Serial Story: Under His Wing, Part 46

This story is presented weekly in draft (unedited) form. Each installment is available for one week until the
next is posted. Miss one? Email me, and I’ll hook you up. Enjoy!


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Under His Wing
Part 45

At six forty-five Thursday morning, Katie stood at the door of the address Xavier had given her, coffee carrier and paper bag in hand. The pills were still in her pocket, because she wasn’t sure how long it would be before Xavier was ready to go. Katie planned to slip them in either his drink or a breakfast sandwich once she knew the plan.

She kicked the door with the toe of one slightly scuffed boot, hearing footsteps approach from the other side just a few seconds later. The door swung open, and the big man from the park stood on the other side, eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face.

“Right on time,” he said, backing up and motioning for her to come in. “One of those for me?” He gestured to the coffee carrier, and she nodded, but held it just out of reach.

“Not so fast, mister.” Giving him what she hoped was a coy look, she kept walking, headed toward a table in the middle of the big, industrial work room. The table was piled high with bits and pieces of electrical-looking thingys sitting on top of blueprints and graph paper covered with handwriting that matched the scrawl on her note.

Picking one of the least layered spots, she balanced the coffee carrier and sandwich bag on top. Picking up one of the coffee cups, she palmed the two pills in her pocket with the other hand and smiled.

“I’ll give you this when you tell me what the plan for today is. When do we leave, and what do we do when we find the manor?”

Xavier chuckled. “Spunky. I like that.” He pointed at something over her shoulder. “The machine is ready whenever you are. As for what happens when we get there, well, I need to go to the roof, and you need to find your friend and get him out of there. That’s all you need to know.”

Katie had slipped the pills into the cup while he was looking at the machine, and she nodded, handing it over before she turned to take a look.

A smallish metal sphere sat atop a square base, one panel at the bottom open to reveal a short flight of stairs that provided access to the interior. There were no windows, no markings, no color other than metal gray, and the whole thing was covered in a patchwork of rivets that seemed to have no recurring pattern whatsoever.

Turning back to Xavier, she crossed her arms.

“You can’t be serious. It’s too small for both of us. And it looks like it’s going to fall apart just sitting there!”

Xavier shook his head, mumbling something under his breath that may have been an insult to her gender. He moved around the table and walked toward the machine. Katie grabbed the second coffee and the sandwiches before following behind.

“She may not look like much,” he said, lovingly stroking a hand over the piecemeal exterior. “But she’ll get us there. I put two seats inside, so there’s room enough, and the trip should be quick and relatively painless.”

Katie shook her head, peering up in through the open hatch. “It looks pretty tight. And what do you mean by ‘relatively’ painless?”

Xavier grinned. “The landing might be a little jarring. I made it a sphere so it’ll roll on impact – less chance of us exploding or getting crushed if something happens to the skin. But it might get a little bumpy and crazy, depending on where we land.”

“Great.” Katie couldn’t quite keep the sarcasm out of her voice. “Sounds like a wild ride. I’m ready whenever you are.”

She wasn’t. She so wasn’t, and she knew without a doubt that once she stepped inside that machine, she was never coming out again.

Maybe drugging the only guy who knew how to drive it hadn’t been the smartest move.


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Talkin’ Books: November 19, 2014

Books Finished:
Moon Shine by Vivian Arend

Kindle Books In Progress:
One in a Million by Jill Shalvis
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director’s Cut

Comic Books:
Harley Quinn #11

It’s been a good week for books/reading. As I mentioned last week, I finished the 11th issue of Harley Quinn after I finished writing/scheduling that post, and it was…interesting, what with Power Girl in the mix. I’m not sure I like her, but we’ll see. And then there’s the new guy, fresh out of prison. Harley seems to like him…

I also promised to let you know if I found the creepy in Invasive Species. Boy did I! If you read this blog regularly, you know we had an issue with paper wasps this summer, and I was stung several times. Those insects made life…interesting for three months, and I’m glad they’re most certainly frozen now. This book though…oh yes. This book brings back memories and then magnifies them times ten, and I’m not even a quarter done yet. Should be a freaky ride!

No freakier than Johnny the Homicidal Maniac though, of course. Read a couple more of those stories, and I just want to give the kid a scritch behind the ears. As you do, with pets…

As you can see, I then took a bit of a break from the freak-fest and indulged in the last Takhini Wolves series by Vivian Arend, Moon Shine. I actually had myself a little mini-binge last Friday night when the hubby had to work late, and read the whole thing before I went to bed. I’m sure it surprises no one to learn that when it comes to paranormal tropes, I’m a werewolf girl, and I always enjoy Vivian’s books. Never read one I didn’t, actually. And this one was just as excellent and emotionally charged as the rest. With a bonus bear-shifter included.

I also splurged on One in a Million, the last Lucky Harbor novel by Jill Shalvis, which was a major mistake, productivity wise, but man, I’m loving every word. So sweet and funny and heart-wrenching all at the same time… *sigh* I’m sad this is the last Lucky Harbor book, but she’s got more Animal Magnetism books coming out, and I enjoy those too. As long as she keeps writing, I’ll be a happy camper. And a less productive writer, but whatever. Writer’s gotta read…

So, like I said, good reading week. Hubby’s got a poker game this Friday night, so I’ll be on my own then as well. Maybe I’ll mainline Invasive Species while he’s gone…


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On Evil Eyes, Dropping NaNo & Writerly Thoughts…

Last week was…difficult, to say the least. Once again, I paid the price for being a rebel and ignoring my eye doc’s strong admonition to use eyedrops twice daily. Basically, I have chronically dry/inflamed eyes, and last week they decided they weren’t going to work right any longer by watering incessantly and not tolerating much in the way of light – especially backlit screens – at all. This happens occasionally, and I haven’t paid good enough attention to what’s going on at the time to know the trigger, but I’m keeping a log this time, so hopefully if it happens again I can figure out what went wrong.

Needless to say, I make my living sitting in front of a computer screen all day, so I had to save what sight tolerance I had for work, which meant no writing, and very limited electronic activities during non-work hours. It was not only frustrating trying to work with uncooperative eyes, but also annoying having to stay off the computer at night when I really needed to be writing.

My vision still isn’t back to normal, but I’ve been using good eyedrops and it’s getting there, slowly but surely. Staring at the screen for too long still hurts a bit, but it’s do-able. As long as I keep up with the eyedrops and stay hydrated (something else I’m not particularly good at), I should be back to normal soon.

In any case, due to losing an entire week, and being way behind before that, there’s no way I can make the NaNo goal by the end of the month. So I’m out of the running this year, though I’ll still be working on that draft along with the two others I still have going until they’re all done.

I should be more broken up about this, perhaps, but…I’m really not. A little bummed, maybe, but really, it’s all good. NaNo was the best thing to happen to me years ago when I just needed to finish something (anything), but now? I know I’ll finish my drafts either way, so I don’t really need the competition/deadline any longer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately – from the typical writerly confidence issues to sales vs. art vs. overall business. I’m still trying to distill it all down into something coherent, but once I do that, it’ll determine how I move forward with the writing stuff in the next year. So we’ll see. There will be writing, of course, but I’m seriously considering a pretty sharp change in direction & writing style. Hopefully I’ll have more information on that next week – I need to decide whether or not to alter next year’s writing/publishing schedule fairly soon.

I dare say this week will be far more productive and less frustrating, and I’m actually looking forward to it. Onward!


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Talkin’ Books: November 12, 2014

Books Finished:
Of Mice and Momphribraks by Lia London (A Maze of Tales, Book 2)
Saccharine White by Lia London (A Maze of Tales, Book 2)

Kindle Books In Progress:
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director’s Cut

Comic Books:
Harley Quinn #10

So if you need a couple of fun, quick reads, and you’re a fan of fractured fairy tales, you’ll want to pick up the Maze of Tales ebooks by Lia London. They’re hilarious and snarky and just absolutely charming, in a “true fairy tale” sort of way. Pick ‘em up to read while you’re waiting for…whatever. And then you can join me in bugging her for more, because they’re delightful.

Harley Quinn 10 was slightly more serious than normal, but still fun and funny in spots. I have 11, I just got interrupted half way through and haven’t picked it up again yet, but I’ll do that yet tonight (it’s Tues. night as I type).

And I’ve started Invasive Species in print, which my husband read quite awhile ago (I’m way behind on my print TBR pile), and still remembers as totally creepy. So far, I’m enjoying it, but haven’t reached too much creepy just yet. I’m curious though!

My eyes are in serious rebellion mode this week, so staring at a computer screen right now is…not fun. I’ve forced myself to stay away from backlit screens for most of the afternoon/evening, and after I schedule this post, I’m getting away again in hopes that I’ll be able to work without too much pain tomorrow. Annoying! But a good excuse to go finish my Harley comic, and then dive back in to Invasive Species. Next week, I’ll let you know if I found the creepiness


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On Birthdays, Cold Temps & Hole-y T-Shirts…

I have one sister – younger than me by two years and ten months (she still gets mad when I round it up to three years). She’s one of those strange women who doesn’t like other people knowing her age (I really don’t think I’ll ever understand that), but I’ll be 40 this coming January, and her birthday is this coming Saturday. It’s not my fault if y’all know how to do math…

My dad’s birthday is also this week – and while I suppose I could make you do that math on that too, he won’t mind my telling you that he’ll be 63 on Tuesday – Veteran’s Day.

What does this mean for me (besides two slightly older family members)? An early Chinese dinner on Tuesday (it’s a federal holiday, so I’m off work), and chicken enchiladas at noon on Saturday.

Tuesday, of course, is supposed to be pretty cold (it’s snowing as I write this on Sunday night), with a forecast high of 9 and a low of 2. I was kind of happy I didn’t have to go to work, and when I subtly mentioned to my mom it was supposed to be that cold, I was not-so-subtly reminded that she still had to go to work that day (paybacks – she’s a middle school librarian, and I’m constantly reminding her that I have to work when she’s off on spring break or Christmas break or summer break or whatever). The implication being, of course, that I should buck up and get my butt off my cozy couch and out to Dad’s birthday dinner regardless of the weather. And I will, obviously.

If we could actually use the weather as an excuse not to do stuff up here, nothing would get done for at least a few months of every year. Still, can’t blame a girl for trying.

HolyShirts

In other, sad news, several of my beloved t-shirts are starting to fall apart. Literally. Like, there are holes in them. I mean, it shouldn’t surprise me, considering I’ve had many of them since…um…actually, I think the one I’m wearing now I got in high school. Or college. My parents brought it back for me after a trip to Glacier National Park (pictured above). It’s incredibly comfy as only t-shirts that have been well broken-in are. *sigh* But it also has holes in the armpits and a few in other places as well – the sleeve, for one, and another near the hem.

A sadder one is my Super Novelist NaNo shirt from 2004 (10 yrs ago! – also pictured), which is getting holes around the front “superman” style logo, as well as other holes here and there. Dang it. I may cut out the logo portion of that one to keep. I really love that shirt…

In any case, I bought a dog rope toy at a craft fair this summer that is basically just a braid of old cotton knit material. And my aging t-shirts are…old cotton knit material. There are ways you can cut old t-shirts so they make one continuous strip of fabric, that can then be used to do whatever with….such as braiding into dog pulls, or crocheting into rugs and bags and such. Methinks maybe it’s time to retire some of these old shirts and give them a new life as something else…

But not until I get caught up with my NaNo novel. I’m way, way behind, and my plans to write Sunday didn’t ever really pan out, so…here’s hoping Tuesday will be my lucky day for lots of words.


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Talkin’ Books: November 5, 2014

Books Finished:
He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

Kindle Books In Progress:
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director’s Cut

Comic Books:
None

Just a very quick update this week – it’s NaNoWriMo time, and I’m writing up a storm. Even so, I *need* the last Lucky Harbor book by Jill Shalvis, because He’s So Fine was…well, so fine, and the excerpt for the next book hooked me right in.

Payday isn’t until Friday though, and I’m dead broke, so when I do get a few minutes to read, I’ll have to make do with something already on my kindle. Woe is me (yes, that was sarcasm).

Now, I’m trying to catch up on my word count for the day before bed, so that’s it for this week. See? Short!


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On Work, 99 Cent Pre-Orders & NaNoWriMo…

I think I might be the only person I know who’s not complaining about the time change – specifically about how it’s getting dark earlier now. I love the dark, and I love night, so this actually doesn’t bother me at all. It’s actually far easier for me to get stuff done in the evenings when it gets dark earlier.

It’s back to the day job and my regular schedule this week, and…well…I’m sort of glad. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d have liked last week, but it’s only because I wanted to do way more than I really had time or energy for. This is not a new thing with me, and really, you’d think I’d learn, but apparently my “superwoman complex” is stronger than my sense of time/organization. Which is saying a lot, really. Maybe someday I’ll take a vacation where I don’t try to accomplish an insanely long list of things. But normally I call those sick days…

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In any case, I did actually get several important things done, including releasing a new horror/suspense novel for one of my alter-egos, and getting MacKenzie Saves the World formatted for ebook and up for pre-orders on Amazon and Kobo. Here’s the cool thing – if you pre-order the ebook, it’s 99 cents and it will auto-download to your Kindle, Kindle app, Kobo reader or Kobo app on November 14th. After the release date, the price goes up to $2.99. So…you know. If contemporary romance is your thing, go pre-order! ;-)

I am working on the print formatting for both of these books, but since it’s November – National Novel Writing Month – and I didn’t get the two drafts I was hoping to finish done, no promises on the time frame. Hopefully soon.

I also spent some time the first day of November creating a loose outline and basic character profiles for The Time Stone, this year’s NaNo draft. Yes, I know, I was supposed to start writing then, but I’m trying to do some different things with this one, and experimenting with some very basic and broad advanced planning to see if that will help. By the time you read this, I’ll have started the draft – better late than never.

For those of you reading the weekly serial story here on Fridays, never fear. It will continue normally throughout the month. And if you want to follow my progress with the NaNo draft, I’m going to try to post daily updates over at The Drafting Desk, so you can click over to that blog and see what I’ve been working on for the day if you’re interested.

This Tuesday and next are both holidays at the day job for me, which is not so good because I’m really not fond of 4-day work weeks…they always seem more chaotic than a normal week, but good for things like catching up on delinquent word counts.

And now, while you’re reading this Monday, I’m writing it Sunday night and it’s time for me to finish up some chores and get some writing done. Here’s to much productivity in the midst of what’s sure to be a busy and chaotic week!


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Halloween Treats

If you’re looking for this week’s serial installment, fear not! It’s scheduled to post around 10am Mountain time, so it’ll pop up in a few hours. In the meantime…

Happy Halloween!

CampoutLt_Dk

Halloween is our Christmas, more or less, and today I’ll be out in the yard, putting the finishing touches on our Creepy Campout and graveyard before the kiddies show up for trick-or-treating. Even though we have the “bones” down (so to speak), there’s a lot of stuff we can’t put out early due to spoilsports who like to steal things, so most of the “meat” will go out tomorrow, and come back in tomorrow night as well. The magic only happens on the 31st…

In that same vein, I have treats for you! Unfortunately, the paranormal romantic suspense I’m working on isn’t quite done yet, so I don’t have anything too suspenseful to give you as myself. What’s an author to do?

Luckily for you, MacKenzie Saves the World is done, so for today, and today *only*, you can download the PDF version right here for free. This offer is only good until midnight my time (so 2am Eastern, 11pm Pacific). It’s tricky that way. ;-)

You’re probably aware that Alex Westhaven, one of my alter-egos, writes horror/suspense, so if that’s you’re thing and you’re looking for something a little freaky this season, check out this page on her blog with links to free copies of the entire Death by Veggies series as well as Angel Eyes, and a free download for When She Cries, her latest book (normally $2.99) as well.

So there you have it – lots of reading material for before you head out to collect candy, or after the kids finally crash from their sugar-and-scare high and you’re ready to sneak a few pieces yourself.

Enjoy the holiday & happy reading!


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Talkin’ Books: October 29, 2014

Books Finished:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Kindle Books In Progress:
He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director’s Cut

Comic Books:
Superman Unchained #7

Yes, I know, I’m late this week. But I’m on vacation from the day job, which mostly just means I’m trying to get a bunch of other stuff done, and yesterday was busy. Also, I was nearly done with Innocent Blood and I wanted to finish it so I had something to put under “Books Finished” this week. It’s satisfying, dang it!

Incidentally, I know I’ve recommended it already, but if you aren’t reading the Blood Gospel series by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell…well, you should be. A fresh take on both vampires and religious history…it’s really quite excellent.

According to my kindle, I’m 76% done with Tatterdemon. Considering it’s 400 pages long, that means I still have around 100 pages left, and honestly, the endgame is moving a bit slow for me. But I still can’t give it up…which is a testament to Vernon’s writing, because I’m not a person who will finish a book “just to finish it”. If I’m bored, or it’s just not “doing it” for, me, I’m all too happy to put it down and move on to the next one. Heaven knows my TBR pile is miles long.

But I can’t quit Tatterdemon until I find out how everything’s going to end. So…if you’re looking for a nice doorstopper to read for Halloween and you’re into gore/slasher type stories, this will probably be right up your alley. There’s a bit too much gore for my personal taste, but like I said, I can’t just quit it, so…

I’m working my way through Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and I put it up under the Print in progress because…well, it’s  print, it’s a collected paperback edition rather than just a single comic, and I haven’t started any other print books just yet. So…yeah. It makes me laugh, which is horrible, but I love it. I know. I *know*!

I caught up with another issue of Superman Unchained this week as well, and I think I have another in the comic rack to peek at – might do that later today. I swear…the story’s good, intriguing even, but this is seriously one comic I read almost solely for the artwork. There’s just something about the illustration that is exceedingly pleasing to my eye, which is good, because the time between issues is often long, so it’s sometimes difficult to remember where the last one left off by the time the next one is out. Beautiful art though, which is totally worth it for me.

And to balance out all the adventure/suspense/gore, I splurged on another of Jill Shalvis’s novels this week – one of the last two Lucky Harbor books, He’s So Fine. Hilarious romantic fluff, all the way, and I’m loving it so far.

That’s it for this week. NaNoWriMo starts next week, so my reading time will be pretty severely limited, but we’ll see. Reading is a most excellent procrastination tool…


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On Time, Confidence, & Best Laid Plans…

AlarmClock1

When you work a day job like I do, you tend to get a little snippy when people don’t seem to “get” that being gone eight hours every day kind of puts a damper on the desire to do much else during the week, including socializing in the evenings. It also requires a pretty strict routine if I want to get anything else done…say, writing, or crocheting Christmas gifts and such. My normal work schedule is 9-6pm, so I also get off work later than most, which tends to cause some dissension here and there – because people expect that even if you’re gone all day, you’ll be available after 5pm.

Naturally, when you work outside the home and have routines and schedules and manage to get other stuff done too, you tend to wonder why those people who don’t work a day job can’t ever seem to get that same momentum going. Because isn’t it easier to get stuff done when you have all day to do it?

No, no it’s not.

If I weren’t on vacation from the day job this week, this post would have been written and scheduled before I went to bed last night. It’s around 11am now, and I would have showered, worked out, and been two hours into my workday by now. As it is, I slept in an hour later than normal, got my hubby out the door to work, drank a couple cups of tea, checked email and Facebook, read a few blog posts elsewhere, took a shower, and emailed a friend. So basically, I’ve gotten nothing done yet today and it’s nearly noon.

“But you’re on vacation!” you say. Yes, but it’s a working vacation, and I truly do have a bunch of stuff I really wanted to get done this week – writing and publishing stuff that’s hard to get ahead of with my normal schedule. The thing is, when I’m home, that sense of routine and urgency to stick to a schedule just sort of disappears.

Ridiculous as it is, it’s damn hard to get stuff done when you have all the time in the world to do it. The human psyche is incredibly odd that way. We crave order and routine, even as we rail against it. It really is a crazy thing.

In any case, having too much time isn’t my only issue today. I’m also having serious confidence issues regarding my next two book releases, something I rarely admit to publicly when it happens because frankly, I don’t want people trying to “make it better”, telling me I shouldn’t worry about it, I already do a good job, they’re sure everything is fine, yadda yadda yadda. That doesn’t help me, because I know I can do better, and until I satisfy *myself* that I’ve done as well as I can, all the well-meant platitudes in the world are just…annoying flies in my ear.

The thing is, I *know* what I need to do, and once I get it done, my confidence will improve (I really do have a healthy ego – too healthy, sometimes, but it serves me well as far as confidence in general goes). So it’s not something anyone else can give me or help me with. I have to fix it myself.  Unfortunately, doing what I need to do will take up a lot of the time I’d originally planned to spend on other things, and my best-laid plans are not only mislaid, they’re pretty much obliterated at this point.

Which is a little depressing.

In any case, wallowing won’t do me any good (and it annoys me pretty quickly), but accepting that my original plans are toast, letting them go and making a new plan will get me up and moving again.

So…lunch, a new plan, and then to work. It may not be the week I’d originally planned, but it’s still going to be a good, productive one. And that’s what matters.


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