Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

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Hump Day!

Before we get started, I want to thank everyone who bought Battle Wounds on its launch day yesterday. I have a favor to ask of all of you. Once you’ve had a chance to read it, please leave a review on Amazon. Those reviews help more than you realize, not only by giving authors feedback but by letting others know what others readers thought about the story.

I have a guest blog up at According to Hoyt this morning.  Go take a look when you have a chance and leave a comment.

Yesterday was a non-writing day for me. I had some things to do around the house and I needed a day to switch mental gears from the Honor and Duty universe back to the Dallas of Nocturnal Lives. Starting today, I’m back into that world and should have Nocturnal Rebellion finished in a couple of weeks, max. Projected publication date is June 2oth. That date is not set in stone yet. I’ll have a more concrete date next week.

Next up will be Victory from Ashes (working title and more than likely changing before publication). Then the next Eerie Side of the Tracks novel. In between will be a couple more short stories/novellas. Yes, it’s a busy schedule but workable, knock on wood.

Anyway, it’s time for me to go find another cup of coffee. In the meantime, if you missed the announcement yesterday about Battle Wounds, here it is.

Battle Wounds is the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned. It will probably come out around the time the next book in the series does because, well, that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse has decided and I learned long ago that it is easier to give in to her than to try to fight.

Here’s the blurb:

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has faced the realities of war. Death is her constant companion, an unwelcome one. After losing four of her company in an ambush that never should have happened, she is asked to accept a special mission. Command suspects a traitor has infiltrated their ranks and they want Ash and others to act as bait in an attempt to draw them out.

Worse, at least as far as Ash is concerned, FleetCom is focusing on only one possible explanation for the ambush. That narrow view could lead to even more deaths before those responsible for betraying Fuercon are identified. All Ashlyn can do is keep her eyes and ears open and pray the Marines onboard the Dresden are as dedicated to keeping Fuercon safe as are the Devil Dogs.

And God help the traitor should Ashlyn discover their identity. No one betrays home and Corps and gets away with it.

Release Day!

It’s here. It’s finally here. Battle Wounds is live on Amazon.

Battle Wounds is the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned. It will probably come out around the time the next book in the series does because, well, that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse has decided and I learned long ago that it is easier to give in to her than to try to fight.

Anyway, I’m excited to finally release Battle Wounds into the world. Here’s the blurb:

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has faced the realities of war. Death is her constant companion, an unwelcome one. After losing four of her company in an ambush that never should have happened, she is asked to accept a special mission. Command suspects a traitor has infiltrated their ranks and they want Ash and others to act as bait in an attempt to draw them out.

Worse, at least as far as Ash is concerned, FleetCom is focusing on only one possible explanation for the ambush. That narrow view could lead to even more deaths before those responsible for betraying Fuercon are identified. All Ashlyn can do is keep her eyes and ears open and pray the Marines onboard the Dresden are as dedicated to keeping Fuercon safe as are the Devil Dogs.

And God help the traitor should Ashlyn discover their identity. No one betrays home and Corps and gets away with it.

 

Monday Morning

There isn’t enough coffee. Nope, not enough. What is that bright object up in the sky? More importantly, why can’t I ignore the world like my cats and go back to bed?

The answer is simple, really. I need to finish the last read-through of Battle Wounds and then get it converted so it will be available for sale tomorrow. Yep, it’s done and I have heard back from the beta readers. All that’s left now, since I’ve done the final edit, is to make sure it’s ready to go. So that is the focus of this morning.

I have a post in mind for later today, but it may wind up being tomorrow’s, about freedom of speech. However, since that is such an important topic, I don’t want to just toss it out without giving myself time to really pull it together and make sure it says what I want it.

In the meantime, I’m going to make sure everything possible is done to have Battle Wounds out tomorrow morning. Now to find another mug of coffee and then get down to work.

Later!

Quick update

Just a quick post this morning. Real life called, demanding my full attention until later today. But the good news is Battle Wounds is off to the beta readers and, unless they find something really off with it, it will be released Tuesday as planned.

This short story has been a battle, not so much to write but to keep it from turning into more than it is. When I first planned the short, it was with much the same eye as the other shorts in the series. I wanted to give the readers a little insight into Ashlyn Shaw’s background, the events that helped shape her into the person she was when Vengeance from Ashes opened.

What I hadn’t expected was for the threads that have been laid in the three novels to find their start in this short story. That slowed me down because I didn’t want to give away what is going to happen in the novels (in case someone reading the short stories hasn’t read the novels yet). So that took a bit of finessing and, as I wait to hear back from my beta readers, I’m hoping I managed to do it.

Once I get the story back and make any edits necessary, it will be converted and uploaded to Amazon. Then it will be time to finish Nocturnal Rebellion. After that, Victory from Ashes (which will probably be renamed) and so much more. But, for now, I’m off to deal with real life stuff and will hopefully be back with a second post later today.

In case I’m not, have a great weekend and read a book!

Disappointed but not surprised

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I game to relax. I started out as a console gamer but have moved more and more to the laptop for my gaming needs. Like so many others, I’m a big fan of the Mass Effect trilogy. Also like so many fans, I’ve watched with a jaundiced eye as EA took over Origin and “little things” like customer support seemed to falter.

When Bioware and EA announced, finally, the latest installment in the Mass Effect universe, I was hopeful. The ending of ME3 left me a bit skeptical but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I even pre-ordered the game and played the first 10 hours under Origin Access, there were glitches but, overall, the game was satisfactory, especially since I assumed there would be updates before release.

Let’s face it, there is no excuse for the poor facial animations or the return to character animations that often looked like they had been done 10 years ago. Bioware did listen to the critiques and has tried to correct at least some of it. That continued with the latest patch yesterday. Of course, there is still that ghostly white shine in character’s mouths — although it does seem a bit less than before. But it is too little too late and, apparently, even Bioware admits it.

More on that in a minute.

While Andromeda suffers from some “WTF were they thinking” problems, not only with the facial animations but with dialog that often has you wanting to slam your fist through the screen — and let’s not discuss some of the bad delivery of those lines — the combat is fun and engaging. If you can zone out on the rest of it, there’s a game there worth playing.

Now, back to Bioware.

When it was announced that Bioware’s Montreal studio would be developing Andromeda, a number of us wondered if the powers-that-be had lost their minds. The Montreal studio had not developed a game on its own (at least not that I can remember). Sure, it had worked to develop DLC for ME3 but that’s a far cry from developing a full game, especially one of the studio’s cornerstone games.

Then there were the concerns voiced after Dragon Age: Inquisitions came out. Again, a decent game but not really up to what we’d come to expect from Bioware. There have been other missteps as well, enough to wonder what is going on in the company.

Now, on the heels of the release of the latest patch for Andromeda comes word that Bioware has put any further games in the Mass Effect franchise on hold. There’s no official cancellation but there are no plans to begin working on the next game in the series. Worse, at least for those of us who have purchased Andromeda, there is no sign that Bioware is working on story driven DLC for the game.

At least, if it happens, it is doubtful it will come from the Montreal studio as most of the gave devs there who had worked on Andromeda have been shuffled off to other projects.

And that, my friends, makes me wonder again wtf is going on. If you have a game that is so widely anticipated as Andromeda and then is released with as many problems, why in the hell are you rewarding the team responsible and by keeping them on and moving them to other key projects is rewarding them.

Does this spell the end of Mass Effect in any of its iterations? I don’t know. It sure doesn’t look good right now. Worse, Bioware and EA have breached their trust with their customers with this game. There is a level of expectation they have built with us through the previous Mass Effect games and that has not been met. Even with Inquisition, again not nearly as good as the previous games in that series, we got story driven DLC. The studio didn’t abandon the game or its fans — and that’s what it looks like they are doing now.

Considering the fact I’ve been trying to work with Origin tech support all week and finding them just about as helpful as the tree in my backyard, to say I’m leery of buying anything from them in the future is putting it mildly. And that’s a shame since EA and Bioware have been home for several of my favorite gamin franchises.

Here’s hoping Bioware pulls its head out of its ass before it screws up another franchise — in other words, Star Wars Battlefront II fans, beware. Some of those devs from Andromeda are being moved to your game.

Memories and Inspiration

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Garrison Keillor perform. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to the evening. Lake Woebegone was fun — in small doses. This was NOT Lake Woebegone. The was Keillor at his best. For a little more than two hours, he gave a performance that left me gasping for breath and laughing so hard not only was I crying but I swear I might have broken something. There were stories about growing up, dirty limericks and hymns. Yes, hymns. That he managed to get the audience to join in on. A very fun and worthwhile evening.

One that go me thinking and you know what a dangerous thing that can be.

As a writer, I do my best not to draw on my own family for inspiration. For one, no one would believe me. For another, my family doesn’t just carry a grudge, it nurses it, feeding it and letting it grow. So, nope. Not about to write anything one of them might think they have a role in. Nope and nope and nope again.

Yet, as I was talking to a friend this morning, I was reminded of something that happened when I was younger, something that has stuck with me and still brings tears to my eyes and a sense of wonder to my heart. It is something that will, before long, become the basis of a story or, as he suggested, a prompt for an anthology.

My dad was born and grew up in Ardmore, OK. He and my mom met on a blind date. Mom had moved to Ardmore from Tulsa to work at the hospital there. When I was maybe 14 or 15, the three of us took a day trip up to Ardmore to see my grandmother and other members of our family. We stopped on the way to my grandmother’s house to visit a wonderful lady (in the truest sense of the word) my mother knew from her days working at the hospital.

This lady worked in housekeeping at the hospital. She was one of those people who made anyone she spoke to smile and feel better. No matter how hard her life might have been, she made the best of it and never let on that there might have been problems.

She also baked the cake for my first birthday and she loved my mother.

Anyway, Mom wanted this wonderful woman to meet me as a teen. So we parked in front of this small house, really nothing more than a cottage. It was old, like so many homes in Ardmore, but well maintained and you could tell by looking at it that whoever lived there loved not only the house but the neighborhood.

Inside, the house was as carefully maintained as it was outside. It felt like a home, not just a place where people lived. You could almost feel the history in the house, not only of the good times but of the bad. What we didn’t know as we walked through the door was just how bad some of those times had been.

In a place of pride in the front room was a tabletop display case. This wonderful lady showed it to us. Her hand lovingly touched the glass. Inside was a pristine copy of a Look Magazine (or maybe Life) from the Viet Nam War. On the cover was a photo of a GI, obviously seriously wounded, another GI holding him, reassuring him. It was the first of a number of photos that chronicled the death of an American GI in Nam.

That GI was this dear lady’s son.

Her good son.

The son who wrote home every day. The son who had worked hard to graduate with good grades. The son who had promised his parents he would come home and do them proud, helping care for them and his other brother. The brother who was the bad seed. The brother who did drugs and too much booze and who never met a law he wanted to obey.

The son who, one day, quit writing.

For a month, this dear little lady tried to find out if anything had happened to her son. She contacted the Red Cross. She contacted the Army and she contacted the Defense Department. Nothing.

And then, one day after work, she stopped at her mailbox and pulled out her mail. Inside was the latest Look Magazine and she suddenly knew what happened to you son.

That would have broken a lot of us. Me, I’m pretty sure I would have broken and then I would have wanted answers — and blood. But not this little lady. She and the rest of her family mourned the loss of her son. But she also honored him. He died doing what he thought was right — serving his country. Watching her as she told us what happened, hearing the pain and pride in her voice, I learned what grace was that day. This woman who, I would learn later, had suffered so much more than the loss of her son over the years, never let life get the best of her. She continued to give of herself. She put her trust in God and she honored those she loved and lost through service.

How many of us can say we’ve done the same?

This one memory, a visit of less than 2 hours, made a permanent impression on me. It is something I have told my son, more than once. It is something I hold close now that he is in the military. She is long gone now but I know she continues being a guiding light to others, just as she is to me and mine. The memory of her shines on and, in that, she continues to live on, continues to serve and to love.

She was and is an example of what any of us can be. God bless her.

The derp is strong with this one

Yesterday, my friend Nicki linked to an online “letter of resignation” by Jacob Dorman. You see, Dorman was so very upset and worried and traumatize (my words) by the fact that KU was going to allow concealed carry on campus that he was ending his employment with them. That’s his right. His reasoning, however, had me rolling my eyes and laughing out loud. You see, he’s apparently convinced that allowing concealed carry on campus will cause more problems than it will solve and crime will escalate as a result.

Riiiiight.

First of all, he completely ignores the deterrent factor concealed carry has. Sure, there are instances where it hasn’t worked but there are also instances where it has. Just last week, it worked in Arlington, TX. Okay, not in a classroom but in a restaurant. A man walked in, started causing a commotion and, when the manager tried to get him to calm down, he murdered the manager. A customer, who was carrying concealed, pulled his gun and shot the perp. It was later learned the perp had come armed with two guns and two knives. How many lives did that customer save and all because he was carrying concealed?

There’s another argument Dorman and those like him fail to take into account. When you have signs posted all over saying a school — or church or anywhere else — is a gun-free zone, you are simply telling those who are inclined to cause harm that they can do so in that location without fear of someone having the means to stop them. Take away that safety — safety for them and not for those going to school there — and you have a deterrent in place because the perp won’t know who might pull a gun and defend herself and others present.

The other thing Dorman and others like him fail to consider is we have no way of knowing how often this is what’s happened. After all, most potential murderers don’t walk into the police station or call a reporter to say, “Gee, you know, I was going to go into John Doe Elementary School and shoot the place up but decided not to because the teachers can carry concealed.”

But, as you read the Dorman’s “resignation”, you see the real issue. He points out that, because Kansas is a small state, it has to recruit from out-of-state and all those wonderful liberal profs who don’t believe in guns won’t want to come to KU because — gasp — someone might actually have one. Gasp!

All I can say is that all my relatives who went to KU and were proud grads are shaking their heads — and in a few cases, rolling in their graves — and saying “good riddance”. The fact that Dorman has already secured employment at an out-of-state college shows he had to have been looking long before he submitted his outraged letter. Frankly, his histrionics reminds me of a few of the professors at the University of Texas last year when our state legislature voted to allow concealed carry on our college campuses. Yes, there are ways for the colleges to opt out — just as there are in Kansas (at least I assume there are in KS). But these poor darlings were so traumatized by the possibility someone might LEGALLY carry a weapon, they had to leave the university.

Hey, guys, here’s a little truth for you. Most of those who decide they want to shoot up a classroom don’t worry about if they have the legal right to carry their weapons. However, how many of them will think twice if they know someone else might also be carrying a weapon, someone willing to use it to keep them from hurting anyone?

See what Nicki had to say about this over at the Liberty Zone. She’s linked to some data that puts the lie to some of Dorman’s allegations. Check it out.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Coffeeeeeeee . . . .

Yep, it’s going to be one of those days. At least I have the short story figured out and ready to push through to final edits. I also figured out how to get from Point A to Point D on the next book in the series. Of course, that has to come after I finish Nocturnal Rebellion and send it off to my beta readers.

In the meantime, as I was reading the paper this morning, inspiration hit. There was a story about a 90+ year-old woman on her final cross-country driving trip. The story itself was engaging and reminded me of my cousin Clarice. — full of life and wanting to live it to the fullest until she drew her last breath.

But it was a picture of this feisty little lady that caught my eye and sent Myrtle the Must into overdrive. She was sitting at a table on what looked like an outdoor patio for a shop or cafe. Her head was thrown back and she was laughing. There was a twinkle in her eye with more than a hint of devilment in it. You knew she had just managed to zing someone and loved it.

Making the picture even better was the youngish man sitting across from her laughing with her. Despite the probably 60 or more years difference in their ages, they had connected and were probably getting into trouble together. It’s an image you don’t see every day and it made an impression.

And this woman, Miss Norma, suddenly sprang fully formed in my mind as part of the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe. Whether it will be part of the fantasy side or the “normal” side, I don’t know. All I know for sure, is Miss Norma will be the inspiration for a character in the series. Well, to be honest, the character will be a mix of Miss Norma and Cousin Clarice, and probably my grandmother who was born either 100 years too early or 100 years too late.

Now to go make some notes, enough to satisfy Myrtle so she doesn’t decide I need to write that story right NOW! Then it’s off to finish the short story and move on to the next project.

Until later. Have a great Monday!

Some weekend thoughts

Yay! It’s the weekend. That means time to do more remodeling and writing and editing and . . . wait, that sounds like what the week has been like. I thought weekends were for putting your feet up and relaxing. Hmmm. Maybe I’m doing this weekend thing wrong.

Or not. You see, I enjoy the remodeling stuff and the writing. The editing, not so much. At least not when I’m editing my own work. But that’s the life of a writer. You do what you have to do. The way I make it work is breaking the tedium of editing up with things I like to do — like painting and ripping out cabinets, etc.

Still, that doesn’t mean I won’t have some real fun this weekend. Hopefully, you guys are as well.

One of the things I do is play video games. Anyone who’s followed this blog for long knows I’m a fan of the Mass Effect series. Bioware pushed the genre forward wit the original trilogy. Yes, they screwed the pooch with the original ending of the ME3 and the extended ending didn’t do much to correct the problem. But it was still one of the best game series I’ve ever played.

So, when Bioware announce Mass Effect: Andromeda, I greeted the announcement with both pleasure and trepidation. I was pleased because I loved the original trilogy so much. I worried because of how they mucked up the ending. When you spend three games making choices and being told those choices will have an impact on the ending of the game only to find out they don’t, not really, well, you lose some trust in the game designers.

The initial reviews of the game did nothing to reassure me, even though I’d played the first 10 hours pre-release as part of the Origin Access program. Yes, the facial animations were wonky. Yes, some of the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. But there were strong points that countered those negatives. As long as you weren’t looking at the faces, or at least not focusing on them, the game looked gorgeous. The battle system is a lot of fun. I like being able to switch between profiles and change combat styles in the middle of battle. I don’t like being limited to only 3 powers but you get around that with your favorite profile builds.

But, having now played through the game and spending a few hours back with ME2 and ME3, I know what I’ve been missing with Andromeda. I miss the connection with the main character and the sense of urgency you have in the original trilogy. In it, you know you are fighting for the survival of not only Earth but the entire Sol System. The Reapers want you dead and yours dead. It is a fight for the survival of your species and that urgency isn’t ever forgotten.

Yes, Andromeda is a fight for survival as well but that sense of urgency isn’t there, not yet at any rate. It might show up in the next game. I hope so.

Ryder, whether you play as male or female, isn’t the kick-ass hero that Commander Shepherd was. That’s played up and, in a way, I like seeing Ryder grow from someone who was basically supposed to fill a support role to being the Pathfinder. But there are so many questions left unanswered, questions I hope the game devs answer in the upcoming DLC and sequel. If not, Bioware has well and truly screwed their fans.

All that said, Andromeda is a fun game, especially if you can set aside your experience with the original trilogy and just play the game for what it is.

Now, in case you would rather read this weekend than game, here are a couple of books that have come with recommendations from friends. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet but I trust those who recommended them.

The first is Division One: A Small Medium at Large, by Stephanie Osborn.

What if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right all along, and Harry Houdini really DID do his illusions, not through sleight of hand, but via noncorporeal means? More, what if he could do this because…he wasn’t human?

Ari Ho’d’ni, Glu’g’ik son of the Special Steward of the Royal House of Va’du’sha’ā, better known to modern humans as an alien Gray from the ninth planet of Zeta Reticuli A, fled his homeworld with the rest of his family during a time of impending global civil war. With them, they brought a unique device which, in its absence, ultimately caused the failure of the uprisings and the collapse of the imperial regime. Consequently Va’du’sha’ā has been at peace for more than a century. What is the F’al, and why has a rebel faction sent a special agent to Earth to retrieve it?

It falls to the premier team in the Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration, Division One — the Alpha One team, known to their friends as Agents Echo and Omega — to find out…or die trying.

Next up is Tanager’s Fledglings by Cedar Sanderson.

When the starship’s captain died midway through a run with a cargo of exotic animals, the owner gave first mate Jem one chance, and one choice. The chance: if he successfully runs the trade route solo, he’ll become the new captain. If he fails, he’ll lose the only home he’s ever known.

And the choice? He’s now raising an old earth animal called a basset hound. Between station officials, housebreaking, pirates, and drool, Jem’s got his hands full!

Finally, because what sort of author would I be without promoting one of my own titles, we have Witchfire Burning.

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

 

TGIF

The title says it all.

Not that I’m taking the weekend off. There’s remodeling of the bathroom to do and writing — lots of writing — and somewhere along the line, I’d like to sleep. But it’s Friday and that has to count for something. Right?

So, let’s get a little housekeeping out of the way before I forget it. Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor and Duty series, will be published a week from Tuesday. If I remember correctly, that will be the 16th. Since it’s a short story, I’m not putting it up for pre-order. But I will make an announcement when it is uploaded and then when it goes live. So keep checking here and on Facebook.

Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a link to a short snippet from Battle Wounds.

What else?

Oh, another book recommendation (and I will have more tomorrow). If you are a fan of space opera, you need to check out Sarah A. Hoyt’s latest entry into her Darkship series, Darkship Revenge. This is one of my favorites in the series.

After winning the civil war in Eden, Athena returns to her calling, collecting powerpods with her husband Kit. Now weeks away from Earth, she goes into labor. To make matters worse, a strange ship attacks Athena and Kit’s Cathouse and kidnaps Athena’s husband. That ship is called Je Reviens. It’s a named steeped in history—and not the good kind of history.

Hot on Kit’s trail, Athena discovers that you shouldn’t name a ship Je Reviens unless you intend it to return. The genetically modified Mules are back, and they have a plan to prevent themselves from being exiled ever again. And if the Mules win, the best thing humanity can hope for is slavery.

The worst is death.

While a bio-engineered plague wreaks havoc on the forces of liberty, Athena must risk herself, her husband, and her child for the survival of humanity.

The Mules may be about to find out what revenge truly is: one angry mother.

 

 

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