Nocturnal Lives

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

Tag: Pre-order

Nocturnal Rebellion is available for pre-order

Whew, finally!

Nocturnal Rebellion is now available for pre-order.

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

Of Mondays and time changes and pre-orders and more

I want to go on the record here and now that I hate the time change. I understand, sort of, why the government instituted it back oh so many years ago. But now? Sorry. I don’t like it. Let’s choose a time and stick with it. I know that I’m going to be dragging the rest of the week as I adjust to the new time and I feel for all the parents out there who have to drag their kids out of bed, kicking and screaming because they’re still tired. I remember those days and do NOT miss them.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I hope you guys had a great weekend. I’m moving slowly today, not only because of the time change but because I spent the weekend doing prep work and then painting part of the interior of the house. It was supposed to be a small job. When we replaced the HVAC last month, they moved the thermostat. That, in turn, left a hole in the wall. Said hole had to be patched which required the paint being touched up but. . . .So, the hallway had to be painted.

And, in the way of all things in my household, that lead to much more than the hallway needing to be painted. Well, needing isn’t exactly the right word. You see, Mom is of the mindset that you stop painting when you come to a closed door — a closed door into a room that is painted another color. Except there are only two rooms in the house painted in another color.

You get the idea. Over the next week to 10 days, I’m going to have a lot of painting in my life.

But that’s okay because it gives me time to plot and plan the next couple of books. Nocturnal Challenge is well on its way. I know the next book after that should be Victory from Ashes but I’m not sure that’s how it will work out. I could force it but I’d rather write the book when it is ready to be written. I know that doesn’t make sense but I learned a long time ago that I write better when I’m not trying to force a book to come. I think that’s why, on occasion, I get waylaid by books I hadn’t planned on writing. Those books wind up being a lot of fun and they give me a fresh mental slate for the books that really need to be written.

Something else the next week or so will include is reading. Not reading to do research but reading for pleasure. I look forward to the week after I finish a book because that I when I give myself permission to not worry about putting in a certain amount of time at the keyboard every day.

Reading’s important for a writer. At least I believe it is. We need to know what is going on in the genre(s) we write in. We need to know what is selling — and I don’t mean what makes the NYT best seller list but what Amazon and the other retailers report is selling. We need to look at other writers’ styles and compare it to our own. It helps us learn and when a writer quits learning her craft, she might as well turn off her computer and walk away.

Which is why I get more than a bit perturbed when I hear other writers say they don’t read. Some are proud of it. They talk about how they don’t want to spoil their voice by reading other people because their voice is so unique and special. It might be but if you don’t read, you don’t know what is out there and you sure as hell don’t know what readers are responding to.

Then there are those writers who say they don’t have time to read. This I can buy more than the other but it still is a crock. If you have time to watch TV or sit in the morning reading blogs, you have time to read. You don’t have to read a book all at one sitting. But read. You have to. As I noted above, you need to know what is going on in your genre, you need to know what readers are being exposed to and what they are buying. Besides, reading exercises your mind and that is something we all need.

Okay, climbing off my soapbox with apologies. Mom has GMT on this morning and Danielle Steele just said she didn’t have time to read anything but her own books and that set me off. So I’m backing away from the TV to finish up this post before getting to work.

Finally, don’t forget that Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is available for pre-order. Publication date is — gulp — in two days. I’m so proud of this book and where it takes the story begun in Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). I also had a blast writing it. I think that’s why I’m biting my nails. I’m hoping you enjoy it as much as I did. Anyway, here’s the blurb.

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Countdown – 6 Days

The edits are done. Input from beta readers and editor have been reviewed and incorporated.  Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) has been converted into ePUB and one last read-through has begun. Later today, I will upload the final version in preparation of release on the 15th.

It is different reading the book on a tablet in e-book format than looking at it on the screen as a Word doc. My brain thinks more about it as a “book” instead of work. Yes, it does let me see little things that might have slipped past me — as well as the others — on the Word doc but it does something else. It lets me think about it as reader and not so much as a writer.

All I can say is, damn. Do I put my characters through a lot in this book.

I’ve had a blast writing the book. I already know what happens in the next book, at least the general outline of it. If it plays out the way I think it will, the next book will be just as much fun to write — and to read, I hope — as this one has been.

Now, I’m off to find another cup of coffee and finish checking the ePUB version. Once the few proofreading changes are applied, I’ll upload the final file to Amazon. Then I’ll take a day or two before getting back to Nocturnal Rebellion.

Don’t forget, the picture and the link above will take you to the pre-order page. Have you bought your copy yet? (Hey, don’t hat the writer for doing promo. I have kitty kibble to buy. BratCat has this thing about eating several times a day and he’s looking hungrily at my ankles right now.)

It’s almost here

After a number of fits and starts and a couple of delays, Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is almost here. I am looking at the print outs this morning, making one last check for problems before uploading the final publication file. As you can see by the link, it is available for pre-order and the release date, set in stone, is the 15th.

This has been a fun book to write, even if there have been times when it’s made me tear at my hair. Of course, every book is like that at some point. But Cait and company have become some of my favorites (just don’t tell the others. They get jealous). I already have a basic outline for the third book and will probably get to writing the draft of it toward the end of the year.

Dagger is longer than the first book in the series. That is one reason why it took longer to write. When I made my plot notes — I don’t do a traditional outline but I also don’t tend to pants a book — I thought it would come in around the same length as Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). Foolish me. This book comes in somewhere in the neighborhood of 150k words. There is a lot that happens and, of course, it all is leading to the events of book 3, tentatively titled Arrow of Aimsir.

And, yes, there will be a print version of the book. Once I approve the digital version, I’ll check the print formatting and get it set up. Hopefully, it will be available by Apirl 1st.

In the meantime, I see sleep in my future — after this book is live. Then it will be on to Nocturnal Rebellion, Victory from Ashes, and all the rest that’s on the schedule.

Oh yeah, go pre-order Dagger. Please!

A pre-order and something new

Like Punxsutawny Phil, the writer slowly sticks her head out of her burrow and looks around. Unlike the thrice-damned ground hog who foretold of more winter to come before hiding back inside his hole, I welcome the sun. The last two months have been interesting, in the not-so-fun sort of way. But I have seen the light at the end of a tunnel — note, I don’t say “the tunnel” because I learned long ago that life consists of a lot of tunnels and then clear areas. And that means I have pulled the lever and have a new title up for pre-order on Amazon.

Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is available for pre-order — finally. I’m very proud of this book and, in my opinion, it is even better than the first book of the series,Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1).

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Not only is Dagger available for pre-order but I got hit with the opening of Nocturnal Rebellion yesterday as well. When I say “hit”, I mean in the sledgehammer sort of way. My muse has once again proved she is not only evil but that she revels in it. This is very rough it was one of those moments where I had to drop everything to get the general idea down.

***

The bullpen fell silent as the chief of detectives moved to the front of the room. The look on his face mirrored how they each felt. Disbelief, sorrow and anger but mostly anger. Every cop, not to mention every cop’s family, faced this possibility each time they stepped out the door. But that didn’t make it any easier, especially not when it hit this close to home.

“This squad has faced a number of challenges the last two years.” He paused and reached up to rub his eyes with thumb and forefinger. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “Each time, you have risen to the challenge and done what was necessary to carry out your duties as detectives for DPD. I know I’m asking a lot now, but I need you to do so once again.

“The next few days are going to be difficult for the entire force, but especially for you. You lost one of your own the other day. Tomorrow, we will lay your fellow detective to rest. I expect each of you to be there in dress uniform. Show the city that we bleed blue. Then show them that DPD does its job, no matter what. Find the bastards responsible for the ambush and bring them in to face justice.

“It would be easy to seek vengeance. I understand that feeling because I share it. No one, no matter who they are, is allowed to kill one of our own. But we will not lower ourselves or the rest of the force down to those bastards level. Find them and bring them in. We will let the courts deal with them and we will be in the viewing chamber on the day they are brought in for their execution.” He glanced around as detectives, uniformed officers and clerical workers nodded grimly. “Do your lieutenant proud and find those bastards before they manage to kill anyone else.”

As one, everyone present turned to look at the darkened office with its closed door and silence once more fell over the squad room.

Have Some Free Promo

(This post originally appeared at According to Hoyt. I’m reblogging it here not only because I know and highly recommend most of the authors listed but also because it has a link to — wait for it — Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). Yes, it is finally live for pre-order on Amazon.)

Once more unto the breach comes the promo post! Reports of my demise may have been slightly embellished. On the contrary, the Oyster Clan has recently grown by one more minion. Granted I may look somewhat dead now, but I assure you I still have a pulse. But! Back to the matter at hand: BOOKS! In my hiatus I’ve received several new submissions. We have a new series launched, a series finished, a couple others continuing; life is good in indie Hun fiction land. Go grab a book and a nice cuppa, and enjoy the lovely winter weather from the comfort of your couch. If you’ve already read everything on offer, give a shout in the comments for some recommendations. As always, future promo post entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Karen Myers

ON A CROOKED TRACK

The Chained Adept Book 4

SETTING A TRAP TO CATCH THE MAKERS OF CHAINED WIZARDS.

A clue has sent Penrys back to Ellech, the country where she first appeared four short years ago with her mind wiped, her body stripped, and her neck chained. It’s time to enlist the help of the Collegium of Wizards which sheltered her then.

Things don’t work out that way, and she finds herself retracing a dead scholar’s crooked track and setting herself up as a target to confirm her growing suspicions. But what happens to bait when the prey shows its teeth?

In this conclusion to the series, tracking old crimes brings new dangers, and a chance for redemption.

THE CHAINED ADEPT

The Chained Adept Book 1

A STRONG WIZARD WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AND A CHAIN AROUND HER NECK.

Penrys’s past is unknown, but she’s got a better grip on her future: find out where she came from, discover what happened to her, and figure out how the unremovable chain around her neck makes her different from other wizards.

What any of this has to do with the renewal of an ugly war between neighboring countries, half a world away, is just something she’ll have to sort out, along with the rumors of wizards where they don’t belong.

Assuming, of course, that no one removes her as a threat before she can find her footing.

All she wants is a firm foundation for the rest of her life, with a side helping of retribution, and if she has to fix things along the way, well, so be it.

Laura Montgomery

SLEEPING DUTY

Waking Late Book 1

Gilead Tan and Andrea Fielding survived their stint in the military, got married, signed up to emigrate to a terraformed colony world, and went into cold sleep for the journey from Earth. While they slept, the starship went through the wrong fold in space and settled for a different world, a wild world. Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure. Worse, the king who wants Gilead awake won’t let Gilead awaken his wife.

Amie Gibbons

PSYCHIC UNDERCOVER (WITH THE UNDEAD)

A Paranormal Mystery

Vampires aren’t the only things that go bump in the night…

Singers are a dime a dozen in Nashville, so despite her mama’s urging, psychic Ariana Ryder’s working her way towards a career in law enforcement at the FBI, one tray of fetched coffee at a time, instead. She’s got an extremely handsome boss, a dancing partner among the lab techs, and a solid year as the team rookie under her belt…

Right until the director gives her a big break, working undercover as a singer at a club to investigate why it’s being targeted by a serial killer. This might have worked better if the club didn’t happen to be a vampire nest.

Now, with the vampire’s investigator, Quil, on her case, the jurisdictional battle isn’t the only thing heating up as they race to solve the case before the killer strikes again!

Cyn Bagley

DRAGON BOY

Hilda’s Inn Book 2

So who or what is Davi Dracson?

If you’re down on your luck, come to Hilda’s Inn for a game of dice and cheap ale. The hundred-year-stew has been stewing for a hundred years and the fire never burns out.

Except Hilda’s Inn is under new management, and Hilda is on the run with Davi, a dragonling. There will be dwarfs, ogres, dragons, and magical trinkets between Delhaven and Koenigstadt, the king’s city.

Don’t forget that the woods are not a safe place—the Draugr is lurking and hungry. And, he has a taste for magic.

Henry Vogel

THE UNDERCOVER CAPTAIN

Captain Nancy Martin Book 2

Unwillingly drawn out of her annual drunken stupor, Captain Nancy Martin, Retired, finds herself involuntarily reactivated. Her assignment is to help Special Agent Erica Hampton solve the disappearance of an entire school’s student body. Hampton’s superiors suspect a slaver ring has kidnapped the children, to sell them on a rim world beyond the Terran Federation’s borders.

When Nancy and Erica discover the truth behind the abductions, they realize their deadline is quite literal, and much closer than they thought. When the gloves come off, the missing children couldn’t have anyone better fighting for their lives.

It will take every bit of skill Nancy and Erica have to track down the villains behind the disappearances. Defeating them will be a different matter entirely.

Amanda Green

DAGGER OF ELANNA (SWORD OF THE GODS BOOK 2)

511essqtojl

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Nocturnal Challenge – Evolution of a Series

Back when I wrote Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1), I didn’t do it as the beginning of a series. In fact, that was the last thing I meant to do. It wasn’t a genre I usually wrote in. I was bucking the trend in how it was written. I figured it would be a one-off and I would move on. More than that, I had never considered doing a series. What I didn’t know was that book would spawn a main character I love to write and who still had stories to tell.

Now, five years later, Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is available for pre-order. As the link shows, this is the fourth book — and the fifth title — in the series. It is a direct continuation of the previous book, Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives Book 3). For the first time, the series picks up immediately after the previous book ended. There has been no elapsed time and Mac is struggling to not only come to terms with what happened in the previous book but to find the best way to deal with the fallout without revealing the existence of shapeshifters to the world-at-large.

What I’ve discovered as I’ve written each book is the series is that the world the books take part in is changing along with Mac and her friends. In Origins, Mac’s Dallas was pretty much the same Dallas I know. The only difference was that there happened to be a few folks around who could shift into animals. Some of these people, ones like Mac, were what they called pures. Shapeshifters from a long bloodline who could control their shifts and who did not lose their humanity while in their animal forms. Others, the weres, more often resembled the werewolves from old Hollywood films. They turn more feral when in animal forms and that characteristic often followed them into their human lives as well. The weres felt they were at the top of the food chain and chafed at the restrictions put on them by the pures. While not exactly a good vs. evil sort of thing, that was how Mac could justify stepping outside of the law to deal with the weres, the lycans, that had been using Dallas as a hunting ground.

In no way was she comfortable stepping outside the bounds of the the law she had sworn to uphold. But she knew she was caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. If she followed the letter of the law and arrested the lycan responsible for the murders, she ran the very real chance he would shift while in custody and then the secret would be out. If she had a problem accepting the fact there were people who could turn furry, how would the public-at-large react? The answer was easy — not well. So she did what she needed to do, she upheld shifter law if not human law. But it wasn’t something that set well with her.

Since that first book, the shifter world has started fleshing itself out. Past history has bred new conflicts, conflicts that threaten not only a civil war among shifters but war with the normals as well. Mac and company are now faced with a most difficult decision. Do they stand by, letting events continue on the road they are on or do they stand up and take action? Neither decision is without pitfalls.

Something else that is starting to become more clear in the series is the relationship between the human part of Mac and the others and the animal parts. From the beginning, I’ve known that the animal aspects were always present in the back of the minds of their human counterparts. In Challenge, that relationship is explored more than it has been before. Part of this is because Mac will need a better understanding of her animal aspect, not having grown up knowing what she could become. Part of it is because that is what the book demanded (yes, yes, I know. I’m the author. I should tell the book what it is going to be not the other way around.)

So what is the future of the series? There is at least one more book left. That next book (or possibly the one after it) will end the current story arc. However, I have a feeling that won’t be the end of my relationship with Mackenzie Santos. She is one of those characters that doesn’t take sitting in silence for long well. Right now, I have a short story, or possibly a novella, featuring her brewing in the back of my mind. This one will also feature her shifted animal, a jaguar, a creature almost as mouthy as Mac can be.

So here’s the plan. Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4) is available for pre-order. Publication date is December 15th. If you follow the link and pre-order it now, you won’t be charged for it until the release date. Here’s the blurb (and it will be tweaked before final release):

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

An update, a reminder and a link or two

NaNoWriMo is underway and, as usual, I’m late getting started. Between life, dealing with car and home repairs and finishing up the edits on Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2), there hasn’t been much time to write. Yes, I have snuck in a few minutes here and there, but not nearly enough. So, now it is time to buckle down and get with the program because another one of the little complications that have hit this month is a good one. A good one with a deadline fast approaching. I’ve been asked to submit a romantic suspense/Christmas novella. A novella due in less than a month. So….

That started me thinking that I really needed to sit down and plan what I need to get done between now and mid-January, if not sooner. Let’s just say that as I pulled it all together, I began to doubt my sanity even more than I usually do. To give you an idea, here’s the general gist of what I have to do:

  • Make one last pass through Duty from Ashes by the 10th. Upload the final digital file and set it to go live November 21st. Set up the interior pdf file as well as the wraparound cover pdf file for the print release of the book.
  • Make a new editorial pass through Wedding Bell Blues, update the file — including the digital edition cover — and upload the new edition.
  • Write, edit, create cover and prepare for digital release the short novel Monday Morning Blues (like Wedding Bell Blues, it is written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson and is a mix of romance, suspense and humor). Due date for this is December 1.
  • Write, edit, create cover and prepare for digital and print release Nocturnal Challenge, book 4 of the Nocturnal Lives series. Due date for this is February 2015.
  • As if that’s not enough to drive me completely insane, I have to write Honor from Ashes, book 3 of Honor and Duty, for an early summer release.
  • Oh, and then there is Skeletons in the Closet, another one of those stories that just won’t let you go. I’m not sure what is going to happen with it, other than it will probably drive me crazy before I get it written.
  • I also need to do a “boxed set” of the Hunter’s Home series — Hunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1), Hunter’s Duty (Hunter’s Moon Book 2) and Hunter’s Home (Hunter’s Moon Book 3) — in preparation of a new UF/PNR related series. I hope to have the first book of that new series out next summer.

And folks wonder why I have no life.

Anyway, to give you an idea of the story that I thought had died but has now come back to demand my undivided attention, here is the opening to Skeletons in the Closet:

In the beginning . . . .

All my life, my mama’s tried to raise me to be a proper lady.  No, that’s not quite right.  She’s tried to raise me to be a proper SOUTHERN lady, full of refinement and grace, dressed in lace and delicate pastels.  To hear her talk, it’s been a futile effort that’s caused her more than her fair share of gray hair.  And, where the lace and pastels are concerned, she’s right.  Still, she’s managed to get me to say, “yes, ma’am,” and “no, sir”.  For the most part, I’m respectful of my elders, even when they don’t deserve it.  I even wear clean underwear whenever I leave the house – usually without any extraneous holes in it – because Mama is convinced some rampaging bus will find me and strike me down, necessitating a trip to the emergency room.

I swear, I think it’s her life’s dream that it will actually happen.  You see, in her world, a trip to the ER has only one ending.  The handsome, rich and oh-so-conveniently single doctor who saves my life will fall madly in love with me.  What she seems to forget is that in a bus vs. me battle, the bus will always win.  So, unless the doctor is also a re-animator, he’d be falling for a corpse and, well, ewwwwww!

Besides, having somehow managed to survive a close encounter of the nearly fatal kind, the last thing I’d be interested in is finding a man to settle down and raise a passel of kids with.  Not that it would deter Mama one little bit.  Hell, she’d probably arrive at the ER with her minister firmly in tow, a marriage license burning a hole in her hand bag, all ready to fill in the blanks and make me a married woman.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my mama rarely lets reality interfere with her plans.

Don’t get me wrong.  I can deal with Mama’s plans and manipulations.  I’ve spent a lifetime figuring out how.  All I have to do is make sure I look both ways before crossing the street.  Of course, the odds of a bus hitting me here in Misty Creek are about as good as the odds of Hell freezing over.  So I figure I’m safe – at least for the time being.

Knock on wood.

Because sure as my name’s Lexie Smithson, the minute I get married and move out, Mama will be packing her bags to join me.  It won’t matter if I want her to or not.  All she’d care about is finally being able to get away from Papa and the rest of the family.  It wouldn’t even matter that I’m the least favorite of her kids.  Like I said, reality rarely interferes with my mama’s plans.

Of course, I am an ungrateful and unobliging child.  I’ve no more found a bus to hit me than I’ve been able to keep the family skeletons in the closet.  The former I have no control over and the latter, well, I swear I don’t mean to let them out.  At least not usually.  It’s just that they make so much noise, what with all their moaning and the rattling of their bones.  Sometimes I just can’t help it.

It doesn’t help that it always seems to happen at the worst possible time.  Like when Mama’s women’s group was meeting in our parlor last Sunday after church.  Mama had just served the iced tea and lemon pound cake.  She’d even managed to make the house smell more like a garden than a funeral parlor.  Everything had been as close to perfect as was ever possible in our place.

Then Aunt Minnie decided she just had to join in on the fun.

Now I ask you, was it my fault she wanted to be a part of the meeting?  She’d been a member of that women’s group since the very first meeting more than twenty years ago.  Everyone there knew her.  Just as Mama knew she was there – how could you forget?  Besides, all Aunt Minnie had wanted was to find out what the no-account scoundrel of an ex-husband of her had been doing with the new church secretary.  Really.

I swear, those women sure did over-react when Aunt Minnie rattled in and sat on the settee next to Miss Pearl.  You’d have thought Miss Pearl had seen a ghost the way she shrieked and then fainted dead away.  Okay, maybe Aunt Minnie smelled a bit.  But we’d buried her in her best Sunday-go-to-meeting dress and it was just as pretty that afternoon as it had been at her funeral six months ago.  Mr. Perez, the local undertaker, had even been by just the day before to give Aunt Minnie one of her treatments.  So she looked pretty much like she had before she passed.  Sure, her skin sagged a bit more than it used to and she had a slightly yellow tinge, but that was all.  Really.

Besides, old Missus McIntyre was wearing enough lilac scent to cover the smell.

I’m here to tell you, those ladies scattered like dandelion parachutes in a strong wind.  It took me more than an hour to calm poor Aunt Minnie and coax her back into her closet.  I don’t know if she’ll ever come out again and that’s a darned shame.  She always was the best at gossiping and, honestly, there’s not much else to do in this backwater town on a cold Sunday afternoon – or just about any other time, come to think of it.

Now Mama, well, she was beside herself with frustration, indignation and mortification.  Even as she swept up the last of the lemon pound cake from the carpet where Mary Beth Tully dropped it on her mad dash for freedom, she blamed me.  Mama swears I do things like this solely to embarrass her.  I’m the ungrateful child, you see, not perfect like my sister Patty and certainly not important like my brother Brett, also known as Bubba – which he just happens to be.

No, I’m too much like my granny, the bane of my mama’s existence even now, ten years after she drew her last breath.  Mind you, Granny might have passed but, like Aunt Minnie, she didn’t pass on.

Maybe I ought to explain.  My family’s never been what you might call “normal”.  We’ve had more than our fair share of oddballs and loners and crazy cat ladies.  Most families in Misty Creek do.  But things took a decidedly sharp turn to the left of weird the day Perfect Patty came home complaining about how Old Lady Serena had given her the evil eye.

Nothing’s been the same since.

 *   *   *

As for the link, I’m blogging over at Mad Genius Club today. Check it out.

Duty from Ashes Pre-Order

There are many things I like about what Amazon has done for indie authors. One of my most favorite additions to their KDP program is the ability to list our titles for pre-order. As of a few minutes ago, Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2)
is now available for pre-order. It will be available for download November 21st.

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

*   *   *

Smoke filled the air and the ground shook beneath her boots as another explosion sounded. It was close this time. Too close. Cursing, she ducked behind the makeshift barricade she and her team had erected outside the school and tried to catch her breath. As she did, the tell-tales from her battle armor warned that her heart was racing and her breathing was labored, not that she needed the onboard computer to confirm what she already knew. This was her worst nightmare come to life and, just like the last time, there had been no way to avoid it.

But she’d be damned if it ended the same way as before.

Not this time.

Carefully, she inched forward until she could see around the edge of the barricade. As she did, dirt and rock kicked up just inches from where she knelt as yet another round of enemy fire filled the air. Even as her team returned fire, she scanned the area, flipping through the various screens of her HUD. Then her lips pulled back into an almost feral smile.

There!

Finally, she’d located the last of the areas where the enemy had dug in. Now it was time to show them just how foolish they’d been to think they could get the drop on her and her team.

“Boomer, two o’clock. The culvert near the edge of the first building.” Once again, she cycled through the various filters on her HUD, taking careful note of what each told her. “Scans show six bogies. Looks like one SAM and three unknown heavy weapons. We’ll give you cover fire so your team can move into position. Hold your fire until I give the order. We need to take those guns out before they decide to turn their attention to the school.”

“Roger that, Angel.”

“Hound, second target’s yours. Same building. Four stories up. Third window from the corner. I spotted at least one sniper.” She paused and scanned the area, looking for any indication the enemy had hostages with them. As much as she’d like to just level the building and be done with it, she couldn’t. Not if there were civilians inside and, knowing the Cabal, there would be. One of the first lessons they’d learned in the last war was that the enemy never hesitated to hide behind innocents. “I’m not picking up any other life signs in the immediate area but that doesn’t mean much. They could have hostages elsewhere in the building so remember your target zone.” She waited for his response, knowing he was calculating the best way to carry out her orders.

“Got it, Angel. I’ll be ready on your order.”

Her heart beat a little slower. So far, so good. Her team still had a chance to get out of this alive and, with a little luck, they’d manage to save those civilians sheltering in the school and elsewhere.

Knowing their next move could mean victory or defeat, she called up the last data they’d received on the enemy’s movements. As she studied it, her mind did the one thing she’d been fighting to avoid since the battle began. It went back to that terrible day more than two years ago. She’d been in this exact location, fighting this same battle. Only then she’d been given compromised intelligence. As a result, she and her squad, a different one from this time, had walked straight into a trap. So many had died. She and the six who had managed to make it back to the shuttle for extraction had been lucky to get out of there alive. At least that’s what she’d told herself. Of course, that had been before they were arrested, brought up on bogus charges, court martialed and sent to the Tarsus military prison.

Damn it! She couldn’t think about that. She couldn’t let the past distract her from what was happening right now. Not if she wanted her team to survive.

“We’re almost in position, Angel,” a voice reported over her comm a few moments later. Master Gunnery Sergeant Kevin “Loco” Talbot. Another asset, an invaluable one, and one she hadn’t had on that previous mission.

“Roger that, Loco. Let me know when you are.”

She paused, waiting to hear from the final team she’d sent out. As the seconds drew out into minutes that seemed like hours, her concern grew. She’d been forced to split her forces before with disastrous results. Was history repeating itself?

She licked her lips and fought the urge to message the last team. It was difficult, but she didn’t. Instead, she reminded herself that they needed to move slowly and carefully to avoid detection. At least she hadn’t heard anything from the direction they’d taken that might indicate they’d been discovered. Surely that had to be a good sign.

Stop it!

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Her emotions and doubts were running too high. She had to get them under control. This was her command, her mission. If she couldn’t hold it together, they would fail. But she couldn’t think about that. She couldn’t let herself be distracted by the dead, hers and the civilian lives that had been lost in that previous battle. This wasn’t the time to let distractions in.

Finally, just as she was about to give up and demand an update, her comm came to life.

“We’re in position, Angel. We have four bogies ready and we’re ready to paint them,” Captain Lucinda Ortega reported.

“Hold position, Sorceress. I say again, hold position until we confirm air support.”

“Roger that, Angel.”

“Eagle, are you ready to paint your target?”

“Eagle is ready, Angel,” the squad’s sniper replied.

“Alpha Team, prepare to lay down cover fire. Boomer, the moment we do, you and your team haul ass and take out those heavy guns and that SAM.”

“Roger that, Angel. Beta Team is ready.”

She nodded, not that the demolitions expert could see her, and drew a deep, steadying breath. A quick check of her battle rifle and she was ready. It was now or never. With a glance at the four Marines crouching behind the barricade with her, she snugged the butt of the rifle against her shoulder.

“Now!”

She leaned around the corner of the barricade and opened fire. Instantly, the sounds of weapons – battle rifles, railguns and more – filled the air. Three of the four teams laid down heavy fire to cover the fourth team as it moved into position. On her HUD, three small green lights moved quickly toward the target zone. So far, so good.

“Almost there,” Boomer’s voice said in her ear.

“Keep it up, Devil Dogs. Don’t give those bastards time to breathe, much less regroup.”

“Fire in the hole!”

Boomer’s shout was the only warning they’d get. Instantly, she set her visor to block the flash from the explosion even as she kept firing. At least this time when the ground shook, it would be working for them instead of against them.

“Keep firing!” she ordered. “Eagle, Sorceress, stand ready. I repeat, stand ready. Paint the targets on my signal. Once the air strike begins, we move in.”

Without waiting for the teams to respond, she activated her ‘link once again. “Angel to Kali, we are a go for the airstrike. I repeat, we are a go for the airstrike.”

She waited, scanning the battlefield in front of her for any movement. Smoke and dust from the explosion filled the air. From the distance, she could hear the enemy. Some called for help. Some, those caught in the blast and not lucky enough to be granted a quick death, cried out for their mothers. A small part of her felt sorry for them. But another part, the soldier in her, knew it was either them or her and she much preferred living.

As she knelt there, ready to swing her rifle toward anyone who came her way, she imagined each member of her team wanting to look skyward, but keeping their eyes on the enemy locations, as they waited for the air support to come.

Air support that hadn’t come that first time. Would it now?

“Angel, this is Kali. We are on approach. Paint the target. I say again, paint the target.”

The voice coming over the battle-net was like an answer to her prayers. She relayed the message to the rest of her squad. As she did, she inched further around the edge of the barricade. Once in position, she raised one gloved fist, knowing the others were watching for her signal. Then she waited, knowing any number of things could still go horribly wrong and praying that they didn’t.

Moments later, t sounds of the fighter wing racing in their direction filled the air. The target, six heavy ground transports that had been moving closer and closer to the Devil Dogs exploded into a wall of flames as the fighters dropped their payloads. Instinct and training had the Marines diving for cover, any cover, as shrapnel from the transports flew through the air. Screams from the enemy soldiers unlucky enough to be caught in the open followed. Then, before the screams died out, she gave the order to move in.

“Take out those snipers!” she yelled as she sprinted across the clearing in the direction of the school.

Damn it, this time she would save those huddling inside.

Hound, moving at a speed no human could without the assistance of powered battle armor, leapt from where he’d been taking cover. The moment he landed, he turned and leveled the grenade launcher that was currently his armor’s primary weapon at the target. The building she’d identified for him a few minutes earlier was soon missing part of its far side. Smoke billowed from the area where the sniper had been holed up. Someone would need a new office or apartment when this was all over. But, hopefully, they’d survived the fight and would be able to return home soon. Even as the thought came, she knew the truth could be far different. War was never clean, no matter what the politicians wanted. There was always the possibility of collateral damage, especially when the enemy had no compunctions about hiding behind a shield of innocents.

Ahead and to her left, a head popped up from the culvert. A split second later, it exploded. She smiled slightly as Eagle gave a war cry that almost split her skull. She’d remind him later about how that sort of thing sounded through the battle-net. Not that she blamed him. They’d spent too much time hunkered down behind makeshift barricades and hiding in the shadows. It felt good to finally be on the move again. Now it was time to make the enemy pay for all they’d done.

“Angel, to your right!”

Loco’s warning came at almost the same moment that her armor’s sensors warned her of someone – or something – suddenly appearing and moving in her direction. She turned, bringing her combat rifle to bear. Her finger slipped behind the trigger guard and she felt her combat implants coming to life as she focused on the figure running hell bent for leather in her direction.

“Hold your fire!”

Without waiting for confirmation, she broke into a sprint, racing toward the small figure. The child couldn’t be more than five or six. Where he had been hiding during the fighting she didn’t know and, just then, she didn’t care. Not when her armor’s onboard computer was telling her that several of the enemy were bearing down on them.

She had to get to t child before he was hurt – or worse.

Without conscious thought, she switched out her battle rifle for her sidearm. Using the targeting system of her HUD, she laid down fire in the direction of the nearest enemy soldier. A scream of pain followed. Good. One down but who knew how many more to come.

Three more steps and she scooped the child up in her arms. He cried out as an enemy trooper appeared to the right and opened fire. Reacting on instinct, Angel shifted the child so he was shielded by her armor before returning fire. Then she pivoted, running in the direction of Loco and the rest of his team. They were laying down cover fire, forcing the enemy troopers to duck back down into the trench. At the same time, Sorceress was calling in air support. But that was all in the background as Angel focused on the child in her arms and the need to get him to safety.

“Down!”

Loco’s shout was all the warning she needed. She dropped, sliding feet first toward the barricade. At the same time, Loco stepped forward, Tank and Hound on either side of him, and all hell seemed to break loose. As they opened fire with everything they had, so did the rest of the squad. If that wasn’t enough, three Sabres, the newest and most deadly fighters the Fuerconese Navy currently had in operation, screamed overhead and opened fire on the culvert.

The ground shook again and another explosion – no, a series of explosions – deafened her. Then there was silence, the kind of silence that really wasn’t. Angel’s pulse pounded and her breathing was ragged. The crackling of fire mixed with the heavy smoke that filled the air. She heard someone, one of her people, offering up a quick prayer of thanks. Someone else uttered a curse. For once, she agreed with both sentiments. Then she heard the boy whimper. Much as she wanted to reassure him, she couldn’t. Not yet. She had to make sure the area was secure first.

Still cradling the child in her arms, Angel twisted around so she could look in the direction of the culvert. Nothing moved except for the smoke rising from it. Without warning, the silence was broken by a single shot to her left. Instantly, half a dozen battle rifles responded. Then nothing.

Barely daring to hope that it was over, Angel went to active scans. For several long moments, she studied the readouts on her HUD. The locations they had tagged as being held by the enemy were either showing red, indicating they were too hot for anyone – even armored – to survive or there were the tell tales of the dead and dying. Could it finally be over?

“Sound off!” she ordered as she carefully climbed to her feet.

As she did, the medic assigned to her squad hurried forward to take the child from her. Except the child had other ideas. He wrapped his arms and legs more firmly around her and burrowed in. with a jerk of her head, she motioned the medic off. She could spare the child a moment as she caught her breath and her people reported in.

One by one, each member of her team sounded off. A few sounded the worse for wear but she’d lost no one that day. Thank God. The nightmare hadn’t replayed in all its horror. It had come close, though, and she wanted to know why.

Relieved, she looked down into the child’s face and the world came to a crashing halt. No! He couldn’t be there. Damn it, he couldn’t be there. As bad as that time had been, that would have made it worse, so much worse.

“End sim!” she ordered, ripping off her combat helmet. “I said to end the damned sim!”

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén