Excerpt from Awakening

Here’s a quick excerpt from Awakening, in Chapter 22, “Henchen Henceforth Penchen.” The chapter’s title is the name of a pet rooster, named after my mom’s own pet rooster from her childhood. Fortunately, her childhood was different from my characters’.


The family stopped at a dingy, little shop off the main highway to pick up supplies they needed, while her dad talked to the locals and enjoyed a smoke outside. When he had finished smoking, he went inside, leaving the girls alone in the barren parking lot. They stopped on every weekend trip at Dusty’s Rhodeside Supplies, where Jimmy LeBeaux had become something of a regular. The two girls paced back and forth, idling in the desert heat, until their father had finished his business, along with his usual two more cigarettes and as many “cold ones with the boys” from the small fridge that Dusty kept hidden behind the counter next to a loaded shotgun. The girls were alone except for the occasional tumbleweed or roadrunner that eyed them warily from a distance. After twenty minutes, Jimmy called in Reyna to show off how pretty his daughter was. Robin followed her in, although she wasn’t certain her dad remembered he had a second daughter.

“Yeah, she’s a looker, Jimmy,” Dusty Rhodes—his actual name—said, giving the thirteen year old Reyna an inappropriate leer. Reyna drew in her body tensely, as if his eyes could actually touch her skin, and made a sour face. “You’re gonna be chasing the boys off’n her with a shotgun in a couple years.”

“Hell no I ain’t,” Jimmy said. “Ain’t nobody gonna mess with my baby girl. Ain’t nobody that stupid.” He laughed and placed his hand on Reyna’s shoulder. Reyna stiffened, but did not otherwise react.

Robin stood in a corner of the cramped store, pretending to be interested in the merchandise on the shelves, but, in actuality, was just enjoying the limited cooling ability of the big swamp coolers nearby. Her dad’s truck had air conditioning, but he refused to use it, claiming it burned too much gas and overtaxed his diesel engine. As she watched her sister looking as if she were caught in a poacher’s trap, she realized how obviously Reyna hated being there, and wondered why her dad never seemed to notice. Then again, she figured, noticing his daughters’ needs was never one of her father’s strong suits.

Finally, when the beer ran out, Jimmy LeBeaux wrapped his bony arm around Reyna’s waist, and announced they had to get to work.

“Why don’tchu brang that pretty wife of your’n down sometime, Jimmy?” Dusty asked. “Me and the wife would love to have y’all over. The wife makes a mean pot roast, and I know for a fact you’re sick of all that damn Mexican food.”

“That’s for damn sure,” Jimmy said, his tobacco-stained teeth showing.

“We’ll cook you up some good ole Texas chili—get you some American food for a change.”

Robin glared at Dusty and considered telling him that she was pretty sure that Albuquerque, her mom’s birthplace, was still in America, but caught Reyna’s cautionary look, and held her tongue. She expected her father to come to her mom’s defense—after all, she and Reyna were part Mexican themselves—but Jimmy only laughed.

“We might do just that some time,” Jimmy said laughing. “I’ll bring you some green chiles so you can spice that Texas chili up New Mexico style, he said. Me and the girls are gonna be harvesting real soon—looks like no more’n a couple of weeks.” He walked to the door, and gestured for Robin and Reyna to go out to the truck. As Reyna turned, Jimmy playfully patted her on her round butt and said, “See, she gets that from her mom. Being Mexican does have some usefulness you know. I sure have me some fun with her mom, if you get my drift.” He and the men all laughed as Jimmy joined his daughters in the dusty parking lot and loaded the rest of the supplies in the bed of the large truck.

As they started on their way, Robin offered from the back seat, “Tio Carlos always says that if you’re part Mexican, you’re all Mexican. He says that once you’re part of a Mexican family you belong 100 percent. So, that means that me and Reyna are Mexican too. Even you, Daddy.” Robin hoped that her logic would persuade her father to not associate with men who seemed to dislike her people.

To her disappointment, but not surprise, he said, “Your ‘Tio’ Carlos is an idiot.” As he said “Tio,” he made quotation marks with his fingers, two of which held another cigarette. The gesture made Robin nervous, as he took both hands off the steering wheel to do so.

“Tio Carlos has a law firm, Dad, and he makes more money than, like, all the LeBeauxes put together,” Reyna said in his defense.

Barely looking, Jimmy LeBeaux reached over and slapped Reyna on the side of her face. “Don’t smart mouth me, little girl,” he said, exhaling acrid smoke in her direction. Robin jerked back in her seat with a start and began crying. Reyna however, kept her eyes fixed on the road ahead and neither moved a muscle nor made a sound.

“You shut the hell up back there, little girl, or I swear to God we will be eating roast rooster for dinner tonight.”

Robin began to weep harder, but had enough experience to do so silently. She wished to herself that she could be as strong as her big sister, who was surreptitiously soothing her younger sister by reaching back and stroking her leg.

Excerpt from Jeanne Dark

Dark Hat

For the first time, I’m getting the feeling this book could be something. The main characters have formed, stormed, and normed, and now, they begin to perform.


Excerpt from Chapter 13

We checked out of the hotel the next morning before the sun had even illuminated the fog that hung over the city’s busy West End. Fortunately for me, instead of feeling rejected, Dark was grateful that I’d allowed her into my bed without “taking advantage.” We were both nude when the alarm went off, and I still don’t know how my shorts got removed. However it happened, my phone’s alarm awoke us in the tangle of bodies, morning breath, and stiffness that I’d spent most of my bachelor days trying to avoid. Dark was soft and smelled of flowers. For five full minutes, I tried to create scenarios in my mind wherein I could say the hell with clearing her name, make stupid-long love to the woman and grab her for on a one-way flight to anywhere else. Jeanne opened her eyes just then and said, “You couldn’t live with that.” I didn’t bother to ask her what she meant. She’d moved permanently into my head just she had my home and my life. Two hours later, we hopped on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh, which I purposely kept pronouncing Edenburg just to get on her nerves.

It wasn’t idle silliness. I was falling for the woman hard enough to fear there’d be no floor, and at that point would have done anything to create sufficient tension to keep us out of bed. After being the imperfect gentleman the night before, I almost made love to her twice that morning—first, in bed, when she’d refused to unscramble our human jigsaw puzzle, and then again in my shower to which she’d invited herself with a smile and a jazz tune on her lips. It was that she could sing like an angel that scrambled me the second time. We touched down at Edinburgh Airport at ten o’clock sharp and hadn’t so much as unstrapped our seat belts when I got a called from Hardesty. “Don’t bother to hire a cab,” he said. “Local police got a warrant to pick up Rudenko, but his housekeeper told us he’s already skipped. They have her in for questioning, but she seems to be clean of this.”


Who’s Rudenko? You gotta read the book. I suppose that means I’ve gotta write it.

Dragon Quest

From Discovery.

From: http://americayall.com (click to visit the link). The fun part of the interwebs is that you can imagine any location, google your description, and find a photo of it.

Charlie awoke to a damp, cool morning. He was lying on the frosted grass of a plateau, overlooking a series of rambling hills that curved into the distance. A deep pass, once a river, carved its way through the base of the mountains. Over untold millennia, the river had deepened the valley and wind abraded the mountains into a series of steep hills. A dense forest of ancient pines hugged the hillside, all but blanketing the valley. From his vantage, the dried riverbed looked like a jagged scar cut through a field of green. Despite almost constant moisture in the valley, the hills shed their vegetation as their altitudes increased. Near the summits, they were little more than dark rock and low scrub brush. A dense fog obscured all but the peaks of the furthest hill. The skies were cold and gray with only muted sunlight filtering through the high clouds. The entire setting was laid out as if it were a painting rendered in shades of gray. Charlie inhaled, taking in the thick, clean air, and then exhaled, his face ringed by water vapor heated by his lungs. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” he said to no one.

Even though he had spoken in hushed tones, he could hear a faint echo reverberating from the distant hills. Not knowing what lay in the valley before him, he resisted the urge to shout his name and claim the valley for his. His training had taught him to be wary. He was a hunter, but could just as easily be prey. Charlie touched the ground next to his makeshift bed of soft pine needles and picked up his heavy oak staff. A large arrowhead made of heavy iron formed the business end of the weapon.

Charlie wore brown cloth breeches and a cloak made of deerskin, collared with white ermine. He strained his memory, trying to recall on which adventure he had trapped the weasels and stripped the fur that now caressed his cheek. It was late autumn now, and the fur was white, so surely it had been the prior winter. Charlie stamped out the remainder of the campfire with his heavy boots and began the descent towards the valley and the mountain pass where the Great Beast was said to winter. It would be a good hunt—for either the dragon, or himself.

Edit, Write, Edit

©Elnur Fotolia.com
Note: This dork is NOT my Eddie, nor is this the cover.

So, I’ve been busier than usual. I wouldn’t have thought that possible, to be honest. First, my wonderful editor has completed work on my completed draft, The Brooklyn Trace, which some of you may remember began as “Skip Tracer” here on this blog. I’ve posted a sample below because … reasons.

The morning of our flight to New York, well before sunrise, a perfumed, naked Mina woke me up by slipping into the small bed with me. I remember being in a dream wherein I was an antelope being chased by a herd of cougars, and the next thing I knew I was completely naked and this gorgeous woman was kissing my neck and telling me to wake up because I’d somehow made her horny. In between kisses and being submerged in her oceanic expanse of passion I probed, trying to discover what I’d done to trigger her arousal.

Her answer was, “You can be so dumb sometimes,” followed by, “Hush. You’re spoiling the mood.”

Now, the way I see it, when a pretty girl wants to be in control and you are both nude, you yield. So I did. She was a tidal wave, this woman, lashing my shores until I feared that by the time she ebbed there would be nothing left of me but a driftwood shell. Afterward she rolled sweetly into my arms, smiled up at me, and fell into sleep. Even a hard case like me has to admit that was the best part.

Next on the agenda is to write a blurb, summary, and query letter. I think I’m going to try my hand at traditional publishing with this one because the plot is more mainstream and indie publication is just more work than I care to put into book selling. I have time to a) write or b) sell. I don’t have time for both. If I don’t get the type of response I’m looking for, then I’ll revert to doing it myself. We shall see.

I made my editor cry on this one, so I’m hopeful. (No, not because I failed to pay on time, smart ass.) It’s because of all the “feels” in the book. (I adore this editor, btw.) The book is funny, sexy, touching, full of action, and at times, sad. I like it, and think you will to.

Next up is my new girl.

Dark Cover
Jeanne Dark – coming soon! Look for her.

I’ve been in love with her for over a year, but she’s still playing hard to get. To break the tedium of all those seconds in between working at my day job, sleeping, and missing my angel, I’ve been slowly working on her book, which is named after my lead, Jeanne Dark. I’ve completely finished the plot outline, so it’s just a matter of writing the book. I’m 40,000 words in. You can find excerpts here, here, and here if you’re interested.

Technically, you can find them there even if you’re not interested. It’s like the tree falling in the woods question — it makes a sound whether you’re there or not.

But I digress.

Since writing Jeanne and Foss’s book is much, much harder than the previous books (there seems to be an inverse relationship between how hard it is to write and how proficient one is at it) I’ve begun editing Discovery.

Now, some of you may be wondering why, since it’s in its 2nd edition already. The answer is simple: I’m not happy with sales. My conscience has been telling me I’ve been marketing The Stream series all wrong. I must admit she’s right.

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Indeed, even the name of the series and the books will likely change in the new edition. Something distinctly more dragonish and fantasy evoking, I imagine. I’ll also probably seek out publishers in the UK. When the 1st two books were finished (2009 – 2011) the Fantasy Fiction world was ensconced with vampires, werewolves, and zombies. That’s all that sold (other than Harry You-know-who) and all people were interested in. Perhaps the time is ripe.

The Stream

The Stream is probably more Visionary Fiction than Fantasy Fiction, and I’ll try to make that clearer. It’s pretty obvious by the 3rd book. It was obvious to Maria right away, but less so to others. I’m thinking I might bring the dragons out sooner. They don’t appear until midway through the 1st book now. Of course, that would mean making it longer, which I don’t want to do.

The difficulty is that I’ve changed and my writing has changed. While I’ve always gotten good reviews for Discovery, I’m finding myself doing a lot of rewrites early on. Frankly, I don’t know who this Bill Jones guy is, but I don’t like his style much. (Well, I do, it’s just different than my more-evolved style.) It’ll be a line to touch up the rough bits without chucking it all in the rubbish bin. We’ll see how I make out.

Anyway, that’s me. What’s up with you?

Eddietitle

Dragon, Shall I Slay Thee with Mine Pen?

Here’s a little excerpt from Chapter 1 of Awakening  (which I probably should have titled Let Sleeping Dragons Lie). In the book’s opening, our two heroes, Charlie and Robin, are in the world beyond reality. Robin is attempting to teach her friend to unleash his imagination, and with it, the power of the dream world. In the excerpt, Robin has been abducted by a green forest dragon (who are notoriously grumpy) and Charlie is in pursuit on a giant crow he’s named “Crowdacious.”

What? It could happen.

“Forest Dragon” by Gerexon

The pair flew above the landscape, mixing briefly with a tangle of smaller dragons, most of which flew like bumblebees, which is to say, poorly. One particularly chubby orange beast bounced off Charlie’s head, sending him, arms pinwheeling and mouth screaming, over the side of the crow. After falling a few hundred feet, he noticed his crow circling below, and he allowed himself to enjoy the free fall. He landed on the downy feathers of the bird’s rump just as Robin came into view.

She was once again dangling from the dragon’s foreclaws, and again appeared to be struggling. On closer inspection, however, it was clear that she was dancing, and the dragon was moving in concert with her own movements.

Only Robin could teach a dragon how to dance.

The pair continued their flight, soaring over a forest that was rumored to be inhabited by mythical beasts. It was dark below, despite being bright sunlight above. As they descended for a better view, they were buzzed by a swarm of what at first glance appeared to be angry insects. These bugs, however, had grizzled beards and cursed like sailors. They buzzed Charlie and Robin, who were waving frantically at them as the swarm thickened. These were not insects, but small, flying humanoids. As they swarmed, they stung the kids with minute bolts from their outstretched fingers. Charlie could not tell if it was electricity or magic, but it hurt.

“Go away, you stupid gnat fairies!” Robin yelled.

Her dragon began raking the air with fire. It worked, finally convincing the swarm to depart, but also caught Charlie’s enormous crow in the crossfire. The big bird descended in a power dive to the ground, its tail feathers aflame. It swooped low, headed for damp soil. Charlie dove off the bird just before it slammed into the earth and rolled itself in the dirt, putting out the fire. The bird missed crushing him by inches.

Charlie lay in the grass for a moment, panting, as his heart slowed its jackhammering to near normal. He was in a field of lovely purple flowers, all of which were shaped like six-petal stars. He leaned over and sniffed one, and immediately erupted in sneezes. It smelled like black pepper and garlic.

“Jeez,” Charlie said, as Robin helped him to his feet, “next time you decide to fry fairies, wait until I’m out of the way first.”

“Sorry, dude. I hate bug fairies. One flew up my nose.” She looked at him, a sly gleam in her eye. “Snot very cool.” Charlie rolled his eyes in response. Robin’s eyes darted up to the sky, and she screamed, “Look out!”

She dove out of the way, but Charlie did not react quickly enough. He had just enough time to look up, as his angry crow discharged its … feelings … about being singed … all over Charlie. He was now covered from head to toe in a Crowdacious mound of bird poop.

Robin’s eyes were watering, and it looked as if she were biting her lower lip hard enough that it might start bleeding.

“If you laugh, I swear to God, we aren’t friends anymore.”

“Oh pooh balls. You’re no fun at all.”

Charlie gave her the longest eye roll he could muster, and then, thankfully, woke up.

His hair was still covered in bird poop.

These dreams are becoming too realistic.

Remembering, Final Part

Part 2
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My People grow stronger with the work. We are lazy, the herders say. We do not pull out enough of the green stones. Daily, we take their beatings – some to the death. Three thousand, eight hundred twenty-seven are left. None of us will defile the white rocks for the herders. We work slowly, with care, but bring their green stones as they wish.

“You bloody heathens are worthless,” says the lead herder. His lash stings my flesh, tearing bits from my back. There are a hundred tracks there. They are good, the tracks. They mark me with the footsteps of my fallen People. The tracks will help me with the remembering.

The lead herder stops. Perhaps he has tired of the game. I am on my four limbs, my back to him. My head is bowed, where Krytay tells me it must be.

“Tell your damned horde to work faster, or I’ll beat you all within an inch of your lives.” He stands, and gestures to the People.

Most of the males are being beaten with the whips. Even the Sand Herders have joined in. We thought they, perhaps, were like the People. The promise of riches turns even the best to animals, I fear. In my remembering, I shall not spare these herders the truth either.

The time draws near.

A herder with midnight pelt takes Krytay by her forelimb. That the pale pink of his flesh has defiled her enrages me.

“Move, you damned bug!” he shouts at her. Those are the last words he ever utters.

The lead herder turns, raises his weapon … but I leap. We are faster than they. I reach his neck as the weapon discharges, and separate his head from his torso. The blood that fuels him is red … a strange color for blood, I think. I remember the dead now; we strike a blow for each of them, finally marking their passing. Beneath the midnight and sand-hued pelts, the herders’ flesh is rent. There are shrieks, and much death … blood paints the white stones.

All of the blood is red.

***

It has been eight days, but we have not begun the walk to the dry lands. Some wish to stay in the fire mountain valleys. There have been no rumbles for a sun, and no steam issues through the cracks. The lands here are rich, full of green and with much food. The People have chosen me to lead. Perhaps we will winter here, before making the trek homeward.

This time, we will march, but there will be soles beneath our feet. The herders’ pelts dry well, and offer good protection.

“Hair,” Krytay corrects me. “The herders call it hair.”

I nod. She knows their words better than I. Ship. Wealth. Earth. More words that mean nothing.

Krytay pulls on the last of her soles, made from the pelts. She hands me the Leader’s staff. It is a heavier burden even than the remembering. “I am no leader,” I protest to Krytay. We speak in private, as the People need to be led. It is not good for them to hear my doubts.

“You have led us from the dry lands here,” she answers. “When it was time to awaken our People, you struck the first blow.”

I shake my head, but take her close to me. “I am but a Rememberer,” I protest. “I did what I must; to remember the dead.”

“No, Tofray” Krytay says. “Not Rememberer. That is not their word.”

I look at her – strong of carapace and of mind. I am reminded, again, that I have chosen well. “What word then?” I ask. Our language has neither word nor concept. Never has there been a need. But the two legs – the herders – brought with them death, and with it, me. I have remembered the dead, and we shall mourn them no longer.

“Not Rememberer, she repeats, Avenger. You are our Avenger.”

“Yes,” I think, turning their language over in my mind. Perhaps that is the better word.

Remembering, Part 2

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Watching

I have taken a mate. There must be life, I have decided. I am now content with the responsibility of remembering, and our numbers have stabilized. If I perish – the fates being kind – perhaps my sons will take my place. She is called Krytay, my mate. She is tall, proud, and silent. Few of our women are as silent as she. Krytay will make for fine sons – long, with muscular lower limbs for climbing like their mother, and with broad backs and strong hands from me. We will breed here, and become of the mountain as we were once of the dry lands that the herders have claimed as their own. I have lived twenty suns. I no longer believe it to be one sun too many.

We stand at the mountains’ clearing, nearing the end of our journey. The valley before us is strange, rife with rock and greenery. The jagged cliffs intersect here, with white-capped mountains both behind us and distant beyond the valley. As we descend to the valley floor, we can see water that slides alongside the mountains like a child with its parent. We have no word for this water among my People. We are fortunate to pull a day’s water from the few plants that survive in our homeland. This place has more than is needed, an obscenity of riches.

Though winter, it is not as cold in this valley, and the floor is coated with a carpet of low, green plants. They are cool and soothing against our feet. Perhaps if this plant had marked our path, more of us would have survived. Hundreds, perhaps, died of infection caused by blisters on their unsoled feet. Still, we would refuse their soles again.

“There, you lot,” grunts the lead herder.

I am careful not to meet his gaze again. Krytay fears I will not survive another beating. I cannot tell her I take his anger with purpose. Ire will help me to remember our dead. We are marking time, all of us. There will be a day, one day soon on which I shall sing the songs of the dead. Until then, I wait, as Krytay asks. She is mine, and therefore, I am hers.

The lead herder points to a ragged, rocky face that is carved from a mountain. Within, there is a gaping pit as deep as ten men are high, and as wide as a half-hour’s march. The black rock is visible everywhere, dotted with the green stone. The greenery stops short of this place, as if it knows that it is unclean. Diop-cha, the teacher, suggests that the herders’ machines have torn this stone from the mountain in search of the green stones. They are worth nothing to us, but the herders would move the heavens to this pit to have them.

Some of the People tremble at seeing the black rocks. These are not merely mountains. They are fire mountains that belch the black stones. Even to our homelands are the stones carried. They are the source of the black dust that streaks our beige sand with midnight hues. They are the origin of the sacred obsidian paint we use to adorn ourselves for the night hunts. Interspersed with them are lighter rocks that turn to paste when crushed. The paste we wear like flesh, shielding us from the roasting sun. These are the life-giver stones that allow us to live in the dry lands. From this mountain, we are born. From these stones, we are given the world. We are the Cji’kopt-chja – the People of the Day and of the Night.

Without the stones and the rocks, our People would have never prospered. The herders wear their cloths that shine like pools of water in the sun. They marvel that we can survive the elements with only our flesh as protection. However, the life-giver paste is our “flesh.” The intruders do not understand, because we do not tell them. The stones are life. The rocks are sacred.

We should not be in this place.

Krytay takes my arm, in secret, and buries her nails within my flesh. It is good. My blood runs with her anger and my own. I have chosen well.