Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sample Sunday: Summer Storm

This is a part of a chapter from Summer Storm, an urban fantasy.  The main character found something earlier in the story and he has no idea how important it really is.  I hope you enjoy it!

I drank the cup of tea and decided bed would be better than sitting there, shivering. Bed and warm covers where I could let myself slip off into sleep. I felt exhausted. I stumbled into the room stripped to my underwear and crawled under the blankets, grateful to be still.

I didn't sleep so well.

The nightmare began almost immediately. I think I jerked awake once, grateful to be out of it -- but maybe I dreamed I was awake, because as soon as I went to sleep again, I dropped right back to the same spot.
I stood in the midst of a medieval battle. I could hear the sound of swords and the yells of men and other creatures as they fought. I directed things, which on one level scared the hell out of me since I know nothing about tactics and strategy. My dream self knew what to do, though.

People surged through the courtyard, shouting, angry, worried and afraid. Then other things came out of the darkness and through the already destroyed gate: huge creatures, with red eyes and blood stained mouths. I watched one catch a woman, break her neck, and bury his mouth in her chest. I could hear the crunch of bone and the tearing of flesh. I would have been ill, but the me in the dream ordered an attack.

When I raised my hands and blasted the creature, the magic felt right, though I could see we wouldn't stand up to this onslaught.

"We can't hold!" I shouted. I heard cries of dismay and shock. "Get to the keep! Protect Vane!"

"There is no protection for me," someone said at my back. I spun to see a tall, thin man shaking his head with loss as he looked out at the fallen and the continuing battle. "I must fight with you or we are all lost."

"If you are lost, sir, we lose ourselves. Go back to your chamber!"

"They have already breached my chamber. There is no safety, my friend."

Shock, horror; but I fought those emotions aside. We could not have fallen this easily! There had been treachery involved, but I didn't have time to hunt out the threads with all else falling around us.

I wouldn't give up! I spun to fight, creating my sword from the magic around me while trying to keep Vane at my back. He wouldn't stay from the battle, though. More of the clan surged in around us, and we formed a square, but the enemy broke through before we could draw on the power. Others rushed past the breached gate, swinging axes and killing everyone they saw. I couldn't tell the clan. They hid their identity from us.
I knew we couldn't hold, but I refused to give up the fight. We had to do something to survive.

"We have to go," I said, feeling frantic. "We have to get out of here. Retreat to one of the lesser holdings."

"There is no time," Vane replied, his voice steady. "But I will give you what help I can."

Vane began to change: his human outline melted, shifted and grew. Huge. Gigantic. Others leapt away as the dragon took shape. I knew this meant we had little chance of winning, if we needed the dragon to help us.

And we did need him. A wall of creatures like none I had ever seen swarmed through the gate, and charged forward at us: Black, shapeless things from the Other Side which made them dangerous and unpredictable. We were already losing against the other fae and creatures. We could not fight these as well.

They swept in and killed everything they could reach and before I could shout a warning, they swarmed over the dragon as he threw himself before the last of us. He howled and began thrashing. We all backed away, friend and foe alike. I had to help him!

Vane rose on his back legs, screamed to the sky, and threw himself amid the enemy again, crushing quite a few and tossing aside the black creatures. He battled away others and broke a path for us to the gate. We could get clear!

And the dragon fell and didn't get back up.

A great shout went up from the enemy, which spurred us to new anger, though we had lost all hope. I fought and killed everything that came at me, heedless of my own wounds, and reached the dragon. Vane blinked at me, the left emerald green eye already half clouded. Wounds bled everywhere across his damaged silver scales.

"Get the egg," he whispered, a sound too soft from such a huge creature. "Get the egg and go . . . elsewhere."

His eyes closed; his breathing stopped. I saw a flutter of color lift from his skin, dance in the air and dart into the keep. The essence of life would migrate to the dragon egg and impregnate it with life so the dragon could be born again. We had to protect the egg, which I knew we couldn't do here.

"Get the egg!" I shouted. The others hadn't realized the dragon had died and a cry of despair rose around me. I sent a wave of magic at the enemy and so did a dozen others, using all we could to make a shield, though the magic wouldn't hold long. "Gather, everyone gather! We're going to ride the wind. We're going outbound!."

I heard more calls of alarm but everyone obeyed. People came from the keep carrying something large wrapped in magic. We didn't have time to take more precautions. Damned dangerous work, to take off like this.

"Brandis, try to center us," I yelled to a man who came limping towards me. He had good, strong magic.

The shield started to flare and break. I glanced frantically around. "Protect the egg! You hold our only hope!"

We grabbed horses out of the magical wild. I glanced back at the dragon's body and shook my head as I put my hand to the symbol at my neck. "We will meet again, Vane. You'll remember us. We won't let you go."

And then we wove magic so strong the power felt like fire in the air. The shield went down and we went up and outbound through the nether, the battleground disappearing in a blur of colors. The others formed into squares upon squares, those holding the egg in the middle. We traveled the netherworld for a breath and another, holding to this cold place of too bright colors.

I brought us out somewhere else and skimmed along clouds stretching below us. I caught a glimpse of buildings and a river. We drew magic from the flowing water and the air tasted fresh after the stink of battle, though I felt the taint of technology all around us. We wouldn't be staying here. I put my hand on my medallion and tried to believe we would survive, regroup and win over the enemy. The sun rose in our faces and while half-blinding, still felt warm and welcome. I could see hope in this new dawn.

"We'll follow this river for a little ways, gather power, and then head outbound once more. We need to gather strength and catch our breath!"

"Where shall we go?" Brandis asked. His long dark hair hung in snarls and he sounded worried and lost.

"Not far."

"What took down the dragon?" he asked, his eyes narrowed as he glanced back at the egg.

"I don't know, but I felt they came from the other side."

I heard shouts of anger as the rest of the clan learned the enemy had banded with such creatures --


I felt a shield spring into existence before us, so sudden and strong the air turned to ice. The storm clouds we had ridden danced in a chaotic frenzy and lightning flashed bright, blinding us. We turned, spun -- I tried to keep track of the others, and see where the egg had gone, but the squares broke up. Dangerous --

"Hold on! Hold back!" I shouted, knowing we'd fallen into a trap.

Then I saw a few hundred of the enemy rushing us with weapons and magic already flying. My horse faltered. I put my hand to my chest and the dragon medallion I wore there, and wished the next leader of the clan a better chance. I took it off --

I saw the javelin flying toward me and I dropped the chain as the weapon hit.

I fell, fell, the storm, the wind the rain --

Falling. . . .

I leapt up, calling out in surprise, dismay and loss, with my hand on my chest. I expected to find blood.

No. I stood in my bedroom, not riding horses in the clouds.

I had never, never had a dream so real in my life. I could still feel the wind in my face, the smooth glide of a horse flying beneath me. I felt sadness at the death of the dragon and hoped the egg had survived and hadn't fallen to the enemy --

Not real. The battle, the dragon -- everything had been a mishmash linking the storm with the dragon medallion I had found.

I settled into bed, looking out the window where another storm raged. The remnants of the dream haunted me through the remainder of the night.

(Back cover to upcoming Summer Storm novel)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trying to get a handle on my novels

From For Blog

Look at the title to this blog. See the 'prolific' up there? It's not just a word I thought would look neat. I am prolific and I have been for many long years. Since I spent many of those years without editing at all or editing badly, that means I have a huge backlog of novels to choose from now that I'm doing some Indie (self) publishing. So, what is there? Where to begin?

I started with Kat Among the Pigeons, an urban fantasy. Since then I've added an epic fantasy trilogy (Silky, Lord of the Land, The Queen's Champion) and the last thing posted is a science fiction novel, Ada Nish Pura. There are also some short stories, but I'll not worry about those right now. I have a contemporary Young Adult novel with the editor at the moment. That probably sounds like a wide range of work and a lot of novels, but it's nothing compared to what I still have in the lists. This is just a quick list of some of the work that comes to mind with short (not very good) descriptions:

Science fiction

1. Cougar Series (Six books)

I loved Andre Norton's Solar Queen books, so I decided to try my hand at a series about a ship chartered by the Inner Worlds Council to deliver packages between worlds. They do find a lot of trouble.

2. Broken Journey

A group sets out in a sleeper ship to found a new colony, but when the leader wakes up, it's obvious things have gone wrong. The ship suffered a bad accident, the colony has been settled for over 100 years -- and she's very late to the game.

3. Darkness Falls

After a devastating attack by aliens, a small group of humans -- fearing they might be the last of humanity -- find uncertain sanctuary among aliens who may be as dangerous as the ones they escaped from.

4. Devlin's Team (Fifteen books)

Devlin is one of the Inner World Council Security's top agents and she's always worked alone . . . until one case where she finds working with others isn't a weakness. She and her team take on the most difficult and dangerous cases. And she doesn't quit.

5. Xenation: Draw the Line

When the abandoned alien space station was first discovered, it drew humans and others to learn the secrets. Then a disaster destroyed one ship, and left Rafael saved only by some mysterious link to the station -- and mistrusted by many.

6. Feather in the Wind

Feather grew up on Home, a quiet world where he learned the art of tracking from his cousin. When he joins the IWC's elite Scout group, his first assignment goes bad, and he has to overcome his own feelings of failure and face the truth of what happened.

7. Kim's Team: Infiltration

Kim, like Devlin, is an IWCS agent specializing in difficult and unusual cases. So far only one book for his team, in which he is joined by a very troubled, and troubling agent who has recently lost his entire team.

8. Vita's Vengeance/Badlands/Rat Pirates

The first two books in this series don't seem to have anything in common, but the two groups join together for the third book. Book 1 is about a war in the Aquila Fringe, Book 2 about an Inner World on the brink of disaster and Book 3 about a group from the Aquila looking for a port in the Inner Worlds.

9. Living in Caine's Hold

When the Cartel Wars nearly destroyed Earth, the four 'Families' faced destruction for immigration to a new world where they learned Earth was small pickings compared to what they could do in the rest of the IWC. Generations later, one of the top people is murdered, the local policing force is dealing with treachery and riots, and the man's poet son is on the run and hiding from his ruthless brother.

10. News from the Front

Alyn Naevon is given the freelance job others would kill for -- to report from the world of Tempest. Unfortunately, there's a very good reason why he should never go back there and get caught up (again) in the violent class wars.

11. Singer and St. Jude (Six books plus more)

At a time when Earth is struggling after several disasters, and before the people have taken to the stars, two local cops in the devastated city of LA fight the growing anarchy.

12. Working for the Guild

The Assassins Guild is a small, secretive band working in the Fringe and Zerod is sent to learn who killed several hundred people in a bombing and bring them to justice. Unfortunately, the enemy seems to be a step ahead of him at every turn.


1. A Plague of Rats

When a single priest of dubious background is the only one who can sense trouble coming from the North, he runs afoul of the bigoted head of the temple and finds himself in the thick of the trouble when he goes to help a small village with a rat problem.

2. Circe's Gift

Circe is the Goddess of the woods, a sanctuary for all that is hunted -- and when a wounded young man is hunted into her domain, it's up to her and her animal friends to get him to safety.

3. Fighting for Strangers

A northern prince escapes his uncle's rule in order to help others fight against the horrible evil that has taken over his country.

4. Glory

This is a post-apocalyptic fantasy blending Egyptian and Cherokee mythology as a woman and her unusual partner fight to stop an invasion of magical creatures that could destroy humanity.

5. Journey to Winter

Kidnapped to the cold north, a young man finds unlikely allies as well as evil lurking evil in a court where a dark mage has more control than most people realize.

6. Paid in Gold and Blood

Katashan left his homeland in search of a new life as a merchant -- but when he uncovers a young woman's body, and realizes she's been sacrificed for power, he suspects the magic he swore to abandon is going to be needed again.

7. Shepherd Boy

A young boy's uncanny ability with animals comes in handy when he helps a woman escape from those hunting her, but the act of kindness leads him into a world of danger.

8. In Service to the Queen

Two poets vie for the position of Voice of the Queen, but a murder at the palace and an invasion by ancient enemies force them into the heart of danger and intrigue.

9. Summer Storm/Autumn Storm

Summerfield works for Woo Woo News -- Wolton World News, a newspaper covering the unusual in the world -- but he's not ready to find it in his own backyard in Omaha, Nebraska. (Summer Storm is actually what I'm working on right now.)

10. The Servant Girl

Elizabeth was the companion to Princess Sondra until the war tore them apart. Now she's surviving by her wits and hoping she hasn't found sanctuary on the wrong side of the war while she searches for information about her lifelong companion.

11. Touched by the Wild

After years in prison in a foreign court, Prince Derry is coming home . . . but he's not who he was, and an encounter with the fae on a foggy night takes him another step away from his old world.

12. Written in the Sand

When his garrison is destroyed, Gareth teams with a band of desert people who believe the Age of Chaos is upon them because the Old Gods are awakening -- and Gareth soon finds himself caught up in their beliefs and magic.

In case you lost count, this is about 34 books. I lost count because I kept remembering others to drop in -- and yes, there are far more like some of the contemporary YA stuff (Differential Equations, Whispers of Winterwood, Waiting for the Last Dance) and a couple historical novels (Serendipity Blues, Dyfed and Shannon, Storm) and a few more sf and fantasy that I just didn't feel like listing.

Sorting through this list and deciding what to do next is going to be difficult. I would like to have some sort of plan. Should I alternate sf with fantasy? Should I focus on one of the sets? What about the new stuff I'm working on at the moment? Where is it going to fit in?

So prolific is good, but has a down side too, because you can get buried in work that needs those final edits or even full rewrites and edits (many of the older pieces in this list will go through both those steps). Would I change it?

No. There is not a book I'm sorry I wrote and the list gives me hope of always having something new to come out.

If, you know, I can stand the pace of editing them all. Looking at this, I worry that the novels might just kill me. LOL

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sample Sunday: Ada Nish Pura

From My Cover Art

Chapter 1

Marcus tapped his fingers across the touch screen controls, righting the pole-ward drift of his fighter as he headed for the curve of the horizon. He glanced at the two massive starships orbiting almost side-by-side above the world. The smaller Moonwind had unexpectedly dropped in system within hours of the larger Augusta's arrival -- a rare occasion to have two such well-known craft in the same system. The Moonwind had deployed a long, tubular shuttle full of partygoers and ranking crew, already heading for the Augusta. A dozen single-man fighters danced around the two ships' perimeters, sunlight illuminating one after another in bursts of silver light. He could trace their movement, having flown those patterns dozens of times. All routine.

His own fighter followed a different path towards the planet's equator, en route for the dark side of Kailani. Pretty name; he had learned the word meant "the sea and the sky" in an old Earth language. When the Augusta came within visual range of the planet he understood the aptness of the name. The colony gave the term backwater a whole new meaning. It didn't just refer to the world's lack of technology, though with a few commsats in orbit Marcus wouldn't have needed to take this recon swing. The name came for another reason, though. He had never seen so much water in one place, the blue broken by occasional white clouds and distant specks of small islands.

Two inconspicuous moons hung above the horizon, gravity linking them in a stable orbit. They cast an odd, grayish-green light back from the sun.

The recon work was a waste of time. The Inner Worlds Council fleet had fought the enemy off two systems away, and the Augusta headed here as a protective measure to keep this mineral-rich colony safe while others did the mop-up work elsewhere. The war seemed to be coming to a slow and laborious end and the fighting had become sporadic. Recon flights, and not dogfights, would become more common.

As he crossed the twilight line into night, Marcus couldn't even see the distant glow of planet-bound cities since there was nothing larger than villages on the islands. Contact with the Augusta disappeared over the horizon, leaving Marcus with a long silent orbit and nothing to watch except the red and green indicators on the boards; little distraction while he battled boredom and fatigue. The infrared scanner finally found a sizable warm spot, but computer analysis read the area as a huge algae patch in the sea, the natural oxygen builders for this water world.

By the time he completed the slow, five orbit sweep of this world the crews of both ships would have had their party and he'd be lucky to get the mess crew to warm some coffee for him.

And it was his own fault. He knew Captain Harris hated him. He shouldn't have been so cocky in their last meeting. He feared a long time would pass before Harris let him fly patterns with the others. He foresaw his future as a series of increasingly boring recon flights unless he somehow won a transfer to another ship. Or he might leave the service entirely, since his option would come up soon.

Could he tie himself forever to some world and never travel the stars again?

Marcus shivered at the thought and fixated on the work at hand. One bit of land poked out from the southern pole into the wide ocean. Somewhere on the peninsula, the IWC center had a small landing port and an observation station. It sent a monotonous single automated beep as he passed overhead. The locals mistrusted the IWC, which made officials nervous with the rebels so close.

Not his problem. He needed to scan and report back to the ship. With one orbit almost completed, he swept the fighter toward the slate-blue horizon while watching the edge of a gigantic storm swirling in a chaotic mass near the dawn's edge. The sheer magnitude of the weather system, and the readings his scanners gave on the winds, almost pulled him out of his bad mood. At a better time, he would have been tempted to slip down to the edge of the storm and ride out some of the bands. Few of his fellow pilots enjoyed atmosphere flying, but to Marcus the storm presented a real challenge.

Unfortunately, he dared not do anything except what was by-the-book or else he would chance making things worse between him and the Captain. He took the expected readings from the storm and let his imagination play with the idea of flying into the heart of the weather system.

He rounded the curve of the planet, his vidcam catching the first rays of sunlight as the window polarized. Islands dotted the world below like pebbles thrown into a pond. The ships --

Something wrong.

Something very wrong: Fighters out of position, debris, hot spots -- the signs of battle. His hands automatically keyed on his weapons, a series of familiar movements and beeps accompanied by the flash of amber lights on the right side of his board. He twisted in his seat, frantic as he searched for the rebel ship which must be somewhere nearby. Tracking went live overlaying the bubble dome above him with a glowing green grid of lines. He still couldn't find the enemy.

His equipment picked up signs of massive damage to the Augusta's starboard bay. He couldn't get a naked-eye visual from here, but with a touch of the controls the vidcam zoomed in on twisted and melted metal -- already cooled -- and debris hugging close to the larger ship. His computer located a few pieces of the Moonwind's shuttle, flung far outward from the ship . . . and the computer gave a ninety-five percent possibility of more pieces imbedded in the damaged bay.

The shuttle had exploded inside the Augusta.

He could find no rebel craft.

His fingers moved by rote, keying the vidcam's range back just as the Moonwind fired weapons straight into the Augusta.

"No, no, no!" Was that his voice?

The stream of luminous neutrons punched straight through the unprotected shell of the larger ship. In a timeless moment of mind-numbing fear and loss, Marcus watched as brutal explosions ripped through the interior, throwing off pieces of the hull plating and scattering debris out the far side. No one would survive!

"Marcus! Get your ass out of --"

O'Dell's voice, there and as quickly cut off. His comp tracked her fighter as two Moonwind craft drew down on her, weapons firing. O'Dell's fighter exploded under their combined attack, a smaller loss almost lost in the glow of the larger one.

His body obeyed her orders. Hands trembling, he reached for the controls and tried to dive out of the path of the Moonwind fighters.

They followed, but he maneuvered into a tight swing against gravity, proving himself a better pilot. Marcus flew under the belly of the first fighter before the weapons could track. He fired so close he could see the metal burn before the fighter exploded.

One for O'Dell. It didn't ease the cold, icy feeling of shock taking hold of him. His hands kept moving. Well-trained. How many could he take? Not enough -- not enough revenge for everyone gone --

Hands moved, eyes focused, but his mind skittered between rage and emptiness at the loss he couldn't accept or comprehend. Movement honed by years of training and battles became instinctive. He caught the second fighter by surprise, sweeping past and firing, the bubble top bursting and the pilot dead in vacuum before the rest exploded. He moved on to another craft, fighting his way towards his ship to . . . to do something.

Someone shouted his name, dragging him back to the reality of his impossible situation. Whoever had called hadn't survived for long: the comp no longer tracked any undamaged Augusta craft in his range. He fired and destroyed another enemy fighter, but the rest of Moonwind's crew didn't have anyone left to target but him. Two came at Marcus from the side, the first clipping his engine and the second damaging the booster. The combined assault sent his craft tumbling and he banged his arm against the side of the cockpit with enough force that he heard the bone snap before he felt the pain. A moment later, his suit registered the break and shot a painkiller into the arm, though it dimmed it to an ache. The blocker would only hold for a few hours.

He gasped as lights flashed red with warnings of system failure across the board. Power surged as the computer failed to shunt the overload away from the dead boards. He could taste the bitter hint of burnt electronics. Marcus tried to jab at the weapon controls, but pain shot from his right wrist to the shoulder, leaving him too breathless to even curse. He worked the board with his left hand, gliding fingers over the buttons and indentations, powering down what he could of the fighter's controls. His weakened communications system caught part of the broadcast the Moonwind put out, warning of rebels nearby, as though they hadn't been the ones to destroy the Augusta.

Damn. Marcus focused on the board and the flashing a warning of low power, the charge seeping away with each blink of the light. He couldn't tell if the power pack had a full link to his engines, and he couldn't run a diagnostic. Didn't have time; The Moonwind's fighters came for him.

If -- if he still had power -- he could make a quick dive into the gravity well, skim along the top of the clouds, and then head into the night side beyond the storm. There he could try to reach some settlement and --

Hell. It wouldn't work. Backwater world. They didn't have commsats for a reason, which included a long, bad history with the Inner Worlds Council and a dislike of technology. He had read the story with passing interest; old history, nothing he thought he would have to worry about. Now he recalled how the majority of the original population had been lab-adapted to live and work in the mineral-rich expanse of blue oceans. A few generations later, the natives had thrown out the company which still controlled them and turned their backs on the technology used to create them. They didn't have much in technology at all. Going to the natives would not help.

He had to reach the Inner Worlds Council's single Kailani outpost on the little strip of land near the southern pole. They had equipment to punch a message out beyond the system. His vidcam held proof of treachery which would get the Moonwind hunted through every quarter of the Inner Worlds and the Fringe, if need be.

Survival required him to take action. Reaching the outpost wouldn't provide long-term safety, but it was a goal. The outpost, on the far side of a world without commsats, would have no idea what had really happened. They'd know what the Moonwind told them -- what the ship already broadcasted and what its tech crew created for vids.

Damn them.

He marked trajectory by dead reckoning and fired the engines, moving when the other craft least expected as they closed in. Marcus felt his breath catch at the sight of stark white pinpricks of stars scattered across the dark sky. He knew reaching the IWC outpost was no real safety and he would probably never fly the stars again.

His sight blurred in mourning at the thought. How strange when he had lost everything else.

The Augusta came into view as the fighter made the turn. He half lifted his left hand in a final salute, even to that bastard Captain Harris, who had unwittingly saved his life by being so damned prissy and sending Marcus on the recon mission out of spite.

The planet -- Kailani -- came into view. He put his left hand on the board and tried to lift the right to the other controls, but changed his mind as pain lanced through his arm and shoulder. He could see the slight glow of friction as his fighter traced a path along the upper edge of the thermosphere. No time left. Marcus fired the right thruster and aimed pole-ward. The damaged fighter bucked and tried to roll out of his control, but he judged the effect and fired the booster to compensate. The Moonwind fighters came swarming in as soon as they saw him lunge downward toward the world. He hoped he had no trouble finding the peninsula of land sitting uncomfortably near the southern ice cap. He didn't want to crash into the uninviting wilderness of white. Would going there prove better than crashing into the endless expanse of blue ocean covering the rest of the world?

A circumpolar route was the shorter route to the IWC outpost, nearly half a world away. As his good hand began to manipulate the sluggish controls, three Moonwind fighters swept around to cut him off. He cursed and curved toward the longer route, cutting across the equator and sweeping over the top of massive outriders from the storm. The huge clouds with bubbling cotton-tops spread out on his starboard side, obscuring his view.

The craft jumped and squealed with a sudden hit from the enemy craft. He could hear a hiss of air escaping behind his seat. Marcus tried to head towards the south, but the Moonwind's fighters cut him off, herding him north into the wide expanse of ocean.

Damned Kailani technophobes with no communication's system! He needed to get over the horizon and close enough to send a message, even if he didn't have power to send vid as well. He needed to warn them.

A fighter swept towards him, a sudden dark spot coming out of the sun. Marcus skipped out of range with a thruster burst, and the mostly-dead craft obeyed his swiftly-keyed commands. If this had been a one-on-one battle he would have had a chance, even now.

He didn't try to count the number of enemy fighters pursuing him. Two more sweeps by the group won a hit to the port thruster. The fighter spun, his injured arm sending needles of pain through his body. He could hear metal tear --

And his fighter slipped into the thick bank of clouds.

Marcus held his breath, fighting the sluggish ship controls and firing his remaining thruster. The booster was gone as well. He held his breath and spun into the very heart of the storm, seeking a place to hide. The winds, chaotic and powerful, drew him northward into a maelstrom of hail and sleet. Lightning flashed so near he could feel the tingle as more of the board went dead. He couldn't see through the dark clouds, and thunder shook the ship, deafening him. Hope, hopelessness: the two emotions balanced on a single sputtering thruster engine keeping him in the air.

One of the fighters tore through the clouds above, firing at random. They must have lost him in the flash of lightning, natural electronic chaff to upset sensors. The shots missed. Marcus breathed again.

He thought more lightning filled the air until the light slipped along the right side of his craft and he saw the outline of another fighter coming at him, weapons blazing. The permaglass bubble cracked, but held. He heard the engine explode and the board went irrevocably dead, all the lights gone. Marcus leaned back, drawing his hand away from the controls. The wind bounced the fighter, tilting the craft at an uncomfortable angle and sending a shock of pain through his broken arm. He watched as the right foil tore off and fell.

That couldn't be right. He should have felt the pressure of the forward thrust die and the craft should have gone straight down with the foil. Instead, he continued to move forward.

Marcus stripped off the harness so he could see behind the cockpit. No power for alarms to ring or safety hooks to stop him. He fought away the sharp pain through his arm.

Worth it. The single starboard thruster still fired. The other, the already dead one, had taken the hit, exploded and fell.

Hope again? Dare he?

Lightning flashed and he felt the prickling once more, like a touch of life returned. He focused his attention back to the controls, his left hand moving over the keys. The board didn't light, but the craft slowly responded when he keyed in a turn. He grinned, unexpectedly remembering Lt. Lisle's last words to him as he climbed into the craft, heading off for a useless recon flight.

"The Captain's a fool to take you out of the fighter wing. You could fly a dead ship through a black hole, Marcus."
This was as close as he would ever get to finding out if Lisle had been right. The controls took finesse. He wanted to head south, but he'd lost all sense of direction, and he wasn't certain he could get the fighter to respond anyway. Marcus closed his eyes and tried to envision the clouds from above. The system had been moving south to north, spreading over the equator and across open ocean. But then ninety-six percent of the world consisted of ocean, though some a shallow covering over submerged landmasses. Shallow might be a relative term, he supposed. Marcus had no doubt he could drown in any part of the watery expanse.

The fighter squealed and shuddered at every attempt to turn. Something else tore free, and the craft lost more stability. The fighter would not survive much longer. He wouldn't reach the IWC post in this craft, but if he survived at least he might find other transport.

Marcus pointed the nose downward and hoped to find land.

The closer he came to the planet's surface, the harder the winds buffeted him. He kept the craft moving at a right angle to the winds, trying to reach the edge of the storm. Getting out of the weather system seemed the best way to survive, though he wondered where the Moonwind fighters had gone and how long they would take to track him.

The nose dipped downward and he had a hell of a time leveling off before he went straight into the ocean. He hoped to see land, but instead he saw only the rush of water around him, confounding sea and storm. He thought he saw occasional spikes of rock and feared he might plow right into one, but he had very little control now.

The damaged permaglass bubble began to crack in a spider web design, obscuring more of the view. Marcus reached out and pushed his hand over the board's controls and fired the thruster -- fired hard and long as he prayed to reach the storm's edge.

The engine shrieked in protest a moment before it exploded. Even the explosion propelled him forward a few heartbeats longer. For a moment he saw the edge of the clouds through the fractured bubble; a low dark line of clouds with the brighter sky beyond, and a rolling expanse of turbulent ocean . . . without a single island in sight.

The fighter plunged into the sea.

Oh hell!
His neck snapped backward, leaving his sight blurred and his head pounding. The permaglass bubble shattered, sending shards everywhere. He felt a sting against his face.

Then he felt the slap of cold wind and icy water.

The storm raged overhead. Waves rushed over the broken permaglass and into the interior. The water level reached above his knees and then to his waist. He grabbed the harness, knowing the little craft wouldn't stay afloat long, but unwilling to let go.

Cold. God, even with his flight suit kicking up the temp to compensate, he still felt the frigid water rushing around him while thunder roared and the wind shrieked as though it became something alive.

Marcus knew he wouldn't survive. He should have thrown himself at the Augusta and gone out like a little star impacting against the dead ship, rather than die alone in some alien sea. He should have died with the rest of his people.

Remember, your flight suit will float if you go down on this damned wet world. As soon as the suit senses the water pressure around you, it will inflate. The suit will seal off damaged areas. Unless it's totally in shreds, the suit will keep you buoyant until help arrives. Your beacon will come on automatically in one half hour unless you turn it off to avoid detection by the enemy.
Had Spraug or Lisle given the lecture as they came in system? He wanted to remember. Why hadn't he been paying better attention? Why couldn't he remember how they looked, standing there in the crew's lounge, preparing the pilots, all of them there conspicuous in the silver and red jackets and black suits rather than the white uniforms of the IWC soldiers. Oh yes, they'd always made a show of being different --

All dead.
The next wave filled the interior with water up to the boards. He started to release the harness but at the last moment remembered to grab the vidchit from the box on the control board. He shoved the chit into his jacket pocket and sealed it closed, giving himself a reason to survive as he threw himself out into the sea.

Water everywhere as the storm and waves crashed over him, and he could no longer tell where storm ended and ocean began. However, the suit ballooned and he bounced along in this hellish maelstrom. He found one of those rock spires and grabbed hold with his good arm. The surface felt slick, but solid. He jabbed the beacon off. No one to come for him, anyway.

He stared up into the gray-on-gray sky while the rain and waves washed over him. He would likely drown anyway.

He hadn't gone far, but when he looked back he saw the fighter's wing rise, dip, and disappear.


Ada Nish Pura, on sale at Smashwords for $1.99

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The story behind Ada Nish Pura

From My Cover Art

I love writing science fiction. This probably looks odd from someone who has published so much fantasy and urban fantasy, and so little science fiction, in the past. However, my first love was always science fiction, and those were the tales I started with. I love epic tales and space opera, and even the hard science fiction if they have good characters.

So what took me so long to get something like Ada Nish Pura out? Well, the book has a long history, actually. It was my first big sale to an upcoming publisher who has since seemed to do well. The publisher loved the book. We talked about specific edits and I leapt into to do the work.

But no, the book never came out. Between the time I signed the contract and we went to work on the book, the focus of the publisher changed from 'adventure' science fiction to 'literary' science fiction. Over several very frustrating months of rewriting the first three chapters more than twenty times, I finally admitted that you cannot edit yourself into a literary writer. Either you are or you aren't.

We agreed to pull the book. I put it aside, disappointed and annoyed. And there it set for a long time. In fact, I pretty much stopped submitting any work at this point. Two other annoying print-related publishing problems came along in the years that followed. And they all kept driving me more and more towards becoming an Indie Author. This has been a long, difficult process, but here I am.

The release of Ada Nish Pura on Smashwords is a symbolic break from my old attitude because I had decided never to submit it again, which meant it would never reach any readers. But I liked the novel. The publisher had liked the novel. There was no reason for it not to go out and fly on its own and see if it might not draw some readers.

So here it is. I hope you enjoy the book.


Fighter Pilot Marcus Trevor is the only survivor of a treacherous attack against the star ship on which he served. Injured and alone, he must take refuge on the world of Kailani, a place of vast stretches of water and where a large portion of the population is genetically adapted to living in the sea.

With the enemy taking over this mineral rich world, Marcus must work with the locals while waiting for help to return. And it is here that he learns the true meaning of civilization and honor.

Ada = Decision

Nish = No

Pura = Return

Sometimes there is no going back.

Only $1.99 on Smashwords:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Zette's Take: Chapters

From For Blog

Remember the reader
There is one big reason to keep chapters in mind: the reader. Most people don't have the time or inclination to sit down and read an entire book in one sitting. They look for the best place to take a break. This is a problem for writers because while you want to give them such a spot, you don't want to make it too easy by giving them a dull section in the story.

So it's a thin line between 'here is a place to stop' and yet keeping the 'OMG what happens now! feeling.' You don't want readers to stop just anywhere because they will choose what they feel is a low ebb in the story. If you give them convenient breaks, but at the height of story action, they are more likely to pick the book back up. And that means they'll pick up your next book as well.

I've had more than one person point out that Terry Pratchett doesn't use chapters, but this isn't true. Pratchett, being a true wizard at his art, has only hidden them from immediate view. If you have any of his books, go pick one up. Flip through a few pages. You will notice that every now and then there are extra lines between paragraphs marking the changes.

But those are scene changes, you say. Well, so are most chapter breaks. So whether you do the breaks in a traditional, new page/chapter number style or not, you should still be aware of them. In my opinion, anything longer than about 100 pages needs these break points for readers.

But how to do them wisely? Some people think that a good way is to break out each day into a chapter, but this is usually the most dull, worst way you can do it. It would mean starting with someone waking up and ending with them going to sleep. How dull is that? It doesn't matter how exciting the rest was if you always leave them sleeping. This doesn't mean you can't ever stop with your character falling face-first onto a bed, asleep before he hits the pillow or staring at the ceiling trying desperately to sleep.

Use such things wisely.


Scenes are a convenient first step in finding break points, but in order to do so, you have to understand the function of a scene. They are combinations of time, place, characters and events. The last is really the most important aspect.

Something happens in a scene. It can follow a character through several places (say someone running away from danger) as long as the focus is on the event. It can be a single location where a character meets with several others in succession. In rare occasions, a single location may see several characters pass through without someone to link them all, but this is dependent on the narration of the novel. If you have a first or third person narration, for instance, someone has to be there to witness the events, which means, of course, that you have that single focus after all.

Pacing and Building Tension

Chapters are the best way to work with pacing. You have to spread out the events that happen within your story in a logical progression from bad to worse. One level leads to another, building the tension. The trick is to make these things build slowly throughout the novel.

Pacing is the easier part. You know you want to go from point a to point z in the story. Even if you don't outline, you can still see that there will be a set number of problems along the way and that some will be worse than others, but the absolute worst problem has to be faced at the end of the story.

I outline. This might not appeal to you, but remember that outlines take a lot of different forms. Sometimes I write complex, scene-by-scene outlines complete with snippets of conversation. Other times I write a line or two per chapter just so I know where I want to go with a scene. Some people can keep track of things without a problem and keep the entire novel in their head, leaping from spot to spot, going back, filling in . . . I am not one of them.

Think of your chapters as little stories. Not complete tales, like a novel, but rather little pieces of a life. These should be exciting moments in which something important happens and we can follow it through to some logical stopping place, even if the event carries on to other chapters. What happens will go on an affect other parts of the story, but right now, you want to focus on that event and make it work the way you want it to. Focus on this little piece. You can hide clues to surprises here. You can play down or play up a situation to hide the importance of something else going on.

Once again, the word here is focus. By creating thinking in terms of chapters, you are training yourself to focus on each obvious step rather than on the whole. Knowing the general plan of the story from start to finish is important, but also remember how each step has to carry its own weight. You cannot gloss over any section of the story. If you find yourself doing so, then ask if you really need it at all. Ask it of all scenes and every chapter.

Also ask if the transition from one chapter to the next is logical. Sometimes those transitions are not adjacent in the case where you are following more than one storyline. Other times, when moving and deleting material, the logical links get lost. Look at the previous chapter to this storyline and make certain your story hasn't taken the kind of leap which needs at least a line of explanation. Even something as simple as 'Four days later, Tom sat in a café musing over his good fortune' is enough to get the reader settled into the time and place.

If you have trouble reaching the end of the story, or if the story wanders all over the place with no coherent plan, you need to take control. You don't have to write a full-fledged outline. And get over the 'it ruins the story for me' fantasy that says you don't have to work any harder than you already do. That's an attitude, guys. It's in your mind and you have control over it. I'm not saying it will be easy, but if you want to write stories that work, and you are having trouble getting there now, then you must start trying new things. Or stay stuck where you are. Or give up. Those are the choices.

There are two ways to work with pacing and create tension in a book. One way is the start at a low ebb and head straight up to the highest point of conflict. This is an easy way to plot. It means no side trips and one thing leads directly to another, getting more and more troublesome throughout the story.

The second way is the rollercoaster ride. This has little hills and valleys -- the hills are high points of conflict while the valleys are little dips and 'relative' calm spots in the story. Nothing, of course, is every truly calm and peaceful, though. The 'calm' points are excellent places to build inner conflict and build up the tension of 'what next' by hinting at outside problems, or bring news of them in ways that do not immediately affect the characters. After all, your antagonist is likely doing other things, right?

Interweave story lines

Which brings up another reason why chapters can be important: If you have two or more storylines going, interweaving them through chapters is important to help the reader track what's going on. Several storylines means focus on multiple POVs. Some people change POVs in the middle of a scene or in the middle of a chapter. I find this annoying as a reader (though many do not), so I structure my work to have POVs in different chapters.

This helps in a couple ways. First, I can easily see if my main POV is holding up his end of the story. If someone else is hogging page time, I have to decide why this happened. Is the other person more interesting? Or is my main POV just not taking on enough of the load? Do they need to be equal? If so, are both storylines equally important to the resolution of the final conflict?

Chapters for individual POV/storylines also allows me to make certain the two (or more) stories are not diverging too far from each other and they're all headed towards the same spot -- though that might not be a physical spot, but rather the same moment of closure with the same level of impact.

Focus on specifics

Chapters also allow you to focus on specifics. Sometimes it's good to narrow down the view of your story to a place and/or event which needs special care for the sake of the story. Well, of course it's for the sake of the story, right?

Sometimes the writer becomes so enamored of part of the creation that he loses track of the bigger picture. In an odd way, chapters can help pinpoint those problem spots because they bring them into focus easier. It isn't just a scene lost in the plethora of other scenes: this is an individual piece that is there, standing on its own. Look at it. Turn it over. Examine it from a different angle. And always ask yourself what this does for the story. Why should the reader care?

The reader has an entirely different perspective from the writer. We are in love with our worlds, characters and plots and if you aren't, find out why and fix it. You must be drawn to write what you do, and you may not love a dark tale of horror, you must still love the ability to tell it well.

As writers, we see special things in odd places and want to throw light on that little corner of our wonderful creations. Sometimes it works. Other times, it distracts from the story. You have to learn which is which. One way to tell is nothing that we are giving a lot of attention to something that has little or no impact on the story.

Whatever you do, remember to keep up the story tension. No matter how you write your scenes, you must give the reader a good reason to wonder what happens next. No, more than that, you have to keep them wondering what exciting or interesting thing is going to happen next. Where is this all going to lead?

If they have to set your book down, make certain they want to pick it back up again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Zette's Take: Why this series

From For Blog

Little things can help

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be putting up posts tagged as 'Zette's Take' which are going to be writing-related. I have 18 of them planned out so far, and I will likely add more as I go along. I hope you enjoy them.

Originally, I was going to do these in a new blog, but I feared there might be long stretches between posts of this nature. Besides, this blog also covers my actual writing (and sometimes real life). Discussing how I work and what I am working on plainly goes hand-in-hand.

Writers on the Internet are constantly inundated with material about how to write. Blogs, twitter feeds, Face Book and websites are shoved at us at every turn. Do this, do that, stay away from here . . .

It's all personal opinion. That's the first thing you have to realize when you read any sort of blog, etc. That includes this one. This is my opinion on how to work and what might -- and I stress might -- help you with your work. You are not me. And even though I can see how other authors work (or don't work) sometimes, that doesn't mean I can also see all the answers. Writing is a personal journey. You should do all in your power to make it easy and fun.

Yes, fun. Writing is hard work, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it, too. Of course, if you are of the opinion that nothing is worthwhile unless you suffer for it, then plainly the way I write and what I offer is not going to work for you. I, however, think that angst is better in the story (in moderation) than in real life. If you are going to hate your work, you might as well be working at something that deserves the hate, and actually making better money than you are likely to get in this profession.

There is enough in life to be annoyed and worked up over without making writing miserable as well. And yes, that really is my opinion.

People ask how I work

People see that I write over a million words a year (yes, really, for several years now) and ask me how I do it. Most assume it comes from having more free time than they do. That's partially true, but sometimes only in the sense that I make more free time. My other interests are limited. I don't watch any regular TV and only occasionally watch stuff on DVD. I do read quite a bit, of course.
I have a couple steady freelance jobs, plus running FM and publishing Vision every few months. This puts more of a limit on my writing than some people realize. Just the same, I do have time and I don't waste it.

How to 'not waste it' is part of what this series is about. The bits and pieces I will drop in here help me focus and move ahead with projects. Sometimes I'll talk about research, sometimes about attitude and now and then even about writing itself.

When I sit down to write, that's what I do. I don't pretend to write, I don't play games with online stuff, and I don't let myself get sidetracked by bright shiny new stuff. I write. I finish what I start. Just writing a million words doesn't mean anything, you know. It's the fact that I finish projects that really counts.

More than a decade working with writers

I've spent more than a decade at Forward Motion and Vision, and during that time I've talked to and worked with hundreds (probably well more than a thousand) writers on a personal level, besides seeing what questions people post on the site or discuss in chat.

This gives me a little more of an understanding of some of the things that seem to trouble writers. Openings, for instance, which are obvious. Middles. Character creation. Goals.

The biggest problem I see? Actually sitting down and writing.

But again, you have to remember these will be my 'takes' on how to do things and what I do will not work for you. Not only that, even the pieces you find which do help you will not work with every book.

Everything you see helps build your own path

Everything you learn, whether you see a use for it or not, helps you become a better writer. Does that sound odd? If you find something which doesn't work for you, you are still defining what does work. Never dismiss anything out of hand, though. File the idea away in your writer-brain and let it simmer there and see if something doesn't pop up from it, or if it doesn't come in handy at some odd point in the future.

This is going to be an eclectic set of posts. They will not be posted at any regular date and time because I am going to fit them in around a lot of other work. I have several subjects in mind already, from chapters to sticking to goals. I'll sometimes wander off course. Occasionally, I might even make some sort of sense to you.

The trick to learning anything is to be willing to learn. You must be willing to look beyond what you do now, whether what you do seems to work for you or not. Why would you do such a thing? Because if you don't open yourself up to change, chances are you are going to start writing exactly the same type of story over and over again.

Be adaptable. Be open to change and learning things. You'll write better for it. I hope you find things in the posts to help you along the way.

And feel free to comment!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sample Sunday: New story

This story hit me a couple days ago. I am in the midst of final rewrite/edit of something else, but I decided to get the opening out of my head anyway. This is VERY rough and will likely be cut back later, when I have time to work more seriously on it:

My mother, unfortunately, has a healthy dose of whimsy; far more, in fact, than a grown woman should possess. She spends most of her days making cutesy little fantasy figures out of clay and carefully painting them with minute details. (I was in my teens when I finally figured out the sale of those little things were what mostly supported the family. I took more interest in them.) My father was only interested in his four sons and spent far less time at home than he should have. He and the older three boys were off on some camping trip the day I was born.

But someone should have stopped my mother and her sense of whimsy before she named me. I would have been far happier.

I was born on Easter. My mother, not being particularly religious, still decided she must somehow acknowledge such an event. So yes, she named me Bunny. And you know, if her last name had not been Hopper, I probably could have lived with the choice.

So, go for my middle name, right? Well, she had named my older sister after one of my grandmothers: Mary May Hopper, which is bad enough. But mom had already intended to name me after her other grandmother.


No, I didn't just cough. My grandmother was Egyptain. The name means honest.

Bunny Hack-cough Hopper.

From the age of eight until I was fifteen, I almost daily begged them to allow me to change my name. My mother would smile and shake her head and go back to painting unicorns. My father would wave me away and tell me to speak to my mother . . . as he headed out the door with the Tom, David, Mike and later Brad, who was born the year after me.

My life in school was hell, of course. You can't be a teen with a name like Bunny Hopper and not expect to pay for it. Then, just after my fifteenth birthday, I joined a Tai Chi Chuan class and took up meditation. I finally learned to embrace my Inner Bunny.

Turns out he's really vicious.

Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hopper

Friday, June 03, 2011

About the flooding

From For Blog

The Missouri River, August 2008

When Russ typed on Skype that he was going to call me last night, I knew something was wrong. He had already said he was heading for bed. That meant he had just gotten news about something. I started going through lists of things to be worried about, including the bills we had just been discussing.

The news was not what I expected. It turns out the town I am living in is about to get hit by a major flood because the dams up north have to release water. This is a predicted flood, and while the city is scrambling to do what they can to minimize the problem, I am still in the 'up to 2 feet' range last time I looked. Some areas of town are in the 'up to 8 feet' range, so I'm really lucky. It turns out that I'm actually on the highest point of the city, which really isn't saying much since this is river plain between two bluffs. Great farming land, of course, but you have to watch that river. I've been here well over 30 years and this is the first time we've had to worry about river flooding, though. There's been street flooding from heavy rains, and flooding by the river, but not this far in. I'm about ten blocks from the river

What I am not so lucky about is that Russ is in New York, I am in Nebraska, and I not only don't drive, I don't have a car anyway. (Yes there is one in the driveway. It hasn't moved for three years now. The only way it will move for this flood is if the waters get too high.)

This kind of limits what I can do at the moment. If things start looking bad, the best is to move important things from house 1 where I live to house 2 next door, which used to be Russ's office. House 2 has some advantages for a flood. Though it is smaller, it's higher off the ground. It has a basement, which would take some of the water while house 1 is most likely to be pushed off the foundation. House 2 has an attic room where I can put the most important things and hope for the best. It has some bad things, like the water pipes froze and broke the first winter Russ was gone and we haven't had the money to repair them, so the water is turned off. Well, if the flood is so bad I must go there, the water system will be compromised anyway, so that's nothing to worry about.

To be honest, it is doubtful I'll get anything more than maybe curb high here, but we needed to do a discussion of 'just in case' because if more storms make this worse, I need to be ready. It has been distracting, but I can't let the problem drive me crazy for too long. This is going to be an ongoing situation. The waters will rise for the next two weeks at least. They say the flooding will remain until September.

The people at the city have said that city services (water plant, power plant) should be fine. I will be gathering water anyway. I have some old soda bottles that I'm washing out and can fill. I'll store them over at house 2.

Oh, the comic books. I need to put them on the list. Certain books, a few odds and ends, but I am counting on this being a no-event on my end. It's already an event elsewhere -- the Missouri river is already flooding areas before they do the more massive water release. I just learned that one of my two favorite wild life refuges -- De Soto -- is closed. I'm betting the other one will be too. This is especially true because Russ plans to come home in about two weeks, and that would be where we would normally take our day trip. Since his trip coincides with the height of the water release, I'm betting we'll be around home for the three or so days he'll be here.

Right now all I have to deal with is excessive heat (91f/33c) and no air conditioning. So far the humidity isn't excessive so it's not as bad as it can be. I have a nice fan in my office. The trick is keeping the cats off the desk so I can work.

Which is what I need to get back to doing now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Good, old-fashioned adventure?

Before you think this is a rant about the current state of books, let me assure you it is not. There are thousands of great books out there drawing all kinds of readers and pleasing them. They are doing exactly what they should be doing. I have nothing against sex in books, either, so don't think that's the problem. And, as someone pointed out not long ago, romance is not just about sex, though even I had started to think of it in those terms, based on a lot of books. That was blind on my part.
This is about is writing for other readers
Kat Among the Pigeons is a good, old-fashioned adventure. It's an Urban Fantasy. It does have a romance but there is no sex. It has talking cats and talking birds and a female lead who doesn't think she can handle trouble until she has to stand up on her own and do it.
Kat Among the Pigeons is not the best book ever written. It is, however, a nice adventure filled with amusing encounters and lots of excitement.
I've been telling people to write for themselves first for years. If you cannot please yourself with the book you're writing, you can't ever hope to please others. I have always written the types of stories that I want to read, and yes -- that did take me outside the mainstream of book publishing long before Indie Publication started to take their own paths.
The problem, I think, is trying to define the market I'm aiming at. I don't want to say things like, 'if you are looking for a sexy, edgy novel, this is not it' of course. Old-fashioned is right out. Yeah, my original source of inspiration for writing anything at all was Andre Norton, but that doesn't mean this is what I'm writing now.
The Silky books fit well into the young adult fantasy realm. Kat fits it in 'feel' but not in age, though I don't think it's so far off to miss the YA crowd entirely.
The next book I have coming out is a science fiction adventure, and the story is closer to C.J. Cherryh's type of tale than I ever thought I would be able to write. That does not mean it equals her fantastic ability to create such stories, but only that I can firmly see the lines of inspiration, though I didn't realize it until I had finished the first draft.
So I can clearly see where my writing comes from -- Norton, Cherryh and even writers like Rex Stout. You'll note the lack of Anis Nin and Laurell K. Hamilton, though I have read both. I was not inspired to write the sort of tales they did. The same with many other writers whom I read.
This really comes down to learning more about how to market what I write. I know this and I'm willing to learn. I know this is a slow, difficult process, and I'm willing to take the time to figure things out.
In the meantime, I have six out of seven excellent reviews of Kat Among the Pigeons, which brings us back to the 'you cannot please everyone' problem. Some people are not your market, even when you think they might be.
So reaching those people who are looking for the same sort of books you want to read -- and are therefore writing -- is the hardest part of this whole business. I'll be at it for a long time.

And before I forget again -- here is a link to a previous post.  In it you will find codes for all my novels at Smashwords to buy them at $0.99 until June 5th!
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