Serial Story: Under His Wing, Part 47

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!


 UHW_13

Under His Wing
Part 47

Xavier grinned, downing most of his coffee in one long swallow and then tossing it into a rusty barrel several feet to the side.

“We’re just waiting for one more person. The navigational expert, if you will. I’m sure he’ll be here soon. Is that breakfast?” Xavier pointed to the bag Katie still held.

She nodded, handing it over. “Knock yourself out.” She looked at the sphere again. “This doesn’t have a…GPS or something? Seems like that would be important trying to time travel.”

He shrugged, pulling an egg and sausage sandwich out and handing the bag back.

“It’s kind of tricky finding a manor that keeps moving,” he said around a too-big bite. “We had to find a connection of some sort between this time and place and wherever the manor is now. That’s the only way the magic will work.”

That made sense. Katie looked around. “So where’s the connecting piece?”

“That would be you, my dear. I’m so glad you’re here.”

Twirling to look behind her, Katie gasped as she saw one of the same green-robed, black-eyed figures that she’d seen at the mansion coming toward her.

“You’re…” she backed away, suddenly realizing that this had been a much larger mistake than she’d realized. “You’re one of them. How are you here? Why aren’t you with the manor?”
She got the sense that the creature might have laughed, were it human.

“We are not all part of the Dunning Manor curse,” it replied. “We exist throughout throughout what you refer to as time and space. We are not bound as you humans are to a single plane of existence, though you are incapable of comprehending the concept.”

Katie raised her eyebrows. “That may be, but I’m more than capable of understanding that your people took the man I love away without giving me a fair shot of breaking the curse. Your people broke their own rules, and I wouldn’t trust you any farther than I could throw you. So let me rephrase the question. Why are you right here, right now?”

Xavier stepped between them. “Darius is the only person who can make this whole thing work. He’s got the magic, and as he said, you’re the glue. Your connection to Thomas is what will ensure we find the manor instead of bouncing around aimlessly through time and space.”

“So that’s why you invited me. You don’t want to help me, you need me to find the manor. And then you’ll destroy it, and presumably the curse.” She shook her head. It all made sense now, but how could he be so stupid?

“Why you trust these…people – aliens – whatever? If they won’t abide by the rules they set in place, how do you know they won’t just screw us both over?”

“You don’t.” Darius spoke up, peering around Xavier. “But I have my own reasons for wanting to find the manor, Xavier needed my help, and we both need yours. In the end, we all get what we want.”

Katie crossed her arms over her chest. “And if I refuse to help?” She’d never really trusted Xavier, and there was no way she’d trust one of these druids. She should have trusted her gut. The one that was now flopping around in her stomach cavity like a dying fish.

All at once she couldn’t move – her arms were locked in place, her feet stuck to the floor, even her shoulders were limited to a gentle swaying motion. When she tried to speak, she found she could move her mouth…

Just not her vocal chords.

Xavier walked around her, holding up one hand to wave in front of her face, like she was a mannequin or something.

“I thought we agreed not to do this Darius,” he said. “Besides, you said she had to be willing. Does that look willing to you?”

Darius walked by on his way to the sphere, giving Katie only the barest glance. “She came here of her own accord, fully intending to participate. That’s all that is required for her usefulness. Now, did you make the modifications I asked for?”

Katie listened as the men talked, using a bunch of terms she didn’t understand. She had to get out of here. She had to find a way to warn Thomas and the others before it was too late.


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On Holiday Stuff, TV, & Stamps…

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the states, though I don’t think it’s really sunk in just yet. We’re not doing much, just going to my brother-in-law’s for dinner. If all goes well, it’ll probably be boring, to be honest. But he’s a bachelor who doesn’t cook much, and hasn’t ever cooked a turkey, so there’s definite funny-story potential there.

My only real plans for the rest of that day are to sleep in, make a nice egg & sausage brunch for hubby and myself, and probably work on crocheted Christmas gifts most of the day. Should be very relaxing, I think. I have a bunch of comic books that need to be put in albums for storage too…

Speaking of Christmas, hubby and I were actually in the mood to shop this past Saturday, so we braved the weekend crowds and got nearly all of our Christmas shopping done. Now I just need to finish up the crocheted items I’m making, and we’ll make a trip to the wine store and the candy store a little closer to Christmas, and we’ll be all set. I’m hoping to get the crocheted gifts done this week, so I can make some gift bags as well, but we’ll see. I do tend to over-reach a bit in the goals department, but we have plenty of gift bags if I don’t get them done, so it’s not a do-or-die type thing.

Dang it, that reminds me. I forgot to tell Mom I’d love a small tin of butter cookies for Christmas. I love those things, and hardly ever get them. A small tin would last me a long time. Must put that on my list!

Most of Sunday was spent on my butt in front of the TV catching up on some of the shows we missed last week, which would have been far more productive had I grabbed some yarn and a crochet hook. Instead, I decided to try to write this post, and considering I’ve deleted the whole thing twice and it’s now a quarter to one on Monday morning, you can guess how well that went. I don’t even know why I try…although now that I think about it, that’s not entirely true. I try because I think it’ll be more efficient, and give me more time later. But that never works – I need quiet and focus to think and write, and I can’t ever get that while I’m sitting in front of the TV.

TV and crochet (or knitting), however, go together like caramel vodka & apple cider. And I would have been that much closer to having my Christmas gifts done (and it would have been a nice break from the small screen, too). Ah well. We all make stupid decisions occasionally, eh?

We also went to a play this weekend – a local production called “Mauritius” that one of my co-workers was acting in. It was a lot of fun, and had a stamp collecting theme which is, of course, right up my alley. I’m not a terribly new collector, but aside from the inverted Jenny (which I’m slightly obsessed with finding one of the new upright errors), I wasn’t really “up” on the high-dollar/priceless stamp lore. So it was really interesting from that standpoint, as I learned about the Mauritius “Post Office” errors, and promptly looked them up online in Denny’s after the play when we stopped for dinner.

I haven’t had a lot of time to do anything with my stamp collection in the past couple of years, and I think it’s time I remedied that. I have a bunch of stamps to go through, catalog & put in albums, and it would be fun to set aside some time each week just to do that. Sunday nights might be perfect, now that I think about it.

So…lots going on lately, but in a good way. This week I’m working every day except Thursday, and I’m kind of looking forward to Weds & Fri being slow days at work so I can get caught up on a couple of projects I have going. The beauty of working around major holidays is that most everyone else takes vacation days. Quiet, uninterrupted work time is a rare and precious thing…

To all my US peeps, Happy Thanksgiving, and to the rest of you, have a great week!


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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…

MSTW_400

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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