The Dragon’s Choice – Chapter 8 Excerpt

The clouds were low over Brech City, turning everything to a dull monochrome. A wave of drizzling rain dropped without cease—tiny drops that a person scarcely noticed until he was wet through. Smoke from fireplaces, steam carriages, and factories barely rose above the tops of houses and lingered there just below the proper clouds, making everything that the rain touched dirty, greasy, and grimy.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Prince Clitus from beneath his umbrella. His usual uniform had been replaced by a formal black suit, making him as monochrome as his surroundings.

“Do what?” asked his older half-brother Prince Tybalt. “Stand out in this Kafira-wretched rain?” He too was dressed in black formal.

The two of them stood surrounded by a massive crowd at the dockside, staring at a great black steam liner: S. S. Lied des Vaterlandes.

“No. Are you sure you want to marry Princess Henrietta?”

“It’s time for me to marry.”

“You love her at least, don’t you?”

“Love her?” Tybalt frowned. “I don’t even know her.”

“But you’ve corresponded.”

“She wrote me some stupid letters. I didn’t read them.”

“Why then did you agree to marry her?”

“I have to marry someone. With Henrietta, we will cement our rule over Freedonia.”

“You could have picked anyone you wanted,” said Clitus. “You had a choice.”

Tybalt rolled his eyes.

“What choice? That fat Bordonian pig Lady Enid? I don’t think so. Princess Ophelia of Mirsanna? She’s a whore. Maybe you think I should have chosen the idiot Hortence Moorn, or the egghead Iolana Staff?”

“Lady Iolana is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” said Clitus, exasperated.

“She talks all the time. Have you noticed? Henrietta doesn’t even speak Brech. I’ll never have to listen to her. All I have to do is mount her a couple of times and pop some heirs into her. Then I can send her back to Freedonia to her family, and I can spend my time doing something more exciting with someone more exciting. That’s the beauty of it all. As King, I can have any woman I want, any time.”

Clitus sighed and shook his head.

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The Dragon’s Choice – And a break!

 

The Dragon’s Choice is out later this month and I am happy to see that there are quite a few preorders for it.  It is book nine in the series (making it the tenth book, since there is a book 0).  I had a great deal of fun writing it.  I think it was the fastest that I’ve ever written a book that long, simply because I was having such a great time.  However, I’m taking a break from Senta and the Steel Dragon for a while.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, the series makes up my slowest selling book series (though Eaglethorpe Buxton, Blood Trade, and Women of Power are my slowest selling books).  Second, I have other books that people want to see finished.  Notably His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire, which WILL be out in 2018, and the Astrid Maxxim books which are my only books in an upward spiral of sales at the moment.  I also have books that I want to write, including two very different sci-fi space series to get started.

Make no mistake however, eventually there will be a Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 10. I’ve got the plot in my head and know all the people who I have to kill off!  I even have a pretty important character to introduce.  (Her name is Maria).  Whether there will be a book 11, I don’t know, but book 10 will be the culmination of the plot lines at work in the previous four books.

Until then Grande Sorceress Senta, Police Chief Colbshallow, Princess Terra, Iolana Livonia Dechantagne Staff, Lord Augustus Dechantagne, Zoantheria the Dragon, Mr. and Mrs. Kieran Baxter, Tokkenoht the Lizzie High-Priestess, and Bessemer the Steel Dragon will sit simmering on the back burner.

My Books – Part One

I have written quite a few books now.  Some I really love and others I have mixed feelings about.  I thought I would go through them and give you a little background and details about them.

Princess of Amathar (2007)

I have had some version of Princess of Amathar in my head and on paper since High School.  The final version, I really started working on about 1990.  It got put on hold when I went back to college.  I hammered out the rest between 1994-1997.  When I was done, I tried to have it published but was rejected.  Eventually, I head about self-publishing and did so.  A year later, I was ready for the advent of ebooks.  Princess of Amathar was a huge deal for me, and I’m proud of it.  I like the story and it hits all the Burroughsian sci-fi adventure tropes I was aiming for.  That being said, it’s far from my best work– not surprising, as it is my first.

His Robot Girlfriend (2008)

I had written a massive book that would eventually become books 1, 3, 5 of Senta and the Steel Dragon and was sending it out to potential publishers.  I wanted something to get my name out there in the meantime.  I went to my box of old writing and pulled out a series of stories about a robot lover.  I rewrote them into a single story and added an ending, such as it was.  I fondly remember writing this over the summer, while I was teaching 11th-grade History to summer school students.  The story, I’ve always felt, is weak, due to being a mashup of existing works.  But it did what was intended.  It got my name out there.  It’s been downloaded nearly a million times.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess (2009)

I was still sending out Senta and the Steel Dragon and His Robot Girlfriend was being downloaded like crazy.  I needed something to work on, so I started a story set in my old Dungeons and Dragons campaign.  I wanted a foolish and unreliable narrator, so I created Eaglethorpe Buxton.  I just thought up a little story for him and ran with it.  People either love or hate Eaglethorpe, but I’m happy with how he turned out.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress (2009)

This book I wrote simply for my own enjoyment. I had so much fun writing the first Eaglethorpe story that I decided to do another one.  I was still waiting to hear from publishers about Senta and the Steel Dragon, so I didn’t want to start anything too major. Back about 1998, I had written a play for our school drama club.  It was performed twice. Since it was set, like Eaglethorpe, in my old D&D world, I simply made him the author of the play and since the characters were already established people in that world, it all tied in.  I like this story less than the first, but I still like it.

The Voyage of the Minotaur – Chapter 6 Excerpt

There seemed to be more people milling around on the starboard side of the ship, so he headed to the port, in hopes of finding a spot to sit. When he rounded one of the battleship’s great gun turrets, Zeah saw why most of the others were eschewing this particular location. Zurfina the Magnificent was standing near the railing. Her blond hair was its usual, carefully cultivated chaos. She was wearing a dress which completely covered her from head to heel, but which was so tight and so contoured to her body, that it was more lewd than if she had been standing there naked. Zeah would have sworn that it was made from rubber, had such a thing been possible. The girl that had accompanied the sorceress when she had boarded was with her now. She too wore a black dress, in a more traditional style, though made of the same shiny substance. And the question of what type of animal that the sorceress had brought aboard with her was now answered. The case that she had carried when she had arrived now sat beside the girl, and on top of the case perched a small, sinewy, winged reptile. It had a long, snakelike neck, and an equally long, snakelike tale, four legs and two thin wings. It was covered in scales the color of new steel, even on its wings. When it suddenly flapped them, sparkling reflections caused Zeah to cover his eyes. It was a dragon, the first that the head butler had ever seen. The girl was feeding it pieces of raw, red meat with a gloved hand. Between bites the tiny dragon would make growls reminiscent of an angry housecat and the girl would giggle.

Zeah paused for a moment, uncertainly. He was about to turn around and go back the way he had come, but the sorceress looked up and saw him. Not wanting to be seen a coward by one so powerful, he squared his shoulders and stepped forward with his porridge and pumpernickel. The girl was sitting on a case covering some type of shipboard equipment, and the butler moved to sit next to her only a few feet from the dragon and the obscenely dressed magic user.

“May I join you?” he asked.

“You are more than welcome, Mr. Korlann,” said Zurfina, in her smoky, sultry voice. “We are at our lessons. Perhaps you can benefit from them as well.”

Zurfina raised her hand and a glowing sphere rose up from the deck. It floated up until it reached the height of her shoulders, and then began expanding and becoming more opaque, until Zeah recognized it as a globe of the world, which stopped growing at eleven or twelve feet in diameter. As it slowly spun in mid-air, Zeah could make out the shapes of the landmasses and oceans of the world.

“This is Greater Brechalon,” said Zurfina, and the shape of the four islands making up the country glowed.

“It’s little,” said the girl.

“Yes it is, Pet,” said Zurfina. “It’s just one of many countries on the continent of Sumir and Sumir is just one of the twelve continents. We’re going to this one—Mallon.”

Another portion of the globe was illuminated as it slowly rotated around in mid-air. This was a large portion of a tremendous landmass made up of four continents, and was almost on the opposite side of the world from Greater Brechalon and the rest of Sumir.

“And this area right inside of Mallon, is the land of Birmisia”

“It’s little too,” said the girl.

“True, it is only a small portion of Mallon, and yet it’s larger than all of Greater Brechalon. You see, that’s why the King and the Prime Minister want colonies on all these other continents. There is all this land, just sitting there, filled with the riches of nature, and no one to reap them—a vast world without the benefits of civilization.”

“What’s so great about civilization?” asked the girl.

“You see, Mr. Korlann?” said Zurfina. “Out of the mouths of babes come great truths.”

“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength over thine enemies, that thou might slay them and lay waste to their lands and their flocks,” quoted Zeah. “For the kingdom of the Lord shall reign over all the other kingdoms of the world.”

“Yes, well,” said Zurfina. “She has plenty of time to become disillusioned later.”

The tiny steel dragon startled Zeah, as it let out a short growl. The little beast was undeniably beautiful. It reminded the butler of a statue that was heavily detailed—the pointed barb and the end of its tail, the whiskers around its face, each individual scale fitting neatly together as it moved.”

“You have a question, Mr. Korlann?” asked Zurfina.

“Is this a real dragon?”

“Most assuredly.”

“Aren’t they… well, dangerous?”

“Most assuredly.”

“How large will it get?”

“Far too large to sit where it is now sitting,” said Zurfina, her smoky voice punctuating the image.

The girl fed the dragon one last piece of meat, and then took off the leather glove that had protected her hand. The dragon, evidently unhappy that his meal was over, let out a particularly long and unhappy growl.

“Does it have a name?” asked Zeah.

“Of course,” said Zurfina.

“We don’t know it yet,” said the girl. “He’s too little to talk.”

Astrid Maxxim Characters

Maxxim7 draft04Like several other of my books, the Astrid Maxxim books came about through my attempt to recapture the pleasure I had as a kid.  In this case, it was from reading Tom Swift Jr. books.  I set out very deliberately to create a cast of characters for my story.

Astrid Maxxim: Astrid was my star.  Her name literally means Major Star.  She would be my youthful inventor.  She’s intelligent, brave, honest, and a tiny bit insecure, at least at first.  The one thing about Tom Swift that I didn’t want in my own story was his lack of growth.  He was always the same.  Astrid grows older with each book, a bit wiser, and a lot more self-confident.  She’s on her way to becoming a remarkable woman.

Toby Bundersmith: Toby is Astrid’s boyfriend and confidant.  He’s always steady and reliable, really the male version of Astrid.  Instead of science, he leans toward politics.  Though clearly the heroic type, he never steals the limelight from Astrid.  She’s the real hero in the end.  I liked the idea of this handsome, nearly perfect guy, with a slightly funny last name.

Denise Brown: One of Astrid’s best friends, Denise is brassy and in your face.  She says what she means, and can be pretty self-centered, but she’s still got a heart of gold.  She is the child of gay parents and has an older brother named Dennis.  She probably didn’t get as much attention growing up as the other members of her family.

Christopher Harris: Christopher is super smart and is constantly competing with Astrid to be the future valedictorian.  Christopher is African-American, but doesn’t fall into the stereotype of being an athlete.  Although strong and resourceful, he is extremely poor at any game that involves a ball.  He’s a computer expert, and though he hasn’t really done any hacking, we get the impression he would be good at it.

Valerie Diaz: Valerie is shy, sweet, and a bit fearful.  She’s beautiful, with a head of thick black hair that is her pride and joy.  Her hispanic heritage is a strong part of her character.

Robot Valerie: Valerie is a copy of Regular Valerie, programmed with her thoughts and memories.  I knew I wanted a robot as a main character, but for a long time, I thought it was going to be Robot Denise.  I guess Denise had enough on her plate.

Austin Tretower: Austin starts out as the new kid in school.  He’s awkward, and kind of goofy.  He’s closer to a real kid than any of the others, and as the only one who didn’t grow up in Maxxim City, he is our way to compare life there with the real world.

A Great Deal of Patience – Trilogy

A Great Deal of PatienceI’m hard at work on His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience.  I’ve just finished another chapter, which puts me at roughly the halfway part of the rough draft.  While doing so, I have been expanding the greater story enough that I can tell you, A Great Deal of Patience will be the first book of a trilogy.  This trilogy will wrap up my ideas for Mike and Patience and their world (though that doesn’t mean I won’t write another book if I think of an idea.)  The books in the trilogy will be A Great Deal of Patience, (You knew that one) Patience Under Fire, and Extreme Patience.  I’m dedicated to getting this book done and working on nothing else until it is.  After that, I’d really like to finish some stories that I’ve got partially done, such as 82: Eridani, Nova Dancer, Love and the Darkness, and a Time Travel book of which I’ve written about a third.  Heck, maybe I’ll finish one of the sequels I’ve started: Amathar, Tesla’s Stepdaughters, or Blood Trade.  But!  None until I finish A Great Deal of Patience.

A Great Deal of Patience – Eliza

Now that A Plague of Wizards and Kanana: The Jungle Girl are in the can, so to speak, I’m back at work on His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience.  One of the major characters is Eliza, or should I say, the Eliza series of Daffodils. Eliza is statuesque female robot.  There are at least three important Eliza’s in the story.

Eliza Septuntray, who first appeared in His Robot Girlfriend: Charity, is the head of Daffodil in Springdale.  Eliza Millennium works for the California Department of Child Support Services, and Specialist Eliza Ochodiez is in the U.S. Army, stationed in Japan.  All of them have an important part to play in the story.