Holiday Owls

Since today is Christmas Eve, I thought it would be fitting to share a short excerpt from my novel Owl Dance. In this scene, Ramon and Fatemeh find themselves on the run with little money in San Francisco. It’s a simple moment that gets to the heart of the season. Keep reading after the segment to learn about a special event later this week.


Ramon returned to the room he shared with Fatemeh late on Christmas Eve. Fatemeh noticed he wore a new pair of glasses. Like his old pair, they were round and gave his face an owlish appearance. He held his hands behind his back. Fatemeh stood and wrapped her arms around Ramon, but was surprised when he didn’t return the embrace. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.” Ramon’s voice held a sly edge.

“It looks like you were successful in finding new glasses.”

 Ramon smiled.“Yes, these are even better than the old ones.” He shrugged. “The optometrist thinks my eyes have been getting a little worse.”

“That’s too bad.” Fatemeh returned to her chair.

“However, I did have enough money left over to get you something.” He brought his arms out from behind his back. In his hand was a narrow box, about eight inches long. “Merry Christmas!” Just then he pulled the box back. “Do Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas?”

“Not normally,”said Fatemeh, “but as I’ve said, we respect the teachings of Jesus. I’m happy to celebrate his birth with you, Ramon.” She held out her hand and Ramon handed her the box. She opened it and saw a necklace. Adorning it was a hand-carved wooden bead in the shape of an owl.

“I bought the necklace. I carved the owl myself, though.”

“It’s very sweet.” Fatemeh smiled and put the necklace on. She stood and kissed Ramon, but held his hands as they parted. “How is our money doing?”

“I think I can find a job, but it’s not going to pay much,” admitted Ramon. “We could stay here about six more days and I could keep looking, or we could move on.”

“I like the idea of moving on.” Fatemeh returned to her chair. “I really didn’t like the reception we had on our first day and it’s loud here, even late at night.” She looked out the window at a saloon across the street.

“Where would you like to go?”

She pulled out a map and set it on the small table between the room’s two chairs. “What do you know about Los Angeles?”

“It’s a small town. There’s some farms and some industrial work.” Ramon shrugged.

“What does Los Angeles mean?”

“It means ‘belonging to the angels,’ The name’s short for something like town of the queen of angels.”

“Sounds lovely. Can we leave tomorrow?”

Ramon laughed.“Tomorrow’s Christmas. I doubt the trains are even running. What about the next day?”

“That sounds perfect.” Fatemeh put her hand to the new necklace. “I’m afraid I didn’t get you a present. What else do people do on Christmas?”

“We sing songs.” Ramon sat in the empty chair next to Fatemeh.

“Teach me a Christmas song worthy of the angels, Ramon.”


I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of Owl Dance. On Friday this week, Lynn Moorer of KTAL Radio in Las Cruces will interview me about the fourth book of the series, Owl Riders. If you’re in Las Cruces, you can listen from 12:30-1:00pm mountain standard time by tuning in to 101.5 FM on your radio dial. If you aren’t in Las Cruces, or just don’t listen to shows on the radio, you can stream the show at  https://www.lccommunityradio.org/stream.html. I had a great time earlier this year when I spoke to Lynn about The Brazen Shark. Be sure to mark your calendars so you can catch the show live!

Advertisements

The Dead Planet

First off, for those in Las Cruces who missed me at Las Cruces Comic Con, I will be signing my novels tomorrow at Branigan Library in Las Cruces from 2-4pm. Hope to see you there!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to The Dead Planet, a science fiction novella by Canadian Author T.J. Ryan and the first part of the Broken Earth Saga. Ryan was born on the rainy West Coast (or is that wet coast?) of British Columbia. He spent his early years travelling the world, obsessing over new cultures and culinary experiences. Preferring spaceships to airplanes, he has now settled into his little slice of rainforest paradise, escaping reality through Science Fiction.

He is known for packing high levels of action and mystery into his writing, and his latest book, The Dead Planet has a growing number of 5 star reviews. TJ has a number of exciting new sci fi books planned for this year, including the second book to his Broken Earth Saga space opera series.

the-dead-planet-mockup

Here’s what the novella is about:

A dead planet. A rogue AI. A secret mission.

Tara Royce’s first day as the Academy’s newest Earth Defense Engineer was anything but ordinary. If humanity has any hope of returning to the dead planet in the next few thousand years, that is assuming it regenerates at all, they must first protect it from alien attack—and the Defense Engineers are its first and last line of defense. Aliens aren’t the only thing the new Engineer needs to look out for, though, and she soon discovers that the stakes are much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

    “I want to thank you.”

    The hatch closed behind her with a snap-hiss and she started down the handrails to the bottom level. “Thank me for what?”

    “For not disclosing the parameters of our mission.”

    “I don’t think this is ‘our’ mission, Aiden. That would have to mean that you let me in on it from the beginning. Instead, you’ve kept me in the dark this whole time, remember?”

    He was silent until she opened the door to the bottom levels. “Then I want to thank you…for keeping my secret from Engineer Tyrese.”

    “Sure, Aiden. Whatever.” The hall down here was dimly lit, with strips of light on the floor that led to the separate sections.

    “I would not have liked Tyrese to know what we are doing.”

    The armament section was the first door on the right. “Why would you care what Tyrese knows or doesn’t know?”

    “Because…I do not like him.”

    A sense of forbidding creeped up her spine. Aiden was doing it again. Sounding far too human and far too…interested in her. “You don’t like Tyrese?”

    “No.”

    “Aiden, you don’t know him.”

    “I know he wants to see you. I don’t like that.”

    She bit down on her lip. She was definitely going to have to inspect Aiden’s programming, whether he wanted her to see him naked or not. For the moment, she chose very carefully to not ask any more questions. She didn’t want to know what he was going to say next.

    Instead, she opened the door to the section where the weapons tubes were charged and loaded and maintained. Usually an Engineer would never have to come down here. The flash lasers were maintained by the droid crawlers on the rare occasions when something went wrong. Only Tara wasn’t looking for something wrong. She was looking for something that shouldn’t be there.

    Inside, among the standard configuration that she expected to see from the simulations and technical data specs, among the massive cable lines and sleek black tubes that carried the energy for the flash lasers, was something that definitely should not have been there.

    Twice as long as she was, sheathed in a spiraling metal shell, with four direction jets built into the fins at the back. A device perfect for launching through a planet’s atmosphere to the surface, and then retrieving it from there again.

    “Beautiful,” Aiden’s voice said to her. “Isn’t it?”

    She had to admit, it kind of was.

    “All right,” she said after another moment’s consideration. “Let’s go find out if the Earth is worth saving.”

You can find The Dead Planet on Amazon.

You can connect with T.J. Ryan on Facebook, Twitter, or at his blog.

777 Challenge

Steve Moore, author of Royal America, and fellow Denizen of the Scribbler’s Den on The Steampunk Empire challenged me to play the 777 game. In this game, we go to page seven of a work in progress, scroll down seven lines and post the next seven sentences.

777-Challenge

Since Steve is a fellow steampunk writer, I chose The Brazen Shark which has recently been handed off to the tender mercies of my editor:

    She took a sip, then dug into the hearty breakfast.

    Ramon gathered up the second plate and cup, but felt uncomfortable and lazy as he returned to the chair. Ramon had been many things including a sheriff and a ranch hand. He enjoyed working, but Captain Cisneros insisted Ramon and Fatemeh were guests and must enjoy their time together. Despite his lethargy, Ramon’s stomach rumbled. He gulped down breakfast and sopped up the leftover egg yolks and chile with a tortilla.

    “Slow down,” said Fatemeh.

As it turns out, I have two works in progress. My horror novel, The Astronomer’s Crypt is also in the hands of its editor. Here are seven lines to tease you about that novel as well!

    They progressed slowly and steadily about two miles until they came to a bridge over a place called Nana’s ravine. The car ahead hit a patch of ice and spun out of control. Mike’s mouth dropped open as the car slammed into the guardrail just beyond the bridge and toppled over the side.

    As Mike reached the bridge, he felt the wheels of his own car start to skid. He geared the engine down low and eased his foot onto the brakes. The car fishtailed across the bridge, but he maintained control. Once on the other side, he pulled up to the broken guardrail.

These challenges typically ask you to tag more people, but I like to leave these open-ended. Especially in this case I know a lot people who have already been tagged. If you’d like to play, just drop a link to your blog in comments and I’ll update the post with up to the first seven who respond.

Update: Challenge accepted! I tag:

  1. Maxwell Grantley
  2. Karen J. Carlisle
  3. Noelle Hardy, The Empress