Wednesday, May 17, 2017

SFR Promo at SMSchmitz.com!

Greetings!  Once again, S. M. Schmitz has put together another promotion for participating authors to offer a book for free or $.99 and to generate interest in science fiction romance.  Please visit www.smschmitz.com/promo to find dozens of books, on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and other ebook retailers.



My offering is Evan's Ladies, a book consisting of four novellas describing Prince Evan Sinclair's problems in finding a lady to love.  Here's an excerpt:

He was walking Mother through the high-tech and massively complex Command Center when Sentinel Chief Savat hailed him. Letting go of her waist just enough to gesture to the Chief that he would be right back, he saw Mother to his parents’ nearby quarters and settled her on the bed, simply drawing the blankets from the edge over her.
[….]
Back in the Command Center, he approached Chief Savat.
“Your Highness, you are housed on the fifth floor, yes? Please feel free to take your messages at Station Five off the second node. Just palm the system on; no need for any special codes,” the Chief said kindly.
“Where are Father and Zhaiden?”
“The Emperor is at the emergency meeting of the Ducal Assembly. The Crown Prince is with their children while Renee is with your mother. They both needed the break.” The Chief wiped his own frazzled features with one hand.
“And how many hours have you been awake?” Evan hinted.
With a snort, the Chief thanked him for the reminder that beds existed in the universe, bowed, and immediately called across the room for the duty officer to find the highest-ranking officer who had had any sleep since midnight to take over. As Evan left, the duty officer drawled, “That would be Ensign Xavier.”
This reference to the mythical Sentinel, named with various ranks for assigning levels to information when speaking in code in public, caused chuckles to erupt all over the room. Although Evan could appreciate the comic relief of the stressed-beyond-measure Sentinels, he couldn’t seem to shake himself from the emptiness threatening to overwhelm him.
Locking himself into Station Five, he began reviewing his vid messages. Several of them were from ladies whose codes he recognized, tearful laments about the destruction of the Palace and how grateful they were he had survived, ending with let-me-know-if-you-need-anything. One code was unknown to him. He opened the message.
Lady Nicole Knightley, whom he had last seen heading for a tram, stared out the screen at him. Clad in his jacket, she remained gravely silent for a long moment.
“If you need to get away from it all, come to visit. My parents and I will take good care of you.” She smiled that sad, wistful smile of hers and palmed off the recording.
He called her immediately. Although it was the middle of the night for her, she answered. Wiping sleep from her eyes, she peered at him. “When’s the last time you had any sleep?”
“Three hours, about eleven hours ago.”
Nicole nodded. “I’m not surprised. When our main activities tent burned down during a month-long summer training expedition in my junior year, none of us could sleep more than a few hours a night for weeks, even after we returned home.” A sly grin crept across her face. “I know a great cure for that, though.”
Evan laughed a bit. “I’m tempted.” Growing melancholic again, he sighed. “I have to get through baby Daniel’s funeral first, along with some other duties. What are your next few weeks like?”
“I finished my research summary last week, so I have no duties until my next field assignment in October. It’s nearly spring now, and Knightley Duchy is so wonderfully green and vibrant and rural, I thought it would be a nice change from the dire events in the capital.”
The warmth and thoughtfulness of her gesture felt like lying among the flowers in the glen of the Imperial Preserve, basking in sunlight to drive away last night’s horrors. He wondered how much of the laboratory clean-up he could leave to Stefan and Josef.
They arranged for him to visit the Knightley Duchy in ten days, and he thanked her with a sweet smile. “You know, all these other ladies who left me messages bewailed this and that, but you’re the only one who offered to help in any concrete way.”
She blinked at that revelation. “And me all the way over here on the other side of the planet. That’s a damn shame.”
“It certainly is. Thank you. I’ll message you once I’ve made the travel arrangements.” He smiled more firmly before palming the vidphone off.


You can find Evan's Ladies at: Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Payhip, and Smashwords.

Enjoy!

Blog:               http://evacaye.blogspot.com/
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Twitter:                      https://twitter.com/EvaCaye
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Smashwords             https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/evacaye


Friday, March 31, 2017

SFR Brigade Presents: Excerpt from Fidelity


The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is a fabulous group of authors who offer a monthly Showcase to let visitors get a glimpse of their works-in-progress or already-published ebooks.  My current selection is the first part of Chapter One of Fidelity, the 10th book in my To Be Sinclair series.  Since I had tantalized my fellow Brigaders with the first sentence for one of our SFR snippets, I figured I owed it to them to at least let them weep with 24-year-old Prince Richard Sinclair.  Our young hero starts at rock-bottom, eventually throwing himself into his work so he doesn't have to think about his miserable excuse of a love life.  Enjoy, and be sure to check out the other contributions at the SFR Brigade Presents blog!

 "I wish I could’ve had your babies.”

“So do I.”  Prince Richard Sinclair nuzzled 23-year-old Lady Sandra Aaronburg’s papery cheek.  Caressing away a wisp of hair that the light breeze had drawn across her face, he let his thumb run along her lips before placing a gentle kiss there. 

Mindful of her horribly painful bones, drained of their strength by the infection and harsh medications, he draped his hand along the outside of her rib cage, wishing he could snuggle her tight.  He rested his head on his upper arm to watch her face in profile.

A red-gold leaf from the antler tree overhead floated toward the down comforter.  Sandra lifted her arm a few centimeters as if to catch it, but even that energy expenditure was too much for her.  

“Oh.”  Her eyes fluttered.  “So pretty.”  With another short breath, she sighed, but didn’t resume breathing.

Even knowing it was the end, even the past two months of frantic treatments, even pleading for her hand despite her insistence that it really didn’t matter, Richard uttered a few soul-tearing sobs as he burrowed on top of her one last time. 

Soft hands gentled his head.  Mother had been reading under a nearby oak for two hours, waiting for this moment.  “Come; let her family say their good-byes, too.”  She helped him sit up, and straightened his rumpled clothes for him.

As Sandra’s parents and siblings moved forward, Richard stood up from the mattress, simply set on the ground, and took in the scene Sandra had loved so well.  The cliff face some ten meters away had a small grotto at chest level, and he had set the gilded crystal angel that resided there on the edge, as if it wanted to bathe in the afternoon sunshine. 

The lilac satin brocade scarf folded beneath its base was her contribution, made six months before, the first time she had ever visited the Imperial Palace.  He remembered her comment at the time:  You can’t expect an angel to live in the rough, now, can you?  She had whipped off her scarf and tucked it deep into the grotto, just so, before demanding the statuette, still in his hands.  He knew he was in love as she carefully placed the angel in its silky new cave, and her exquisite sense of artistry had subsequently enchanted the entire Imperial Family.

He set the angel back into the grotto. Sorry, but I need it more than you.  Picking up the scarf, he let it slip through his fingers a few times.  He traced the snow-white monogram before wrapping the scarf behind his neck and smoothing its folds over his lapels. 

Turning, he went to her tearful parents, hovering over the body that no longer held any meaning for him.  Grasping their hands, he murmured words he barely recognized.  “Thank you for letting us have that moment.  Thank you for understanding.  Thank you.”  He hugged her sister and shook her brother’s hand, and then turned abruptly toward the Imperial Palace, headed for his suite.

Kyle and Patrick were waiting for him outside the central door to Center Wing.  “Is there anything we can get you?” Patrick asked.

“No.”  Blinding tears erupted, streaming down his face before he was engulfed in his cousins’ embrace, forming a tripod of enduring familial support as they grieved with and for him.

When he had calmed and they stood back, he wiped at his eyes with the scarf.  “Grandfather, and now Sandra.  I think I’ll hibernate for a couple of weeks.”

Patrick ran a hand over his face.  “Yeah.  We’ll tell Matthieu.”  He and Kyle clapped him on the back and entered Center Wing with him, but they strode toward Front Wing as Richard hit the button for the lift.

On third floor, he noticed Sentinels taking places along the walls as his youngest sibs and cousins in the Imperial Protocol Academy headed toward the Academy Salon at the front of the hall, just home from Northbridge Prep.  He turned from their carefree chatter to enter his suite, twenty more meters in the direction of the cliff. 

A Sentinel popped out before he reached it.  “Clear.” 

Intent on simply reaching his bed, Richard thoughtlessly left the suite’s door open.  Too distraught to go back and close it, he did close the door to the bedroom on the left before flinging himself on the bed to grieve in the dark.

Perhaps an hour later, his brother Matthieu, the Emperor of Sinclair Demesnes for all of three weeks, interrupted his wallowing in the darkness.  He thanked whoever had opened the door for him, and set a bottle of wine and two glasses on Richard’s nightstand before drawing up a chair from the window’s table. 

Pouring the wine in the light from the door, he looked almost as bad as Richard felt at the moment.  “I hope you’re not going to make me drink this all by myself.”

“No.”  Richard sat up and took the second glass.  “Thanks.”

“To Sandra.”  Matthieu reached his glass out in a toast.

Richard clinked his glass against it.  “The essence of beauty herself.”  He downed a mouthful before he realized Matthieu had brought the really good wine.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, staring at the wine in his glass, it took him a moment to notice Matthieu’s posture.  Instead of a brotherly slouch as if commiserating, he sat upright, slightly tilted forward, as if he were going to ask him to take an assignment.  He flinched at the thought of just getting through the funeral, much less getting back to a so-called normal life.  “Please don’t ask me to do anything.”

Matthieu jerked a little in his chair.  “I… not work.”  He deliberately leaned back, putting one ankle on the other knee, but still regarded Richard intently.  “I just want you to remember that what you had with her was beautiful and good, but that it’s over.  Like I had to deal with after Miriel.”

Richard’s breath caught in his throat.  He had almost witnessed Miriel’s suicide, and certainly remembered its aftermath.  Her lying on the floor of the corridor outside the first-floor Academy work room, bludgeoned eyes and grotesque tilt of her features, distorted from direct pulse pistol damage. Uncle Brian beside her, screaming and writhing on the floor between mini-seizures, damaged by the pulse pistol’s nimbus.  The choking screams from his cousins and sibs as they shoved forward before a Sentinel shoved them back into the work room.

He almost didn’t process Matthieu’s next words.  “I know how much you loved her, and that you needed to witness her death in order to really understand she would be gone forever, but it was also kind of gruesome to watch her dragging you through all those procedures with her.”  He took another sip.  “It was good of you to help her make the decisions, but I wonder how good it was on your behalf.”

Richard blinked blindly while inhaling his oldest brother’s perspective.  “When did you grow so callous?”

“Not callous.”  He sipped again, eyeing him with pure pity.  “I love you and care about your wellbeing.  You did everything you could; you did everything right by the standards we hold as compassionate human beings in our society. 

“I just want you to see that you can move on, now.  You don’t have to tear yourself up for things you didn’t do.  And after Father’s death, we’re both living proof that there’s life after the death of someone you hold dearer than your own life.”

As Matthieu nodded at him, secure in his ability to weather any storm, Richard wondered whether his brother had ever spoken to his wife, Vidya, about his former lady and her death.  Deciding it didn’t matter, he shook his head.  “I don’t know what to do, now.”

“I have some suggestions.”  Matthieu waited.

Richard appreciated that he gave him the space to decide whether to ask for them, or not.  “Let’s have them.”

“Come with me, out to the Academy Salon, and let everyone hug you.  Ask them for their fondest memories of Sandra, and laugh with them and cry with them, because that’s what families do.  Whatever you do, don’t hold it in, because a depressive mindlock can be damn hard to get out of.”

He tipped the glass back to drink the last of his wine, and smacked his lips over it. “I’d also say it’s time for an epic drunk.  Have you ever had an epic hangover?”

A huff of meager laughter burst from his lungs.  “I guess you need to define ‘epic’ for me.”

Matthieu stood to take the bottle in one hand before tilting his head toward the door.  Oddly heartened, Richard led the way out, with his brother’s arm around his shoulders.


Expect Fidelity to be out around late July / early August 2017.  And here are the usual author's links so you can check out my other stuff:

Blog:               http://evacaye.blogspot.com/
Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/eva.caye
Twitter:                      https://twitter.com/EvaCaye
Google +                    http://plus.google.com/u/0/106270772543621634687/posts
Author Central                     http://amazon.com/author/evacaye
Payhip                       http://payhip.com/evacaye
Smashwords             https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/evacaye


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About My *To Be Sinclair* Series


I hope you don't mind if I get whimsical!  I haven't had much sleep, and I just finished up a huge order to print up this graphic as business cards, postcards, and a banner.  While doing all that work, I thought, "What would I use as a tag line for my books if I didn't already have them on the covers?"


 "Ghurlfriend, you need to get laid!"

I don't know if you've ever known anyone as geeky as Felicia, but I have, and do, and was, and, and.... (I might be marginally Aspie.)  And after all the lousy sex out there, it took a good man to make me enthusiastic about the subject!

-- Yes, you, Darlin' Man, my Sweet Thang!

So my sister couldn't read past the first book because Felicia gets laid like halfway through.  And to her, that's the End of Story.  How pitiful, to think the story ends once the lady has given herself to the man!  Whereas it's just the beginning of a long series, eleven more books, in which miraculous things happen because Felicia is a Very Happy Lady, because she has a Very Awesome Husband!


 
"Yeah, you THINK you're getting away with something, you miserable fink!"

Victor has the patience of a saint, but he's a seether.  And when he decides he's had enough, he'll hand you yer nuts on a platter along with yer boot leather and a slice of humble pie on the side.

It's all because he grew up mega-paranoid.  And rightfully so -- fer pity's sake, if you're taken to the wilderness and then to space to hide from the people who just slaughtered your family, you deserve to be!  He's been bombarded ever since, and then something really horrific happens to him.  So yeah, he has trust issues.

Thank goodness Felicia took enough psychology in college to understand the, ah, murky stuff.  Even in herself...!


  "You're absolved of almost anything if you can put me through the mat!"

Phillip's so into fighting, he'll start a bromance just to make sure his best friend's getting laid!  If he trusts you to fight no-holds, you've just won the lottery because he'll do anything just to keep you around.  Although he's intellectually astute and knows that might does not equal right, it comes a close second to being an honorable man.  The most honorable bad-ass you'll ever meet!  Too bad he's rather shy with the ladies...!

He unfortunately thinks his Imperial stature means he'll never really come to harm, despite his natural and parentally-instilled paranoia. Getting someone banned doesn't hold a candle to whuppin' their ass, though, and he's lucky he has friends at the right time and place.  And if he finally realizes he's your friend, it's for life.

"You can't argue with a sociopath.  And you certainly can't live with them."

Crown Prince Zhaiden is close to perfect, but he let his cock do his thinking one time, and had to pay for it for years.  I have to admit that I knew his ex-wife at one point.  I've had people say, "How could you DO that to him?!"  And I say, "Hey, people like that exist.  If I can help even one person recognize a sociopath and get the hell out of their way, I will have Done My Duty To My Readers."

He's such a sweetie-heart, though!  I adore his interaction with his children.  And he's pure Royalty, through and through, always considering the big picture, always expecting the best from his people, and always delighting in their excellence.  He has one big scar, but otherwise he's pure beauty.


"It's socially  unacceptable to implode."

Which is true, Stefan, but guess what?  If you don't let it out here and there, sometimes it comes out in a big, terrifying way

Brothers Josef and Evan can pretty much do so, but then again, they're typical males.  Whereas you, sweet Stefan, are a philosopher and a wannabe angel, if you could just get your emotions under control.  You're so sensitive to the public that I'm amazed you're so outgoing!

So strive for those crumbs of freedom, my lad!  They're not nearly as impossible as propriety makes them out to be.  Ask and ye shall receive, because there's glorious bounty in life, and handsome princes are hard to come by.  I'm glad you don't settle for the socialites, myself!


"Family is everything.  Well, our family, at least...."

It's amazing how three close siblings can be so totally different in their approaches to life.  Brian's a playboy, Anne's finally loosening up, and Christian just wants to be one of the guys.  This must have been the hardest book to write, because I had to give Brian and Anne equal time, when all I really wanted to do was write about Christian, the Good Guy with the heart of pure gold.

Oh, and Rosita!  I think the "Easter Egg" I wrote for this book -- something like 33K words! -- is the best character development I've ever written.  Rosita deserves the knight in shining armor, who is actually a handsome prince!  The very last line in the book makes me cry, EVERY time!  Maybe I'll tell you why someday.


"My soul is bleeding out of the hole in my chest where my heart used to be."

Yeah, poor Evan.  The youngest Imperial Son has the worst things happen to him.  Still, it turned him from a typical male into a man who doesn't depend on surface realities anymore.

Since this book consists of four novellas, I kept calling it Book 6.5, but I'm changing my series so it's filed as a regular book.  This will be Book 7, and I'll keep the title the same, mostly because there are too many candidate names I could use for it.  Like  charity, cruelty, frailty, liberty, rarity, sanity, travesty, adversity, atrocity, brutality, futility, obscenity, publicity -- and only charity is considered a 'noble virtue', the guideline by which I select my titles.  And it's completely inadequate to the task, so Evan's Ladies it is.


"No one deserves this sh*t!"

Prince Matthieu will be the Emperor of his generation, so he works super-hard to keep EVERYONE on track, educated, and feeling like they're an integral part of his family.  He's the most inspirational character, yet he's also as 'real' as they get!  He'll cuss with the other Servicemen and take his fair share of duty, because he understands he'll need to know what the average fellow goes through.  Yep, he's always been brilliant, probably because of that galactic tour his parents took when he was an infant.

What totally blows him into the Dimension of Dread is when people... give up.  He doesn't understand it, until he's had his own soul shredded and realizes that he wants to give up.  But he can't, that's so not him.  But it hurts sooo bad.  But you just can't give up, not when everyone depends on you.  But--!


"Is knowing the truth essential to being right?"

Oh, Princess Grace, you have a lot of moral decisions to make, and to judge, and to act upon on the spur of the moment.  Grace is good because she has one real guiding principle: be the perfect assistant to the Imperial Family, by order of succession, naturally.  She's so seriously intellectual that she asks herself philosophical questions like the one above before she gets out of bed in the morning.

But you don't usually see or hear those questions; they're there in the background, and Grace has a propensity to find the perfect way to distract people.  My favorite line in the entire book:  "Why did it seem like everyone blamed her for their bad decisions?"  A question she instantly sets aside to get someone started on a task, naturally.  And I adore her absolutely blinding dedication to Matthieu, even though they have their disagreements, too!



"After all I've done for you?!"

This is the book that's made me re-number my series.  Prince Richard came popping out after I had already finished Ability and begun working on Civility.  I won't tell you much, except it's more romance than sci fi.

The lovely lady Meredith is his Cinderella rescue, but he's not quite sure what to do with her after that.  He's pretty enlightened for a man, tries to treat the lady as an equal, but sometimes he slips up.  But there is one unforgivable in his book:  being unfaithful.  And Merry... well, she's not really unfaithful, but it sure does look bad!

I anticipate this book to be finished by July or August.  It's already at 75K words, but there's the editing and the prep work, too. Still, be on the lookout for it!


"Happy-go-lucky hardcore heathen gets hit upside the head with True Love!"

Yeah, Brielle isn't your typical Royal by any means.  She's just out to have fun because life has dealt her terribly harsh blows.  Her self-esteem is fairly high, but it wasn't always so, and when she finally goes ga-ga for a guy, she kind of realizes he's her only hope for love.  Yet she also realizes he had contributed a lot to her mental stability at a time when she often thought she couldn't bear another moment.

I particularly loved writing this book because of a propensity I have for recognizing my mind is being blown, and how, and pursuing that new perspective or way of thinking until I can call it up at will.  Brielle thinks in terms of 'Command Perspective', but it's just maturity, plain and simple.  Still, she totally rocks!


 Books in the pipeline:  two prequels that I've work on and off on for foreeeeeeevaaaaaaah, so I'd like to actually finish them someday!  But I mostly work on what has captured my attention at the time.  Oh, and the final book of the To Be Sinclair series, Civility, which I've already started.  The only thing I'll tell you about it is that it features Princess Elizabeth, who is then 57 years old, and she's gonna have an adventure!  Wooooohoooooo!

I hope you've enjoyed my middle-aged madness for this post!  Here are the usual social media and buy links, since it's just the thing authors have to do or they won't be taken seriously:

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/eva.caye
Twitter:                      https://twitter.com/EvaCaye
Author Central                     http://amazon.com/author/evacaye
Payhip                       http://payhip.com/evacaye

Smashwords             https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/evacaye

And all the usual places to get ebooks:  iTunes, Kobo, etcetera.

Namas'cray!

Friday, February 3, 2017

SFR Brigade Presents: Excerpt from Arrow of Fate


The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is a fabulous group of authors who offer a monthly Showcase to give people a taste of upcoming sci fi romance novels.    See this month's offerings at SFR Brigade Presents



My current excerpt is from The Arrow of Fate, a novel set in the To Be Sinclair universe, about 300 years before that series.  Prince Evan Grant Summerfeld is the sole scion of King Ian, a tyrant responsible for murdering his own brother for the throne while blaming it on offworlders trying to invade their planet, Fondulac.  Evan has to tread carefully around his father, especially since he distinctly sees both sides of the man's personality, while trying to convince him he's ready to take on some of his responsibilities....



Father came into Evan's bedroom just before bedtime.  As he settled in his chair, Evan set down his pen and journal.  “Good evening, Father.  Rather late for a visit, isn’t it?”
King Ian grimaced.  “I need to talk to you about security.”  He glanced toward his bodyguards, two just inside and two outside the doorway.  “Leave us.”  The two inside stepped smartly out the door into the parlor, and closed the door.
Evan’s eyebrows rose.  “What can I help you with?”
Father ran his hands up and down his thighs.  “I was talking to Sir Medford, who said he had heard this weekend that you were easily accessible.  He tried to get information from the man, but it was at a party, and he slipped away before Medford could round up enough people to detain him.”
Evan bit his lips together, trying to evaluate his father’s real concern.  “Do you mean the Lowenas?”
“Lowenas?”  Father’s brows drew together.
“Oh, sorry, my personal name for the bodyguards you assigned to me.”  At King Ian’s hard stare, he shrugged.  “They act more like scavengers than warriors, and I certainly can’t think of them as ‘high’, given their language and interests.”
“What did they do?”  Father actually acted like he cared, which surprised him.  He wondered if he could get King Ian to listen, now that he was paying such grave attention to him.
Sitting back in his chair, he assumed one of Father’s most notorious postures, setting his ankle across his other knee and grasping the arms of the chair, an attitude of relaxation from which he could burst into action if needed.  “They didn’t do anything, but they constantly talk big to each other, how they could whack so-and-so’s head off and such. 
“But I’ve never seen them work out, only carry pulse pistols.  I reckon most wouldn’t last ten seconds in a ring with me, and that they’d let me kill anyone seriously threatening me just to see me fight.  That’s what I meant by scavengers, ‘cleaning up’ after a kill. 
“And they’re nasty.  The sexual slurs they make about everyone make me want to puke at times.  I figure I’m safe simply because no one wants such low-life scum to touch them.”
King Ian’s expression didn’t change, so he continued.  “Whereas your guards never talk because it distracts them from observation.  They train together in groups so they all know each other’s moves, and they have plans so coordinated that each one could be in any position, yet perform perfectly against any threat.  In comparison, my men are fools who think power is in weapons instead of intelligence.”
King Ian’s closed expression morphed into a grimace at that harsh criticism.  “I’ll see you get new guards.”  As Evan continued to gaze at him without a word, he wondered, “Why are you staring at me like that?”
Evan swallowed, moved to set both feet squarely on the floor, and sat forward slightly with hands on his knees.  “I don’t mean to impugn your honor, but I wonder if you’ll actually do it.  Why did you never tell Lord Desai about the emblem I requested for my investiture robe?”
Father’s eyebrows rose before they crimped above his frown.  “It’s too untraditional.  And obscure. What does a bloody talon represent, anyway?”
“Logic, farsight, and necessity.”  His lips thinned in a brief smile as Father’s parted. 
“Raptors are unlike other animals in that they have absolutely no empathy.  Lord Valente can fill your ear over their sheer intelligence, all of which comes down to how they act in their own self-interest at all times, tolerating humans simply because they know they can get a ready meal out of us.
“Their vision is notorious, of course, and they only kill to eat.  They kill in battle because their handlers have taught them that’s the way to get regular food from them.  The tomahawks and dire eagles only coexist in the mews because their nesting needs are consistently met, clean and airy with the proper dimensions.  The ones we call ‘tame’ are simply smart enough to have learned beyond their instincts.”
Father’s face showed his growing fascination.  “You sound like a real scholar.”
Evan shrugged and sat back, letting one hand stroke his scar.  “Everyone underestimates me, so I listen and learn.”
Lips parted, King Ian inhaled his nonchalance.  “Tell me something I don’t know, then.”
Since he prided himself on his security and his spies, Evan unleashed a sly smile, wondering if he could finally gain all of King Ian’s trust while simultaneously blowing his mind.  He stood and went to his boot locker for his oldest pair of boots.  After handing them to him, he returned to his desk.
He couldn’t tell if it was King Ian or Father turning the boots over in his hands.  He thought it was King Ian when he noted, “There’s a lot of wear on the toes….” before his eyebrows rose.  When he directed a speculative smile his way, Evan decided that was Father.
“I, um, send a certain flower to a certain holy shrine before I visit a certain mansion of an evening.”  He smirked; if Father knew how rare those evenings were, he wouldn’t be chuckling so heartily.
“Who is she?”
Evan actually blushed.  “Ah, sorry to mislead you.  It’s one of the courtesaneries.”  Of which there were five in the capital.
Father slapped his thigh as he roared with laughter.  He howled even louder when Evan mentioned, “You did command me to tell you something you didn’t know.”
Father settled down with an amused sigh.  “I suppose two levels to the library’s roof is nothing.”  He glanced out the sixth-story window.
Evan examined his fingertips.  “Well, I wouldn’t say ‘nothing’.”  Although he wore climbing gloves for his escapades, Father didn’t need to know that. 
“Anyway, I figure that’s where the allegations of my ‘accessibility’ come from.  Very few people actually know the series of actions that precede my ventures, though, and I otherwise make sure I’m masked in public.”  He wouldn’t be adventuring again, after this, but since his investiture and subsequent plans were a month away, he didn’t care.
Father sat back with a broad smile.  “So, how else have I underestimated you?”
Evan’s mouth parted.  In order to get King Ian, he asked, “Are you sure you’re ready for that conversation?”
Father chuckled and stood.  “Not tonight.  I have the lovely lady Rosalyn waiting for me.”  He handed back the boots.  “I’ll find an opening around lunch tomorrow so you can educate me on my spectacular son.”
Father winked at him before letting himself out.  Evan was glad he would have a chance to impress King Ian.  Maybe he could get some serious work done before his investiture.

◊   ◊   ◊

The next morning, two of King Ian’s own guards stood beside the lifts in his foyer as if they had replaced the first four Lowenas.  Evan granted them respectful nods, which they returned.  “Good morning.  What are your names?”
He shook hands with them before herding them into the eastern lift to the basement for his workout.  “I’ve noticed you scoring impressively in your workouts, Sir Laetres.  I’ve often longed to spar with you, but I always got the impression that, as Father’s personal security, I wasn’t to challenge any of you in any way, lest someone think badly about it.”
“Ah, yes.  That would look bad, wouldn’t it?”  The wiry Sir Laetres stroked his chin.  “We lined up a real treat for you today, though.”
“Oh?”  He was about to ask what when the doors to the lift opened.  His subsequent broad smile made both of his lips sting at the puckers of his scar.
Eight of his previous guards were lined up near the mats, in workout clothing and with no weapons.  Half of them fidgeted nervously while the others paced or breathed deeply to pump up their psyches for the upcoming debacle.  “I see you’ve found some workout partners for me today.  Thank you.”
“King Ian’s idea.”  Sir Mason bowed.  “We’ll be the moderators of the fights.”
“Any rules?”  Evan rubbed his hands with glee before removing his shirt.
“Not really.  He simply asked us to step in if it appears you’ve grossly underestimated your opponent.”  Sir Laetres shrugged at his raised eyebrows.  “I take that to mean he doesn’t want you killed.”
Evan laughed; then-Prince Ian had to have given Sir Graeme specific instructions to kill him two years ago, undoubtedly so he could get himself another heir.  He had always wondered if his current survival was proof against the possibility King Ian might never impregnate another woman, or if he just couldn’t figure out how to off him that would play well enough with the commoners.
This was obviously a test his father approved of, but he had to couch it in terms the commoners would understand: make sure his son is tough enough by throwing him a challenge, yet make sure he’s able to attend his own investiture in a month’s time.  He could hear his frugal father in his mind: Can’t let all of Lady Elita’s work go to waste, after all.
Swinging his arms to warm up, he stepped on the mat and beckoned to the men.  Of the eight, the one he thought actually had a chance of marking him stood forth.  They bowed, and Evan took a couple of minor blows before knocking him out in less than ten seconds. 
As one of the Palace’s night guards dragged the man off the mat, Sir Mason called on his wrist phone for a janitor to clean away the blood Lowena #1 had spat out before the knockout punch.  Another night guard took a wad of money out of his pocket and paid a few of his quietly-jeering comrades.

Evan moved to the next mat and beckoned for another Lowena.  Even if the rest came on as a group, he had a good chance of thrashing them before getting too tired.  He laughed again, imagining the man was actually his father.

I promise, this IS a sci fi romance, but the heroines haven't been introduced just yet.  It takes two chapters of action just to describe why these characters are so complex in the first place!
I anticipate Arrow of Fate will be done by summer 2017, available at the usual retailers, and a stand-alone, unconnected to my previous books except by the occasional mention of similar planets and technological developments.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Daily Depression Management: Some Possible Answers


My favorite painting:  Flaming June,
by Frederick,Lord Leighton
I wake up around 9:00 a.m.  Since this is the most energy I’ll probably have today, I get out of bed and take a shower.  It takes me a full forty-five minutes: some twenty just getting through the shower, then drying off, moisturizing, brushing my teeth, and double-checking to see I haven’t forgotten anything. 
I’d guess I usually put on three applications of deodorant before I’m SURE I remembered it.  But, that’s life with brain fog.  I’ve stepped out of the shower without rinsing the shampoo from my hair before, too ashamed to admit how many times I’ve probably done that over the past fifteen years.
It’s time for breakfast, but insulin, first.  I have a little kit in the fridge to keep my materials together: two kinds of insulin and their corresponding needles.  I have this down pat, now, so it’s not quite 10:00 by the time I’ve put the kit back into the fridge.
I’m thirsty, so I try to figure out whether to make instant tea or just throw some baking soda in a glass of water.  Baking soda would be easier, because I don’t have to use a spoon, just sprinkle some in.  I’ve probably been eating too many acidic foods lately, anyway, so time to alkalize my body.  Now it’s 10:00 a.m. and yes, I just spent fifteen minutes making a decision (while preparing my injections) and acting on it.
I usually eat a banana and an apple for breakfast, but I forgot to buy bananas yesterday.  Thank God today isn’t a yoga day, which starts at 10:30.  I’ll be able to fix myself something to eat for once, instead of just fruit and nuts.
I see an avocado, and remember buying it last week, not quite ripe.  Squeezing it, I decide it’s now or never.  Scrounging in the rest of the kitchen, I come up with more ingredients: chips, baby spinach, a yellow bell pepper, an onion, salsa, sour cream.  Too bad the hubby’s not here to fry some hamburger so I can officially call it ‘taco salad’, but I have to be on top of my game to trust myself with the open flame of a gas range anymore.  Hell, I barely trust myself to cut up the onion and pepper without accidentally cutting off the tip of a finger.
Me and my rock.
The salad is mostly done, when hubby walks through the door.  He says he forgot a paper at home, but I suspect he’s picked up on my wish to have meat on my salad; he’s remarkably psychic with me.  He starts the meat, and I note the time: 11:45.  Yes, it took me an hour and forty-five minutes to gather the ingredients from my tiny six-by-nine-foot kitchen to fix a salad, all while my insulin is dropping my blood sugar and I’m growing increasingly hungry.  And I'm lucky I didn't happen to think any thoughts that would make me burst into tears, too.
I come in here to write on this blog, and the meat is done at 12:05.  Hubby calls me in, I add the meat and salsa, and sit at the computer to eat it while cruising Facebook.  I’d like to think I made a lot of decisions to account for the hour and forty-five minutes it took to fix myself lunch, but the only one I can remember right now was asking hubby to take some old beans out to the compost area.  Even then, I completely forgot to have him include the kitchen scraps I’d been generating from my salad.  How much of this can I blame on brain fog, anyway?
Now it’s 12:33, after noon, so time for my ‘head meds’, my daily antidepressants and supplements.  I pick up the gallon baggie from the arm chair’s table on my right to line the bottles up on my tray table.  I take them individually out of the bottles, swallow them with the baking soda water, put them all back in the baggy, and transfer the baggy to the extended window ledge on my left.  It’s the only way I can keep from taking them more than once a day.  When it’s past midnight, I’ll put the baggy back on the arm chair table.
Now it’s 12:47, and I’m wondering whether to mention all the other little things that have been going on all day long.  Waking up to one doggie’s puking sounds, and getting them out the door when I noticed she thankfully didn’t puke, just made the sounds?  The phone calls I ignored so they would go to voice mail and I could get my breakfast salad done?  Staring at the avocado pit in my hand, wondering if I should ‘start’ it – as if I could finally remember to water a plant every day for however long it takes to grow into a tree?
I was 'up' for Maxine's 90th birthday.
A fabulous dinner for a
fabulous lady!
This is what really ticks me off.  It’s 1:00 p.m. and I haven’t gotten anything done but this blog.  I’m a fairly smart person – I got a 4.0 GPA for my master’s degree – but most people judge ‘smarts’ by how fast you can act, correctly, to situations.  And depression is such a severe lack of energy that you get overjoyed when you can manage to think a concrete thought.
When your ‘flashes of brilliance’, or, say, something you must remember, overcome the brain fog for an instant, you cling to them desperately.  I complained about not being able to think to some of the people at my yoga studio the other night, and one person said she’s had that happen, but it was an allergy that didn’t make her sneeze, and recommended NasaCort.  Another person spoke about how this NasaCort really helped, so I spent about ten minutes before yoga chanting NasaCort in my mind.
During final relaxation, I panicked when I realized I had forgotten the name of the medicine.  When we sat up, I suddenly remembered and blurted out to her, “NasaCort?”  She said yes, so I physically chanted NasaCort, NasaCort, NasaCort to myself until I got to the store, some twenty minutes later.  I’m certain anyone watching me fill my car at the service station thought I was some lunatic, talking to myself.
One of the ways I’ve been managing my depression lately has been to NOT fight it, but rather, try to figure out what it is teaching me.  That's really the big question:  WHY do I have depression?  Obviously something’s not right, or I wouldn’t have it.  
So I’ve tackled the physical side, changing my diet and doing yoga and minimizing stress, which is what probably caused the adrenal overload and nervous breakdowns in the first place.  I’ve tackled the mental side, taking antidepressants and working with psychologists and going through fifteen years of abandoned junk in my house in my year-and-a-half-long ‘spring cleaning’, still in progress.  But what about the spiritual side?
I’m a practical person, but also spiritual.  And if there’s one thing the spiritual community constantly emphasizes, it’s that things happen for a reason.  So, what is the reason I have depression / bipolar disorder?  As in, what's the lesson it's meant to teach me?
Brain fog: I’ve prided myself on my intelligence, so I needed to experience being virtually incapacitated in order to get humble.  Now I try to discover everyone’s hidden genius.  Whether they graduated from high school or not, I feel like everyone has a secret superpower, like quilting or baking.  EVERYONE has something they can teach me.
A book I wrote with/
for Aunt Maxine
Lack of energy:  I used to be able to work twelve and fourteen hour days as a teacher, so I needed to slow down.  I’ve used my bedridden status to come up with stories I type up and publish when some days I can barely sit up in an overstuffed armchair.
Inability to get anything done:  I was an alpha-overachiever for so many years, so I should realize my value, and everyone else’s value, despite not having ‘anything to show’ for my efforts.  Now I realize we aren’t ‘worthy’ because of the things we can do; we are worthy because we are alive.
Unstable body:  I quit testing for karate belts at my brown belt level because by law you have to declare your ability to defend yourself when you reach black belt.  So lurching into the furniture and walls while walking through the house has undoubtedly taught me not to judge anyone’s clumsiness, or any physical condition at all.  Can you deny Stephen Hawking, another sufferer of depression, is currently the most brilliant man alive?
So maybe I do have a few answers.  I’m taking better care of my overall health, that is certain, and I’ve seen some improvements, especially doing yoga.  I’d hate to think it’ll take me another fifteen years to get out of it, though.  I pray daily for a miracle, but until then, medications are my mainstay.

Be healthy, all.  Namaste.