Monday, November 30, 2015

Time: I Don't Have It, So Have An Excerpt Instead

I'm sorry, darlins, I should be posting the next Redstone right now, but between NaNo and a short story that was due on the 30th and end-of-month logging for my real job, it isn't done yet. I know. It sucks. I won't go far as to say I suck, but I wish I could have gotten it done on time.

If I'm lucky, I'll get a client cancellation that will allow me to post late Tuesday.

If I'm not, then it won't be up until Wednesday.

Arg arg arg.

How can I make it up to you?

How about an excerpt from the holiday story I have coming out, what...jeez, today? Timing. TIMING, I DON'T HAVE IT!

Yeah, okay, excerpt from Worth The Wait, coauthored with Caitlin Ricci and out with Dreamspinner Press, which you can find here: Worth The Wait.


The rain wasn’t heavy, but it was constant, a continuous misty drizzle that infused the air with more of a chilling sensation than was actually there. In a few months, once spring arrived, Tate knew there would be pale green buds just starting to appear on the tips of the maple trees in their neat little sidewalk enclosures, and the scene outside the Tattered Cover bookstore should have been a lovely one. Instead it was three days until Christmas, and the rain was quickly turning into sleet around him. The remaining light from the pale winter sunset was just enough to make the wet ground sparkle a bit, reflecting in the store’s windows, which were ringed with plain, perfect white pinpricks of light.

A long line of people stood on the sidewalk outside the store, in bulky multicolored coats or under sturdy umbrellas, chatting and waiting impatiently for the line to move forward. It was, objectively, a lovely evening scene, one which Tate might have enjoyed if not for his quickly soaking feet as he stood in the wet and wished he hadn’t agreed to go to the bookstore during the last minute mad rush of Christmas shoppers.

Subjectively, it was a special sort of punishment for the shortsighted. Tate shivered as a tiny rivulet of ice water slid down the side of his face and dropped onto his sodden shirt collar. His hoodie was entirely insufficient against the weather, but he hadn’t planned on being outside long enough for it to matter and had come straight from work, with no time to change between. He had a better coat, far away where he’d left his car before hopping on the Sixteenth Street Mall bus to get here, but if he went back for it now he’d be giving up his place in line. He was already close enough to the back that he didn’t want to surrender any potential advantage when it came to getting these books signed. The plastic crinkled under his arms as he gripped his package tighter, and Tate sighed. At least he’d had the foresight to wrap the books up in a plastic grocery bag to keep them dry before heading out.

This wasn’t exactly how he’d seen his Friday night playing out. Then again, since his usual Friday night would have been going home and crashing on the couch after ten hours of mostly inane help desk queries, he couldn’t say this was worse, exactly. At least he had a purpose other than mindless relaxation tonight.

“Anthea Withershine will be signing her books there, Uncle Tate!” his ten-year-old niece had informed him yesterday, awe and avarice warring in her voice. “I have all of them. I’ve got The Mystery of the Falling Star and The Lost Kingdom of Lyonne and The Boy With the Clockwork Brain and—”

“You don’t have to list them all, Addie,” Tate’s brother, Jim, had pointed out from where he was monitoring their Skype conversation.

“Yes I do!” she’d insisted. “So he knows which ones I’ve got!”

“You just said you have them all.”

“All except her newest one, Dad,” Addie said, not able to restrain an eye roll. “It’s not out yet, but her website says she’ll be selling copies at the bookstore. Uncle Tate”—she turned her big, pleading eyes on him—“can you please, please, please go and get me a copy for my birthday? And get it signed? Can you tell her to make it out to Addie and tell her how to spell my name right?”

“Begging isn’t attractive,” her father informed her. “Don’t put your uncle on the spot. Go and get ready for bed.”

She’d reluctantly given up her spot in front of the computer, and Jim waited patiently for Tate to shotgun the rest of his coffee. He didn’t mind getting up early to talk to his niece, but the fifteen-hour time difference from Denver to Gunsan meant he couldn’t do it without some serious caffeinated fortification.

“You don’t have to do this, but if you want to I’ll send you some cash for the book,” Jim said when he seemed sure he had Tate’s attention again.

“You don’t need to do that,” Tate protested. “It’s her birthday. I can manage one book.”

“If you do, you’ll be her favorite uncle. Addie’s been on a Withershine kick for the last six months, and the new releases are always slow to get here.”

Tate chuckled. “I’m her only uncle, but I’m sure I can do this. When’s the signing?”

“There’s this thing called the Internet. It magically connects you to information without you ever having to leave your apartment—”

Tate flipped his brother the finger. “Jackass.”

He’d figured it out eventually, and figured that since the signing was on a Friday from five to close, he could just show up after work. He’d bought used copies of two of Withershine’s other books in advance, just in case they sold out of the new one, and had congratulated himself on his foresight.

Tate had had no idea that people had been lining up for this signing since morning, but his naiveté was disabused the moment he got off the bus. The line stretched for three blocks back down the mall, parents and kids and plenty of other interested readers all waiting impatiently for the inches to go by. Tate had gotten in line at the end, his head swimming a little, and had checked his watch. Four thirty. And he’d thought he was being clever by leaving work early.

Now, an hour and a half later, he was half a block farther along and very, very cold. His skin crawled beneath his clothes, and Tate suppressed a shiver. He bounced on the balls of his feet a little, trying to warm up a bit. He rolled his neck, then his shoulders, then—“Shit!” The plastic bag holding his used books tumbled out of his hands and spilled onto the pavement. “No, no, no.” Tate dove for the bag, which still had one of the books in its protective skin, but the other…. Where was it? Tate looked around wildly but couldn’t see anything book shaped in the fading light. The streetlamps would flicker on soon, but by then it would be too late. The book would be ruined.

“Hey.” A light voice pulled Tate out of his growing panic. “I think I found your escapee.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment