Category Archives: Intersection

State of the Writer

melwritingHeya. You haven’t seen hide nor hair from me for the last week or so because I’ve been editing TBFKAI. I’m currently working on the last chapter, after which it goes off to the betas for critique and review and I pour myself a large Angry Orchard and enjoy some season 5 Longmire. Here’s my schedule between now and 2/21, which will be the release date:

  • Send MS off to beta readers and editor
  • Finalize cover for ebook and print
  • Set up pre-sales in Amazon
  • Start doing teasers on FB, Twitter, and Google+
  • Send out teasers, cover to newsletter subscribers
  • Set up a release day party
  • Get crits back from beta readers and editor
  • Incorporate comments/corrections into MS
  • Do a third editing pass
  • Do a spelling/grammar editing pass
  • Do a weasel word editing pass
  • Do a polishing pass
  • Format .mobi version, upload to Amazon three days before release date
  • Format .epub version, upload to Smashwords for distribution to B&N, Kobo, iTunes, et al
  • Format print version, upload to CreateSpace
  • Release book on 2/21 with FB party and wild shenanigans

After which I may sleep for a day. But only for a day because after that I have to finish Behind the Iron Cross and start the whole thing over again. Plus there’s the alternate history mystery I’d like to finish editing and publish. *rubs face* It shall get done somehow, selah.

The Muse Is In Town, I see

museI can tell because the mojito-swilling lush just dumped a buttload of backstory on me about the book formerly known as Intersection and now I have to carefully work slivers of it into the edit. I was hoping to be finished by today and have the book off to the betas and editor. Now, maybe I’ll be done by Sunday. Maybe.

*rubs face, looks around for the rum*

On the plus side, understanding the backstory means that vague issues that have been nagging at me are finally quiet and I’m starting to feel good about where the book is headed, so I have that going for me. On the minus side, I couldn’t have figured out any of this stuff when I was working on the first draft?

Apparently not. Welcome to my PITA brain. Which also decided to entertain me last night with dreams about being arrested by NOLA police and having to go on the lam, and then a very weird interlude at a party where for some reason I was lazily making out with Alan Tudyk while Ramón stood by chatting with folks. While I am fully aware that Mr. Tudyk is a handsome man and eye candy for those who love gingers, he’s never really pushed any of my buttons so I don’t know why my subconscious decided to pull him out, so to speak.

Someone suggested that he represents myself and that I’m in need of some self-care. Of some sort, anyway. Ahem. Which is probably true, but will have to wait until after I get this book edited and off to the waiting readers. No, wait, then I have to do the print version of Palace of Scoundrels (PSA: for the love of all that’s holy, I’m begging you, PLEASE leave reviews on Amazon for Palace. Lack of reviews means the sales are tanking and I can’t justify writing another book in this series unless I can make money on it. Thank you for your understanding and support) so that I have print copies to take with me to Wild Wicked Weekend next month. And then I have to do the final edits, formatting, promotion, and release for TBFKAI. And, and, and…

I just got back from vacation, didn’t I? Doesn’t feel like it. Never mind, back to the salt mines…

I’m Back

meontheshipSo, yeah, Ramón and I were on our much delayed and badly needed vacation last week (that’s a very bleary me at right after sneaking out for an early breakfast while the ship was still stuck in the Galveston port due to fog), hence my absence from the Internet in general and a lack of posts on this blog. Although I’m not sure I can classify it as a vacation seeing as I was editing Intersection every day, but editing a book on a nice Disney cruise ship where a friendly man brings you drinks on request is without a doubt much better than doing it at home with five cats demanding your attention in shifts while the weather tries to blow the top of your head off with a migraine.

Speaking of Intersection, I believe I have renamed it. I was kind of pressed for a working title for the book and came up with Intersection because the two main characters’ lives were crossing each other after a long absence, but after much musing during the vacation I came to realize that it’s not the greatest attention-grabbing title for an SF romance with cyborgs and a post-apocalyptic society. I won’t finalize things until later this week, but I’m torn between–

Aaaand just checked one of the titles and it’s used in at least four other books, so that’s out, and I just saw the resistor graphic on a whiteboard at a local political meeting I just attended. I am not one to ignore signs. So it looks like Intersection will now become Degree of Resistance, which is actually much more apropos for the book’s theme. I love it when the universe sends me signals like this.

Apparently I owe the producers of Longmire an apology. Kinda.

In my previous post, I lamented the last ep in Season 3 of Longmire because it pretty much blew my sense of disbelief on a number of points. That being said, one of those points was further illuminated in Season 4, where in ep 3 we find out that Barlow had hired a soldier from Jacob Nighthorse to kill Walt’s wife for what turns out to be a logical reason — she was campaigning against the construction of Jacob’s casino, and Barlow was counting on it to bring in people for his nascent golf course and other businesses. To the producers’ credit this was brought up in one of the previous seasons. It still seems a bit of overkill to murder a woman dying of cancer, but at least I can follow Barlow’s reasoning now (although it would have been nice if this had been made a bit clearer in the S3 ep. A line from Barlow saying, “I had her killed to protect the family business that I’m giving to you, you little pissant” would have sufficed).

stayontarget2Still doesn’t excuse the other issues, but as a friend pointed out Absaroka County gets a surprising ton of dead bodies considering that it’s in a low-population state, so if you can buy that, you can buy iffy characterization choices and Walt and Henry getting away with stealing a dead body and having it accepted as evidence.

In other news, I’m closing in on the end of Intersection, as demonstrated by the already out of date target counter at right (word count is currently up to 62,058). With luck and a good tail wind, I should be typing “The End” sometime late tomorrow.

Which will be good, because it’ll give me the length of my upcoming vacation to let the backbrain cogitate on it and work out kinks, at which point I’ll be ready to edit it into shape when I get back. Release date is scheduled to be 2/7/17, and I’ll be making it available for pre-order as well as sending out ARCs to reviewers and bloggers. If you want to leave a review or do a blog post featuring the book, let me know and I’ll make sure you get one of the ARCs along with a media packet.

Did someone remember to salt and burn 2016?

Gah, what a year. Okay, there were a few bright spots (I became an international bestseller thanks to the German translation of Trickster, hit Las Vegas, Toronto, San Antonio, Orlando, and Tampa on various trips, and managed not to die unlike so many others), but on the whole I’m glad it’s all over with.

louisherthumSo, first goal of 2017 — write 3K a day and get the first draft of Intersection knocked out by 1/10. I’m currently at 42,337 words, so hopefully I can stay on schedule and take the draft on the upcoming cruise with me to edit, with an eye to having it published by 1/31 in time for Wild Wicked Weekend. It helps that I already have the rough draft of the cover done and an editor is chomping at the bit for this puppy.

And yes, I’m editing on the cruise, because there is no such thing as a vacation day for an author. Oh, what larks that would be. Instead, we have guiltily stolen hours here and there where we peel ourselves out of our writing dens and totter out into the daystar, blinking and cowering.

Now, that being said, I will state that the time I’ve spent watching Seasons 1 and 2 of Longmire since Christmas are not stolen hours. Oh, no, my friends. They are research, I tell you, research into the golden smart-assed gloriousness that is Louis Herthum, may he win something nice for his marvelous work in Westworld. He did inspire Intersection‘s male lead, after all, and I like hearing his voice in my head when I write Ben so I need to watch him work for … motivational purposes. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

(Have I mentioned that I love my job? God, I love my job.)

But Longmire is also really damn good — I have no idea how I got the impression that it was some sort of grim post-modern Western. Oh, wait, yes I do — it was A&E’s crappy advertising. Arrgh. But it turns out to be this gorgeously shot and incredibly well-written police procedural that just happens to be set in a small Wyoming town. Also, I could watch Robert Taylor glower from under his cowboy hat all day long, but that’s another blog post. So I still have two more seasons on DVD, then I can finish off the fifth season on Netflix, then wait patiently for season six to start sometime this year.

Jesus. I’m actually watching TV again. Damn you and your charming performances, Louis!

Happy Friday, and a snippet from Intersection

Well, it’s the end of the work, and for most folks who observe Christmas the holidays will probably kick into high gear this weekend. Since the bulk of my decorating is now done, I thought I would celebrate with a teaser from Intersection. Some background: after finding out that her first love Ben Drake was still alive and being held at a Gold Rush-themed adventure park, Evie Contreras rescues him with the help of a mysterious organization that has been manipulating her academic and work career. Now held by them,  she learns that cyborgs exist and Ben has been turned into one during his time at the park. She steals a security badge from one of the base officers to break into medbay and get the truth from Ben. Enjoy!

cyborgThis time, the medbay doors opened obediently at her approach. Evie had been afraid that the base AI might stop her. Apparently her stolen RFID clip was enough to lull the AI into a sense of complacency.

Not after this, though. If Ballardie didn’t tell Lilith to check facial recognition against RFID codes from that point on, Evie would eat her tablet. She had one chance to see Ben, and she wasn’t about to waste it.

Pretend like you belong. That was easy enough; straight spine, a slightly bored but alert expression. She grabbed a pile of sheets from a pile on a small cart and carried them as a prop. The hallway ended at a round station manned by a very handsome, very bored man in red scrubs. His curly black hair had been cut short, and he needed a shave judging by the heavy five o’clock shadow, but his celadon eyes lit up when he saw her.

“Hel-lo,” he said in a drawled accent. “Did someone finally hear my plea for more help?”

“That’s what I was told,” Evie said brightly. “I’m Ally. Where do you need me?”

“Oh, my.” The man gave her a slow up and down that was lascivious and amusing at the same time. “Don’t ask me questions like that, love. I’m still on call for two more hours.”

She snorted, glancing at the ancient whiteboard propped up on the station’s counter. It had to be a list of patient rooms. “I bet you say that to all the new volunteers.”

“Only the ones who’ve stolen my heart.” He plunked his hand over his breastbone. “Promise me I’ll see you later, Ally. It may be the only thing that gets me through this deathly dull shift.”

She allowed herself a brief, amused grin. This one was a charmer, which made things easier and harder at the same time. Easier because he’d let her slide past. Harder because he’d definitely check out her ass as she walked away. “No promises…”

“Samir. Dr. Samir Haddad.” Something on his console beeped and he grimaced. “Oh, damn. Duty calls, love. I’ll catch you later?”

“You can try.” She turned and walked around the station, resisting the urge to hurry.

The station sat at the crosspoint of four corridors like a bull’s eye. Luck and left-to-right reading habits were with her and B corridor was opposite the one from the entrance. She headed down there, counting rooms until she came to B4.
The board had Drake, B printed neatly next to the B4 slot. Licking dry lips, she grabbed the door handle. The worst they would do was kick her out, maybe yell at her for boosting Rob’s RFID wand. She’d take that and much worse to be able to talk to Ben, her Ben, not some tarted up artificial persona that someone had programmed onto a chip.

She opened the door, ready to smile.

And stopped.

Her first thought was that she’d gotten the rooms mixed up somehow. Because the thing on the bed, it looked like Ben, yes, but it was missing both arms and everything from the middle of its chest on down. The holes in the body had been sealed neatly with glistening gelatinous caps, and a variety of tubes and wires ran from them to a mix of equipment arranged around the bed. Some of the tech she recognized from her own work, equipment regularly used in cybertech. The rest looked more like it belonged in a hospital room, with a person.

Not here. Not with this … mockery.

He really was an android, something in the back of her mind whispered. They lied to you, they all lied to you—

The Ben-thing opened its eyes. And looked at her with the most hesitant, heartbreaking smile. “Evie?”

She shook her head. Why was it lying to her? Why did it have to use Ben’s voice?

It glanced down, craning its neck. Blue eyes went wide, filling with horror. “No. Oh, God, no!”

She choked back a sob, shaking her head.

He looked up. Color flooded his face, making his eyes seem to glow as he stared at her. And then the horror disappeared, replaced by incandescent fury. “Get out!” he shouted, raising his head off the bed far enough to jostle some of the wires and tubes. Somewhere an alarm began to bleep. “Goddamn you, Evie, get out! Don’t look at me!”

She didn’t want to. She didn’t want to see any of this. Screwing her eyes shut, she fumbled for the door handle behind her.

“Get out!”

There it was. She stepped backwards, away from the impossibility on the bed. Away from the last, final hope she’d allowed herself to have.

She backed into someone. Turning, she looked up into Samir’s now-grim face.

He grabbed her arm, his grip not ungentle but impossible to escape. “I think we need to have a chat,” he drawled. “Don’t you agree, Ally?”

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Clean House

two-kinds-of-people-when-christmas-beginsYeah, no, I’m not celebrating Christmas just yet, unlike my sister whose house looks like Santa came all over it from mid-November through the first week of January. That meme at right? That’s us. I’m Theoden. She’s Buddy Elf. No, I don’t understand how we’re related, either.

That being said, I am continuing my “mourning for my country” cleaning kick, which means that every vacuum in this house has had its filter cleaned, the downstairs AC system filter has been replaced, the dining room has been cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed, most of the living room has been cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed (I still have to tackle the end table next to Ramón’s seat), the kitchen has remained spotless for an entire week, and the place smells great. My core muscles are also aching like a bitch, so today I’m focusing on paperwork (paying bills, filing receipts, mailing off stuff to various folks), writing, and critting a story for my writing group tonight. By the time Friday rolls around the entire downstairs should be clean so I can put up all the Christmas ornaments on time for once.

Of course, I still have to clean upstairs, but hell, even that’s getting done bit by bit. By the end of the month this entire place may not only be decorated, but spotless as well. Whoa.

Flipping back to writing news, Ramón used that huge brain of his to break a little problem I’ve been wrestling with for the past few days (how would rich people shop thirty years from now) and in doing so significantly expanded the background of Intersection AND gave me more insight into my heroine Evie. Looking forward to tackling that scene later this afternoon, I am. I’ve also been having a lot of fun having the occasional Twitter exchange with the lovely actor who inspired me to write this thing in the first place, so I’ve got that going for me as well.

Intersection Snippet – Evie goes for it

After a doctor’s visit that confirmed I do have a sinus infection (yay colds that lead to bacterial gunk!), I now have antibiotics and a steroid shot to open up everything in my nasal passages, which means I’m feeling way better than I have since Thursday, woo. To celebrate, here’s a snippet from my new SF erotic romance, Intersection (Pacifica Rising 1).

Some background: in 2048, global warming and civil unrest have devastated civilization and rewritten the political map of Earth. Corporate-owned Protectorates now act as nation-states, and the Pacifica Protectorate is one of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful regions on the planet, stretching from the former location of Seattle down to just north of San Jose. Pacifica is run by a technocracy, and its inhabitants are either Board Members, Shareholders or Employees. Those who lose their jobs are either forced to leave the Protectorate for the Outlands or can volunteer for reclamation work in the Northern Territory, which was badly damaged by the Great Shake of 2023. Just turned 19, Evie Contreras is a brilliant young woman about to head off to technical college. Ben Drake is 31 and the Pacifica Protectorate Defense Forces captain who was the best friend of her older (and now-deceased) brother Christo. A widower, Ben has hired Evie to babysit for his 6-year-old daughter Ally when he has to go on patrol. But Evie’s feelings for Ben are anything but professional…

“I’ll have Ally packed up and ready to go tomorrow.”

Evie nodded. She already had the other bed in her room made up with clean sheets and a blanket. Ally had stayed over often enough that everyone knew the drill. “Do you know how long you’ll be gone?”

Ben gestured vaguely. “It’s supposed to be two weeks, but you know that can change. Will that be all right with your folks?”

She had to grin at that. “Mama’s already cooking up everything Ally likes. She loves having her stay with us. And as far as Papa’s concerned, the more kids in the house, the better.”

Something in his expression flickered at that and she bit her lip, wishing she hadn’t put it that way. Papa would be over the moon if she made him an abuelo, and Mama would be even more thrilled. But they would expect her to get married first like a good girl before she started presenting them with grandchildren. And in her heart of hearts she couldn’t imagine someone like Ben marrying a 19-year-old wannabe tech whose parents worked as personal servants.

“Anyway, we’re all set to have her, don’t worry about that,” she said quickly. “You just take care of yourself.”

“Roger that.” He grinned at her, his smile bright even in the dimness of the car interior. “Thanks for everything you do, Evie. I don’t think I tell you enough how much I appreciate you.”

Her heart glowed at the praise. “You’re welcome,” she said, trying to make it sound casual. “I—I mean, we—appreciate what you’re doing for all of us, being in the Defense Forces.”

“Yeah,” he said quietly, looking away. Neither of them said her brother Christo’s name, but he was there anyway. “Anyway, I better get going.”

“Right.” She reached out for the door handle, then paused. Serving in the Defense Forces was a dangerous job. Christo was proof of that. And while Ben was an experienced soldier, there was never a guarantee that he’d come back from a deployment. She was of legal age and had her contraceptive implant. And the worst, the absolute worst he would do was push her away. It would break her heart, true, but it would break her heart even worse if he never came back and didn’t know how she felt—

She leaned back and kissed him. His lips were warm and firm against her own, and this close she could smell him, the light scent of body wash and something underneath that smelled like fresh-cut wood, salt, and something her mind simply labeled “Ben.”

She pulled back, just enough to see his eyes. The light blue had almost completely disappeared, pushed into a thin ring around a dark center.

And then he was kissing her. His arms slid around her, pulling her in tight as his mouth came down on hers, eager and hungry. It was nothing like kissing guys her own age. It was much, much, much better.

So, that happened

melwritingWiser (and cooler) heads have already spilled lakes of electronic ink on the subject of the US presidential election, so I won’t continue the discussion here other than to say that my candidate did not win, and I am concerned with the direction I see the country taking over the next four years. But I’m also taking the advice I have recently received to heart, and am getting involved politically with local groups to make sure that public servants who align more with my interests are elected in local and state elections, and to the House and Senate in 2018.So I have that going for me.

On a separate but related note, an individual on Twitter gloated to me that “at least the SJWs are gone and that’s all that matters to me.” To which I reply, “Buckle up, buttercup. This is just act one.”

If you’re still with me after all that, I thank you. Progress continues on Intersection, and I should have a first draft done by November 30, which means that I may have it ready for purchase before Christmas. Not that it’s a holiday story, but it means you’ll have a big shiny new SF erotic romance new series to sink your teeth into while trying to ignore the shouting over the Thanksgiving dinner table. And it even has cyborgs, because everyone likes cyborgs!

Anyway, no rest for the wicked — back to work!