Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Snippet: Daywalker and Rift Series Overview

This is a snippet from a story I've been playing with for some time. I work on several different stories as the mood hits, some I work on for several years. This story is a fantasy, not really urban fantasy because it is set in rural Montana! It is somewhat related to a Vampire Novella I wrote years ago, Single Mom, Vampire Lover, but takes place nearly twenty years later. I don't have a publishing date yet. Have considered having a couple of them finished before publishing. We'll see.


Excerpt Daywalker:

A man wearing an LA County jumpsuit in bright orange woke in a small meadow. 
Around one foot was a plastic hobble restraint attached to a ring around his ankle, but the restraint was broken so his leg motion was free. Orange coverall. Restraints. He’d been in jail. Suddenly the man jumped up, wide-eyed, staring at his surroundings in shock. “What the hell?”
He was at the bottom of a crater, next to a lovely pool of water under a huge tree. A small, grassy meadow surrounded the pool and tree. Beyond the meadow was rubble, climbing up to the edge of a crater, maybe three hundred feet.
 Earthquake? Do those cause craters? 
The sky was weird. To the south, high in the sky, there was a permanent lightning bolt, in a cloudless blue sky. An asteroid? An alien ship? Alien space weapon?
“What is going on?”
He couldn’t remember anything. Not even his name or why he was in prison. Or how he got away.
He decided to try to find...something. Other people, medical help. Since it seemed he couldn't remember a blessed thing. Clothes. I really need clothes. Don’t want some good ol’ boy to shoot the prisoner first, ask questions later.
The clothes he had on were obviously courtesy of the California prison system. Too bad they didn’t have his name on them somewhere. Just a number on the patch on his shoulder.
He trudged across the rough land and up the steep incline, finally coming to a blacktop, which he followed for several miles. Parts of the road were broken up. Crushed cars, flipped cars,  mangled bodies. No living people. The countryside didn’t look like LA, it looked like the Rockies in the distance, but he had no idea how he got there. 
He checked. Mostly Montana license plates. Okay, that explained the mountains. But not how he got here. Last he knew he was an inmate in LA County.
Maybe there was a nuclear war. Maybe I’m right in the hot zone. Fear clutched at him, but there was nothing that could be done.


Would a nuclear war toss him across the country?


Series Overview:


In Single Mom, Vampire Lover, Darlene's son is attacked by a rogue vampire and changed into a vampire to save his life. The Master Vampire who sired him is named Vare. Darlene is pulled into the world of Vampire Clans and eventually marries Vare. 

In the following years, they have two daughters, Harper and Harlow, who grow up with much older brother Brian in Vampire Clan O'Keife. The Clan has many members, vampires, daywalkers, paid blood crew, a few children.

An attack on the main Clan compound causes chaos. Harper and Harlow were not at home at that time, and were whisked away to hiding in Europe.

Then, a supernatural phenomenon, known in prophecy as The Rift takes place. It causes worldwide earthquakes and sudden deaths due to the burst of inhuman magic. Few survive.

I have a few more stories involving the Rift in various stages of completion:

Escape from the Cult: A group of young people, including the seer daughter of a Rift cult leader, run away from the cult just as the Rift forms. 

Shelter with a Vampire: A young woman weathers a tornado and learns her basement neighbor is a vampire. And the tornado was part of The Rift. 

Working title Baby Vamps: Roommates living in a warehouse rescue two Master Vampires held captive in a neighboring warehouse, and a clutch of very dangerous little kid vampires, created by their captors.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Keto Way of Eating Post (Not writing related)

It is the end of August! I thought I would write a post about my way of eating.

2017 after a year of steroids.
June 2019

With siblings July 2019


 I have written before how my asthma doctor told me I should check out weight loss surgery. In ten years my asthma (allergy, inflammatory asthma) had not really been controlled. Nor had my weight changed significantly. But studies had shown that even a 20% loss could significantly reduce asthma symptoms.

Not sure you can see the differences, but I went from a size 24 to a size 14-16. I didn't keep a photolog so you get random pictures! I still have weight to lose and journey onward.

I was not thrilled with the idea of surgery, but I was pretty sick of ER visits and steroids. Steroids raised my blood sugar to diabetic levels, also not good. So I started looking online for anti-inflammatory diets and found keto. Someone I know online had lost a lot on keto, and years ago I had lost weight and kept weight down with a high protein diet. I decided to give keto a try. 

I got some books, read keto Facebook forums, watched all of the Dr. Ken Berry's keto YouTube videos (plus other Doctors on YT) and started.

A week later, my husband joined me. He had lost over a hundred pounds on high protein years ago. Keto is a bit different, being moderate protein, high fat. A keto diet is an insulin regulation diet. Keep insulin normal, no carb/sugar spikes, and fat cells will release fat.

In my first month, I lost 22 lbs. All water from inflammation. Constant arthritis pain in my neck and back vanished. I still have a bad knee, but it improved, too. Asthma, no way to tell, because it was June and almost all of my awful asthma is from October through March, when it is frigid and windy in Casper, WY. Usually, I would catch a cold, develop bronchitis and have recurring bronchitis and asthma exacerbations for months. I was always sick at Christmas.

My goal was to be at a 20% loss by winter, in the hopes fo less asthma. I stuck to the eating plan( which is much easier to do after the initial weeks) and kept losing weight.

I did catch a couple colds. I used my asthma albuterol inhaler a couple times through the entire winter, not a couple times in the morning. No expensive controller meds, no steroids, no antibiotics. For the first time in a decade.

Hubby has diabetes controlled by insulin. He had frequent foot infections, very dangerous ones that led to hospitalizations, pic lines and high level antibiotic IVs. He also got a lot of bladder infections that came on so quickly we had to get to the ER for very high fevers. His diabetic doctor was all for lowering the insulin as he lost weight on 20 carbs or less a day. He takes about 1/6th of the insulin he was on at start. Due to his pancreas, he may never be off insulin, but that is not for certain.

In April I decided to retire early. Having no extreme medical costs in the past winter, I felt confident I could work with a lower insurance plan and lower salary. I picked up a 20 hour a month editing job. The cost savings of premiums and lowered prescription costs basically make up for my old day job, which was stressful and exhausting(medical billing). From $800 a month on rx meds to  $50 or so.

This, along with so much less pain from arthritis, gives a sense of freedom I never thought I would have in my sixties!


By our one year anniversary of keto, I had lost nearly 60 lbs, hubby more than that. Neither of us had been in the ER in the past year. No foot infections or bladder infections for hubby, no asthma other than one day of mild tightness with a cold for me. Both of us still have mobility issues but those are better than in the past. We have no plans to add more carbs and sugar back into our way of eating. Those foods just don't work with our bodies. 

I am not an evangelist for keto. I think people should research for themselves. But I do want to share my experience for those who might be where I was in 2018. 

Happy Trails,
Melisse


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Surprise Snippet! Fantasy Romance Daywalker

Since I am now retired I have been going through my many WIP files. This story, which is part of a partially written series, is actually done so I am revising and editing it. It is really mixed-genre: vampires, witches, demons, plague, portals, apocalypse...which is why I didn't submit it to a publisher back when I first finished it!



Excerpt


He trudged across the rough land and up a steep incline, finally coming to a blacktop, which he followed for several miles. Parts of the road were broken up. He saw crushed cars, a few mangled bodies. No living people. The countryside didn’t look like LA, it looked like the Rockies to him, but he had no idea how he got there. He checked. Mostly Montana license plates. Okay, that explained the mountains.
Maybe there was a nuclear war. Maybe I’m right in the hot zone. Fear clutched at him, but there was nothing that could be done.
He came to a home, leveled into a pile of timbers and bricks. In what was once the driveway was a car, its roof partly caved in by a fallen tree. The license plate said Idaho.
With great effort, he managed to pull the tree off. The occupant was dead, neck broken by a branch that had gone right into the broken window. Other than the roof the car seemed undamaged. It wasn’t gory, really, a broken neck. He dragged the guy to the side of the house. “Sorry, guy, but I'm gonna take your car. Not like you need it anyway.” 
Some impulse— derangement caused by this accident? Was he insane? But the man smelled like food. His stomach rumbled with gnawing hunger. He felt his teeth grow. And he knew just what to do with them. He bit into the man’s neck, swallowing still-warm blood. Fresh blood. Not the bagged blood he was familiar with. Electric thrills ran down his limbs as he fed.
When he was done he wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his jumpsuit. He felt energized, alive. He knew he was stronger and faster. More alert.
What the hell? A vampire? But it’s daylight. Morning. Now he had an even better reason to get away from this area. Nobody liked vampires.
There was a suitcase in the car, and a cooler full of food. A cell phone, not that he knew anyone to call. He dressed in a pair of jeans and a blue t-shirt, baggy but workable, and removed the dead man's shoes, which were a little long, but okay.  He tossed the orange jumpsuit behind a shrub, but not before ripping off the number patch. Maybe he could use it for identity. He felt extremely full so ignored the snack foods and the drinks in the cooler.
A small locked box yielded cash and bank account information.
He searched the corpse and found the driver's license. “David Green, thirty years old. Pocatello, ID. Well, man, I'm gonna borrow your life for a while. Until I can remember who the hell I am.”
He went to the side view mirror and compared his face to the license. He was surprised to find that he was handsome, with sharp cheekbones, green eyes rimmed in grey with long dark lashes, and curly dark brown hair, clipped military short on the sides. A square jawline. The man in the driver's license had a shaved head, scruffy dark beard, a goofy half-smile on his face. Bad photo, blue eyes, brown hair. It worked well enough. He could say he’d been dieting and working out. As he’d changed clothes he’d been gratified to see he had six-pack abs and muscled thighs and arms. Being strong would probably help in this destroyed world.
Using a tree limb as a lever, he managed to get the dented car roof up so he could sit in the driver’s seat. Then he started it and was pleased to find that the engine was in good shape. That would mean it wasn’t an EMP, right? He was a bit fuzzy on man-made, world-ending disasters.

Excerpt from Cyborg Daddy

This story is set in the Diaspora Worlds and is one of two I am currently working on. It has the same setting as Cyborg Security, a short story, and will revisit those characters.



Excerpt
Tybu checked on Mama. She was asleep. He stood there, uncertain of what he should do.
Mama said he was supposed to walk to Starwoman School with Gershi. But Gershi didn’t live in Pod 14 anymore. They got a berth on a ship to the Coder Leesum Settlement. They had saved credits for three years to buy one berth.
But he should go to school. Starwoman Verleen would miss him. Her face was already droopy and sad, what if she got sadder?
Mama always said she just needed lots of rest. The Curprashun paid for their room and food ‘cause of the accident, so Mama could rest.
At least Mama wasn’t blasted. She looked pretty as always. Just sleepy.
Tybu slid his tabbie into the pocket inside his jacket and closed it so nobody bad could swipe it. He grabbed his squashy cup too, and put it in the other pocket. Maybe he could get Govi Nutrigruel instead of plain.
He slid out the door, walked quickly to the glidewalk and hopped on. He sat next to an old lady. Mama said old ladies were the safest. He didn’t know why, not like they could kickpunch a bad guy.
The path went by the green park where school was held on benches. He hopped off and ran into the area with benches, bushes and trees. The school place had lots of seats and a high place where the teacher stood. Her helpers always fixed the little kid’s tabbies so they could give answers on the lesson. You had to listen. Sometimes you circled the answer picture and sometimes you tap-tapped.
There were Big Boys. Sometimes big boys got rough and crazy. Tybu pushed into a leafy bush. He would just hide until Sister Verleen came.
He heard Suki chattering and looked for her. He liked her, she was funny and talked all the time, except when Sister Verleen told her to be quiet and listen.
 She was as tall as him, but his hair was like metal rust and hers gleamed like gold. She always wore a purple jacket.
Her dad was so scary. He was all blasted and his face was covered with a black mask he could see through with one eye. He was big and always dressed in black with a thick jacket. Maybe being blasted made him cold, like Mama was always cold and wrapped in the shiny blanket.
Suki skipped along holding his hand. Tybu bet her dad could kickpunch someone to the next landing. She was never scared ‘cause her dad was super scary.
Tybu realized he didn’t need to hide in the bushes. He could go sit with Suki and her dad. Her dad always sat behind the students and watched Suki at her lessons. So he could kickpunch any bad guys.
“Suki!” He shouted, leaping out from the bush. Suki laughed at him.
“Oh, Tybu, you is funny.”
“I big scawy kickpuncher. Heeyaw!” He did an air kickpunch, pleased with how high he kicked.
“Me, too! Grrr!” Suki kickpunched the air too.
“All right you two, go sit in the front row, Sister is here.” Suki’s dad’s voice was low and scratchy. Scary!
“Her name is Sister Verleen, Daddy. She is really, really old!”
The two children went to the front row and sat, little legs swinging.



Thursday, August 22, 2019

TWO Diaspora Worlds Stories!

Photo by Lucas Ettore Chiereguini from Pexels

I'm a writer who works on more than one book at a time. When one gets close to finished, then I plan a publishing date and concentrate on it. 

I wasn't happy about my original Dooley/Cyborg 2LN77 rough draft. It started as an ensemble cast, with the idea of making a new series within the Diaspora Worlds. But the other characters didn't spark, and writing a four-book series about those characters just wasn't working for me. So I decided to focus the story on Dooley and Elen. There are a handful of other characters (not all humans) but the main focus is narrowed to the romance. Will they spark other books? I think so. 

Diaspora Worlds is a series modeled after contemporary romance series I read in years gone by.  I would read Harlequin romance series based on family members, or a ranch, or a small town. While there is a background of a war in DW, that is not the focus of my books, though it affects all the characters.

Dooley's Cyborg Bride is a much healthier story now, and I love the secondary characters (I didn't love the cyborg ensemble), which includes nanokits Missy, Prissy and Hiss. Cyborg kitten-sized, somewhat sentient cats who remove harmful nanobits from space ship's systems. Also, a hot silver fox grandpa of questionable morals and his two small grandchildren hitch a ride.

Another Diaspora Worlds Story in the works! Cyborg Daddy is in the same setting as Cyborg Security, my DW short story. It starts out on a lawless space station. My cyborg, Braiden, has Zhe Cle' ancestry and is from one of the reservation worlds. Cyborgs with that ancestry do not respond as well to the cyborg mind control drugs, so he is able to escape. He also pays the mother of his child to send her to him, since his ex is an Ebullient addict and finds motherhood an unwanted burden. He disguises himself in facial covers, pretending to be a plasma fuel blast survivor--complete with a floating wheelchair. In reality, he is very able-bodied and does a number of illegal activities to gain enough credit to get him and his daughter to a planet. He rescues a small child and finds the child's mother is an actual plasma blast survivor, and not doing well at all.

Both stories are coming along and I plan to have one of them published by January. I may move them both up and publish Space Sisters later(so glad I didn't set up the preorder.) Space Sisters--I had some light bulb moments with the series, which will require some revision. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Snippet from a new Diaspora Worlds Romance

Here is a snippet for the next Diaspora Worlds Book 7, Dooley's Cyborg Bride. This story, the romance of Dooley and Cyborg 2LN77, has gone through a huge revision!

An airlock. She entered the lock, one of the fluid expandable types that worked with many ships or transit doors. It seemed to function, despite the ruin of the front of the building. She watched the environmental data change, and then she was auto-squeezed through an expandable door, like walking through a rubber bubble.  She burst out into a room to high pitched screams.
And barking. Two small children and a fuzzy dog were crammed under a table.
“Are you bad?” A tiny voice asked.
2LN77 took off her helmet. She thought for a moment. If she still followed her cyborg orders, she might well have killed these small beings. She took a deep breath.“I am not bad. I am sentient,” she said. “I will not harm you. I hope I can get us all to safety. Are there any others alive?” She used the Galactic Standard Language.
“Non,” said the older child with long, soft, golden-brown hair. “I have called but no one answers. Why is your hair all metal?”
“I can use my head appliances to get data from many different computer systems. They are also useful on a ship or other operation. My designation is 2LN77.”
“I’m Hailey. My baby brother is Hadron.”   To 2LN77 the infant appeared very small. Was it newly born? The little girl was in a white outfit with a pink belt and what looked like a toy bag. Hailey lifted up the dog, that didn't look quite like a dog. It had odd scaled feet. “Mako.”
“You are very small, where is your overseer?”
“Owersee?” The child screwed up her little face in confusion.
“Adult. Parent.”
“They putted us in here and said Grandpap would come.”
“Let me look around and check our situation.”
“All right. What is your name again?”
“2LN77.”
“Elen,” the little girl repeated.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Diaspora Worlds and Writing Update

 I had another fun year at the annual Fort Collins Comic Con with the charming and talented author Carol Van Natta. We did a panel on our genre SFR and publishing in general. Met some lovely people!



My three grown daughters came with, which is always fun. They help me with so much stuff! We ate dinner at the Austin Grill with local authors and fans.

After talking to  Carol about my new series, which has an overarching plot, I decided the stopping place of the first book for sure. The entire arc can't be finished in one book, even with the super Starship: The Dauntless Lady.

Also, why didn't I write it more steampunk? Victorian-like socialites take over an ancient starship and refuse to hand it over to the patriarchy? Thinking about this, a lot.

That book release will now be in November-- I had forgotten I planned a trip to visit family in Montana in October.

Diaspora Worlds Series: Book Seven. 

Currently, it is titled Dooley's Cyborg Bride.
Dooley was a secondary character in Alien Blood, Book 2, who had a moment with cyborg 2LN77, who seemed to be aware and sentient for a short time. He was determined to take her away with him, but in the chaos, she left with a group of cyborgs.

2LN77 survives an attack on a mining asteroid. Without her cyborg maintenance drugs, she wakes up and gets into a safe room in the mining plant. There she finds a small girl, her baby brother and an odd dog. 

She is able to broadcast for assistance. Dooley, now a salvager with a sweet small ship, is collecting weapons from this cyborg field of carnage. He recognizes the cyborg 2LN77 designation.

Planning  January-February 2020 release.

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