1. Storysculpting Authoring Writing Life

I promised a scenelet. Here it be.

A while back I asked if anyone wanted a sneak peek at Ghost Town, my new work in progress. Y’all said, “Yes,” so I of course did nothing for ages. Until now.

TL;DR version of context: She’s new on the job. He’s been dead over a century.  Together they solve crimes.

The longer spiel: Deena Davis fled her wee Illinois hometown as soon as she was old enough to enlist in the Army.  Now she’s back in Gridley as the newly-appointed police chief, just in time to catch Gridley’s first murder case in decades.

Her great-great-grandfather Fletcher was Gridley’s mayor during his lifetime. Since his death he’s been the mayor of the town’s ghostly population. He was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and he has the ability to make himself seen by his descendants.

He is keen to help Deena solve this murder whether she wants it or not.

Also, Deena owns a retired military working dog named Bazel. (Because I wanted to write a dog, that’s why.) That’s why there’s a pic of a Malinois at the top of this post.

     Fletcher caught up to Deena while she was on her way to talk with the county clerk’s digital specialists. One minute she was checking the road behind her before changing lanes, the next, her rear view was blocked by the ghost’s smiling, whiskery face.

“Hello, granddaughter!”

Deena’s startled flinch nearly put them in the ditch before trained reflexes kicked in. The car rocked on its wheels, and gravel crunched under the right front tire, but she settled the swerve.

“Not funny!” she snapped as she regained control. “Don’t ever pop up like that when I’m driving, not ever.”

“When you’re—oh.” Fletcher took note of the scenery flashing by, and his face fell. “I didn’t think to check the physical plane ‘afore visiting. I’m right sorry, Deena. ”

His contrite expression looked sincere, but the man had been a politician. Deena wouldn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. “You’d better be sorry. This partnership will come to an abrupt and nasty end if I slam head-on into a semi.”

Bazel nosed irritably at the mayor, who was occupying much of the same space in the back seat as he was. Fletcher ignored the dog’s intrusion, his expression thoughtful in a dangerously familiar way. Deena had seen that look on her father’s face more than once when he got to yearning for grandkids.

She shouldn’t have mentioned dying. At least the ghost couldn’t set her up on blind dates. He could nag, though. Better cut that off before it starts. “And don’t even think about telling me I should settle down and start popping out kids.”

The ghost stroked his mustache and slid to the other seat to get away from the dog. “No idea what you’re on about,” he said cheerfully. “Ain’tcha going to ask why I’m here? Lemme tell you. I made inquiries last night, and I have news.”

“That’s grand,” Deena said with maximum insincerity. Just as she’d suspected, the mayor was going to hover over her and get in the way. The tires squeaked as she turned hard into the office parking lot. She found the building number and pulled into a spot nearby. “I have to interview a digitizing specialist. Learn anything relevant to that?”

“I don’t reckon so. Not even sure what that is.”

“Then wait here—or if you won’t do that, at least stay out of my sight and keep your mouth shut so I don’t look like a lunatic.”

“Hold on one goldarned second.” Fletcher did his instant-move thing to appear at Deena’s shoulder as she opened the rear door to retrieve Bazel. “Is that any way to talk to your partner? Listen here—”

“No, you listen.” Deena unlatched Bazel and looked down at the dog to avoid the talking to thin air issue. “I can’t drop everything any time you decide to show up. Maybe you have all the time in the world, but I don’t, and there is no box for ‘ghost evidence’ on the reports I have to file. This comes first.”

She looked up at the end. Fletcher met her angry gaze for long seconds. “You don’t have to be so hurtful,” he finally said.

She had been harsh. Much too harsh. She let out tension in a heavy sigh and rubbed her aching neck. Sun beat down on the pavement, and reflected heat rose up through her boots. Her ancestor looked cool and collected. Must be nice to not melt in the heat. “I’m sorry, Fletcher. You scared the daylights out of me. That gets my temper up. No disrespect. I do want to hear you out. Just—not now. Please.”

“Well, all righty. That’s a pretty explanation, and I might have a temper myself.” The ghost mayor regarded her Ford Interceptor with a thoughtful frown. “These carriages keep getting bigger and more complicated. How’s about you take me for a drive around town in it? I can give you all the news and show you the sights, and you can show me how fast it goes.”

“That’s—not a bad idea.” Nobody looked twice at drivers talking to themselves. Deena gave Bazel a quick ear scratch and straightened to see a figure at the office window duck out of view. Looked like her witness was getting nervous. “We’ll do that soon. Now go poof or whatever it is you do and let me get to work.”

“Poof?” Fletcher said. “Poof?”

She gestured extravagantly with both hands like a magician. “Poof!”

He was still sputtering when he disappeared, but he was smiling too.

1. Storysculpting Authoring Promotion Writing Life

New Book, Exciting News!

All five Rough Passages tales have been collected into one big, happy edition with extra world-building material, stunning interior design from RuneWright LLC and a gorgeous cover by Quincy J. Allen.

Here’s the link to its shiny Amazon entry: Rough Passages book page

And here’s a peek inside at the dedication pages, interior decorations and a few pages of text: Rough Passages sneak peek

  **NOTE** It’s a PDF, so it might download instead of opening online, all depending on your choice of browser & platform.

Now, by popular demand, I am adding my list of easy ways for current readers to support my campaign to sell a gazillion copies of the new book. Because OF COURSE you want to help.

The best part: these suggestions are totally transferable. Think Rough Passages is total dreck and not worth your time? Great! Read these ideas anyway, then take your wrongheaded perfectly valid opinion and go elsewhere to support the new release of some other extra-awesome author.

  • If you’re a fan & on Goodreads, help the collection find new readers. Give a rating to the book’s Goodreads entry now.* You don’t even have to review. GR allows naked ratings. Also put it on your GR “want to read” list if you can.

*Yes, this is totally legit even though the book doesn’t release for a couple of weeks. LEGIT, I SAY.  NORMAL. Many authors release bundled works or repackaged novels etc. People get review copies. People read drafts.  Whatevs. If you’ve read these stories already, you should go forth and scatter stars freely.

  • Pre-order a Kindle copy ASAP (if you do Kindle.) Get your friends to do the same. Multiple same-day orders boost the ranking tons higher than the same # of orders spaced days apart. HIgher rankings = higher visibility for other potential readers.
  • Ponder writing a ten-word review for Amazon. You have weeks yet to dash off a line or two to post opening day. I will be putting together a deli-sandwich-style guide to writing quick&easy reviews. Yes, I will post it to this blog.
  • Spread the word! In person as well as online.  Social media shares are great (and thank you to my many, awesome boosters!) but specific encouragements to friends are like gold dipped in gold with gold leaf wrappers on.

My best-ever score for preorders is 20. Pathetic? Maybe, but it’s still a goal.  Rough Passages has already exceeded the historical low of 2 5 preorders for a past title not being named to protect the guilty.  I am pleased to say Rough Passages met the initial challenge, achieved a total of “legal drinking age in the US” and heading towards “Same total as the number of pennies in a quarter.

If everyone who calls me friend or favorite living author (Multiple people have, I am not making that up) the total should easily exceed 10 might get as high as Existential Crisis. (that’s 30.)

Anyway,  I have a win already but I want a BIG win.  I would love to blast past the old high score. Aim high. Yeah. Call me a dreamer.

Authoring excerpts Writing Advice

The Latest Peek at Heartwood

Look! My book has structure!


For those curious, I’ve begun work on the second chapter in Book 4. Won’t be long before the writing part of this novel is done-done-done. <pause for small happy-dance> That’s why I got the itch to parse out a full Table of Contents.

This one has been a long time in the making, longer than most of my novels, but every chapter so far has passed Beloved Alpha Reader’s stringent QA standards. I have high hopes that Heartwood will go from final draft to print quickly.

But wait, the strawman asks! How can it be a final draft if I’m not done writing it in the first place?  Excellent question.  The short answer is: I am a rebel-heretic-apostate when it comes to discovery writing. I don’t do “write now, edit later.”  I write. I fuss. I finish, and that’s it. (Gasps of horror all around, right?)

Well, sorta.

Long answer: I don’t write out a draft to tell myself the story and then polish up the result over and over (and over) the way all my creative writing classes and most critique groups insisted successful writers “should” write. I set up a bare frame–starting point, resolution, and cast–and start weaving. As I build the tapestry, I also add in, pull out and reweave and embroider elements as I go. By the time I reach The End, my finished manuscript can’t accurately be called a first draft. Technically it’s somewhere between the fiftieth and umpty-hundredth draft. Yes, even the last scene.

There will also be several edits between draft completion and publication, involving more additions/excisions/revisions for clarity & development.  But with rare exceptions my tales remain  fundamentally the same.

So a geological scale, transition from draft to proof to publication is practically instantaneous. On a human scale, it’ll be months yet, but still–that’s not long in the book world. Not long at all.

Arrgh. Cover art. Right. Being this close means I need cover art soon! I’d better get on that.

Want more of my words? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices!


Sneak Peek at Novices

Here’s a little look at my newest story.  

Like all the Stories of the Restoration, Novices is set in a less-than-perfect future that is nonetheless better than the past its inhabitants remember. The world tore itself apart in fiery social upheaval and chaos, but now the fires of revolution and anarchy have cooled, and rebuilding is well underway.

 I think of Novices as a scrapbook of snapshots — a peek into the past of two characters who figure prominently in the plots of my novels Controlled Descent and Flight Plan. It’s two slices of two boys’ lives, set at the time they first leave home and test their beliefs against the worst they think the world can throw at them.
            Joe requested that Eddie be sent upstairs on the pretext of a family emergency. It was even true, in a way. While he waited, he inspected the boy’s room. The place was orderly and clean. Rocks and feathers on the desk and frames filled with family pictures were the only personal touches. The austerity wasn’t what Joe had expected, but over a year had passed since he’d last seen Eddie, and children changed.
            The young man who arrived at a run two minutes later was another surprise. His hazel eyes were still a little off, his body language still energetic and aggressive, but he was more than twenty centimeters taller than Joe remembered, and thin muscle over longer bones made him look a lot more wolfish than puppy-like now.
            “Good God, you’ve grown.” The words got out before Joe could stop them. “Sorry, never mind. That’s not important. We need to talk.”
            Eddie kicked the door shut behind himself. His hair was clipped so short his scalp showed through, and beard fuzz shadowed his upper lip. He wore only trainers and sweat-stained shorts, and he held a tee shirt in one clenched fist.
            “What happened?” he asked in a high, hoarse voice. “Is it Mom? Bernie? Carl?”
            Joe’s hopes withered at the last question. “Damn. I was really hoping you knew something was wrong already—Carl’s gone AWOL, and we need to find him fast.”
            The sooner they found Carl, the less time he would have to hurt himself or someone else. That he would hurt someone was a likelihood Joe had to accept. This was far from the first time that an intern had gone over the Institute walls. No matter how thoroughly science came to understand the human brain, the mind wasn’t always predictable. Sometimes all the safety nets failed and a trainee succumbed to psychosis or major depression or paranoid delusion.
            And right now, against all calculation, signs pointed to Carl being one of those failures. “Can you tell where he is now?”
            Eddie sat on the bed and wrapped his arms around himself, and the guilt in his body language wailed, I didn’t know he was in trouble. Soon he whispered. “South-south-east a ways. Shit, he’s angry.”
            “You didn’t know? I thought you always knew where he was.”
            That anguished silence dragged on while Eddie rubbed a hand over his head and collected more words. “I don’t always tune in,” he said. “I butted out for the heavy stuff. I missed it. He up and left the campus? Without asking?”
            Without me? was the plaintive undertone.
            “Yes, he did, and that’s expressly forbidden at this stage of his training. He might not be thinking clearly, either. I was hoping you could help find him.”
There you go. Just the barest taste to whet your reading appetites. Novices releases June 23, 2015 as part of my celebration for my first novel’s first-year-in-print anniversary. It’s available for pre-order now if you’re interested.  It’s priced at $2.99, and here’s a link: 
No, no, not this Link. Wrong Link. Up there. Above the picture.


Snazzy, no? Coming soon…I hope.