Nocturnal Lives

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

Tag: writing (Page 1 of 6)

A Snippet and a Share

Just a quick post this morning. On the writing front, I finally have the opening of Light Magic figured out and the book is progressing nicely (fingers crossed). I should see the updated cover for the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes later today. I’ll share as soon as it’s in. This is also my day blogging at Victory Girls. Today’s post is about the latest Rasmussen poll, what it shows about how American voters now view Hillary Clinton and my thoughts about her latest book being released on the 5th anniversary of the attack on our Benghazi compound.

Light Magic has taken some twists and turns since I started visualizing it. The book I thought it would be will actually be the next on in the series. This one will introduce a new main character as well as bringing back some of the favorites from the other titles in the series. Here’s a very brief — and rough draft version — snippet.

Mossy Creek, Texas.

Nothing but a small dot on the map. Or, as I like to think of it, a pimple on the butt of an otherwise great state. So why was I returning to a place I last saw a lifetime ago? Because I gave my word and, while I might be a screw up where most everything else is concerned, I try to keep promises I make to people I care about. But this might prove to be too much, especially for someone like me.

One thing’s for sure. Neither Mossy Creek nor I will be ever be the same.

Now I’m off to write some more. Until later!

 

Remembering 9/11

(This post first appeared on Mad Genius Club on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. What I said then still applies to today. As we reflect on what happened that day, on its causes and its effects and on what still needs to be done, we should also reflect and take a moment to thank those men and women who dedicate their lives to keeping our country safe, to their family and loved ones who watch them leave and wonder if they will return and we should also remember those who have given their lives for our country. And now, to that original post.)

Tribute in Lights, 9/11 2013

Ten years ago today, they say the world changed. I’m not sure the whole world changed, but my piece of it did. For the first time in my life, I understood how my parents’ generation felt when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Gone was the sense of safety of living in the United States, secured by oceans on two sides and allies on the other two sides. We’d been attacked, not by a military force but by fanatics who didn’t care about the innocents they killed in an effort to make their statement.

I know some of you are wondering what this has to do with writing. After all, Mad Genius Club is a blog about writing and the publishing industry. There is no simple answer. But there are answers and I’ll try to explain.

There’s a thread that’s been going on in one of the email groups I belong to where someone asked if our writing is influenced by world events. You can imagine there were folks coming in on both sides – some saying yes and others saying no. For me, I have to admit that I really hadn’t given it much thought. I knew the events of 9/11 affected me, but I hadn’t really taken time to think about if they had influenced my writing.

I still didn’t think much about it until the list of free titles available from Amazon crossed my desk the other day. I didn’t know whether to be thrilled or appalled to see all of them that dealt with that horrible day. I truly believe we need to remember what happened that day and do all we can to make sure it never happens again – here or anywhere else. One way to do that is to write about it.

But what appalled me were the number of books that had clearly been written just to cash in on the ten year anniversary of that horrible day. We’re not talking books that have been out for months or years and are just now being made free as promotions. No, we’re talking books that have never been available before. Books I couldn’t bring myself to download.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for authors using events, real and imagined, in their books. But to use a tragedy like 9/11 or the Holocaust just to sell books is more than I can stomach. Releasing those books so close to the anniversary of that horrible day without thought or concern about what it would do to those who survived or those who lost loved ones makes my blood boil. There are some lines I simply can’t step over.

That said, I will fight for these authors’ right to publish such books, whether I like them or not. That freedom of speech is one of the things that makes this country what it is. Within certain very limited provisions, we can write what we want, when we want. The fact that so many of us have different views on what and how we write is in the best interest of the reader.

On 9/11, I slept in later than I usually do. As I stumbled into the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I turned on the TV. There are three things I do every morning: drink coffee, read the paper and watch the morning news. So there I was, coffee cup in hand, staring in disbelief as the second jet crashed into the Twin Towers. It had to be a nightmare. There could be no other explanation. Numb, praying for those people who were obviously trapped in the towers, I sat and watched, just like so many others that morning.

The images from that day are indelibly etched into my memory. So are the emotions. The shock, the fear, the anger. But so is the feeling of solidarity, of needing to do something as I stood in line at the local blood bank waiting hour after hour to donate blood in case it was needed. Hundreds of people turned out that day, too many for the small center to handle. No one wanted to go home. This was something they could do. Something they had to do.

Those who were turned away made appointments to come back the next day. Then they left, only to return later with water and food for those of us still in line. A couple came back with radios and TVs so we could watch the latest. No one asked them to. Everyone thanked them. We were all pulling together and it was happening across the country.

The emotions I felt that day were so strong. So were the reactions of the people I saw. The only day that had come close to it was the day when the American embassy in Tehran had been taken over, beginning more than a year of nightly reports about what was happening, reports that became ABC’s Nightline. Back then, I was attending Texas Tech. A number of my classmates were former Air Force officers. As we sat in the break area of the law school after the news broke, each of them were doing what was necessary to make contact with their former C.O.’s, doing what they felt was necessary – offering to return to the service of their country.

As I write this post, I realize there is one thing about 9/11 that has influenced my writing. After feeling so deeply, after seeing others do the same, I became more aware of how my characters should feel and react. I hope I am able to write characters who are no longer cardboard cut-outs. Emotions are what make us human and are what drive us, for good or bad.

I’m not a subscriber to the idea that you have to suffer for your art. Hell, I do my best to avoid suffering – at least in the way it is used in that sentence. But to be a good writer, you have to not only know what the emotions are, you have to know what they feel like – whether you have experienced them yourself or know someone has. More than that, you have to be able to express those emotions in your writing in such a way your characters don’t appear to be cartoonish or cardboardish.

I remember the feeling of helplessness as I stood in line at the blood bank, wondering if my son was all right. He was at school that day. When the district announced parents could come get their kids, I called my ex-husband to see if he was going to pick our son up. (It was his week to have the kid) I wanted to go so badly, just to be able to see for myself that my son was all right. I wanted to be the one to explain to him what had happened and to reassure him that I would do everything in my power to make sure nothing happened to him. I might not have been able to pick him up – my ex did that – but I did get to talk to him afterwards, to explain what happened and what might be happening over the next few days and weeks.

I can channel those emotions into my characters. It’s easier to write about the mother whose child is in danger. I understand the fear and anger and the need to protect. I can write about the everyman who feels helpless as he watches some disaster – be it natural or manmade – unfold before him. It is up to me now to hone my craft so I can write it in a believable way.

But for all of that, 9/11 reminded me of something I hadn’t really forgotten but had, like so many others, taken for granted. It reminded me of how much I love this country. I honor and thank those who willing put their lives on the line every day to protect it, be they police officers, firefighters, EMTs, soldiers, whatever. I thank their families for supporting them. Most of all, I thank God for the fact that I live here, in a country where I can write what I want and not have to look over my shoulder in fear that the thought police will be there to arrest me.

That son I worried so much about ten years ago is now a young man. One year ago today he signed his contract with the Air Force. It was his choice and one I am very proud of. It’s also one that can’t help but scare me some as well. And that is yet another emotion I can channel, if I dare.

In closing, and on a very non-writer note, I offer up a prayer for all of those who lost their lives a decade ago and I pray we never again see another 9/11, here or anywhere else.

 

Light Magic and the Evil Muse

Moving from one writing project to another isn’t always a smooth process. That is especially true when, like me, you have an evil muse. Myrtle, my own particular evil muse, loves to torment me by giving me the basic plot of a book but multiple ways to start it. I swear she does it because she knows it will drive me crazy. But I guess that’s better than having no idea how to start a book. Of course, I wouldn’t argue if, for once, I didn’t start and stop several times before getting to the opening that works best. Still, the stops and starts on Light Magic will have been worth it if the opening is as successful and i think it will be.

Which is what I have finally done.

I think.

I hope.

Okay, that’s enough insecurity from this writer. Light Magic is under way. With the change in opening, there will be a slight change in the plot, but nothing major. The biggest issue I have where this book is concerned is finding time to write. Fortunately, this one has the feel of one of those that won’t fight me every step of the way. If that is the case, my beta readers will be getting it within the month. Snippets should start in two weeks or so. I’ll keep you informed.

One way Light Magic has changed is that it will be bridging the “normal” plot and characters of Slay Bells Ring with the “Others” of Witchfire Burning. Some of that started with Witchfire but this will cement it even more. Of course, this being Mossy Creek, nothing is ever as easy and “normal” as one thinks. That is something Meg Sheridan will learn quickly. It will take her a bit longer to understand why her mother told her to run to Mossy Creek if anything ever happened to her.

Now it’s time to do the mundane things of life — take out the trash, check email and figure out what I have to do today that can’t be postponed for a day or two. Once all that’s done, I can sit down to write. In the meantime, I have a guest post up on According to Hoyt about heroes and sports figures. Take a few minutes to check out Victory Girls as well. Posts this morning (so far) include covering the Equifax breach and how some of their execs made a financial windfall by selling off stock while the company kept quite about what happened and a great short fiction piece that brings home the impact 9/11 had one some of us.

Busy, Busy

The title says it all. The last 24-hours have been very busy. Between work around the house (mainly painting), getting started on Light Magic (the next book in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series) and blogging, I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going. The results are more than satisfying, however. Of course, Myrtle the Evil Muse being evil, the opening of Light Magic changed from what I thought it would be but I think it works. At least I hope it does. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Yesterday was my regular day at Mad Genius Club and I blogged about why some people really do want heroes with human flaws over superheroes suffering from the Mary Sue syndrome. It led to some great discussion in the comments.

I also did a piece over at Victory Girls blog about a “new” form of microaggression. This one, called invisible microaggressions, came from a study of a whopping 13 women of color at 5 universities. Apparently that was a large enough sample pool to not only “discover” this new form but to break it down into 5 different forms. Riiiiiight.

This morning, I have two more posts up. The first, over at According to Hoyt, discusses the controversy over removing Confederate statues and the PR debacle Six Flags Over Texas created for itself by removing not only the Confederate States of America flag (and not the battle flag so many object to), but also every other flag except for the U. S. flag. It is more than ironic for a park named for the six national flags that have flow over the state, including the Republic of Texas, now flies only one.

The last is another post at Victory Girls. This one discusses the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay the lower court order tossing out parts of Texas’ Voter ID law. This decision will allow the state to proceed as usual with the November election. What pleased me about the decision is how the court not only looked at the law but also applied common sense in coming to its ruling.

Now it’s time for another cup of coffee and then it’s to work. I’m excited about getting back to Mossy Creek and the characters that inhabit that most unusual town. Besides, it keeps me from worrying about how the beta readers are liking the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them in the next few days. (To be fair, I told them I didn’t need to know until next week. Whimper.)

 

#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.

The Question Has Been Answered

When I published Nocturnal Rebellion last week, I’d secretly wondered if there would be any more books. I had finished the story arc and, to be honest, I had no idea where the series might go from there. I think that’s one reason I’d been so busy making notes on other projects. Some of you told me you hoped there would be more books and that means more to me than you know. I love Mac and company and really didn’t want to think of not writing in that universe again. But I had no idea what to do next.

Then, BAM!, inspiration hit. It started subtly. Questions began to form in my mind that would need to be answered if I took the series any further. Before I knew it, I had something like three pages of notes and questions. But I still didn’t have a real plot, only things to keep in mind. I didn’t worry. The fact the questions were starting to hit meant my subconscious had been working on the issue without me realizing it.

So I kept making notes. Music played, coffee was had and, before I knew it, I had the bare threads of a plan. No, not an outline, but enough to let me know where the next book or two will go. It’s enough for me right now. I’ll finish up the basic notes today and then file them away. Next week, I’ll review the various projects I have waiting on my desk and pull together a more concise publishing schedule. For now, however, I am turning my attention to two things. The first is finishing up the special edition of Vengeance from Ashes. I am really excited about the additional material I’m adding to the original version. It doesn’t change the story but it does expand it. Once that is finished, I’ll pick back up with Victory from Ashes (and that title will change). I have the book drafted but set it aside for awhile. Now I can go back with fresh eyes and do a hard edit and rewrite what’s needed. In the meantime, I’ve been working on Light Magic, the next installment in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series..

For relaxation, I’ve been replaying the Dishonored games. I’ll admit, I owned Dishonored for probably a year before playing it the first time. My son recommended it. My initial hesitation about the game came from the stealth aspect. I’m not a big fan of games where stealth is the major component. So, the game sat on my hard drive until I needed something new to play. That’s when I realized it was so much more than a simple stealth game. This is my third play through of Dishonored and I’m enjoying it as much now as I did the first time.

When Dishonored 2 came out, I wasted no time buying it and playing it. I’m not sure the story was quite as compelling as the original, but I enjoyed being able to choose between Corvo (the playable character in the original game) and Emily (a grown-up version of an NPC in the original). The two characters had different powers and that helped give a different feel to the game depending on who you chose to play as.

The reason I’m replaying the games right now is because a third game, Dishonored: Death of the Insider, will be released next month. It takes another NPC from the first two games, Billie Lurke/Meagan Foster (sorry, spoiler there), and makes her the playable character. Also returning is Doud, the playable character from two of Dishonored’s dlc-s.

It is obvious, not only from the price of the game but from comments from the developers, that this isn’t a full-length game. However, it is supposedly more than a dlc campaign. We’ll see. I may regret paying full-price but the develops didn’t disappoint with the first two games, so I’m going to trust them this time.

Here’s a clip showing some of the gameplay.

I am looking forward to seeing if the game pans out. Now it’s time to get to work.

Later!

Busy writer is, well, busy

First off, today is my day over at Mad Genius Club. Please check it out. I talk about changes in plans and writing habits and a little bit more.

As noted over at MCG, one of the things I’ve done over the last week is set up my publishing schedule for the next year or so. I say “or so” because Myrtle the Evil Muse made sure to infect me with several titles I hadn’t planned on. One of them I am really excited about. It is in the Eerie Side of the Creek series and introduces some new and, I think, exciting characters. Yes, our regular cast of zanies and not-so-zany is there as well. I know the basic plot and my subconscious is already tweaking some of the plot points I noted down. More on this when I start writing it.

I also want to thank those of you who have bought or borrowed Nocturnal Rebellion. I’d really appreciate it if, after you read the book, you went over to Amazon and reviewed it. Those reviews help.

Yesterday was spent writing a series of blog posts, some for here and some for other sites. I’ll post links to them on this blog when they go live. It was fun writing them but it also meant little fiction was written yesterday. So today I have to double-down.

One thing that surprised me after finishing Rebellion is my reading. Usually when I finish a project, I tend to spend several days reading fiction. The first day is light, easy reading. Titles I don’t have to really think about. This is reading to escape and relax. After that, I might go to more challenging books. This time, it’s been non-fiction from the start. Among the titles I’ve either read or am reading right now are:

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell.

Now it’s time to get to work. Until later!

Murphy, go home!

Life is nothing if not interesting. Of course, when it’s interesting in the proverbial sense, I tend to wish for dull and boring. But it is getting there. I simply need to learn to listen to not only my muse — she is an evil bitch but she does seem to know when I need to switch gears and write something new — and to my gut. In this particular case, it would have let me sleep an extra hour this morning and not have to reschedule a trip to the mechanic. Oh well, I’m up if not fully functioning.

Oh, and the plumber is due later today. Hopefully, since this is just the annual check, he’ll find nothing wrong. Please let him find nothing wrong. We’ve already had one plumbing emergency this month. I don’t need any more.

On the writing front, things are rocking and rolling. I’ve set Nocturnal Rebellion aside for the rest of the week. I’ll pick it up Monday or Tuesday of next week, convert it for my Kindle Oasis, and give it one last read. Then the final file will be uploaded for publication. Remember, it is available for pre-order now. Publication date is August 15th.

I will admit, right now I feel like Mac does in the book. Of course, while she wishes for a simple, straight-forward murder to investigate (one without shifters or the government involved), I just want a week without complications.

I am also about halfway through the updates on Vengeance from Ashes. The expanded version doesn’t change the story line but it does expand on some scenes and there will be a few new scenes/chapters as well. I still love the original novel but this is sort of my version of the “director’s cut” of the book. I’m hoping you guys love the additional material as well.

Next up in that series will probably be a short story followed quickly by the next full-length novel. At least that’s what Myrtle the Evil Muse says. Lately, however, I’ve learned there is someone more evil than Myrtle and who has even more control over my writing than she does — Murphy.

And I tell you, whoever invited that Irish trickster and master of chaos into the country, much less to my house, needs to be hunted down and hung. I am so over Murphy right now. So, before he decides it’s time to get up and complicate my life any further, I’m out of here. However, here’s a little tease from Nocturnal Rebellion:

The man crawled slowly toward the bar, dragging himself inch by painful inch. He didn’t know what happened or why. One moment, everything had been normal. Drinking, smoking, whoring. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then the door opened. He’d looked up, as had others, and frowned to see four people he didn’t recognize. Few dared come to the bar without an invitation. Those few who did usually turned around and left before taking more than a step or two inside. That’s all it took to realize The Hellhound was the sort of biker bar outsiders weren’t welcome at.

And there was no way the four were bikers. Dressed all in black, they walked further inside, seemingly oblivious to the looks in their direction. Then they’d stopped. One of them pointed right and then left. Two others broke off, moving quicker and more silently than they should have been able to. As they did, the tension in the room ratcheted up a notch.

That’s when the surreal turned into nightmare. The fourth person, a woman, stepped up to one of the two tops. Before the biker he knew only as Ranger could react, her hand fisted in the man’s long hair. She pulled his head back, baring his throat. A knife appeared in her other hand. Its blade slid along Ranger’s neck. Blood sprayed and she released him, stepping back and watching as he crumpled to the floor. The fallen biker gurgled once, blood flecking his lips, before dying.

Now for more coffee and to get back to work on an editing gig before sitting down to do some more writing. Later!

Friday thoughts and reading recommendations

Just a quick post today. I’m doing my best to stay away from politics — my blood pressure thanks me as does the mush of what calls itself my brain. Why is it that the first few days after finishing a book are lost when it comes to accomplishing much more than getting out of bed and vegging for the rest of the day?

Monday, I start the final review of Nocturnal Challenge and then it is off to the beta readers. Yay! Of course, Myrtle the Muse is already hitting me with more stories, including more detail about what the next Nocturnal Lives book will be. I’m going to try to make a few notes today so I don’t lose the thread. That’s important since this next book will tie up the final threads of the current story arc. Myrtle, being the evil muse that she is, has also given me the threads for the next arc for the series.

I’ve spent the last two days doing things that needed to be done — cleaning my office. It’s amazing how much stuff I accumulate while writing a book. Everything from slips of paper with notes on them to research materials to who knows what. I’ve also been reading. That’s always my reward for finishing one novel. Before moving on to the next, I get to hit my very large TBR stack. I’ll post some reviews over the next few days.

In the meantime, Next up are a short story (possibly a novella) in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe as well as the next Honor and Duty novel. It looks like I will be working on them at the same time — we’ll see how that works. But both are being very loud right now.

In the meantime, here are a few good books to try if you haven’t already. Oh, there may be one or two of mine in the list as well.  😉

Dipped, Stripped & Dead

by Elise Hyatt

A Dyce Dare Mystery

When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.

Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.

Life is just about to get crazy… er… crazier. But at least at the end of the tunnel there might be a relationship with a very nice Police Officer.

Tom

by Dave Freer

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this.

He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

The Chaplain’s War

by Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

Nocturnal Origins

by Amanda S. Green

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Vengeance from Ashes

by Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Random Thoughts

A couple of things caught my eye this morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee and scanning headlines and social media. The first is that I am really, REALLY glad I don’t have to be on I-30 this morning in Arlington. Traffic is never fun during rush hour but this morning it is much worse than usual. Several hours ago, police began a slow speed chase in Hunt County of an RV. According to reports, the driver allegedly shot a woman who managed to escape and call for help. However, there were children onboard so the cops had to act carefully to make sure nothing happened to them. Long story short, the RV caught fire in Arlington. Fortunately for the kids, the man did go to the back where they were and let them out. Then, according to latest reports, he shot himself. Tragic events that could have been much worse. Over the next few days or weeks, I’m sure we will learn more about what started this terrible chain of events but, no matter what, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved and most especially to the kids.

I’ve kept quiet, for the most part, about what happened in Manchester. For one, I wanted more information before commenting. However, as it becomes more certain the bomber was an Islamic extremist, I have a couple of things to say. First, we can’t condemn every follower of Islam for what this man — and I use that term loosely — did. As with any religion, there are fanatics. Islam has more than its fair share but to paint them all with the same brush would be just as wrong as painting every Christian with the same brush as Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps.

Second, we can no longer sit back and rely on memes and hashtags and “I stand with …” to fight back against those like the bomber. It is time to cut the head off the snake, salt the ground, saturate it with pig’ blood and end the matter. ISIL and organizations like is hide behind the Koran, knowing the West will bend because they are simply following their “religion”. Nope. They are not religious warriors. They are terrorists and the sooner we deal with them as such, the better. We are at war and, whether we want to admit it or not, war is not civilized. We can’t expect the enemy to play by any rules, much less ones we try to impose on them. It is time we adapt and overcome. If not, we will continue to see soft targets being hit and, next time, it might just be on U.S. soil.

On a lighter note, it’s 40 years ago that Star Wars opened. Some of us remember when there were no prequels — hiss, burn them!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased or downloaded through KU, Battle Wounds. I have a favor to ask as well as a question. The favor is simple. If you’ve read Battle Wounds, or any of my other work, would you take a few minutes and go to Amazon to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long. The thing is, reviews help not only entice other readers but Amazon has a threshold number of reviews you have to reach before it starts listing your title in the “other customers bought” section.

Now the question. It takes time to write novels — duh. I’m averaging one every 3 – 4 months. There are a lot of variables. Sometimes is isn’t quite as long and other times it is a bit longer. So, would you like to see more short stories, not only in the Honor and Duty series but my other series as well, in between? This wouldn’t impact release times for the novels. Let me know.

I guess it’s time to get to work. Nocturnal Rebellion is coming along. It looks to be on target to come out next month. Target date is June 20th, give or take a day or three.

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