A Prologue or An Invitation

For you lovely readers and those of you taking a peek, this is the NEW prologue for Pure Red Sand: An Expensive Retreat.  Enjoy!

Prologue

Goosebumps were apparent on the woman’s arms even though it was hot outside. The man across from her stared, his hard eyes buried in the traces of excess. The suit strained a button or two but he didn’t move.

“Mrs. Cloutier, you must understand that your husband is gone. He’s not coming back.”

“I never thought any different.”

The seat creaked as he sighed and readjusted himself. “Then why are you still here? You were booked to leave yesterday on the main flight. We’ve paid up your salary. I don’t understand the problem.”

“I do a good job here. I clean the school every night and I do the board office on Mondays. You need me.”

He stood, walked to the window before him and stared out at the Martian landscape. Not many people moved in the square below. Those that did were marked by the noonday heat. Finally, he turned back to the woman. “Mrs. Cloutier, you know we can replace you. There are any number of people looking for employment here. Cleaners are very easy to come by. It’s time you went back to Earth.” That decided, he settled back down in his chair and pulled up the departure schedule. “I can get you on a flight tomorrow.”

“I need to offer you something to make it worthwhile to keep me.” Her terse voice sounded off in the decadent surroundings.

“Mrs. Cloutier, you’ve lived here almost eight years. We own just about everything you have here. There’s nothing you can offer us.”

“You don’t own everything. There’s Nadine.”

“Your daughter? She’s seven years old. We don’t take workers that young for the mine. You know that.”

“Don’t be daft,” she snapped, almost secure now. “In ten years, she’ll be old enough to train. Educate her on Earth and I’ll make sure she comes back here to work. You need medics.”

Silence stretched in the room as he considered her offer. “What kind of guarantee do we have?”

“You control the ships off this planet. Give it some thought.” An almost smile brushed her lips. He was hers now.

“How do we know you won’t change your mind?”

“I won’t.”

The slow years to come ground down on that decision until she was left with empty hands and a choice that became a prison.

 

For the rest of it, you’ll have to pick up the book!

 

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Good News!

You are the best readers and I can’t thank you enough for your patience this year.  I know I’ve been rather silent but the decision to return to school was not taken lightly.  However, that is complete and I have great news to share with you all.

I am VERY pleased to announce the release of Pure Red Sand: An Expensive Retreat in paperback!  Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Yes, that’s right.  You can now hold the book in your hands and admire the beautiful cover art in person.  The new version of the text will also be available via Kindle on that date for all my tech savvy readers.  But don’t worry.  If you were one of my early readers, there isn’t much change.  I found a couple of typos and wrote a prologue that just adds a little spice to the book.  I’m going to post the prologue here on my blog on May 16 so you can enjoy it.

Happy about that?  There’s more to come!

I will be selling advance copies of the book at Ottawa’s Comic Con THIS WEEKEND (May 12-14).  I’ll be working at a good friend’s table in the Artists’ Alley (http://9five7.deviantart.com) so come by for a visit, see the beautiful art work and pick up a book.

There will be a real book release and reading in the Ottawa in the spring, so stay tuned!

Being Loud

I am not a loud person but I’ve been thinking, lately, about what that means. I’m the sort who hopes she doesn’t get a prize because she doesn’t want to make cheering noises.  Don’t get me wrong, noise is very important. Mine just tends to the literary and the conversational.

I am reading book called When We Are Bold. It’s a series of short biographies of women who have made a difference in peace, in politics and in the environment. It is inspiring to read about all the different ways of resisting, of standing up and of being strong. You have to pick your battles, pick your medium and play on your strengths.

I plan to use my words.

This was never intended to be an outlet for political thought, but more of a musing on writing and what it means to be a writer. But art is not created in a vacuum. So, forgive the occasional foray into…no, don’t forgive it. It’s part of life. I write stories of men and women and the worlds they live in. I write of economic disparity and the distance between rich and poor, those empowered and those not so lucky. But I don’t ever believe that someone can be better or worse based on sex or gender.

 

I’m going to continue to write the stories. I’ll continue to visit my worlds. I hope you might come too.

A Plea to the People

I have been silent for a long time.  That’s partially my fault and partially the consequence of moving, of going to school once again and keeping up a part time job…oh yes, and writing.  All those words that need to be recorded.

This morning, something very scary happened when a certain person was elected to power in a very influential country.  I’m not suggesting how anyone should feel about that one way or another.  But as a woman, with LGBTQ+ friends and relatives, I am scared.  As a living being on this planet, I am scared.

But one of the things that came to me this morning, while I was feeling a mix of fear and sadness, was how important our voices are and will be in the coming days.  More than ever, we need our artists, our musicians and our writers.  So I implore you to speak out for good things, for a better future.  Speak out against racism, homophobia, misogyny and everything else that makes all human being less than what we’re capable of.

And stay hopeful.  Always.

Birth and Death of a Character

Sometimes you get characters who won’t show themselves. Yes, you had the idea. You “birthed” them and then a paragraph later they’re still sitting there. They refuse to engage with the story, with the world. Instead of a fluid outpouring of words, you’re pushing and can’t get anywhere. At times like these, I tend to stay away. To sigh, and close that file or book. But what should I be doing with them? It’s a lonely death, even for a character, to be abandoned. But is it better to let them linger? Will they not fade into obscurity? In the same way that I have old furniture and clothes, I am reluctant to “throw away” these creations.

 

I once apologized to a character. I had given her four or five chapters and then walked away. I regretted her for a very long time. But then several years later, in a foreign country, she came back to visit. No longer a struggle, the words and the story poured out. The first contemporary and true romance I had ever written became reborn in the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m glad I never gave up. So no matter how hard the story its, don’t abandon your creations. I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone else. But maybe this post was written more for me. To encourage me to go forward. I still have my words. Really, they are what matters the most. Go write!

The Relief of Hearing ‘No’

 

I recently wrote a book that was supposed to complete my science fiction trilogy (*note: It has become a series more than a trilogy. This group of three books is focused on the same main characters.)  It was the first time that I’ve written a book without a reader for at least part of it.  No one has read this book to date.  As I began to edit and prepare for publication, this fact began to bother me more and more.  I had sent it out to people to read and generally the feedback was along the lines of “it’s good but I just haven’t had time and I’ll get to it next week for sure.”  Now, that’s completely fine.  We’re not all reading addicts and we all have busy lives.  My fear grew though as the same reasons happened repeatedly.  Was there something wrong with the book?
Last night, one of my readers was finally honest about the manuscript.  They said no, it wasn’t working.  They weren’t taken in by the story, not like they had been with the first two.  Now, let me point out that I’ve completely written the book by now and edited a major part of it.  But instead of feeling overwhelmed and devastated, I actually felt relief.  Okay, it wasn’t working.  I immediately began to think about how I’d written it and how to go about doing it better.  My only regret is that I didn’t catch this sooner.
I think some of my early fear and now relief is tied to how I wrote it.  Looking back on the piece, I was very focused on tying up all those loose strings.  Maybe I spent too much time telling and not enough time showing, a common fault in writing.  But the characters are still speaking with me and together, hopefully, we’ll figure out how to change this so the story can come back to life for my readers.
So, more than ever, if you are a beta/early reader for a writer, take a lot of pride in that trust.  Some writers absolutely need that feedback and it’s an essential part of the process.  And please always be honest.  You can say hard truths in kind ways.  But saying nothing doesn’t help.
As you can tell, there will now be a delay in the publication of the third book in the Pure Red Sand Series.  But you can still find the first two and catch up with Nadine and Sven while I try and make sure their stories come to a better end.
This post goes out to my beta reader for the third book.  They are very much appreciated.

Lost Nomad on a Literary Front

I lost a story the other day. Or at least I think I did. Or I never wrote it. All are possibilities.

I am a nomadic pack-rat. Yes, think about the consequences of that for a moment. In the last 11 years, I have moved twelve times. The longest I’ve ever lived somewhere is two years and during a year of that I was hardly ever home. Did I mention I have a “minor” addiction to books? Yes, ladies and gentlemen and those yet to decide, I have moved an awful lot of tattooed dead tree from one end of a country to the other and all over some cities. That’s a lot of transition. I guess it’s not surprising that I may have lost one story in recent memory. Perhaps it’s more impressive that I haven’t lost more.

So let’s take all that idea hopping in stride for a moment. Stories are the greatest part of my life. They always have been. I find escape in those black words typed in various fonts. I can see new places and lives. When I write them, I get to live them. I’ve been a man and a woman. I’ve been old and quite young. I have lived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with bustling petticoats and vests and ties. I have been a captain on a spaceship and a mad woman hiding in a corner. I have put my everything into these people. Because if they are not real, if I cannot recognize them as friends of a sort, then how will others believe?

Maybe that brings us to the ideas of loss. How losing a story can shake my ground in a startling way. [Side note here: I have backed up things and printed things as often as possible. Organized and collected. I have also crashed three hard drives, killed two motherboards and wiped an external hard drive by turning it on. To say I have bad computer karma is an understatement. We won’t talk about the two floods of my office…] So, if you give parts of your soul to your creation, as every artist must, and lose it, how can you dismiss that? I don’t have an answer.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll come back to me, buried at the bottom of a box or in a forgotten back up. There’s always hope to see them again. But I yearn for the day when that won’t have to be a possibility. When all my work can be in one place for more than months at a time. When my packrat skills no longer culminate in a horrifying moment of “I own how many boxes of books?!” (Only because I won’t need to pack them again. You can NEVER have too many books)

So here’s to a disconnected ramble, to loss and rediscovery and to finding a real home for me and all of my fictional friends.