Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Book Excerpt: DORM RATS, A Neighborlee, Ohio book

Our first two weeks in England, we pretty much stayed in London and the suburbs. We hit a bookstore every day, sometimes two in a day. Two kinds of bookstores. In the first, Mum and Pop dug through musty, dusty, shadowy old bookstores for research books, sending twenty-pound crates home, in care of Angela and Divine's Emporium every other day. The second type was newer, sometimes glitzy shops, where our folks did booksignings or talked to reader groups. Depending on the store, and if they were searching or talking, Harry and I had assigned tasks, to help search or to help set up for the talk and signing, or to run errands. Honestly we preferred the last option, because it left us free to explore the village and find something fun to do in the afternoon or evening when our folks were free.

Harry caught on to the whole weird money system on the first day, so he was in charge of making purchases and deciding if something was worth the price being asked, or if we should move on to another shop. I learned the bus routes and how to read village maps and route markers, and had a good knack for deciding if we should rent bikes or hike or take a cab or bus to our destination. I was good with maps. Maybe it had something to do with my ability to kinda-sorta fly, like built-in radar or something. Admittedly, it helped to be able to raise myself up fifty or a hundred feet in the air and get a bird's-eye view of the terrain, orient myself on the roads and fields and spy out landmarks to compare to the map.


Our sixth day in England, Mum and Pop had a booksigning followed by a hike to the other end of the village for a private luncheon with an investigative society. The village and historical society must be left nameless because of security reasons. Not because that particular village was a trouble spot, but because of the people who might want to cause trouble years later. To prevent them following Mum and Pop's route and kind of triangulating to identify other places where we stopped, people they talked to and things-that-shall-be-left-unspoken that they did. Don't like that restriction? Take it up with Col. Hayward.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Book: DORM RATS, A Neighborlee, Ohio novel

DORM RATSThe next Neighborlee, Ohio novel, starring Lanie Zephyr.
From Uncial Press

Lanie is off to college. While it's good she stays in Neighborlee -- she is one of the guardians, after all --there are some down-sides. 


Such as what happens when someone manipulates the dormitory situation at Willis-Brooks College to tap into the power of belief and imagination, lumping all the geeks and fans and creative types in one place. 

Or when some self-styled Time Lords realize that despite their best efforts, they can't control time. 


And then there are all the trials and tribulations of student teaching and settling into her career as a teacher, all while Lanie and her semi-pseudo-superhero friends keep their fingers on the pulse of the strangest little town in the state, maybe the country -- maybe the world.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

BLADE OF INNOCENCE, Highlander the TV series fan fiction

Excerpt from Chapter 13 of the fan novel now available on Wattpad:

            "So, you're a friend of Duncan MacLeod's. How convenient," Immerman purred.

            "Who?" Joe blinked blood and sweat out of his eyes and tried to focus on the chiseled face leaning over him.  He sat on a pile of rubble, wondering what new brutality the Immortal would use next.  "You know, your idea of hospitality really stinks." His whole body felt bruised by the trip from the car into the black pit of a building.  Immerman had pushed him along with the sword point to his back.  When Joe didn't move quickly enough, he clubbed him with a convenient scrap of lumber and kicked him when he fell. Once he had even grabbed Joe's cane and cracked it against the back of his head.


            "Isn't that just too bad?" the Immortal said in that same mildly pleased tone.  The flashlight he used to illuminate the corner of the moldering room cast his face into a spectral mask.  "According to these papers, printed out by our dear, late Andrew Blaine, you are the head of the Watchers in this section of the country, and you are assigned to Duncan MacLeod."  He tugged a much-folded sheaf of papers from his jeans pocket and waved them in front of Joe's face.

            "Andrew Blaine?  Mister, the kid must be a mystery writer. I don't know what you're -- " Joe bent double, Immerman's elbow in his gut.


            "I need you alive, Mr. Dawson, but I don't particularly need you in good shape. Duncan MacLeod seems to find some value in you, since he hasn't killed you for discovering his secret or intruding into his life.  I will use that for my own benefit.  Do try to prolong your life as long as possible."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this week of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.


Excerpt:


 "What's a facet?"


"It's like the flat part of a diamond." Yes, I must confess, there was some scorn in my voice. I had a habit of devouring every book I could get my hands on. After I had learned where the tiny library was at NCH, I had read through the entire encyclopedia. Between the start of school and Thanksgiving. That put me in possession of a great deal of scattered, unrelated bits of knowledge, and I felt rather superior every time one of those fractured pieces became useful.

"Hmm, accurate, if not totally… Well, maybe it is applicable. There are many faces or sides or dimensions to what you can do, or possibly could do someday," Miss Angela said. "There are many futures, full of possibilities, and no true means exist to see clearly which one is for sure." She guided us upstairs, to her living quarters on the second floor. Both of us were astonished and enchanted, because it had never occurred to either of us that someone could actually live in the same building as their business.

While we put together a lunch of sandwiches and soup and hot chocolate, Miss Angela made phone calls. First, she called Mrs. Silvestri and told her not to worry, that we had made a slight detour and come to see her about advice for Christmas shopping. She promised Kurt would get back to school before the lunch hour was over. Then she called Mr. Longfellow and asked him to come to the shop. Then she called the school and left a message for Mrs. Longfellow, who was Kurt's teacher, and told her that Kurt was helping her and Mr. Longfellow, and might be late getting back to class. That was when we learned Mr. Longfellow's first name was Ford. Then she told us to set the table for four.

We were sitting down to the most incredible chicken soup we had ever had in our lives when Mr. Longfellow came into the shop. He ran right upstairs, knocked once on the door of Miss Angela's apartment and walked in before she answered. Then he flung his long rusty black pea coat onto the ottoman, and slid into the fourth chair at the table.

"Hey, kids. How come I'm not surprised it's you?" He winked, and then nodded to Miss Angela.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this week of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.


Excerpt:


 Miss Angela was spreading cinders on the flagstone path in front of Divine's Emporium, outside of the wrought iron fence, when we ran up the long street. She must have heard us from the moment we turned onto the street, because she stopped and put the bucket down inside the fence and then turned and watched us coming, her arms wrapped tight around herself. The image is still strong in my mind this many years later. The closer we came, the sadder her expression grew, so that by the time we were about ten yards away, we had slowed down. The last thing I wanted in the world was to disappoint Miss Angela, and I was sure Kurt felt the same. By the time we got to within maybe ten feet of her, I was wishing I could turn around and run back to NCH and make Miss Angela forget we had come there. She had to know we were supposed to be heading home for lunch, or at least I was. Kurt packed his lunch like all the other NCH kids did in cold or rainy weather, so he could eat at school.


"I'm so sorry," Miss Angela said, and went down on one knee, holding her arms open wide for us. We ran to her and I nearly cried from relief when she hugged us.

"So we're not dead meat?" Kurt said, when she released us and gestured for us to go ahead of her through the gate.

"Not on my watch. No, you two are in very good odor. Although… Well, we'll just have to think of a totally reasonable cover story and make it true. That's one of the laws of the guardians of Neighborlee. While we have many secrets, there are many truths that the ordinary people of this town don't need to know, for their own good and their own mental wellbeing. Can we truly call anyone ordinary who lives in Neighborlee?" She frowned slightly as we trooped up the cinder- strewn path to the front porch of Divine's. Then her frown turned to a smile, she winked, and chuckled as the door swung open while we were three steps away.

"Did you do that?" Kurt said in a loud whisper. "I didn't feel it."

"Ah ha!" Miss Angela nudged our shoulders, to propel us forward through the door. "Did you discover another facet of your gifts, Lanie?"

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Trailer: Come explore Neighborlee, Ohio!

As a tie-in with the Neighborlee books that have been excerpted and featured the last few weeks, and especially the new Neighborlee, Ohio book coming out in a few days from Uncial Press (DORM RATS), here are a couple book trailers to whet your appetite.

And maybe make you grin a little.

First, the book trailer for the Divine's Emporium series: Divine's Emporium, Have Yourself a Faerie Little Christmas, and Divine Knight.




Followed by Hero Blues:


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this week of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.


Excerpt:


 We talked about everything we could remember of our dreams, which wasn't much, just the impression of someone trying to get into wherever we were. Kurt was frustrated with me that I didn't get an itching feeling. Then he forgot about that in the surprising discovery revealed by further talking. The itching was always on the same side of the room, when he woke up from his dreams of the intruder. Meaning if he lay on his back, the itching was on his right side, but if he lay on his stomach, the itching was on his left side, and if he was curled up on his side facing the wall, his face itched. The itching was always closest to the outer wall of his room.


Talking didn't solve anything, and didn't do us much good in dispelling the nightmares, either. We both had nightmares that night, and on the way to school the next day, we walked at the back of the line so we could talk. There was only one thing we could think of. Fortunately, it was the smart tactic.

At lunchtime, instead of going back to NCH, Kurt and I ran all the way to Divine's Emporium. Our logic was sound, at least, as sound as two elementary-age children could come up with. Miss Angela was the source of all the comic books that Kurt and I used to formulate our superhero rules, and to learn what we could possibly do someday. She was the source of all the wonderful, magical things in our lives. Besides, she had the Wishing Ball, and the clearest thought in my sleep-deprived mind was that I could make a wish and make the nightmares go away.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this week of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.


Excerpt:


Then the nightmares started, and that took away most of the fun.

I never woke up screaming, never talked in my sleep, but after the third time I jumped out of bed and ran around the room I shared with three other girls, checking to make sure the door and windows were securely shut and locked, people noticed. Fortunately, I never flew around the room, although after the sixth nightmare, when I didn't wake up until I had reached the door, that worried me. All I could tell anybody when they complained about me waking them up was that I heard someone trying to get into our cottage.

The girls in my room were nice and didn't tell anybody but Miss Abby. The other girls in our house weren't so nice when I got out of our bedroom and checked the rest of the house. They complained, and word got around. About a week before Christmas, Kurt overheard the complaints and the teasing, and he confronted me.

"Do you feel like a kind of itching in your feet?" he said, when we were tucked up safe in our "talking place" behind the stage in the social hall. He sighed, more like a groan, and slumped back against the wall. "You know, like when I can feel our superpowers working."

"You can feel them. I can't," I reminded him.

"Yeah, but I'm getting weird dreams too. Is someone trying to get through the walls, scratching at them all the time?"

"It's not people," I told him, my voice dropping to a whisper.

Kurt looked at me very solemnly, looking much older than his nearly-nine years. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

BLADE OF INNOCENCE, Highlander the TV series fan fiction

 Excerpt from Chapter 12 of the fan novel now available on Wattpad:

            "Uncle Karl -- "

            "You know," he continued with a smile and a little shrug, "you're a grown woman, Darcy.  Don't you think you could leave off the 'Uncle' from now on?  You make me feel rather ancient."  He chuckled.

            "I'll try."  Silently, she promised herself she would never address him by name again.  Darcy realized that calling him 'uncle' somehow put a nice safe barrier between them.  She didn't want to lose that protection.

            "Now, I want you to know that I will always be here to look after you, Darcy.  I promised your father when he first adopted you that I would watch over your welfare."

            "You don't have to."


            "But it's my duty.  I promised Josh."

            "Daddy asked Duncan to look out for Mom and me.  I heard him," she couldn't resist saying.

            Darcy felt a chill when she saw a flicker of anger in Immerman's eyes.

            "Be that as it may, my dear, you are, as they say, stuck with me."  He chuckled and patted her hand.  His felt cold and heavy.  "Now, to cheer you up, I have decided to give you one of  your birthday presents early.  Are you ready?"

            "No, please -- "  She stopped short, knowing herself defeated when Immerman set a tiny, antique, brown velvet-covered jewelry box on the table in front of her bowl.

            The velvet was worn off at the corners.  The trim was gold and it had a tiny, sparkling clasp.  Darcy hoped it wasn't a diamond.

            At his urging, she picked up the box and opened it.  Inside, nestled in white satin slightly yellowed at the edges, was a ring of yellow gold studded with sapphire chips.  Despite the cold, heavy feeling settling into her stomach, Darcy couldn't repress an indrawn breath. It was beautiful in simplicity. Nothing could negate that.

            "I knew you'd like it." Immerman chuckled and took hold of her hand to slip the ring onto her finger.  "I have been waiting nineteen years to give you that ring, my dear Darcy.  It belonged to someone very precious to me."

            Everyone precious to him, Immerman had killed.

            Darcy managed to stumble through her thanks. Immerman seemed to think she was stunned, and chuckled as he walked away.  She waited, wishing she could sense an Immortal's presence like her father so she could be sure he was gone.  She forced herself to finish her breakfast.  It had no taste.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this January of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.


Excerpt:


Angela was, is, and likely always will be, one of those ageless women, with long, oval face and sculpted cheekbones. She has an incredible, thick, long fall of hair in a dozen shades of gold, with hints of strawberry in it, and big eyes that are usually blue—different shades, depending on her mood—but can sometimes seem gray and sometimes hint at green. The day I met her, she wore her usual handkerchief print blue dress with draping sleeves and no waist, what some might call a granny dress or hippie dress. Since it was August, she wore sandals.

"Do you know what a wish is, Lanie?" Angela asked me, once I was settled on the counter, with my legs hanging off the edge, braced on one arm and gazing into the Wishing Ball.

"It's something you want really bad lots, only it's kind of hard to get." I saw her reflection next to mine in the dark rainbow swirling surface of the ball, and tore my gaze away from it long enough to meet her incredible blue eyes. "And sometimes it's something you want really bad lots for other people, because they need it a whole lots more than you."

"Really? Like what?" Her smile softened and turned thoughtful, and she glanced at Mrs. Silvestri, who was standing behind me with one hand resting on my back. Like she thought I might fall off the counter?

"Like…" I turned to look at Mrs. Silvestri. Thinking back, I can't really say what concerned me more. Revealing orphanage secrets? Or revealing that I was very good at standing by the fence and listening to the children talking and playing on the other side of the tall wooden slats, to learn about the world outside the baby cottage? "Ginny Olsen wants her aunt to come back from Indiana and adopt her."

"How in the world…" Mrs. Silvestri patted my back and let out a little sighing chuckle. "Ginny's only worthwhile relative is a missionary in India. She wants the girl, but the other relatives won't let her take custody and take her out of the country. At the same time, none of them will bestir themselves to take custody themselves. They'd rather let the government be responsible for her." She stepped around the side of the counter to look me in the eye. "Where did you hear that, Lanie?"

"At the playground."

For some reason, after staring at me for a moment with her mouth dropping open, Mrs. S laughed. Then she kissed me on my forehead. Angela smiled and nodded, and for the first time I got that full-chest feeling that was partly relief, partly amazement, and the knowledge that I had pleased her.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this January of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.


Excerpt:


The thing is, for a nearly-five-year-old, I had no idea that I couldn't or shouldn't kinda-sorta fly or hover or whatever the formal label was for what I could do. I just figured it was another ability that was part of growing up, like tying my shoes, counting past one hundred, telling time, and reading. By this time, I had already figured out that learning a new trick before one of the adults showed me how to do it earned some uncomfortable attention. I didn't get in trouble for learning to read and tie my shoes faster than normal, but the fuss and extra attention made me uncomfortable.

Explain to me why it's so unusual to learn how to read by leaning over the shoulder of the person reading to us before bed, and picking out the words on the page and following along? Just pay attention, and it's easy to learn dozens of necessary tricks to get along in the world. Of course, being less than five years old, I didn't have that reasoning worked out in my head, I just did what worked. Explaining what I hadn't verbalized was next to impossible.

By the time I walked into Divine's, I had figured out that it was smart to keep new tricks hidden until I saw other kids near my age doing the same thing. So, I kept my hovering to myself, and practiced at night, when everybody was asleep, or when I was alone on the playground behind the cottage.

That day in Divine's, though, I cast my five-year-old caution aside and was ready to raise myself up for a closer look at the Wishing Ball. I was still attached to Mrs. Silvestri, like a kite on a string.

Angela walked in just as my feet got about three inches off the floor. She smiled at me, winked, and gestured down at the floor with a flick of her fingers. I settled back down and she came around the counter, pulled out a four-step ladder, and put it next to the counter on the end, giving me a more ordinary path up to the Wishing Ball. Right that moment, I knew this pretty blond lady who smiled at me like we had an enormous secret—and who didn't shout in astonishment at what she saw—was going to be a very good friend. Mrs. Silvestri introduced me to Angela while I climbed up, my gaze on her the whole time, and that was when Angela told me it was called the Wishing Ball.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Coming: New Book in the Neighborlee, Ohio series

January 11, Uncial Press will release the next book in the humorous fantasy series, NEIGHBORLEE, OHIO.

DORM RATS

This is the sequel to GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE, where Lanie Zephyr, wheelchair-bound comedian and semi-pseudo-superhero guardian of Neighborlee tells the story of her life, from growing up in the Neighborlee Children's Home, meeting the other Lost Kids and developing "rules" for their Gifts, to learning their destiny and duty as guardians for the weird little town of Neighborlee.

DORM RATS continues the story. Lanie is in high school and visiting England with her investigative writer parents, Charlie and Rainbow Zephyr. Of course, odd things always happen to the Zephyrs. Lanie finishes high school, survives Senior Prank Night, and goes on to college.

That's when things get interesting. It appears that someone has maneuvered the housing situation at Willis-Brooks College to experiment on the freshman class. Instead of lab rats, are they dorm rats? Magic, the power of belief, Time Lords who have no control over time travel, the perils of student teaching, and other adventures fill Lanie's life, up until a pivotal Senior Prank Night when everything changes for her.

You can pre-order DORM RATS now, through Kindle and Kobo.

Want more information on Neighborlee and the other stories set in the weird little town that's a combination of Roswell, Eureka, and Buffy's Sunnyvale -- just minus the vampires and weird science? CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this January of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.

From Uncial Press

Excerpt:

Anyway, Divine's definitely welcomed me. I stood there for a few seconds, staring at the Wishing Ball, with my hand firmly tucked in Mrs. Silvestri's, just amazed. I wanted to get up there, and I was playing with the idea of using my trick to get up to the counter for a closer look, when Angela walked into the room.

My trick was something I had discovered quite by accident, just a few months before. I was momentarily unsupervised at the cottage while the houseparents were busy with the babies. I wanted a cookie and I didn't want to wait for someone to open the cupboard and get it for me, so I climbed up onto the table in the kitchen and walked across it to the counter. A logical progression for a nearly-five-year-old, right? The problem was the four-foot gap between the kitchen table and the counter. I didn't stop to think, I just took a couple steps back and made a running leap, like I had seen someone do on TV the night before.

My jump took me up to the top of the cupboards, and I hung there in the air, for a good ten seconds before drifting down to the shelf where the cookies sat out in plain view.

I could fly. Kinda-sorta fly. Not zipping through the air like a jet like a certain alien superhero. More like controlled gliding, or going straight up, hovering, and coming straight down. When I got older, that talent made it possible to get incredible photos. But again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Book of the Week: GROWING UP NEIGHBORLEE

The last and most recent Neighborlee, Ohio book, leading up to the release this January of DORM RATS, the newest Neighborlee book -- which also happens to be the sequel to this week's Book of the Week.

From Uncial Press

Lanie was a Lost Kid -- a toddler found by the side of the road, with no one to claim her. She ended up in the Neighborlee Children's Home, where her long journey to become a semi-pseudo-superhero began. She and her friend Kurt, and later Felicity, made up the "rules" for what they were and what they could do as they went along. Most of the time, they borrowed them from comic books.

Lanie could kinda-sorta fly and move things with telekinesis. Kurt could invent and make broken machines work when all mechanical laws said they shouldn't. Felicity gave off uncontrollable EM bursts and controlled dogs. Where the trio came from and how they got to Neighborlee faded into the background when faced with the really big questions: Why were they the way they were and how could they do the things they did? Were they aliens? Genetic experiments? Mutations? Should they look for a spaceship? Should they fear the Men in Black or the CIA?
Adventures and misadventures tested their imagination, their loyalty, and their courage as they explored their abilities and their world. And one thing became perfectly clear: the Lost Kids were as necessary to guard Neighborlee from the rest of the world, as they were vital to protect the rest of the world from the everyday weirdness and magic of Neighborlee.