Sunday, November 30, 2014

Upcoming Stuff and Getting Shit Done

Hi guys!

Okay, holiday weekend winding down, back to the grind tomorrow, and I've got a big writing schedule for December, so no time to rest on my laurels. December will also be the month of Family/Wedding/Drama/Did I Mention The Drama, so it's good I'm getting some stuff done before things get crazy.

What have I gotten done, exactly? Glad you asked! Some little stuff, like entering a flash fiction contest hosted by the Queer Sci Fi/Fantasy group on Facebook. Some bigger stuff, like finishing the rough draft for my contribution to next year's Out In Colorado boxed set. It's a time-warping, gender-bending version of Hades and Persephone set right here in Boulder. Yeah...I swear I'm not high.

I've also got a new release with SMP coming out on the 12th--also, my last release with them, since they're shutting their doors. If you liked Cambion, this story takes place in the same world. It's called Son of a Preacher Man, and features a new type of demon for the interested. Also, the cover is ridiculously hot. I'll have an excerpt for you closer to the release date.

Last thing: I'm up for a Goodreads M/M Romance Group member's choice award for Best White Collar story, for Making It Work. You know, this one:

If you want to vote for me, or hell with it, vote for whoeverm and you're a member, here's the link:  Look on the far right, in little words, where it mentions Polls. That's the place to vote.

Think that's it for now. Here we go leaping into December...good luck and God speed!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Love Letter

Hi guys,

It's Thanksgiving in America. I'm not going to get into the dubious history and politics of this holiday, or the commercialization of it, or the family drama of it. I'm going to try to take it for exactly what it says it is, a day to be thankful for what I have, and go from there.

I'm thankful for my extended family, and also thankful that I'm only seeing a few of them today. I'm thankful for my husband, who is an amazing and wonderful person who supports me in going for what I love. Estoy agradecido por todos mis maravillosos lectores, in Spanish and in English and in whatever language they happen to be encountering me in. I'm thankful I'm healthy, that I have wonderful friends all over the world, that I have a creative mind and a curious spirit. I'm thankful that I'm a writer, and I'm thankful that you're reading this. You contribute massively to my happiness, and I'm so, so appreciative of every comment, every kudos, every click and every story of mine that you read.

So, thank you! I wish I could say it better but I really can't. All I can do is keep writing and giving you reasons to come back.

With much love,

Cari Z

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Soothsayer Ch. 7, Pt. 1

Notes: I know this isn't the longest post, but I'm setting a lot of stuff up. Plus, wow, it's been a busy week and we've barely started! Full Credit is up in Spanish on the blog (see the right hand side under Pages), I just got cover art for an anthology I'm in that gets released next month (more on that later) and we can't forget last week's Academy vignette, which apparently a lot of people liked. Thank you! For now, though, on with Cillian and Sören, or...whatever is in the trunk.

Also, I'm sorry, all my Icelandic comes from translation sites, I apologize if there are egregious errors.

Title: Soothsayer, Chapter 7, Part 1.


“Your voice has haunted every inch of my soul since the last time I heard it…my world had been so dark, void of sound and then I heard you sing again—and it exploded.” – Cassandra Giovanni, Finding Perfection

                It took for fucking ever to get out of Chicago. Seriously, I don’t know how they even called it all Chicago, it was like, “Oh, the city center!” and then hours’ worth of suburbs before the highway suddenly spit me out into farmland. I could smell the cow shit from here, and it was not lovely. I would stand out like a five-alarm fire in one of these little farming towns, not that I expected the Egilsson family to be on my tail quite yet. Still, Andre was right. I needed to sleep, and that meant I needed to stop for a while. Sören was safe in the trunk—god, and I hated that he was stuffed back in the trunk but there really was no good way to explain the functional equivalent of a corpse to someone if they happened to look inside.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Spanish Translation for Full Credit!

Hi guys!

Okay, so this has taken waaay longer than it should, and so far I've only got the story up in two places, but whatever, I'm getting there. I never claimed not to be a bit of a Luddite. Anyway!

I have available now a Spanish-language translation of You Get Full Credit For Being Alive, courtesy of the amazing group Traductores Anonimos, whom you can find here: . Sweet! Where, you may ask, can I find this amazing thing to read?

Well, it turns out Blogger isn't as easy to upload PDFs at as some other sites are *coughWordpresscough* so I've done the next best thing, and uploaded both the Spanish translation and the original English version to Archive Of Our Own. Yes, I know it's primarily a fanfic site, but they allow for original fiction too and you can download it in a lot of different formats there. I'm on AO3 as CariZee. Here's the link to my homepage there, and both fics: .

Also, if you look over to the right side of my blog under Pages, you'll see a brand new page listed as Toda Una Vida Por Delante, which has links to both the English and Spanish versions of the fic, plus the Spanish-language version itself posted in its entirety. I'm working on getting it uploaded to All Romance Ebooks and Goodreads, but these things take time and I didn't want people to have to wait, it is! Hopefully there will be more to come.

Huge, huge thanks to the translators who worked so hard at this, and also thanks for the fabulous cover art. I'm doing a sequel in the new year, I hope you'll want to translate that too :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vignette: The Academy: Impatience Is A Virtue

Notes: Okay, people, it's the vignette you've all been waiting for. Time for...AWKWARD! VIRGIN! SEX! Except it's not really awkward in the way you expect and it's only semi-virginal, but it's still Ten and Cody gettin' busy. Rating is R, please don't read if you don't care for explicit scenes, and I really, really hope you guys like it. I definitely did.

Title: Vignette: The Academy: Impatience Is A Virtue


Cody was acutely aware of the passage of time.

Time had been a huge part of his childhood, and not just for normal reasons like waiting for birthdays to come around. His schedule had been rigid, settled, a never-ending train of doctor’s appointments and vaccinations. He’d learned to count before he really knew what the numbers meant, measuring the spaces between visits like the precious things they were. His dad had always done his best to keep Cody healthy, and he knew that had been tough when they were Drifters. Pandora had made things better, and Garrett had thrown a wrench into their carefully-denominated schedule that had meant excitement and fun, but Cody never forgot what the numbers meant, especially for him.

One more year lived was one less year he would live. People on Regen could expect to be healthy and vital for centuries, and even once their original bodies finally refused to respond any longer, they had the option of being transplanted into new growths. It was a controversial practice but plenty of the elite were doing it, unwilling to let go of their long and powerful lives. Functional immortality, which meant there was no impetus to hurry. Why bother? Time was on their side.

Time was never on Cody’s side. He hadn’t noticed it so much as a child, but as he got older he started to see the fear in his dad’s face, a fear that Garrett was very careful never to mirror but that Cody could see all the same. In ten years, he would look as old as his parents. In twenty years he’d have lines around his eyes, in forty years he might be replacing joints. In eighty years he would probably be dead, and his corpse would look ancient in a way that few bodies ever were these days.

He knew this. He’d come to terms with it fairly early, actually. Being in Pandora and getting genetic counseling about his condition helped, and having friends who were in the same boat was definitely useful, but that was part of the reason Cody couldn’t stay on Pandora. Time was heavy there; it weighed you down with its overbearing presence. He wanted a life where people were light and happy and hopeful and careless about time, so that he could try and forget it too. He’d gotten to the Academy, and he could honestly say that he’d never been happier.

Still, Cody thought about time. He thought about how it affected him and the people around him, and the night before they finally landed on Perelan, he knew his time with Ten had almost run out.

Not because they were going to be apart, exactly. Definitely not because he was dying or anything. No, Cody was about to lose the battle for Ten’s attention to science, because once they got down to Perelan there would be no stopping Ten’s curiosity, and Cody knew he would be lucky to distract hir long enough to eat, much less have sex. And fuck it, but they hadn’t actually quite had sex yet.

There had been orgasms, and those were great. It was different with Ten than it had been with Lacey, not just because the parts were different but because Ten was nowhere close to timid. Ten was actually surprisingly patient, and there had been hands and mouths and toys—holy shit, the toys were crazy, weird rotating-grasping-pulling toys that left you feeling like you’d been turned inside out in a really, really good way—and all of that was great. But there were a few things that hadn’t happened yet, and Cody was kind of really ready for one of them to.

One of those things was penetrating Ten. Ze’d brushed it off, saying ze’d done it and didn’t care for it but Cody could if he really wanted to. Which, no. Knowing Ten that meant ze’d let someone fuck hir and had hated it, or gone into it clinically and taken notes the whole time, or forced hirself to for some other reason and if it wasn’t something ze wanted, really wanted, then Cody wasn’t going to go there. Maybe someday Ten would feel differently, but honestly Cody didn’t really care if they ever did that.

What he wanted, and what Ten hadn’t done yet, was fuck him. Maybe the delay stemmed from strange sense of reciprocity, although that wasn’t really the way Ten thought about things. Maybe—probably—it was because Cody hadn’t asked yet, although if Ten could infer anything about the way Cody writhed on that vibrating tentacle thing, it was that he really didn’t mind having something inside of him. Really. Like, holy fuck, really. He’d just like it to be Ten.

So tonight Cody was going to ask. He was ready for it, he wanted it, he kind of felt like he needed it. He’d take anything, he’d take everything. He was stupid in love with Ten, but he was never quite able to turn off that ticking in the back of his mind, that ever-present timer that was counting down his life. They were about to land on an alien planet. They’d had inoculations, they were prepared for the climate issues, but who knew what could happen? Maybe he’d have an allergic reaction to something, maybe there’d be an accident, maybe something else would go wrong. And Cody was not going to die a sort-of virgin.

“Morbid,” he muttered to himself as he twisted under the blanket so that he could see the door. Because naturally Ten wasn’t here, ze was overseeing the packaging and transport prep for hir equipment. They were only going to be on the planet for a month, and ze’d still brought a full lab along, just in case ze wanted to...fuck if Cody knew, but if it could be done Ten had the gear to do it. It was all coming with them too, and Ten had been unpacking and repacking it for the past two hours. Cody sighed and kicked off the blanket. He was tired of waiting.

The door opened silently for him, and he stepped out into the hallway and headed for the cargo bay, wincing slightly at the chill of the metal beneath his bare feet. It warmed automatically before he could take another step, though. Meta-materials with smart sensor systems—Jason had spared no expense for his personal ship. Of course, he was an ambassador, a certain level of elegance was expected, but this was just lovely. Cody could remember being a young child, running along the tight corridors of the Drifter’s enormous homeship, the only kid required to wear shoes. He’d still managed to cut his ankle on a sharp wire that had jutted out from one of the walls, and he’d bled and bled and bled. His dad had been frantic. It was shortly after that that they’d signed on to the Pandora mission.

This ship was fancy but it wasn’t that big, and Cody found Ten alone in the cargo bay, staring critically at hir grav-sheet wrapped pile of stuff. Grav-sheets were the most expensive packaging money could buy, something that would literally slow the descent of a falling object into a soft landing before it could hit the ground, but Ten still looked critical.

“I think I need to change their configuration,” ze said, still staring at the boxes with hir hands on hir hips. Ze’d gone ice blue with hir hair, with lavender tips. Hir head looked like a beautiful, scowling, exotic flower.

“You need to come to bed.”

“No, I need to ensure that thousands of credits worth of precious scientific equipment isn’t destroyed due to my, or other peoples, negligence tomorrow. Admittedly if there’s any negligence involved it’s almost certain to be other peoples, but you can’t guard completely against stupidity which is why I really think I need a few more grav sheets.”

“You’ve already used all of the ones Jason and Ferran keep on board.”

“They really ought to keep more,” Ten grumbled. “How do they keep anything safe otherwise?”

Cody moved in behind Ten and wrapped his arms around hir waist. Ten sighed but didn’t push him away; if anything ze leaned back into the embrace. “I don’t think they need to worry about transporting entire scientific labs very often.”

“A terrible oversight.”

“Mmhmm.” Cody kissed the back of Ten’s head. “Come to bed.”

“I won’t fall asleep.”

“I don’t want you to fall asleep.”

“You…wait, what?”

“I don’t want you to all asleep,” Cody repeated. “I want you to come to bed, with me, so you can fuck me before we land on Perelan tomorrow.” There. Honesty.

“Um.” Ten craned hir head back to look at Cody. “Uh, no, that’s okay.”

“What?” That was not the response Cody had been expecting.

“I think we shouldn’t, not tonight, you can use the Morpher instead, I programmed it to do all the things you like, or, or I could use it on you,” Ten babbled, “that would be good, wouldn’t it? I think that would be good.”

“Ten.” Cody tried to marshall his thoughts. “Are you saying you don’t want to fuck me? Because you wanted to four days ago.” The only reason they hadn’t was because Cody had been sore from his first time with Ten’s bigger shape-changing toy.

“I’m saying you’ll like it better if I don’t.”

“Why the hell would I like it better if you didn’t fuck me?” Cody demanded. “If you don’t want to that’s one thing, but…” He glanced over Ten’s shoulder. “It looks like you want to from here.”

“Stupid spontaneous erections, you just don’t have these problems with vaginas,” Ten said disconsolately. “Look, I want to, but I’m not going to be able to give you what you like.”

Cody still wasn’t following. “I like you.”

“No, no, you like being stretched. I’ve been cataloguing your physiological responses to stimuli and you definitely like being stretched the best, it makes you come harder and longer, especially when I’m using my mouth on you at the same time. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but when it comes to circumference I’m not exactly able to achieve the widths you seem to prefer, and so I won’t be able to do it the way you like it and so I don’t think we should try.”

Cody was dumbfounded. “Are you kidding me? We haven’t done it enough for you to make that kind of call!”

“Seventeen orgasms is a decent sample size,” Ten argued.

“Yeah, but like…eight of those were from hand jobs, right? Your hands on me, nothing else. And then there were blowjobs, and then finally there were the ones where we put something inside of me, and honestly, the only thing I really wanted out of any of them was you.”

“Bullshit,” Ten said, but hir voice was softer, less confident. “You like…”

“You. First and foremost. I don’t care if we never use any of your toys again,” although he would miss the one that vibrated in time with his heartbeat, that was pretty cool. “I’d rather just have you. I can’t believe I have to explain this to you,” Cody added incredulously. “I’m the inexperienced one here, right?” Except he was starting to get a sense of Ten’s ‘experience,’ and it didn’t stand up very positively to scrutiny.

“I would really, really like you to come to bed and fuck me,” Cody said finally. “It’s all I could think about all day. I haven’t touched myself, I’ve been waiting for you to do it and I feel like I’m about to explode, so please don’t make me beg. Unless you really want me to, because I probably will right now.”

Ten turned around in Cody’s arms and stared at him. Whatever ze saw in his face must have been convincing, because suddenly ze smirked and leaned in to kiss him. They rubbed against each other, ramping up the tension, and finally it was Cody who pulled back and snapped, “We aren’t doing this here, come on.”

“We were just kissing!” Ten said faux-innocently, hitching hir groin against his again and making Cody groan.

“I am not coming in my pants somewhere with surveillance. Bed. Now.” He took Ten’s hand and towed hir along down the corridor, away from hir precious cargo, and was gratified to see that Ten didn’t look back once. They got into their room and onto the bed in record time, and then they were kicking off clothes and shifting around until Ten was perched naked on top of Cody, staring down at him like ze wanted to eat him alive. Which, at this point, would be a relief. Ze stroked Cody’s cock and he almost bit through his lip.

“No,” he gritted, “not like that. Inside me.”

“You really do like it when I touch you, don’t you?” Ten marveled, not letting go but keeping hir touch light. “You respond much more strongly when it’s me than when it’s a toy, and even when we bring them into sex it’s usually after a decent period of stimulation with me.”

“Yes, fascinating, now how about you stop that before I come all over you?”

“You’re eighteen, you can get it up again fast.” But Ten did let go, leaned down and framed Cody’s face with hir hands and kissed him, hard. Ze hovered hir body over his own, not quite making contact, but Cody still felt the sticky drip of precome on his stomach, and he knew it wasn’t his. “You’re amazing,” Ten whispered. “I don’t understand you completely yet, but I’m going to. I’m going to figure out everything about you, right down to the proteins that make up your DNA, and I’m going to memorize every one of them.”

“Do that tomorrow,” Cody gasped, feeling lightheaded. “Do me right now.”

“Right. Yes.” Ten let go of him and sat back. “Roll over.”


“It’ll be better this way! We can do it the other way later, there are a million ways to do this and we can do them all, just roll over already!”

Well, that was encouraging. Cody rolled onto his stomach, shifting onto his knees so that his cock didn’t touch the bed. He was so hard, and Ten wasn’t even touching him yet. How the fuck was he going to do this?

“You’ll be fine,” Ten said, and Cody figured he’d accidentally said the last part out loud. “You’ll like it.”

“I already do,” Cody managed as Ten began to rub slick fingers over his hole. “Oh, fuck, you really don’t need to take your time. Seriously.” One slipped inside of him, and he groaned. “Seriously, I’m not going to last, I’m fine, just…Ten, c’mon.”

“We need a blocker,” Ten said meditatively as ze switched to two fingers. Cody opened easily—he did really like the Morpher, they’d used it last night and yeah, he liked being stretched, but this was better. This was Ten. “Some people use injections, but there are external devices we could put on you to keep you from coming. Rings used to be really popular, I could make on that has a warming element, I could put it on a timer…that would actually be really fun, I’m going to do that.”

“Ten…” Cody was aware of just how ragged he sounded, and finally Ten had mercy on him. Ze slipped hir fingers out, pressed hir body close to his and then slowly, so slowly, pushed inside of him. Hir cock was smaller than Cody’s, definitely smaller than the Morpher, but it was bigger than hir fingers and right now it felt like all Cody could handle, almost more than he could handle. He exhaled heavily and tried to remember to breathe but oh god, it felt so good, his whole body seemed to throb in time with Ten’s slow thrust and he couldn’t even think about touching his cock, he couldn’t, because he was going to go off like a fucking bomb…and then Ten was all the way in, leaning over him and moaning softly, a sweet, low sound that Cody had never heard hir make before.

“Fuck,” Ten said, and Cody laughed, then groaned at the way it made him tighten. “Fucking…don’t do that, you’re going to make me come and I just got in here, just don’t do anything for a minute.”

“Maybe you need a ring too,” Cody suggested. Ten punished him by pulling back and then pressing in again, and Cody whined.

“Maybe you need to be quiet and let me have you.”

“Mmm…just…move.” The ache was gone, there was nothing but fullness and a sense of incredulous pleasure. Ten was inside of him, and it was brilliant. “Move.”

“You’ll come in fewer than ten strokes if I do, and I won’t even have to touch you,” Ten said, but Cody didn’t care.

“Just do it.” Ze pulled back and thrust in, smooth, small movements of hir hips that left hir chest pressed to his back, over and over and oh shit, ze was right, Cody was going to come, he couldn’t help it, it felt so fucking good, oh god, god, right there

He was gone, clenching and crying out as he shot all over the bed, his body rocked by the strength of his orgasm. He was loud, too, loud and inarticulate, and fuck, Ten was probably recording the decibel level and Cody didn’t even care, it was so good it was almost too much, every muscle trembled and ached with pleasure and he was going to collapse onto the bed but he wanted Ten to stay in him, and so he reached back and gripped Ten’s hip as he slowly went supine, holding hir close.

Ten was shaking too, but probably for a different reason. “I knew it,” ze said breathlessly. “Seven, I knew it, you made it to seven, oh fuck, but I’m not ready to…I can’t…”

“Just wait,” Cody said, still holding Ten close. “Just wait, I’m eighteen, remember? I can go again, I can go right now, just don’t leave.”

“Pulling out is not part of the plan,” Ten snapped, sounding much more like hirself as they both relaxed a little. “I just don’t want to hurt you.”

Cody laughed. “How would you possibly hurt me?”

“It can hurt, sometimes. You might be too sensitive, you might be sore, your skin might be abraded—”

“Not with the amount of lubricant you used.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Ten repeated, and Cody finally got what ze needed.

“I’ll tell you if it bothers me, I promise,” he said. “But it doesn’t hurt right now, it feels amazing. You’re fucking perfect, and I’m ready, I am, please.” Keep going, he wanted to say, but he could wait for Ten to feel comfortable.

Fortunately Ten took him at his work. Ze braced hir knees outside of Cody’s and thrust in again, and yeah, oh fuck, he was sensitive, expecially when the head of hir cock passed right over his prostate, but it felt so good too, it was the sort of pain he could bear and he was already getting hard from it. “More,” he begged, finally begged and Ten gave him more, fucked him slowly but hard and deep. Hir weight was a welcome burden and hir heat set him on fire, and by the time Ten finally came inside of him Cody was coming too, lasting long enough to touch himself this time, just a few quick strokes of his cock and then bam, gone.

There was just enough room on the bed that when Ten rolled them to the side, they avoided most of the mess. Not that Cody wasn’t going to need a shower anyway, but it was still thoughtful. Ten got hir arms in a vice grip around Cody’s waist and buried hir face against his neck.

“Sometimes I just want to bury myself in you and never leave,” ze confessed.

“Feel free to do it as often as you want,” Cody offered languidly. He felt exhausted and exhilarated all at once. “That was awesome.”

“It really was.”

“You still sound surprised.”

“I told you, you still surprise me.” Ten kissed his shoulder, used hir tongue to taste his skin. “I think you’ll surprise me forever.”

Cody wanted to agree but even now he could still feel it, the invisible force that ruled his life and measured out his moments. They didn’t have forever, but at least they had right now.

That was good enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Soothsayer Ch. 6, Pt. 2

Notes: Finally picking things up again! I now this isn't the resolution you were looking for, but it's the last chapter before we get to meet Sören, so there's that! Yes, next chapter I introduce our mystery man, who is not about to become less mysterious, unfortunately. However, would you like a picture of him? A beautiful picture courtesy of ? Because it's beautiful and wonderful and I love it.

PS, there will be an Academy post later this week as an apology for being behind. Stay tuned!

Title: Soothsayer, Chapter 6, Part 2.


“I can’t be a legend yet. I’m not dead.” – Maynard James Keenan

                Andre obviously didn’t share my relief at escaping relatively unscathed from the Omni parking garage. He was silent for the first few minutes of our drive, opening his mouth every now and then to start yelling and then stopping before more than a hitch of breath emerged. It happened five times before I finally spoke.

                “Just get it off your chest; I don’t want you to have a stroke.”

                “And I don’t want to punch you in the face so hard your daddy feels it, but that’s where I’m at right now, so you give me some goddamn space.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cyberpunk excerpt

Hi there!

So I've got posts to make up, I know. More Soothsayer, I've got an Academy coming as well, I've got an announcement for Spanish speaking readers that most people probably already know about (which is so fucking cool), but I wanted to put something out there for you guys now that I'm not hacking up a lung or sleep deprived. about some cyberpunk? It's my NaNo story, and while I'm not being nearly as productive as I should be with it, it's coming along. Plus, it's just kind of cool. I mean, cyberpunk. Cool!

So have a rough beginning (very rough, first draft rough) and rest assured I'll have more serial story for you on Tuesday. Happy Sunday, darlins'!


It was the second time that night that Greg burned to death, but this one hit him with far more subtlety than the house fire.

At first there was nothing at all, just an empty black expanse that seemed somehow spacious despite the fact that Greg had no way to judge distance or perspective in the barren mindscape. He turned in a circle, scanning for a clue of what he was about to face, looking up at the darkness above, staring down at his own feet. He could see his feet, his bare, hairy feet. Where was the light coming from? Or was it just that he knew what they should be, and so there they were?

He mistook it for a sunrise at first, a faint glimmer on the newly-appeared horizon. There was a distant crackle like static, or crushing trash beneath your shoes. Greg squinted and stared at the source of the light. It became brighter, bigger, a shimmering wave of orange and red. It was beautiful, almost hypnotic. He stared at it for a long moment before swearing as he began to feel the heat. 

“Fuck, fuck.”

Asbestos suit, remember the one way-vent this time, the cooling system—the devil was in the details. His feet disappeared, covered by thick white boots. The wall of flame roared toward him, and then it was on top of him, the last of the black vanishing in a blaze of light. Hot, so hot. He sweated inside his suit, felt the air begin to thicken—air. No air, he had no air, he needed air. Greg tried to adjust the cooling system to supply oxygen as well but it was too late, he’d lost the fine control required to adjust on the fly, he was losing his clarity, he was losing his—

He was burning to death

Greg’s eyes shot open as his head jerked back, triggering the bugout button beneath the headrest. His throat was freshly sore, like he’d been gargling gravel, and his eyelids felt like they were scraping him raw when he blinked. “Shit.” The burning sensation was already gone, all that heat dissipated by the cold sweat he suddenly realized he was sporting.

Ryu handed him a bottle of water, making sure Greg’s shaky fingers had a grip on it before letting go. “Can’t you die without screaming, Connelly?”

“That’s a stupid question.” Greg took a wavering sip and ignored Ryu’s cheeky grin. The drugs on top of the mindscape networking had shot his fine motor control to hell, but that was the price of staying awake long enough to get his practice in.

“I’m just saying, s’not very subtle. They kick you out of the bigger dens for losing control like that. People don’t want to hear screams unless they’re paying for them, y’know?”

“Good thing I’m working with you, then.”

“Not paying me, though.”

Greg grimaced at the younger man, not amused after spending the past three hours getting knocked around in the mindscape. “I haven’t arrested you yet. Sounds like you’re getting something out of this to me.”

“All right, all right!” Ryu held his hands up. Fluorescent green tattoos lit up his bare arms from shoulder to wrist, illuminating every vein and artery. As Greg watched the color shifted to red, then purple. He stared, unwillingly transfixed by the display. Last time Ryu had sported a strobe app that made his implants pulse with light. It had given Greg a massive headache after a few hours. “You going back in, then?”

“Back in,” he affirmed. Ryu shook his head.

“You sure? He’s making street meat out of you.”

Greg sighed. “I’m not going to learn anything if I let either of you get away with babying me.”

“Good luck, then.” Ryu reached behind the headrest and reset the bugout button. Greg’s head popped forward, the connection between his neural implant and the network suddenly live again, and when he opened his eyes in the mindscape this time, he was met by Specter, sitting on a stool, his hands clasped lightly around one knee.

“Welcome back.”

“No fire this time, I do feel much more welcome,” Greg said. He concentrated on conjuring his own stool, imagined the feel and the weight of it, the height of it, how far he had to bend his knees to sit. It helped that he had one at home, by the kitchen counter. Soon a perfect replica sat a foot in front of him, and he settled onto it with a wince. Back in the mindscape everything felt sharper, a little closer, and even though there was no fire to be seen Greg still felt like he could feel the remnants of the heat charring his bones. The house fire had been worse, actually. Then he hadn’t been able to conjure up a suit in time, he’d had to try jumping through a window. The broken glass had been horrifically painful against his burns.

“Fire is a classic shock and awe tactic in the mindscape, Detective.” Specter looked as calm and cool as ever, explaining complex lucid mindscape battle theory in his three piece suit. He had skin the same lively, shifting brown color as a sandstorm, dark eyes under a high, heavy brow, and a strong jaw that sported an elegant length of stubble. Greg ran a self-conscious hand over his own face. His stubble had migrated with him into the mindscape, and it was anything but elegant. “You need to learn how to counter it if you’re going to become a half decent fighter.”

“I know.” Fire was one of the things the guys in the Mind Crime department at work were always bitching about, how sometimes the masters they chased down were so good with it that they swore the smell of charred flesh lingered in the real world with them. Having been on the receiving end of Specter’s demonstrations, Greg felt like he could identify with that sentiment now. “I couldn’t think of ways to block it fast enough.”

“Then you know what your homework is,” Specter told him. “Don’t try to conjure up items to help you piecemeal. That will relegate you to being reactionary, and once you’re reactionary, you’ve lost your advantage in the mindscape. Shock and awe works precisely because it’s overwhelming force, designed to intimidate you into losing your lucidity and falling prey to their construction. If you have a plan for the most common attacks, then you can respond immediately and start thinking about how to counter much faster.”

“I know.” He did know. This wasn’t the first time Specter had talked to Greg about what he needed to succeed unfettered in the mindscape, outside of the government’s restrictive, safety-conscious firewalls and patrolling AI programs. If Greg was going to get anywhere in his investigations, he had to be competent at mindscape combat. That, it turned out, was way easier said than done.

“Good.” Specter stood up and clapped his hands together. Greg felt the echo like a slap upside the head, and frowned.

“Do you have to do that?”

“Just keeping you awake, Detective,” Specter said blithely. “Shall we make another attempt?”

“Can you pick something other than fire this time?”

“Certainly.” Greg didn’t like Specter’s sudden bright, toothy smile. “I have just the thing.” He stood up, his stool vanishing like it had never been there. “Are you ready?”

Greg stood up too, and nervously shook out his arms. He didn’t feel the movement exactly the same here, didn’t feel the pull and release of aching muscles that he knew awaited him back in Ryu’s den, but it still seemed to work out a bit of his mental tension. “Go for it.”

The parts of Specter that made him recognizable, the shape of his nose and the curl of his full mouth, faded away into something strange and malleable-looking. The crisp lines of his suit went the same way, until he was nothing but a silhouette filled with gently churning…water?

Greg had just long enough to gasp before Specter’s silhouette dove at him, the water breaking over his head and filling up his world, enveloping him completely. Water. Well, here Greg had a leg up. He’d only watched The Little Mermaid with his daughter about a million times when she was a kid, playing an ancient DVD in their retro-fitted entertainment unit, the one Shelby had thought was more appropriate for young children than networking. It only took a second, and then Greg could breathe again, could actually move with his long, swishing tail. He even had a trident grasped in one hand.

The water around him was fairly dark, murky shapes drifting just beyond his sight. Greg frowned. He needed to take control of the mindscape, but he wasn’t good enough yet to project and maintain his own landscapes, not even the fairly simple ones that Specter had used on him so far. He needed a way to separate himself from Specter’s design. Maybe a submarine…

One of the blurs suddenly materialized a few feet in front of him, huge jaws opened wide to showcase rows upon rows of white, serrated teeth. Greg jerked back but didn’t quite bugout, spinning his new body down and around so that he was beneath the beast before he fired a bolt of electricity at it with his trident. It worked just like his tazer, noisy, bright and effective, and Greg grinned as he got the shark right across its broad belly, stunning it into stillness.

He got the second shark as it came up from beneath him, and the third and fourth as well, but by the time the fifth one joined in the frenzy Greg forgot what he was trying to do and lost himself to the panic inherent in being attacked by things that wanted to eat him, holy fuck, he was too slow, they were going to eat him alive

Greg hit the bugout button so hard he felt his vertebrae creak, eyes flashing open as he frantically looked down and checked to make sure he still had his tail—no, his legs, fuck, he was expecting to see his legs. They were both there, stiff and cramping and completely unharmed. He was out of the network, out of the mindscape, he was fine. Just fine.

“Connelly. Greg. Greg.” He finally noticed Ryu trying to get his attention. The young man held out the bottle of water again, his mouth tight with concern. “I don’t like this.”

Greg grasped the bottle with both hands, both of them shaking so hard he was glad the thing had a one-way spout to drink from. He swallowed a few gulps with a grimace; water was the last thing he wanted right now, but he knew he needed it. After a moment he handed it back to Ryu. “It’s not my favorite thing either.”

“Can’t you hire someone else to do this? Get a ronin, or one of the Elite’s gunslingers. Hell, lean on your cop buddies some more if you have to do things the legal way, but not this. It’s too hard on you; your blood pressure was off the charts.”

You’re too old, Greg heard unsaid, which was true. He was far older than the average user who went playing outside the lines. Most of the people that worked in Mind Crime on the force were retired from active hunting by the time they reached his age, a ripe and un-prolonged, completely organic forty five. Nine months ago, Greg had never imagined he would be spending every off hour that he didn’t absolutely have to spend sleeping in an illegal networking den, getting his mental ass handed to him by a government spook so he could go searching for a psychopath. Nine months ago, he’d had no reason to.

These past eight months had certainly been educational, and that was about the most charitable thing Greg could think to say about his experiences in Specter’s hands. He had asked for the fast track, and his wish had been granted. “I’ll get there.” He had to get there. There was no other choice but to improve. He couldn’t afford to hire a mindscape hitman, not on a detective’s salary, and he’d pushed the Mind Crime unit about as far as they could be pushed without filing more serious complaints about him.

“You won’t get there if you have a stroke.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to have a stroke, for god’s sake.”

“It happens to younger people, even inside the firewalls.”

“Ryu.” Greg laid one of his shaking hands on Ryu’s forearm. He could feel the coiled tubing just beneath the skin, pulsing with blood and electricity. “I’m going to be okay. One more time.”

“Just one,” Ryu warned him even as he reached to release the bugout button. “One more, and then I’m cutting you off for the night.”

“Got it.” Greg shut his eyes and felt his head ease forward, the network connection sparking to life in his mind. A moment later, he was with Specter again. “That was fucked up.”

“You responded well, especially in the beginning,” Specter reassured him. “I liked the trident. What made you decide it could fire lightning?”

“I wanted it to work like my tazer. Plus, it’s in the movie.” Specter looked blank. “The Little Mermaid. Old Disney film, you’ve never seen it?”

“No. Is it for children?”


“It seems very violent, if that’s the case.”

Greg laughed. It didn’t hurt his throat, in here. “Less violent than what you were doing to me!”

“True.” Specter didn’t sound sorry. He was almost never sorry for anything he put Greg through. In his more thoughtful moments, Greg appreciated that. He didn’t need a teacher that was hindered by worrying about his feelings instead of pushing him. On the other hand, a little compassion every now and then wouldn’t go amiss.

“You’re making progress,” Specter said, and that was more welcome than any apology would be. “Living longer, fighting harder. Soon we’ll experiment with you setting and controlling the mindscape scene on your terms, although I have the feeling that’s not going to be the best technique for you. Your strengths seem to lie with knowing yourself and your own capabilities. Shock and awe, while traditionally American, won’t be the best fit.”

Greg wouldn’t deny that he was slightly relieved by that. The sheet amount of concentration that had to go into not only controlling the mindscape but remaining lucid while you tried to overwhelm your opponent seemed almost impossible to him. “You do it well.”

“I’ve been training for far longer, and from a much earlier age.”

“For the government?”

Specter smiled. “You always ask, and I never answer. Why do you persist, Detective?”

Greg shrugged. “Just curious, I guess. I mean, we were introduced by a Fed, it stands to reason you’d have a connection to them.”

“Connections don’t necessarily mean collusion, and the Fed who introduced us was going outside of her professional mandate by doing so. I’m afraid you’re going to have to be curious for a while longer.”

“I guess I’ll have to live with it.” Greg rolled his shoulders and shook out his arms again, repetitive, but it helped get him into the right headspace. “So. Go again?”

Specter shook his head. “Not tonight, Detective. I think we could both use a break.”

Well, that was unexpected but not unpleasant. “Sure. Same time tomorrow?”

Specter tilted his head a little as he surveyed Greg. “Consider taking a day off, Detective. You’ve been at this almost nonstop for months. Someone is surely noticing the change in your appearance.”

Greg frowned. “What change?”

Suddenly there was an image of himself beside Specter, standing perfectly still. Greg stared at it, a little disconcerted. Something was off about it. “This is how you looked when you first came to me.” Another image sprang up next to the first one, and Greg almost did a double take. “This is how you appear now. Your mind is a faithful mimic of your physical self, Detective.”

Well, that was…huh. The hair was the same, salt-and-pepper gray with the salt rapidly winning the battle. The clothes were the same, a cheap Chinatown suit with a black trench coat over the top. The suit in the second image was looser than in the first, though, and his stubble was longer. His face had lost some of its boyish roundness, something Greg would have killed for back when he was in his twenties and still getting ID’d at bars, but coupled with the bruise-like shadows under his eyes the thinness just made him look haggard. His light brown eyes were bloodshot, and his head hung low with exhaustion. Fuck, he looked like a junkie. Then again, he was popping synthetic adrenaline almost every night to keep him awake enough for training, so maybe the comparison fit.

“So you’re saying I need a break.”

“Not a long one. One night, Detective, with no pills, no networking, no bugouts. One night to refresh yourself. When you come back, I’ll start teaching you Yakuza combat techniques.”

Greg shut his eyes and sighed heavily. It felt wrong to take a night off, even if his body was clamoring for it. Jade didn’t get any nights off, why should he? Why shouldn’t he push himself hard, harder even, so he could go after her sooner?

“Greg.” Big hands cupped the curves of Greg’s shoulders, startling his eyes open. Specter rarely touched him, preferring to interact through talking or the medium of mindscape control. When Greg met his gaze, his expression was terribly earnest. “This will help you. Trust me.”

“I do,” Greg said automatically. “I trust you.” It was true, and rather foolish when he thought about it. He knew nothing about Specter other than the Fed in charge of his daughter’s case had recommended him as “powerful and discreet.” He didn’t know the man’s real name, or where he lived, or what he did for work. He didn’t even know if he was a man. His mental projection could be a front, especially if he had the sort of control Greg thought he did. He might even be a new type of AI, although Greg doubted it.

“Good. Then listen to me. I’ll see you in two days’ time.” Specter stepped back and, a moment later, was gone. Greg was left alone in the empty mindscape, the secluded corner of the network that Ryu patrolled and maintained. It felt…strange, to be in here alone. Creepy. Closing his eyes again, he let his mental body fall backward, tilting toward the ground—

His head pressed down on the bugout button, and Greg opened his eyes to see the familiar cracked concrete ceiling of Ryu’s storage unit above him.

“That looked better,” Ryu commented as he disengaged Greg’s implant from the chair’s network plugin. The chair released him and Greg sat up with a wince. His neck ached from being held in place for hours, and he had the beginnings of a very familiar headache. “Less violent.”

“I was told to take a break.”

“Hallelujah.” The tone was sarcastic, but Ryu looked kind of relieved. “Does that mean I can get some real work done tomorrow night? Because I like you, Connelly, but you’re so needy sometimes.”

“Yeah, I won’t be bothering you tomorrow night.” Greg tried to sit up and almost fell over. Ryu clucked his tongue and passed Greg the water bottle again.

“Electrolytes, man, you need them. And protein. Go eat a steak.”

Greg chuckled around the spout. “Who can afford a steak?”

“I know all sorts of people who eat steak every night,” Ryu said as he shut down his network hub. The screens went dark, the generators stopped whirring, even the dampeners blinked out until all that was left was the tiny red light of the alarm system and the single, flickering neon light by the door. “You chose the wrong profession, Connelly. Watarimono and Elites, they eat like kings.”

You’re Watarimono,” Greg pointed out as he finished off the water. Watarimono meant wanderer, it was the name the Japanese immigrant community had originally taken for themselves after the tsunami almost three decades ago that had decimated Japan. The word had quickly been usurped by the Yakuza, who went to work almost immediately carving out a place of power for themselves in City West, the enormous conglomeration of people and technology that made up America’s west coast. The middle of the country was almost unlivable thanks to dust storms and drought, and so the population congregated along the coasts, the most enormous migration in the history of the states. “Where’s your steak, Ryu?”

Ryu grinned, looking so young for a moment. “Working my way up the ranks, Connelly. I’ll get there eventually.” He used his arms to lift himself off the comfortable platform he favored when he was running his network and shifted smoothly into his mechrider. Ryu had been born without legs, just stumps ending at the base of his hips. A lot of the Watarimono had been affected by the radioactive pollution that ruined Japan, and birth defects were rampant in those born after the tsunami.

To compensate, Ryu used a mechrider, a mechanical assistive device that ranged from simple wheelchairs to complex integrative body sheaths. Ryu’s was a little different: it had a custom saddle that responded to the impulses and weight shifts of his body, and it had eight legs that could crawl over everything from oil spills to overturned cars without dislodging its rider. It was functional, but more importantly it was distinctive, which Greg knew was something that Ryu craved. He’d grown up in group homes, overlooked like so many other damaged, abandoned children. Ryu craved the spotlight, and Greg facilitated his more theatrical urges by not arresting him for minor crimes in exchange for the occasional tipoff, or more recently, for time in Ryu’s unofficial network.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Greg warned him as he stood up and put himself back together. Shoes, suit jacket, trench coat. He hung his weapon on the clip on his belt, its weight a pleasant reassurance.

Ryu snorted. “I think you’ve got the monopoly on stupid right now, Connelly.”


“Just being honest, man. If you burn your mind out I’ll have to butter up another detective, and that would take way too much work.”

“You say the sweetest things.” Greg’s voice was drier than the desert. “Ready to head out?”

“Sure.” Ryu walked over to the rolling door of the storage unit and lifted it up about four feet. Greg ducked down as he exited, and Ryu followed behind, his mechrider’s multi-jointed legs bending low as he scuttled forward. Ryu rolled the door back down, locked down the bar on the outside meant to discourage casual pillaging, then straightened up and made a face. “Fucking rain.”

It was drizzling, the sort of cold, misty drizzle that happened so often in this part of City West, halfway up the coast. It was rarely a full-out downpour, but Greg couldn’t quite remember the last time he’d seen the sun either. “You know it’s going to be like this,” he said as they headed toward the end of the alley where Ryu’s storage unit was situated. The ground was slick with more than rain under Greg’s feet, but he had a lifetime of experience in these streets, and barely even noticed as he shifted his weight forward to compensate for the slipperiness. “Why don’t you wear a jacket?”

“Hello?” Ryu flexed his muscular arms and the lights buried within them flashed in an attractive, circular pattern. “How else will people admire these babies?”

“Vanity.” Greg shook his head. “You’re risking pneumonia for vanity. Oh, to be young and an idiot again.”

Ryu shrugged. “Got to attract attention somehow, it’s not like I’m already married with children like…you.” Too late he realized his mistake. “Fuck, I’m sorry.”

Greg forced a smile. “It’s fine. Go home, I’ll see you in a few days. Be careful going through the Choke Zone!”

“Yeah, I will.” Ryu turned right and Greg watched him go for a moment, then headed left himself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Flying Sucks and Missed Connections

Oh man. So tired.

Was the bachelorette/hen party/mostly-drunken cavorting fun? You bet, I had a great time with my sister and her friends in Chicago. That part was smooth sailing. It was when we got back to Bloomington that things got rough.

I've been sleeping on couches for the past four nights, usually not a problem for me, but my sister and her fiance are doctors on opposite schedules this month. He's working 1 pm to 1 am, whereas she gets up at 5 am to get to work at 7 and comes home around 6. Crazy, crazy schedules, they only see each other between 1 am and whenever she falls back asleep. Sleeping on the couch means I hear him arrive at 1, hear her alarm at 5, and then sleep until whenever he gets up so I can be sociable. How do doctors in training do this? How? How do you do it? My mind is blown, I don't know how my sister stays sane.

My flights on Monday were cancelled in favor of very early Tuesday am flights, and now I am home and it's snowing and so cold. Bitch bitch, moan moan moan, wah, woe is me, I know. I spent all weekend partying, I'm going to be karma's bitch for a while.

In the spirit of being karma's bitch and having flight difficulties, I have a new release coming out tomorrow! Less Than Three Press is publishing the anthology Missed Connections, which features my story Evergreen. It's about two soldier-scientists who fall in love while preparing for a one-way mission to Mars, and what happens after one of them has an accident that ends his chances to go along.

It sounds kind of sad, I know, but I swear it has a happy ending! God, you know me, what else could I do? Plus, the anthology was reviewed at Joyfully Jay and my story got some lovely remarks. I could give you the link, but I'd rather just post it right here:

Cyril and Scottie fell in love while preparing for a risky mission to Mars, but when a horrific accident incapacitates Cyril and lands him in a coma for six months, it appears that all is lost. Once awake, and disqualified from the program, Cyril takes over the family business from his estranged father in an attempt to get over the loss of Scottie who is still bound for Mars.
This was truly a great story set in the not too distant future and was long enough to allow significant character growth and a complex plot.  The heartbreak experienced by Cyril and Scottie was palpable and it was a good idea to not set the story too far in the future, which kept the need for technological detail to a minimum, keeping the story clean and focussed on these two incredible guys.

So, if you're into anthologies or at least into my science fiction, you might give this one a try. I'll give you a nice, juicy excerpt and basically make this the longest post ever that doesn't include a new blog story post (which I will either do Thursday, or make extra, extra long for Tuesday. I'm sorry! It just wasn't going to happen today!).


Before initiating your High Altitude Low Opening jump, check to make sure all HALO suit systems are greenlit and fully operational. Some problems don't manifest unless you've already begun your descent, so it's important to have a good working knowledge of your emergency options should a problem occur. Always jump with a buddy, so that in case of personal incapacitation he or she can assist you with your descent. Remember, you aren't allowed to jump without signing the most recent version of the liability waiver: see Section 7.e. –ISA Project Evergreen Handbook

It took an hour long flight to get a hundred thousand feet into the stratosphere, even though they didn't have to do it with balloons anymore. Cyril and Scottie sat across from each other in the belly of the plane, trying not to grin. Every jolt knocked their feet together, and every touch just made Cyril smile harder until Rodriguez finally grunted, "Y'all need to stop playing footsie, I think I'm gonna be sick."

"You're just jealous that no one wants anything to do with your hideous size fourteens, mate," Scottie said loftily. Rodriguez wasn't a particular friend of anyone in the squad's. He was a brilliant mathematician, a by-the-books soldier and a champion of regulations, but he wasn't about to rat them out. Everyone knew that the two of them were, for all intents and purposes, together, but like with Mona and Leon, they covered for them.

"If you two make me puke before my last jump, we'll be having words down below."

"Words." Xiao snorted. "Do you remember the old game Words With Friends? Rodriguez plays Words With Fists."

"If you think there's any chance I wouldn't run the moment you got within arm's length of me, Roddie, you just don't know me at all," Scottie said lightly. "I've seen you fight, Lieutenant Golden Gloves. Lucky for me you can't sprint for shit."

"Lucky for me, actually," Cyril said. "I'm the best runner here, I think I'd be safest."

"You wouldn't throw yourself in his path to save me from his vile deprecations?" Scottie asked in mock offense. "I'm hurt, luv."

"But I wouldn't be," Cyril pointed out, and Xiao laughed.

"Jesus Christ. You two aren't worth the aggravation," Rodriguez said. Their altimeters beeped simultaneously to let them know they were at height. "Finally. I'm jumping first, before I contract diabetes."

"Jealousy is an ugly emotion, mate," Scottie advised as he closed his facemask and activated his oxygen tank. They breathed pure oxygen in the plane on the way up, to purge the nitrogen from their blood and keep them from getting decompression sickness during the fall, but it was just as important to keep their air pure during the fall itself so they didn't go hypoxic. The rest of them followed suit, then unstrapped themselves from the wall and heaved themselves to their feet.

The pilot checked to make sure they were all ready, then opened the fallout door. Rodriguez jumped without a word, falling into the glowing blue tableau that was their horizon from a hundred thousand feet above the ground. Xiao followed with a quick, "See you at the bottom."

Scottie reached out and tapped a gloved hand against Cyril's facemask. "Shall we, Cy?"

"Less talking, more doing," Cyril said, and he let himself fall out of the plane.

This was Cyril's favorite part, being so high up that he could see the horizon between the blackness of space and the blue of the earth's atmosphere. It almost wasn't like falling, since there was no perspective to judge distance with, just an altimeter that beeped a quiet, steady pace in his ear as he dropped. It was calming, relaxing … almost too relaxing. Cyril felt a bit strange, almost groggy. By the time he realized that something was wrong, it was already too late to do anything about it other than relay the information.

"I'm seeing spots," Cyril said grimly. The dive should take around eleven minutes total, but Cyril could already tell he wasn't going to last that long.

"Deep breaths," Scottie said instantly. "Take deep breaths, you can recover from this."

"Not so sure about that," Cyril replied. Points of black and bright white swam in front of his vision. 
"The air … I think my mix must be … "

"The mix is checked before getting loaded into the suit's tanks."  Scottie paused for a moment. "Your tank must be compromised."

"I have to deploy."

"You can't deploy this high up, Cy."  Scottie's voice was serious. "The winds are too strong, your chute won't last. I'm coming to you, okay? I'll help you deploy when we're closer to the ground."

"No, I … "  Why was it so hard to breathe? "I have to do it now."  He needed his chute, he needed to pop it before he blacked out. Cyril's hand hovered over the cord.

"Don't you fucking pull that line, Konstantin!" Scottie shouted. "I'm coming your way, I'm close, and I will take care of this. Don't you dare pop your chute right now."

"I'm slowing myself down," Rodriguez—was that Rodriguez? Cyril couldn't really tell anymore—said over the comms. "I'll stabilize him, you can help him deploy when we're low enough."

"I have to do't now," Cyril slurred, but he couldn't seem to coordinate his hands. It looked like nightdown on the earth, his vision was so black. A curtain closed over his eyes, and the last thing Cyril knew was his body starting a fast, violent spin, and Scottie yelling, "Shit!"

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bad Scheduling News

Hi guys,

So, the flight that I was supposed to be on today was cancelled this morning. I'm going to be flying back at 6 am tomorrow and won't be getting into Denver until 11, at which point I'm going to go straight to work. Yay. That means I'm not going to be able to write my regular Soothsayer post tomorrow.

Normally that means I'd be writing today, but I'm at my sister's place and she's sick (she was sick all through her bachelorette party, poor baby) so I'm going to be playing nursemaid. I may have time to write and pre-post this afternoon, I may not. I'm sorry! Blame Delta!

It's nice to spend extra time with my sister, it's not so nice to have to get up at 3 am tomorrow to go to the local airport. Ugh.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recurring Themes, or: Am I Being Redundant?

This is one of those, "I'm not even sure if anyone else would notice this, but I noticed it and it might be a problem, so I'm just getting it out there," things.

I'm in a massive writing phase right now, and as I was reading and plotting and planning and going over things, I noticed something about my work. A pretty big percentage of it, particularly my urban fantasy stuff, involved one character falling in love/being in love with another character who is, for lack of a better word, possessed. Or not alone in his body. Or at least has the potential to be something or someone completely different. I did this with Cambion, I've got a story coming out in an anthology next month where I did it again (set in the Cambion universe), it's maybe possibly happening in Soothsayer...maybe...and the cyberpunk I'm in the throes of right now does the same sort of thing. Which makes me wonder: am I being repetitive? Unimaginative? Possibly even boring?

I like genres that let me twist people up into knots, and those tend to be speculative. Included in that is making my characters into something other than what's immediately obvious, which, okay, fine plot device. But I think I need to be careful about overusing it. Hell, my epic fantasy clusterfuck that I'm trying to get through involves the same sort of thing, although the situation is resolved very differently.

The people who read this blog are probably the people who know my work the best. Thoughts? I'm not fishing for compliments, I'm just wondering if this is something you yourselves have noticed. Do you see this a lot with authors? Should I branch out a bit, maybe? I'm trying to. I'm writing (ha, I'm writing so much freaking stuff I have a spreadsheet, guys, I have officially become my worst nightmare) a contemporary romance that goes about things differently, which will hopefully not suck. Because the last contemporary story I wrote? It was You Get Full Credit For Being Alive, and my main character was in one disguise or another for pretty much the whole book. This says something psychologically about me, I'm sure.

Well, anyway. Off to Chicago tomorrow. I get back to Boulder on Monday. There will be wine, women and song! Should be major fun.

Happy weekend, guys :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Soothsayer Ch. 6, Pt. 1

Notes: Oh my gosh, this one was so much fun to write! We're getting in deep now. I also have pictured for you, this time of Roger and Phin. I love Tumblr, I find the best artists there. Next week, Tuesday comes right after I get back from a trip to Chicago celebrating my sister's bachelorette party, so while I think I'll have something for you, I can't absolutely guarantee it yet. Anyway. On with the show!

Title: Soothsayer, Chapter 6, Part 1.


“Death is the only thing that could have ever kept him from you.” – Ally Carter, Out of Sight, Out of Time

                There was a body on the bed. It didn’t move, not even the barest rise and fall to indicate breathing. The head was turned to look my way, eyes open and sightless, pupils tiny and fixed. There was a dead body on the bed, and I recognized it. It took me a few seconds of deep breathing and biting my lip so hard that I drew blood before I could acknowledge that yes, the body was Sören’s. I forced myself to step closer and take another look.

Yeah, it was Sören…but dead might have been an overstatement.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Villains excerpt

Whoa, hey, so. Villains is complete in rough draft form. Beta readers, I'll be getting it to you sometime after next weekend, once it's had a chance to percolate and for me to fix the most egregious errors. In the meantime though, how about an excerpt?


At four o’ clock, the daily news program that played on the televisions we kept in the corners of the lobby suddenly switched from a prerecorded bit about the local farmer’s market to Mindy Parks, one of their evening anchors. “Breaking news!” she declared, her usually-perfect hair a little rough around the edges, like she’d tucked it back too fast. “Police reports are coming in about an attack on an armored car in the financial district! We are working to get a reporter on scene, but amateur videos are already being uploaded to the CrimeWatch website. We’ve pieced something together for you here. Please be aware, this is graphic footage that could be disturbing to some viewers.”

The picture cut to a video of a woman’s face, suddenly going shaky as an explosion sounded behind her. My breath caught in my throat as the camera phone turned to the scene, where an black armored van—one of the deposit vans, some of our bigger clients used them to get cash to the bank—had been rolled onto it’s back, the undercarriage still smoking. People ran away from it as a man in black emerged from the fray to touch the locked back doors of the van. A moment later the lock was slagged to nothing, and he pulled the doors open, then darted to the side as gunfire emerged from the interior.

“It looks like the Mad Bombardier is on scene,” Mindy said, her face appearing split-screen with the video footage as she confirmed my worst fear. “He’s taking fire—wait, where did he go? No, wait, he’s just cleared the way for Pinball!”

Pinball was a Villain who had once interned for a scientist who wanted to test a new rubberization process. He’d prepared a vat of the liquid to dip objects into and, sure enough, his intern had fallen into the vat and emerged coated with a super dense, super elastic material that gave him the ability to bounce around like a, you guessed it, pinball without getting hurt. He used his body as a wrecking ball and could leap for enormous distances on his super bouncy feet, and my jaw dropped along with everyone else’s as Pinball bounded into the van. Huge dents appeared in the sides, pressed out from the inside, and I heard the woman holding the camera phone scream.

“It’s hard to know just what’s going on in there, we’ve got to view of the interior of the van, but it appears that Pinball is—oh God, is that blood? That’s a spray of blood, right out the back of the van, some sort of arterial—God.” Mindy covered her mouth for a moment. “I think we may have to assume the worst is happening in there, I’m afraid the guards are either dead or dying, we need-”

“Freight Train!” the woman filming things shrieked. “It’s Freight Train, he’s here!”

Sure enough, the Hero had arrived on the scene, moving at his own inexorable pace. He wasn’t as fast as Pinball but he couldn’t be moved by him either, and once he had a Villain cornered there was nowhere to go. He moved into the van and a moment later, it began to vibrate. The van’s metal panels shook until they began to crack, and I could see armed police officers closing in on the van and getting ready to fire. After all, their bullets wouldn’t hurt Freight Train, and the guards inside had to be dead by now.

Suddenly the view was completely obscured by a rising, uniform curtain of thick grey smoke.

“This is one of the Mad Bombardier’s favorite tactics,” Mindy said, avidly watching the scene. “He uses a literal smokescreen to shield his movements from the police, and the smoke itself is toxic to inhale and can cause instant nausea and vomiting, which naturally dissuades any pursuit. I assume this means that—yes, yes, the smoke is clearing now and it looks like the entire front end of the van has been blown away! Sources on location tell us that neither the Mad Bombardier nor Pinball are at the scene any longer. It looks like two of Panopolis’ most notorious Villains have, once again, escaped capture.”