Welcome to 2016!

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I thank you, and I wish you a heartfelt Happy New Year.

20141208_155420One of the biggest challenges of being a writer comes in balancing all of my other responsibilities along with those to my readers and to my characters. Unfortunately, in 2015 everyone had to take a back seat to my family’s myriad health crises. The year started with my husband scheduled for shoulder surgery. My eldest son was already banged up with four broken bones from three separate incidents, all within the month of December!! In March, when the last of his slings, casts, and splints came off and we turned our eyes to baseball season, my son followed up a bout of the flu with acute appendicitis that resulted in emergency surgery just a few scant hours after I took him to the hospital.

Once my son was released from the hospital, my doctor recommended a long weekend at the beach to prevent exhaustion. On the way there, I developed severe back pain that landed me in the Emergency Room. That same weekend in March, my eighty-two year-old father revealed he had esophageal cancer and would require surgery and chemotherapy. My daughter also called that weekend from her home in Mississippi to let me know she needed surgery the following week.

Several weeks, countless tests, and three specialists later, my back problems were diagnosed as the result of a spinal cord issue. After much discussion of both surgical and non-surgical options, I opted for physical therapy because I’ve had enough of surgery, thanks. I’m just stubborn enough to make physical therapy work for me.

10833692_10152898735596489_1030819852_nIn May, I did manage to put out a limited release, free short story, THE OSTRA CHILD.

Amid all of this, I was working with my kids’ schools to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for my two autistic children, and keeping up with baseball, gymnastics, viola, playdates, doctor’s appointments, and my own twice-weekly physical therapy.

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My youngest in her flower girl dress.

But not all of the stressors were negative. My two youngest children were baptized, which is a very big deal to me, and each of my three adult daughters became engaged and married in 2015. We spent a lot of time on the road, despite my back issues making it difficult to sit, lie down, or stand for very long. I sewed flower girl dresses and Mother-of-the Bride dresses, and helped with decorating and making candy for the reception.

At the end of September, just as I’d finally managed to get back on my feet, off the pain meds, and out of the recliner, I tripped in the dark and fell over a tree stump at the last of the three weddings. I added the new injuries of a damaged nerve in my elbow, and knee and hip problems. So, it was back into the recliner with pain meds for me for two more months. Somewhere in there, I still managed to sew a Little Red Riding Hood cape for my youngest, and taught her how to make hair bows.

Despite my best efforts, not a lot of writing was accomplished. I am happy to say that my second bout of physical therapy has taken me from recliner to treadmill. I am now not only able to sit at the computer once more and write for hours on end, I am also training for a 5k in April that my fitness coach daughter has promised to run with me. My husband’s shoulder is as strong as ever. My son is healthy and getting ready for baseball. My father’s cancer is in remission and he, just a few moments ago, drove his motor home out of my yard, headed back to his home in Florida.

BLS Mockup4cWith my family and me finally healthy, and the Holidays behind me, I have the working file of BARRON’S LAST STAND open in another window on my computer. Bo and Blade are poised to spring into action and wrap up the final installment of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES. My most wonderful editor, Laurel Kriegler had me send her the manuscript thus far and has been offering her brilliant insight and encouragement. (I think she wanted to make sure I was actually writing it and not just telling people I had.) She and I are coordinating our schedules and working out a timeframe that all depends on my being able to put in actual writing time at the computer. With that in mind, I hope you’ll understand if my blog is a bit neglected and my presence on social media is scarce.

Bo has a lot to accomplish and she and I are both determined to see this through. I can’t tell you much about the book except to say that BARRON’S LAST STAND has more point of view characters, and several characters show up from the BWC extended universe of stories. As for the main characters, after five years apart, Bo and Blade are not the same people they were at the conclusion of HERO’S END. As for the Facebook rumors that have begun circulating about Blade’s death at the end of the book…I can neither confirm nor deny those allegations. You’ll just have to wait and see.

Saturday Snippet: Jail Time Part 8

Back again? Yes, it’s Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. I’ve been serializing my latest short story about Blade Devon’s misspent youth. More specifically, the rather sketchy period of his past between the time he left the Inner Circle and started his holofeature career.

This is not the arrogant, larger-than-life interstellar man of mystery we know from SOVRAN’S PAWN or HERO’S END. This Blade is scrawny, young punk who can’t seem to stay sober, or out of trouble. It’s up to his big brother Chase to pick up the pieces.

***

Sighing, Chase rolled his eyes and pushed away from the counter. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get you home so you can finish sobering up.”

“I’m not that drunk,” Blade muttered, falling into step behind him.

“Right.”

In silence, the two men left the detention center through the main doors. Blade glanced back at the gloomy gray building looming behind them. How long before they went through this again? How long since the last time? Maybe he should just cut his losses and disappear. His brother surely didn’t need the aggravation. Chase had worked hard to build a nice life for himself. The last thing he needed was a criminal in the family. Having a brother like Blade around could only drag him down.

It was one thing to ruin his own life. Blade wasn’t comfortable ruining his brother’s, too.

***

So that’s my meager offering for today. I hope you enjoy and comment. I shall reply as soon as I finish dancing the night away at my exotically beautiful daughter’s wedding to her own handsome soldier.

Saturday Snippet: Jail Time Part 7

I see you’re back for another round of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’ve been serializing my latest short story about Blade Devon’s early days and doling it out a few sentences at a time. In the interest of moving along, I’ve skipped ahead a few sentences to Blade’s release from jail as he’s remanded into his brother’s custody.

Last week, Blade’s personal effects were returned minus a few contraband items, like a couple of pocket knives…and a few other minor things. This week our intrepid hero is faced with the truth of his condition as he sees himself through his brother’s eyes.

***

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just leave you here until your hearing.” Chase Fossey demanded.

Blade glanced over his shoulder at his brother.

His anxieties faded like shadows in the daylight. Despite his open disapproval, Chase was the only person he trusted to always have his back.

When the guard finally stepped away with the manacles, Blade’s shoulders sagged in relief.

Baby steps.

He slowly turned to his brother. Chase, a broad, blond, giant of a man glared impatiently at him. Though they were roughly the same height, and normally of similar build, Blade felt dwarfed beside him.

The stark disparity between them drove home just how screwed up his life had become. He’d lost a lot of weight after the injury that had sent him home on extended medical leave. Sleepless nights and self-loathing had left him hollow-eyed, pale, and apathetic.

Blade was still trying to decide whether his life was worth the effort of recuperation. Chase of all people didn’t need to know how close to the edge he was dancing. His brother was his touchstone and the only thing that kept him sane and grounded.

***

I shall be posting next week because I don’t want to leave you hanging, but I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to fully participate in the conversation. My daughter is getting married next Saturday — the last of three daughters who all decided to get married this year. I may be a bit delayed. Please check out the other wonderful authors participating and don’t forget to show them some love!

Saturday Snippet: Jail Time Part 6

It’s  Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of ten to fifteen sentences designed to reel you and leave you screaming for more!

Last week, Blade ran the gauntlet of temptation from holding cell to release, thankfully without killing anyone. Blade is home  on medical leave (or AWOL) and suffering from PTSD.

***

“Prisoner release,” the guard said. “Name of Dev Fossey.”

The uniformed clerk on the other side of the transparisteel opened a strongbox and began removing items, placing them into a drawer and identifying them aloud as he went.

“One Unitek chrono…one wallet…four hundred eighty-seven Commonwealth credits, hard currency… one com-set… one pair of sunshades… three finance cards, one belonging to Dev Fossey, one belonging to Chase Fossey, one belonging to Blade Devon.” The clerk peered up at him, his red-rimmed eyes filled with mistrust. “We’ve run them all through the system and none were reported stolen.”

Blade craned his neck to see into the box. “I had a couple of pocket knives, too.”

The clerk consulted his list. “A Mergent Arms TJ-65 blaster pistol, leather shoulder holster, twelve throwing knives, ten throwing discs, fuseform knucks, bolo, and a government issue RK-129 have been confiscated and taken into evidence.” He pressed the controls sending the drawer out to Blade. “Please verify the contents of the drawer for records.”

Blade glanced down at his things, sighing over the missing contraband. “Yeah. That’s my stuff.”

***

That’s where the natural break was. I hope you enjoyed this teeny peek. Come back next week to find out what happens once Blade begins the process of re-entering civilization. While you’re waiting, I’m still busy with BARRON’S LAST STAND. If you’re interested in reading more about Blade, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or you can follow the links to the right over there.

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.

Also, in a personal note, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an affliction that hits close to home. With three family members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan I have seen first hand that it is something very real, and very much an unending nightmare for the men and women returning from war. There is a reason combat vets have that 1,000 yard stare.

If you know someone who suffers from PTSD, I urge you to support them and encourage them however you can. They will not be the same person they were before they went into hell on earth. They won’t want to talk about the evils they’ve seen and done. Sometimes having someone be there without judgment is all they ask.

There are many support groups for veterans and their families. Personally I support the Wounded Warrior Project. For more information on the Combat Stress Recovery Program, follow the link to their web site.

Other helpful links:
www.ptsdsupport.net/

www.ptsd.va.gov/

www.operationnotforgotten.com/PTSD

www.militarywithptsd.org/

Saturday Snippet: Jail Time Part 5

It’s  Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of ten to fifteen sentences designed to reel you and leave you screaming for more!

When we left Blade last week, he was being taken from his cell to be processed for release. But Blade is home  on medical leave (or AWOL) and suffering from PTSD. To calm the violent rage boiling inside him and prevent himself from giving in to his training, he’s been mentally running down all the actions he would take if he needed to break free. He was doing well until he noticed the guard in the security cage had an NS-10 energy rifle.

***

The power cell from his guard’s com-set would provide enough of a charge to open the cage. Control the barrel. Rifle butt to the face. Take the weapon.

The secured door ahead of them buzzed open.

The man in the cage nodded to them as they passed.

The guard dragged him to a halt in front of a secured counter at the far end of the hall.

Blade dabbed his brow with his shirt sleeve. His heart pounded in his chest.

He hadn’t broken free from his restraints, nor had he killed anyone.

That was a good sign.

***

That’s where the natural break was. I hope you enjoyed this teeny peek. Come back next week to find out what happens once Blade begins the process of re-entering civilization. While you’re waiting, I’m still busy with BARRON’S LAST STAND. If you’re interested in reading more about Blade, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or you can follow the links to the right over there.

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.

Also, in a personal note, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an affliction that hits close to home. With three family members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan I have seen first hand that it is something very real, and very much an unending nightmare for the men and women returning from war. There is a reason combat vets have that 1,000 yard stare.

If you know someone who suffers from PTSD, I urge you to support them and encourage them however you can. They will not be the same person they were before they went into hell on earth. They won’t want to talk about the evils they’ve seen and done. Sometimes having someone be there without judgment is all they ask.

There are many support groups for veterans and their families. Personally I support the Wounded Warrior Project. For more information on the Combat Stress Recovery Program, follow the link to their web site.

Other helpful links:
www.ptsdsupport.net/

www.ptsd.va.gov/

www.operationnotforgotten.com/PTSD

www.militarywithptsd.org/

Saturday Snippet: Jail Time Part 4

It’s  Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. Snippets of ten to fifteen sentences designed to reel you and leave you screaming for more!

We’re back with a young Blade Devon, a 23 year-old special forces combat veteran home on medical leave (or has he gone AWOL?) When they arrested him, he had three forms of ID on him, each in a different name. He’s been booked under the name Dev Fossey and he already made believers out of the other miscreants sharing the holding cell with him.  Unlike the other miscreants in holding, Blade has a straight-arrow brother who’s posted his bond. Now all Blade has to do is not kill anyone before he’s remanded into his brother’s custody. That may be the most difficult task ahead of him.

***

With one insistent tug, the guard dragged him out of his thoughts. His boots felt like someone had activated gravity plates as he stumbled the first few steps, trying to match the other man’s pace down the hallway.

It would be so easy to overpower the man beside him and free himself.

Elbow to the face. Cut off air supply with the binder chain. One quick twist of the head to snap the neck. Sharp blow just so on the hinge…

Fine beads of perspiration broke out on his forehead.

Blade lifted his gaze to the surveillance network tucked into the ceiling.

Disable the power supply by shoving the broken edge of the binder into the servomotor and set up a chain reaction of power failures along the line.

They passed a transparisteel observation cage with another guard inside. An NS‐10 energy rifle leaned against the wall behind him.

Blade clenched his jaw so tightly a muscle twitched in protest.

***

There’s more, but this was all I could swing for this snippet. Come back next week for more! In the mean-time, I’m going to spend my days feverishly working on BARRON’S LAST STAND. If you’re interested in reading more about Blade, you can pick up your ebook copies of SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END for Nook and Kindle at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or you can follow the links to the right over there.

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.