Signed Copies Now Available

Author with books

Due to recent clamoring demand by my fans, signed copies of both of my books are now available!

Here’s the page that tells you what to do, but really, it’s simple.

Go to paypal. Tell me in the comments which book(s) you want. Who should I make them out to? Don’t forget to include your address! Send me money. Sit back while I scramble to the post office and get them in the mail to you.

How easy is that?

Blinded Now Available – In Trade Paperback

Blinded Cover

More good news! Blinded is now available on Amazon in trade paperback. So if you’ve been waiting to hold this story in your hot little hands, here’s your chance.

Heart, hand, and sword – that’s what I promised Jules.

I was nineteen years old. What did I know? 

Sure, I’d noticed Jules was slightly unusual. Like she always knew where I was and how I felt. Yeah, it was odd, but it was also kind of romantic. One day, I’d even caught her fighting telepathically with Nick, her trainer. Not that I was surprised, because she was different from other girls – and who wouldn’t find something to fight about with that guy? Frankly, the only one who needed training was him, starting with manners and ending with butting out. But Jules made it clear they were a package deal and that was that.

Then a creature from Nick’s past attacks Jules. She won’t rouse from sleep, her coma a reaction to a magic spell. It gets worse. She pulls me into her dreams – old memories that reveal her secrets. I fear Jules might be alone in them forever unless we find a way to remove the magic dagger wrapped around her wrist.

There’s only one thing I can do.

Get in the car with Nick and pray we get help in time…

With a length of 272 pages, the trade paperback version is now available at Amazon for $12.99.

Thank you for your support and happy reading!

News Update: CampNaNoWriMo Winner!

Camp NaNoWriMo, August 2012 Session

I have done the unthinkable. I signed up for the Camp NaNoWriMo August 2012 Session the day before it started yesterday, I met the goal of writing 50,000 words in less than thirty-one days. I finished with a day to spare. Yay, me!

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular camp, Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge billed as “An idyllic writers retreat, located smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” In other words, it is a completely  voluntary online writing challenge where the “Campers” set a goal of writing 50,000 words in one month. Yes, that’s only ONE month. And I signed up on July 31st, silly me!

Nifty writing stats? They’re right here.

And best of all, I hit a secondary goal I set for myself. With the exception of one technical fencing scene to be completed (you knew there had to be at least one, right?), the rough draft of book two of The Tenderfoot Series, Blinded, is complete!

I have one more surprise to add. Because I started the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge with 30,000+ words already down, and the rough draft came to 74,000+, I was short words. To meet the full 50,000 word goal, I took the liberty of beginning book three of The Tenderfoot Series, which is titled Riposte. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the conclusion to Jules and Andrew’s story. If that’s whose story it is…

*****

News Update: The CampNaNoWriMo Halfway There Update

Camp NaNoWriMo, August 2012 Session

Remember that crazy person who signed up for the August Session of Camp NaNoWriMo? She’s still here and on her behalf, I am checking in with a status update report on her progress.

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular camp, Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge billed as “An idyllic writers retreat, located smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” In other words, it is a completely  voluntary online writing challenge where the “Campers” set a goal of writing 50,000 words in one month. Yes, that’s only ONE month. And I signed up on July 31st, silly me!

Yesterday was Day Sixteen of the Thirty-One month challenge. So where do I stand at the halfway mark? A pretty good place it would appear! According to my daily progress here, I am ahead of target. When I started on August 1st, Blinded stood at 30, 367 words. As of today, 61,017 are down, which means I have written a grand total of 30,380 words since August 1st. Yes, that’s write, I wrote 30,000 words in sixteen days! I’ll let you do the math on that, although the link above breaks out some pretty nice stats.

I feel pretty good about the challenge. I’m not surprised the words are coming – they came like this for Tenderfoot – I just find it remarkable that the house is still standing and the kids have made it to school, with lunches even. Sure, we’ve all had to make sacrifices. For example, I have given up cooking for the month of August. Oh, wait… that’s not a sacrifice! My family prefers take out or frozen/pantry dinner, not that you’d believe me now when I say I am a great cook. Meh! Meh, I say!

And that’s the latest. There’s a quote from my favorite vulgarian author (I warned you!) Chuck Wendig that I like to keep in mind: “I am a writer, and I am done fucking around.” 

Bring it August 31st! I’m ready for you!

News Update: CampNaNoWriMo!

Camp NaNoWriMo, August 2012 Session

I have done the unthinkable. I signed up for the Camp NaNoWriMo August 2012 Session the day before it started. Am I motivated? Am I ambitious? Did I watch wayyy too many hours of the Summer Olympics last weekend? Yes, yes, and yes!

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular camp, Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge billed as “An idyllic writers retreat, located smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.” In other words, it is a completely  voluntary online writing challenge where the “Campers” set a goal of writing 50,000 words in one month. Yes, that’s only ONE month. And I signed up on July 31st, silly me!

That’s why I am writing this post AFTER I have met my daily goal of 1,620 words a day. Naturally, I will have to write more than that per day given the “crazy life” obstacles each day will present. Tomorrow’s goal shouldn’t be hard to meet, but various weekend commitments will pose some nice hurdles. You know, just to get me warmed up for the challenge of making my goal the three days my family will be out of town at a water park. Sploosh.

My plan is to draw on inspiration and caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine. I will be sucking downs barrels o’ Diet Coke. As added incentive, when I have 30,000 words in the bank, I get to order Camp swag from the store to hang on the inspiration board that resides above my home pc. One nice thing is that I was assigned to a cabin of six other “Campers.” So I can see how they are doing and meet some new people while foregoing a daily slathering of sunscreen and mosquito blood donations.

So wish me luck in my endeavor to add 50,000 words to the existing 30,687 that currently make up the manuscript that is Blinded! You can check my daily progress here.

Flash Fiction: Sanremo

A drawing by Emily Tupper, age 8

Flash Fiction

A flash fiction response to a challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com.

I came close to not completing this week’s assignment to write flash fiction where a historical character is featured as the protangonist. Of all people, I became stuck on Alfred Nobel, founder of the Noble Prizes. Why? Because I discovered a contradiction about him which is not widely known.

In the last year of his life, Nobel wrote a play called Nemesis. He was 83 years old, a man of the world, richer beyond rich, never married, with no children, and yet he put all his efforts into writing a play. Ans his was not the first to tell this story. Clearly, he had strong motivation. What was it?

The story itself is about Beatrice Cenci, a girl from 15th century Rome who killed her father in conjunction with her family and a lover. This event was a scandal in Rome, partly because it was well-known that her father was horribly cruel, and also because Pope Clement VIII took possession of the wealthy estate upon their execution. Whatever the truth was (documents now suggest she gave birth to a child before her execution), her story has resonated for centuries with playwrites, painters, and the man named “The Merchant of Death” in a premature obituary.

I’d like to believe that Nemesis (Crazy fact #654: it was written in Swedish and Esperanto and has never been translated into English), while called a “lurid parade of torture, rape and incest that features a drug-induced vision of the Virgin Mary, a conversation with Satan and ends in a 40-minute torture scene”, says what Nobel’s six annual Prizes do not; justice is blind and life is cruel. The story of a 22 year old unwed pregnant murderer who became a symbol of injustice against the Roman aristocracy must have spoken strongly to the man who invented dynamite, created a better cannon, and manufactured all types of weapons to be used for war. With the premature announcement of his death several years prior, Nobel got a look at his future legacy and did not like what he saw. Nobel made a change to his will. His vast fortune now funds awards for five categories of science with the most prestigious award handed out for promoting peace among men.

With this flash fiction I found a way to tie Alfred Nobel and Beatrice Cenci together. Enjoy.

*****

Oh, the night. It was dark and stormy and the wind blew beneath the pane of window glass in the bedchamber, the faintest whistle of a warning.

Alfred sat up in bed, alarmed. He had a thought that maybe he wasn’t alone but perhaps that was sticky residue from the nightmare. Months, it plagued him. He hadn’t had a single night of good sleep since he’d begun the writing of Beatrice Cenci’s tragedy. In a way, he wasn’t surprised. Her story grabbed like the memories of a long lost lover, always open, always waiting. She’d teased Percy Shelley, Hawthorne, Artaud, Caravaggio, and Reni with arms long rotted away to bone and yet those ephemeral appendages gathered artists in to examine over and over the horror of her life and death. Alfred wondered not for the first time, if it was the horrifying death she suffered under sentence from the Pope after a lifetime of ills born at the hands of her demented father which enticed wonder or if was the promise of maidenly youth waylaid?

The shutters blew open with a crash, freed from their position latched within. Alfred felt a chill and reached for the bedcovers before he changed his mind. Instead, he reached for the oil lamp. His hand shook as he lit the small flame. He set it upon the bedside table and eased back against the pillows. It was then he saw the figure in the corner.

“No! It can’t be!” His insides coiled and twisted. There, next to a bound leather copy of the play about her on the other side of the room stood Beatrice herself, a fearsome apparition of his imagination.

Her eyes slowly closed and opened in acknowledgement as he took in the sight before him. She looked kindly toward him, waiting. While her corporal visage was youthful in appearance, her filmy gown was tattered and dirty. Shadows flickered across the room. Bright life blood stained the once-soft linen. Then the room grew chill and he watched the color of the stains change from a visceral glistening red to decrepit aged discolorations.

“Why? Oh, why have you come?” He would have fallen prostrate before her on the floor if his body allowed but at age of three and eighty, it was enough of an effort to clasp his hands together begging for mercy.

“You summoned me from my grave in San Pietro and I have come.”

At this, Alfred began to shake. He thought of himself as a man of science although the misprinted obituary some years before alleged he was a man of war, a “Merchant of Death” no less! The thought of it still made his blood rise. Yet neither war nor science could explain how a ghost came to stand before him.

Hastily he apologized. “I had no intent to disturb your eternal rest. In truth, I do not know why you are here.”

“Listen to your heart, dead Alfred. Does it still beat?”

The wind picked up as Alfred fumbled for his neck. But as his hands rose to the base of his throat, he knew the answer. The time had arrived. A moan escaped his lips, a rattle of death’s recognition.

It was then he felt light of body, like youth streamed through the now-collapsed veins. Alfred crawled from his deathbed invigorated. In the distance there was a sound like one of his cannons had fired into the lake. Surely it was only thunder but he chuckled roundly as his neighbor’s peace was disturbed a final time.

He caught sight of the figure again, now robed in a clean colorful dress. The high color of youth blossomed in her cheeks. She was beautiful.

“If I could stay just a moment longer, there is one more preparation I would kindly take.”

Beatrice nodded. Alfred crossed the floor, his bare feet gliding lightly across the tile. From his chest of drawers, he procured the letter etched with the name of his solicitor. He set it next to the still corpse on the bed. A moment later he tucked the bound copy of his play beneath the other curled up hand.

He turned. “I’ve worried every last stop, turn of phrase, and detail down to the dramatic conclusion where the Pope executed you before a Roman crowd of guilty denizens. I hope my version paid homage to your spirit and beauty.”

Beatrice’s ghost smiled at that. “A labor of love on my behalf is sweet payment for the life I was denied. If only I had escaped cruel Death to raise my own child…” and as her voice trailed off, Alfred realized of what she spoke. She had left behind a child! How had he not come across that in all his research? “Worry not. It’s a secret that will have its turn in the light of day, much like the revelation of your six prizes.”

“I hoped as much,” he said, shaking his head. Thunder rumbled in the distance. The rain stopped.

“Come, Mr. Noble.” Beatrice held her arms out and Alfred succumbed to her embrace.

Flash Fiction: Oh, The Humanity

Drawing of Elizabet by Emily Tupper, age 8

Flash Fiction

A flash fiction response to a challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com.

The assignment, which I gamely accepted, was to mash any two of the following sub-genres together:

Southern Gothic
Cyberpunk
Sword & Sorcery
Femslash
Black Comedy
Picaresque
 

Obviously, this is quite a list to choose from! I did my homework and narrowed it down to Sword & Sorcery and Black Comedy. Then I imposed my own criteria which is to continue writing backstory for my book Tenderfoot.

While I was able to use the swashbuckling sword action component from the one, I’m afraid only the “black” in “black comedy” transferred successfully into the story.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Is there a smidge of offensiveness in the ending comments made by the trolls about humans or do I get token points good only at Chuck E. Cheese for trying?

*****

Once upon a time, among the schists of Dålsland, lived an un-baptized Troll named Elisabet. She was the second to be named Elizabet for the first, her sister, died upon birth. She and her many surviving brothers and sisters grew up in a cave beneath a great granite mountain.

One evening Elizabet was out tending to the animals at the nearby farm when she heard beautiful music coming from the family’s home. Elizabet crept close to listen. It was the most wondrous thing. It touched something inside of her that nights of stomping with her kin deep in the caves did not. There were many beliefs about sharing the land and sea with humans, all of them cautioning against involvement. Elizabet thought long and hard as the melodies of humming fiddle strings echoed in her head. In the end, she slipped on a human skin and set out for music school in Uppsala.

After several years, Elizabet felt she had learned what she could about the fiddle. She tied up her beloved instrument in a cloth bag, thanked her human teachers, and set out for home.

By this time, the human skin fit well. It was Elizabet’s mistake to travel in it at night for when she came to the river near the Ironworks, a troll sprang from beneath the stone bridge. Caught, she continued pretending. To her amazement, he was a beastly thing. Standing tall and broad shouldered with long tangled brown hair, his bulbous nose was overshadowed only by his big sharp teeth when he growled at her. This shocked Elizabet, but not in the way he intended. It was as if she was seeing a troll for the first time, finding it ugly and vulgar. Had her human skin ruined her eyes?

He drew close. “Lo! Do you think you are to cross this bridge? Not without payment, my pretty!”

At a distance of several steps, Elizabet found his stench overwhelming. And yet she was not afraid. This particular troll bore a resemblance to her mother’s kin. “I seek only to return to the  granite mountains of Dålsland. If I play you a folk tune, will that be fair payment?”

The troll scratched his great forearms and thought. “Yes, that will be fair.”

Elizabet gathered her skirts and sat down on the stones that lined the edge of the bridge. She carefully unwrapped her fiddle. Moonlight reflected off the glassy surface of the river as she played her favorite song about a waterfall. The troll sat quietly. When the tune ended, the music of night filled the silence. Elizabet wrapped up her fiddle and stood to cross.

“Wait! I cannot allow you to leave.”

“But what of our deal?” There was something in the way his gargantuan nose twitched that set her to worrying. Had her kind always looked this repulsive? She stepped forward. Distracted, the troll looked behind him. Elizabet saw her chance. She ran. Her thin leather boots slapped against the rough stones as she sprinted across the bridge yet he quickly caught her. In the blink of an eye, he slung her over his shoulder like a bag of turnips.

“Careful! My fiddle!” She cried. Kicking as hard as she could in the frail human skin, she failed to wrest herself from his grip. He carried her down the grassy embankment toward his lair. Elizabet thought as to reveal herself as a troll but the fear of being brought to judgment before the Troll King for living among the humans stopped her. At that moment, the clattering of horse hooves on the bridge startled them both. The troll rolled her off his shoulder into the grasses growing against the arch.

“Keep quiet!” He bounded onto the bridge.

Seeing her chance, Elizabet fled. The hawthorn bushes would provide shelter until she could disappear into the forest. From there, she could drop the skin and her once-hidden knobby troll feet would carry her away. When she reached them safely, she dared to look back.

To her surprise, the horse was gone. In its place on the bridge stood a handsome man. River water streamed from his wet clothes and coal-black hair. Time slowed as he drew back his sword and thrust it into the troll in one powerful motion. He wiped the sword clean on the fallen body then casually rolled it over the side into the river. Staring at where she hid, the stranger called out, “Dear Fiddler, will you play a tune for me?”

Crouched in the thicket of thorns, rivulets of blood ran down Elizabet’s fragile weeping skin. She held still, waiting.

And then he said, “I had hoped…” The swordman’s voice trailed off in the quiet splashing sounds of the river.

Elizabet did not return home until after her son was born. Worried the Troll King would learn of  her human dalliance with the shape-shifting water man, she knew she must protect her mongrel Fae child even as her heart was cleaved in two. She lucked upon a suitable human family who played music. And so it came to pass early one morning, Elizabet placed her beloved baby with coal-black hair side by side with their tow-headed baby and tucked both in. And yet Elizabet couldn’t bear the emptiness of her arms for a moment. She snatched up the tow-headed child and fled in haste, leaving her Changeling safely behind.

Then Elizabet sadly shed her human skin once and for all, burying it with her violin in the forest. At last she arrived home. She lied to her kin, and told grand stories of running with the reindeer up North. Then she revealed the stolen baby. The troll children gathered close. They were so curious, they poked and prodded until the baby scrunched up its pale face and cried. Elizabet shivered deep in her troll heart when one of the children giggled, “Who would want to live with such noise?” to which one mother replied, “Oh, the humanity!”