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.

A Plague of Wizards – Chapter 15 Excerpt

A Plague of WizardsHsrandtuss nodded knowingly as he surveyed the forest for miles around from the top of hill his people had named Dhu-oooastu. He pointed first to the south and nodded to Tusskiqu. The great lizzie hissed in reply. Then Hsrandtuss pointed to the southeast and nodded to Slechtiss. Slechtiss placed his hand to his throat and then hurried off. A dozen brightly painted lizzies hurried after him. Others went with Tusskiqu. Still more were hurrying this way and that.

“I can’t tell what’s going on?” said the single tiny human amid the army of lizzies.

Hsrandtuss reached down and picked Terra Dechantagne up, setting her on his shoulder. Then he pointed high up into the clouds. The girl could make out little among the great fluffy masses at first. Then she saw something sapphire blue zipping across the sky at amazing speed.

“Is that it?”

“Yes,” replied the King. “That is Xecheon’s new god.”

“My eyes must be playing tricks. It doesn’t look any larger than me.”

“It is bigger than you, but not so big that I couldn’t still put it on my shoulder instead of a skinny soft-skin.” Then he gurgled loudly.

“What?”

“We’re very nearly the same size,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be glorious to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a god?”

“It wouldn’t be a very long combat,” she said. “Dragon armor is essentially indestructible. They have teeth that can bit through steel, frighteningly sharp claws, and a barbed tail. They breathe fire and usually have some other breath weapon. They are extremely intelligent and are capable of magic.”

“Why did I bring you along with me?” wondered Hsrandtuss. “Was it just to depress me?”

“I will be quite honest, Great King. I have no idea why I’m here.”

“You are here to learn how to be a great warrior. Now, pay attention. The dragon is observing us for the enemy, so I have been very careful to let her see exactly where my forces are going. Tusskiqu is taking a force of four thousand to intercept their left column of war machines. Can you see their smoke?”

He pointed and the girl could make out about a dozen columns of black smoke rising above the trees in the distance.

“Slechtiss is taking a thousand riflemen and three thousand warriors to intercept the other war machines. Of course, that leaves our headquarters here completely unprotected.”

“But you have more than eight thousand warriors, Great King,” Terra pointed out.

“Yes indeed. But you see, the dragon has told their general, my old friend Tokkenttot, that I have left the bulk of my forces in Yessonarah to defend against their fearsome human machines.”

“Why would she think that?”

“It probably has something to do with the thirty thousand females painted like warriors who are even now patrolling the walls.”

“As I just pointed out, Great King,” said Terra. “Dragons are very smart. In addition, they are famed for their eyesight. They can see things that would be invisible to anyone else. They can see in complete darkness. They can see the difference in temperatures. How is this dragon going to be fooled?”

“You are only about six years old, so I am going to forgive your ignorance.”

“I am fifteen.”

“I still forgive you,” said the king. “You and Child of the Sunrise are the two smartest humans I have ever met. Perhaps you are remarkable specimens, or perhaps I have had very bad luck in the soft-skins that I have happened upon. But you are very young and sometimes intelligence does not substitute for experience. The dragon may very well notice something different among the warriors on our walls, but will she know why that difference is important? I don’t think so, and neither does Yessonar. Oh yes, little one. Do not forget that we have our own dragon.

“So where are the rest of our warriors?” whispered Terra. “I mean the real ones.”

“Ah, here is the next lesson. A great warrior plans where his battle will take place. That is how I killed so many of your people.” He paused to look for her reaction. She just shrugged. “We have carefully arranged for the war machines to ride over a series of underground caves that run in a long chain from just south of here to the west. I’ve had 20,000 males working the last 72 hours straight to weaken some of the stone supporting the cave ceilings. When the machines go over them, a few, relatively small charges will drop them down into the earth, along with all the warriors on foot that travel with them.”

“And when is this going to happen?” asked Terra.

Hsrandtuss pulled a gold pocket watch from a small pouch on his belt. Flipping open the cover, he examined it. “Assuming Tokkenttot is as foolish as I expect him to be, our counter attack will occur when the little hand is on the two stacked stones and the large hand is on the claw.”

“Eight-fifteen,” translated Terra. “In about thirty minutes.”

“Yes,” said Hsrandtuss, pulling her from his shoulder and dropping her onto a folding chair. He sat down on an identical one, and waved his hand. “Just enough time for breakfast.”

A male brought a plate full of kippers and sat it in the girl’s lap.

“Your favorite,” said the king, as another male gave him two large raw eggs and a small cooked bird. “Eat up. The battlefield usually makes one vomit their first time and it is better to have something on your stomach.”

“But we’re miles from…” Terra’s voice drifted off.

“Now you see the hole in the plan,” said Hsrandtuss, breaking an egg into his mouth.

“Um, you said we were unprotected here at the headquarters—completely unprotected. Surely that means that Tokkenttot will send a force here to attack us. It will be his best chance to kill you.”

“Yes, he will want to make sure he kills me. He really doesn’t like me. I expect him to send between two and four thousand warriors.”

“But why? Why did you make it seem we were unprotected… or wait. Are we really unprotected?”

“Well, as for why,” said the king. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“No.”

“We want to be part of the battle! We want to feel the glory of victory! We can’t let Tusskiqu and Slechtiss have all the fun. Can we? Maybe… maybe Tokkenttot will have enough tail to lead the attack himself? What do you think?”

“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Terra, so off balance that she spilled all her kippers onto the dirty ground.

“Imagine it,” said Hsrandtuss, standing up. “There we are! At the top of the hill is Hsrandtuss the king, sword in hand! Next to him is Stands Up Tall With a King, her thunder weapon in one hand and her tiny but bloodied sword in the other! All alone…”

Several of the nearby males gurgled.

“All alone, but for a few sturdy warriors whose names will go down in history, they face off against one or two or ten thousand warriors of Xecheon, and Yessonar be willing, a dragon!” The great king took a deep breath. “A dragon! You could not find a better death if you searched a thousand years. I have never seen a better opportunity for my death than this. It’s not a bad death for you either, Kaetarrnaya. Your father had a fine death—as you yourself said, a good exchange, but this would be much superior. The humans can sing songs about your death—the bravest young female since… since that one that you humans admire so much.”

“Kafira.”

“Yes, that’s the one. Your death will be infinitely superior to hers.”

A Plague of Wizards – Chapter 3 Excerpt

A Plague of WizardsPolice Chief Saba Colbshallow opened the front door of his home and stepped inside. He was immediately almost knocked over by an eighty-two pound projectile hitting him right in his center mass. Grasping it below the shoulders, he hefted it up to find that, as he suspected, it was his daughter DeeDee. It was already apparent, despite the gangliness of eleven-year-olds, that she would grow up to be a beautiful woman. She had inherited the heterochromia of both eyes and hair from her mother, as well as her flawless skin and near perfect facial features. Saba looked into her eyes, one deep brown and the other hazel.

“Hello, My Dearest. How are you today?”

“Fine, Daddy.”

“Where is your sister?”

“She’s in her room.”

“Playing?”

“I don’t think so. I think she misses her home.”

“This is her home now,” he said. “Where’s Mummy?”

“She’s in her room. She’s dicky.”

“How about Nan?”

“In the garden. I was just going out to join her.”

“Go upstairs and check on your sister. Bring her out in the garden, if she’s able.” He ran his hand through her hair, each strand seemingly a different shade from very light blond to coppery red, and then pushed her gently towards the staircase.

Saba made his way through the parlor, the dining room, and the kitchen, finally stepping out onto the back porch and then out to the garden. Here he found his mother, on her knees, planting flower bulbs around the base of the tree.

“You’re about nine months too late to plant those, Mother. It should have been done back in Novuary. Either that, or you’re four months too early for next year.”

“I’m sure they’ll grow and be quite lovely.”

“Oh, they’ll grow, but they wont’ blossom. I was expecting tea.”

“I’m too old to fuss with such things.”

“But not too old to crawl around in the dirt,” he said. “I would think that the lady of the house would see to tea.”

“She’s not feeling well.”

“She never feels well.”

“Well, what do you expect, with the way you treat her?”

He pulled a wrought-iron chair away from the outdoor table and sat down, crossing his legs. “What do you mean, Mother?”

“You know what I mean. It’s bad enough that you’re wandering the town like an alley cat, without you bringing her the results of your imprudence.”

“That was one time, and it was a long time ago.”

“So, you don’t think there will be any more little bastards showing up on her doorstep?”

“I can guarantee it. And that little bastard is your grandchild.” He turned to the back door to see DeeDee standing with her arm around a smaller girl. The younger girl’s thin blond hair partially covered her face, which appeared puffy. “Come here, Sen.”

She shuffled across the cobblestone to stop in front of him. He brushed the hair back from her face. She had been crying.

“What’s the matter, Sweetie?”

“I miss my Daddy.”

“I’m your Daddy… but I know you miss Mr. Baxter.” He lifted the girl up and placed her on his knee. “You remember why you came here?”

“Uh-huh. My other Daddy was sick.”

“That’s right. He couldn’t take care of you because he was so sick. Now you live with us and we love you very, very much. You like it here, don’t you?”

“Yeah. DeeDee is nice to me.”

“Everyone is nice to you, aren’t they?” he asked, glaring at his mother.

“Uh-huh, but I miss my Dad… my other Daddy, and he’s better now.”

“Yes, he is. I’ve asked… your other Daddy… over for dinner next week, so that you could visit with him. How does that sound?”

“Could I go home with him?”

“No, Dear. You live here now, with us. I love you too much to let you go, and so does DeeDee.” He gave her a hug, and waved for DeeDee to come to him. “Would you two like some salt water taffy when I come home this evening?”

The two girls nodded.

“All right. Now go play.”

The two started toward the back door, but Sen stopped and turned back around.

“Allium is sad because she doesn’t have anyplace to sleep.”

“DeeDee, would you help your sister make a bed of blankets in the corner of her room for Allium?”

DeeDee rolled her eyes, but said, “Yes, Daddy.”

“You shouldn’t encourage that,” said his mother when the girls were gone.

“Once she feels better about her new living conditions, it will all go away. Until then, an imaginary friend will do no harm.”