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:

Google +          
Author Central           

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?"

 "Girlfriend, 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:

Author Central           


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