Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP Wednesday – Clans of Kalquor 7: Alien Refuge

We’re getting close.  This one has gone to the editor.  I will be announcing the release date soon.

Let’s go with heroine Iris and her son Thomas to have a look at the Kalquorian Temple of Life and its head priest Imdiko Rivek:

Morning’s first light was barely in the sky when Iris approached the Kalquorian Temple of Life.  She held a food container in one hand and Thomas’ wrist with the other.  For once the little boy wasn’t struggling to escape her and go his own way.  He stared at the temple with wide eyes.

The structure was beautiful, probably the most stunning Iris had ever seen.  It looked like something out of a fairytale.  It didn’t quite resemble a castle, but she could almost imagine a princess sleeping somewhere within, waiting for the enchanted kiss of her one true love that would release her from a spell.

It was so white, it put the surrounding snow to shame.  White and blameless enough that it almost seemed made of solidified clouds and vapor.  The spired and sweeping architecture couldn’t be pinned down to any specific shape.  It was as if a smallish mountain had resolved to turn itself into a something between a gothic cathedral and a palace.  As if the earth itself had formed the building at God’s request.

Iris had never seen its like.  She thought she would not be one bit surprised if angels resided here.

As they came closer to the open entrance that yawned wide yet showed them little of the shadowed interior, a tall figure in robes stepped out.  Iris swallowed to see the large Kalquorian watching them with interest, even though his demeanor couldn’t have been more welcoming.  After all, he was only the second of the alien race she’d been up close to despite living the last year on Haven.  Most Earthers kept away from their hosts, especially since the E.I.K. had begun threatening everyone.

Yet she didn’t really feel fear as she looked at the alien.  She felt more a sense of anticipation.

The priest – Iris assumed he was the Kalquorian equivalent of a priest – was as amazing a sight as the temple itself.  His features were strong, as if sculpted from granite.  It seemed to Iris such robust masculine features should make this man look as fierce as Jol.  Instead, he radiated kindness and warmth.  The forward part of his black hair was braided at the temples and the rest left loose to hang to his ankles.   She’d never seen such long hair on anyone.

His robes matched the snowscape and temple with shimmering layers of white, gray, and blue.  Bare feet peeked from beneath the flowing hems.  A braided cord of gold circled his waist.  He somehow managed to look ethereal as vapor and solid as granite at the same time.  

Iris had never seen his like anywhere, yet he looked – right.  As if he was what she had expected to see, though she’d not known what to expect when she drove here. 

As she and Thomas neared this amazing specimen of the Kalquorian race, he bowed to her.  “Good day, Matara.  May I assist you with something?”

The man’s voice was smooth, like brushed silk.  It tickled Iris’ ears and seemed to slip down her spine.  She had to restrain a shiver.  First Jol’s distant thunder voice, and now this.  It made her wonder if all Kalquorians had such distinctive tones.  But then, Thomas had a musical voice himself, like the tinkling of piano keys.  Maybe it was simply the way she heard things.

Iris smiled at the nice priest.  “Hi.  I, um, I was looking for Imdiko Rivek?  I understand he’s a priest here?”

The Kalquorian’s eyebrows rose.  “I am Rivek.  Please enter.”  He swept an arm towards the entrance.

Iris blinked.  “You’re Imdiko Rivek?  Oh, well, I don’t want to take up any of your time.  I’m here because your Nobek did a wonderful thing for us yesterday.”

Rivek cocked his head as he regarded her.  “You are Matara Iris?  And this must be Thomas.”  He leaned down and widened his gentle smile at the boy.  “Hello, Thomas.”

Thomas not only looked the Kalquorian in the face, he even responded without prompting.  “Hello.  Train.”

He held out his latest construction for Rivek’s inspection.  It was the same engine he’d shown Jol the day before, plus a caboose he’d made from a small wooden box that Iris had kept her sewing needles in.  She still hadn’t found all of the needles after Thomas had dumped them on the floor.  No doubt bare feet would seek out each and every one for weeks on end.

Rivek crouched down to inspect the pieces closely.  “This is a train?”

“Yes.  Engine and caboose.”  Hook and eye closures, also swiped from Iris’ sewing materials, coupled the two together.

The priest told him, “I’ve never seen one before.  Quite remarkable.  Did you make this train, Thomas?”

The boy nodded solemnly.  “Yes.  Thomas’ train.”

“It is a wonderful train.”  Rivek rose to his full height, perhaps an inch or two taller than his Nobek, Iris thought.  He again swept his arm at the open entrance and said to her, “Please, come in and get out of this cold.”    

She held out the food container.  “I really wanted to just drop this off, if that’s okay?  It’s a pie.  To thank Nobek Jol for saving Thomas’ life.”  Her cheeks warmed.  “It’s not much, certainly not enough to repay his kindness to us, and I don’t know if Kalquorians would even like apple pie—”  

Rivek gently interrupted her embarrassed babbling.  “I have not tried apple pie yet, though I understand it is an Earther favorite.  I know Jol will be very appreciative.  Please, Matara, do come in.”

Iris peered into the dim environs beyond the doorframe uncertainly.  “I don’t want Thomas to break anything valuable.  He can be a little destructive.”

Rivek’s chuckle tickled her ears anew.  “That is no concern, truly.  Please.”  

He took the food container from Iris with one hand and gently pressed her shoulder with the other, ushering her in.  Still clinging to Thomas’ wrist, Iris found her feet moving her through the entrance. 

“Well, if you’re sure,” she said.  She was very curious to know how the amazing structure looked on the inside.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Got a Question?

I received some interesting questions about the Kalquor series from a reader today. It got me thinking that many of you send me really fascinating inquiries all the time since the Kalquor universe tends to be rather complicated. I'd like to address those and any other questions you might have in a future blog...a kind of 'readers interview Tracy' thing. So if you have something you want to know, whether it's Kalquor related or about any of my books or my writing can comment below or send an email to No names will be used. You're free to ask anything, but be aware that for the privacy of myself and my family, I may choose to not answer or acknowledge some queries.

I'll gather all the questions and answer them at once in an upcoming blog, probably in a couple of weeks. Thanks!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday – Nuns of Europa: Sister Katherine (WIP)

These were not men from Earth.  They were aliens.  Worse still, they were the enemy.


Her mind tried to accept what her eyes told her, but even with those massive bodies striding down the halls, sending nuns dashing in wide-eyed fear, she couldn’t quite recognize the convent had been invaded.  It made no sense Kalquorians would attack a religious colony of barely 200 women. 

Releasing Summer 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

First Five Friday – Clans of Kalquor 7: Alien Refuge (WIP)

Chapter 2

The end of the day found Jol at home in the kitchen with his clanmates.  Three times a week, they gave the staff the day off.  That meant cooking for themselves, a task the trio enjoyed.
The room was massive, as befitting a colony governor who might have cause to entertain visitors and dignitaries.  Banks of prep tables, ovens, coolers, and kitchen tools spanned an area as large as Iris Jenson’s entire home. 

Releasing March 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday – To Protect and Service: Ravenous Virtue

Little factoid for you:  the National Park Service has the highest casualty rate in federal law enforcement.  Not the FBI.  Not Border Patrol.  Not the Marshals Service.  Park Service rangers put their lives on the line every day.  It was no accident that I made my heroine Raven Virtue one of these brave souls.

Just the simple traffic stop is fraught with danger, as any patrol cop will tell you.  Within Park Service boundaries, rangers fill that duty.   You think you’re having a tough day at work?  This scene was inspired by an actual situation I had the misfortune of seeing via a patrol car’s dash cam:

She got out.  As she did so, the driver opened his vehicle’s door and clambered out as well.  His hair looked greasy, but it was probably sweat, she thought.  His unkempt hair was par for the course; his sallow face had two days worth of stubble, his clothes were wrinkled and sweat-stained, and his eyes were sunken.  

Raven put her left hand on her taser.  Traffic stops were the most dangerous part of a law enforcement officer’s job.  Even the most ‘routine’ stops could turn ugly in an instant.  Keeping her tone calm but firm, she called out, “Sir, I need you to stop right there.”

He didn’t show any sign he’d heard her.  In fact, he never looked at her at all.  Instead, the man wandered onto the road, still blessedly empty of traffic, and went to the straight white line that indicated where the shoulder of the highway began.  

“Oh yeah,” he wheezed and began dancing down the line to music only he could hear.  

Definitely impaired, Raven thought.  The man’s legs wavered like spaghetti as he boogeyed to the beat playing in his inebriated brain.  She had to suppress a smile at the sight.  He did look funny.

Steeling herself to do her job properly, Raven tried to talk to him again.  “Sir, I need you to go over and stand next to your truck.  We need to talk.”

The man stopped dancing.  He finally looked at her, and the loopy expression on his face turned to fury in an instant.  “Fuck you!”

Yeah, this is going to be pleasant, she thought with resignation.  Her hand tightened on the taser, readying to pull it out if necessary.  “Sir, I’d appreciate it if you’d step on over to the back of the truck and let’s talk about this.”

Spittle flew as the man screamed at her.  “Go to hell, bitch!  I got nothing to say!”

With that bit of sweetness, he stormed to his truck and leaned in.  Raven started to hurry over to him, afraid he’d get in and take off, making things far too dangerous for himself and other drivers he might meet up with.

“Sir—” she began, starting to draw the taser out.

Raven stopped cold.  The man wasn’t getting into the truck, he was reaching in.  She immediately abandoned the taser and reached on her right hip for her firearm.  As it cleared the holster, the man straightened, coming out of the truck cab.  With a shotgun.

“Put it down!  Put it down now!” she screamed.

The shotgun’s barrel was still coming up, still on its way to sighting on her when she had hers ready to fire.  She squeezed the trigger, but the man was standing sideways to her.  He jerked as she shot him in the shoulder.

His face suffused not with pain, but with rage.  It was not a surprising reaction for those who were psychologically impaired, drunk, or high.  Back at the academy, they’d shown dash cam footage of officers caught in similar situations.  This was the first time Raven had seen it in person, and she lost precious seconds gaping at the man when he didn’t go down.

Instead he screamed, “Fucking cunt!  You can’t shoot me!  I’ll kill you, bitch!”

Training kicked in, and Raven moved back, hurrying to get behind her truck.  She shot again, but she was in the grip of tunnel vision, only seeing the black hole of the barrel sighted on her.  She shot at that instead of at the man who was now running towards her, bringing that deadly maw closer and closer.

A spark of fire emitted from that immense cavern.  An instant later something kicked Raven in the center of her chest, knocking her backwards.  There was a thunderous blast that echoed all around.  It was followed by a horrible, high-pitched scream splitting the air, the screech of a terrified rabbit facing a coyote.  It came from her own throat, shredding the tissues as unspeakable agony burst through the center of her body.

Raven’s left arm went numb just a moment before another gun blast nearly deafened her ears.  He was shooting her, and she was feeling each hit before the sound registered.  

She crashed to the asphalt.  All this time she’d been falling, falling since the first bullet entered her body.  Now she was finally down, thumping hard to the road.  The pain of it was nearly lost in the shrieking hell of her blasted heart and lungs still refusing to stop their work, keeping her alive despite the violence done to them. 

Release date not set