Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

This is my first Christmas in nine years without a deadline hanging over my head so I have decided to embrace the season and enjoy it. I don't think I ever realized before how many things have become tradition with our family.

The weekend before Thanksgiving we start decorating. We have to in order to have everything done by the first Sunday in December. This is the day I have my annual ornament swap with my girlfriends. I started it in 1997 because I wanted us to do something without our kids since our lives seemed to revolve around their functions. Now our kids are mostly grown and moved on yet we still get together this first Sunday in Dec and catch up and have a blast. For some of us, this is the only time we see each other all year. Still we come together, I hope we're still doing it when we're all old and gray. We've even brought in the next generation with daughters and daughter-in-laws.

When I get to the point in December when my work is done, the shopping and wrapping under control and I feel like I can draw a breath, I sit down and watch White Christmas. This is one of my all time favorite movies and I can pretty much recite it line by line since I've probably seen it over 50 times in my life. When I was little I wanted to be Vera Ellen. Actually I still want to be her. Have you seen her waist? And her legs? My guys sure do like to talk about her. They also like to rewrite the songs. Their tradition is to sing the Sisters song and insert the line, Sharing, Caring, Even the underwear that we are wearing. Yeah, got to love the traditions.

We open our presents on Christmas Morning after breakfast. We attend our church's Love Feast on Christmas Eve. All the men in my family cook a huge country breakfast the morning after Christmas when we have our family get together. We open presents from the youngest to the oldest and take turns so everyone can see what you got. And every year, our kitty climbs the Christmas tree. I'm sure these traditions will change as my son's get married and have children. We'll figure something out. But one thing for sure, I will still watch White Christmas every year.

I'd love to hear your Christmas traditions. And here's wishing each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Time Travel anyone?

I love writing Time Travels. Except for the fact that they give me a major headache when I'm working on the plot. Thinking of all the repercussions of going to the past to change the future is really difficult. Still I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of The Mammoth Book of Time Travel. (psst if the link doesn't work just look for it on Amazon.)

My story is about Rand Brock, a Texas Ranger investigating a mysterious death and disappearance in West Texas during the 1880's. Imagine his surpise when he's taking a bath in a stream and comes face to face with Shea, a Time Cop from the future. You must read the story to find out what happens but I will let you in on one part of the plot. Steam Punk Scorpions.

I hope you enjoy reading Time Trails as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cover Bliss

Coming in June. Stayed tuned for more details.

Monday, November 02, 2009

What's going on

Yes I have been a blog slacker. I've taken a step back lately to re-evaluate my career. Which doesn't mean I've stopped writing. Its more like I'm trying to figure out what direction my writing is going in. Meanwhile I have written a couple of short stories. The first one is called Time Trails and is in the Mammoth Book of Time Travel which will be released in Dec. Its the story of a Texas Ranger and a Time cop from the future and has some Steampunk elements.
The second is called Quicksilver and will come out in the Irish Book of Romance in January. This was a fascinating story to write as I placed it in the fifth century and used a lot of Irish Mythology. I loved researching it as I am of Irish descent. You can order both from Amazon. I'm most anxious to read the rest of the stories to see what the other authors included came up with.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Whats it really like to be an author?

I copied this from the New Yorker. Its funny but its also true.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Gineen Klein, and I’ve been brought on as an intern to replace the promotion department here at Propensity Books. First, let me say that I absolutely love “Clancy the Doofus Beagle: A Love Story” and have some excellent ideas for promotion.

To start: Do you blog? If not, get in touch with Kris and Christopher from our online department, although at this point I think only Christopher is left. I’ll be out of the office from tomorrow until Monday, but when I get back I’ll ask him if he spoke to you. We use CopyBuoy via Hoster Broaster, because it streams really easily into a Plaxo/LinkedIn yak-fest meld. When you register, click “Endless,” and under “Contacts” just list everyone you’ve ever met. It would be great if you could post at least six hundred words every day until further notice.

If you already have a blog, make sure you spray-feed your URL in niblets open-face to the skein. We like Reddit bites (they’re better than Delicious), because they max out the wiki snarls of RSS feeds, which means less jamming at the Google scaffold. Then just Digg your uploads in a viral spiral to your social networks via an FB/MS interlink torrent. You may have gotten the blast e-mail from Jason Zepp, your acquiring editor, saying that people who do this sort of thing will go to Hell, but just ignore it.

The vi-spi is cross-platform, but don’t worry if you think you’re not on Facebook, because you actually are. Jason enrolled you when you signed the contract last year, or at least he was supposed to, and he told Sarah Williams he did before he had to retire and Sarah left for nursing school. You currently have 421 Friends, 17 Pending Requests, 8 Pokes, 5 Winks, and 3 Proposals of “Marriage.”

I’ve attached a list of celebrities we think would be great to blurb your book, so find out their numbers and call them up. Be sure to do all this by Monday, because Sales Conference starts Tuesday. We come back Friday and then immediately on Saturday (!) all of editorial (Janet, plus probably Michelle, her assistant) and I go to the Frankfurt Book Fair for a week. During that time the office will be closed, although to help cover the costs of the Germany trip it will actually be sublet to the John Lindsay Elementary School P.T.A. as a rehearsal space for this year’s fund-raiser production of “The Music Man.” I’m told that this was one of the things that Jason didn’t understand and which contributed to his “condition.”

Once we get back from Frankfurt, we’d like to see you on morning talk shows like the “Today” show and “The View,” so please get yourself booked on them and keep us “in the loop.” If I’m not here—which I won’t be, since after the book fair I go on vacation for two weeks—just tell Jenni, my assistant, when she gets back from jury duty.

Remember in your blog to tabskim your readers’ comments. You can use Twitter, Chitt-chaTT, or Nit-Pickr. When you reply to comments, try to post at least one photo per hour of you doing everyday tasks around the house, such as answering comments and posting photos. Please make sure they’re pre-scorched. Let me know, when I get back from Retreat a week after my vacation, if self-surging is a problem.

As re: personal appearances, to cut down on travel expenses we’re trying something new this season called RAP, or Readings by Author by Proxy. We’re asking authors in certain key areas of the country to stay “close to home” and give readings at local bookstores of both their own books and a few of our other new releases. We can send you a list of bookstores in your area once you fill out the My Local Bookstores list on your Author’s Questionnaire. You’ll be reading not only from your book but from “Code Blue Stat,” a new medical thriller we’re really excited about, and “Fifty Great Pan Sauces,” a cool new cookbook. Their authors, Dr. Steven Rosenthal and Gail Freenye, will stay in Chicago and Boston, respectively, and read from each other’s book and yours. This idea, apparently, is what made Jason take his clothes off and lock himself in a supply closet.

F.Y.I., we’ve migrated all the photos out of your book and onto the Web page. It makes the hard-copy version cheaper to produce (fewer pages; no photos) and the e-text more “Kindle-friendly.” Sometime next week, call Christopher over an ISDN line and say your name, as distinctly as possible, at least two hundred times, so we can dub it as an AudioAutograph onto the podcast edition. (You may already have done this for a previous book, but somehow Jason managed to delete all the audio files before Security escorted him from the building.)

Don’t hesitate to try to contact me if you have any questions. I sort of have my hands full, promoting twenty-three new releases this fall, but I’m really excited about working on your book, and I look forward to collaborating with you to make “A History of Moorish Architecture, 1200-1492” the biggest success it can be.

Best regards,

Gineen Klein ♦

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Stars Are Empty

I'm taking part in a short story started by L.A. Banks. You can read it here It was a different experience for me but I really enjoyed it once I got into the flow. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Car

I got a new car after nine years of driving the old one. I've downsized from a GMC Yukon (great car, I loved it) to an Infinity EX35.It might take a while to get used to the much smaller yet more fuel efficient car and I will most likely miss the Yukon when vacation time rolls around but I'm willing to try. So far I love it. Its got a lot of zip and is great when changing lanes. Best of all its got camera's all around. I'd been shopping for a month and I'm most happy with my final choice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zombies as Heroes? I don't think so.

It seems that the publishers are jumping on the band wagon of a new genre trend. Zombies. My response is "Ewwww" I just really don't get it. Now while I wouldn't mind reading a story about a couple fighting Zombies ala Resident Evil I'm pretty sure I don't want to know anything about loving a Zombie, even if they originally were the love of my life. Yet some publishers are asking for stories involving humans and zombies. The following is an editor request that's been going around the writer loops
"is looking for "love amongst the undead, between zombies
and the living, and (we hope) many stories about the hot, alpha male and
female zombie killers." She's interested in short stories from 1500 to 5000
words and novellas, 20,000 to 30,000 words."

Meanwhile Zombies are now the subject of research. Scientists say "If zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilisation unless dealt with quickly and aggressively." Even researchers are jumping on the trend. Publishers Weekly also mentioned a book deal featuring a Zombie professor who is now trying to find the meaning of life while fighting off humans that are trying to kill him. Well yeah, I'm pretty sure I would want to kill something that wants to eat my brains.
So what do you think? Is there a future with Zombies? Do you find them sexy? Would you lay down your money for a Zombie love story? Do you think Zombies will take over the shelves in the same way vampires have? I'd love to know what you think of this new trend in publishing. And no, I am not even considering writing a Zombie love story. As I said early, ewwww.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Up date on the writing

Happy to say I turned in Breath Of Heaven on Friday and I'm taking the weekend off. I'll be bringing you snippets of the book in the coming months. The release date is June 2010.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chapter two Prism proposal

In Chapter two I introduce Merrit's paranormal abilities and set up the plot point of Von Swaim's desire to control Merrit's talent. When doing a proposal its important to suck the reader in but you don't want to reveal to much too soon.

Chapter Two
“Cheeky sort wasn’t he,” the Earl said.
“Indeed!” the Countess exclaimed. “I always heard the Americans were rather forward.” Merritt folded her hands primly and kept her eyes upon her lap, as she well knew her mother’s mood.
“Accosting young girls on the street.”
“I hardly think he was accosting me.” Merritt boldly spoke out. “I consider it more as being polite.”
“Obviously they have no idea of propriety,” the Countess continued.
“Now Evelyn,” her father interrupted. “The young man was just trying to drum up business for the show is all. I’m sure any insult you imagined was entirely unintentional.”
“Imagined?” her mother gasped.
Merritt turned her head toward the window as her father winked at her. He had cleverly taken her mother’s mind off the cowboy and onto herself. It was no wonder he was such a success. He knew how to handle people. He knew what they were thinking and how to get them to come to his way of thinking. It was a gift that served him well, especially in Parliament. However when it came to his daughter the gift was useless. If only they would not worry so. If only they would just leave her alone. She had never hurt anyone and she certainly had never injured herself. If only she could just be what she was meant to be instead of what her parents and all of proper English society expected her to be. It just wasn’t fair. Not fair at all.
Harry moved the carriage along at a quick pace to make up for the delay. Merritt watched the streets as they passed. The snow from earlier in the day was nearly melted but a few patches remained on the shaded side of the street. What was left had turned into muddy brown water that trickled down the curbs and into the sewers below and eventually dumped into the Thames.
The streets were busy. The population of London had grown rapidly in the past few years, especially on the east side, which had become the haven for the poor. On the west side, where her family resided, people went about the everyday business of life. Tradesmen and solicitors, bankers and lawyers, governesses with their charges, all picked their way through the puddles on the street, rode their horses or were driven in a wide assortment of vehicles. Heavy wagons filled to the top with kegs and casks, boxes and bags stopped along the way to fill orders for the merchants. All in all a normal day in London, except for the fact that a herd of buffalo accompanied by cowboys and Indians had just passed by.
Another normal day for the normal people. What would it be like to be perfectly normal? Merritt could not even begin to imagine.
The carriage came to a stop. “We’re here sir,” Harry called down.
Merritt looked up at the tall building with the same feeling of dread that had been her constant companion since her parents informed her of their decision. A small sign hung over the door. Institute of Paranormal Research. Dr. Edmond Von Swaim.
They exited the carriage. Merritt gathered her skirts and reluctantly followed her parents up the steps with Rose and Jerry close on her heels. Did they think she would actually dash off down the street?
If only I could…But she could not. Any normal person would. But any normal person would not be here in the first place. She was not normal. She was paranormal. Or so her parents thought. They had latched onto the word as soon as they understood its meaning. They felt it explained her spells perfectly yet they wanted to be sure. They needed a diagnosis because with a diagnosis there could be a cure. It all made so much sense when they explained it to her. But now…that the time was nigh…it made no sense at all.
The door swung open before the Earl could lift his hand to knock. Her mother hesitated on the step before her as if she were suddenly afraid.
Imagine how I feel…Merritt knew they wanted to help her. They wanted what was best for her. They also wanted to protect the family from the whispering that went on when someone in their circle had experiences that were considered…objectionable. It would solve all their problems if Merritt had an illness that they could put a name too.
If only they would listen…if only they would ask…if only she were braver and stronger. If only she had been the one to die instead of her brother Christopher. If only…
The Earl took the Countess’s arm and led her inside. Merritt, always the dutiful daughter, had no choice but to follow. A butler, who stood a full head taller than her father, held the door open. His face was impassive, but Merritt could feel his eyes upon her. She marched straight ahead as her father looked upward and around, his eyes calculating the wealth of the Institute as one might inventory the jewels upon the neck of a dowager countess.
The foyer was a full three stories high. Before them was a grand staircase with a hall beside it that led back to a closed door. To the left was a closed door and to the right a sitting room. The fire was not lit, nor the lamps, and the heavy velvet drapes were drawn closed against the light of day. It all seemed very desolate and lonely even though the wood was well polished and the furnishings rich with ornate carvings and plush fabrics.
The sound of a clock ticking was overpowering in the sudden quiet when the door was closed behind them. To Merritt the sound was frighteningly omnipotent. She could not help but look upward to the source and saw a huge pendulum swinging directly over the door. The clockworks were above, on the third story behind a walkway that crossed from one side to the other. She could not see them clearly in the dim light but they seemed immense and complicated. Why would anyone need or want a clock that big?
A middle-aged woman dressed in a simple gray dress and white apron and wearing a white cap came down the impressive staircase and dropped a curtsey to her father.
“Dr. Von Swaim awaits you in the upper parlor,” she said. She spoke with a heavy accent, possibly German since it was known that Von Swaim was of German descent. “Your servants may await you in there.”
Her father started to protest then thought better of it. Merritt wondered if the overbearing presence of the butler had anything to do with his hesitancy. He motioned Rose and Jerry into the parlor. Jerry made it clear by his stance that he was not happy about the situation. Rose simply sat down on a sofa and let out a long suffering sigh.
“For privacy sir,” the woman said when they were settled. “Doctor Von Swaim has also canceled all of his appointments for this afternoon so you need not worry about anyone disturbing you during your visit.”
“Very well,” her father said. “Lead on.”
Merritt took a firm grasp on the railing as she followed her parents up the grand staircase. As she watched her feet climb the stairs her insides felt as if she were descending into a deep dark pit. Her parents had insisted on enough doctors in her lifetime to dread any thought of any type of an exam, especially one that was as mysterious to her as this. What exactly did a paranormal exam involve?
For once her mother kept her chatter to a minimum. She always used it as a mask but in this situation there was no place for it. There was no hiding the fear or intimidation that any of them felt.
The light was brighter on the second floor. Gas lamps lit the hallways and the curtains were open on the opposite ends of the building to let in the light of day. The woman led them across the landing from the staircase and opened a set of double doors.
Bookcases, two stories high, filled the walls on either side. French doors covered the back wall and opened invitingly to a balcony that overlooked a courtyard. Merritt could hear water bubbling below and imagined it must contain a fountain of some sort. Deep burgundy curtains hung beside the windows that flanked the French doors. An ornate birdcage made of brass stood upon a stand next to the window and a bright yellow canary piped a few notes when they were shown into the room. A large sofa also covered in burgundy sat along the wall on the right with wing chairs on either side. End tables flanked the sofa and were covered with an assortment of gewgaws made of brass and glass. Some seemed to be spinning; it would take closer examination to be certain.
The left side of the room contained a huge desk with two small chairs before it. The desk held a smaller collection of gewgaws and a large crystal prism that seemed to Merritt to be as long as her arm. There was a door built into the wall directly behind the desk and she could not help but wonder where it led. Into the bowels of hell?
“The Doctor will be with you presently,” the woman said and closed the double doors behind her as she bowed her way from the room.
“You think they would have offered tea,” her mother said as she sat down in one of the wing chairs.
“We are not here for a social visit,” the Earl reminded her.
“Well, yes, I realize that,” the Countess replied. “Still it would be the hospitable thing to do, considering.”
Merritt let mother’s words pass over her without a response. Her father turned his back on both of them and perused the collection of books that filled the shelf behind the chair. Merritt walked to the balcony to see if there really was a fountain beyond.
A large telescope sat on the balcony aimed upwards at the sky. A stool was beside it with a sextant lying upon it. The instrument of the sea seemed strangely out of place in such an enclosed area. The courtyard was enclosed on the sides with a high brick wall and another building stood behind it. Dr. Von Swaim must have use of both buildings as a door from it opened into the courtyard also. The back of it was plain and tall with small windows that were covered with iron grates and shuttered from the inside. A chill went down her spine as she looked it over. What was the purpose of closing off the lovely courtyard from view? And why the grates? Were they meant to keep people in or people out?
The courtyard was, as she first surmised before her inspection of the building beyond, quite lovely. A large fountain with a replica of the earth done in metals was the centerpiece and water spurted from the top and coated the sides before falling into the stone basin beneath. Japanese maples with tightly budded leaves graced the centers of four uniform triangles that formed the corners of the gardens and neat boxwoods hedged the sides with benches placed before them. A brick walk surrounded the fountain and freshly tilled earth between the two begged for plantings of colorful flowers. It was a heady contradiction to the heavy and overpowering massiveness of everything she had seen inside the institute.
She heard her father’s harrumph of impatience and turned to see what caused it. The canary peeped inquisitively as she stepped inside so she paused beside its cage.
“I imagine you wish you could fly away,” she said softly to the bird. It hopped from its perch high in the cage to another that was closer to her face. Its dark eyes blinked several times as it examined her.
“Such a pretty cage,” Merritt said. “But it is still a cage, no matter how pretty it is.” She turned her head and looked at the building behind the courtyard.
Still a cage…
The canary jumped from the bar with a loud chirp as the pressure of the room changed with the opening of the door. Merritt felt a cold breeze swirl over her face and the few tendrils of her hair that had escaped the careful attentions of her maid tickled her cheek when she looked into the room.
She recognized Dr. Edmond Von Swaim. (Describe here) How could she not? He currently was the darling of the social circuit and was often mentioned in the gossip columns of the newspaper. Merritt had been present at a few of the functions he attended, as he was a must-have on any guest list. He usually performed feats of hypnotism or other sorts of trickery at the parties that were expounded on at great length in the columns the next day. He had impressed her parents enough that after a few discreet inquiries, they had decided to take Dr. Von Swaim into their confidence regarding Merritt and her “spells.”
His answer? She must be examined immediately before her spells worsened or she did harm to herself. They were exactly the words her mother most feared, since she had been dreading the prospect for these many years.
Maybe he will have an answer…or even a cure…It was too much to hope for. Merritt watched as her father shook hands with Dr. Von Swaim, and her mother greeted him warmly.
Why do I feel such a sense of dread?
Usually she had a vision or warning sign if something bad was about to happen. In this instance there had been no warning yet she still had the feeling that something was horribly wrong. Perhaps the canary had the same concerns. It piped mightily, as if in warning, as Dr. Von Swaim approached her with his arms open wide. Did he actually mean to embrace her?
“My dear Merritt,” he said with a welcoming smile on his broad and ruddy face. His voice held just the slightest accent of his German origins.
Merritt held out her gloved hand so that he might take it, but also to keep him from encroaching upon her. He took her hand, clasped it between his two palms and gave it a firm squeeze. It seemed on the surface to be comforting but then again something about it disturbed her. Perhaps it was in the way he evaluated her. She looked into the deep-set blue eyes beneath the heavy blonde brows. There was no mistaking it. His demeanor was kind and friendly but he was calculating her worth, just as her father had when they arrived at the institute.
“Your parents have expressed their deep concern over your condition,” he said as Merritt carefully pulled her hand free.
“They trouble themselves over nothing,” Merritt said. “I have strange dreams, nothing more.”
“Nonsense,” the Countess said. “Who has dreams in the middle of the day? When they are often wide awake?”
“Come my dear,” Von Swaim said. “Sit and tell me of your dreams.” He stepped back and extended his arm, just stopping short of touching her back as if he would propel her forward.
Merritt suppressed a heavy sigh as she made her way to the sofa. There were no other options and there certainly was no escape. The only thing to do was get it over with as quickly as possible. She sat down and Von Swaim joined her. Her parents took position in the wing chairs on either side. Von Swaim sat forward, placing his body between Merritt and her father. It also placed his body between Merritt and the door.
“It would help me to know more of what you experience,” Von Swaim said. “Tell me of your dreams.”
It seemed too personal…too revealing…however he was a doctor. It was his intent to help her or so she hoped. If he could make the dreams, the visions, the spells, go away…Merritt looked at him hopefully.
“They are more like visions than dreams,” she explained. “I simply see things.”
“What type of things?”
She thought carefully of what she should say. It was all so confusing. Should she tell this man her deepest darkest secrets? Or would the basics be enough? It certainly would not hurt to share the things she told her parents. It wasn’t as if they had not already told him what they knew about her spells.
“Sometimes I see Papa at work talking with his friends…”
“About subjects that she should have no knowledge of,” the Earl interjected.
“Do you mean policy discussions? Von Swaim asked.
“Do you bring home notes or letters that she would have access too?”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Merritt said. “I would never look at Papa’s personal papers.”
“You do read the daily,” her mother said. “That’s enough to feed anyone’s imagination.”
“She speaks of things during her spells that she has no way of knowing. How someone will vote, or who will side with whom. It is almost as if she knows the outcome before it happens.”
Indeed,” Von Swaim said. “Very curious. Is she usually right about the things she sees?”
“Almost always,” her father said.
If only they knew…
“Any other instances? Anything besides parliament?” Von Swaim studied her intently, his eyes moving over her face and down enough to make her feel uncomfortable.
Merritt shifted her body so that he was not so close, and not so oppressive. She shrugged. “There have been a few other things.”
“She saw poor Mrs. Poole drop dead,” her mother said. “Our butler’s mother,” she went on to explain.
“No, I did not see her drop dead,” Merritt interjected. “I simply saw her lying on the floor. Then I asked Poole if he had seen her lately.”
“And when he did she was dead.”
“Yes. She was.”
“Quite dead,” her father volunteered. As if anyone could be any deader than dead.
“Fascinating!” Von Swaim jumped up from the sofa and strode across the room as if he could not contain himself.
Merritt looked at the man in disbelief. Poor Poole had lost his mother and Dr. Von Swaim was looking at her as if she had just given him a fortune in jewels.
“Is there anything else?”
Merritt twisted her hands in her lap. She knew what was coming before her mother even said it.
“We have noticed things moving about sometimes,” the Countess said timidly. Merritt could not blame her for being timid. It would be difficult to believe unless one had actually witnessed it. Small objects did have a habit of falling off of surfaces or in one instance flying across a room when she was in the midst of one of her more troublesome spells.”
“Excellent,” Von Swaim exclaimed. He came back to the sofa and knelt in front of Merritt before grasping her hands. “You must allow me to hypnotize you.”
She felt trapped once again. Pinned against the sofa with no chance of escape. She did manage to free her hands from his grasp yet he remained on the floor before her, practically kneeling on her skirts.
“Do you think it would help, Dr. Von Swaim?” her father asked.
“The subconscious mind holds much danger for those not familiar with its workings,” Von Swaim said as he finally rose to his feet. “Imagine Merritt’s mind as a battlefield with her subconscious at war with her consciousness. It seems to me that at the present time her subconscious is winning the battle. If I do not find out the cause I am afraid that Merritt’s consciousness may eventually be lost to you forever.”
“Oh my!” Her mother gasped. “Merritt lost?”
“The sanitariums are full of such cases.”
“That is unacceptable.” The Earl jumped to his feet while her mother held her handkerchief to her face to hide her distress.
Merritt was skeptical about his comments. There was no war going on in her mind. She just had dreams. Very vivid, very real dreams. She always knew whom she was and where she was when she awakened. It seemed as if Dr. Von Swaim had made a more accurate diagnosis of her parent’s fears and was using it to achieve his own ends.
“If you believe hypnotism will help, then by all means proceed,” her father said.
“Are you certain you will be able to hypnotize me?” She had seen performances of such things before but always felt as if there was collusion involved on the part of all parties.
“I have found that the stronger paranormal activity lends itself to susceptibility in these cases,” Von Swaim replied. He held a hand out to help her rise from the sofa and she had no choice but to take it. “Come my dear,” he said and led her to a gilt chair placed before his desk. “Please stay where you are so there will be no distractions,” he instructed her parents who had begun to follow.
They sat down together on the couch and smiled encouragement to Merritt. She smiled reassuringly in their direction and was pleased to see her father take her mother’s hand into his. There was nothing to fear. Her father would not let any harm come to her.
Merritt sat down with her back to the window while Von Swaim opened a desk drawer and removed an object. The light caught it as he carried it around the desk. It was a crystal, cut in the shape of a large diamond and suspended from a chain.
He sat down opposite her and dangled the crystal from the chain in front of her. “I want you to concentrate,” he said. “Concentrate on the crystal. Concentrate on the light. Watch it carefully.”
The crystal twisted back and forth, slowly winding then unwinding on the chain. Merritt watched the light from the lamps and the sun dance through the different angles of the cuts, each one casting a different color around it as if it was alive with its own aura. She heard the canary chirp once, heard the fountain cascading behind her, and heard the soft breathing of her parents. As watched the crystal spin up and down the chain she felt as if the walls of the room were falling away. The fountain became distant and then she heard the giant clock with the pendulum swinging back and forth.
The noise moved inside her head and became an echo of her heartbeat. Tick…thump….tock…thump-thump.
She was no longer in the room inside the institute. She was no longer with Dr. Von Swaim and her parents. She was standing in the middle of a circle. The ground beneath her was hard packed earth that was scarred with the imprint of many types of hoof prints. A light shone directly on her, blinding her. She lifted a hand to shield her eyes from it and the light faded.
Someone was with her. “Trust me,” a voice said. “You’ve got to trust me.” The voice seemed vaguely familiar and she searched the area inside the light until she saw a silhouette. Her forehead furrowed as she tried to put a name to the face that was hidden beneath the shadow of a wide-brimmed hat.
“Don’t move,” the voice said. “Trust me. I will never hurt you.” Then he raised a gun in his hand and shot her.
Merritt screamed. She felt her body spinning and then she landed beside the desk. Her hands gripped the sides of the chair as if she were on a boat in huge swells that threatened to break over her head.
As she caught her breath she looked at Dr. Von Swaim for an answer to what she had said or done while under the effects of his hypnosis. But Von Swaim was not looking at her. He looked beyond her. Merritt turned in her seat and saw the birdcage. It was no longer beautiful. It was twisted and ruined with the bars broken and pulled apart.
The canary sat upon the rail of the balcony with its beak wide open as it sang a sweet song to the clear blue sky above. It turned and looked directly at Merritt before it extended its wings and flew away.
“My word!” her father said.
Her mother simply cried.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to my series on when a story doesn't work

When researching victorian England for my Steampunk proposal I came up with an interesting fact. The Buffalo Bill Wild West Show appeared in England in 1887. I try to remain as historically actuate as possible, even though this book has fantasy elements and thowing a cowboy who is very good with his guns into the mix set my heart all aflutter. I write cowboys well and it seemed much more interesting than writing your typical British Lord of that time. I needed someone who could be in the same social circle as my heroine but also be forbidden. So Dax became a cowboy with a past.

I wanted him to have a rough edge of danger but also be able to pass in the society of the day. So I created a history for him. Dax was raised my his grandmother, a grand society dame in Boston. His mother died in childbirth and his father, who was a Doctor was stricken with grief and took off for the west. When Dax reached his late teens he took off to find his father who was living with the Sioux. Dax fell in love with Rebekah who'd was raised in the tribe. She died from a plague along with his father and once more Dax took off to become a scout for the army. He was part of the hunt for Geronimo and at one time was captured and tortured by the Apache. AFter his rescue he decided he'd had enough of the west and wanted to travel. He hooked up with the Wild West show and became Kid Cochran, the fastest gun alive.

The following is the first chapter which contains the meet between the Hero and Heroine and hopefully draws the reader into the story.


April 14, 1887

“What ever is the hold up?” Thomas Chadwyke, Earl of Pemberton rapped the silver handle of his walking stick on the roof of the carriage to get the attention of his driver. They had come to a complete stop on Gloucester Street and the Earl’s impatience was as usual, quite evident.
“It seems to be some sort of parade Sir,” Harry, the driver called down from his perch. “Coming from the train station.”
“A parade?” The Earl stuck his head through the carriage window.
“Really, Thomas,” Evelyn, Countess Pemberton said. “Don’t be crass.”
The Earl ignored her as he hung out the window and exclaimed quite loudly. “It’s the Americans! And I believe those fellows wrapped up in blankets are Indians.” The Countess leaned forward and peered through the window on her side of the carriage as the Earl continued with his exclamations. “Good Lord, those must be buffalo.”
“Oh!” The Countess said as she sat back onto her seat. “The smell is quite dreadful.” She pulled an embroidered square of linen from her reticule and placed it over the lower half of her face. “Merritt,” she said to her daughter. “Quickly, cover your face before some horrid disease creeps in.”
Before Merritt could respond, or even protest, her nurse and constant companion, Rose, slapped a ready handkerchief over the lower half of Merritt’s face and held it there. Merritt knew from experience that it would do no good to protest, or even move as Rose, in direct contradiction to her name, was extremely strong for a woman.
It was one of the requirements Rose met when she was interviewed for the position after discreet inquires were made by her parents. They lived with the fear that Merritt would hurt herself when she was in the throes of one of her spells, therefore her nurse must have the physical strength to keep that from happening. Merritt always wondered what it was they expected to happen to her since her spells usually entailed her speaking of strange things while seeming to lose all touch with what was happening around her. She was glad to know that with Rose’s constant care she would not throw herself from a window or cut herself with a butter knife which were just a few of the ways her mother’s vivid imagination had conjured up for Merritt to injure herself.
Merritt placed her hand over Rose’s and smiled agreeably with her eyes, since that was all of her face that was showing. She practically sighed in relief when Rose released the linen into her care and went about the business of protecting her own mouth and nose from whatever dreaded disease her mother was going on about.
“I do wish they would hurry,” the Countess said. “We’re going to miss our appointment.” The countess peered out her window once more as if just looking at the delay would convince it to stop inconveniencing her. Merritt sat with her back to the front of her carriage so could not see what was creating the stir. She was tempted to look but knew it would result in more fussing from her mother and Rose so instead she stared complacently ahead and tried not to think about what the day held in store for her.
If only we would miss the appointment…That would not trouble Merritt in the least. It would be cause for much rejoicing on her part. She might even be tempted to join the parade of Americans herself if only to prolong it so that she could miss her appointment. Of course that would be enough to send her mother into one of her own spells. She did her best not to laugh aloud at the vision of her mother swooning into her father’s arms while their rebellious daughter chased down the street after buffalo and wild Indians. Luckily the handkerchief covered the quivering of her lips as she suppressed the urge.
“I do believe they are coming this way,” the Earl said. He resumed his seat. “There are policemen about directing the carriages to move over to the side.”
“Oh, if only we had known,” the Countess exclaimed. “We could have traveled another route.”
“It was my understanding that they were supposed to ride the train all the way to the exhibition grounds,” the Earl said. “I say, it will not do to have the streets of London run amok with these wild creatures.”
“Are you referring to the buffalo or the Indians?” The Countess asked.
“Both.” The carriage lurched as Harry urged the four in hand over. Merritt barely heard Harry’s faint apology over the drumming sound of hooves against the cobblestones that suddenly filled the streets. Shouts and whistles joined the cacophony of noise. Her curiosity finally got the best of her and she turned so that she could see out the window.
“Do be careful dear,” the Countess instructed.
“I just want to see,” Merritt said. A rider went by and she caught the bright stripes of a blanket trailing over the brown and white splotched coat of a horse. “Is that what they call a paint?” she asked her father.
“I believe so.” He leaned out the window once more and Merritt rose up to join him, conveniently leaving her handkerchief on her seat. Rose tried to grasp her arm to stop her. Merritt managed to gracefully avoid her nurse and looped her arm through her father’s so that she was pressed against his side. She knew they resembled a pair of children with their faces pressed against the glass of the sweet shop but she did not care. It was not often that her father’s natural exuberance took over and she wanted to relish the moment. Who knew how long it would last?
“Oh his hair is nearly as long as mine!” she exclaimed as another Indian rode by. This one had long black hair cascading down his back and a feather sticking up in the back. “I wonder if Buffalo Bill is among the riders.”
“From what I’ve read he should be easy to recognize. Perhaps he stayed with the train.”
“Could that be Annie Oakley?” Merritt saw a woman dressed in fringed buckskin and a gun belt around her waist go by on a beautiful palomino. The papers had been full of stories of the Wild West show and the people who were slated to appear with it. For the past few weeks Merritt read about Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Red Shirt the Indian, and Kid Cochran who the papers claimed was the fastest gun alive, whatever that meant. She supposed it could have something to do with quick draw or rapid firing. Whatever it was, it all seemed very exciting and adventurous, especially when one’s life seemed to center around doctor visits and the constant hovering of her mother, her maid, and Rose the nurse.
“We are going, aren’t we Papa?” she asked as a dozen or so buffalo went by with their shaggy humped backs reeking from too much confinement.
“We shall see.” His usual reply to her requests for some sort of normalcy in her life.
“I do not see how it could possibly be safe,” the Countess interjected.
“Evelyn,” the Earl said dryly. “Or course it will be safe. The Prince is planning to attend and the Queen has requested a private showing.”
Merritt allowed herself a small smile. Her father’s retort was quick assurance that they would attend the Wild West Show and most likely at the nearest opportunity. The first scheduled public performance was for May the ninth but it was well known among the members of parliament, of which her father was included, that there would be private showings before then. It was a small victory she relished to make up for the dreaded appointment that was to occur later on.
“Watch out!” her father suddenly exclaimed. The carriage lurched as Merritt crashed into her father who steadied her with his arm. “Are you hurt my dear?”
“No,” she said. “I am quite all right.”
“Thomas,” the Countess said. “Would you please do something about removing us before we are trampled by these creatures?”
“I’ll see what I can do.” The Earl quickly exited the carriage on the side that was closest to the buildings without waiting for his man Jerry, to open the door. Merritt knew it was only because he wanted a closer look at the commotion without listening to her mother’s constant concerns. She turned back to the window and was amazed to see a buffalo staring at her. The head with its protruding horns was immense and the humped back seemed to her to be as high as the carriage windows. If she wanted to, she could stretch out a gloved hand and touch the shaggy coat.
A piercing whistle sounded followed by a shout.” Get outa there!” There was a popping sound and the buffalo jumped away and joined its fellows as they trotted on down the street.
“Sorry about that.” A horse and rider stopped by the carriage. The horse was extraordinary, nothing like Merritt had ever seen before. Its nose was a deep blue black then the color faded to bluish gray before becoming white on its hindquarters. There was a spattering of blue-gray spots across its back that ended in a silky tail that seemed to be a blend of all three colors.
“Oh my,” Merritt exclaimed. “What type of horse is that?”
The rider rubbed the arched neck of the animal with pride. “This here is Katie,” he said. “And she’s what we call an Appaloosa.”
“She’s extraordinary.” Merritt said as her eyes moved from the horse to the muscular thigh that held the animal in check. Her breath quickened at the sight of the raw wildness that was within her reach.
“Yes she is.” The voice had a lazy drawl and it captured her, drawing her gaze to his face. She saw a strong jaw and straight nose beneath the brim of a wide hat the types of which she’d seen pictures of in the newspapers. The jaw was covered with a stubble of beard and strong white teeth flashed a grin at her from full lips. He wore a short brown coat with the collar turned up against the crisp cold air. There was a blue paisley scarf tied about his neck and buckskin pants tucked into brown boots. Much to her surprise a gun belt rode low on his left hip and was tied off around his thigh to keep it from moving. He coiled a short whip around a knob that protruded from his saddle.
Her mother craned her neck to see who she was talking to and gasped at the blatant display of weaponry.
“They’re all a bit frisky after being cooped up for so long,” he said with a wave at the small contingent of buffalo that trotted on down the cobblestones with the riders doing their best to keep them contained. “We all are,” he added.
“I would imagine so,” Merritt said. She felt a flutter of excitement inside as she studied the cowboy. He seemed mysterious and forbidden, like one of the scandalous romance novels she kept hidden beneath her mattress or the champagne her mother would not let her drink at parties lest it bring on another spell. She heard her mother’s hiss and felt the sharp tug on her skirt. She ignored it as the cowboy pushed back his hat so she could see the rest of his face.
Deep blue eyes gazed at her from beneath a flop of golden brown hair that touched his incredibly long lashes. He pushed the recalcitrant locks aside and gave her a wide grin. “I hope you’re coming to the show.” He looked at her, boldly, brazenly and a lazy smile turned up the corners of his full lips.
Merritt felt the heat of his eyes and her cheeks burned with his look. He sees me… For the first time someone was looking at her, as a person, whole into herself. She was so used to the whispers about her spells and the sympathetic looks of the servants or the constant worry that lined her parent’s faces. No one ever truly saw Merritt. They only saw the circumstances that surrounded her.
“It is my intent.” She returned his smile with a shy one of her own.
“Merritt!” Her mother’s voice was loud enough for the cowboy to hear. She was not surprised. It was unusual for her to engage in conversation with the prim and proper gentlemen of the peerage. Of course it would shock her mother to see her hanging from a carriage window, talking to a complete stranger who seemed so rough around the edges. It might even be considered dangerous, enough so that a thrill went down her spine.
“That’s a pretty name,” he drawled. “Don’t think I’ve ever heard that one before.”
“Thank you,” Merritt replied. “My father gave it to me.”
As if on cue her father stepped round from behind the carriage with Jerry close behind him. “Taking in the scenery?” he said to the cowboy.
“Yes sir,” the cowboy said as he looked between Merritt and her father. The relationship had to be obvious to even a stranger on the street. She had the same blonde hair and the same piercing blue eyes although she was grateful to be blessed with her mother’s nose and chin. Her mother was still considered to be a great beauty. Merritt’s beauty was always an addendum to her condition.
“That’s an interesting piece you’re wearing there,” the Earl said, motioning towards the gun strapped to the cowboy’s hip.”
“It gets the job done,” the cowboy said. His eyes changed, along with his posture. He was no longer open and easy. Suddenly he was more reserved, as if there were secrets that he was trying to protect.
“The way seems to be clear, sir,” Harry said from his post.
“Oh,” the Earl said. His disappoint was evident. “Well then, I supposed we must be off. The cowboy backed his horse away as Jerry opened the carriage door and her father stepped in. He leaned out the window once more. “Will we see you in the show?” he asked as Harry set the team in motion.
“Yes, sir,” the cowboy replied. “Just keep a lookout for Kid Cochran!” he called out after them. He tugged on the reins and Katie, the beautiful appaloosa, rose up on her hind legs and pawed the air as her rider lifted his arm in the air and let out a farewell whoop.
Merritt and her father clapped their approval of the show as Katie took off in a clatter of hooves after the retreating buffalo. The crowd gathered in the melting snow let out a collective gasp and then a cheer at the cowboy’s bravado.
Kid Cochran…The fastest gun alive. And to think she had met him boldly on the street. Her friend Caro would never believe it.
It would make for much better conversation than the coming appointment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Proud to announce that Twist won the Prism for best Time Travel last week.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Celebrate Independence Day with a book

Two of my stories feature our country's fight for independence. Fallen has the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in NC and is told from the perspective of an English soldier. Rising Wind is about a colonial scout and features the Battle of Point Pleasant in WV. I grew up on the Point Pleasant battle field so always felt this was the book I had to write.

Happy 4th of July everyone. We are blessed with many freedoms in this country. May we never take them for granted.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guest Blogger Delilah Marvelle

Let's all help Delilah save her series. This is a time for you, as a reader, to let the publishers know that you will support your favorite authors. If there's a series you love and can't get enough of write the publisher directly and tell them. Then tell you friends about the awesome books you've read so they'll buy them. That's the only way we can keep on writing them for you.

When I was in high school, I had a dream. I was going to be the next Stephen King. Heh. Yeah. Stay with me. Please. I knew my ideas were fabulous and I knew all it would take is for an editor to look at it and they would offer me up the moon and the stars and best of all, a contract. I had my girlfriends read everything I wrote. And they kept telling me, “This is fabulous! It's SO funny! Hilarious!” Seeing it really wasn't supposed to BE funny, I immediately changed course realizing I actually had a better handle on being funny than scary. I also figured adding a romance into it would even make it better since that is what I loved to read.

I then entered college as an English major. I was going to be teacher and write during the summers. Even then I was a smart girl who knew I wasn't going to make jack and that I needed a job to support the “creative” one. Throughout all of college I wrote historical romances. One right after another. And kept submitting. And submitting. And submitting. And kept getting rejected and rejected and rejected. In the meantime, I got married. I had two kids. I joined RWA. I got critique partners. I did honed and honed and honed the crap out of my writing. And kept writing and getting rejected. I eventually racked up over 200 rejections and had written over 40 books in those 11 years of trying to get published.

When I finally sold my first historical romance, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, and my second book, LORD OF PLEASURE, I was beside myself. It didn't feel real. To FINALLY arrive at a destination I had been traveling toward for 11 long years seemed like a mirage. Which fortunately, I quickly snapped out of. Because after all, most of my friends are all published and unpublished writers and the stories they all have told me throughout the years made me realize I had to fight with fists up for myself every step of the way. I knew publishers did little to no promotion for their authors, so I spearheaded my own promo, ready to be more than just an author. And even though I was budgeting very well and spending countless hours networking and promoting on websites and blogs, doing tons for free, I still ended up spending $7,000 on my first book. Which was way more than my advance. But hey, every business starts in the red. Right?

Then the reviews started coming in about my series set in 1830 London England about a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction. People loved it! Wow. It got nominated for awards. Wow. Readers are e-mailing me raving. Wow. Readers from France, Austria, Poland, South Africa and from all over the U.S and the world.. Wow. It just kept getting better and better. I was beginning to feel as if every penny I spent was all worth it (even though my family and I weren't going on any vacations and were eating out of cans). Because all that mattered was that my publisher loved me and my readers loved my series.

Come contract time, I'm ready for whatever they wanna throw at me. Or so I thought. Mistress of Pleasure, though completely sold out and unavailable anywhere (unless it's a used copy, some going for a ridiculous amount of $40.00), hadn't done as well as my publisher had hoped. So without waiting for the second book to come out to see if the series was even worth saving, I get a rejection from my own editor citing lack of sales.

I have to say this rejection felt more personal than any of the other two hundred and some rejections I'd received. Because it was no longer “Your book isn't good enough” it became “Your sales aren't good enough.” Since when is an author supposed to be a market guru AND a fabulous writer? Eck.

I love this series. The men in it make me laugh and it broke my heart to think that my readers will never get a chance to read about Lord Brayton, my glorious male virgin. The only alpha virgin I've ever written about. Then I realized something, why I am letting a publisher decide what is worth holding on to? Shouldn't that be a reader's job?

Ah. Herein lies the purpose of my post. I am challenging everyone, be they readers or writers to help me do something that's never been done before. Save a series from a death sentence given by a publisher. Can it be done? Who knows. But I eat challenges for breakfast and I hope you do to. Please join me in saving my series. Come August 4th, tell everyone you know (yes, even you're 72 year old grandfather) to buy the book, Lord of Pleasure. In doing so, you'll have a chance to win one of three $50 Visa Gift Cards. How? Check out my website for details at

That said, thank you for all the support and love everyone has already shown me by allowing me to blog about this. Feel free to post and repost this to everyone under the moon and the stars. To all you readers out there, thank you for supporting us writers. To all you writers out there, don't ever give up on your writing. The moment you do, you give up on yourself. Which is why I'm not giving up on my series.

Cheers and much love,
Delilah Marvelle

Part five

For the past few weeks I've posted the synopsis and first three chapters of my post apocotlypic romance that I shopped around to some different houses the end of 2008. One editor called it a MadMax/Matrix mix. I liked that reference. Still no one bit. No one even came close. They just could not identify with the characters.

So what was I to do? I had a concept that I thought was a good one. The greatest power is the mind. My overall story arc was pretty much typical. Guy meets girl, guy falls for girl, bad guy wants girl, bad guy takes girl, guy rescues girl and they live happily ever after. My world, as I envisioned it was complex and would need at least three books to tell, maybe four. Most important, I had two characters and names that I loved. Dax and Merritt.

I think one thing that went against me was the time of year. I sent out a dark, desperate and depressing world at Christmas time. That really should not influence it but deep down I think it did. Christmas is a happy time as it should be. But mostly I think the market was to blame. sci/fi romance is a very narrow niche and its hard to take a risk on something that does not have the potential for making a lot of $$$.

Publishers had taken a hit along with everyone else in 2008. A major book distributor went under. Returns were up, book stores were not buying as many titles as before but buying more of sure things. It was a hard time to sell period.

I took a long hard look at the market. I needed to come up with something new and fresh. Something that did not have vampires since I feel the fur and fangs market is way over done. I also felt as if urban fantasy might be overdone as well. Something well written in a new market sells, it becomes popular and suddenly every publisher in the world wants the same thing. They buy it up in hopes that they can cash in on the sudden craze and the reader gets tired of it. I am a firm believer that the reader wants a well written book in any genre instead of mediocre books in their favorite genre.

So thinking, new and different. Something that I could do well. Something in my writers wheelhouse. Somthing with strong characters, and great world buildling. I'm known for writing historicals and scifi. What blends those two genre's together?


It wasn't as if I had a lightbulb moment. I'd read a few articles, thought about it, watched some movies with some elements of it, then a friend called me up and said. "I think you should try writing Steampunk. Its' perfect for you."

But I still had this proposal with elements that I liked and characters that I adored. Could I turn it into a steampunk story?

Here's the synopsis. You tell me.

Prism by Cindy Holby
A Steampunk Romance

Cindy Holby, award-winning author of historical and scifi romance, blends both genres together with Prism, a steampunk romance featuring a cowboy, a psychic heroine and a diabolical plot to take over the world using imaginative technology in Victorian England. What’s a proper British lady to do when a mad scientist is after her brain and an American cowboy is after her heart?

London, England 1887

David Alexander Conrad, AKA Dax, is a cowboy. But he's not just any ordinary cowboy—he's one of the famed performers with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show who, in the summer of 1887, travels to England in order to give those stuffy Victorians a jolt of good old American showmanship. He is a renowned sharp shooter and trick rider with skills honed when he worked as a scout for the US Cavalry in the American Southwest during the Apache Wars with Geronimo. At twenty-seven, he’s the youngest star of the show and something of a celebrity in a London unaccustomed to his type. It is while Dax is on the party circuit that he meets a woman unlike any he has ever known.

Merritt Elizabeth Chadwyke is the daughter of Member of Parliament, Lord Pemberton She lives in a society bubble because she is subject to spells and needs the constant monitoring of a nurse. During her “spells” Merritt has been known to make outlandish comments about things of which she should have no knowledge. There is also evidence that during these spells, objects appear to move on their own. Merritt’s parents are very protective of her since they have already lost a son to a tragic accident. What her parents do not know is that at ten years of age, Merritt had a vision of her brother’s death but was afraid to say anything because of her parents reactions to her visions. She did try to warn her brother, who was fourteen when he died, but he ignored her. He realized he should have paid attention to her and said so as he died in his father’s arms. At their wits’ end over her strange illness, her parents send her to the Paranormal Research Institute run by Baron Edmond Von Swaim, who has become a society darling himself by using his powers of hypnotism to charm the upper crust. As Von Swaim performs test upon test on Merritt, he comes to the conclusion that she is something so unique and rare, he wasn't even certain it existed. Merritt is a Prism. And more importantly, she is exactly what he needs to complete his plot to overthrow the British Monarchy and take what he feels is his claim to the throne.

Von Swaim does everything to encourage Merritt’s family to turn her over to his care to cure her “spells.” His research into the study of the human mind has led him to believe that it is the greatest power upon earth. Through the use of his brilliant inventions and the enhancement of crystal prisms he plans to harness Merritt’s mind. Merritt, true to the nature of her spells, has a bad feeling about Von Swaim and refuses to go with him, despite her parents’ belief that it is the perfect solution to her strange illness. It is also during this time that Dax and Merritt have met each other and find that they are unable to stop thinking about each other. He finds it’s a bit more difficult to track a young woman through Victorian London than it is to fight Indians in the American west. Still he manages to find her, at parties, at the park, even in an exclusive tea shop. The feelings they share grow stronger with each passing moment and they go to great lengths to spend time together when they realize there is something special between them. As they pursue their romance Dax finds Merritt’s strange sense of things more of a gift than an illness and Merritt knows that Dax truly loves her for who she is, not what society or her parents expect her to be.

Frustrated with the constraints her family and society have put upon her, and unable to escape from Von Swaim’s constant presence, Merritt sneaks out to see a final performance of the Wild West show. Dax is happy to see her in the crowd and pulls her out to do some trick shooting. Meanwhile, Von Swaim, who has had Merritt watched ever since he’s treated her, is told of her escape from her home. Von Swaim sees this as the perfect opportunity to take her and sends his men, who wear armor and carry weapons that shoot lasers and electrical currents after her. Dax and Merritt manage to escape and spend a romantic night together in hiding. The following morning Von Swaim’s army finds their hiding place and chase Dax and Merritt through the streets of London. Dax is well armed but his trick shooting has no effect upon the special armor Von Swaim’s soldiers wear. Dax and Merritt are finally captured when Von Swaim uses a zeppelin to run them down in Hyde Park. He takes both of them prisoner, Merritt to be his weapon, and Dax, who is wounded in the leg to be brain washed and become a soldier in his army. They are taken by zeppelin to Von Swaim’s hidden castle in the Swiss Alps.

Dax finds there is no torture or brainwashing powerful enough to erase Merritt and his feelings for her from his memory. He manages to befriend a doctor in Von Swaim’s employ who has repaired Dax’s wound using Von Swaim’s invention of brass fittings and joints. After some time in which his injury heals and with the doctor’s help Dax manages to escape, only to find himself alone in a country where he knows no one and does not speak the language. To makes matters worse, Merritt is now under Von Swaim’s control and he has taken her to away for “treatment” with her parents’ permission. Fortunately for Dax, the Wild West Show is now touring Europe and he is able to find his friends who welcome him back with open arms. Dax is desperate to find Merritt but has no idea where to look.

Merritt, who is under Von Swaim’s control, cannot forget Dax either. Even though her memories of him are supposedly erased by Von Swaim’s hypnotism, her Prism abilities guide her back to Dax at one of the performances of the Wild West Show. Dax knows that he may never have this chance with Merritt again. With the help of his friends from the Wild West Show he is ready to use Von Swaim’s weapons against him. Dax and Von Swaim enter into a battle for her mind, but Von Swaim does not realize that Dax is also fighting for Merritt’s heart and soul. Dax will stop at nothing to free her from Von Swaim so that Merritt may make her own choices for her own life. Dax can only hope that once he frees her from Von Swaim that Merritt will choose him because he loves her just the way she is. Neither technology nor mind control, no matter how powerful, are any match for the strength of their love.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Part four of when a story doesn't work

This is where I ran into problems. Swaim wants to use Merritt as a weapon. So he's hooking her up to computers and keeping her in a dream state where she believes that he's her father. It makes it easier for him to control her and use her. Kind of useless place for a heroine. My intention was to replay Dax and Merritt's love story using her subconscious. Even though she's doped up and believes she's Swaim's daughter, subconciously she'll be remembering her life with Dax. So I would tell their story as Merritt remembered it. Meanwhile, Dax is also hooked into the super computer and somehow his subconscious connects with Merritt's, he realizes what's going on, he breaks free then goes back to free her. It turns out that I've over used that tool recently. Seperate H/H and have hero rescue heroine. So yes, it is hard to connect with a heroine who is doped and unconscious. I have to agree there. But they didn't see Merritt the way I did. Which was also my fault. I didn't write enough of the book. Its hard to do a indepth proposal when you've got a dead line looming.

Chapter Three
The Dome

There had to be something beyond the shadows. Or maybe it was just her vision that was blurry. There was always the possibility that she was dreaming. Could that be it? Merritt walked through the room with her fingers trailing over the clean lines of the plain but functional furniture. Everything was done in shades of gray, from the plush carpet that cushioned her feet to the heavy gray drapes that covered the walls. Were there windows behind the drapes? For some reason she could not recall the view. Everything around her was familiar, yet everything she saw was strange.

“There you are my dear,” a man’s voice said.

Merritt turned. A man stood before her. He was tall and slim with blond hair that held a touch of silver at the temples. His eyes shaded more towards gray than blue, but it could easily be that the room they were in made them look that way. He wore a perfectly tailored suit that was on the edge of a new trend in fashion, yet would not be considered ostentatious by his peers. How was it that knew that, or even cared?

“Father?” she asked. The word came unbidden to her lips and for some strange reason she was not sure if it was appropriate.

“Who else would it be?” He came to her and took her upper arms into his hands. He kissed her forehead. “Silly girl,” he said.

She scrunched her forehead up as he kissed it. As if she could ward off the touch of his lips. His eyes bore into her and she turned away from his intense scrutiny.

“Merritt,” he said his voice heavy with concern. “Are you all right?”

A pain shot through her temples and she pressed her hands against them.

“It hurts,” she cried out.

“What’s wrong?” Swain asked.

“She’s fighting it,” Foster replied. “Her mind is sensing the reality shift. Her consciousness senses the dream so she’s trying to wake herself up.” Foster turned from his perusal of the monitor and added. “I told you she was strong. One of the strongest I’ve ever seen.”

Swain let his head drop back against the cushion. He reclined in an ergonomic chair while Foster worked the code for Merritt’s program. His Simkey pulsed while it accepted the code and aligned the program with the matching Simkey that glowed from the admanium port Foster had inserted in Merritt’s temple.

Strong and mine…

She really was quite lovely with her silvery blonde hair and clear blue eyes which were closed. It was a shame really that he could not look at them. They reminded him of the wildflowers that grew outside the dome. They were the dominant feature of her heart shaped face and quite an exquisite color of blue with black flecks around the edge of the irises. It was as if he possessed a valuable piece of art that he had to keep behind lock and key. He well remembered the sparks in those eyes as she attacked him in the real. It would be nice to see the life in them again. That, however, would not be conducive to achieving his goal.

She wore a silver rehab suit that stretched from her toes up to her neck. It would aid in the prevention of sores on her body from being in the same position for so long. It would also stimulate her muscles and enhance her circulation as she stayed suspended in the simlife. It clung to her like a second skin and showed the healthy vitality of her body which would soon fade away with enforced inactivity. Various tubes and wires were attached each one there to serve a purpose in keeping her alive for as long as he needed her.

To Swain, she looked like a princess from one of the ancient fairy tales as she lay reclined in a chair similar to his. Her brow seemed troubled and was drawn sternly down, marring the porcelain like complexion of her skin.

“Sleeping Beauty,” he said as he recalled the ancient fairytale she brought to mind.

“Sir?” Foster inquired.

“I noticed that you cut her hair.” No need to let Foster know where his musings led him. The man was bright enough as it was. Bright enough that he bore watching.

“Yes sir,” Foster did not turn away from his keypad.

No excuse or reason was given. When she arrived her hair hung to her waist. Now it was cropped close to her head and the ends of it curled up around her face.

Why did he care?

“It would have been a nuisance to care for,” Foster added after a moment.

Swain had to agree. Still it was a shame.

“I sold it,” Foster said as he swiveled his chair around to face him. “To the sonaspa.”

Swain resisted the urge to roll his eyes in disgust. The pursuit of eternal youth in their society was not unlike a cult. Someone would pay dearly for those hair enhancements. He wondered if he would recognize the color if he came across it in his social circle.

“I assume you deposited the credits in my account,” Swain said.

“Yes,” Foster said. “We can try again whenever you are ready. I added a head injury to her history which will help explain her confusion and I also gave her a pet for distraction.”

“A pet?”

“A fluffy white kitten,” Foster said with a smile that seemed insincere at best. “A gift from her father.”

Swain nodded his approval as he settled back into his chair and closed his eyes.

“Have I told you how relieved I am?” He said.

Merritt touched her temple once again. “About what?”

“About your recovery of course.” The look he gave her was full of concern. “The Doctor said your periods of memory loss would eventually fade.”

She pushed her fingers against her temple as if there was a switch there that needed to be on. If only she could remember…anything…There was nothing that was familiar. The walls seemed distant yet suffocating. She wanted to see the sky and feel the breeze on her face.

“I was hurt?” she asked. That would explain much. It would explain everything. She looked at her father hopefully. Why couldn’t she remember him?

“Yes,” he said calmly. Patiently. As if she was a small child. “You fell. You hurt your head. You have only recently come home from the Medcen.”

“Is that why it hurts?” she asked as she rubbed her right hand over her forehead. She scrunched up her eyes and then opened them in hopes that things would appear clearer to her. Her left hand caught her attention and she looked at it, spreading the fingers wide as she turned it over to examine it.

“I lost it,” she said. “I lost my ring. Did I leave it at the Medcen?”

“What ring?” he asked.

Merritt held her hand out. “My ring.” She twisted the fingers of her right hand around the base of the ring finger on her left hand.

“What did it look like?”

She continued to rub her finger as she tried to remember. She could see it in her mind. Silver and gold twisted together in a never ending circle. She recalled the weight of it. How it slid down the length of her finger and settled at the base as if it were a part of her flesh. She could almost feel a hand close over hers as if holding it in place. A strong hand with blunt fingers that were heavily calloused at the tips. To whom did it belong? “It was silver…and gold…It was both?” she said in hope that he would offer her some confirmation.

“I’m sure it will turn up,” he said a trifle bit too indulgently. How could something that felt so real and now so lost be a figment of her imagination?

It was apparent that her father thought she was imaging it. She turned away. She could not stand to see the indulgence in his pale eyes. Her eyes darted back and forth looking for the way out. She felt claustrophobic, as if the walls were closing in around her. The only door was behind him. Even with her back turned she knew she would not make it past him.

As if he knew what she was thinking he came up behind her and placed his hands firmly on her shoulders. Perhaps he meant to offer comfort. Instead she felt as if he’d captured her and there was no escape.
If he was her father then why couldn’t she remember his name?

“I have a gift for you,” he said. “Something to help you with your recovery. The doctor’s said if you didn’t try to remember so much then it would be easier.”

“They did?” She had a vague recollection of some sort of medical procedure. Of bright lights over head, the sterile smell of recycled air and strange faces hovering over her. She also felt a strange sense of loss, as if with the accident and what followed she lost a part of herself.

It was all so strange yet she could not say what was different. Only that it was.
The man who was her father walked to the plush gray sofa that curved around two sides of the room. He returned with a white box tied with a bright pink bow. It was strange that she had not noticed it earlier when she first walked into the room. Certainly the brightness of the bow would have stood out against all the misty gray that surrounded her.

“Open it,” he said encouragingly as he held it out to her. She had no choice but to take it. She pulled on the ribbon and it fell away as if it were nothing. She opened the box and a black kitten with deep blue eyes poked its head up and stared at her inquisitively.

“Oh,” Merritt exclaimed. She scooped the kitten out and dropped the box to the floor. “He’s adorable.”

Her father seemed confused. He chucked a finger under the kitten’s chin and it turned its head into her neck as if trying to escape from his attention. “You shall have to give it a name,” he said.

Merritt held the kitten up before her face and looked into its deep blue eyes. They were such a strange color for a cat, but somewhere she had heard that kittens were born with blue eyes and then they turned green or gold. Perhaps his just hadn’t changed yet. He let out a tiny meow as she looked at him and she smiled in delight as she clutched him back to her breast.

“I shall name him Dax,” she said.

“Dax?” Her fathered seemed to disapprove. “Isn’t that a strange name for a cat? Where ever did you come up with that name?”

Merritt turned halfway away from him. She felt as if the kitten was in jeopardy. “I don’t know where it came from,” she said as she rubbed the silky fur. “I just know that I like it and it seems to fit him.”

“Are you even sure that it is a him?” he asked.

Merritt held up the kitten once more and looked beneath its tiny round belly. It was hard to say one way or another at this young age but for some reason, she just knew it was a he. “I’m sure,” she said.

“I’m glad you are pleased,” her father said. “Now come, the Doctor’s said you must rest.” He took her arm and guided her to a door. “Go in and lie down. Snuggle up with your kitty,” he added as he opened the door.

Merritt looked around the space, hoping for something that was familiar, but all she saw was the same misty grayness around the walls and a gray cover upon the bed that was the only piece of furniture in the room. She heard the door close firmly behind her and knew without checking that it was locked. It didn’t matter one way or the other however as she found herself suddenly very tired. Her eyes closed the moment she lay down on the bed but before she drifted off to sleep her finger tips grazed the base of her ring finger.
er last thought as the darkness overcame her was of her ring. She must find it.

“I thought you told me the kitten was white,” Swain exclaimed as he disconnected his Simkey and slid it into the pocket inside of his coat. He positioned his chair for easy rising and stalked to where Merritt lay in her dream like state. Her hands were clutched together with the fingers of her right hand holding onto the base of her left ring finger and her forehead was drawn down as if she were heavily troubled.

“I programmed it white,” Foster said. “What did you see?”

“A black cat with blue eyes,” Swain said. “She named it Dax.”

“Dax?” Foster asked.

“The man with her,” Swain exclaimed. “His name was Dax. At least that’s what she was screaming if I remember correctly.”

Foster raised his eyebrows. “How interesting,” he said. “Her subconscious is compensating for the absence of familiarity. It also appears that it is rewriting the program to adapt to her longings.”

“Fix it,” Swain said in disgust. “I need her to be fully operational as soon as possible.”

“I’ll get right on it,” Foster said. But instead of turning back to his desk, he studied Merritt intently. “Perhaps we should give her a mother,” he mused aloud.

“No,” Swain said. “The simpler the program, the better it will run. She has to trust me. Only me,” he added as he turned to go. He had a council meeting to attend. “Have it working by the time I return,” he snapped as he left.
He walked through his luxurious apartment that covered the entire top floor of one of the most prominent buildings inside the dome. Above him was a rooftop garden full of plants that at one time grew in the Caribbean islands which were now rumored to be nothing more than desolate peaks. No one knew for certain. No one who ventured out to travel what remained of the world ever returned.

The best part about his garden was that he could stand upon a chair and touch the skin that sheltered them from the outside. It felt fragile, as if it could be sliced with a knife, yet it withstood pounding rain and hail and the freezing rains that pelted it in the winter. When he was younger and full of idealism he imagined he was touching the sky. Now he knew better.

Swain entered the lift that only stopped on his floor and the main floor many stories below. It was open on three sides and from it he could survey the city. He saw the many storied buildings, the green areas, the elevated trains that encircled the dome and the moving sidewalks that created a spider web effect from the center of the city to the edge. Everywhere he looked he saw the vid screens. The screens that gave their society all their information, from the latest news to the latest in the celebrity gossip. Screens that were present on every corner, in every office, in every apartment, in every classroom.

Screens that controlled the populace with suggestions made by the Paranormal Research Instruments of Sublimal Messaging called Prisms by those on the council. There were nearly one hundred of them, all kept in simsleep, all heavily guarded and behind locked doors on a floor of the government building. Each Prism was connected to the main frame and each was given instructions which they, in turn, passed on to the populace. Buy this, eat here, avoid this, all suggested to keep the peace within.

Swain allowed himself the luxury of a smile as he quickly descended to the streets below. Now he had his own Prism. One who was programmed to do his bidding and spread his will.

Soon everything he beheld before him would be his.

“All mine,” he said with a smile.

Monday, June 15, 2009

When a story doesn't work part 3

This is chapter two of my proposal. I was fascinated with the thought of a mech hero so here was my chance to have one. Dax as a human was something of an artist, he played the guitar, he was just a genuinely nice guy, trying to get by, who had the good fortune to have an exceptional woman fall in love with him. If you watch American Idol imagine him as Kris Allen. So then this horrible thing happens to him. On his wedding day he's captured, blown apart, tortured and forced into this life that he does not what. I feel like I really put the screws to this guy in this chapter. The response I got from two editors was we just could not empathize with the characters. What? I write strong characters that people love. So maybe it was just my delivery. I was trying to suck the reader into the story. I'll explain more on that process later on. So here's Dax and chapter two.

The Real

Dax slumped between the two mechs that held him by the arms. They seemed frozen in place but there was nothing he could do about it and it didn’t last long enough for him to react, even if it could. They were still one moment and moving the next. A med-tech that emerged from the waiting transport attached an ion ring to his thigh. His leg was gone. He didn’t care about the leg other than the fact that it kept him from running after the thopter that held Merritt captive inside.


Why? Why did they take her? Where were they taking her? What would they do to her? He watched the thopter disappear into the darkness then saw it again when it rose over the treetops and headed towards the dome. How would he ever find her in there?

Merritt…He knew why they took her. There was something about her. Something that could not be defined but he had always known it was there. Every since she came to them in the real there was something about her that made her different from the rest of them.

Dax closed the fist of his left hand to secure the ring she had slipped on his finger not more than an hour before. It was their wedding day. A day that he had longed for since he first met her. Now she was gone. He jumped as he felt a sting in his neck. The med-tech stepped away.

The pain in his thigh stopped as the ion ring took hold. He was still helpless. Still at the mercy of the mechs. Dax looked up at the mech who stood before him. “Where is he taking her?” he asked. He felt weak. Exhausted. Beaten.

The mech looked over his shoulder at the thopter that with the distance looked no larger than a bat before the full moon. He turned back and cocked his head to the side. Dax heard a strange chirp and then the mech spoke. “There is no her,” he said. “Accepted.”

“No her?” Dax exploded but it was an empty rage. His arms were stretched out and firmly held, he was propped on one knee and the numbness from the prick to his neck spread into his arms from his spine. “You saw her,” he gasped as the numb feeling seemed to press against his lunges. “You….saw…her…”

“Accepted,” he heard as the world went black.

The Dome

The light from above burned through his eyes. He wanted to close them but found that simple task impossible. Dax felt strange and disconnected from his body. He was aware of everything but could feel nothing physical. Yet there was pain. Pain in his heart and soul. Pain that throbbed and burned with an unyielding agony.


He remembered what happened. He remembered waking up this morning, was it this morning? He remembered thinking it was the happiest day of his life. He remembered talking to his father. He remembered his sister’s gentle teasing. He remembered how beautiful Merritt looked as she walked to him in the dress that had been his mother’s and her mother’s before and so on through more generations that he could count. He remembered exchanging vows with her. He remembered the terror when they realized that the mech’s from the dome were attacking and how they scattered in several directions. He remembered that he never let go of Merritt’s hand as they ran and tried to hide because there were no weapons. Who brought weapons to a wedding? He remembered that they took her away. The memory of it tore at his insides with a pain so intense that he wanted to scream in frustration, yet he could not move, he could not make a sound; he could not even close his eyes.

Dax knew that he was strapped down on a steel table and he was naked. He felt the straps over his chest, his upper arms, his hips, his thighs, his one ankle and his wrists. He felt the cold metal against his shoulders and buttocks. He felt cold air blow over his skin and goosebumps popped up. He needed to shiver, yet his body was not responding to even the most basic and simple commands. Shivering should just happen, or it would have before his world had been turned upside down.
If only he could turn his head away from the light that felt as if it would burn into his brain.


He heard voices, chatting and laughing, as if nothing was wrong. Everything was wrong. He had to get away, yet how could he? His leg was gone. And he’d give the other one to get Merritt back.

If only he knew where she was. If she was unharmed. If she was frightened. If only he could go back to the hours before and stop it. If only he had done a better job of protecting her.

“Oh, he’s a nice one,” a feminine voice said. “The ones from outside are always so much bigger.”

“They’re nothing more than savages,” a male voice said. “And don’t get distracted. You’re here to learn, not play.”

The light suddenly was gone and Dax realized that it was a body blocking it. He couldn’t blink to refocus but he thought it was the woman. A musky scent drifted over him. She wore perfume, something meant to entice the opposite sex. It seemed strangely out of place among the sterile smells of the room.

“Should his eyes be open?” The woman asked. “I feel like he’s looking at me.”
She looked down at him. “I wish I had lashes like that.” Her face was inches from his. Dax was able to make out a sharp nose on an ordinary face. But all faces were ordinary compared to Merritt’s.

“He’s not looking at you,” the man’s voice said. Dax felt a sharp prick on the bottom of his foot. “He’s unresponsive.”

I can feel everything…The realization hit him….He was paralyzed but not numbed. And he was strapped down to a table. A table with a bright light over it. What were they planning to do to him? He looked in earnest at the woman, trying to make her see, to realize, that he was conscious of everything that was happening around him.
Her hand trailed down his chest. Her nails scraped his skin.

Oh God…

He was so vulnerable. Exposed.

Her fingertips grazed his groin and then moved between his legs and grasped his sac. She enclosed it in her hand and gave a slight squeeze. “Looks like he’s responsive to me,” she said.

“Hmmm,” the man said. “Must be purely reactive.”

“Did you ever consider that maybe I’m that good?”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” the man said. “Even I could do that.”

“You want too don’t you?” the woman teased. “I’ve heard that about you.”

“Are you here to learn or are you here to play?” the man asked impatiently.

“They also said you were no fun at all,” the woman said in a pouting tone. She removed her hand from between his legs. If he could have sighed in relief he would have. He felt strangely tense even though he knew his body, except for one significant part, was only lying there. If he could will his muscles to do anything he would.

“He’s wearing a ring,” the woman said as she picked up his left hand.

“Really?” the man replied. “They should have stripped him.”

“Well obviously they missed it,” she said. “Can I?”

“I don’t see why not,” the man said. “It’s not as if he’s going to need it.”

NO! He willed his hand to close, his fist to clench, anything to keep the ring on. Instead it slipped off his finger easily.

“Ohhh,” she said. “It’s very pretty. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Its mine…I made it…them…for us…He could see the pattern, silver and gold twisted together in an unending circle. No beginning, no end, just together, forever, the way he and Merritt were meant to be. One for him, one for her…not for this woman’s thieving hand.

“Lucky you,” the man said. “Consider it a bonus.”

“Oh look, it fits,” she said. “On my thumb,” she added.

I will cut all your fingers off to get it back…

“Quit playing around,” the man said. “We have to take off the other leg.”

“Why?” the woman asked.


“He’ll be unbalanced,” the man replied. Dax heard the sounds. The clink of instruments. The movement of a table. The hum of sonics. “The admanium enhancements will be stronger than his normal leg.”

So if we just gave him one he’d constantly walk in circles?” the woman joked.

The man let out a barking laugh. “Something like that,” he said.
God…they’re making jokes…

“We best have him prepped before the Doc shows up or he’ll be taking off our legs,” the man said. “Put an ion ring on his thigh,” he instructed.

He felt her hands on his thigh, felt the ring go around, felt the pads of her fingers as she fumbled with the catch.

“Here?” she asked.

“Yes, like the other,” the man said. “The Ionizer will keep everything fluid so the admanium can meld.”

“The legs are ready made?” she asked.

“Yes, although it takes a while for the connections to format. Usually a week or so. We use that time for the reprogramming.” The man rattled the table and Dax heard the hum of a sonic saw.

Reprogramming? What did that mean?

The mechs…The mechs raided the Real. They took the men they captured. They were never heard from again after they disappeared into the Dome. Were they reprogrammed? Would reprogramming mean he would not be himself anymore? The mech’s certainly acted like machines, even though they were men. Or were they?
What were they doing?

“The Ionizer will also help cut down on the blood loss,” the man said.

Dax knew what was coming. If only they knew he could still feel. How could they not know? Or maybe they just didn’t care. He wanted to scream, kick, yell, anything to get their attention. He couldn’t even grit his teeth against the coming pain. Nausea rolled through his stomach and it occurred to him that he would probably puke and then choke on it.
hat would be better. Better to be dead than reprogrammed.

But dead meant leaving Merritt…He must find Merritt.

Pain more agonizing than he could imagine tore through his leg. The sonic blade connected with the tissue and it cut through, slowly, severing blood vessels, muscle, and bone. The hum grew louder as it descended into the bone.
God…I’m dying… There was nothing he could do. His body screamed with every molecule yet he was silent and unmoving. Dax felt his eyes well and then tears tracked down his face. Merritt…

How could they not know?

The noise from the sonic blade died away but the pain remained.

“Turn on the ion ring,” the man said. The woman must have complied because the pain suddenly faded away.

He could not even swallow back the bile that threatened to rise in his throat.

“What will you do with his leg?” the woman asked.

“Throw it in the incinerator,” the man replied. “It’s of no use to anyone now.”

He was nothing to them. A project. A learning experience. Dax wanted to see their faces. He wanted to remember them, before he was “reprogrammed”. He wanted to know his torturers because knowledge would fuel his hatred, hatred that gathered in the pit of his stomach and fed off the acid of his pain.

He heard the woosh of a door opening, heard a thump, and realized that it was his leg, gone to vapor, just like the other one. Another door opened.

“Has the subject been prepped?” another man’s voice said.

“Yes sir,” the first man replied. “His legs are ready. I left the rest for you.”

“Who is this?” the man asked.

“I’m Coral sir,” the woman said.

“Nice to meet you Coral,” the second man replied is a voice that implied something more than work.

If he could have rolled his eyes he would have. He was nothing to them. Nothing but a slab on a table to be talked over while whoever was in charge tried to connect with the woman who was probably more than willing. And the other guy watched.
He heard a table move and shadows moved between the light and his eyes. Dax tried to focus. He wanted to remember them.

“Now let’s try not to get these one backwards,” the second man said and the other two laughed. Dax felt heat on his thighs as the second man talked. “This softens the structure,” the man explained,” and enables the bonding. A tingling moved up his nerve endings into his spine. “Complete melding of the tissue, vessels, and nerves,” the man went on. “Amazing. It still astounds me, every time I see it. Of course it takes a while for it to sustain the density of the bone. It even takes on the genetic code so he’ll be the same height as before.”

“Can that be changed Doctor Everts?” the woman asked. So he was a Doctor. Did that justify what he was doing?

“There was some testing done with that some years back,” Everts replied. “But it was all destroyed in the great fire. All lost.”

“I remember that,” the first man said. “It was a great tragedy. Didn’t the head scientist die in that fire?”

“Yes,” Everts said. “Simskin please.”
Dax heard a sound like paper being torn.

“He didn’t back up his work. He was paranoid that way,” Everts continued as Dax felt a pinching around his thigh. “So not only was he lost, but all his work. No one has been able to replicate it.”

“What a shame,” the woman said. “That’s amazing. It looks so real.”

“Unfortunately it’s unable to grow hair,” Everts said.

“It’s not as if he needs it,” the first man said.

“True,” Everts said. “But it makes it unpractical for youth enhancement as if it’s almost too perfect. There’s no color change or glow that would be natural on a face.”

“As in no one wants anyone to know they had work done,” the woman said.

“Exactly,” Everts agreed. Dax felt the pinching again on his other thigh. “The sim skin will meld over the admanium and in a weeks time he’ll be good as new.” Dax heard the clatter of instruments. “Now for the reprogramming.”
The light disappeared again as the Doctor’s head came between Dax and the light. “What the hell?”

“What’s wrong?” the woman asked.

“Where you two idiots not aware that he is conscious?” A face hovered over his, close enough that they were almost nose to nose.

Remember this…Remember…

“I did a reaction test,” the first man said.

“There’s a difference you moron,” Everts exclaimed. “Look at his eyes.”
Another face appeared before Dax. He gathered in the details as best he could, square jaw, light brown hair cut extremely short. Small brown eyes, thin lips and an upturned nose.

Remember him…

“Unconscious men don’t cry,” Everts said. “Those are tears. The med techs paralyzed him for transport. It was up to you to put him out.”

“Do you mean he felt everything?” the woman asked.

“He felt everything and he heard everything,” Everts said angrily. “Poor bastard,” he added.

Thank you so much, Dax said silently. I’ll remember that when I kill all of you.
Dax heard the noise of a drill.

“Will somebody put this guy out of his misery?” Everts said impatiently. Dax felt a sting in his arm and the light began to fade.

It still was not black when he felt the drill go into his temple.


“*blip* 14:29/09/09/2202 Dallas Five-five on line. Acknowledge. *blip*” The symbols trailed across the plastigrid that covered his eyes. Pain shot through his temples and he gave his head a quick shake as he tried to focus on the words.
“*blip* Acknowledge. *blip*” the voice repeated.

“Accepted,” he replied.

“Five-five respond to my command,” the man before him said.

He turned his head to look at the voice. It belonged to a man in uniform who stood before a table containing a holi-vid and keyboard. A simkey was inserted in the man’s temple and it glowed with a green light. His scanner moved and the identity moved across his screen. Baker. Techno. Dallas Squadron. “Acknowledge,” he said.

“Stand,” Baker said.

“Accepted,” he said and stood.

“Walk to me,” Baker said.

He looked down at his legs. He was conscious of the fact that he was nude except for the visor that went across his eyes and was somehow connected to his head at the temples. He wanted to reach up and touch his head. He felt a strange pressure around his skull He moved his hands and stared down at them. He turned them over, palms up.

There was something missing.

“*blip* Acknowledge walk to me. *blip*

His head snapped up. “Accepted,” he said and walked to Baker.

“I’m guessing your momma thought you were stubborn Five-five,” Baker said. “We’ll have to make a few adjustments to your programming.”

Five-five stared at Baker. He needed a definition of the word “momma” but none was forthcoming so he waited.

A pain shot through his temple but he made no move in response to it. He was incapable of it.

“That should do it,” Baker said. “Get dressed Five-five.”

“Accepted,” he said and walked to the clothing that lay on a table.

Just a side note. I loved the *blips* Will have to find a way to use them someday.