Nocturnal Lives

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

Category: publishing (Page 2 of 24)

Vengeance from Ashes (expanded edition) – Snippet 2

(This is the second excerpt from the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes, release date scheduled for October 17th. The below excerpt is from the beta readers’ version and the published version may contain minor changes.)

***

Major Rico Santiago stared at the image on his screen. He couldn’t believe it. There was no way she could be on-planet, much less be just three floors below his office. But, as the ancient adage went, a picture was worth a thousand words. In this case, it was worth a hell of a lot much more and it raised just as many questions.

He leaned back and shook his head. Even after watching the scene in the cell for approximately five minutes, his mind refused to accept what his eyes saw. The prisoner, dressed in the standard issue black jumpsuit that the JAG euphemistically called “persons of interest”, was moving through an increasingly more difficult set of push-ups. First had been five standard push-ups. Then five knuckle push-ups followed by five fingertip push-ups. He’d continued to watch, even after catching the line of her jaw and the tilt of her head. That had been enough to confirm her identity. Even so, he still wondered if it wasn’t all a dream. No other explanation made sense.

His fingers moved over the virtual keyboard as he typed in a series of commands. He paged through the readouts, moving them into order, his eyes quickly scanning the results. Then he leaned back and blew out a breath. There was no doubt about it. Not only was she on-planet but someone had managed to get her there and into the security complex without him getting wind of it.

And that most definitely was not good.

As one of FleetCom’s top intelligence officers, it was his job to know everything before it happened. The fact this had almost slipped by him spoke volumes about who had issued the orders to bring her back to New Kilrain. He had no doubt those orders had come from well above his pay grade. No one else had the pull to not only send a ship for the woman but to get her released to local confinement. Who and why he didn’t know – but he would.

Frowning, he drummed his fingers against the synth-wood of his desktop. Could it be there were others besides himself looking into the circumstances surrounding Ashlyn Shaw’s court-martial and conviction? If so, what was their motivation and why had they brought her back? More important in some ways, who were they and why had they acted on their own instead of through his office?

He hated not having the answers. Any intelligence officer would. Unanswered questions could easily mean death, if not for the “spook” then for others, usually innocents.

Damn it, what the hell was going on?

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Cover Reveal

Here it is. I’m so excited!

And, as noted yesterday, the release date for the expanded, special edition is October 17th.

Release Date Set

With the final touches being put on the new cover for the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes, the release date has been set. I’m excited about it and, in a lot of ways, terrified. I loved the book as it originally appeared but I think this new version is a stronger book. It will be released as an e-book and, very shortly after that (on that day if all goes according to plan), in paper. I’m hoping to have an audio version available shortly as well.

In case you missed it yesterday when I posted the revised first chapter of the book, the expanded edition adds approximately 20,000 words to the story. There are some new chapters as well as several new scenes.

So, when is the release date?

October 17th. Mark your calendars.

What’s going to happen is I will take the original version down from after October 10th. For those of you who have already bought it, it will still be in your library (or so Amazon has assured me. But you might want to make a backup copy. You should anyway on all your books.) On the 17th, the expanded version will go on sale. The description, as well as the new cover, will make it clear that this is a special expanded edition and that it includes new material.

Around that same time, the original version of the book will be released in the other stores. I’m not yet ready to give up on KU but I do want to see if I can get any play in the other stores. In the past, when I’ve released books across the board, I didn’t make enough sales from the other bookstore sites to make up for the lack of KU downloads. This is a new way of seeing if that still holds true.

I’ll be posting the updated cover once I get it. In the meantime, please mark your calendars for the 17th and spread the word.

Until later!

Look what I found!

I’m doing my happy dance right now. One of my favorite authors has a new book out. Insurgents, by Margaret Ball, is the first book in the Harmony series. Here’s the blurb:

Can one man make both love and war – at the same time?

Harmony, one of the first settlements from Earth’s Age of Expansion, has a totalitarian government which uses the bleak continent of Esilia as a dumping ground for political dissidents. Now they’re surprised that the dissidents want to secede.

Gabrel is totally devoted to his colony’s battle for freedom. Isovel, daughter of the enemy’s invading general, knows exactly why Harmony should continue to rule the exiles. When she is taken hostage by his guerrilla group, he has to draw a line between his personal inclinations and his duty to the insurgency, while Isovel has to remember her duty to escape. There can be no future for two people on opposing sides of this war – so Gabrel will just have to win the war. And the peace.

I know what I’m going to be doing this weekend — reading Insurgents!

Snippet: Vengeance from Ashes (expanded edition)

Good morning, everyone. I thought I’d give you a taste of the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes this morning. This is the first chapter. Those of you who have read the original version will see that nothing had changed, not in the grand scheme of things. However, there has been an expansion of the chapter to the tune of approximately 500 words.  As with all snippets, this is the pre-publication file. There may be a few spelling or punctuation errors that will be caught in final edits. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter One

“Prisoner Four One Niner Baker One-A, prepare for transfer,” a disembodied voice said from the overhead speaker.

Lips pulled back, teeth bared in an animalistic sneer, the prisoner sat up and swung her legs over the side of her bunk. As she stood, she turned away from the cell door. Her hands automatically went behind her head, fingers lacing. Almost without thought, she sank to her knees, legs spread, ankles crossed. Then, realizing what she had done, she cursed silently, hating herself and those responsible for bringing her to this state.

Two years. Two very long years in Hell had taught her how to act. Her body responded automatically to the commands barked at her. Only when she allowed her mind to surface, to let herself fully experience what was going on around her, did she hesitate. But not this time. There was no reason to disobey, no threat yet to meet.

Those years may have taught her all too painfully how to act, but they hadn’t broken her. Not yet at any rate. Even so, they had come close. Two years cut off from those she cared for, from almost all human contact. Stripped of even the most basic of human rights and dignity, she knew she was little more than an animal to break and tame to those in charge. She knew it just as she knew she could do nothing about it.

Just as she knew she’d been betrayed by the government she’d served and had been ready to die for.

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On Amazon, Clinton and Reviews

I’ve made no secret of how I feel about Hillary Clinton’s latest book being published on 9/12. I’m not a fan of Clinton to begin with. But for her to have a book come out on the anniversary of the Benghazi attack went beyond the pale. I don’t care if it was her decision or her publisher’s. It was too much. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about Amazon’s removal of 1-star reviews of Clinton’s book, What Happened.

I don’t know a single author who hasn’t at least considered asking Amazon to remove a review at some point or another. It is no secret that indie authors feel helpless when it comes to having reviews that attack our work and which we feel are from people who haven’t read the book. Nor is it any secret that many of those complaining about Amazon removing reviews from Clinton’s book have been vocal in demanding Amazon remove 1-star reviews that attack books by authors they support.

Here’s my view. If Amazon removed reviews that did not address the contents of the book but were simply attacks on Clinton, fine. I have no problem with that. My issue will come if they don’t apply the same standard when other authors want reviews removed for the same reason. As an author, I can’t support reviews that don’t discuss the contents of the book. As a reader, to be honest, I don’t want to read those reviews either. If you don’t like Clinton — or Trump or anyone else — then take to social media or your blogs to post your opinions of them as people. Don’t clutter up review pages with those attacks unless you have read the book and the attacks are germane to the book’s contents.

I will also admit to being disappointed in some people who are up in arms about Amazon’s response to those reviews when, not that long ago, they were calling for the same action to be taken with regard to reviews of books by conservative authors. That sort of double-standard does not sit well with me. Now, if Amazon is applying a double-standard as well, then it needs to be held accountable.

And this brings up my next point. Amazon is a company, a very large one. When you have a problem with it, understand that the first level of customer support you get probably won’t be able to help you. It doesn’t matter if you are complaining about formatting going wonky on a book you just uploaded or with the removal of reviews. If, as an author, you think you are being unfairly attacked in reviews based on your political opinions and not on the content of your book, don’t just stop at that first phone call or email or chat. Go up the chain of command. It isn’t difficult at all to figure out how to send an email to Jeff Bezos. And trust me, sending an email to his office gets you a response just about as quickly as sending a complaint to the FCC will get you one from AT&T — pretty damned quickly.

Is it an instant response and is it always the response you want? No, but it is better than taking to social media to whine because you didn’t get your way.

Anyway, back to Clinton and the reviews disappearing. I want to see Amazon apply the same standard to all books and I hope they will moving forward. But, for those of you who are upset because reviews by people who 1) hadn’t read the book and 2) were attacking Clinton and not the contents of the book, ask yourselves this: would you want those reviews to stay up if it were your book? Or would you want Amazon to take them down?

Amazon, for your part, you need to be fair in the application of this rule. If you remove such reviews for Clinton’s book, you need to do the same for Milo’s or for Trump’s or for any other book where reviews do not address the contents of the book. If not, then you deserve any criticism about your double-standard.

Now, I need to get to work. Otherwise, I will be tempted to get hold of a copy of the book just so I can review it. Hmmm, maybe I should. I haven’t done a good snark review in a long time and from the excerpts I’ve seen, this book is rife for it.

#Harvey,#Writing: On Writing and Harvey

This morning’s post will be short and sweet. Like many people around the country, especially here in Texas, my thoughts and prayers have been with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The images coming out of the Houston area, as well as Louisiana, have driven home how truly minor so many of the problems we tend to complain about really are. That includes the occasional whining this author makes about her evil muse. The writing happens, whether it is what I want it to be about or not. I have a roof over my head and I can — and have — made contributions to the relief effort.

On the writing front, the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes is almost finished. Unless something jumps out at me today, the final count of new chapters will rest at four. There have been some new scenes included as well. I haven’t done a final word count, but my guess today is that it will come in somewhere between 15,000 – 20,000 additional words. These additions don’t change the plot of the book — or the series — any. They do, however, add to the story and, I hope, make it better.

Hopefully, I’ll be sending the new version out to my beta readers this weekend.

On the Hurricane Harvey front, Harvey continues to wreak havoc on the country. There is the potential for flooding today going all the way up to Ohio. The Houston area continues to suffer flooding and other issues related to having too much water in too small an area. We are also starting to feel the related problems such a natural catastrophe can wreak on the rest of the state and country. Gas prices in the DFW area have jumped $0.20 or more per gallon. Some gas stations have already run out of fuel while others find their supplies being  rationed by the corporate offices.

As an example, the Quiktrip I usually patronize, especially if it is before dawn (this lot is very well lit), ran out of gas last night. The store I went to this morning was down to approximately 700 gallons and the lines were starting at most of the pumps. It won’t be long before it, too, is out of gas and they don’t know when they will get a new supply.

But higher gas prices aren’t the only new development on the Hurricane Harvey front. The Arkema SA chemical plant in Crosby suffered several explosions today. A crew had been left to monitor the plant but they had to be evacuated as the floodwaters rose. While the chemicals involved aren’t toxic, at least that is the last report I heard, they are irritants and some several people, including first responders, had been transported for treatment

There have been other, less serious ways, Hurricane Harvey has impacted the state. The preseason football game between the Cowboys and the Houston Texans has been canceled. The Texans had already been practicing in Frisco because they were unable to return home to Houston. The game had been moved here as well because of Harvey. However, when they got word yesterday (iirc) they could finally get home, the decision was an easy one for all involved. The game was cancelled so the team could finally be with their families and see what they were dealing with. I will say,

We have, as a friend said a few moments ago, an interconnected economy. That means the impact of Harvey is going to be felt in many ways — beef prices because of the number of cattle killed in the flooding, prices of foods made of various grains grown in Texas, prices of items that come into the Port of Houston (and other impacted ports) that have either been lost in the storm or couldn’t come ashore. The list goes on.

We will recover but it will take time. It will also take patience and understanding. Most of all, it will take hard work. So this morning, I’m saying an extra prayer that calm heads prevail and Mother Nature decides to give us a break for awhile.

A couple of quick notes

I’ll be back later with a full post, but there are a couple of notes I wanted to share this morning.

First, since it’s Tuesday, it’s my day to blog over at Mad Genius Club. As a Texan, my mind is on Houston and all the other communities that have been — or will be — impacted by Harvey. As a writer, I can’t help but look at what has been happening and drawing inspiration from it.

Second, and this is really exciting, I am going to start blogging over at Victory Girls. My first regularly scheduled post will be tomorrow. If you’ve never visited the blog, take a few minutes and head over to look around.

Finally, I should finish inputting the edits and new material into the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes today or tomorrow. I haven’t done a final word count comparison but I am adding somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 new words. Once done, it will be off to the beta readers to get their opinions. Once I hear back from them, I’ll input any changes needed and then ramp up for the release of the new edition. If everything goes as planned, that will be by the middle of September.

Before I go for the morning, my thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Houston and all those impacted by Harvey. Please keep them in your thoughts as well and, if you are the praying kind, add a prayer.

Until later!

 

Old plots made new

Like most writers, I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. Once I knew how to write, I started putting those stories down on paper. Some, I remember and others I no longer do. That’s like there are some of those old stories I still have in hard copy, whether written out long hand or typed or printed. Most of them will never see the light of day. No way and no how. However, that doesn’t mean some of those characters or the plots don’t come back to tickle my imagination from time to time.

That is exactly the situation I found myself in last night. I’d spent much of the day doing writerly housekeeping. I blogged about some of that yesterday. Maybe that’s why, when I finally packed away the laptop and relaxed for the evening, my imagination refused to settle down. But, instead of thinking about any of the titles I’d made notes on during the day, it turned to a “novel” (and I use that term loosely) I wrote probably 25 years ago.

I’ll be honest. There has always been something about the main character in that novel that’s intrigued me. Hell, let’s be honest, it’s called to me. But I knew the novel wasn’t anywhere close to salvageable, much less publishable. So it has sat and, unknown to me, it’s been waiting for me to figure out what to do with it.

So, instead of going to bed last night when I should have, I pulled up what what I have been able to find on old discs and read through it. Oh my, my instincts were right. The book is a mess. A very big, stinking pile of a mess. But there is some goodness in there as well. The biggest issue is that I tried to put too many plots and sub-plots into the mix. Even though I know the story, I got confused. But, there was some good stuff in it, more a feel and characters than actual writing and plotting.

Let’s face it, the story structure sucked eggs.

So, hoping I hadn’t just cursed myself with yet another book or — gasp — another series, I shut down the laptop once again and went to bed. I slept better than usual and woke with the main character and her backstory teasing me. I can almost see where my subconscious wants me to go and have already made three pages of notes.  I’m still not sure it will work, at least not in the way my mind is currently taking it, but I’m intrigued.

I know enough now about writing to understand this will be something where I throw out everything I wrote before, barring one or two scenes. But the main character and her backstory are awesome, or at least they have the potential of being awesome. She’s been broken and has worked hard to pull herself and her life back together again. She most certainly isn’t a superwoman or a Mary Sue. The scars are what makes her interesting and human. I love those kinds of characters.

Below is a scene from the original work. I think I’ve posted this before but, if I have, it’s been a long time ago. But this is what started me thinking about her again and that got Myrtle the Evil Muse thinking, which is never a good thing. At least not for my schedule. The only thing I have done today is change the main character’s name because, well, it will have to be if I actually move forward with this project. If I do, I don’t know if this scene will actually make it into the book or if it will only be referenced. Anyway, here goes.

***

Coarse ropes bit painfully into skin rubbed raw. Rivulets of blood, some dried and others all too fresh, traced a wild map of varying shades of red down her body. Lips, dry and cracked, bled onto the filthy rag that gagged her. Her mind screamed in fear and agony. Screams of silence. She no longer possessed the strength to even moan in protest. All she wanted, all she prayed for, was a release from her torment. Even death was preferable to what she’d been forced to endure the last few hours.

Had it only been hours? It seemed like an eternity in the Hell the village priest had warned them of when she was younger. That Hell where all your sins were revisited upon you in the most horrendous ways because you’d been foolish enough not to repent.

But this wasn’t Hell. This was all too real.

Eyes closed, she forced herself to breathe slowly, evenly. Through the fog of fear and pain, she knew one thing: she couldn’t let him know she was awake. If he knew, he’d hurt her again and she couldn’t stand that. She simply couldn’t!

Dear God, just take her before it begins again.

The rustle of leaves, the tread of a step and she knew her ruse hadn’t worked. But maybe she was wrong. Please, let her be wrong, let it be an animal, anything but him.

She lifted her head and forced her swollen eyes open. Despair washed over her. It was Hell. Hell on Earth and she could do nothing about it.

“Well, little one, have you been enjoying our time together this afternoon?” One finger lightly traced a pattern across her breasts and down her belly.

His voice sent shivers down her spine. A single tear tracked down her cheek, burning the cuts he’d so carefully inflicted earlier. Her stomach knotted and lurched and she struggled not to be sig. The small part of her brain that still worked knew that would be bad, very bad, gagged as she was. But what did it matter? She’d soon be dead any way. Did the manner of death really matter after all she’d been through?

“What is it, Meggie? Too choked up to talk?” he taunted. His hand cupped her right cheek, his face so close she could smell the stale odor of whiskey on his breath as well as the cigarettes he’d smoked – and used for things her mind flinched away from. “Surely that’s not the case. I’ve never known the time when you’ve not had something to say.”

Even if she hadn’t been gagged, she couldn’t have replied. She’d never have the words necessary to tell the shitehawk how she felt. He’d stolen apart of her that day, a vital part. One she’d never be able to recover.

Damn him!

When she didn’t respond, not that much of a response was possible, he laughed gaily. Then his hands turned rough as he once again sent them across her already battered body. If she could have, she’d have shuddered in revulsion. Instead, she moaned lowly as she realized the nightmare wasn’t over, not yet.

Not ever.

***

As I said, this was written years ago. My craft has, I hope, improved, but this character is one that keeps coming back to me. We’ll see where it goes, if anywhere. In the meantime, don’t forget that Nocturnal Rebellion is now available for purchase. You can click on the link above or the image to the left for more information. Or you can click on any of the images on the right of the page for information about those titles.

Until later!

Holy Cow!

I am late posting today because I’ve been doing some writerly housekeeping. I love writing series but the problem is it sometimes gets difficult to remember exactly what you have planned in the future and which series is supposed to come next in your publishing schedule. That is especially true when you have an evil muse like mine. Yes, Myrtle, I’m looking directly at you.

So, I sat down this morning and decided I needed to get down on paper — well, on my hard drive — a few notes about the projects I have coming up. It’s my way of looking at my schedule, seeing if it is workable and where I can fill in with some of the new projects I’d like to do.

What I came up with are basic plot outlines or simple notes on six different titles, belonging to three different series. So, here’s what I have on my plate over the next 12 to 18 months. Remember, there will probably be other titles as well because I have a couple of stand-alone books I want to do.

Victory from Ashes (current working title and will probably change). This is the 4th book in the Honor and Duty Series. I have updated my plot notes to go along with the very rough draft I already have written.

Foil of the Gods (current working title). This is the 3rd and final installment in the Sword of the Gods series. I have a very, very rough draft I wrote some time ago but wasn’t happy with. Today I pulled together some plot notes (6 pages of them to be exact) that will help pull the draft together and bring the series to a satisfactory end.

There are four titles currently set in the Eerie Side of the Creek that I’ve plotted out over the last two days. Two will be novellas. One is, I think, a short story but it might morph into a novella. One is a novel. The two definite novellas are the continuation of Skeletons in the Closet and will bring that particular story arc to a close. Again, I’d had other ideas for the follow-up to Skeletons but they didn’t feel right. These do.

You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned anything else happening in the Nocturnal Lives series. Nocturnal Rebellion ended the current story arc. I am starting to get a feel for where the next “chapter” will go but I’m going to let that germinate for a bit. All I can say for sure is I woke up this morning with the sound of Mac’s voice in my head asking if a baby born to two shapeshifters who shifted into jaguars required diapers or kitty litter boxes. Yes, there was more than a hint of panic in her voice. No, I am NOT going there — at least not right now. But there are more stories in that universe to come. Whether they include Mac and a baby — and diapers or kitty litter — I don’t know.

No, Myrtle, we are NOT writing that right now!

So, that’s been my morning. It’s kind of nice — and scary — to see actual words on paper detailing these upcoming projects. It does look like I’m going to be very busy over the next year or so. Guess that means I’d better get back to work.

Oh yeah, you can click on the book covers to the right of this post if you’re interested in any of my work. Now to get back to work.

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