A Little Bit of Nothing

I’m stuck. My latest paranormal novel is recently released, and my next WIP is looming. I find myself organizing a blog tour, doing some networking on a massive scale (the likes of which I’ve never attempted before), and trying to decide if the next two WIPs are worth the time and energy I’m putting into them. How am I doing this? I’m kicking the fuck back and reading. Especially since I can’t seem to find my way back into the stories I have set up at the moment, I need a little bit of nothing on my plate. So, like many blog authors out there, I want to share the re-charge stuff I’ve been reading lately.
Oh, yeah, and for fun I want to share a sample of one of my WIPs as well: two excerpts from my upcoming short fiction anthology.

MAMA DOES TIME by Deborah Sharp :  Meet Mama: a true Southern woman with impeccable manners, sherbet-colored pantsuits, and four prior husbands, able to serve sweet tea and sidestep alligator attacks with equal aplomb. Mama’s antics — especially her penchant for finding trouble — drive her daughters Mace, Maddie, and Marty to distraction.
One night, while settling in to look for ex-beaus on COPS, Mace gets a frantic call from her mother. This time, the trouble is real: Mama found a body in the trunk of her turquoise convertible and the police think she’s the killer. It doesn’t help that the handsome detective assigned to the case seems determined to prove Mama’s guilt or that the cowboy who broke Mace’s heart shows up at the local Booze ‘n’ Breeze in the midst of the investigation. Before their mama lands in prison — just like an embarrassing lyric from a country-western song — Mace and her sisters must find the real culprit.

While I haven’t yet finished this book, I find I’m delightfully caught up in the quirky writing style. The heroine, Mace, might seem a little stereotypical of female leads these days, but the character interaction and dialogue is witty and clever. Sharp also does a great job of developing side characters, not only her leading roles, in this plucky charmer. I’m looking forward to the ending.

BRIGHT OF THE SKY by Kay Kenyon:  Kay Kenyon, noted for her science fiction world-building, has in this new series created her most vivid and compelling society, the Universe Entire. In a land-locked galaxy that tunnels through our own, the Entire is a bizarre and seductive mix of long-lived quasi-human and alien beings gathered under a sky of fire, called the bright. A land of wonders, the Entire is sustained by monumental storm walls and an exotic, never-ending river. Over all, the elegant and cruel Tarig rule supreme. Into this rich milieu is thrust Titus Quinn, former star pilot, bereft of his beloved wife and daughter who are assumed dead by everyone on earth except Quinn. Believing them trapped in a parallel universe–one where he himself may have been imprisoned–he returns to the Entire without resources, language, or his memories of that former life. He is assisted by Anzi, a woman of the Chalin people, a Chinese culture copied from our own universe and transformed by the kingdom of the bright. Learning of his daughter’s dreadful slavery, Quinn swears to free her. To do so, he must cross the unimaginable distances of the Entire in disguise, for the Tarig are lying in wait for him. As Quinn’s memories return, he discovers why. Quinn’s goal is to penetrate the exotic culture of the Entire–to the heart of Tarig power, the fabulous city of the Ascendancy, to steal the key to his family’s redemption. But will his daughter and wife welcome rescue? Ten years of brutality have forced compromises on everyone. What Quinn will learn to his dismay is what his own choices were, long ago, in the Universe Entire. He will also discover why a fearful multiverse destiny is converging on him and what he must sacrifice to oppose the coming storm. This is high-concept SF written on the scale of Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld, Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles, and Dan Dimmons’s Hyperion.

Since I’m too few pages into this book to give an accurate description, I’m going to refrain at the moment. All I can say is the imagery presented so far is believably vivid.


WHAT ZOMBIES FEAR by Kirk Almond:  When Victor Tookes went to work that beautiful spring day, he never expected to see a man eaten alive in the street in front of his office. After convincing himself that they really were zombies, he makes a trip from his house in Pennsylvania to his family home in Virginia, battling zombies all the way. His three and a half year old son was bitten on the leg, but doesn’t turn into a zombie. Instead, he turns into something more than human.
Victor quickly discovers that everything he knew about zombies was wrong. Not all of them were mindless, uncoordinated, rotting ghouls; some of them were bigger, faster, stronger or smarter than when they were human.
A small percentage of humans are genetically immune to the parasite. Instead of turning these humans into mindless shamblers, they gain enhanced abilities. These new abilities will be pushed to their limits in their quest to carve out a safe haven to call home.

So far, this novel is interesting. The initial Prologue at the beginning had me concerned. I usually avoid books beginning with a Prologue. Since starting to read I’ve found a few typos. This irritates me but has not put me off from the book yet. It’s fairly tongue-in-cheek writing so far. And there have been instances of unrealistic portrayals. However, I’m still not willing to put it down yet. The concept behind this book is fairly unique – shambling zombies are joined by smart, weapon-wielding zombies. The concept of super-humans fighting against the mutant zombies…? Not so much. The storyline seems more intended for YA audiences than adult readers, which I don’t think was the writer’s original intention but that’s okay. For now, I’ll keep reading.

IRISH MOON by Amber Scott:  A deathbed vow he cannot forget….

Murder for magick. If she can master her powers before they master her….

A fierce–undeniable–passion that threatens to unravel it all under an Irish Moon.

Picked this novel up as a freebie, although I can’t say it really grabbed my attention. The blurb was a little vague, but I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s free, right? How can that hurt. I’m not saying I don’t like the book at this point. I’m not really that far into it at the moment to say one way or another. But I can say that the author really likes to lay the brogue on thick. I wholeheartedly enjoy my Irish/Scottish burr in dialogue, but this author goes further by using it in the story prose as well. It’s a bit like she’s trying too hard. Also an intelligent woman getting “too old” to marry off and the people responsible for her deciding her fate is a little tried and true. Oh, yes, and she seems to be learning forbidden knowledge as well so… Again, this tale hasn’t put me off it yet so I’ll give it a little more time and see what it gives me new and fresh.

NOW…for the piece de la resistance! A snippet of what I’ve been working on recently.

BLOOD OF MY BLOOD:

 

Jessie sat trembling, not outwardly, not visible enough for the rest of the soldiers in her unit to see it, but deep down inside the marrow of her bones, as she sat within the false security of her foxhole listening to the bombs and mortars whistling over her head and impacting with the earth all around them. The rest of her men huddled around her in the foxhole, most of them sitting patiently with vacant, empty stares, waiting for the bombardment to cease or their reinforcements to arrive. Their orders were clear; they would hold their current position until one of two things happened: they all died, or their men came in to save them. That the former was more likely to happen first was a distinct possibility.
Nothing in this battle was going their way, but no one had really thought that routing the vampires from their daytime retreat would be an easy task either. The walking dead had had a long time to fortify their fortresses, and the human resistance had only had a short time to prepare for this attack.
Her bosses, the commanders of the Human Comeback Society, or HCS (pronounced “hicks”), had received intelligence from a supposedly reliable source within the fortress itself from one of the vampire’s cows (their human food sources). The information had contained detailed schematics of the complex’s layout, including blueprints and hidden entrances and exits, plus dead ends and turnabouts. It had also come complete with an itinerary of their deads’ daily regimes. Apparently, they’re all sticklers for detail and routine. Several hundred years of meticulous planning of the rout of humanity can cause a monster to pay attention to detail. Special detail and planning.
Despite all the information and the cow’s access cards into the complex, the HCS soldiers faced a monumental challenge breaching the perimeter of the complex. The cow had reported that most of the walking dead within the facility were old, but not nearly as powerful as they made out to be when in the public eye. Most of their abilities were mind tricks and the result of careful planning and set up. There were, however, several monsters that were centuries old currently sleeping within those walls, and those few vamps could lend strength and ability to the lesser vamps and ghouls, the vampires day-time protectors. Those ancient dead were the real obstacle; and they were currently the reason for the stalemate in the battle.
So Jessie sat, along with her fellow human’s at arms, waiting for the turret guns on the complex to run out and the good little monsters manning them to begin the reload process. Then she and her unit would be able to fire back, hopefully nailing some of the bastards before they began firing once more. A bomb exploded dangerously close to her position, and she felt her spine trying to crawl out of her skin, as Marks, a private under her command, crawled toward her in the foxhole. His young face was covered in soot and dirt from their trip through the ancient tunnels leading up to the complex. Their plan for getting into the complex had depended upon the monsters’ own emergency tunnels. The bad guys had equipped those same tunnels with sensors, however, and the resistance had encountered small fires and smoke grenades within. Thankfully, the insider had thought the monsters might use the humans’ own lungs against them and had advised on bringing breathing apparatus. Otherwise the battle would have finished before it had even begun, and the HCS would have lost a great deal of soldiers.
“Report.”
“Still too hot, sir; orders are to wait longer before engaging the enemy.”
Jessie swore under her breath, but she caught Marks’s smile as he caught her explicatives. “Why the hell should we do that?”
“Command says so.”
Of course, it ain’t their damned asses in this hole, now is it? Wecan’t hold any longer. It’s engage or die, plain and simple. Did you tell them that?”
Marks just nodded as he answered. “Answers the same. We hold until reinforcements arrive, Lieu.” Jessie was his lieutenant, but he never bothered to use her full title, unless he had a point to stress to either her or those around them.
Jessie swore again, only this time not so quietly. “Marks, you go to the rest and tell them that hen those railguns stop we’re heading up the hill and to the outer wall. The freaks won’t fire on their own outer defenses.”
“Command won’t like it.” His response was calm, as were his green eyes, and he never betrayed a hint of anything he might be feeling about her statement, or the HCS’s orders. Marks was her best soldier. He never questioned and he followed orders to the letter. It was a good thing for Jessie that he followed her orders more often than he followed command’s.
“Command can kiss my sweet Georgian peaches for all I care!” she swore profusely. Marks’s eyes never left her face as he awaited her confirmation of orders. “Get talking to the men, Marks; my orders stand.”
PEOPLE ON THE BUS:
 
I didn’t know the woman I sat next to on the bus. Sure, we’d ridden next to each other four days a week on our way to and from work, but I didn’t know her anymore than I knew most people. What little I did know was that she was a night nurse, she was in her early twenties, and she had a daughter who was still in elementary school. I know she got on the bus two stops before I got off for my night job at Big’un’s Buns, a local donut shop. I assumed she got off at the next stop down, the one half a block down the street from the hospital, but I never knew that for certain.
What else I knew was that she didn’t work on Mondays because that was the only day of my work week she and I didn’t ride beside each other. What other day off she had out of the week must have been one of the two days I was off from Big’un’s, either Tuesday or Thursday. Unless, of course, she had three days off and was off both Tuesday and Thursday as well as Monday. But I didn’t think so. She struck me as a “worker”.
I say that not as a derogatory statement. My mother had been one of those women I termed “worker.” And I was damned proud of that fact. She had been the type of woman that, come rain or shine, sickness or health, went to work. She put her position as the breadwinner in the family more seriously than her own personal being. While a hard worker, I wasn’t one of those people; and I didn’t think I ever would be.
The woman on the bus whom I sat next to had the same look as my mother, the look of a “worker,” someone who would put her family’s needs above her own at all costs. Her blonde, curly hair was cut simply and had an easy style, like she needed to be able to don it in a hurry in the mornings. Her makeup, while expertly applied, was minimal; and her uniform, while clean and crisp, often showed signs of wear, mending, and the occasional carefully matched patching. Her shoes appeared to be the only splurge the woman allowed (even her purse and coat seemed well-looked-after but old), but that made sense to me since she was a nurse.
To me, these were all indicators she was a “worker.” They made me like her immediately. Since my own mother had been similar to her, and I had adored my mother while she lived, I suppose I was pre-dispositioned to think fondly of the woman on the bus. This fact was probably why I’d decided to take the seat beside her over the surly looking woman one seat before the nurse on the day I’d given up my seat to an elderly man at the front of the bus.
I’m sorry,” I’d said. “Would you mind if I sat here?” She’d shook her head and offered me the barest of smiles. I slid in beside her.
I’m Sammy,” I’d said by way of simple introduction. She’d answered me simply enough as well, offering, “Judy.”
And, with that exchange, we were introduced.
I’d ridden twice more in the seat I’d usually sat in at the front of the bus, each time, giving up my seat to the elderly gentleman whom I’d given it to when I’d met Judy. And, each time, I’d choose to sit beside Judy rather than the sour-faced woman in front of her.
For months, we’d ridden in relative silence, other than my asking her permission to sit beside her on the somewhat crowded public transit. From time to time, she or I would comment on the weather or some scene that caught our fancy in the world outside the bus’s windows, but little conversation occurred.
Until one day, Judy’d asked, “Do you have children?” I shook my head. Judy frowned and glanced out her window, effectively turning away from me. I assumed the end of the conversation, but then she turned back to me.
“I do. My daughter is ten,” she’d said. I nodded. “Tonight I woke up to find Jocelyn had pierced her nose sometime this evening!” She didn’t raise her voice, but I could hear the frustration in it. I made some noncommittal sound, not sure if Judy was the type of person who wanted a comment made in return or was just a “talker.”
“Talkers” were people who struck up conversation with you, intent on never letting you actually converse with them. But she only looked at me in exasperation. Clearly, Judy wasn’t a “talker.”
“I take it a nose piercing is a bad thing?” I’d asked. My eyebrows raised on my face. Judy frowned again. “No, they’re ok. Actually, I really like them. Just not on my ten year old daughter, you know?”
“I see,” I’d said. I wasn’t a parent, so I wasn’t really sure how one would respond, but I did have a nephew who was ten once upon a time. “Did you ever tell you she couldn’t have one?” Judy shook her head no. “What did you say when you saw her tonight?”
“She was sleeping; I didn’t wake her.” She sighed. “What was I supposed to say?”
I thought back to the time when my nephew had gone through his “goth” phase and come home wearing a dog collar and black lipstick, his nails painted blood red. My brother had panicked.  He hadn’t known how to respond, so he’d grounded the kid.
“I guess you could go two ways with it,” I’d said. “Either freak out or ignore it. I’ve found with my nephew that any time my brother freaked, he’d up the ante, so to speak. If he ignored him, the kid usually reverted pretty quick to his old ways. Except when it came to skateboarding, but that’s not a piercing.” I shrugged.
“I’m probably overreacting,” Judy said. “But she’s
ten, and she’s the prettiest little thing with red hair like her grandmother’s and my green eyes.”
“Well, that explains it,” I said, thinking of my own childhood growing up with red hair. “Most of us can’t wait to look like anything but ourselves. Let’s face it, everyone may think gingers are adorable, but we feel like the only person wearing plaid at a black-tie affair.”
Look for both of these items full-length in my upcoming short fiction anthology coming late Fall 2012. Now, back to finishing the books I’m reading. They’re my guidepost to my break. However long it takes to read them, that’s how long a break I get. (And let’s hope they’re enough to re-charge my seriously depleted batteries or I’m so humped!) But I have to remember not to drag my feet. I’m the queen bitch of procrastination when it comes to my own writing. I’d let these books consume the rest of my year if given the chance. Thank everything I have fans who refuse to let me do that.
 
BC Brown ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy
“Because Weird is Good.”