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Look, guys! A new story, fantasy this time:

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(Brand new story, whee!)

A Chance Meeting

“Oh my gosh, Miranda!” a handsome old man shouted across the crowded ship.

“Firth? Firth! What are you doing here?” an equally old woman cried, spotting the well-dressed and rugged traveler near the farther railing. Soon the pair of them, together with their companions, were established in a snug, private booth below decks, sharing a carafe of wine and exclaiming several times over at the unexpected chance of their meeting.

Firth, the handsome old man, was a reverend gentleman of sixty-some-odd years, wearing a luxurious cloak and a fine suit of clothes beneath. His shoes spoke of comfort and wealth and his face, though weathered, was full of a refined, educated glamor. He looked like a broad-shouldered hero of legend in his twilight years, and on either side of him sat his companions, a rather fierce-looking young woman in her late twenties who sat with the grim air of a soldier prepared for action, and a soft, genial man in his early thirties who wore the looks of a coddled pet project or favored protégé.

“Introduce me! Who are your friends, Firth?” the old woman called Miranda asked, once the pleasantries of ‘oh, how strange and wonderful it is to meet’ had been thoroughly gone over on both sides.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my latest story, a hot bath is being had by a sick person. Books.

Blurbety blurgyblurg blurb

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Well, you don’t get any more of that science fiction story, because . . . I finished it, yay! So it’s on Amazon, and today I’m giving you the blurb.

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(Here is . . . duh-duh-duhhn! A blurb for my new book!)

Safe Space blurb

Far in the future in the intergalactic expanse, where aliens and humans live in a cooperative network of advanced civilization, Michael the top-secret government agent is fractured with grief and desperate for vengeance: Ted, his partner and mentor, has just died in a malicious explosion, and Michael is hot on the trail of the culprits.

Racing into the mysterious and desolate Safe Zone, where none who enter are ever allowed to leave by intergalactic law, and armed only with his wits, Michael runs up against a baffling array of duplicitous war criminals, surgically altered mass-murderers, and innocent victims dragged into the dystopian place by their families and captors.

With a suspicious and violent blue-eyed stranger playing host to his precarious mission, and posing as a depraved criminal himself, Michael races against time to find and extract his elusive target before his cover is exposed in the Safe Zone, where no one is who they claim to be and every person has hideous secrets to keep buried forever.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current project, someone is trying a frightening new activity. Books.

Final Cover for the new Sci-Fi book

 

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Ta da! I’m ever so proud of it. The whole thing came together in the final steps, and the shattering glass panned out, yay. I was afraid it was going to be one of those thrilling ideas that came out looking silly, but it totally worked! : D

Sample

(In our story, the dangerous criminal Josef has just demanded a name from our undercover hero. Josef is sitting in the enhanced golf cart while our hero stands in the dirt and glowers at him. Melissa is off to one side with her pet simulator. Our secret agent hero has just remarked to himself that this mission is beginning to feel an awful lot like a sappy romance novel, but he is ready to accept any approach that works. Enjoy!)

Fisticuffs

“My partner’s dead,” I say, so it sounds like I’m declaring myself of the into-men camp, since that’s the game that’s working so far, and Josef flinches like I smacked him in the face. I don’t think the news should affect him that badly, which gives me the impression the dude’s closeted or something. He doesn’t say sorry or anything, though. Josef studies me for a while and then turns in the seat so he’s facing front. I work on the pouch of water.

“Well, you gotta give me a name or I’m not taking you home, dishes or no,” Josef says without looking at me.

“What’s this selling me out to Silister shit Melissa was talking about?” I ask, and Josef rolls his eyes and looks irritable.

“Slave trade,” Josef mutters.

“Pardon?” I snap, and he scoffs at me.

“You might be a slave. Depends on whether you’re any good at fighting and on how smart you are. Silister breaks new slaves and gets them pliable. No one else really has the touch for obtaining cooperation without breaking a man’s body,” Josef said.

“Sounds charming,” I say, and he laughs.

“Man, you don’t know anything about this place or you wouldn’t be talking like that. You try and make a congenial society out of a bunch of garbage humans, see how that works out for you,” Josef says with another scoff and he looks about ready to talk, so I wait, let him stew. “What are you in here for? Why’d you come?” Josef asks.

“Why are you here, Josef?” I spit back, and he laughs a lot, like I’m hilarious and he’s having an awful day.

“I killed a man,” Josef says at last, and I make a dismissive sound, because I know from the sound of his voice that that’s a lie. “What? I did,” Josef says.

“Is that what you tell all the pretty boys who come in here?” I ask, and that’s too much for dear Joe, because he jumps out of the cart and comes to pummel me.


If you want to read the rest of the story, click here. Safe Space is on Amazon as an ebook and paperback, and I have a new story to share with you guys on Monday! See you then!

(Plus, check out how awesome it looks on a kindle!)

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You’re reading Victor Poole, and in one of my current stories, a girl is developing an overpowering crush on a native (and she is livid and confused to have grown inexplicably sentimental in the midst of vital political dealings). Books.

Spatters and Lighting Effects on the Cover

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I love using lens flare. On Friday you’ll see the whole cover (yes, there’s more!).

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(The aggressive Josef has just asked for our hero’s name, declaring at the same time that he is not into men, and our hero has just remarked within his own mind that he doesn’t know what he’s doing—except that . . . )

Ted’s Proprietary Method

I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m feeding the core impetus and allowing the circumstances to inspire my behavior in an organic, believable manner. That’s how Ted phrases his proprietary working method, which is now solely my method because I’m almost completely certain that my partner is dead.

What I mean, though, is that I have no idea where my inspired organic behavior is headed, because this sure as hell is starting to look like the opening stages of a sappy romance novel to me. I’ve never worked like this, but I’ve also never gone on a fucking suicide mission in the Safe Zone, so hey. First time for everything.

“Did you hear me? Tell me your name!” Josef shouts, Mr. Rough Criminal all over, and I stand up, give him the kind of glower that makes normal people shrivel up because I look like I’ve been through things. He just glares at me.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current project, someone is explaining a breakup while hugging a new significant other in an emotional manner (sigh). Books.

Next steps on the cover!

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Here you can see the text progression. There was a lot of painting and experimenting with path-from-selection shrinkage before I got to the title shape I wanted.

Starting out, I had a picture in my head for how I hoped the font would look. I’m happy with how it came out, and Wednesday you’ll see the next steps (this isn’t the finished cover!).

Sample

(So far our lone hero, reeling from the probable death of his partner and mentor, Ted, has just parked with his reluctant host in the enhanced golf cart out in the wilderness. Just before this, our hero cuddled in a flirtatious manner against Josef and then blushed and retreated. The unfriendly, blue-eyed Josef has tossed over a pouch of water and is now glaring at our secret agent in a cautious manner. Go!)

Josef’s Suspicions

I feel like doing it—and so far things have been going well when I go with my feelings—so I sit down in the hideous gray dirt and start opening up the water.

“Get lost,” Josef barks, and Melissa scampers away with her pet simulator, like she’s used to being thrown out on her own during adult conversations. Josef moves over to the passenger side of the cart where I’d been sitting and settles down, so the cover is giving him shade.

There’s not really sun out here, as far as I can see, but there’s a constant, irritating glow of sickly yellow from above. I can definitely see how it would get in your eyes over time, be abrasive. Make you want shade or to be inside a house.

“What’s your name? I’m not gay,” Josef says, all in one go, like the sentences go together, and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing—well, that’s not fair to say.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current story, a drug dealer just got busted by his family. (He’s very upset about being discovered and would like the whole situation to go away.) Books.

Basic Text for Cover

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Next week you’ll see the whole cover. Enjoy!

Sample

(So far our undercover hero has glommed on the unfriendly, blue-eyed Josef and then pulled back in apparent confusion, causing Josef to grow curious. The child Melissa is in the backseat. Go!)

A Pause for Questions

Missing Ted is like an aching, cavernous hole in my gut, and now that I’m in, and have survived the initial hurdle of getting through the first two minutes, I let myself sink into how awful I feel. Be vulnerable, Ted always said, and he’d punch me in the chest, laughing like he did when he was serious.

Fuck. I’m vulnerable now. I only realize I started crying when the wind starts stinging against the wet tracks on my cheeks, and after a while, Josef slows down the cart and pulls over in the middle of nowhere.

“Out,” he says, and I figure he’s dropping me off, so I slide out of the seat. “Not you!” Josef says, and I look around and see that he’s giving me that look again, like I’m a brain damaged puppy. Melissa is off the back of the cart, and he goes around and opens up the seat she was on, digs out a pouch of water and throws it at me.

“Thanks,” I say. My voice is shot to hell, half from the crying, and Josef kind of stares at me for a bit.

Well, I have to say that this is going remarkably well so far. Not five minutes in the Safe Zone and I appear to be forming a usable emotional bond with a native.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current story, someone is about to receive a visit from a long-anticipated stranger. Books.

Framing to taller size to prep for text

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At the end of this week, you’ll see the starter text, and next week I’ll show you the full cover. : )

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(Our secret agent hero is in the fast-moving golf cart with Josef and the child, Melissa. Go!)

Tension

“Let go,” Josef mutters, and fuck me if I don’t have even more of a feeling, so I get even cozier, even though I’m a little worried about dying from the sheer velocity of the open-sided cart, and I lean over and plant a grade-A flirtatious nuzzle right on Josef’s neck, above the filthy collar of the jumpsuit.

“My pa isn’t into guys, ya dummy!” Melissa bellows, and I’m pretty sure that Josef would like to pry me off and kick me out into the blurred landscape, judging by the way his whole body has turned hard as a rock and is quivering with anger, but at the little girl’s words, I remove myself with a blush. Josef, despite his fury, is shocked into glancing over at me with a quizzical frown, like I took him completely off guard.

Damn, this is good work. Wish Ted was here to watch. He always—well, almost always—did our romancy shit, if it ever came up. I’ve managed it once or twice for women, but if there was any homo subterfuge on the wind—which hardly ever happened in the kinds of work we were assigned, but it did occasionally—Ted would take over and do that part. He was our character man anyway, but Ted claimed I was too young and soft to play fast and loose with my heart, even when it was on the clock. Ladies went nuts for my partner, and the few times he went after men while we were undercover, guys got pretty wild over him, too.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my latest project, a former king is going on a secret mission. Books.

Cover Sketch Colored In

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(So far our secret agent hero has entered the Safe Zone and made it past the welcoming committee with an aggressive, reluctantly cooperative blue-eyed Josef. The two of them, together with the biting child Melissa, are now leaving the area!)

The Cart from Hell

Josef’s been walking me towards a kind of cart, like a golf cart, but dirty and half repaired with random crap that makes the whole thing look awful, and once my head clears like this, he lets go of my shoulders. I have a feeling about it, so I hug his waist tighter, and Josef shoots me this venomous glance, but in a subtle way. The welcoming committee is still very much in sight. They’re not too many yards behind us, and it seems my new pal Josef is not willing to display any cracks or inconsistencies with the narrative that he and I are pranksters with a natural bond, so he doesn’t fight me off, though I can feel through the tension in his waist that he sure as hell wants to.

We get in the cart, and I let go then. Have to, but I slide over the front seat and get my arm around him right off, soon as he’s sitting. Josef growls really softly in his throat but I don’t mind. I’ve got a feeling about it, a good kind of feeling, so I act like I’m both oblivious and determined. Melissa has hopped into the back, and Josef casts a glance back at her and then shoots off. This damn golf cart thing has been modified all the way to hell and back, because this is neither safe nor legal, not that there are laws here, I suppose. I imagine the inhabitants have drawn up their own bylaws, or maybe it’s all come as you can vigilanteism. Guess I’ll find out, but I’m clinging onto Josef a little bit so I won’t fly out the damn side of the open cart.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current story, someone’s in-laws are visiting and being in the way. Books.