Saturday Snippet: Portrait of a Crime Lord Part Four

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of fifteen sentences or less are yours for the reading!

Welcome back! I’ve been hard at work on the third book in THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series. This snippet comes from a scene early in the book, just before Bo Barron makes the transition from frying pan to fire. The book opens with her in the middle of a job, breaking a crime lord’s kid brother out of a Third Sector detention center. Bo comes away with a lot more than she bargained for, including another inmate who somehow managed to stow away aboard her ship. In this scene, she’s turning over the crime lord Gray’s kid brother to him in exchange for the payment he promised.

***

Barron's Last Stand ART5

Gray nodded. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Commander,” he said. “Give my regards to your boss, whoever that might be.”

She grinned. “Give it up, Gray,” she warned. “Everybody knows Redmaster Blue is a myth.”

Gray’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. “I hope not,” he said calmly. “With the news reports coming out, you’ll need all the protection you can get.”

With a wave of his hand Gray ended their audience.

“Wait,” she said. “What news, Gray?”

He rose and his retinue fell into step around him.

“Gray?”

***

That’s the snippet for the week. Thank you for stopping by.

If you’re interested in reading more about Bo, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

If you’d like to read a sneak peek at BARRON’S LAST STAND you can find the first chapter at the end of HERO’S END and here on my website.

In case you missed them, here are some other SFFS snippets from BARRON’S LAST STAND
Portrait of a Crime Lord – Part One
Portrait of a Crime Lord – Part Two
Portrait of a Crime Lord – Part Three
Stowaway
Stowaway Part Two
Stowaway Part Three

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What’s New – Spring 2014

Spring 2014…

…finds me hard at work on the third installment of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES - BARRON’S LAST STAND. Still no release date set, but I’ve started thinking about cover art. Here are a few mockups, complete with the swirly watermark which won’t be in the final cover. I’m not yet ready to sit down with Tomomi Ink (a.k.a TK Toppin) and hash out a final cover, but this gives me an idea of the direction I may want to go with it. If anyone has any preferences please say so in the comments.

BLS Mockup 3BLS Mockup 6Barron's Last Stand ART 4BLS Mockup ABLS Mockup 5BLS Mockup 2

Also working on a joint project with another author specializing in a completely different genre. This project would be a complete departure from my comfort zone and will be published under a pseudonym.

012714_1950_9.jpgOn a more familiar front, I’m also working on a Space Opera/SF Romance from my archives that has popped up on my blog before:  THE LOST DOMINA.

And lastly, I’m preparing to offer HERO’S END as a paperback once again. Stay tuned for more on that front as it develops.

Saturday Snippet: Portrait of a Crime Lord Part Three

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of fifteen sentences or less are yours for the reading!

Welcome back! I’ve been hard at work on the third book in THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series. This snippet comes from a scene early in the book, just before Bo Barron makes the transition from frying pan to fire. The book opens with her in the middle of a job, breaking a crime lord’s kid brother out of a Third Sector detention center. Bo comes away with a lot more than she bargained for, including another inmate who somehow managed to stow away aboard her ship. In this scene, she’s turning over the crime lord Gray’s kid brother to him in exchange for the payment he promised.

***

Barron's Last Stand ART5

She gestured toward the communications terminal on the table. “My credit transfer?” she asked.

“Already taken care of.”

Bo’s lips twitched in a bland smile. “You don’t mind if I check for myself?”

Gray waved a hand and one of the Q’mann pushed the terminal across the table to her. “Be my guest, Bo,” he said. “You’ll find everything in order. Not even I would be brave enough to try to cheat Redmaster Blue out of a fee well-earned.”

Bo didn’t believe that for a nanosecond and she flashed him a look that said so.

***

That’s the snippet for the week. Thank you for stopping by.

If you’re interested in reading more about Bo, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

If you’d like to read a sneak peek at BARRON’S LAST STAND you can find the first chapter at the end of HERO’S END and here on my website.

In case you missed them, here are some other SFFS snippets from BARRON’S LAST STAND
Portrait of a Crime Lord – Part One
Portrait of a Crime Lord – Part Two

Stowaway
Stowaway Part Two
Stowaway Part Three

Saturday Snippet: Portrait of a Crime Lord Part Two

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of fifteen sentences or less are yours for the reading!

Welcome back! I’ve been hard at work on the third book in THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series. This snippet comes from a scene early in the book, just before Bo Barron makes the transition from frying pan to fire. The book opens with her in the middle of a job, breaking a crime lord’s kid brother out of a Third Sector detention center. Bo comes away with a lot more than she bargained for, including another inmate who somehow managed to stow away aboard her ship. In this scene, under the watchful eyes of his two Q’mann bodyguards and his pair of snarling amphibious pets, Bo is delivering crime lord Gray’s kid brother in exchange for the payment he promised.

***

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“Hello, Gray,” she said, coming to a halt across the table from the crime boss. “Here he is, delivered alive and well, as promised.”

“So I see, Bo.” Gray took his time looking her over.

She’d been leered at before. She’d been leered at by the best…and the worst. Gray fell somewhere in between. Sure, he was a disgusting slob, twice as repulsive and slimy as the dorn behind him. He was also a sadistic misogynist looking for a way to get under her skin and between her legs – by force if necessary. The main thing that kept him in check was the well-known fact that she could drop both Q’mann before Gray finished ordering them to grab her.

***

That’s the snippet for the week. Thank you for stopping by.

If you’re interested in reading more about Bo, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

If you’d like to read a sneak peek at BARRON’S LAST STAND you can find the first chapter at the end of HERO’S END and here on my website.

In case you missed them, here are some other SFFS snippets from BARRON’S LAST STAND
Portrait of a Crime Lord – Part One

Stowaway
Stowaway Part Two
Stowaway Part Three

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Releasing Your Inner Sadist

I’ve said before that the second act, or the meaty middle of a story is the part in which the writer tortures his or her characters, throwing rocks at them to chase them up a tree and then throwing more rocks at them to drive them ever higher into the precarious limbs that will no longer support their weight. If you doubt me, you can find the link to that post HERE.

This morning, io9 posted a similar story. Since I like to have what I say validated, I’m kindly sharing the link for your consideration. Thanks to the folks at the io9 web site. If you don’t follow them, I highly recommend.
http://io9.com/10-cant-miss-surefire-secrets-of-torturing-fictional-1557648931

Saturday Snippet: Portrait of a Crime Lord

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of fifteen sentences or less are yours for the reading!

Welcome back! I’ve been hard at work on the third book in THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series. This snippet comes from a scene early in the book, just before Bo Barron makes the transition from frying pan to fire. The book opens with her in the middle of a job, breaking a crime lord’s kid brother out of a Third Sector detention center. Bo comes away with a lot more than she bargained for, including another inmate who somehow managed to stow away aboard her ship. In this scene, she’s turning over the crime lord Gray’s kid brother to him in exchange for the payment he promised.

***

Barron's Last Stand ART5

Bo stepped into the darkened interior and paused in the doorway a moment. She scanned the sedate crowd of diners and drinkers doing business in a very civilized manner. Gray and his entourage patiently waited in a distant corner.

Gray resembled nothing so much as a mythological garden imp. Only a year or so older than Bo, his curly shock of brown hair had already migrated from the top of his head to his prodigious chin, leaving only a few stragglers behind to mourn the exodus. Two Q’mann warriors stood watch on either side of him like a bad cliché. A pair of clawed, amphibious dorn snarled at everyone from their perches behind him, the short tentacles around their mouths quivering.

Bo wove her way through the maze of tables towards them. She didn’t have to look behind her to know that Nix followed her. She could sense him as strongly as if he’d been attached to her back like a Kamet symbiant to a Pader Lung Howler.

She allowed herself one small sigh; whatever sibling rivalry that stood between these two brothers was no business of hers and she’d be damn glad to get rid of both of them.

“Hello, Gray,” she said, coming to a halt across the table from the crime boss. “Here he is, delivered alive and well, as promised.”

“So I see, Bo.” Gray took his time looking her over.

***

That’s the snippet for the week. Thank you for stopping by.

If you’re interested in reading more about Bo, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

If you’d like to read a sneak peek at BARRON’S LAST STAND you can find the first chapter at the end of HERO’S END and here on my website.

In case you missed them, here are some other SFFS snippets from BARRON’S LAST STAND

Stowaway
Stowaway Part Two
Stowaway Part Three

Saturday Snippet: Shakedown Part Three

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of fifteen sentences or less are yours for the reading!

This is the third installment of a snippet from a Bo Barron short story that I am working on. You can read parts ONE and TWO. Bo is in a hotel room, waiting for a man. He is blissfully unaware that his hotel room is already occupied.

***

Barron's Last Stand ART5

“Just let me get a shower and change and I’ll meet you downstairs in the bar in an hour,” he said.

He stepped through the door and it shut behind him as he turned and reached for the light.

Taking no chances, Bo leveled her blaster at him and pressed it hard into the middle of his back.

“Don’t move,” she said, her voice hoarse with emotion and disuse. “Show me your hands.”

His spine stiffened and he slowly held his hands out to his sides. “I’ve got maybe a couple hundred in currency,” he said. “You’re welcome to it.”

Using her blaster, Bo shoved him against the wall. “Spread ‘em.”

He hesitated a millisecond before he complied. With her free hand, Bo patted him down. Once satisfied that he was unarmed, she stepped back, but didn’t lower her weapon.

“Switch on the lights and turn around slowly.”

***

That’s the snippet for the week. Thank you for stopping by.

If you’re interested in reading more about Bo, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Baths 1

How Jane Austen Helped Me Build Alien Worlds

The germ of an idea for the chapters of BARRON’S LAST STAND which I’m currently working on formed back in 1990 when a trip to Bath, England captured my imagination. I went in search of Jane Austen, but came away with utter awe at how much difference the centuries could make in street level from one millennium to the next, and the sophistication of bathing as a social event. That never left me. That’s where I got the idea for the Baths of Altair, and a major section of my next book. I like to think that Jane would approve.
http://romanbaths.co.uk/

Inside The Mind of a Writer

I’ve been both blessed and cursed with an interest and the drive to write.

As a child, I read voraciously, often with a flashlight under the covers, well into the wee hours of the morning. One more page always turned into one more chapter. I’d seldom stop before I’d finished the book. I read about things that interested me: horses, mysteries, ghosts, pirates, Antebellum South, dogs and space travel. I had a constant narrative running through my head. I would be talking with my friends and mentally add dialog tags to every word. I’d watch events as they unfolded, then mentally re-run them with a slightly different outcome. I suppose that’s why I immediately grasped the concept of parallel worlds existing alongside ours, each slightly different as a universe of infinite possibilities unfolds concurrently.

My children also love to read and spin stories. My son, Liam is the whimsical one. He’s the one with the constant narrative in his head, complete with soundtrack and special effects. What I wouldn’t give for one tiny peek into his mind.

As a writer, that’s what we give others, really – a tiny peek into our minds. We spend our lives looking at a hidden world that exists alongside the concrete world that everyone experiences. We learn to keep seeing that world and to use words to make that world come alive so that others can see it, too. It’s really a very simple concept, but it takes a lifetime to master.

The ability to reveal that world doesn’t automatically make a writer a success, either. There are so many nuances of story craft and the nuts and bolts of spinning marketable prose. Any published writer will tell you that every market is different and each publisher has different subtle wants and needs. It’s frustrating to a writer. The market has changed drastically over the last ten years. The current economy isn’t helping, either.

Writing is a lonely business, and writers are a different breed. We spend so much time in our own minds it’s very easy to become disconnected from our families and friends. I think this is why so many writers slip into depression. Once, when I was having problems with depression, I went unwillingly to see a psychologist. When he learned I was a writer, he researched writers and depression. In the process of helping me, he shared many of his findings with me, and for me, my therapy boiled down to just a few key changes in my life. I needed to make a point to stay connected to the people in my life. I needed to be proactive and not reactive to life’s little roadblocks. Most of all, I needed to give myself permission to write and permission to live.

Writing takes an inordinate amount of time and focus. To non-writers, much of the hardest work of writing looks like slacking and daydreaming. Unless you actually suffer through the process, you don’t realize how exhausting staring off into space can be. I say this with all seriousness. Your mind is racing, exploring every possible avenue of plot thread, chasing down stray subplots and characters that just won’t conform and behave in such a manner as to facilitate your storytelling.

Being married to a writer must be frustrating, the offspring of one even more so, I would imagine. The reasonable assumption when you see someone staring off into space with a furrowed brow, or lying on the couch, eyes closed, is that they aren’t doing anything of great import and not only can, but should be interrupted to save them from their own boredom.

This is a bad plan when you’re thinking of interrupting a writer. You see, this is what work looks like. In your writer’s mind, he or she is finally unraveling the tangled threads of troublesome dialog that have bogged him or her down for weeks or months, and you come along and interrupt just when it’s starting to make sense and further the plot. The writer’s reaction is annoyance, frustration, or outright anger.

Your reaction? Hurt feelings. All you did was ask a question or try to share something funny in an effort to assuage their boredom.

Let’s look at it this way. Let’s say you’re a teacher. Your loved one comes in while you’re on a roll. Your students are all listening in rapt attention as you’re finally getting through to them about the alchemy of algebraic equations, or the Franco-Prussian war, or some other such nonsense. The students are getting it! Your loved one comes in and completely interrupts your lecture, takes your students attention away from you. You lose your momentum, your train of thought derails. And then they leave. When you look out at your class once more, they are all turned around in their seats talking with one another, playing on their cell phones and you can’t remember what you were telling them.

Or let’s say you’re a carpenter. You’re framing a house. You’ve been behind due to inclement weather and the other contractors are relying on you to get this one last wall framed so they can do the electrical and get the inspections out of the way. You are almost finished and can see the house taking shape. Your loved one comes in for one quick question. You stop what you’re doing to talk with them and when you return to your framing, everything has collapsed and you have to start all over with all of this pre-cut lumber that you know should fit together, but you can’t quite remember exactly how.

Now all of this happens in the mind of the writer. There is no lumber, no students milling around that anyone else can see until whatever the writer was working on is on the page and fit to read. Normal human beings have trouble understanding this, which is why writers seek out other writers for commiseration and support.

For a writer, there isn’t really an option. This isn’t just what we do – it’s who we are. Our minds are different. Writing is a compulsion. We’re programmed from an early age to silently follow the spoken word with “she said tersely,” or some other dialog tag. We watch a sunset and our minds are filled with words, describing that exact shade of melon fading seamlessly into turquoise and navy blue as the glowing star sinks below the horizon to offer warmth and light to the other side of the planet for a few hours.

That colorful individual that all other sane people avoid engaging in conversation is completely fascinating to a writer. His weathered face and toothless smile that flash as he tells outrageous stories of impossible events make him exactly the right character to provide the heroine with the tiny bit of unlikely truth that solves the mystery and sends the murderer to prison for life. I once sat on a bus in New Orleans for three extra stops because I was talking with just such an individual – well, I was listening. He was talking.

I don’t worry about how many words I write or don’t write each day, or how many days I go without putting words on the page. I have the mind of a writer. Even when I took ten years off from it, it was always there in my head. I still followed spoken words with dialog tags. I still studied the faces and actions of my husband and children and mentally selected words to describe what I saw. I don’t know if everyone does this. I’ve asked and received blank looks for my efforts. I no longer care how the mind of a normal person works. Mine is so very interesting, and I have the skills that allow me to share a glimpse of what goes on behind my eyes when I’m staring into space.

Yep. You can keep normal. I’m quite content having the mind of a writer.

Confessions of a Dictionary Snob

IMG_0243I have a confession.

I am a dictionary hoarder snob addict aficionado.

From an early age, I’ve enjoyed reading the dictionary. It’s amazing the words you learn doing that! I’m old school. When I wanted to know what a word meant, I had to hit a musty book with faded, yellow pages that crackled when you thumbed through them. You don’t get quite the same thing from Googling a word for its definition.

IMG_0259While looking for the proper spelling or meaning of one word, you’re more likely to stumble across something interesting that you may not have known. A lot of people don’t realize that language is always evolving. Words fall in and out of fashion and spellings change over time as common use dictates. I feel confident that someday, the proper spelling of the word “definitely” will devolve into “definately.” Just as the word “clew” became “clue,” a fact I did not know until I found it in a very old dictionary that my mother used in her 1940’s era elementary school days.

My aunt loved elegantly bound tomes and filled her home with them…after she spray painted them gold.

When she asked me what I’d most like her to leave me in her will, I wanted her dictionaries. She had several, they were all very thick, and quite comprehensive. While reading through one such book looking for a synonym of “handkerchief,” I stumbled across the word I now use to test dictionaries. I do not consider a dictionary complete unless it contains this word.

Seriously? What kind of geek has a word specifically to test dictionaries for completeness?

Ummm…a Writer…a Word Merchant.

IMG_0250Words are my stock in trade. My dictionaries are my warehouses. My thesaurus is my chop shop. The Chicago Manual of Style is my bible. These are the tools I use to do my job. It’s important vital that I have the best tools I can find at my disposal. The dictionaries I’ve found that have my word in it generally cost upwards from $100. If I’m looking for a word that I know is used in the English language, in the context I’m pretty sure it needs to be used, and I can’t find it in a dictionary, and that dictionary doesn’t have my test word in it, my default position is that I am right about the word’s meaning and/or usage because the dictionary in question is incomplete.

Back in my newspaper days, I once argued with an editor over the use of the word “scurvy” as an adjective. Her argument was that it was a noun, which it is. Mine was in favor of its use as a descriptor. Her fallacious argument was based on the stand that it wasn’t listed as such in her $5.99 grocery store paperback rack dictionary as an adjective. Mine was based on the fact that I’d cross-referenced it through five dictionaries, published between 1830 and 1990, none less than three inches thick, and each containing my test word. Needless to say, I got to keep scurvy as an adjective, and I got promoted to copy editor.

IMG_0262What’s my test word? Sudarium. What does it mean? Sweat rag. I suppose the argument could be made that it’s a Latin word that dates back to the days of the Roman baths when people used to go to sudatoria (saunas) and use a sudarium to wipe away perspiration. You know that workout towel you take to the gym to wipe down the equipment and your face when you’re finished? Technically, it’s a sudarium, not a towel. This word is so obscure that it’s freaking out the spell check on Word right now. Every time I write sudarium I get the little squiggly red line under it, warning me that I’ve entered a word that doesn’t exist. Wanna bet? My dictionary right here says it’s not only a word, but I’ve spelled it correctly. :P

IMG_0257My love for dictionaries runs in the family. Another aunt painstakingly compiled the dictionary you see in the picture. In the 1950’s, the grocery store gave away a comprehensive dictionary, one section at a time. Then a teenager, Ellen (my dad’s little sister) diligently gathered the binder and each section. At six inches thick, it is the most comprehensive dictionary of my collection and my favorite.

Other favorites include the three-inch-thick American Heritage dictionary my great-aunt-of-the-gold-spray-paint gave me for my high school graduation, the three-inch-thick dictionary I first found my test word in, and three or four gold-painted dictionaries printed before 1940. I have several more, including pocket dictionaries, drugstore paperback rack dictionaries and a few unexceptional tomes that well-intentioned friends and family gifted me with over the years.

That’s kind of like giving Eric Clapton a plastic ukulele from the Walmart toy department. Sweet and funny, but pretty much useless.

My husband also has a few, but after he produced them and I laughed scornfully, he took them to work and I haven’t seen them since.

I did mention my dictionary snobbery, didn’t I?

So when you’re reading my books and wondering how I came up with words like Sovran, janizary, Catarrh, tussah and wondering if they’re real words or simply made up, grab a dictionary containing the word sudarium and give them a look. You might find yourself privy to an inside joke or two.

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