Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Six: Battle Damage

Today's Sunday Six from Chapter Thirteen of Rock Killer:

He found one body wedged in a supporting framework.  It was Diana.  Under a sheath of bubble-laced ice, black blood matted her long hair and her face was a swollen horror.

Thorne clamped his throat shut.  Vomiting in a pressure suit in free fall was not only messy but potentially lethal.  He moved away, toward the hole in the base of the rock where the missile hit.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It Flowwwwws

I have basically done a NaMaWriMo (National March Writing Month).  I started working seriously on the current novel I'm writing on February 28th.  Thirty days later (the length of November), I wrote over 54,000 words.  The goal of NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) is 50,000 words in 30 days.

They way this novel is coming out of me is just amazing me.  Once I figured out who the villain was going to be (my first villain ended up not being evil enough so I made them a minion of the main villain), it just flowed.  I've only stopped to do research and even then, it hasn't been that difficult.  As of today I have been writing it for 32 days and I'm at 62,547 words for an average of 1,955 words per day.  And the day isn't over yet (although I need to start writing this freelance article that's due Friday).

My goal is at least 80,000 words.  Which at the rate I'm writing will take 9 more days.  But I have a feeling this book is going to go a bit beyond 80,000 words.  I have quite a bit of plot still planned.

But I'm still amazed.  I've never written a book this quickly.  Book of Death was written fairly quickly but the writing of it came to a screeching halt as I realized I didn't know enough about Romania in the 1960s.  So I read a couple of books (all of one, part of another) and contacted a Romanian ex-patriot who now lives in the U.S. and she answered a lot of my questions.  But this novel is just flowing out of me like it's in a hurry to get written.

Now I might hammer out the first draft in about 41 days.  But then comes re-reading, re-writing, and proofreading.  And that can take a couple of months.  But I'm still impressed with how fast this is going.  I just hope I'm keeping the quality up to my standards.  If not, the re-writing process will be a drag.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Six: Missile Lock

Today's Sunday Six from Chapter Twelve of Rock Killer:

Cole smiled, wrinkling her piggy face.  "I've got missile lock."

"Fire a missile," Griffin said.  "Let's see what she does."

Cole punched a button on her console and the ship shuddered. 

Out the bridge window, they saw the flame of the missile's exhaust as it slung itself at the rock.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Useful Links

If you're like me when you write, you do a lot of research to make sure you get things accurate.  The past two days as I work on the fourth Adepts Novel (still untitled but I'm having some ideas), were research heavy.  Today I had to deal with time zones . . . a lot.  Horrible things, these time zones.  My main character was flying from Tehran, Iran (in 1976, before the revolution) to New Orleans on a military VIP small jet (a "VC-140 Jetstar").  Because of the plane's range, it had to stop at Rhein-Main Air Force Base in West Germany and St. Johns in Newfoundland, Canada, before getting to New Orleans.

Here was my challenge: the plane left Tehran at about 6:00 P.M. on May 10, 1976.  When would it land in West Germany, Canada, and finally New Orleans?  I figured each leg would last about 6 hours.  So it would land in Germany at about midnight, Tehran time.  But what time was that in Germany?  And Iran is one of those weird half-hour off time zones.  And so is St. Johns (but of course, Germany and New Orleans aren't).  This got beyond my ability to easily calculate.

So here's a website I used to figure out when the plane would land at local time:  I would figure out what the time was the plane landed at the last place it left from, and use that website to figure out the local time where it landed.  Ended up it took off at 6:00 P.M. May 10th and landed at about 6:30 A.M. May 11th.

The other thing I worried about was when it got dark.  Was it dark when the plane landed in Germany?  (It landed in St. Johns at 2:30 A.M. local time so I was pretty sure it was dark).  Was it light when the plane landed in New Orleans?  So another website I used was:  But for small towns, rural areas, or anywhere out of the U.S., you have to know the latitude and longitude.  That's available various places but I used Wikipedia and checked it with Google Earth.

And this hasn't come up in this story yet, but say you are dealing with money.  And you think "My character should earn $100,000 per year in current dollars."  But what would that be in 1976?  Well, try this website: which will give you the answer back to 1903.  (The answer is $24,508 by the way.)

So, I hope those are helpful in your writing.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I do a fair amount of freelance work.  It's interesting, fun, and helps pay the bills.  I also learn a lot (and I'm a born learner). Sometimes it's stressful like when your deadline is looming and people aren't getting back to you (like corporate PR departments).  But generally I like it a lot.

But one thing I don't like is when the person publishing my story edits it a lot.  Now editing is an important function.  They can catch errors I didn't (I am a lousy proofreader, especially of my own work).  But sometimes they change something significantly.

For instance, in a story I wrote for a local magazine, I said of a rancher "His three children, all daughters, have gone separate ways. . . ."  The editor changed it to, "His three daughters aren’t involved in ranching. . . ."  Okay, it's more concise to say "His three daughters" rather than "His three children, all daughters."  But "have gone separate ways" is much more descriptive than "aren't involved in ranching."  So, to me, it would have been better to say, "His three daughters have gone separate ways . . ."

On one recent story about a businessman, this same editor massacred my description of his car that he spent a lot of time boasting about.  I thought it was a good reflection on his personality.  Apparently she didn't.

Having someone edit your work and change it extensively is like having someone tattoo your children.  I don't enjoy it.  But I guess it's just the price I pay for doing freelance.

Now with my fiction publisher, I work with the editor.  And sometimes we have to agree to disagree.  But at least she listens to me and she's trying to bring out my style, not bend it to her will.

I guess as long as I'm doing freelance I'm going to have to deal with editing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Six: No Exit

Today's Sunday Six comes from Chapter Eleven of Rock Killer:

"What the hell are you doing?" a voice growled loudly.

Charlie looked up from the computer to the base of the stairs.  Beatty was standing there, dressed in shorts and a tee shirt.

"I said what are you doing down here?" he repeated, moving menacingly toward her.

Charlie looked around. There were no other exits. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blog Neglect

Yes, I've been neglecting this blog.  Sorry about that.  It's because I've been stressed over a freelance assignment and writing another novel (a fourth in the Adept Series), and trying to sell a car and dieting.  So I've been just a wee bit stressed.

To reward your patience, here's a first-draftish sample from my new novel (which is as of yet untitled):

The door to my room burst open with a loud crack of shattering wood.  I sat up to see the blonde woman, Ariel, step in, holding what looked like a small metal box with a handle and a barrel.  I knew exactly what it was.  Amazingly, I also noticed she was wearing off-white pants and a burgundy blouse that looked silk.  Anyone could easily mistake her for a trophy wife except for the very deadly weapon in her delicate hands.

She opened fire, the incredibly rapid gunshots strobe-lighting her grimacing face as the sound crashed through the air.

I knew if I stayed in that room I would die.  Don's room was next door but by the time he got here, she would kill me with that submachine gun.  I rolled off the bed away from her, smacking my butt on the window.  I hoped the mattress would afford me some protection.

The gun stopped firing and I assumed she was walking forward to get a clear shot at me.  There was no escape.  I didn't dare teleport out of the room for fear of materializing in another object.  That would be both deadly and spectacular as two objects tried to occupy the same space.  I could teleport outdoors but then I'd fall 22 floors to my death.  If only I could teleport with a blanket, I thought ruefully. I could use it as a flying carpet.

I could put up a protection spell but unlike her, I couldn't move with it up and eventually she'd wear it down.

Then I noticed the window was cracking. She'd hit it a few times in the fusillade of bullets she'd fired at me.

I heard three gunshots, deeper but more distant.  The machinegun's staccato voice range out again, but seemed to be pointed away from me.  I looked over the bed in time to see her shooting at Don in the hallway, his large black pistol in his hands pointed at her.

I decided to try and tackle her even though that didn't work in San Francisco when she attacked Vaughan.  It was the only thing I could think of.

I stood up and jumped on the bed just as Don crumpled to the floor, red stains growing on his white shirt.  Ariel turned with alarming swiftness and, seeing me, shot at me.  Everything seemed to happen in slow motion.  I saw the muzzle flash of her weapon and the smoke coming from its barrel, the shell casings being ejected in a rain of brass to land on the carpet.  I felt the bullets enter my body in my torso and the pain was incredible.  I fell backward off the bed and against the already weakened window.  It shattered and I started to fall out.  I grabbed at the curtains, the only thing I could reach, and for a long moment I hung over the abyss below me, my feet dangling in the air.

Then the curtains pulled off the rod and I fell.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Six: Radio Detection

Today's Sunday Six comes from Chapter Ten of Rock Killer:

Trudeau was bent over his radio computer.  He scanned the spectrum up and down with the RF gain on maximum.  He'd heard some Russian (Mars? he wondered), a lot of static, but nothing that sounded like SRI transmissions.  He wasn't too worried.  He had a week, at least.  It was just that Griffin was breathing down his neck to find the asteroid's transmissions.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ten Things I Know to be True

Just saw someone post a link to their blog with the teaser, "Ten things I know to be true - for me."  So I decided to do a list of ten things I know to be true. Period.

1) F=ma, P=mv, (and a lot of other things, at least in Newtonian space where most of us live unless you're on a spaceship going almost the speed of light, then things get weird).

2) Economics works.  Raise the price of something and people will want less of it.  Lower the cost, and they will want more.  That is one reason crime surged in the 1960s and '70s: we lowered the cost of committing crime by turning justice from punishment/incarceration to "rehabilitation."  Economics is also why avocados are nearly always available at the grocery store despite a short shelf life and very specific growing conditions needed.

3) Some people think feeling acceleration is fun.  Some people are scared by it.  The former group likes roller coasters and driving fast.  The latter group drives their Volvo SUVs at 40 mph in the fast lane and come to a full and complete stop before turning.  I live in a town full of the second group.

4) The corporate world demands conformity and innovation at the same time. If you can pull that off, you can make a lot of money. I can't.

5) Speed limits in the United States are generally not set for maximum safety, but maximum revenue generation by writing tickets.  This means most of them are about 10 to 15 mph too slow for safety (yes, higher speed limits can be safer).

6) Caffeine is a legal addictive drug.  Thank heavens.

7) I have no idea how women wear high heels, but I'm sure glad they do (yes, I stole that one).

8) Flying these days has to be one of the worst experiences possible that people voluntarily do short of joining the military.

9) No matter what laws are passed, criminals will not obey them.

10) There is a cost to everything.  The trick in life is to figure out if the cost is worth the benefit.  People how don't pay the cost themselves (e.g., politicians) usually exaggerate the benefit while underestimating the cost.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

World Castle Blog Hop

Get ready for the Blog HOP into Spring event with the authors of World Castle Publications! Lots of prizes to be had! Discover some great authors! Find a book or two to add to your To Be Read list! And did I mention PRIZES! Wanna play? Just send an email to and label the subject BLOG HOP.  You'll be entered as a contestant and eligible to win one of three great gift packs in April! See you all there!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Six: Emergency

Today's Sunday Six comes from Chapter Nine of Rock Killer:

The rear Masuka drive had failed and the drive techs didn't know when it'd be up again.  Bente ordered the mass driver to full power, which wasn't much more than it normally gave.

The rock was going to miss Earth orbit if she didn't act quickly and correctly.

She yawed the rock, which moved too slowly, and accelerated toward the Earth.  This gave her some breathing space.  She used the computer to project a braking maneuver using the Earth's gravity.