Saturday Snippet: Bo and the Pirates

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

Hi! I’m back! It’s nice to be back for Saturday Snippets after all the busy writing on BARRON’S LAST STAND. I’m also working on a few short stories of Bo’s solo adventures that take place between HERO’S END and BARRON’S LAST STAND. Today I give you a first look at a brand new adventure. It’s so new, I don’t have a title for it. But here, for your enjoyment are the first fifteen sentences from this new story. Please keep in mind, it is still a work in progress and hasn’t been edited yet.

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BLS MockupB2“It’s an easy enough proposition, Barron. Just pick up cargo and my representatives and deliver them on schedule. What could be so objectionable about that?”

Bo Barron slowly swirled the amber liquid in her glass as she studied the crime boss across from her.

Objections? She had several.

From the moment he’d settled his rotund form into the chair across from her, she hadn’t liked anything about him. The nasal tenor of his voice held more whine than power.  His gaze slithered over her and he licked his pudgy lips. His brown eyes glittered with lust and he tried a smile that she supposed was intended to be harmless, but came out as a full-blown leer. Though he couldn’t be much older than her own twenty-four standard years, the unruly crop of curly hair on his head had already mounted a retreat. Perspiration glistened through open patches on his scalp. Excited color lit his cheeks and his nostrils flared.

Swallowing her revulsion, Bo’s lips curled in an inviting smile.

“Keep talking, I’ll let you know when I hear something I don’t like.”

***

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 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.

Meet My Main Character Blog Hop

I was tagged by T.A. Munroe at meanderings to talk about my main character. In the past I’ve spoken about Blade…a lot! But since I’m at work on BARRON’S LAST STAND, it goes to reason that Bo really hasn’t gotten a fair shake in all this talking.

1. What is the name of your main character? Is she fictional or an historical person?
My main character is Bo Barron. She is completely fictional in as much as I can tell without having contact with the rest of the universe.

2. When and where is the story set?
The setting is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, more or less. I write primarily space opera, so THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series is set in a distant galaxy known as the United Galactic Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a more or less representative body divided into the Seven Allied Sectors, each ruled by a hereditary Sovran, with the Outland Fringe remaining autonomous. Each sector has a body known as the General Council with systems sending a representative known as Councillors. The Councillors are selected depending on the governmental structures of the planets or systems themselves. The seven Sovrans come together in a Sovran Council to regulate free trade and territorial disputes across the Commonwealth. The result is something with a blend of sleek, highly advanced cultures in the Inner Commonwealth of the first three sectors, cultures with more a mix of technology and agriculture in the Outer Commonwealth, and pockets of wild-west style lawlessness outside of the main shipping lanes where piracy, slavery, and all sorts of nasty things thrive.

3. What should we know about her?
Bo is a Councillor. She is a noble. She is The Barron, the leader of her people and Commanding General of the precision combat unit known as The Black Wing. She has been wrongly convicted of treason and sentenced to execution, but her people arranged for her escape into exile in the first book of the series SOVRAN’S PAWN. Of course, in the first book, Bo has just come of legal age. By the time BARRON’S LAST STAND rolls around, seven years have elapsed. Bo is no longer an idealist or an ingenue. She has lost everything and everyone who meant anything to her. This has left her bitter, angry, jaded, and dangerous.

4. What is the main conflict?
The main conflict in the series is Bo’s quest to find her father and clear her name so she can return home with honor. Unfortunately for her, her Sovran wants to take over the Commonwealth and he wants to use The Black Wing to do it. The way her people’s alliance with the Second Sector is worded, The Barron is in direct command of The Black Wing and must be petitioned for their deployment. The other obstacle in her Sovran’s path is Blade Devon, an elite commando and covert operative of the First Sector who answers only to the First Sector Sovran…and he is perhaps something else as well.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?
Bo’s goal is simple. She just wants to go home with honor and reclaim her rightful place as leader of her people. She has no interest in the interstellar politics. She just wants to be left alone to do the job she was born to. But when it all comes crashing down around her, she is forced onto the political stage as a renegade, and driven into exile in the seedy underworld. At that point, Bo’s goal is to find her kidnapped father and to survive. All the while, she is falling in love with the mysterious Blade Devon, who is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” and she can’t tell from one minute to the next whose interests he is really serving.

6. What is the significance of the title of your book?
SOVRAN’S PAWN is basically what Bo and Blade are. They are pawns in the game between two Sovrans maneuvering for control over the Commonwealth. HERO’S END is significant for more than one reason which becomes apparent when you read it, but basically, it is the end of Blade’s career as a two-dimensional holofeature hero, and the end of Bo’s blind trust in him as her hero. BARRON’S LAST STAND is for the turning point in the book and the culmination of the series when Bo stops running and hiding and makes her defiant last stand against the forces that have ruined her life and taken or threatened everything she loves. This is foreshadowed in Chapter 21 of SOVRAN’S PAWN by the mention of the epic poem “Requiem For The Broken Wing.”

When dark clouds gather,
when the wind howls
through the Bluestone Valley
and whispers through the trees
atop the Gallis Highlands,
when the light of hope
is fading,
on the rising thunder will come
the Black Wing,
screaming through the darkness
like the avenging hand
of the Maker.

There, will
The Barron make his last stand.

Bo’s internal monologue goes on to state:

“If she had any lingering doubts about the plot to assassinate her, the poem dispelled them. With her doubts went her fear. If she hoped to get herself and Chase out of this alive, she needed to keep her head. Her ancestors, immortalized in the epic poem known as Requiem For The Broken Wing, had faced a no-win situation and fought fiercely to the last man. Like them, she intended to give a good accounting of herself before drawing her last breath.”

7. When can we expect the book to be published?
SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END  are already available. Just follow the links to the right. BARRON’S LAST STAND will be available sometime in 2015. That’s all I can say right now. I am also working on some Bo Barron short stories to tide my readers over in the mean time.

Next up is TM Hunter. Be sure to check him out. Also, click back, too, to see what characters came before. Thanks for reading!

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.

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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

Who Is The Real Blade Devon?

From the first moment he stepped out onto a sheet of wide-ruled, three-hole notebook paper on November 4, 1984, Blade Devon commanded center stage. Until that moment, Bo Barron had a love triangle going with two other men: Lee Trager, a tall, dark, and handsome casino owner (and a bit of a pretty boy,) and Alec Barclay, a sandy-haired, hot-shot pilot with an inability to commit. When Blade Devon swaggered across the page, Bo (and I) sat up and took notice.

Blade Devon AvatarWhere Lee was cultured and refined, and Alec was clean-cut military to the core, Blade was scruffy, rumpled, unshaven, his blond hair a little too shaggy and his manners less than gentlemanly. Bo and I quickly learned that his appearance and demeanor weren’t because of a lack of upbringing or not knowing better, rather were borne of fierce independence and a desire to face life on his own terms. In other words, he really couldn’t care less. He was a Bad Boy.

Only intended as a peripheral character, Blade had been introduced as a joke. (With a name like “Blade” who could take him seriously? His “real” name at the time was Wilbur Homer Wartwhistle, but no one would surrender to the dangerous mercenary Wilbur Homer Wartwhistle, so he adopted the name Blade, in homage to his predilection for bladed weaponry.)

The joke was on me.

Bo spent less and less time with her two love interests and more in the company of the hard-drinking, two-fisted mercenary. All the more intriguing, Bo and I learned that the man had secrets upon secrets. Like peeling an onion, we’d pull back one layer after another, only to discover that there was so very much more to this character than either of us anticipated. Before we realized, Bo and I were smitten and the other men were relegated to the dusty old files for dredging up later. Bo had found her soul mate.

(Lee Trager returns as Blade’s antagonist in ARCANA DOUBLE CROSS. Time on the back burner and losing Bo have twisted him and turned him into a bit of a sadistic villain. Alec has mutated and split, finding his way into the characters of Royce, Jaden, and Edge.)

The question keeps coming up, “Who is Blade based on?”

That’s a tough question to answer. Blade’s earliest inspiration can be found in Errol Flynn’s autobiography MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS which had been re-released the year before Blade’s birth…and yes, I read it. I was smitten with Flynn from an early age. The swashbuckler with the lopsided smile, the easy charm, and wisecrack for every dangerous situation – how could I not fall for him? And then, with the other book, the one claiming Flynn had been a Nazi spy…well, who doesn’t love a good swashbuckling actor-adventurer-spy?

But Flynn bears no resemblance to Blade physically…or does he?

“Her gaze traced the curve of his brow, his high, prominent cheekbones, the line of his jaw – not quite as square as his brother’s, but longer – to the barest hint of a cleft in his chin. He laughed at something the interviewer said, showing a pair of matched dimples that sent Bo’s innards into a barrel roll.” – HERO’S END

“Who is Blade based on?”

Let’s revisit 1984, shall we?

Dystopic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi was all the rage. At the top of the heap was the quintessential anti-hero, struggling to get along in a world gone mad, carrying the loss of his wife and child, battered and bruised, wild-eyed and dangerous, with cold blue eyes that had seen too much and a beautiful face buried under dust, sweat, and blood. That could only be MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR, Mel Gibson in his earliest, glorious breakout role. Yes, there is an element of Mel Gibson as Mad Max buried deep in the heart of Blade Devon. In fact, Blade owes his blue eyes to Gibson.

Also in 1984 were the Los Angeles Olympic games. The US Men’s gymnastics team was the first US squad to win the Olympic team gold medal. Bart Conner, Tim Daggett, Mitch Gaylord, Jim Hartung, Scott Johnson, and Peter Vidmar were celebrated heroes that summer. Conner, at 26 (Blade’s age in SOVRAN’S PAWN) was the old man of the team and had come back from surgery to repair his torn bicep, to win two gold medals, one with his team, the second with a perfect 10 on the parallel bars. A bit of each of them found their way into characters, ideas and stories.

1984 also saw the television mini-series THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII based loosely on the 1834 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Canadian actor, Duncan Regehr portrayed the gladiator-slave Lydon. Regehr would go on to play Errol Flynn in the television adaptation of his autobiography. Can you see where I’m going here? Tall, beefy, square-jawed, ripped Regehr provided a good model for the body type of Blade Devon. (Regehr also provided inspiration for another character in a stand-alone novel that is as yet, unfinished.)

It was about this time that BLADE RUNNER hit cable. I can’t talk about the conception of Blade Devon without giving a nod to Rutger Hauer, who also solidified his tall, broad, blond, influence with the 1985 release LADYHAWKE. I like to think Blade’s ruthless edge comes from a combination of Hauer’s portrayals of Etienne Navarre and Roy Batty.

England’s Prince Charles admitted in an interview around then that he’d had aspirations of being an actor. His brother, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, served in the Falklands War and is considered a bit of a daredevil. Sound familiar?

Each of these men, in some way contributed to the original vision of Blade Devon.

“Yes, but WHO is Blade based on?”

Since 1984, Blade has absorbed bits and pieces of other men, other characters and other roles, including the likes of Val Kilmer in WILLOW, Sean Bean in SHARPE’S RIFLES and Nathan Fillion as – well, you know.

“Who did you originally cast as Blade?”

Maybe there is one man I envisioned playing the role of Blade Devon in the imaginary movie I’ve made in my head. Then again, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps he is nothing more than an amalgam of traits and features that fell into place at the right time to create someone completely new. Perhaps that’s why he captures people’s imaginations.

The beautiful thing about creating a character like Blade is letting my readers offer their idea of who is playing the character. I have been surprised and pleased by the suggestions offered up. My favorite came from Amy Kolan, who confided that she saw Blade as Chris Hemsworth.

Who?

I’d never heard of the Aussie actor at that point. Of course, I’d seen him as James Kirk’s father in STAR TREK, and I’d seen the trailers for THOR and THE AVENGERS, and even passed through the room while my kids watched THOR, but I hadn’t paid him any attention. I didn’t get a chance to see THOR for myself until a couple of weeks ago. Out of curiosity, I recorded it. When my husband and I had a quiet minute, we sat down to watch. Partway through, I told my husband that Hemsworth had been suggested as a potential Blade.

“I’m not sure I see it,” I said. “I’m not sure he’s pretty enough.”

Gobsmacked, my husband sputtered. “Not pretty enough? This guy IS Blade!”

I have to admit that the roles he’s played are roles that Blade would have played. He does have a maturity, solidity and swaggering-self-confidence-on-demand that screams Blade Devon. Given my husband’s reaction, (and Hemsworth’s performance in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN,) I am perfectly comfortable endorsing Hemsworth as a suitable Blade Devon.

“But who is your original inspiration for Blade Devon? Whose face do you see in your mind’s eye when you write him?”

012714_1950_9.jpgThat, my friends, is something I’ll never tell. Only one other person on the planet can say with any certainty whether anyone in particular wears the face I consider Blade Devon’s, and that person has sworn to take the secret to the grave. Other than this list of hunks, heroes and Hemsworth, that’s all you’re going to get.

I promise you, your imagination will serve you far better than sure knowledge of the truth.

***

Who did you cast in the role of Blade Devon when you read SOVRAN’S PAWN or HERO’S END?

The End Is Nigh… Hero’s End, That Is

ImageFirst, I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to ask about the upcoming sequel to SOVRAN’S PAWN. It’s taken a bit longer to crank out than expected because the plot is a bit more complex than the first book in THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES. I’ve been weaving in plot threads that will be explored in the companion series THE MERCENARY ADVENTURES OF BLADE DEVON and in the final book of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series, BARRON’S LAST STAND.

The old saying goes that the devil is in the details, and I’m inclined to believe it. The details have been giving me fits as I’ve been cross-referencing jewelry, clothing color, conversations, and making sure that a tiny little fact, off-handedly tossed out in Chapter One and referenced in Chapter Fifteen, coincides with the major plot point it sets up in BARRON’S LAST STAND.

Just last night, I realized that I’d cut a scene that contained pertinent details referenced in later chapters, a short story and at least two other books later in the time line. 

As my husband says, “It’s enough to make a mad dog chew his chain.”

In the end, I hope my readers think it’s worth it.

Very soon I’ll hand off HERO’S END to my editor, Laurel Kriegler, for her final polish. When final edits are done on her end, I have the formatting to tend to and the proof copies to preview. My proofreader, Jessica Kramer, will go over the proof copy with bulldog tenacity and she’ll call me with a dozen corrections or more. Then and only then will HERO’S END go to print.

Some of you have asked about pre-ordering a copy. As soon as I have the copy (and page count) complete, I’ll have a better idea of paperback pricing. I’ll post a pre-order link here at that time. 

Not to worry, I’ll scream it from the rooftops so everyone hears about it.

Thank you again for all your support and encouragement. I look forward to bringing you more adventures from my favorite Interstellar Man of Mystery and the Scourge of the Seventh Sector.