Character Guest Post: Vance, from Juli Caldwell’s “Psyched” #bbf

Hello lovely readers. Please welcome Vance, from Juli Caldwell’s “Psyched.” He’s come to tell us a ghost story!

I grew up close to the Webster rural cemetery. I heard weird sounds when I was growing up, especially on moonless nights. My dad always said there was no such thing as ghosts. We’re church-going people, so he taught me to believe in guardian angels and stuff like that, but he always thought that a spirit had a mission to protect us. Keep us safe. He didn’t think it could get stuck here.

When I was younger, I walked home from school with my brothers—I’m the youngest of four boys. For some reason I had to walk alone one day when I was about 13. As you go around a bend and up a little hill before you get to my neighborhood, there’s an old stone cottage set back from the road a bit. Overgrown weeping willows kind of hide it so it’s not easy to see unless you know it’s there. That house always kind of creeped me out, but I’d never had to walk past it alone before. The house has this historic marker that I never stopped to read with my brothers around. They just wanted to throw stones and see if we could break some of the windows because the place has been abandoned for years, unless you count the occasional homeless squatter or pot party.

The sign said the house was one of the first built in Webster, back in early 1700’s, and it gave the names of the original owners. For some reason I said their names out loud. As soon as I did…wow. We’re not too far from a river where I live, and this little stone cottage is close to it. So this mist rolled in as I said their names, and at first I didn’t think much of it. I mean, it’s upstate New York. Storms roll off the lake all the time, and there’s often fog in the river bottom. I just wanted to hurry home so I didn’t get drenched when the storm hit. As I started to walk away, something in the upper windows caught my eye and I stopped to look. At first it looked like gray curtains blowing out a window, but as I looked closer I saw a face. The sad, crying face of a woman. The mist rolled in, blocking my view of the window as a ghastly shriek rang out, and the wind suddenly picked up. It’s a good thing I didn’t wet myself right there. I ran up the hill and once I got out of that little valley where the house was, the mist was gone.

I can’t even explain how much it scared me. Later, I looked up the name of the woman on the sign and researched her history. Turns out she died under suspicious circumstances. She was a newlywed and her husband had just finished building that house for her. Another woman in town wanted to marry her husband, and after the woman came to visit her in her new house, she got really sick. Rumor is she died of poisoning but no one could ever prove it.

It drives my dad nuts that I believe, but this stuff is real. That face I saw, she was so lost, so scared. If I can help just one lost soul find a way out, set them free, what I do as a ghost hunter will be worth it.

Click here to view Juli Caldwell’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Guest Post by Aoife Marie Sheridan – Where Saskia Came From

edenForest-bigI have always written but mostly poetry, it’s always been my way to deal with my emotions, no matter how big or small. Two years ago I lost two people I was close too. I had never lost anyone before, so I didn’t deal very well with it. One night I had a dream of a man and women on a horse, passing through a wall of fire. The dream lingered with me, as did my grief. So instead of writing poetry I started my story. My starting point was my dream and I worked my way from there. Eden Forest helped me once again deal with death, and all that comes with it. So in a way I am very grateful for this story.

I always wondered why God created us and what was our purpose, but those questions are unanswered. So in my story I give you the answers for this world called Saskia. In the story God creates a world parallel to ours, for four fallen angels.

Death is something that I also question now, like why do we die, is 60 to 90yrs of life enough, imagine having immortality what would one do to gain it? And that’s where a lot of my plot lies. The greed for immortality, for power’s that only God should wield, drives Saskia into war.

God decides to give one person all the powers that anyone could possess to banish evil, before it destroys Saskia and Earth. This one person happens to be a young lady called Sarajane Anderson who lives in the mortal world (Earth) but is actually from Saskia.

Click here for Aoife Marie Sheridan’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Excerpt of The Forever Girl, by Rebecca Hamilton #bbf

SHERIFF LOCUMB AND I sat in a small room with a table and two chairs and a cheap light embedded into the suspended ceiling overhead. I wiped my palms on my pants, but the sweat kept coming.

He pulled up a picture on his cell phone. “Look familiar?”

Maybe he should’ve gotten an eight-by-twelve print. What was the picture of? Wood? A reddish-orange figure eight and a cross? I frowned and shook my head. “Should this look familiar?”

“Someone spray-painted this on the abandoned grain elevator,” he said coolly. “Why don’t you tell me what you know?”

“What I know about spray-paint?”

“Look.” He leveled his gaze at me. “Mrs. Franklin said one of the women in her congregation—well, her daughter got sick. They think you had something to do with it.”

“Mrs. Franklin thinks I have something to do with everything.”

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what? I didn’t get anyone sick.”

He puffed his cheeks and blew out a breath. “I’m not saying you got anyone sick, Sophia. They think you hexed their child by spray-painting this satanic symbol.”

“You think I hexed someone? You’re kidding.”

Belle Meadow might be a small town, but surely it wasn’t so dull that they needed to call me down to the station for this.

“You’re here because Mrs. Franklin suggested you might be the one who vandalized the abandoned grain elevator, not because you ‘cursed’ someone.”

“And?” I asked.

“Well, did you?”

“I’m Wiccan.”

He stared blankly. “What’s that have to do with the case?”

“Wiccans don’t believe in Satan.”

“Listen, lady. I don’t care what you believe in. Why don’t you just tell me where you were when the offense took place?”

“Which was when?”

“May tenth.”

“At Colorado State, taking my senior year finals.” Something a few minutes of research would have told him without dragging me down here. Besides, how did Mrs. Franklin know the date? Did she take daily drives around town with her calendar and journal, looking for signs of demonic worship?

Sheriff Locumb leaned back in his chair, slapping his hands against his knees before standing. “I’m sure you wouldn’t mind waiting here while I check with the school?”

I gestured toward the door. “Go ahead.”

I would like to say I enjoyed the silence while he was gone, but the constant hushing in my brain made that impossible.

Sheriff Locumb returned with a cup of coffee and an apology. I didn’t drink the coffee, but I did ask him about the sick kid, and he told me it’d just been a case of chicken pox. Not a demonic plague or anything like that.

After squaring everything away, I returned outside to my Jeep and gripped the steering wheel. I couldn’t deal with Mrs. Franklin’s crazy accusations and the damn hissing. Something had to give.

Taking three deep breaths, I pushed the hissing as far into the back of my skull as possible. I wasn’t about to go back to work. Someone was bound to interrupt my relaxation efforts with a request for a drink refill or a complaint that their jalapeno loaf was too spicy or their ginger-lime chicken wasn’t chickeny enough.

As I drove home, I concentrated on the road—on one mailbox after another, on the way tree branches laced overhead, even on the glare of traffic lights, counting the seconds until they turned green. Anything to distract me from the noise.

My Jeep shushed along the pavement, but the roll of the road didn’t do me any good. The quieter the world around me, the louder the buzzing in my brain. Coping was no longer a viable option.

At the last major cross street before my neighborhood, the noise in my head roared. I slammed my palm against the steering wheel, gritting my teeth.

Enough was enough. I flicked my turn signal in the other direction and veered onto the highway before my courage fled. It was time to turn away from caution and toward Sparrow’s Grotto. Toward something that might silence the hissing forever.

For more information, view Rebecca Hamilton’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Excerpt of Disciple, Part II, by L. Blankenship #bbf

L. Blankenship has stopped in with a little sample of her Disciple sequel!

Setting the Scene: After spending the day debriefing the king on the results of their mission, Prince Kiefan leads Kate into a quieter part of the castle…

He still held my hand. No voices, nobody nearby to see us. I swallowed a nervous lump in my throat, wondering where he meant to take me. And what he meant to do there. Surely I didn’t have to worry whether anyone would hear me scream… was there anything he could do that I’d need to?

My cheeks warmed.

Slim pillars held up a graceful stone arcade. Between them, we walked onto frost-burnt grass. A gnarled apple tree, leaves golden and half fallen to the ground, stood ringed by a waist-high juniper hedge. Beyond, the castle wall rose sheer and seamless. To either side, the watchtowers bulged from its face and spiked up like smooth horns. I had to crane my neck to find the tips, and in doing spotted the catwalks that connected each tower to the roof of Castle Kaltkern. The garden lay below the keep, hemmed in by saint-cut cliffs on both sides.

A crescent garden, I saw now. To either side, more fruit trees dropped their leaves, and the rose bushes had gone bare for the winter, but the juniper hedges held their green. Under the central apple tree waited a broad wooden bench. By my hand, still warm in his grip, Kiefan led me toward it and a tangle of hopes and fears snapped tight around my heart.

He didn’t sit, though. He stood under the tree and looked up. “Sometimes I can get some quiet here,” he said. “When Mother isn’t seeking solitude herself.”

I looked up, too, into golden leaves and dark branches. Blue, beyond. “It must be lovely in the spring.” I could imagine the trees hazed by white blossoms.

“And in the summer, when the roses are out, the scent hangs like a fog between the walls.”

He still held my hand. My nerves eased, I sidled closer to his shoulder. He smelled of sweat, under his layered woolens. “You spent the afternoon at swordplay?”

He nodded, bringing his gaze down to me. “I thought he would send for the captain, but Woden tossed me a sparring sword himself. I nearly dropped it when he chose one and stood at guard.”

“You sparred with a saint?”

Kiefan shook his head, disbelieving it himself. “I saw him spar with Captain Aleks, once. She said it was her most valuable lesson.”

“You lived to tell. You didn’t ask him to give you quarter?” I risked a smile.

A chuckle. “He gave none, that’s true. I won’t know how many bruises I have until morning, I’m sure.” He tugged out the collar of his cote to feign checking inside. “We spoke about the lamia, and he told me I was using my kir to keep their teeth off me despite the close quarters. The beginnings of a kir-shield. With training, I’ll be able to control it more.”

“We all learned something out there.” I looked up as a chilly breeze sent a few more leaves spinning from the branches and caught a wince on Kiefan’s brow. “Are you hurt? A headache?”

“A little.”

I knew what that meant. I put my hand on his fresh-shaven cheek and turned his head toward me to call his kir. It glowed in answer, revealing a few tangles on his meridian, but I got no further in checking him.

Kiefan leaned over and kissed me, wrapping me in both strong arms. Coaxed my mouth open to spar with his tongue. He left me breathing harder with my palm still on his face.

I combed my fingers over the ridges of his Blessing at the back of his neck and pulled him down for another. His arms tightened on me. His lips made their way to my throat and his tongue tracing the hollow there stabbed a shiver into my spine. My pulse surged.

With a hard breath, he buried his face against my neck and squeezed me till I squeaked. I clung to his shoulders, my feet lifted an inch off the ground. He held me warm and safe, despite the cold breeze.

“You must come to Prohzgrad with us,” he said against my neck. “Cure me with a kiss each night.”

I swallowed a sudden lump. “You’re going away?” I managed to ask through his grip.

 

Find out more about Disciple of the Fount by clicking the link below!

Click here to view L. Blankenship’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Excerpt: The Puppet Spell, by E.L. Adams

puppet spell coverWe’d only been at our new house five minutes and, predictably, Lucinda had already run off.

Throughout the journey, she had complained nonstop about how unfair it was that we were moving again, that she preferred our old house and that she’d be going back there today whether anyone else was living there or not. I’d heard it a million times before, and even Uncle Devon turned up the car radio to muffle her complaints.

‘For heaven’s sake, Lucinda,’ he said. ‘You’re fifteen, not five. Stop being so dramatic.’

Lucinda ignored him, as usual, and continued to mutter to herself, casting dark looks at the rows of houses we passed. They looked like cardboard cut-outs, all identically tall and narrow, like lines of blunt pencils. Everything around us was grey, as if someone had forgotten to add colour to the picture. It matched Lucinda’s mood perfectly.

We drove round in circles for at least an hour before Uncle Devon finally spotted the sign that read ‘Ivory Crescent’. I felt like making a sarcastic comment as he parked the car, but Lucinda got there first.

‘Well, isn’t this wonderful,’ she said, looking around disdainfully, like a queen who’d just been relocated to the slums. ‘I thought the last place was bad enough.’

For the last couple of months, we’d lived in what you might call a ‘rough area’. It was pretty bad, even by our standards. On one occasion, someone had even lobbed a brick through our window. However much Lucinda might complain now, I knew she was as relieved as I was that Uncle Devon had announced the move. Even if it was barely a ten-minute drive away from the estate.

‘Let me guess, you’ve forgotten which one it is,’ she said, as Uncle Devon studied the row of dilapidated terraced houses in front of us. Weeds were the only plants in the run-down gardens, and rubbish bags were scattered everywhere, spilling their contents onto the pavements. The smell of rotting food pervaded the air, making us wrinkle our noses in disgust. Even the lamp-posts looked like they were wilting on the spot, drooping like old men over the cracked paving stones.

Uncle Devon fitted right in here. Even when dressed in his best he always seemed dishevelled. He had the appearance of a bedraggled mop, with his curly greying hair and narrow face, and always wore the same grubby faded jeans and a t-shirt the same colour as the pavement.

‘It’s definitely one of these,’ he said, frowning.

Lucinda gave one of her famous melodramatic sighs as I spotted our cat, Spider, sitting on a doorstep. At his feet was a chipped plate bearing the number ‘27’; it had clearly fallen off the wall.

Looking relieved, Uncle Devon pushed open the gate. Spider yawned, in a way that said It’s about time. I’ve been waiting ages for you.

‘That cat,’ I said, ‘is psychic. How many times is this now that he’s found our new house before we have?’

‘I brought him here in the removal van,’ said Uncle Devon, by way of an explanation.

I wasn’t convinced. Spider seemed to have a better memory than Uncle Devon, let alone other cats. I knew that cats could have an amazing sense of direction, but Spider’s nose was like a tracker dog’s.

At that moment a water balloon flew out of an upstairs window. It hit Uncle Devon right on the head, drenching him from head to toe, and splattering me and Lucinda. Laughter echoed from above.

Lucinda let out a shriek. ‘There’s someone already in there!’

‘It’s just the students,’ said Uncle Devon, shaking water from his hair like a dog. ‘You know, the ones who live in the upstairs flat. They’re nice enough, they just enjoy a joke.’ All the same, he cast a disgruntled glance at the window above, from which laughter was still issuing. ‘I’ll have a word with them,’ he said.

‘We’re living with them?’ said Lucinda, with an expression of horror. ‘You’ve got to be joking. I don’t see why we have to share a house with other people anyway.’

‘Luce, we’ve talked about this,’ said Uncle Devon. ‘I told you, this is a one-off. As soon as I start earning more we’ll find somewhere else.’

‘You always say that,’ said Lucinda. ‘It’s a lie, as usual. I’m not living here.’

She stalked off, heels clacking on the uneven pavement

‘How’s she supposed to find her way back? The place is a maze,’ I said to Uncle Devon. I too wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea of being hit by projectiles every time I stepped out the front door.

He grimaced. ‘How far will she get in those ridiculous platform shoes? I tell her, but she does insist on wearing them. Come on, we need to start unpacking. She’ll find her way back – or she’ll call me to come and get her.’

He was right, of course; Lucinda always made a scene like this. We got on with unloading the car.

The hallway was carpeted in threadbare green rugs. A wooden door at the far end led into a small, dingy living room that smelt of old furniture. Like those in the hallway, the walls were off-white and unembellished, the paint flaking away in places like dead skin. There were three armchairs grouped around a fireplace, and another door at the back opened onto the kitchen.

‘Our rooms are up here,’ said Uncle Devon, opening another door. He heaved the suitcases he was carrying up a staircase that curved around a corner.

My new bedroom wasn’t the shabbiest I’d seen. True enough, it wasn’t much bigger than a cupboard, but as long as it was habitable I was happy. Lucinda would doubtless find fault with everything from the curtains to the wallpaper, but I was fairly certain that she’d find something lacking even if there were gold taps and marble floors.

I threw down my bags on the bed by the window and went to help Uncle Devon unload the rest from the car.

I’d long since mastered the art of unpacking swiftly and ruthlessly – anyone standing nearby risked being hit in the face by a book or DVD. In ten minutes half the shelves and one chest of drawers were filled. Uncle Devon set up the computer in the corner, a job only he could do since I was clueless about technology.

I made sure to put my scrapbook right at the back of a drawer, hidden under a pile of magazines, first checking to make sure nothing was out of place. The last time Lucinda had decided to ‘have a look’, all my postcards had ended up completely jumbled. I hadn’t spoken to her for a week afterwards, more out of principle than anything. It was hardly an artistic achievement, just a collection of pictures of places I’d never been to. Marlon and I had always planned to travel the world. There wasn’t any hope of getting as much as a short holiday at the moment; what little money Uncle Devon made went on rent.

On cue, my phone vibrated. A message from Marlon:

‘Hey Lexa :) Have you moved in yet?’

‘Just finished unpacking,’ I typed.

‘Cool. You still OK for me to come over tomorrow?’

‘Sure.’

‘What’s your new address again?’

’27 Ivory Crescent. I wouldn’t memorise it, we’ll probably move again in a month. See you tomorrow. :)’

All in all, I thought, our new house wasn’t too bad, even if it did feel like the hundredth time we’d moved. At least we were no longer living out of suitcases, as we had for a while. When Lucinda and I had lost our parents in a sailing accident when we were seven, our Uncle Devon – our only surviving relative – had turned up at the orphanage to take us in. Before then he’d been a traveller, an elusive figure who came to visit at Christmas every year, bringing with him strange gifts and an oddball sense of humour. Now he was our guardian.

Unlike Lucinda, I thought the whole nomadic-lifestyle-with-an-enigmatic-uncle-guardian thing was pretty cool. Even if he told us absolutely nothing about himself. He never quite fitted in with regular life, and didn’t seem to have any friends. Lucinda forever bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t simply find a normal job and instead worked freelance doing ‘odd jobs’ for people, generally involving computers. He also called himself a researcher, which might have been an excuse for the old books he occasionally brought home.

But I trusted Uncle Devon, in spite of his peculiarities. When I was younger, I’d come up with theories as to his real occupation. Marlon had suggested that he was actually a secret agent, which was amusing to picture seeing as Uncle Devon was the least likely candidate for heroics.


Click here to view E.L. Adams’ Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Guest Post: C.J. Brightley on Writing as a Man

The-King's-Sword-bigMy first book, The King’s Sword, was written in first person from the perspective of Kemen Sendoa, a retired military officer in the fictional country of Erdem.

Writing a story with a deep perspective can be challenging. Writing a story from the perspective of a character of the opposite gender can be even more challenging. I’ve gotten compliments on Kemen’s voice, and some people assume that I must be male to have written in a male voice so convincingly.

If you’re a male trying to write a female character, or a female trying to write a male character, and you’re concerned that you’re not getting it, here’s what worked for me. I’ve written this for women writing male characters, but some of the suggestions can be flipped around for men writing female characters.

First, recognize that characters, just like real people, are individuals. People are not stereotypes, caricatures, or tropes. Good characters aren’t either – they have depth and individuality. However, many (not all!) people conform to certain general trends. Some of those trends are related to gender. Understanding those trends is important to understanding your characters.

Understand How Men Think

First, a caveat: the generalizations below are just that – generalizations. There are plenty of individuals who don’t follow the general trends I’ve listed below. The info below isn’t meant as a rulebook, but rather a helpful set of possible factors to consider when writing your characters.

Men are people, too, and they have fears, desires, and hopes just like women. However, some of the ways they express those fears, desires, and hopes are different. Men are less likely to talk about their feelings than women, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. They may be less likely than women to enunciate emotions or the reasons for emotions, even to themselves.

They tend to place a higher priority on giving and receiving respect than on giving and receiving affection (as compared to women). Obviously, humans all need both love and respect, but men and women feel the need differently.

They tend to be visually stimulated, as opposed to women who tend to be stimulated more by touch, words, and other signs of affection/love/lust.

The majority of men feel a deep responsibility to provide for their families. Yes, there are deadbeats out there, but there are also a vast number of men who take on tiring, dangerous, or frustrating jobs in order to meet this responsibility.

Men are more insecure than women often realize, and a woman’s support is invaluable.

Research

If you’re not sure if your character is ringing true, read about men (or women). Specifically, check out marriage advice books – they tend to be written with the goal of helping each partner understand the other better. The sections written for women to understand men are obviously helpful, but also read the parts written for men to understand women better. Those sections can give you a picture of what men often don’t understand about women (which would be useful for your character too!).

Books that I’ve read and thought useful include Love and Respect (Emerson Eggerichs), For Women Only (Shaunti Feldhahn), and His Needs, Her Needs (Willard F. Harley, Jr.). These are Christian books, but the advice is backed up with rigorous studies including both non-Christians and Christians – whether you engage with the Biblical advice or not, the data can give you a picture of where misunderstanding and miscommunication can occur, both in romantic relationships and in general. They also have informative websites if you want to look them up online.

I’m sure there are other books out there that would be helpful, but unfortunately I don’t know which ones to recommend.

A-Cold-Wind-bigBeta Readers

If you’re a woman writing a male character, I suggest at least three or four male beta readers who focus on the character and his voice. For this purpose, your beta readers don’t need to be writers or critiquers; they just need to be readers who are willing to tell you if and where your character doesn’t sound “right.”

For other beta readers, I’d also suggest a woman (or women) who is happily married, preferably for a long time. Successful long-term relationships can help women explain things to other women that men may not catch.

Tips and Tricks

The first time, try writing a character who, aside from gender, feels familiar, perhaps similar to you in personality. Kemen is strong but insecure in specific areas (check!). He’s a military officer (I am a civilian, but I’ve spent most of my career in the Pentagon or intelligence world.). Kemen’s voice felt natural to me because his personality was similar to mine, although his experiences and background were very different.

Last Thoughts

Keep in mind that your character is your character, not just “a man.” He’s an individual, and individuals vary wildly across the spectrum of personalities.

If you want him to be a certain way, you are the author and you are in charge.


Click here to view C.J. Brightley’s Book Blogger Fair – 2013 page.

Ten Best Sidekicks Ever with Author A.E. Howard #bbf

I asked A.E. Howard who were the best ten sidekicks ever. Here’s what she said:
  • Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings)
  • Mike Wazowski (Monsters Inc)
  • Gabby (Roy Rogers westerns)
  • Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)
  • Pinky (Pinky and the Brain)
  • Donkey (from Shrek)
  • George and Bess (Nancy Drew)
  • Barney Rubble (Flintstones)
  • Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
  • Rachel Brooks (Justified)

I’m partial to Doc Holliday, myself. Be sure to check out her book “Flight of Blue” by clicking the link below.

Click here for A.E. Howard’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page.

Excerpt: Earth-Sim, by Jade Kerrion

Author’s note: The world’s a crazy place, isn’t it? Massive floods, deadly plagues, world wars…it makes you wonder, who’s in charge of this place anyway? Let me introduce you to Jem Moran, Kir Davos, and SimOne—the two students and android assigned to manage Earth.

Earth-Sim seamlessly blends popular culture with history, science, and religion. This whimsical and irreverent romp through the history of Earth will charm and entertain as you attempt to decipher just how much is fact and what else is fiction. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.

This particular scene, which includes Kir’s younger brother, Kav, showcases the source of the kamikaze, the “divine wind” that saved Japan from two Mongol invasions, and the origin of the Black Death.

~*~

Earth-Sim-big

“Did we ever hear back from the Shixar or the Atlante teams?” Jem asked as they walked into the simulation laboratory together.

“No, it’s been quiet. It helps to be a little backwater planet. The Shixar and Atlante are so busy fighting each other on the other side of the universe that we’ve been able to escape their notice. It also helps that we’re technologically primitive. No one wants the hassle of raising toddlers if they can help it. All right, Kav. Remember, hands behind your back. Don’t touch anything.”

“Got it.” Kav laced his fingers behind his back. His eyes were wide, and his head swiveled from side to side as he tried to take in everything.

“It looks like lots of teams are back,” Jem murmured, nodding to another student who passed by them on his way to his own planet.

“I think many teams didn’t even take the week off,” Kir said.

Jem snorted. “Now I feel like a slacker.”

“On the other hand, I feel like I’m giving up two weeks of my vacation, and I’m moderately resentful about it.” Their planet came into view. “Good morning, SimOne.”

“Good morning, Kir. Good morning, Jem. Good morning, Kav.”

“How are things going?” Kir asked.

“Well,” was the android’s succinct reply.

“Let me see. Let me see.” Kav stood over the planet, his fingers interlocked behind his back, and stared down at the blue-white world spinning serenely in space. “Is that the moon?” he asked, as something brushed by his head.

Kir nodded. “Yes, and step back. You’re in its orbital path.”

“What’s that stuff down there?” Kav asked.

Jem leaned in over his shoulder. Her eyes narrowed. “It looks like a fleet of ships.”

Kir leaned in too. “That you can see from up here? That’s got to be a lot of ships.” He whistled low. “I’ve never seen these many ships. It will probably go down in history as the largest naval assault to date.”

“It isn’t going to bode well for that island,” Jem said.

“You’re not intervening?” Kir asked, sounding surprised.

“No. Both countries are somewhat peripheral to my plans. Contrary to what you may think about me, I don’t make every single decision for them. I step in only where it matters.”

Kav suddenly sneezed.

The fleet of ships vanished beneath the violent exhalation of air that tore up the waves. “Oh, no…” Jem choked back a giggle.

“Kav!” Kir shouted.

“What?”

“Cover your nose!”

Fascinated, Jem watched in silence as more ships sailed forth from the mainland; the armada reformed. They were going at it again.

Kav wailed. “I can’t cover my nose. See! My hands are behind my back. I can’t cover my nose with my hands behind my back.”

“Use your hands, damn it,” Kir said.

“You told me not to use my hands in here. I’m gonna sneeze again…I’m gonna…AH CHOO!”

The fleet dissipated. It never reformed.

Jem covered her mouth, the muffled sound trapped between a chortle and a sob. “Oh, God, I can’t watch.”

“Stand all the way back here.” Kir physically picked up his brother and moved him out beyond the asteroid field. “Jem, are you okay?”

She swallowed the chuckle. “It’s so bad. I thought that we’d figured out the art of planetary management, but no, we’re still careening from crisis to crisis.”

“You don’t sound or look mad,” Kir said carefully.

“I’m not. I’m resigned.” She giggled again. “Just imagine how the events must have seemed to that country. A massive armada shows up on your shores, and suddenly, bad weather takes it down. A few years later, another armada shows up, but once again, it’s consumed by bad weather. If that’s not a divine wind, nothing else is.”

“You’re taking this better than I thought you would.”

“Practice,” Jem said with a straight face.

SimOne cut into their easy banter. “Alert. An alien vector was inserted at 35°N, 103°E”

“What?” Jem turned sharply back to SimOne.

“Where did it come from? Who inserted it?” Kir asked.

SimOne stood very straight; she stared at something apparently only she could see. “It came from Kav Davos.”

“Get it out,” Kir ordered.

“Negative. The alien vector cannot be removed.”

“Track it, then. I want to know where it goes. What is it? A humanoid?” Kir asked.

“Negative. It is an enterobacteriaceae.”

“Damn it.” Jem paled. “Give me a population map, SimOne.”

The world map unfurled across the astral screen. The disease spread, flowing out of the heart of Jem’s empire, toward the west and south. Dark patches faded, thinning out, sometimes disappearing completely.

“Oh, my God…” Jem whispered. “They’re dying. They’re dying all over.”


Check out Jade Kerrion’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page for more information.

Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013

July-BBF-buttonIt’s that time again! Four days of virtual book fair awesomeness. This time around, I’m going to be doing cross promotions with nine authors. You can click on the “Book Blogger Fair” link above, and then select “Summer 2013.” Or you can click this link, which will also take you to the page. There will be a Rafflecopter for prizes. AND, since this is a cross posting thing, I’ll be on their blogs sometime during those four days.

Mark your calendars! I expect to see hits and comments from my lovely readers.