Are We There Yet?

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I’m hot.

It’s 7 pm and it’s 87 degrees with not an air conditioner in sight. My kid is trying not to melt into the couch as he plays Pokémon to ignore the world around him. I know it’s too hot for him because he’s quiet.

It was a good weekend. It was my business partner (affectionately known as my “Book Wife”)’s birthday. While I was there, I had an exciting conversation with a friend I’ve recently connected with. He told me that after reading my book, he thinks he wants to write one. This is a little unexpected and a lot flattering. Especially since he’s the third person who has credited me as their inspiration to write a book.

I’m going to start putting warnings on my books. “Caution: May cause authorish urges.”

It’s awesome and inspiring and I am a little intimidated. I feel like the Queen of Spain commissioning some ships to find the New World. Of course, that bitch is responsible for some serious destruction of indigenous cultures, but that’s another blog post.

Following a dream is WAY harder than I thought it would be. I always thought that it took about an hour and a half to achieve a life’s dream. That’s what the movies have taught me, anyway. No matter how hard the struggle, no matter what bullets you have to dodge or Russians you have to defeat, you’ll win in an hour and a half. Two hours if you’re particularly epic.

I’ll tell you, it’s been years and I thought I’d be further than I am. But then the idea of having published two books when most people never publish one seems like a big deal. I’m out in a land of unfamiliar, and I don’t have a base normal to work from. My entire life is changing, and it’s so big and so fast sometimes and so slow and so tedious other times, I find myself constantly fighting for balance, which is pretty weird because anyone who knows me will assure you I’m neither patient, nor a creature of balance.

I’ve got two half stories going – a misnomer as one is a short story and one is a novel. The novel I know where I’m going, the short story not as much, so even though one is longer, one is harder to get into. Neither one are going as fast as I’m used to. I feel as though there is a time clock ticking in my head and judging me because I’m not hitting my word count.

I don’t know what else to do but write about it. Try to get the words OUT. Try to clear the decks for creativity to flow. It’s not writer’s block, it’s a blocked writer who wants nothing more to be at her desk churning word count.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time to put my son to bed.

Whirlwind

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So, I wrote a book. 

Then, I started a Kickstarter for my dad’s photography. 

I’m also enrolled in a class for learning accounting. (Yuck, I know, but if I’m going to run a booming business, I need to document the boom.)

I’m going to school in the fall. (Full time, not a free online course kind of thing.)

There’s a podcast in the works, although I’m going to be a minor contributor.

My ten-year anniversary is coming up, and my husband has the details under lock and key. Which left me a little flat footed when I reminded him my writer’s group was on Sunday, and he looked shocked and dismayed. So, a little scheduling snafu there. Fortunately my writers group is forgiving.

I’m still trying to find work, but the reason I can’t find work is the reason I’m going back to school. Everyone in this town is better educated than I am. Want to find someone with a four-year degree? Throw a rock. If you hit someone who doesn’t have one, chances are because they’re in school to get one.

My son is learning how to swim. He spent years terrified of the water, and this year he decided he was over it, and he’s in the pool every day. I wish adult brains worked that way.

For his birthday, my son got enrolled in a Legos robotics class. Robotic Legos? Man, I would have killed for a set when I was a kid. He took to it like a duck to water, and had the best time.

It was nice having a little quiet time in the house, for my online class and my writing. I’m working on a short story. I’ve been working on my sequel but the beauty of short stories is that they’re not as time consuming.

So, there it is. The quick and dirty update. More projects than a dystopian urban sprawl, punctuated with doing fun things with my kid. See you next post!

Remiss

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My book, Bento Box, came out on the last day of June.

And I have not stopped since then.

I have been trying to get the word out. Arranging readings, sending .mobi files to possible reviewers, I’ve been doing everything to drum up more interest.

In the midst of this, I took on a big project in its own right. I have started up a Kickstarter campaign. My father is a weekend warrior, a man who has a day job and a weekend calling. He is a nature photographer, and a damn good one too. I’m trying to get enough pre-orders together to publish a book of his work. I’ve published two of my own, I at least have a little experience at it now.

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1816539246/from-the-big-horns-to-the-black-hills

If you love beautiful wildlife photography, you will love it.

And someday I will get back to regular postings. Someday.

In case you missed it – Five Flash Fictions for Bento Box

Over the past five days I’ve shared five flash fictions in the world of my book, Bento Box. Here they are in one easy location:

http://tinashelton.com/2015/06/25/flash-fiction-1-nathan-meets-orochi/

http://tinashelton.com/2015/06/26/flash-fiction-2-sibling-rivalry/

http://tinashelton.com/2015/06/27/flash-fiction-3-lizbet/

http://tinashelton.com/2015/06/28/flash-fiction-4-too-close-for-comfort/

http://tinashelton.com/2015/06/29/flash-fiction-5-rascati/

This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available now, on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and everywhere else I could find. :) I hope you enjoy the fiction!

Flash Fiction 5 – Rascati

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Concept art by Caleb Brown, ©2014

“You’re kidding. She’s not old enough to be legally working yet.” Rascati stared incredulously at his superior officer. Dennis was a large man whose appearance suggested bodyguarding or bouncing, some rough and tumble occupation. Rascati knew that Dennis was getting up in years, and knew that kind of work gave out not long after the knees did.

“Talking about me like I’m not in the room might make you feel more powerful, but all it does is make you look like an asshole.” The young woman in question glared at him. She had enormous green eyes that currently bored into him.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Dennis said, stepping between them in such a way as to look unplanned. “You asked for the best of the best. I brought you the best of what SPD can afford.”

“And I feel a price hike coming on.” She folded her arms under her breasts.

Rascati did the gentlemanly thing and hid a smile. “If you’re half as good as your attitude, then you’re good enough.”

“Her name’s Baerlin, by the way.” Dennis added, satisfied that blood would not be shed.

“Rascati.” He said reflexively, offering his hand.

She glared at it. “I was warned.”

Several hours later, Rascati brought some coffee and donuts into the lab as a peace offering. He had a way of putting women on edge. Fair was fair. They did the same to him.

She didn’t look up from the computer screens. Three were open, each with graphs, notes and numbers in attendance.

Baerlin accepted the offerings as her due, and bit into a bearclaw. She glared at the computer screens. Rascati relaxed a little. Apparently fierce was a full time gig.

“Look at this.” She said, pointing at a tiny dip in a rising curve of a graphed line. “Everyone’s brain activity is unique, but most brains are consistent. Patterns, we’re slaves to pattern. But here’s a pattern that is consistent among the different graphs you’re asking me to review. That dip isn’t there any other night, but it shows up in each of the four subjects, just on different dates. Not consecutive, so there’s definitely a random element, which is what made it so hard to catch. It’s within tolerance of abnormal brain activity while sleeping.”

What Rascati felt most was surprise. He’d analyzed that data at least a hundred times, and she found the abnormality in a few paltry hours. Dennis was right. She was good.

“What caused it?” He asked casually, sipping from his coffee.

She turned on him then, wide green eyes fixing him to the spot like twin spotlights. “I have no idea.”

It was an unfair question. Rascati didn’t press. Instead, he sat down on the stool next to her. “I had hopes, but I didn’t expect you to know. It’s a problem that I’ve been tracking down for months.”

“I might be able to hazard a guess if you gave me the context. These graphs are all numerical, there’s nothing to indicate what the data measures.” She said, taking her own sip.

“Sanitized for your protection, I’m afraid.” Rascati shrugged. “You’re not officially a part of this investigation.”

Her expression shifted from the open interest of a scientist to something slightly darker in nature. “I could be.”

Rascati chuckled. “Not at your rates, I’m afraid.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Are you really all business, all the time?”

Belatedly he realized that she was flirting with him. “Yes.”

“Shame.” She said. She stood and stretched. “Thanks for the coffee. I’ll send you my bill tomorrow.”

***

This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!

Flash Fiction 4 – Too Close for Comfort

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Concept art by Caleb Brown, ©2014

With a languid stretch, Carnelia rolled on her side, enjoying the warm, sleepy liquidity of her body. He put his arm around her, drawing her close in his sleep. His touch reminded her of their earlier gymnastics. She allowed herself a moment to luxuriate, but even in her sleepy thoughts she felt the beginning of self-recrimination. She’d crossed a line. She’d done what Lizbet and Daign did regularly and shamelessly.

Her client was a lucky lady, and her boyfriend was a handsome, fit man. Trying to get out of the situation without arousing suspicion would have been difficult. She didn’t regret her decision. That was the problem.

Sneaking out of bed was easy. She knew the route to the C-pod. She moved as quietly as possible, hoping not to wake her lover. He’d never know that he’d cheated on his girlfriend. She’d never know either. There would be no consequences for her actions.

As she flipped switches and prepared her client’s C-pod, she caught her reflection in the glass. Blonde, blue-eyed, pale skin and a dusting of freckles. This wasn’t the face she’d wake up to. She would never see this face again.

I’m just like them. Carnelia knew that if she was in her body, she’d be shaking. This body had no reason to feel a fear reaction, so she didn’t. She caressed the palm lock and watched the diodes.

“Samantha, come back to bed.” His voice echoed through the house. “You promised no work when I was over.”

Shit. She pulled the wires for hooking up into the pod, and fastened them into their docks just behind her client’s ears. She didn’t want to face him again. She didn’t want to admit she’d screwed up.

“Samantha!” He sounded cross. It was too poorly lit to see his face, she’d left the lights dim on purpose. “Get out of there this instant!”

If he became more insistent, if he jerked her wires, Carnelia could be in very big trouble. She’d be trapped in this body, Parris would be pissed, and there’d be no telling when she’d get another chance to jump.

“Answer me!” He strode into the C-pod room, a statue given life, all sculpted abs and proud jaw.

Nope. Still not sorry.

The HUD popped up, allowing Carnelia to select her options. It didn’t take long to open the menu…

…his hand was on her shoulder. “Samantha…”

Carnelia opened her eyes and gasped like a swimmer who’d been under a little too long. Her skin was the correct shade again, her fingernails rosy pink at the tips of golden brown fingers. She looked around the C-pod. Stephen was nowhere in sight. Instead, Dr. Yeldez performed standard checks.

“A little close, my dear?” He asked, a skim of disdain floating across his words.

She caught her reflection in the C-pod window. Big, brown eyes, slightly canted at the edges. She saw herself, and shame crashed down on her in a wave. I’m just like the others, now.

“It wasn’t a bad run.” Carnelia said in her defense. “It just got a little close for comfort.”

“Your patterns all check out. You’re free to go.” Dr. Yeldez said briskly.

Carnelia gathered her things and kept her mouth shut. Free to go was as much a lie as the one she’d told. She needed to get out, and fast. She’d seen her brother’s losing fight with drugs, and didn’t think this was much different. In her room, she picked out some clothes for the day. The rest of it would be hers, now that the mission was over.

She looked into her full length mirror, catching another look at her real self. She grinned. She had an idea.

***

This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!

Flash Fiction 3 – Lizbet

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She was a walking provocation, sex in plastic film. She never failed to draw in a crowd. Aggressive men with lowered inhibitions swarmed like sharks in a feeding frenzy. It was possible some nice guys hung at the edges of the fray, but someone else could fuck them. If they weren’t going to take her, they weren’t going to get her.

Someone grabbed the back of her head and jerked her back. A thin blade caressed her throat, enough to draw a thin trickle of blood.

That’s new, she thought.

“You’re dead, bitch!” The hoarse voice rasping in her ear suggested this was more than mere foreplay. “My brother is in jail because of you!”

No one came to mind. It wasn’t someone she knew well, in any case. If they’d known anything about her, they’d known she was fond of wigs.

Pink hair peeled free as Lizbet kicked a foot back and up hard between the two pillars of her attacker’s legs. Connection was made, confirmed both by the clatter of the knife to the floor and by the explosive breath exhaled in response to the pain. The knife scraped her throat with the edge of the blade, abrading her pale skin but otherwise leaving her unharmed.

Lizbet grinned.

The knife was hers, and so was his throat now that he was on his knees. Lizbet wasn’t sure how he’d gotten in the club. This grubby mongrel of a street person shouldn’t be allowed in the doors. She’d almost be impressed that he’d managed to touch her save for the fact that she had the strong desire to bathe now. She angled his knife at his throat, reluctantly grasping his hair as he’d grasped her wig, still dangling from his hand.

“Touch me again and I’ll pour your blood all over this dance floor and ride your body across it like a hoverboard, vagrant.” Touching him was already unfortunate enough. “I don’t care who your brother is, he can rot for all his years.”

Time had frozen. Aggro men were staring now, trying to absorb the freshly blonde object of their desire, one fist full of hair, the other gripping a knife. She knew she turned them on. She flicked the blade, drawing a line of blood to match what he’d drawn.

She pushed him to sprawl at her feet. She tossed the knife to an Aggro watching the tableau. She wiped her hands dramatically against each other, careful not to touch her outfit. She winked at the Aggro. He’d made the knife evaporate. She liked a man who handled business. She kicked the vagrant in the face, but her eyes were all for Aggro. He approved.

The vagrant groaned, the fight taken out of him. Two bouncers appeared through the crowd, and they swept up the vagrant like so much garbage. One of them held up the wig, still tangled in the defeated man’s fingers.

“Burn it.” She said.

The Aggro behind her chuckled.

“You’re going to buy me a drink, aren’t you?” Lizbet asked, turning her back to the dancefloor.

“No.” The Aggro grinned. “I own the bar, I don’t have to.”

Lizbet’s breath caught. If this was Bobby Parris, she’d finally met her match.

***

This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!