Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday – First Mataras: Michaela

Korkla shoved down the frustration that tried to take good sense away.  He’d barely slept all night.  Time and again, his mind had turned to dark-eyed, beautiful Michaela, remembering every expression on her cherubic face.

He told Govi, “I thought we left things on such a good note with her.  She was smiling when we said our goodnights.”

His Imdiko gave him a sad smile, a particularly poignant expression for such a beautiful face.  “This is a damaged, frightened Earther, my Dramok.  Michaela seems to feel unworthy of positive attention every bit as much as she craves it.”

Raxstad planted his hands on his hips and scowled at nothing in particular.  “This is fucked up.  How are we supposed to fix that if she won’t even see us?”

Govi sighed.  “Welcome to my world.”

Korkla grimaced.  “I have new respect for your work with the other Earther Mataras, my Imdiko.  Now what do we do?”

“Trouble, gentlemen?”

The deep and familiar voice of Crown Prince Bevau had all three men turning and bowing in an instant.  He moved down the hall as silent as any member of the Nobek breed.

If there was any man more stunning in looks than Korkla’s Imdiko clanmate Govi, it was Bevau.  The prince had been graced with perfect bone structure and flawless beauty, from his chiseled face to his gracefully muscled body.  As content as Korkla was with his own Nobek, he couldn’t help but appreciate the singular magnificence of the prince.  He was simply gorgeous.

Bevau’s hands were improbably full with flowers, apparently just picked from Israla’s gardens.  Seeing the handsome warrior carrying posies made Korkla chuckle along with Raxstad, while Govi blinked with a bemused look on his face.

Fortunately, Bevau had a better sense of humor than most Nobeks, so Korkla indulged in a little teasing of the younger man.  “Since when did you become a gardener, my prince?” he asked.

Bevau smirked at him.  “You should research your Earther customs better, Korkla.  The females love receiving flowers, apparently.  It’s traditional to give them in honor of important observances and to apologize with.”

Korkla’s smile faded.  “Apologize?”

Bevau’s grin also dropped off.  His look darkened, showing some of the fierceness of his designated breed.  “Clajak was himself with Matara Jessica McInness last night.  He didn’t bother looking into Earther customs either and offended her.  He also managed to upset Egilka, but my Imdiko is not one to be mollified with pretty plants.”

Govi winced, but Korkla kept his demeanor unresponsive.  Dramok Crown Prince Clajak, his employer, was a good man at heart.  Unfortunately, he also possessed a quick temper and an even quicker tongue that spoke before the young man thought.  Refusal to accept responsibility for much of his actions was also a great failing of Clajak’s; one Korkla spent a lot of time dealing with the fallout of.  

Korkla bit back a sigh.  He should have figured on Clajak being clumsy with the Earther Jessica McInness.  He asked Bevau, “Should I speak to him, my prince?”

Bevau gave him a knowing smile.  “Not this time, Korkla.  Let him stew and reflect on his actions for a bit.  He’ll end up kicking his own ass better than any of us could.”

Korkla chuckled.  “He might have a temper, but he also has plenty of conscience.  He’ll one day learn to think first and act later.”

Bevau laughed.  “That’s the dream that keeps me hopeful.  How was your meeting with the little intersex dancer?”

Korkla’s humor dissipated as he was reminded of Michaela.  “We thought it went well, but either she’s not answering her door or she’s made a run for it.  Govi thinks she’ll be his greatest challenge.”

Tentative release set for June.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday – Clan Beginnings: Clan, Honor, and Empire

            Flencik reluctantly approached the door, unsure of what he was about to face.  In five years of field visits to the training camp, he had not been threatened by anyone.  He’d not seen anything more violent than training bouts, though he knew the Nobeks fought often and bloodily.  He’d been on hand to train doctors on new equipment and once operated on a heavily sedated youth with a leg broken in three places.  
            The door hissed open.  An examining table was in the middle of the treatment room, with diagnostic instruments against the far wall.  There was no demon Nobek tearing the place apart.
            Instead, a youngling sat on the table with a big, grizzled Nobek security guard standing over him.  The youth’s shock of black hair hung in his face, making him peer at Flencik through tangled strands.  Judging from his size, Flencik reckoned the boy to be in his mid-teens, possibly in the midst of his final growth spurt.  He had two or three inches to grow before he reached average height.
            Then the trainee shook his sweaty strands back, and Flencik saw his patient was more man than kid, a Nobek nearing the end of his basic training.  The handsome features were set in the familiar feral cast of a mature Nobek, one that had more of a handle on his most vehement leanings.  He’d still be tormented by forceful hormonal shifts, but this boy – young man, rather – would no longer require supervision when out in public.  He would still be more animal than civilized in urges, but he would have the skills necessary to keep himself under control in most circumstances.
            The fierce visage made the least impression on Flencik, however.  What got his attention was the swelling and blood, especially the sight of bone sticking out of the youth’s forearm.  The Imdiko’s instincts to care for this wounded creature took over, and he forgot to be afraid of angry Nobeks.  He walked in without a second thought for his safety.
            The trainee’s eyes had gone very wide as he looked up at Flencik.  The doctor kept the smile that wanted to come from spreading over his face.  Everyone was always startled by his size.
            The young man looked at the security guard.  “Shit.  Do I scare everyone that much that you’d send in a mountain in to sit on me?”
            The elder Nobek raised an eyebrow.  “Look at his face, Breft.  That’s an Imdiko, not someone interested in trying to do you harm.” 
            Flencik decided to treat the youngster with respect in hopes of settling him down.  He bowed.  “Good afternoon, Nobek.  I am Dr. Flencik and I will be treating your injuries.”
            The injured man scowled, but the heat in his voice faded as he answered.  “They’ll heal in time.”
            Flencik motioned towards the jagged radius peeking out of his skin.  “That broken arm won’t serve you very well until then.  That’s a nasty fracture.  Even if you manage to get it back in place, it will be crooked and hard to use for the rest of your life.  I can repair it so well you’ll never know a moment’s weakness.”
            The grizzled Nobek gave the younger one a severe look.  “You will submit to treatment, Breft, and that is all.”
            Breft gave him a furious look, as if he wasn’t afraid of the bigger and battle-tested man despite his injuries.  “I’m old enough to walk out of here, you know.  No one has any legal standing to prevent it.”
            The security officer’s grin said he was not impressed.  “No one can stop you from leaving, but your studies are not complete.  Quit now, and you’ll end up in government housing doing government-provided work like a brainless lusgo worm.  You’ll get no advanced training.  That means no rank, no clan, and no future.”
            Breft snarled, the expression vehement enough that Flencik took an alarmed step back.  The trainee noticed his unease.  Immediately, his face softened and tension bled out of the smallish frame. 
            “I beg your pardon, Doctor.  Be assured I do not attack Imdikos.  Not even ones as big as you.”  Breft scowled again at his minder before returning his attention to Flencik.  “Fine, I’ll let you fix me.  Will that make everyone happy?”

Release tentatively set for early April.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Reliving the End

(Spoiler alert.  If you have not yet read Alien Conquest, be aware major plot points will be given away in the following blog.)

As I finish an editing run on the soon-to-be re-released Alien Conquest, I find myself hurting anew over certain elements of that book.  Obviously, there is Armageddon.  I did not contemplate the deaths of billions of people lightly when I wrote this book the first time.  In fact, I fought against it.   My muse is a fucking sociopath however, and there was no way Earth was not going to be annihilated at the end of the story.  For that reason alone, Alien Conquest is probably my least favorite of the Clans of Kalquor series ... not because I don’t love the characters or the story itself, but because of how it had to end.

Then there is another element that tears my heart to pieces.  When Cassidy recovers the real memory of what happened to her mother Jackie, I just want to cry.  It especially hurts thinking of how Cassidy was brainwashed into testifying against Jackie at the trial.  I keep thinking of how Cassidy’s mom must have felt to hear the daughter she saved spewing those lies.  Of course, I have no doubt she knew why Cassidy did so ... but the pain of facing that would have been incredible anyway. 

After I edited that portion of the book, I went into a funk for a few hours.  Sometimes reading or writing certain things can do that to me because I tend to live in characters’ heads.  I hope that the fact it screwed with me for a short while says that the scene is well done.  I judge other authors’ works by how emotional I get over the characters.  Granted, I am not far removed from my own work.  I always live it with my characters, so it’s hard for me to be objective when it comes to the people I create.

It amazes me how often secondary characters can pull hard at the heartstrings.  Jackie Hamilton is one.  Dramok Amgar (Alien Refuge) was another, and not just for me.  So many readers have asked what will happen to his remaining clan.  Some want a story giving them a new start and a guaranteed happy future.  I can’t say I blame them.  Amgar’s death hit me hard too ... and he barely showed up in the book!

Anyway, I’ve got one more editing/formatting pass to make with Alien Conquest before I can leave the final horror of it behind once more.  One more time to sentence a multitude of innocents to a mercifully quick but undeserved death, and one more time to break a mother and daughter’s hearts.  At least I can assure them they don’t suffer alone.  I’m with them all, every step of the way.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday – Clans of Kalquor 9: Alien Indiscretions

                Cissy was glad she wasn’t the only one feeling a bit off-balance.  She whispered, “Who would have ever guessed we’d end up related to royalty?  I am so underdressed for this.”
                Tasha emitted a nervous giggle as her long-lashed hazel eyes took in Cissy’s denim trousers, black tee-shirt, and the turquoise unbuttoned button-down blouse over it.  “For you, that’s high fashion you’ve got going on.  Jessica knows you hate dressing up.  No sense pretending to be someone you’re not, Cis.”
                Cissy eyed her twin.  Tasha liked pretty clothes, so she looked perfectly presentable in her wraparound dress of purple.  She’d put her dark brown waves into a tidy bun, except for the few tendrils that had artfully escaped from it.
                Except for their clothing, the pair were damned near impossible to tell apart.  They’d even gained the same amount of weight during their nine-month trip from Earth to Kalquor.  Nearly starved to death before finally admitting there was no choice but to turn themselves in to their former enemies, the pair’s petite frames had made them seem more like children at first glance.  Indeed, the rescue party of Kalquorians they’d given themselves up to had taken some convincing when it came to believing the twins were actually in their early thirties.
                Discovering that Cissy and Tasha were also first cousins to the Earther Empress of Kalquor had caused quite the sensation amongst the aliens.  Though supplies in those last days of evacuating the dying Earth had dwindled, the Kalquorians had made sure the women had everything they could give them.  That included copious amounts of delicious food, which the sisters had availed themselves of without restrictions.
                Cissy had laughingly referred to Tasha and herself as Chub One and Chub Two for the last couple of months.  Tasha hated hearing that and constantly insisted she was going to eat less and take up an exercise regimen.  Yet the men on the transport that had brought them from Earth to Kalquor had discovered how much the pair loved chocolate ... and pizza ... and pie ... and many, many other things.  Edible gifts from those wishing to enjoy the twins’ favors had abounded. 
                “Stop fretting,” Cissy told her twin as they walked the corridors of the huge Kalquorian ship that had taken nine months to get them to their destination.  “So we’re curvy gals now.  None of the Kalquorians are complaining.  In fact, I keep hearing how deliciously soft I am.”
                “These men do seem to appreciate the extra cushion,” Tasha agreed.  “But I’m logging another mile before I take it easy this evening.  Those fried mozzarella balls Dramok Niot brought me this afternoon are not adding another inch to my ass!”
                “Didn’t he already help you work them off?” Cissy teased.
                “A lady doesn’t discuss such things.”
                “A lady also doesn’t yell ‘Harder you beast’ at the top of her lungs for all the Matara section of the ship to hear.”

Tentative release set for September 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Bloated Beast

Oh, sweet victory!  The first draft of Clan, Honor, and Empire is done!  Sheesh, it’s only been a year and a week since I started it.  At over 140,000 words, it is a monster.  Who knows how much will be added to that count in the weeks of editing to come?

The journey has been more than worthwhile.  Seeing Rajhir as anything but the uber-calm, cool, and collected Dramok we met in Alien Embrace made it amazing.  Watching this young version struggle against parental control and his boss’ approval to become a leader in his own right has been a blast.  Then there’s the adorable behemoth Flencik trying to get past an unloved childhood, looking to find a safe place for his heart.  And the boy/man train wreck that is Breft ... one imagines how incredibly different his life would have turned out if he hadn’t gotten his volatile ass kicked one day, putting him on Dr. Flencik’s examining table.

I’m excited about this book.  I’m bouncing in anticipation for you all to read it.  Ah, but there’s the bad news ... it will not be ready until early April, possibly the second week.  Yes, the most intense part of the writing is done, but there is a ton of editing to do yet.  The book’s sheer size alone would make this a time-intense task, but I also have to finish re-editing and formatting Alien Conquest by March 21.  With new readers discovering the Clans of Kalquor series every day, it is imperative I have that book back up for sale once its contract with the current publisher runs out.  It has to take precedence over Clan Rajhir’s story.

Now that I see how Clan, Honor, and Empire is turning out, I realize it might have been smarter to release it as two separate books.  Had I done so, you would have had your hot little hands on Rajhir and Flencik’s part of the story already.  I could have released it in January, because Breft’s story is a totally separate entity with no bearing whatsoever on the first part.  Argh!!!  Stupid 20/20 hindsight!

Then again, would you have wanted just the first part, followed by the second story a few months later?  Hmm.  Good question ... but totally irrelevant at this point, at least where this book is concerned.

However, next year I will be working on Clan Clajak’s Beginnings book.  Having already plotted it out, I know it too will be a two-parter along the lines of Clan, Honor, and Empire.  If it had a single running storyline, like Clan and Conviction did with the Delir/Frenzy case, it would have to be one book.  But no, there will be one tale featuring Clajak and Egilka and a second unrelated one in which Bevau appears.  So depending on how long these stories run, I may be faced with the question of separating Clan and Crown into two books.

I’m curious to know what you all think.  If Clan and Crown ends up being as long as Clan, Honor, and Empire and it means getting half of it earlier, would you want it released in two parts?  Or would you prefer to wait a few more months and get it all at once?  Let me know and I’ll take your responses into consideration when the time arrives.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to get rolling on these edits.  Hang in there ... I promise to make it worth the wait.