Time It Right

I’ve only twenty minutes before I have to shove the icepack back into the freezer and hop in the shower. I don’t care if my plantar fascia hurts, I have to run. I have been going mad with the enforced rest, and tomorrow is a release day.

That’s right, tomorrow, Incorruptible is released to the world for your delectation at midnight tonight. Remember, you can download the first six chapters here for free.

I already have release day nerves, so I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard this morning. If I can get tired enough I might even be able to sleep tonight. I finished the zero of Damage late last week. It’s only around 46k, but there’s plenty of room for expansion if it gets sold as a category.

I’m trying to work out what comes next. Orphaned and out of contract is never a fun place to be as an author, especially in this economy. It’s one of those days I think I should pack it all in, become a plumber or something, and only write for home consumption, so to speak.

Don’t despair, dear Readers. The feeling is normal, I get it right before every release day. You’d think it would get easier to deal with, but each time it wears right through the carpet and cuts a groove in my mental floor.

In any case, I have Hell’s Acre, Memory Game, and HOOD‘s Season Two open in Scrivener. The last needs a stiff reread to get back into the groove, and if I push I might get a zero out in the next month. That would be nice; I’ll probably work on Memory Game next since I’m still in a suspense/thriller mood.

But in the meantime, I’m going to finish icing my heel and stagger for the shower. Getting back to work after finishing a zero is always an exercise in stubbornness, like hopping in to jump double-dutch. I never quite got the hang of that, but it didn’t stop me from trying. One day I’ll time it right.

Over and out.

COVER REVEAL: Incorruptible

I’ve something special for you guys in lieu of the regular Friday photo post. Feast your eyes upon this, my darlings:

Falling was only the beginning…

Jenna Delacroix is determined to keep her life as simple as possible. Maybe if she tries hard enough to be normal the nightmares and strange occurrences plaguing her all her life will finally recede. But then the monsters arrive—and with them, the man who says he’s her protector.

Lonely and disciplined, Michael Gabon is just a grunt in the Legion’s endless war, but now he’s stumbled across something special—a living, breathing Incorruptible, the first one he’s seen in more decades than he can count. She’s also being hunted. And now, so is he.

On the run without backup, the diaboli haunting their trail, their only hope is working together. Even that might not be enough, because the unclean seem to know more than they should. Whether it’s treachery or bad luck doesn’t matter to Michael. The only thing he cares about is seeing his Incorruptible safe…

…no matter who–or what–he has to kill.


Isn’t it lovely? The cover is from Indigo Chick Designs; I highly recommend all of Skyla’s work and have for years.

I’ve got another treat for you, too–you can read the first six chapters for free, by downloading the sample here. You can also sign up for my newsletter at the same time, but you don’t have to in order to get your fiction fix.

It’s been a super long week and I still have turkey-wrangling to do. Thankfully, the goats have been returned to the care of their regular humans, who were slightly confused at my excitement over my new Capra aegagrus-whistling skills. (That’s okay, the goats and I understand one another just fine.)

But that damn turkey, oof.

I’ll tell you what else happened with Shirley, me, and the turkey next week, my friends. In the meantime, enjoy your free sample, and stay tuned because I’ve so much more coming in the next few months.

Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: HOOD, Season One

That’s right, folks–Season One of HOOD is now available! Robin Hood–IN SPACE!


HOOD

The Great Migration was centuries ago; two generation ships reached the Anglene galaxy with its clutch of terraform-suitable planets and performed their work.

Anglene is smoldering. The galactic insurrection is supposed to be crushed. Robbhan Locke, a Second Echelon soldier, has returned to his birth planet along with other veterans, finding Sharl Notheim holding all of Saggitarius in his mailed fist for Parl Jun the Regent. 

There’s no redemption in homecoming. Even Marah Madán and Ged Gizabón, Robb’s childhood friends, have been forced into accommodation. The Sharl won’t stop squeezing until he’s made maximum profit for his royal patron–and covered up all his wartime indiscretions.

Heroes aren’t needed here, but even a damaged man can fight…

Available in e-edition direct (.epub and .mobi for Kindle users), through Amazon or Kobo; paper edition available through Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, independent bookstores, or Amazon.

You can also download a free sample–the first few chapters, in .mobi, .epub, or PDF format!


You can also read a little bit about the genesis of the story here. It’s been a long strange road, and I’ve got so much more to tell you, my friends. There’s going to be a race, a heist or three, betrayals, and ballroom dancing, not to mention murder, intrigue, and quite a few lucky shots. I hope you enjoy Season One, and in August Season Two starts with somewhat of a bang–or the aftereffects of one.

But for today, I’ve release-day nerves to fret with, a bunch of housework I’ve put off to address, and dogs to amuse. I’m swamped.

Over and out.

Brain, Thunderdome

HOOD

I’m a little excited, my dear little sparrows. HOOD‘s Season One comes out next Tuesday (you can download a free teaser here) and I’m trying some new things with distribution and marketing, so we’ll see how that works out. It’ll be nice to have the first season off my plate, since I’m already 30K into the second. I think I can get this done in two seasons, and if publishers don’t snap up Hell’s Acre I’ll do that as the next one. (Considering Season 2 is going to be long, though, there’s plenty of time. For once.)

I’m also revising Incorruptible, which will probably drop in September. There’s other releases scheduled around then, but none under my real name. (Yes, I know you’ll all want details. As soon as I can disclose them I will, not a second before or after.)

Today, however, Serial Time subscribers (on Gumroad or Patreon) get the final ebook for HOOD: Season One way before anyone else does. It’s a tiny thank-you for their support. That small, consistent support means I can plan around several vagaries of daily life and publishing, which means the rest of you get more to read. So, thank you, subscribers! All my other readers owe subscribers a vote of thanks as well, because the books resulting from that support go out into the world.

New release stress is pleasant (mostly), but it’s still…well, stress, and added to the illness of a dear friend and a few other woes, I’m feeling rather in the low end of the pool lately. Work is the only panacea, even if one has to swim against the current of imposter syndrome.

In short, I’m a little tender-skinned. Summer is hardly my favorite time, though by all rights it should be–it’s when the kids are home from school (though the Princess is out of school and working by now) and work dials back a bit. You’d think I’d enjoy it, but I find myself longing for autumn and the rains.

I always work better when it’s raining.

I suppose there’s nothing to do but stick to the plan. It’s never comfortable when one’s brain decides to try killing its container, but like any villain, it can be outwitted. Having an adversarial relationship with one’s own brain isn’t the recommended way to get through life, but one works with what one has.

Anyway, I’d best get a run in before the heat makes everything unbearable. Despite my current bleak mood, I am excited for Robb, Marah, Giz, and the gang to make their debut. It’s just that the excitement is trapped in Thunderdome with a particular brand of anxiety-laced depression.

I can’t decide if I’m Max or Auntie. I suppose I just have to wait to see what happens.

Time to get punching on Thursday, chickadees. Over and out.

RELEASE DAY: Harmony

I feel kind of like Beyoncé dropping a surprise album. (I’m not nearly as talented, but I think the stomach flutters and sparking nervousness is probably about the same.) That’s right, folks–here’s a brand new book, Harmony, with a lovely cover by the stunning Indigo Chick Designs.


After an accident claims her unconventional mother, Val Smith has to live with her boring, reliable father. Grief and change aren’t good for anyone, but Val and her dad are doing okay—until they visit a place like paradise.

Harmony Home is safe, secure, and secluded, a place where where everyone belongs to everyone else. For a commune it’s a pretty okay, at least at first. There are strange things—the metal boxes in the clearing, the Red House where secrets are kept, and little Sarah, who pushes buttons inside people to “make them glow.” Val and her dad are honored, temporary guests, at least at first, and it’s exciting to be special, to be chosen. By the time Val’s uneasy, it’s too late.

Even heaven can be a trap, and Val’s going to need all her new talents to break free…

Currently available direct, or through Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo; forthcoming from Amazon and independent bookstores.


A long while ago, I gave my agent a choice. “I know you want a YA. I have a couple in my head: a cult story and a super-futuristic boarding school.”

She chose the cult. Of course I ended up writing her both–Reader’s Shadow is out on submission, though I don’t think a trad YA publisher will take it. I had to fight constantly and consistently to keep my YAs from being diluted by publisher nervousness over what some mythical bigoted mother in the Bible Belt would take offense at; my teenage heroes and heroines do things like drink, cuss, and think bad thoughts.

Anyway, I wrote Harmony for her. It passed through several drafts, and many publishers had a problem with the ending. (You all know how I feel about the right ending versus the happy ending.) They also want some of Val’s upbringing to be different, and one, I think, really waxed indignant at who eventually drags Val from the fire.

Oh well.

What I wanted to examine was how a cult draws one in. It’s all there–the lovebombing, the prohibitions on thinking in non-approved ways, the threat of punishment, the us-against-the-world mentality. Father Jim also owes a great deal to Thomas Jane’s incandescent and chilling turn in an otherwise ho-hum horror vehicle. What would happen, I wondered, if a cult actually had access to superhuman or extrahuman individuals? How far would they go to acquire such people, and how would they control them once acquired? How does one break free of such groups, especially when a core principle of getting people into your cult is to progressively rob them of outside relationships?

Everyone wants someplace to belong. Once they find that place, most people will do anything rather than lose it, especially if they believe it’s the only place that will ever accept them.

The psychological steps of cult indoctrination fascinate me. Brainwashing itself is pretty straightforward–lack of sleep and lack of protein can break even the strongest person. Cults–from the most innocuous to the most profitable and far-reaching–have to tread a little more carefully, and have to put policies and procedures in place to streamline the process. In many cases, the processes are arrived at through trial and error; the indoctrination doesn’t have to be applied by people who are consciously trying to manipulate someone else in order to work–they can be applied by people acting in good faith but in a bad environment.

In short, manipulative people and groups have the same playbook, and it works. Over and over again, it works, and plenty of it depends not on the charismatic leader but on the second- and third-in-command groups who may be acting out of the best motives, genuinely convinced they are bringing something special and valuable to people who need it.

We are not drawn into sick systems by our worst qualities, but by our best.

And of course, because it’s one of my books, there are extrahuman talents to consider. Still, it’s not those talents that allow the survivors to break free. I shall leave it to the reader to discover just how that happens, at least in the small fictional world of Harmony.

I’m really glad this book is out in the wild now. Amazon really doesn’t like getting one’s books out in a reasonable timeframe unless that book is done through KDP. On the one hand, it’s their distribution platform, so they can do as they like. On the other, it’s little things like that which drive home that I’ve made a good decision shifting my main ebook distribution elsewhere. (Gumroad customers can get a Kindle .mobi as well as the .epub, so if you’re an Amazon-based creature, I’ve still got your back.) And fear not, a paper version is well on its way.

I hope you enjoy it, dear Readers, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you think. And since it’s a release day, if you want me I’ll be in the corner rocking back and forth, with a bucket to stick my head into.

Plus ce change, and all that…

Burden, Borne

It’s that day! The Complete Roadtrip Z is now available in ebook directly, or from the distributor of your choice. That’s all four seasons of the serial in one handy (and very large) chunk. (The paperback edition is here.)

The genesis of the Roadtrip books is a long ongoing conversation with my writing partner about just who would survive the zombie apocalypse, and how such an apocalypse would be likely to spread, assuming it was viral. There are other considerations–a bacterial or occult zombie-making plague was ruled out early in the game, since Mel loved biology in school. (She and I have another ongoing conversation about mass conversion in shifters, but that’s neither here nor there.)

We talk sometimes about survival, and about how it’s going to be the people who are already used to scraping by that are going to make it during the initial catastrophe and the secondary wave of bad-luck deaths afterward. I’m sad to say that without Lee’s help, Ginny probably wouldn’t have–and without Ginny, Lee might never have made it out without the survivor part of him deciding to do some dreadful and perhaps unnecessary things. They needed each other badly.

There’s also Juju, who’s had the deck stacked against him all his life, and who’s pretty sure any new world from the toxic ashes from the old is going to be just as bad for him. I’m not sure he’s wrong, either, but at least he’s got people watching out for him now.

I didn’t know who would survive when I started writing. I knew where the survivors would end up, but not what that group would look like when it got there. Some people I badly wanted to survive made it; some people I really wanted to see make it didn’t. The kids could probably tell you about me staggering down the hall after a long day of writing, tears on my face as I begin making dinner.1

There was plenty of poring over atlases, checking tactical layouts, researching average meteorological conditions, and more than one emails to Mel saying “Ask the Boy Scout2 how he’d solve the problem of xyz, please?”

Lee, however, was based mostly on my maternal grandfather. He was an honorable man, and Lee is all the best of him rolled into one quiet package. Not that Papa was a silent fellow, unless he got serious. Most of the time he wanted to laugh through life, and he could make anyone laugh with him. He liked hunting, percolator coffee on Sunday mornings, and Wile E. Coyote. Even now, if I hear the meep-meep, I can hear him laughing. He had a stuffed Wile E. atop his gun cabinet, and he was the one family member I deeply regretted not being able to speak to.

I got to see him once before he passed, but he didn’t ask why I wouldn’t talk to them. Instead, he took me through a calendar of old military planes and told me about each one, especially those he worked on in Korea.

It was his way of telling me he still loved me, even though he didn’t understand.

Now that he’s gone, I hope he understands why I couldn’t answer what he wanted most to know, and forgives me. And I hope he gets a kick out of me putting a man he’d like into a book.

Ginny came from a different place. I wanted someone who would be at a distinct disadvantage during an apocalypse, someone comfortable with civilization and thinking it was permanent or even particularly “civilized.” One or two readers said Ginny was too stupid to live, but in each situation, she’s trying to respond as normally as possible. It wasn’t the best coping mechanism…but it was hers, and while Lee and Juju got everyone through physically intact, it’s to Ginny’s credit that they got to the end mostly emotionally intact. Sure, everyone involved will need oodles of therapy, but that’s to be expected when the world falls apart.

I was experimenting with serial format all the way through, and I must thank my Readers for their patience with said experiments. Thanks to those who allowed me to Tuckerise them, too–your characters are as sharply and finely drawn as I could make them, and if a few meet gruesome deaths, well, that’s to be expected in any book of mine, right?

I think it’s good that it ends where it does. (Of course I do, or I wouldn’t have ended it there.) I’m pretty sure my grandfather wouldn’t have read it–his taste was more Zane Grey, though he had a soft spot for Louis L’Amour, especially Last of the Breed–but I’m also pretty sure he’d be tickled pink to know a character was based on him. I ain’t interesting, he’d say, but his blue eyes would hold a little pleased twinkle.

Some of my work is offerings to the dead. Not so they stay down, but so I remember them by doing what I love most, and what is sometimes the only gift I can give.

So thank you to you all. I’m writing HOOD as a serial now, but Roadtrip Z will always hold a special place in my heart. I was able to play, to expand, to practice both bringing each episode to a good end as well as keeping the much larger (good Lord, it’s easily 200K words in final form) story and its various arcs clearly in mind. It was a helluva ride, and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself now that it’s over.

I mean, I know what I’m going to do, of course. I’m going to write more.

But maybe, with the omnibus finally out in both paper and e-formats today, I’ll take a bit of a rest and think about how those I’ve lost are still with me. Not just because I write them, but because I carry them wherever I go. If it’s a burden, it’s one I bear proudly–and one I’ll keep writing underneath.

See you around, guys.

Cinnamon Roll Prospects

It’s one of those mornings. I’m barely vertical and even getting coffee down the hatch seems an impossible task. At least it smells like rain soon, and yesterday I had the great good fortune of getting my finger and toe claws into The Poison Prince. I even got my teeth into that fucking book, and shook it like Sir Boxnoggin with a squeaky toy.

Consequently, now I have a better scaffolding, and I feel like the book, while huge, is also manageable. If I keep biting, eventually I’ll bleed it into compliance. Most of the time, I settle into the story’s world with a thump, like the floor dropping a little during an earthquake. This time, the sensation is of my hands and feet aching and tense, my jaw clenched, while i see which direction the damn thing will veer in.

The Princess and her best friend are in the kitchen. I’m told there’s a prospect of cinnamon rolls soon, but I’d best get out to run before it happens. Maybe, now that I have all my spikes in Poison Prince, I can also juggle it with another work instead of letting it monopolize me. It would be great if I could just work on one book at a time, but the mortgage needs paying and the kids have this habit of eating.

Speaking of which, The Complete Roadtrip Z is available in ebook format through Gumroad now! It’s available for preorder but won’t be released on other distribution platforms until April 9, and Amazon might be later still because they won’t allow you to set an ebook for preorder unless you’re listing through KDP.

Of course, Amazon also lets plagiarists and scammers keep going, because they bring the ‘Zon cash. Which surprises exactly no-one. I’m still waiting for those assholes who came at me yelling when I pointed out “Amazon is not your friend” years ago to produce apologies. Something tells me I’ll wait forever.

I might as well write while I do, but not until I get this coffee finished. My stomach’s rolling like a heavy sea and I can’t wait to get out the door and shake all the fidgets away. I might even leave the last half of my coffee to do so.

Maybe. *eyes mug* Or maybe not. Over and out, dear ones.