Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Word For The New Year

So, my honey and I have a tradition of picking a word that we want to define our upcoming year. It's not a resolution or a goal or the kind of thing you pin your hopes on that then inevitably falters and makes you feel like you're not even good at being you, much less anything else. It's just a word that puts a few syllables to the scattered pieces of our lives and tugs them all in the same direction. Last year my word was "expansion"--I wanted to try some new things and see some new places. And I totally did! The RT Conference, Cambodia, rapid fire coauthoring, hell yeah--WIN!!!

Wait, you say, but that's so lazy, it means next to nothing when you can just shoehorn any accomplishments into--


For 2017, I've decided to use the word "agency," in the sense of the second definition of the word according to Merriam Webster:

Definition of agency



  1. 2:  the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power 

I want some more power over my life, my work, and my own capacity. I wrote 100k words in November, way outpacing any of my previous productivity. I want that more often--not necessarily that huge, but 50k a month? Why not? 

So, agency is my word. That's as detailed as I want to get looking forward to a new year, because on a macro level I can't imagine that 2017 will be much brighter than 2016 was, so I've got to settle in for the long haul and try to keep the faith. Write, fight, and love on. That's what me and my sense of agency are shooting for.

Happy New Year, darlins. I'll be right here with you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Twenty

Notes: A new chapter of Reformation, yay! With Jonah getting cabin fever, and then trying to fix it by tempting hellfire and damnation. Good job, babe ;)

Title: Reformation: Chapter Twenty


Chapter Twenty

There were only so many things Jonah could do before he ran out of ways to be responsible. After he staggered into the bunker, he got Lacey set up on the cot and attached her to the Regen unit. Even though the serum didn’t work on her the way it would on him, it was still full of nutrients and painkillers and would keep her hydrated, which was better than nothing. He watched the slender needle penetrate her arm, read her values on the diagnostic screen and watched her pulse and blood pressure stabilize, and let out a sigh of relief. Lacey was as good as she was going to get right now, and still unconscious. He could move on to settling himself.

Jonah checked the cabinets and found the enhanced water, preserved food and a bunch of blankets. He drank until his thirst was gone, used a few of the blankets on Lacey and took the rest to make himself a pallet on the floor. He let the Regen unit check him quickly, not wanting to strain its resources, but apart from a minor electrolyte imbalance and fatigue, he was still good. He lowered himself onto his pallet and almost immediately fell asleep, with the satisfaction of a job well done.

Waking up was…not as satisfying.

Lacey was fine—she had moved from unconscious to asleep, and Jonah wasn’t looking forward to explaining to her exactly what was happening or what she was going to have to deal with, but she was stable for now, and that was the most important thing. The storm was still raging outside. They were safe, they had survived. Great.


There had to be more to do. Jonah went through the cabinets again, taking notes on all the food and water and rationing it out in his head. On one of the bottom shelves was an old-fashioned radio, the kind that had been passed around way back at the founding of the colony. They’d been prepared for a lot of contingencies early on, making sure people could contact each other and the colony ship no matter where they were. A lot of those emergency preparations had fallen by the wayside as the colony matured, but Jonah was pretty sure he could still figure out how to work the thing.

He pulled it out and attached a line from it to the generator, and held his breath as he waited to see if it would initialize. It should—it was practically an antique, a combination of analog and digital that hadn’t been popular since Old Earth, with no way to access an implant but with the span to detect most modern frequencies. It should work.

The screen flashed on, and Jonah rubbed his hands together. “Good.” He found the dial—an actual dial, a device that only saw regular use on Drifter ships and even there, was considered passé—and began scanning for frequencies. All he got was a lot of static.

Jonah frowned. “Maybe the concrete’s too thick.” He’d have to go outside. He was surprisingly okay with that.

It was still wet, cold, and blowing out there—surprisingly refreshing after the stuffiness of the bunker, which had a circulation unit to keep the air from getting stale, but that was sluggish at best. Jonah left the door open just a crack to keep the radio plugged in, and then propped the tarp he’d taken from the travois up to protect them from the rain. Jonah settled in over the radio and began to turn the dial.

There—a steady ping, ping, ping. That had to be the emergency beacon. At least it was still broadcasting. Jonah hadn’t been sure it had survived the shuttle’s descent into the ocean. He hadn’t seen a beacon inside the bunker yet, and until he was sure they weren’t going to be shot at again, he wasn’t going to turn it on even if there was one. A little further—these were the frequencies that were dedicated to the Box, the ones that the colony had originally inhabited. They’d expanded since then, but these were the foundations of Pandora’s communications. He should have been able to hear something from them. Instead there was just…an auditory blank. Not even static, just emptiness, like the wavelengths had been destroyed. Or were being blocked.

The shield. If the colony had gotten it’s shields up, then nothing was getting in or out. That was it. It had to be.

Jonah took a deep breath and kept going. He turned the dial as far as it would go, through all the available frequencies, and then back again. Nothing but the emptiness and the ping and—wait. There was something else, just on the edge of his hearing. It was so faint he thought he might be imagining it. He increased the power and reached for it again. It was fuzzy, but it was there. And—huh. It was getting clearer. Jonah turned the power to high and listened closely for a long moment. There was a particular rhythm to the signal, something kind of familiar, almost like—

“Shit!” He shut the power off and pressed himself back against the bunker as he looked up into the dark sky. Maybe he was wrong, maybe it was just a—nope. That wasn’t lightning, it was too steady. That was a contrail from a ship. It was too far away for Jonah to make out the specs for it, but that wasn’t important. What was important was that it was closing in on the coast, heading toward the left of the bunker, near where—

Plasma fire exploded from the nose of the ship, scraping over the cliff’s edge and down into the water indiscriminately. It rained hell down on where they had landed and below it, until a fireball erupted from the ocean. It was a secondary explosion—that had to be from the shuttle, it must not have sunk too deep. Well, it was sunk now.

The ship pulled back, then began to circle. Jonah hoped to whatever God there was that the bunker looked less like what it was from above. But nothing could get through the concrete, not this formulation, so even though they had the generator on they’d be safe.

Only…he’d left a crack in the door.

Shit!” Jonah pulled the power wire free, reached over and heaved the door shut. He didn’t have time to get himself inside; he had to stop any signals as quick as he could. Even the slightest power signature might cause problems if the ship was especially touchy, but hopefully there was enough feedback left from the explosion that it hadn’t noticed them. Nothing was on, and he didn’t have any active implants or devices. He watched, breathless and afraid, as the ship circled closer and closer. At least if it shot them, it would be over fast. If it shot them…well. Cody and Garrett would have each other. Lacey’s dad had more family, he’d be all right. Everyone else would survive.

They’d be miserable.

Keep moving, please keep moving, keep moving, go, go. And after a long, terrible moment when it seemed like the ship was going to come down right on top of them, it did move on. Jonah watched it disappear into the clouds, stayed where he was in the rain for another ten minutes just to make sure he wasn’t going to draw it back when he opened the door, then shakily reentered the bunker, set the radio to the side, and collapsed in a heap against the wall.

They—whoever was attacking them—were actively scanning for new signals. They hadn’t given a damn about the beacon until Jonah had started messing with the radio, and then…better safe than sorry, apparently. Even though the shuttle was underwater, it hadn’t stopped them from eviscerating it. So. No reaching out, no using the radio, no jury-rigging something that might help them penetrate the energy shield. He and Lacey were most definitely on their own.

“Someone’ll come looking for us.” Eventually. Once the threat was met—if the threat was met and contained. And without an emergency beacon, they’d be harder to find. Due diligence would eventually send someone to check the bunkers, but who knew how long that might take?
There were other things in the cabinet that Jonah could look at, down where he’d found the radio. Hardcopy maps, a schematic of the bunker itself. Right now, though, he couldn’t bring himself to try and tackle responsibility again quite so fast. Not when his last attempt had led them so close to disaster.

He sighed, got to his feet and dried himself off as best he could. He grabbed a ration bar and a packet of jerky, checked Lacey’s vitals one more time, and then grabbed the book from the table and settled in next to the cot. “The Road,” he said. “By Cormac McCarthy.”

It was time to gain a little perspective.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Nineteen

Notes: Darrel perspective this time! A little aside on sucking, which I was really feeling fit my life yesterday, and what you can do to snap out of it. Also, in case I don't talk to you again between now and then...Merry Christmas, darlins!

Title: Reformation: Chapter Nineteen


Chapter Nineteen

Actually helming a starship was nothing like the sims. After his first session shadowing Lieutenant Reyes on the second set of controls, acting as her backup but not given actual control of the ship, Darrel was convinced that whatever he’d been doing at the Academy so far was designed to frustrate, not educate. He watched Reyes look at her gravity map and adjust thrusters and tried to see what she was seeing, tried to get a handle on what he should be doing to compensate, but it completely evaded him. There were no consequences for his poor response time other than an amber light briefly flickering on Reyes’s control panel, but it was embarrassing to see her turn her head and look at him assessingly—again—like she couldn’t figure out his dysfunction. Well, fuck it—he couldn’t either.

Darrel just wasn’t a natural pilot, not like Cody. He could read the schematics of a ship until he was blue in the face, understand the physics of landing and takeoff and increasing speed, adjusting for gravitational waves and the firelines of other ships, and he understood it all. Intellectually. Actually doing something with it was a whole other story, and his acceptable performance grades in the sim did him almost no good on a real ship. By the end of his eight-hour shift, he was about ready to fry the secondary control panel just so he didn’t have to sit there and suck so badly again.

“First shift dismissed, Second is ready to take control.” General Caractacus’s voice was as calm as ever, and went a little ways toward calming Darrel down. If the general had noticed how lousy his second helmsman was, he hadn’t mentioned it yet. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t, though. They were headed for a fight, and if Darrel couldn’t figure out how to manage input from his implant and sensory data from the ship itself as they headed into battle, he could fly them into the path of their own fleet’s missiles. Fuck, what would his grandparents have to say then? The son of a Federation hero, a famous pilot, destroying his own ship in a mistimed maneuver. He’d be posthumously disowned.

Darrel pushed back from the control panel and headed for the exit. He needed some more time in the on-board sim, and dinner, and some time with Grennson. The Perel was pulling overtime in the infirmary as a counselor, his empathy giving him a huge advantage when it came to diagnosing and settling nervy cadets, and he loved the work, but he’d take a break for Darrel.

“Cadet Parrish!”

Darrel stopped in his tracks with a little internal groan. That was Reyes. He turned and faced the senior cadet, already a tabbed lieutenant with a promised placement on a ship as soon as this action was over. “Ma’am.”

“Where are you off to so fast?”

“Simulator. Ma’am,” he added. “I obviously need to get some more time in before anybody lets me near the real deal.”

“Aw, you’re not so bad.”

Darrel couldn’t stop his eyebrows from rising. “You must not have been watching the same performance as me, Ma’am. All of my reactions were off. I didn’t respond within the same parameters as you more than ten percent of the time, and even when I did, my responses weren’t always accurate. I basically—”

“Sucked harder than a black hole?”

Darrel nodded stiffly.

“Good lord.” Reyes threw an arm around his shoulder—not the easiest thing, since Darrel had at least eight inches on her—and guided him down the hall. “No you’re not going to sims, you’re going to come eat with me and let me talk your ear off for a little while, okay?”

“Will you talking my ear off make me better at the helm?” Darrel asked a little morosely, and Reyes laughed.

“Maybe not, but it might make you feel a little better. I don’t want to send you back to your friend looking like you have the weight of the universe on your back; he’ll think we’re abusing you on the bridge.”

Darrel shook his head. “Grennson knows better than that.”

“He knows a lot, huh? The empathy thing, I mean.”

“Kind of. It’s not exactly like mind-reading, though. There’s no actual telepathy except between bonded individuals, and even then it doesn’t reach that level very often. But it does give him a lot of insight into the emotional states of different beings.”

“I’m surprised the brass aren’t training him up to be military intelligence,” Reyes commented as she steered them into the mess. “All our advancements, and we still don’t have a unbeatable lie detector. Someone who understands emotional responses to stress and subterfuge would be a huge asset for them.”

“Yeah.” Darrel smiled a bit smugly as they got into line for their food. Looked like…beige glop today. Mmm. Glop. The worst thing about living on a ship, after sucking at his job, was the food. Darrel was ready to kill for one of Grennson’s muffins. “They’re not allowed to use him that way. It’s part of the treaty with Perelan, and it carries a lot of penalties if they try to break it. Grennson is probably the most protected person at the Academy, in a way. He’s got two different governments looking out for him so that they can keep talking to each other. He doesn’t let it go to his head, though.”

“Sounds like a good guy.”

“He is.”

“You are too.”

Darrel was already starting to shake his head, but Reyes held up a hand as they sat down. “No, don’t let your issues at the helm start to creep into the rest of your head. You can be good at almost everything, and then the one sticking point in all your proficiencies ends up being enough to drag you down that spiral of shame. You’ve got to kick it in the butt before it gets that far.”

“How?” Darrel spooned up a bit of glop unexcitedly. “I’m awful at it.”

“Because you’re thinking too hard about it.” Reyes frowned. “They don’t tell you this at the Academy, of course, but the simulations there are slowed down by as much as fifty percent. The idea is that you get the actions down, then as you continue your education, they’re sped up to more normal speeds. And of course, you’re supposed to be able to practice on little ships before they stick you on a big bubba like his one. You were what, second year? Just starting?” Darren nodded. “Then it’s ridiculous to think you’d do any better than you are right now. I don’t care if you’re Parrish the Pilot’s kid or not. Your dad wasn’t born knowing how to fly a star ship, and neither were you. Neither was I! But everybody can learn.”

“But it’s—” Darren paused, trying to think of how to express his thought without sounding like a complete idiot. “It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like I should know, you know? That’s the vibe I got at the Academy too.”

“Fucking Academy bullshit and their ‘vibes.’” Reyes rolled her eyes. “Look, I’m not talking down about the Legacy program, I know it gets a lot of kids an education they might not get otherwise, but it also sets a lot of people up with incredibly unrealistic expectations. Your dad died when you were, what, under a year old? And people expect you to just pick up piloting like it’s nothing, like you’ve been studying it for decades like he did? It’s crap. But it’s not like they make it easier for you to do anything else, either. If I had to guess…” She looked at him narrowly. “I’d say…diplomatic track. The way you talk about your friend makes me think your interest is more than passing.”

“I’m doing a dual-track,” Darren admitted.

“You make it sound like that’s a bad thing.”

“It’s a distraction. Or so I’m told.”

“People suck.” Darrel coughed out a surprised laugh, and Reyes pointed her spork at him. “They do! It’s one of the few truisms I feel like I can really get behind. Space is full of surprises, the path of life never runs smooth, and people suck. Not all the time, thank goodness, but enough that most of the time I just wish I could fly the ship all by myself, if that makes any sense.”

“You might be able to. You’re fast at the helm.”

“Nah, I’d get tired after a few hours, but that’s nice to hear. Now. About your piloting. We’re gonna go to the sims together after lunch, and I’m going to use my badge to enter a program that will give you an accelerated practice regime. We’ve got a week and a half before we get to Pandora, and if you spend a few extra hours a day on the simulator, you should be able to get your reflexes up where they need to be by the time we arrive. Sound like a plan?”

“Why are you helping me?” Reyes looked hurt by the question, and Darrel moved fast to explain. “I’m really grateful that you are, but it’s like you said…people suck. And there’s a lot of competition here, a lot of cadets looking to distinguish themselves and get tabbed before they graduate, like you did. Nobody else has offered to help me with anything.”

“Have you offered in turn?”

Darrel felt himself start to flush. “No. I haven’t.”

“Well, it’s got to start somewhere. Your friend knows that. Take a screenshot from his data pad and give it a try, pay it forward. I’m sure someone out there would love to learn how to speak Perel but doesn’t feel bold enough to ask Grennson.” She winked. “Just a thought. Now, finish your delicious glop and lets get going before the simulators are all full.”

Friday, December 16, 2016

Risky Behavior w/L.A. Witt!

Omigosh, I have a cover to show you and everything!

Risky Behavior is the first of a planned trilogy that I'm writing with L.A. Witt (we're actually 20k into the third book right now, so when I say I'm writing it, I mean we're fucking writing it, light speed). It's a romantic suspense novel, heavy on the suspense. Look at it. Look! I'm adding a link, in case you want to read more about it or, y'know, pre-order. ;)

It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.
Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.
As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox—and borderline unethical—methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Eighteen

Notes: Another new perspective, because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment and complication. Enjoy seeing Miles from a different direction.

Title: Reformation: Chapter Eighteen


Chapter Eighteen

“I don’t understand this man’s love of in-person meetings,” Captain Rianna Kylal muttered to her fellow captain, Blake Obede, as they made their way from the Academy fleet flagship’s dock to General Caractacus’s ready room. “We’re barely three days out from Olympus and he wants to speak to us again? All together? What’s so important that it has to be said in person as opposed to over a private comm?”

“He’s old-fashioned, I suppose,” Blake replied easily. They’d come without their aides—not a requirement, the general’s personal secretary had stressed, but as said aides wouldn’t be allowed into the briefing, it didn’t make much sense for them to tag along. After all, they had their orders from the admiralty. Nothing Miles Caractacus could do would change those, at this point. “Or perhaps he’s just reinforcing his position as the head of our little armada.”

Rianna snorted. “Please. This is a milk run, we all know it. Why the admiralty bothered to pull in a marine general, of all people, instead of giving it to an active duty captain I have no idea. Maybe Garrett Helms made them.”

“You think Helms has that kind of pull in the senate?”

“There’s no telling what that snake is capable of. His own kid’s not on the roster here, did you know that?” Rianna shook her head. “Coddling him won’t do him any favors.”

“Or maybe he knows something we don’t.”

“Conspiracy theories, Blake?” She nudged him. “Don’t get buzzy on me. I need someone around who knows how to keep a level head.” They were coming up on the general’s ready room. His secretary, Shen Lin, was waiting at the door, immaculate in a space-black suit, her hands crossed in front of her.

“Thank you both for coming,” she said. “You’re the last to be accounted for, so if you would please enter and be seated?”

“Last in and first out,” Rianna whispered as they walked in. Blake just eyed her sidelong before taking his seat. Fifteen other captains were already there, and she flushed a little at the sudden attention. Whatever, they weren’t that late. At the head of the table was General Caractacus, and Rianna made a show of leaning forward and focusing on him. The sooner they’d sopped his ego, the sooner she could get back to her ship.

The general smiled. “Thanks for coming so promptly. Now that you’re all here, I’ll get right to the point.” Digital data sheets suddenly displayed on the tables in front of each of them. “These are your new crew rosters. I want you to inspect them, bring any potential issues you have with them to me by the end of the day, and be prepared to implement them by tomorrow.”

Captain Uris asked the question that was on everybody’s mind. “Why are we making changes to our crews? Our current rosters were designated by the admiralty themselves.”

“Indeed they were,” the general said mildly. “By the admiralty: not by the instructors at the Academy, not by Admiral Liang, not by anyone who would be in a place to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the cadets under your command. Several of you were given helmsmen who have less than a hundred hours of simulation time—only helmsmen with low preparedness, for all shifts—as opposed to here of you who were given senior cadets with over a thousand hours on the sim, and actual flight time in crafts ranging from shuttles to Destroyers.”

“Surely that was based on potential proximity to combat,” another captain protested. “A fifty-crew puddlejumper is far less likely to encounter armed resistance than the destroyers we’re putting to the front of the line.”

Rianna bristled slightly—she was captaining one of those smaller ships, and she didn’t appreciate it being referred to as a puddlejumper—but the general was quick with a response. “The original crew orientation is included in the data. Feel free to flip back and take a look, and I think you’ll find that there was very little combat strategy applied to the placement of crew. Four destroyers were given fewer than ten percent upper classmen, whereas our communications ship—which is certainly meant to be at the back, and I’m not suggesting otherwise—is entirely staffed with juniors and seniors. Cadets, in fact, that all have a direct connection to members of Parliament.”

A strange silence descended over the group. Blake eventually ventured to speak. “You’re saying that the admiralty cherry-picked which cadet would be placed on which ship, regardless of capacity.”

“I am.”

“That’s a bold claim to make, sir.”

The general waved toward the table. “It’s not bold if it’s true. The evidence is there. You can peruse it on your own and get back to me as to whether you agree or not, I don’t care. I don’t have to care, even though I do. But the fact of the matter is, this fleet was put under my command. No matter what we’re heading into, whether it’s a skirmish with pirates that’ll be over before we know it or something bigger, I am the final arbiter of who serves where now that we’re underway.”

“I don’t think the admiralty would appreciate your changes, sir.” Captain Uris again. She, Brianna recalled, was married to a cousin of President Alexander.

“I don’t feel the need to care about what they would appreciate,” he replied easily. A few of the other captains looked to be stifling smiles. “They’re on the ground, we’re in the air. Command may issue guidelines at this point, but any orders go through me first. Unless you feel that I’m asking you to do something that is immoral,” he added. “In which case, it’s your prerogative to file a report with the admiralty in accordance with the law. I imagine they’ll get around to reviewing it before we reach Pandora, but until that time, you’ll obey my orders. Do you find reshuffling your crews to be an immoral act, Captain Uris?”

Her hands were clenched, but she persisted. “I’m simply stating that the admiralty must have had their reasons for doing what they did, and for you to step in and rearrange something that is possibly beyond your comprehension for reasons of—”

“You can stop right there.” General Caractacus sat forward and fixed his pale eyes on Uris. Brianna felt the second-hand tension like it was her own, quickening her heartbeat and tightening her muscles. “First off, your insinuation that I’m ill-prepared for this command is a slap in the face of the very admiralty whose intentions you purport to know better than myself. I was pulled out of retirement, against my wishes, to take this post. I intend to do my duty to the best of my abilities regardless, and the safety of my people is of paramount importance to me. You don’t like it, take it up with my record of service.

“Secondly, don’t talk to me about reasoning before you’ve even so much as glanced at the data in front of you. If you’re here to shill for the admiralty, you’d have better luck doing your research first and attacking after instead of the other way around.” Captain Uris’s face was getting redder and redder, but the general pressed on.

“Thirdly, if we’re going to be asking questions about the whys of crew placement, I invite all of you to ask yourselves—in the quiet of your own ready rooms—why you were given the cadets you were, and whether or not their placement was logical. If you disagree with a move I’ve made, I want you to step forward with it. Feel free to challenge me, but the information I’m giving you here is about more than just your individual ships. I’ve shared the data for every ship’s personnel, so when you look through the rosters, I want you to weigh the benefit of each orientation—the original, and the new one I’m proposing. See if it doesn’t make more sense. And if it does make more sense? Well.” He sat back in his chair.

“You can stop thinking as soon as you agree with me, if that’s the way you prefer to work. Or you can consider the reasoning behind the admiralty’s original decision, and ask yourself what in the hell they were thinking when they divided our people up the way they did.”

“You’re asking us to commit an act of treason—”

“A thought is never treasonous, only an action is,” the general snapped. “If we were tried on the basis of our thoughts, no one would make it to adulthood. It’s not treason to question, but if you’re going to question me you’d better back your claims up with hard facts and not expect me to cower just because you’re tight with the admiralty. Otherwise, you do as I say, or I replace you with someone more discerning. Do you understand me?”

Nods and murmured, “Yes sirs,” went around the room. Even Uris nodded after a moment.

“Good. Then I expect to hear from you before the start of third shift tonight if you disagree with any of my changes. Otherwise, I want this done by second shift tomorrow.” He pushed back from the table and stood up. “Dismissed.”

Uris left in a huff, and most of the other captains left quickly, eager to get back to their ships and prepare. Rianna waited for Blake to join her, glancing back once at General Caractacus as he conferred with his secretary.

“Do you think he’s right?” she whispered as they walked. “About the…cherry-picking?”

Blake looked grim. “All I know is that my own ship is ninety percent full of freshmen and I didn’t even realize it until now. No wonder our exercises have been going so slow. My new XO didn’t tell me any of this, either.”

“You aren’t still working with Johnson?” They’d been a command team ever since Rianna had first me Blake, almost twenty years ago.

“No. He was reassigned.” Blake’s lips tightened. “To Captain Uris.”

“You think the general is on to something?”

“I think I’m going to obey my orders and get my ship’s crew straightened out. And I think I’m going to be a lot more careful about how I go about my business for the rest of this deployment.” He glanced at her. “I suggest you do the same.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Two Rainbow Award Wins!

Guys. GUUUUUYS! Omg, guys, look. LOOK!

I won a Rainbow Award! Tempest got first place in the Gay Fantasy Romance category! And some of the competition was freaking stiff, so...*happy dances so HARD*

1) A compelling, well-crafted, well-written book. The author has a true gift for story-telling, making the most seemingly everyday occurences into this smooth flow you don't want to get out of - and you notice only in hindsight that what seemed mundane was actually the author sneakily weaving her plot. And when the occurences are not everyday? It's breathtaking, literally, and you have to applaud a writer you can do action and urgency just as well as despair and despondency. And on top of that: beautiful, complex, multi-faceted charaters, each carrying his or her own story and secrets, some of which are revealed, some of which are only hinted at. Marvellous and fascinating and utterly brilliant. You could say I enjoyed this book - despite the warnings it came with - and you would not be wrong. (It really was that good).

2) I found my self totally immersed in this very different story of the sea and the creatures that live in the deep. Intense at times, bizarre yet imaginative beyond anything I have read recently.

Actually I won two. The second is a tie for Second Place in the Gay Sci Fi/Futuristic Category for Where There's A Will. Woot! I'll take it!

Cari Z has a great take on superheroes and supervillains. Wonderfully crafted characters, wit, anger, fun, and romance. Cari Z captures the right blend of elements and great dialogue between heroes and villains, all set against a backdrop of wonderful world-building. An incredibly entertaining read.

All that, plus my honey was inducted into his university's honor society tonight for being a total badass who combined perfect grades with a desire to improve his community and volunteer his time to benefit others, and I saw the final version of the cover for the book L.A. Witt and I have coming out in May and it's AMAZING. I'm kind of over the moon right now.

Thanks to everyone who read these books! If you haven't, well...maybe you will now. I live in optimism!

And also, hugely, thanks to Elisa, the founder of the Rainbow Awards, for giving so many authors a chance to showcase their work, and giving readers a whole new world to choose from. I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Reformation: Chapter Seventeen

Notes: A little Cody perspective this time, because it turns out he can take care of himself, darn it. 

Title: Reformation: Chapter Seventeen


Chapter Seventeen

It didn’t take Cody long to realize that no one was going to work with him. Honestly, he shouldn’t have assumed otherwise. His grandma had made it clear that he was nothing to her, or worse than nothing—an interference she didn’t want to have to deal with. None of the mechanics even spoke to him, although he got plenty of sometimes-curious, sometimes-baleful glances.

Well, then. If he wasn’t going to be making any friends today, then he could work to accomplish his secondary objective. Multi-layered plans were a tactician’s greatest friend, and as much as Cody was learning at the Academy, he’d already sat at the hand of the master when it came to having a backup.

He grabbed one of the welding helmets from the wall, ignoring everyone like he knew exactly where he was going and what he was doing. He didn’t bother with the tool kit—Cody had a molecular repair wand in his own tool bag, which worked a hell of a lot better than the ones like this that burned—he sniffed—fossil fuels? Really? Wow. It was a wonder everyone on this ship didn’t have cancer.

Cody tucked the helmet over his head, covering up most of his hair—he’d thought about cutting it down to bristle-length a dozen times, but Ten liked it like this—and all of his face. He knew he was still being watched but he ignored it, grabbing an apron to go with the helmet and putting it on before accessing his implant. His head ached a little, but the mapping function came up easily enough.

Location 1—name.

“Main hall for engineering,” he murmured. The designation appeared in his mind, a glowing blue dot right beneath his feet. “From main door, leftmost hall.” He started walking toward it, a thin line appearing in his mind, the first strand of his rudimentary map.

“Hey!” someone called out. “Your girlfriend went the other way, Bound Boy!” Nice, Cody hadn’t heard that one before. He ignored the directions and the taunt, and continued until he hit the hall and started down it.

Location 1-a: leftmost hall.

“Good enough for now.” He walked on, slowly, taking note of interesting features and doors into other compartments. The farther he went, the fewer people noticed him, until after half an hour he was still walking and nobody he passed—and there weren’t many of them in this part of the ship—bothered him at all.

This corridor seemed to be fairly close to the hull, if the temperature readings Cody was getting were correct. He’d left the original ship behind a thousand steps ago, but whoever had grafted these two together, they’d done a good job. It helped that the ships were the same model—Parvathan Stars, his memory supplied, probably about three hundred years old—but there were some noticeable differences. He stopped occasionally to zip a few sections together that looked on the verge of falling apart, either due to poor maintenance, poor welding compound or just…rust.

Holy shit. Who knew that anything was made with metal that rusted in the space-traveling era? The big advantage of meta materials was that you didn’t have to worry about them breaking down like origin materials would, because they took care of each other’s weaknesses and enhanced each other’s strengths. So strange.

Eventually he took a ladder up the side of the ship and to the hall just above it. This one was tighter than the first, more like a walkway, with a grate floor and a much closer ceiling. There was pink foam under the grate, and foam on the external-facing side of the hall as well. A quick probe informed him the foam was actually spray-on insulation. Spray. On. Insulation. Fire-retardant but not fireproof, and not the sort of thing you’d worry about in a part of the ship that wasn’t close to where people lived.

Location 2—name?

“Firetrap,” Cody muttered, then winced as the program wrote that onto the map. “Delete. Rename dwelling-adjacent walkway, once elevated from 1-a.” It did so, and Cody squared his shoulders and started walking again, careful not to touch the insulation any more than he had to. Toxic, so toxic. No wonder his dad had taken him and run out of here as soon as he could. Cody was surprised he’d survived to the age of five in this ship.

He managed two more levels before he sat down to have lunch, a protein bar that he’d brought along with him. The area he was in was criss-crossed with pipes that carried water through the ship, if the occasional drips that hit the floor were anything to go by. Cody wanted to imagine it was clean water, but he kind of doubted that the environmental scrubbers on this thing were anything to shout about. The best he could probably hope for was non-poisonous.

Drip. Drip. Drip. The noise was a little obnoxious. Cody looked around for the nearest drip and spied it a little under a meter away. He pulled out his repair wand, stretched over and touched it to the pipe. One quick zip later and the leak was sealed. He sat back to finish the rest of his lunch, and—

“No!” A kid—a tiny kid, he couldn’t be more than three or four—scuttled out from under a bent piece of siding that must have led through to one of the living areas. He had skin so black it looked almost blue, and wore a jumper than had probably once been yellow but was now settled firmly into beige. “Turn it on again!” He looked with distress down into the grating below the drip, then turned and firmly smacked Cody on the helmet. Ow. He pulled the visor up.

“Take it easy!”

“She needs the water! Turn it on!”

“Who needs the water?”


Cody was still mystified. “Who is Missy?” The kid grabbed his arm and tugged until he bent over to look into the grate. At first all he could see was pink foam, but beyond that there was a sliver of the metal beneath it, and caught inside a crack—or was it a deliberate fault? It was hard to tell from here—was a yellow blossom nestled in a bed of green leaves. It was a—no. Really?

“A dandelion?” Cody murmured. “Seriously?” He knew they had a reputation for being able to grow anywhere, but on a Drifter ship caught between toxic insulation and rusty metal? The water must be carrying more nutrients than he thought. Which also meant it was probably dirty as hell, even if all he could smell right now was the underlying chemical funk of the foam.

“Missy,” the kid repeated. “She needs to drink.”

“How long has she been there?” Cody asked.

“Since last time.”

He nodded encouragingly. “Last time what?”

“Last dirt time.”

“You grabbed a few seeds the last time you went planetside?”

The kid shuffled his feet. “They grabbed me. And then fell off. And I found one and put it here.”

“Huh.” Of all the places to grow a garden. Cody nodded. “I get it. Okay.” He reached out with the wand and reopened the tiny gash in the pipe. “There. Water for Missy.”

“Good.” The kid looked satisfied. “I’m Zan, I’m five. My mama is kitchen folk.”

Well, that was a matter-of-fact introduction. “I’m Cody. I’m nineteen. My daddy is a pilot.”

Zan frowned. “But you look engines.”

“I’m engines, but my daddy isn’t.”

Zan made a face. “Weird.”

“I guess so. You hungry?” Cody shared the rest of his protein bar and a one-sided conversation with Zan, who was more than happy to talk up a storm now that his pet flower had been tended to. By the time Cody left, he and the kid were fast friends, and he promised to come and visit Missy again.

It wasn’t exactly the kind of interaction Cody had been expecting when he got out of bed that morning, but it was way better than nothing. He smiled through the next hour of mapmaking, walking over four miles’ worth of halls and traversing at least seven originally-separate ships before he got a message from Ten: Finally done. Heading back to our place. Meet me there? He sent back the equivalent of a nod, and had his implant plot the fastest route there given the information it had. Fifteen minutes, three ladders, and two stairwells later, and Cody was back in their dock, where Ten was waiting impatiently for him.

“The way this thing leaks I’m amazed it doesn’t just all decompress and kill everyone,” ze said as soon as ze saw Cody. “You think what I do is dangerous? I have nothing on these people, nothing, it’s astonishing they aren’t all dead of some ridiculous mold-borne illness because they don’t have the facilities to give people more than one shot of Regen a year unless they’re on the verge of death, which you would be all the fucking time here. Oh my god, you were on the verge of death all the fucking time! Why did Jonah wait until you were five? Why do I have to do this again tomorrow? Do I have to do this again tomorrow?”

“You do,” Cody said, setting the helmet and apron aside. “I’m sorry.”

“Hmph. On the plus side—and there was only one, and this is it—Livia is competent and not a complete idiot. So.” Ten flopped back on their cot. “What did you do today?”

Cody grinned and accessed his new map. “I’ll show you all about it.”