anything that stood in their way. Even though Elin’s great-grandmother had forged a profitable, useful alliance between Khybors and the government of the Central Allied Worlds, the so-called voice of civilization and Humanity, that didn’t mean the family had given up its dedication to fighting for what they believed in or wanted. Elin’s mother had taught her to watch her mouth whenever she was around the unenlightened. Who knew, after all, when the Set’ri would decide that a foul tongue meant Khybors were mentally defective, therefore unstable and a danger to Humanity?

            Elin shoved aside the constant complaint about elitists and paranoid cowards that ran at the back of her mind in a subliminal grumble, and offered a wide grin and wide-spread arms to Colonel Rorin Pace as he strode down the walkway toward her.

            “Fi’in bless me, but I must have done some clean living for a change,” he declared as he scooped her up, held her tight against him and spun them both around two revolutions. “You look good, bratty kid.” He set her down, but didn’t step back right away.

            “You don’t look so bad yourself, mud-grubber.” Elin ducked when Rorin reached to yank on her long, bronze-colored braid. She stuck her tongue out at him, earning a roar of laughter.

            “If I’d known you got the short straw this duty shift, I’d’ve come down to personally escort you,” he said, as they strode up to the last checkpoint before Elin could enter the ship.

            “Why?” She saw the answer in his eyes before he opened his mouth. “More Set’ri threats?”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book of the Week: NORBRA'S CHILDREN

Commonwealth novel
Khybors story

From Writers Exchange

            Elin hated it when her duty rotation required her to mediate yet again between a Wrinkleship pilot and the spaceport authorities.

The pilots didn’t bother her. They were decent enough people, even the worst of them, even when they acted like elitist snobs. Part of the problem, she knew, was that she did consider them people, while a growing percentage of the officers and officials and technicians she had to pass on her way through security levels to get to the Wrinkleships, did not. Wrinkleship pilots, according to the proponents of the pureblood radical genetic dogma of the Set’ri, were mutants. Mutants had to be destroyed, to prevent them from contaminating the true Human genome, according to the Set’ri. However, Wrinkleship pilots were necessary to the expansion of the Central Allied Worlds, so they weren’t destroyed at birth, or when their mutations manifested at adolescence.

Lucky for them. Or maybe not so lucky.

What did it matter that their bodies were so malformed and defective that by the time they entered their second decade, most of them needed life support? According to all the ethics books Elin had studied, and the inherited memories of her ancestors, the mind and soul determined if a life form was Human, not the viability and performance of the body. Elin had enough experience – her own, as well as those imprinted in the Khrystal in her blood – to convince her that the converse of the Set’ri dogma was true, and a great many who looked Human did not qualify for the title.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The War Room

July already?

Where did June go, and how did it go by so quickly?

Part of the answer, I know -- I was busy writing and revising and polishing!

I completed the 1st draft of the 1st book in a new humorous fantasy trilogy I call Magic to Spare. "Magic and Thorns" is the working title for the first book -- basically how a princess with a lot of potential is turned into a spoiled brat, blunting her magical potential, so that it takes all of the 2nd book, "The Kindness Curse," to reform her.

I revised and polished and turned in a new contemporary romance for Desert Breeze Publishing, due out in February 2018. "Killing His Alter-Ego" deals with Kyle and Raine, who met while filming a TV series. His instant stardom went to his head, and she was a hyper-sensitive 16-year-old with an inferiority complex. After hurting her feelings and messing up each time he tried to make things right, they went their separate ways, until the power of fandom revived the show and brought them back together. Could he finally become the hero for her that he had always wanted to be? That might be hard with all of fandom watching them, confusing them for the characters they had played years ago. And even harder when certain rabid elements in fandom were determined that they, and their characters, would never be reunited.

Want to win a FREE BOOK?
Go to Goodreads, starting July 10, and enter the drawing to win 1 of 3 print copies of my SF romance from Desert Breeze Publishing: BLUE FIRE.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Book of the Week: NORBRA'S CHILDREN, Commonwealth Universe

Commonwealth Universe novel
Khybors story

From Writers Exchange

Before the Commonwealth, there was First Civ, and then the Downfall, an age of barbarism when the galaxy-spanning civilization shattered and colony worlds were abandoned to die or to survive by their own strength.

This is the story of Elin, a direct descendant of the first Khybor,
with the future of her race resting on her shoulders. When the Set'ri wanted to declare them non-Humans and have them exterminated, and other factions in civilization wanted them declared a slave race, Elin led the way to a desert world called Norbra, where Khybors had a chance to live free and to raise their children in peace and safety.

But their enemies followed them...

Monday, July 3, 2017

Off the Bookshelf: GAMES WIZARDS PLAY, Diane Duane

I LOVE the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane.
Loved it before a certain British wizard showed up.
There is just too long a gap between books.

In GAMES WIZARDS PLAY, a competition has been announced for bright young wizards to bring out their most clever and useful and imaginative spells for judging. It's a competition with an incredible prize: to study with Earth's Planetary -- the wizard in charge of all the wizards on Earth. Pretty big-time stress.

Our three favorite young wizards don't compete -- they have an even more stressful duty, mentoring two of the competitors. They get to go over the spells and help refine them, weed out the possible problems and pitfalls, the gaps, and help with presentation for the judging. And in some cases, help iron out big personal problems for these brilliant young minds. There are several games being played here, and not all are fun.

Some loose threads from previous novels get tied up, the Lone Power tries to stir up the pot again, and Nita and Kit put a few more toes into the troubled waters of adding boyfriend/girlfriend to their wizarding partnership. Great fun to read, along with some wow-worthy explorations of planetary science-from-a-magical-viewpoint. As a writer, you gotta love the world-building woven together here. How does she DO that?

So now the clock starts ticking for the next book. Umm, someone want to loan the author Hermione's time-minder, so she can get it done faster? Please?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

GIZMOS, Beauty & the Beast fan fiction

For July, we have a Beauty & the Beast fan fiction piece I wrote for On Wings of Light, a fanzine devoted to B&B, Starman, and the Phoenix.

Of course, you can read the WHOLE story on Wattpad ...


Mouse blinked as the lights dimmed in the lecture hall. He looked around as a girl settled into the seat next to him on the aisle. A man walked out onto the stage and the hum of talk in the auditorium faded.

"Did I miss anything?" the girl whispered.

"Just somebody saying welcome." Mouse glanced at her. His eyes adjusted enough to read her badge. Robin. He was glad he had borrowed a peel-and-stick label and made his own name badge to match everyone else.

"Great. I'm always late." Laughter touched her voice.

"Me, too." Mouse grinned at her. He grinned more when she leaned forward to read his badge.

"Pleased to meet you, Arthur."