Author Update

The last few weeks have been brutal! Pre-move, move, post-move. It’s all been very moving, but at last I’m settled in my new place and can stop for a breath. Obviously, my writing has taken a back seat and I’m eager to get caught up.

Story five of Rise of the Draman is almost complete. The last of the story threads are being carefully tied, and then it’s off to my beta readers. When that’s done, it will appear on my blog in serialized format, and your anxious wait will be over! Leaving readers dangling from a cliff this long was never my intention, though be prepared for a much longer installment this time.

I received a wonderful note from a reader recently regarding my Gladstone Shifters books. The poor soul is hooked (yeah for me!) and wants to get her hands on the next in series – only it hasn’t been written yet and I have no idea when it will be. I have three new series begging to be written, and am still deciding what to do. Given my crazy work schedule and limited writing time, any novel-length project I choose to tackle means at least a nine month commitment. My tendency is to get bored and antsy to move on to something else long before I’m done!

Winter made a rude and unwelcome early start here and I’m faced with unfamiliar routes for shopping and work. I don’t mind the change of seasons, but driving on snowy/icy roads makes me tense. In 2014, I hit some black ice and found myself upside down in a snow-filled ditch. The car was totaled, and neither my back nor my nerves have fully recovered. Maybe I’ll work that into a book someday…

 

Photo Prompt – GREETINGS EARTHLING

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Twenty years of scavenging the galaxy, and I’d finally found the mother lode. Not just a piece of space junk this time, but an intact vessel. Seemingly powerless and drifting, but whole, beautiful, and utterly alien. I nudged the Galileo, my scout ship, alongside the perfect silver-gray sphere, looking for an entry point. Closer inspection revealed only one possibility – a circular seam at the apex of the sphere, perhaps ten feet in diameter. Without an airlock or other obvious opening it would be impossible to get inside, but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

“Thor, initiate contact.”

My trusty AI and companion responded immediately.

“Acknowledged. Beginning sequence.”

Thor began cycling through a standard range of protocols, but there was no response.

“Extend the grappler, Thor. I’m going to take a closer look.”

While I suited up, Thor positioned Galileo above the circular seam and extended the grappler. When it made contact, a warning claxon sounded.

“Response from the alien vessel. Ship now under power. Change in configuration. Caution is advised.”

Sensors showed the area within the circular seam rising like a pillar from within the vessel. The shaft contained an oval aperture, large enough for a human to pass through, and lit with a blueish glow. With the welcome mat out, I wasn’t about to refuse the invitation.

After further warnings from Thor, I slipped out the airlock and towed myself over. Magnetic boots kept me from drifting off into space as I made my way to the portal and stepped inside. The light intensified as the shaft descended into the vessel and came to a stop. Before me was a brightly lit V-shaped cavern, unlike anything I’d seen before. It thrummed with power, extending over my head and deep into the vessel below. I took a cautious step forward and startled when the ship spoke.

“Acquisition complete. Dilation in three, two, one…”

With alarms blaring aboard the Galileo, Thor disengaged the grappler as the alien sphere began to undulate, shrink to a tiny dot, and disappear.

Photo Prompt – FOLLOW ME

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The letter arrived shortly before the one year anniversary of my grandfather’s disappearance. We’d always been very close and his sudden absence from my life left me bewildered and lonely. He vanished like a fart in the wind, as he used to say, and no one could explain what happened. No body, no note, nothing.

I discovered the plain white envelope mixed in with my usual mail, no stamp or return address, and handwritten with a familiar script. If this was a joke, it wasn’t funny, and my hands trembled as I carefully sliced it open. For a fleeting moment I imagined him getting word to me he’d run off with a rich widow to some foreign country and was having the time of his life. What was in the enclosed letter was more fanciful by far and I had to sit down to keep from falling over. 

My dear James,

 Forgive me for leaving you so abruptly, but it could not be helped. In a few days time you will have a chance to see me again, but it will require you to leave everything behind and start anew. Despite what you are about to read, this is not the babblings of a crazy old man!

Remember the grand sundial I was so fond of in Centennial park? Quite by accident, I discovered it is actually a portal to another place and time. When the dial reads between noon and one o’clock, you have only to slip into the shadow behind it and you will be transported. There are wonders you cannot imagine, and I long to share them with you.

I cannot be certain there will be another opportunity like this, so if you decide to come, be there Saturday without fail. I beg you, set your affairs in order and come to me, James! Destroy this letter and tell no one what you intend to do.

 If you choose to remain, know that I love you with all my heart. Be happy, my boy, and remember me.

 Pops

 I read the letter through several times before putting it down. Even as I acknowledged the far-fetched madness of it all, my mind was busy. If anyone could have found a way to leave this crazy world in such an unconventional fashion, it was my grandfather! He certainly sounded happier than I’d ever know him, yet he wanted me with him. How could I disappoint the old man?

Saturday turned out to be a lovely day for an adventure…

Weekly Roundup – What a Summer!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I cannot express, in polite words, how relieved I am to see the end of summer. Hot weather, work hassles, financial woes, writing issues – yikes! It’s time to put it all behind me and focus on what promises to be an interesting fall. I welcome the cooler weather, despite being hay-fever season, as my personal life and writing enter a different phase.

I’m moving again. Yes, you heard me correctly. In about five weeks I’m relocating to another part of the metro area. I was able to secure an apartment which not only offers more amenities for less, but is closer to my jobs and my son. This move will be well worth the hassle, as it should improve my living situation, reduce commute times, and make it easier to see my grandson.

I got a second job. What? Yep, I’ve taken on a Saturday job cleaning offices to help sort out my finances. Last weekend was my first solo appearance and it just about killed me! Cleaning sounds easy, but my body reminded me of all the muscles I hadn’t been using. Aside from aching head to foot and being bone tired, I slept poorly two nights in a row. Reporting for work on Monday looked iffy at best, but thanks to pain medication I made it. Hopefully I’ll get used to the new routine quickly and be able to enjoy at least a little of my weekends in the future. More important, the extra money will relieve some financial pressure and provide much-needed breathing room.

Given the above, it’s no surprise my writing has taken a hit. I don’t expect much to change until after the move, but a lot depends on how much overtime is required at my full time job. It will be a challenge just to produce a weekly post, let alone anything else. I’m going to focus on completing the Rise of the Draman series, including a very thorough edit & polish. The tentative goal is to have it finished by December, and if I have the funds, publish the stories as one volume. Anything else I might have time for is simply gravy.

Things are a bit crazy right now, and certainly not what I wanted, but I know the sacrifices will be worth it in the end. Margo Channing knew what she was talking about when she said, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Photo Prompt – CAT’S EYE

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I watched my adopted human leave in a primitive conveyance, abandoned once more in her box-like dwelling. In just a few more days my observations would be complete and I could escape this torture, returning to the comfort of the ship. I was certain no one would believe my report, for how could things have changed so drastically in only a few thousand years? Had it not been for the crisis on Whiska, requiring a hasty retreat, we would never have left in the first place.

In Egypt, the humans worshipped and pampered us as we ruled alongside the great Pharaohs. They built statues and created great works of art in our honor, fed us sumptuous meals, and included us in their religious ceremonies. Now, there was no trace of our ancestors and the humans regarded “cats” as mere pets! Our distant cousins are locked up inside, fed canned food, amused with cheap toys, and know nothing of the universe except for this tiny backward planet.

Earth will have to be abandoned permanently, as it is too late to repair the damage and return to our former glory. Perhaps on another world, with other beings, we will find partners worthy of our greatness.

PHOTO PROMPT – Assumptions

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11:52 – I’m always early, so it doesn’t surprise me he isn’t here yet. We both enjoy walking outdoors, so I’d suggested a park near my house with some lovely trails. Except for the clouds, it was a perfect fall day and I was looking forward to our first official date.

11:55 – Damn! Rain began to fall steadily, soaking me and the bench I’d been sitting on. My jacket helped, but the umbrella was in the car and I didn’t want to risk missing him by going back for it. I probably looked like a drowned rat by now, and wasn’t that going to make a good impression?

11:58 – Where was he? I was careful to give him good directions so what’s the problem? Maybe he got into an accident on the way or had a flat tire. Did he forget? Was he sick and couldn’t make it? Was he standing me up?

12:04 – This was a stupid idea! Why did I ever agree to meet him anyway? My fool head tricked me into thinking I was still desirable and look where it got me. Waiting in the park, alone, for someone who apparently wasn’t coming. I’m such an idiot!

12:10 – The ten minute rule has always served me well. With no one in sight I turned and started walking back towards the car: humiliated, angry, disappointed. Serves me right, I suppose, for thinking somebody would want me. It was fun while it lasted, but never again. My heart just can’t take it.

12:11 – The sound of shoes on wet pavement barely registered as I hurried to reach the car and get home. Up ahead, someone with a large polka dot umbrella ran towards me from the parking lot, calling my name. It was him!

“Sorry I’m late! My umbrella was broken and I had to stop on the way to get another. It’s kind of ugly, but big enough for two. I was hoping…do you still want to walk with me?”

My heart pounded as his free arm slipped around my shoulders, pulling me in for a soft, gentle kiss. Shivering with cold, I walked, warm on the inside.

PHOTO PROMPT – Just One Kiss

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With a quick shove, Prince Hadrian landed on the road in crumpled heap, still woozy from a long night of drinking and debauchery. His companions threw a fearful glance at the nearby cottage and rode away quickly, leaving him alone in the dust to nurse an aching head. A quick glance told him he had not been taken back to the palace by soldiers as he’d first thought. Instead, he found himself outside a simple peasant cottage at the edge of an oozy pond.

Hadrian stood on shaky legs just as the door opened, revealing a dark-haired woman he did not know but looked familiar. Simply dressed and unremarkable, she approached him slowly muttering under her breath. Though his brain warned him to move away, he found he could not. With a gasp, he looked down to find his feet and lower legs encased in swirling tendrils of yellow-green fog, holding him fast.

The woman came closer, circled once, and stopped to face him. Her black eyes were hard as flint: challenging, angry, determined. Normally confident and brash, Hadrian heard the unfamiliar temerity in his own shaky voice.

“Who are you? Why have I been brought here?”

The woman’s glassy orbs widened; a small triumphant smile gracing her ruby lips.

“Your indiscretions have become well-known, O Prince, and while your father looks the other way, I will not. How many maidens have been soiled in your bed? Who will love them now? The girl you ravaged last night was my only daughter. What you have taken can never be replaced, and now you must pay!”

Hadrian almost laughed. Yet another peasant family looking for a bit of gold to keep them quiet. This was easily fixed.

“Release me, woman, and name your price.”

She responded instead with unintelligible whispers, long fingers gesturing strangely in the air. The serpentine fog at his feet began to wind its way higher, powerful tendrils stealing his breath and replacing it with fear. Now encircled completely, the terrified prince could barely see through the greenish haze. Finally, she spoke and sealed his fate.

“A loathsome creature you shall be. A kiss of love shall set you free.”

She watched with satisfaction as his body shrank, changed color, and lost all semblance of humanity. The arrogant prince was scooped up and taken to the slimy pond behind her cottage. There she released him to preside over a watery kingdom, and there he remained – ever watchful, waiting for just one kiss.

Photo Prompt – Footprints

I wanted to try something different today, using one of my own nature photos as a prompt. Here goes!

Footprints in Fresh Snow

Darrian double-checked his envirosuit before approaching the sealed hatch. With only a slight hesitation, he inserted the coded chip and was rewarded almost instantly by a flashing green telltale. With the alarms muted and surveillance recorders in a repeating loop, it would be hours before the others discovered he was gone. By then, he would either have returned with helpful news or frozen to death.

It was questionable if his shipmates would even miss him, though he would be one less mouth to feed. Paralyzed by fear and infighting, the stranded colony had become a more toxic environment than the unnamed planet on which they’d crashed. It no longer mattered – he’d come to a decision and it was time to act.

Darrian slipped through the hatch, boots crunching on layers of snow and ice. Once the door was secure, he set off for the distant hills in search of a future, leaving only footprints behind.

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UPDATE – My fantasy series, Rise of the Draman, is still keeping me busy. The serialized version of book four, Dragon Quest, will begin in August, and the final story is currently underway. Many thanks to my faithful readers – I hope you have enjoyed the series so far!

I’ve Been Tagged – 11 Essential Questions

My thanks to H.R.R. Gorman for these choice queries into my life!

 

  1. What’s the most recent book you’ve read, and did you like it?

Surprisingly, this is difficult to answer! I usually read 2-3 books a week, but lately the offerings have been disappointing. Implausible plots, dark characters, and foul language seem to be common fare, and I end up deleting many books from my tablet within the first chapter. At the moment, I am reading “Rewind” by Rowan Shaw.

  1. How long do indoor plants stay alive in your abode?

I got rid of my plants during the last move and have not yet replaced them. I tend to fuss over the greenery and I had a spider plant which did so well it kept outgrowing its pot!

  1. How long does your laundry wait until it is folded?

Normally, five minutes or less. As a necessary evil, I like to get it done and put away so I can move on to more enjoyable tasks.

  1. A masked madman puts a gun to your head and says, “You are going to time-travel to a year prior to 1900 and live there for the rest of your life, or I will shoot you. You can choose the year and country of residence.” When/where do you travel to, or do you just let this mysterious person shoot you?

I find this question both intriguing and disturbing! I have no desire to live out the rest of my life in another time or place, so go ahead and shoot me. (There’s a book plot in there somewhere…)

  1. Do you have pets?

Not at present. I’ve had cats, dogs, parakeets, and gerbils, but have been pet-free for a long time (too many moves). Some day, I would enjoy adopting a small dog to keep me company.

  1. What is your favorite thing to cook?

Chicken vegetable soup. It’s delicious, nutritious, and saves me a boat load of money and time. What’s not to like?

  1. Off the top of your head, what book would you recommend right now?

“If I Live To Be 100” by Neenah Ellis. It’s on the top of my “to be read” list, and comes highly recommended.

  1. Should toothpaste be squeezed from the bottom, middle, or top for maximum comfort? Do you follow your own advice?

Any reasonably sane adult will squeeze from the bottom, and, yes, I follow my own advice! This question should always be included in pre-marital counseling sessions.

  1. What are your opinions on breakfast?

I’m a fan. Simple is best and I rarely skip it. Blueberry waffles with real maple syrup are a favorite, but I hardly ever indulge.

  1. What is your optimal bedtime?

If I had a choice, I would stay up late and get up late. Working second shift means I usually get to bed around 1:30.

  1. Who is your favorite historical figure (must currently be dead)?

The first who comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln. I seriously need to read some good biographies, though.

 

Weekly Roundup – MY SCHOOL BUILDING (Another Blast From the Past)

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

In my dusty old school folder I found a poem I had turned in for an assignment. It’s written in longhand cursive (does anybody even remember what that is?), and even though it received a grade of B+, was torn in half. For some reason I changed my mind about throwing it away and kept the awful thing. Though undated, the text itself tells me it must have been written in the 8th grade. Considering the subject matter, and the humorless nuns who filled the place, it was awful ballsy of me to turn it in!

 

MY SCHOOL BUILDING

Your rugged features are frightening,

You’re ugly as can be,

I hate your personality,

I think you’ve got it out for me.

I really think you’re ignorant,

And stony-faced and cold,

You always make me say “I can’t!”,

You’re impersonal and bold.

I’ve been with you for eight long years,

And hated you all the while,

Your sickening lunches psyche me out,

They look like garbage piles.

Yeah, yeah – I know it’s wretched poetry, but the sentiment still stands! I have very few good memories from my Catholic school days – which ended up being grades 1-12. My parents thought they were doing the right thing, and who knows? Perhaps attending a public school would have been even worse than my experience at St. Albert!

By the way, I got even with the blue-haired lunch ladies in my senior year. I did a spot-on impersonation of Roseanne Roseannadanna, who reported on the awful state of things in the cafeteria. It brought down the house. HA! My best comedy performance ever! I still believe the blue hair came from the toxic food fumes and not as a result of their rinse.

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Rise of the Draman, my fantasy dragon series, is coming along nicely. Both books one and two are now available on my blog, and book three DRAGON BONDS will be featured soon! I’m already working on the next story, which will be in two parts as books four and five. If I have the funds, I will then publish all five books in one volume. Depending on sales and interest, I may write another five stories with the MC as a teen.

The next project will be a new mixed-genre series of shorts under the working title of “Curiosity Shoppe”, and I am eager to get started! I have a boatload of cool story ideas to use and it will be difficult to choose which ones make the cut.

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To celebrate my birthday (WOO HOO!), I am taking time off to enjoy a three-day weekend. Most likely, I will use it for writing and other author-related tasks. I might even get some extra sleep! My older son is sending me a gift, my younger son took me to a cool animal park last weekend, and my best friend is taking me out to dinner on July 4th. If you want to help me celebrate, gifts of cash or chocolate are always welcome!