Sunday, August 26, 2012

Announcing: Critical Mass!

 Yes, you've seen the announcement on Facebook: Critical Mass, the third phase of The NADIA Project, is coming soon from MuseItUp Publishing, and I can hardly wait. Mainly because I'm in edits right now, and I hate editing with the white-hot intensity of a thousand anti-matter reactions. But also because I'm excited about the series. Yes, it's my intention to bring the story of Nadia Velasquez to its ultimate conclusion. Will she fulfill her mission as the last living weapon of mass destruction? Or will her medical team finally find the cure for her condition so she can live her life out as a normal woman? Well, as normal as one can be, when one is a manufactured being with little in common with an average human.

And in conjunction with that announcement on Facebook (Friend me if you haven't already), I present to you another excerpt (officially unedited) of Critical Mass:

On their own, they're deadly. Together, they could save the world—or destroy it.

Jenna Paine is a super spy, genetically enhanced to be more than human. Nadia Velasquez is a living weapon of mass destruction. When the secret organization who built them both decides they are no longer useful, two enemies are thrown together for the only purposes they could have in common: survival and revenge.

There's only one way out of The Pinnacle, and that's on a coroner's slab. Jenna lives through a treacherous attack vowing to exact her vengeance on the people who trained her to be the most deadly agent on the planet. Wounded and on the run, she turns to the man who's sworn to making her face charges for her involvement in the Pinnacle's nefarious schemes.

After years spent hiding from the Pinnacle, Nadia runs into the one thing she never counted on: Shelf life. As her body breaks down, she realizes it's only a matter of the short time she has left to redeem her existence and give her daughter a chance to live free.

In the final showdown, the two transhumans join forces against a common enemy, and the Pinnacle come to know the deadly significance of…

Critical Mass


Jenna pulled into the parking lot of a fleabag motel outside Cleveland. In the bushes at the southwest corner of the building, she lifted the paver from beneath the downspout and dug through the moist soil until her fingernails scraped against a hard, flat surface. Prying around the edges, she pulled up a small metal box wrapped in plastic. Inside she found a brass key.
The room belonged to the Company. The master key was hers, a little extra she'd arranged on her own.
She walked around the back side of the building until she stood outside Room 211. There was no sound from within, and the lights were dark. Of course, they could have someone waiting inside, if they expected her here. But that was unlikely. The Pinnacle didn't have enough agents to cover every safe house between Virginia and California.
The door creaked open and she stood still for a moment, listening, reaching out with every sense for any sign of life. No sound of breathing or movement, no scent of cologne betrayed a would-be attacker.
Jenna slid through the door and closed it before turning on the light. A grin split her face as she thought of all the travelers and transients who'd spent nights in this room unaware what lay at their fingertips. The drawers all slid from the dresser. Against the back panel a .45 Colt automatic pistol was taped, along with two spare magazines. Around the pistol, the rest of the panel was packed with bundles of cash. These were collected and laid on a towel in the middle of the floor.
The bathroom was next. Jenna grabbed the medicine cabinet and lifted it straight up and off the bracket. Behind it lay the real reason she came. Three passports, one each for Trina Stevens, Linda Ballas, and Andi Reynolds, all bore her photograph. Inside each passport was a matching driver’s license and a credit/debit card. Each account belonged to her, and as far as she knew, the Pinnacle was blissfully ignorant of these resources.
Ten minutes later, she was on the road again. She now had two hundred thousand in cash, untraceable IDs and access to all her private bank accounts. Jenna Paine was now officially off the grid.
At a small RV lot in Indiana, she picked up a camper shell for the truck and, a few miles down the road, a few hours' rest at a campground.
A grim smile played across her face as she swung out onto the highway the next morning.
They'll never know what hit them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What's Next?

Hey, fine folks.
So I’m in edits for Critical Mass, the third and final chapter of my award-winning sci-fi action thriller series The NADIA Project.
And it occurs to me. The story is really coming to a close. I have to say goodbye to Nadia and Jon, to Bunny and Hushi, to Jimmy and Irving, Beth, Donna and Jenna. I do have a novella coming that will be a free read, but that’s really it.

And I am having a hard time moving on.

It’s not like a divorce, because we’re parting on very good terms. I have spent the last five years making them all more miserable with each installment, but I do believe they’ve forgiven me. The few who remain alive, anyway. As for the rest of them, may they rest in peace, whatever their final fate.

And it’s not like I’m a widow, because I did leave some of them alive. Oh, believe me, I’ve spent a fair amount of time crying whenever I killed one of them off. Wow, did I just come off like a serious sociopath there, or what? Anyway, we all shed tears and blood together, and I mourned each one in his or her own special way.

It’s not even like breaking up. It’s kind of hard to understand, from outside the veil of the writer’s point of view, that separation as the project approaches its terminal phase ad I begin to ponder which one to bring to the front burner.

More characters to torment, more misery and conflict. More bullets flying, bodies dropping, people running around in flames. Ah, the fun of it all.

As it happens, I have several other white-knuckle rides to choose from:

1.)    Hush Little Baby. Crazy Annie Malone has nothing left to care about. Not even her sanity. Until she finds a baby behind a dumpster, between two dead men. What can be so special about a newborn that would take an army to kill, and another would be so willing to die to save?

2.)    Formula 57. A young doctor in a VA hospital is drawn into a deadly mystery when a bus locker key reveals a secret project with far-reaching – and deadly - implications.

3.)    Quiet on the Set. Simi is Hollywood’s newest and hottest action heroine, until she stumbles across a murder that didn’t happen. She can handle all the bad guys on the set. Can she handle the real ones?

4.)    Tempus Fugitive. Simon Crocker is a time sniper. He saves the world from maniacs and murderers by eliminating them before they get a chance to commit their crimes. But his biggest job is the one he should never have taken on. There’s only one way to save the world from himself: Crocker’s way.

Those are my top four picks. So help me out here. Which of these should be the next Cyrus Keith Project? I’ll pick a random winner from the winning group, and you’ll get a copy of Becoming NADIA, EPIC’s 2012 award winner for Best Thriller.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Author Interview: Cindy Borgne

The summer sun bathes the beach in warm light as the surf plays with the shore, tossing itself forward and falling back in happy blue-green rhythm. The sherry in my glass sparkles with diamond-bright light, scattering rays in every direction.

 I see the shadow approaching over the ocean before I hear the hiss of fans. It grows larger in my vision, a massive dark shape studded with antennae and heavy weapons turrets, slamming through the tops of the waves with military disdain. I glance at my watch. Right on time.

The hand-held radio on my side table breaks squelch. The hovercraft commander’s voice is strained with tension: “Delta Sierra, this is Hotel Charlie One-Seven-One , declaring an emergency! Power system control failure. Request guidance key and immediate approach clearance!”

I press a second button on my radio, and key up again. “Hotel Charlie, buoy transponders are active. Follow sequence Twelve, Eight, Six, Four, Three through the reef. Approach is clear to the dock.”

The hovercraft begins to follow the buoy sequence, but its speed is too great; it fails the turn at Three and runs over the reef. Its shroud flies into shreds as a gout of flame bursts from the power section. A single escape pod breaks from the wreck just before the craft disintegrates and sinks. The chute blows at minimum altitude and it settles into the sand fifteen feet away.

I pour a second glass of sherry as the door opens. A slight, feminine form emerges, straightens and staggers to the vacant chair next to mine.

People, allow me to introduce this week’s special guest, Science Fiction Author Cindy Borgne, here to talk about her novel Vallar. Welcome, Cindy!

Image of Cindy Borgne

11.)    From the fan pages: What got you to want to be a writer?
I think it mostly comes from having an overactive imagination that needs an outlet. I also enjoy the end result of a long project and enjoy sharing my stories with other people.

2.) Also from the fan pages: What inspired Vallar?

The initial inspiration came from a question. "What if someone had psychic ability, but was forced to use it for war. Then what if he realized this was a horrible thing?"  In Vallar, Ian is raised to believe he's supporting his organization for a reasonable cause and then he gets a wakeup call that he is working for the wrong people and causing deaths of the innocent. Then another question came up....”Will he be able to get away and what will he have to do?” 
I also enjoy taking the reader to a different world, so that’s why it all takes place on Mars. Plus I enjoy the challenge of writing a story that takes place there and all the research one has to do. You could say I’m a geek. 

3.) Why Science Fiction? 

I like stories that are about something different or unusual, so my writing leans toward writing in that genre. Although, my stories aren't what I would call hard science fiction, they are more speculative and mainly about the characters and how they deal with the situations I get them into – the poor things. But don’t worry, I do cover the technology. I just don’t go overboard with too much info.  

4.) Do you write in any other genre? 

I have another novelette called "TransShifter" that I consider to be paranormal fantasy. It's about a shapeshifter who finds out there is more to being human than she realizes...while getting into all sort of trouble. I have also tinkered with writing a steampunk story about Native Americans. You could say I like to be different, and I'm open to other genres as long as it's about something unique.  
5.) Do I detect a strong Bradbury influence in Vallar?

I don’t know if there is a strong influence, but I’ve read a lot of Bradbury short stories. Many of them I found to be page turners. There is one scene in Vallar that sort of has the “Something Wicked This Way Comes” sort of element. Bradbury definitely was one of the greats. I think the main thing I admire about him is how many stories he produced. He’s even advised authors to produce as many stories as possible because the more you have, the greater chance of publication and success.  

6.) What other authors have influenced you over the years? 

I would say Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card, Connie Willis, and Lois McMaster. I tend to prefer the scifi writers who have character driven stories.  

7.) What other projects do you have in the works? 

My first priority is finishing the Vallar Sequel, it's currently at 82K words, but still a first draft. Then I will attempt a post apocalyptic novel, as I've found that to be the hot genre right now. I also really want a sequel for TransShifter too along with that steampunk novel I mentioned. If only I didn't have a day job. 

8.) What made you decide to self-publish Vallar?

I wanted control over everything involving the book, mainly the price. I think so far it has worked out well because I've been able to participate in things like Kindle Select, which contributed to a lot of sales. Not that there haven't been frustrations and challenges (like marketing, which is difficult for most authors) But in any case, I've learned a lot about publishing and gained readers. 

Thanks again, Cindy. And now, folks, without further ado, we present: Vallar

 At sixteen, Ian Connors has only one real friend and no hope for the future. He also happens to be the secret weapon of a powerful military faction bent on conquering all humans who have colonized Mars. His job is to use his psychic ability to uncover secrets or hidden bases of other factions. Ian not only uncovers a valuable hidden mine through his visions, but also Kayla, a woman he sees himself with in the future. The only problem is she's on the enemy side. 

Ian heads out into a battle to save Kayla. Instead, he discovers the death and destruction his visions can bring when in the wrong hands. Ian vows to never let anyone use him again. His goal is to escape and live in peace, but his superiors monitor him closely and defectors are known to mysteriously disappear. Deep down, he longs to be with Kayla. Despite his age, inexperience and few allies, he refuses to give up. He must outwit a cunning admiral and save Kayla from his own people or he will remain a pawn and forever separated from those he loves.

Awesome, Cindy! Thanks again for stopping by.  Now, we have a short excerpt of Vallar. Set it up for us, if you would.

In this scene, Ian disobeys orders and goes out into a battle. It ends up being more of a battle than he expected as his own people have under estimated the enemy. Here the ship he's in has been hit by a shock wave and is about to fall off the edge of a cliff.
The vessel teetered on the edge of something. Outside, a thick mass swirled, making it impossible to see. My heart beat out of control. The hull became like a cage with narrowing walls. A crack formed on the front shield and grew in short spurts with every movement.

A few others slowly stood up. Nate’s feet barely fit on a small ledge. Another man hung onto the wall opposite of him. I looked back and forth between Nate and the cracked front port, which threatened to depressurize the vessel at any moment. 

“Nobody move,” ordered the captain.

“I’m slipping!” Nate yelled.

“The port is about to go,” I said. “Those men have to come down here.” 

Everyone argued at once.

“Nate!” I yelled over the talking. “Try to come down slowly.”

“No, don’t move. You’re going to knock us over.” 

“He’s right. We have to come down,” said a panicked voice. The man opposite Nate crawled down, but he went too fast.

“Stop!” the captain ordered.

The vessel swayed and slid, threatening to fall at any instant. The crack streaked across the window like a lightning bolt. I held my breath. The large transparent shield bowed outward and exploded. 

Clear particles flew outside and blended into the churning heap. Men screamed as the craft depressurized. 

“Somebody help him!” I yelled.

Nate’s hands slid off the wall. His arms flailed about as he tried to grab something. Two others flew into him and pushed him out the front port along with them. Nate disappeared into the churning dust.
“Nate!” I screamed as the vessel tilted and slid downward

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Can we talk?


What happened? Please, somebody tell me.

Does anybody remember when we used to talk instead of scream into each others' faces? There was this thing we called "Civil Discourse." It meant that people from different sides of an issue could sit down and talk with each other without leveling vile accusations across the table. We didn't always settle the issue. Sometimes we agreed that we disagreed. Then we shook hands and went our ways.

That was then. Now is another issue altogether. Now, Republicans are all Nazis or Fascists. Democrats are all Communists, or Socialists, or whatever you decide you hate worse. The language of debate has turned inflammatory on a level I don't ever remember seeing before.

Whatever happened to our manners?  When I was young, we addressed each other using "Sir" and Ma'am." We spoke politely when we differed. Now, stereotypes and labels have replaced propriety and common manners. We rush to judge, and we ALL do it. Don't tell me you don't. I speak to everybody involved in the debate here. And wherever you point that finger, remember three more are pointing right back at you.

When was the last time you began a statement with "X just wants to...." or "Y just thinks that..."? The Left just want Big Brother. They want to spend, spend, spend the United States into oblivion, declare an emergency and declare a dictatorship so they can put everybody on a government program. The Right want to throw Grandma off a cliff. They want poor people to all become sick and die. They all want dirty air and dirty water. They want tax breaks only for rich people while struggling families have to pay more. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Come on, people. We're all so busy telling each other what they want, nobody is taking the time anymore to stop and ask, "Why would anyone in their right mind want THAT?" Can we actually ask what the other side wants anymore?

Now, I know about Talk Radio. I also know about the press and its propaganda. I actually had a class on how to spot it, if you want to believe that. And folks, we are spending a whole lot of time getting led around by our noses. Everybody is so busy blaming the other side anymore, they can't see that they themselves are guilty of the same things.

I know a lot is at stake when you're a free country in crisis during an election year. I'm free with my criticism toward both sides of the debate. I agree with one thing our current president says: "What we have are two different directions the country can go in." Then I have to bite my tongue when he goes off on an angry rant about how I want to murder poor people in their sleep and eat babies because I don't think my government has the common sense to run a lemonade stand, let alone control a massive health care bureaucracy that introduces nearly a hundred new agencies and programs.

Now, I'm going to finish up. And I'm going to welcome comments. But people, you better keep this discussion civil because I will not put up with inflammatory rhetoric on my blog. We are not the WWE, we are free Americans (And my welcome guests from other countries, God Bless you) with rights to free speech, and also the responsibility to tell truth. And aside from a handful of us here, I know most of us are not telepaths or empaths. Maybe a few sociaopaths and psychopaths, but so far as I know, nobody here can read anyone else's mind from a thousand miles away. Even if you can, don't try.

So instead of reading each others' minds, and without name-calling or accusations,

Can we just talk?