Tuesday, July 14, 2020

New Release Sample: SEMI-PSEUDO-SUPERHEROES

As soon as the first green plaid skirt and black sweater trimmed in gold strolled into the meeting room-slash-former chapel for the first question-and-answer session, I got that sick feeling of impending doom. Harry was sitting with me in a small balcony where we could see and hear everything, but we weren't on display like Mum and Pop. He was busy with a pretty cool hand-held video game Dr. B gave him, and he didn't pay any attention to the students filing into the room and jockeying for one of the sixty seats, until I groaned.

"What?" He scooted over on the bench seat and rested his elbows on the balcony ledge, to look down on the growing audience. He frowned at the girls filing in, then at me. "What?"

"Don't you recognize the uniforms?"

He shook his head and shrugged.

"Remember the Tower of London?"


"I remember that Grandstone… Oh." Harry patted me on the shoulder. "Maybe she's sick today."

"Grandstones are always sick, but it's not the kind that gives us any relief." I slid back on the bench, away from the ledge, even though chances of anyone looking up and seeing us were slim.

"Well, you think she's going to come here to listen to Mum and Pop if it's voluntary? I bet the only thing she reads is a supermarket gossip rag or else something about Hollywood. That's why she got sent over here, because she wanted to go into acting. Right?" He waited for me to nod, then bent his head over his video game again.

Honestly, my little brother was a really smart kid.

Too bad his theory was wrong. Sylvia came strolling in among the last of the first group for question-and-answer. She didn't look happy about being there. Maybe because she strolled in entirely alone. No followers, no admirers, no co-conspirators. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Update: GOALS

The plan is to check in every week and tally up what I've accomplished, and add any new goals to the list. (Feel free to jeer if I don't get at least half this list done this month!)

JULY GOALS LIST as of 07/12/20:

Rough Draft MAKING IT ALL UP: Match Girls Book 2:
Started -- 1/3 of the way

Revise and Polish CADETS, Young Defenders Book 1
Draft 2, done
Draft 3, done

Book Proposal package for CADETS, for Realm Makers Conference
Sent

Realm Makers Conference: July 16-18

Tweak 4 Commonwealth novels:
Meruk Episodes 6-10,

Load another Neighborlee book in Kindle format

Finish setting up the store on the Ye Olde Dragon Books site
DONE (as much as it can be -- but we can take orders!)

Saturday, July 11, 2020

New Release Sample: SEMI-PSEUDO-SUPERHEROES

We were climbing around in the attic and our folks were downstairs, going through boxes of crumbly historical documents, when a delegation from the village came in to speak with them. They wanted a progress report on what they had found after only one full day of investigating. I heard the door creak-bang open and signaled Harry to be quiet. He was in the middle of leaping from one rafter support beam to the next. Kind of hard to land on the next beam without making noise, but he managed.

He didn't land square, though, and started to fall backwards. Not a problem if this was an ordinary attic, built by sensible people, with plywood sheets stretching from one rafter to another, to provide a solid platform for storage. Keep in mind, Harry and I had to jump from one rafter to another because there was nothing solid between them. A layer of fluffy gray stuff that was more likely to be dust than insulation was all that lay between Harry's backside and the thin sheet of plaster and paint that made up the ceiling of the room below us.

Fortunately for Harry, his big sister had telekinetic power. Unfortunately for said big sister—moi—it isn't that easy to catch a husky nine-year-old going through a growth spurt, either with hands or with mental powers. Something gets strained, muscles or brain. Harry yelped. I snagged him so he metaphorically skidded to a halt in mid-air, with his bottom about three inches from breaking through. I let out a muffled yelp-argh. Sorry, but that's the only way to describe the involuntary sound that came from the sensation of a spike going through my left temple and out my right eye. Fortunately, only a temporary sensation. We froze in that position until I could regain my breath, while my stomach settled back into place after trying to come out my nose.

Down below, the five people with Mum and Pop all froze and looked upward at the ceiling. Mum knew what had happened, because she had seen us in action about twenty minutes before, when she came upstairs for the last crate of historical records. Don't even get me started on her fury over the deplorable state of those records. Mum froze, and Pop took his cue from her, even though he didn't know what was going on. He didn't notice the delegation at first, immersed in deciphering a document that later turned out to be over three hundred years old.

Mum said everyone just stood there, looking up at the ceiling, waiting for something to come through. She waited a few seconds, then asked them what was wrong. Mrs. Guttersnatch declared that was proof the building was haunted by the spirits of children who had died there when it was a pauper's prison. Mr. Wimbly said it was the spirit of a schoolteacher who had been driven insane by the imbeciles he had to pound learning into, and who had committed suicide. Note: she was an advocate for prison reform and believed in communication from the Great Beyond. He was a teacher who had been forced to retire after a nervous breakdown. Miss Wilson-Smythe countered that the rats had come back, despite the promises of the rat catcher.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

New Release Sample: SEMI-PSEUDO-SUPERHEROES

As soon as Mr. Cloverdale opened the door, the woman's volume dropped and she turned to him, pointing at Harry and me. We weren't afraid, just kind of stunned, and ready to laugh about some of the rabid fans of Mum and Pop's books. Mr. Cloverdale jammed his fists into his hips and glared at the big, angry, noisy woman. She quieted down and seemed to shrink about ten percent in height and width. He ushered us inside and locked the door, then told us not to mind her, Beatrice was a wonderful lady who loved books. She simply hadn't had her first pint of the day yet.

Yeah, that's right. Pint. As in Guinness. First thing in the morning. The sandwich shop/pub next door connected to the bookstore by a door about halfway back in the shared wall. The lock was on the bookstore side of the door. The sandwich shop opened at ten in the morning, and when the bookstore opened the connecting door, Beatrice got her first pint of the day. That was her routine. Step into the bookstore, get copies of all the morning papers, and cross into the sandwich shop and pub. Get her first morning pint, then cross back to the bookstore and settle into the big easy chair next to the fire to read for the next hour.

Well, that morning, her routine changed slightly, because she wanted to get Mum and Pop's newest book before she got her newspapers and pint. As she told us later, over the most incredible meal of gazpacho, goulash and chocolate soufflĂ©, in her old age the slightest change set her off. Hormone therapy didn't help, lithium didn't help—only set routine, and her morning pint. Yes, we had dinner with her. By the end of the day, she was Auntie Bea, and we laughed a lot over our first encounter.

Bottom line: Harry and I had a blast. The coolest part of the whole adventure was seeing Mum and Pop as other people saw them. Charlie and Rainbow Zephyr were loved by both sides of the whole debate over the weird and wonderful. On one side were the cynics who lived their lives to debunk mysteries and wonders and miracles. They admired our folks for their honesty. On the other side were people who wanted desperately to believe in the weird and wonderful, in miracles and aliens, doorways to other dimensions, reincarnation and ancient astronauts. They also admired and respected Mum and Pop because they didn't mock or set out to shred whatever the extremist radicals held dear. No matter what conclusion our folks arrived at by the end of their investigation, both sides were at least happy with the rational and respectful treatment of the issue or question or mystery or theory.

Back home in Neighborlee, they were just Charlie and Rainbow. In England, they were celebrities, somewhere between priests, philosophers, and explorers. Back home, Harry and I were just the Zephyr kids. In England, we were envied and admired. Despite being Americans. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Update: GOALS

The plan is to check in every week and tally up what I've accomplished, and add any new goals to the list. (Feel free to jeer if I don't get at least half this list done this month!)

JULY GOALS LIST as of 07/0620:

Rough Draft MAKING IT ALL UP: Match Girls Book 2:
Started

Revise and Polish CADETS, Young Defenders Book 1
Draft 2, done

Book Proposal package for CADETS, for Realm Makers Conference

Realm Makers Conference: July 16-18

Tweak 4 Commonwealth novels:

Load another Neighborlee book in Kindle format

Finish setting up the store on the Ye Olde Dragon Books site

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Off the Bookshelf: MISADVENTURES OF THE LAUNDRY HAG: SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET, by Jennifer L. Hart

This is a fun, kind of snarky, kind of slapstick, kind of scary suspense story told through the eyes of an overwhelmed SEAL wife.

Maggie and her hero husband, Neil, and their two boys are settling into civilian life. Thanksgiving is coming and the demanding in-laws are not only descending on the house, but they're bringing business guests and dictating the menu and redecorating the house. Can you tell that nothing Maggie does will ever be good enough?

In the middle of this, Maggie is trying to get to know the neighbors, who all seem far too upscale for her. A new friend is trying to be helpful and somehow Maggie finds herself signed up to be the cleaning lady for their snooty hostess. Yes, she needs some extra income, but right now?

Before she knows it, Maggie is in the middle of a murder investigation, the unwitting alibi for the suspect husband. She investigates and keeps tripping over more bodies and some pretty unsavory characters -- and arrested, when she did nothing wrong. Except be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oh yeah, and there was the time her van died and she needed to get the Thanksgiving menu shopping done, so she walked to the grocery store pushing the wheelbarrow to carry all the groceries -- and the wheelbarrow got stolen while she was in the store. And then found with a dead body in it.

Whew! This is a romp and a clever suspense tale, full of humor. And poor Maggie seems doomed to be everybody's cleaning lady -- at the behest of the police who think she might, possibly, somehow, be helpful.

Sounds like more stories are coming!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

New Release Sample: SEMI-PSEUDO-SUPERHEROES

Being Charlie and Rainbow Zephyr's kids got Harry and me into places that ordinary tourists couldn't go. Armed with cameras and digital recorders, we were official assistants. When that didn't smooth the way, the incredible luck or unbelievable coincidences that usually surrounded our folks came to our rescue. Once people got over a graying Hippie, an Asian woman with emerald or amethyst hair, a brunette teen with hazel eyes, and a husky little Latino boy being a family, they ignored the background weirdness.

Being the Zephyrs' kids got us some frustrating and slightly embarrassing moments, too. We were nearly trampled five times by fans in search of autographs. You'd think we would have learned the warning signs after the second near-death experience.

Or the time Mum and Pop had a booksigning in this cool little bookstore north of London. This huge woman at the front of the line nearly shattered glass, yelling at us, when Harry and I showed up and tried to get into the bookstore before it officially opened. The bookstore owner, Mr. Cloverdale, was a little man who Harry and I both swore had slightly pointy ears. Like some of Angela’s friends who dropped by Divine’s Emporium. He was watching for us, since we'd left the inn a good half hour after Mum and Pop that morning. He didn't see us trying to sidle through the crowd to get up to the door at first, because the crowd had grown to about forty people by then. Plus, that huge woman was right in front of the door. While the bookstore had enormous picture windows, we were hard to see because the windows were full of books on display or posters of Mum and Pop and information on the booksigning.

The big woman's voice, raised in a shout that would have stunned a dinosaur, alerted him that we had arrived. The British are supposed to be so reserved and dignified, but this woman…? Maybe she was also a soccer fanatic when she wasn't going into ecstasies about Mum and Pop's latest investigation. As soon as Mr. Cloverdale realized Harry and I were there, jammed between the locked door and the woman, he came running. The old-fashioned roll-up blind covering the door zipped up with a rattle-clatter-hum-bang and the keys chimed as he unlocked the door. I could hardly hear all that through the woman's furious lecture on the rudeness of the two of us trying to get to the head of line and sneak in ahead of people who had done the sensible thing and gotten there two hours ahead of opening time. Seriously? She was waiting there two hours?