Linda Maye Adams

The Writings of Linda Maye Adams


I fell in love with fiction long before I started writing.

My mother and I would make a weekly trip to the Sun Valley Library and come back with stacks of books.  I always had Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden books, because I liked the idea of solving mysteries, but I ventured into Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov with the discovery of Star Trek.

Fiction Writing

I started writing fiction when I was eight years old, inspired by a friend who was writing a school play.  My stories were wanted I wanted to see in books: people like me–girls–having adventures.  That’s in my stories today: women having adventures.

Fighting monsters.

Meeting aliens.

Maybe even solving a mystery.

Private First Class Linda Maye Adams, U.S. Army

And I’ve had adventures of my own.  I enlisted in the Army and ended up going to war.  Story adventures are much more fun!

I just follow the front of the story like an explorer and see where it takes me.

 

Contact me at LindaAdams900 AT outlook dot com.

 

 

Writing in Public: Story #4 (Novella), Chapter 2


Cover for 49er PlanetCHAPTER 2

Hope did not expect to have an escort to Colonel Graul’s executive conference room. Marotta came along with her, walking faster than Hope’s much shorter legs. She felt like one of those toy dogs trying to keep up with a human. But then Marotta stopped at the K-tube, which Hope had never ridden on. Kangjun was so big that it had a train that circled the entire ship. Hope had wondered about it, but she was a civilian, so she thought she wasn’t supposed to use it.

The tube was crowded and stuffy with crew on their way to their shifts. Space moisturizer, aftershave, and perfume all mingled with Hope’s nose, making it itch.

Marotta tapped the wall for the computer panel. “Executive conference room.”
Evidently it wasn’t on the normal stops.

The alarm sounded, and the doors slid closed. The train began to move. Hope lurched, falling against Marotta. The chief gave her an expression of utter disdain. Hope would have grabbed a handhold, but she was too short to reach them. No one had made these Hope-sized. She reached behind her, trying to grab a vertical pole and got someone’s arm.

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

The train at last slowed, and the computer announced, “Executive conference room.”

Marotta shot out of the train and Hope had to run to keep up. She was still trying to figure out what was so important when the two women entered the room.

The executive conference room was Graul’s domain, a luxurious suite where he was skipper, negotiator, and bad guy all rolled into one. Hope was getting used to it, slowly, but it always reminded her of a five star hotel: Plush royal blue carpets, big picture windows showing the space outside, and even a suit of armor standing at attention. Graul was seated at the coffee table near the picture windows. His CTU had changed color to match the blue sofa.

Graul was in his late forties, with hair going to gray. Not as tall as Brooks, but lithe and broad-shouldered. He had the whole officer thing going on, keeping his face as neutral as possible so no one could read what he was thinking. He was also the first Army skipper in all of GALCOM, and a lot of people weren’t happy with that. Hope had heard a lot of nattering about it while Kangjun had been had the repair facility for two months to fix damage to the hull. Graul called the natterers minions.

“Sir,” Marotta said.

Graul’s eyes flicked to Hope, lingering on the ugly looking bruise on her arm. She had another one on the back of her leg and more under the tank top. “That from the heavy gravity training, Ms. Delgado?”

Now Hope wished she’d worn something that covered more up.

“I’m having trouble keeping my balance, sir,” she said, feeling like it was a lame excuse.

But the smile he gave her was sympathetic. “I’m sorry about that. We normally have sixty days at least for training. We had the bad luck to be only ten days away. I asked Admiral Terzian if we could delay thirty days, but he turned me down. You’ve gotten stuck with the crash course. Chief, make sure she gets those bruises tended to before she goes dirtside.”

“Yes, sir,” Marotta said.

Graul tapped the table top for access to the bridge. “Any luck with communications to the planet?”

“Patching it through now, Skipper,” answered a voice that Hope recognized as Graul’s executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Jian. “Connection’s bad. We’re still having problems with the geomagnetic storm.”

The image sprang up over the coffee table. Hope and Marotta sat down across from Graul to get a better look at it. The image was hard to see. Normally the images were clear, three-dimensional, like a ghost, but with real people. But this one crackled and lines split through it like broken glass. Spots appeared and disappeared. In the background, it looked like the sun had set.

A man slid into the seat. It looked like he’d forgotten to shave that morning because his cheeks were covered with gray stubble. He was probably in his sixties and hadn’t bothered with getting his eyes fixed. He had a pair of gold-rimmed glasses on and adjusted them, squinting at the image.

“Yes?” he said.

Graul frowned, thrown off by the man’s appearance. He must have been expecting military personnel. “This is Colonel Graul from the S.C. Kangjun. Admiral Terzian said you needed assistance with a…problem.”

Marotta took a corner of the table top to access the computer, her fingers doing a dance across the screen.

“Oh that.” The man pushed up at his glasses again and leaned closer.

“Dr Zuver,” Marotta murmured.

Graul nodded his thanks. “Dr. Zuver, can we talk to the Alien Affairs people?”

“Not here. Call later.” Zuver reached forward, and the image vanished.

Graul blinked and sat back, outrage and disbelief rising in his voice. “We’ve been trying to reach them for seven days.”

“Who’s Dr. Zuver?” Hope asked. “He a medical doctor?”

“No. He—” Marotta squinted at the computer screen, then shook her head. “Can’t pronounce that. He studies meteors.”

“From what little I got from Admiral Terzian,” Graul said, “there’s a haunted meteorite.”

It was Hope’s turn to blink and think about that. An image popped into her head of a ghost riding a flaming meteor like a bucking bronco. Did meteors have saddles?

She couldn’t help it: she was smiling. “Sorry, sir. I think I’ve been working out in heavy gravity too much. I’m gravity-crazy.”

Graul shook his head before she finished speaking. “I thought it sounded about as crazy as you did. The request originated from Alien Affairs. They don’t call anyone else in unless they really need assistance.”

Hope struggled to hide a smile. “Who’s handling it from Alien Affairs?”

That was enough to earn her a strange look from Marotta, because it wasn’t a question anyone would normally expect. Hope wouldn’t be familiar with with any of the Alien Affairs people, except for one. Which was why Graul looked like he’d swallowed a bug.

His wife, Melanie “Mel” Hagen, worked for the GALCOM’s Department of Alien Affairs. Hope had met her while Kangjun was docked at the repair facility. For whatever reason Graul was none too happy that Hope knew about Mel.

“Neil Haverstad,” Graul said, a little too promptly. Yup, he had looked it up.

Marotta looked from Graul to Hope. “So you two want to tell me what’s going on?”

Graul and Hope spoke at the same time. She said “No.” He said, “There’s nothing going on.”

Yes, it was just such a good idea to make everyone curious.

The Importance of Writing Every Day


Writers get admonished all the time about writing every day, like if they don’t do something, it’s a terrible sin.

But the reason for it is simple: It has to be done every day so the habit will stick.

If there’s no habit, it’s easy to drop off it when life gets in the way.

And then months, or even years pass.

And it is hard to do starting out. It can take years to build the habit.

When I worked with a cowriter, it took 2-3 years to write one book. We primarily wrote on the weekends, probably produced a thousand words, finished, then revised the book. We started submitting to an agent, and I told cowriter that we needed to learn how to write a book faster. If we got a contract, we were probably going to get a year deadline.

He poo-pooed it, saying everything was negotiable. I was horrified. I envisioned myself struggling at the last minute to produce a book while he didn’t participated. It hit me that writing wasn’t even on his priority list.

But it needed to be on mine. We parted company, and I tried to write every day.

It didn’t always happen, but I was able to do it most days of the week. Some days I didn’t produce much. Some days I produced a lot. And there were days where I just needed to do something else. It wasn’t perfect, which was okay.

At the end of February, I broke my foot. It was a clean break and didn’t need any surgery (yay!). It was my right foot, so I couldn’t drive. I did medical telework for 10 weeks.

My foot in the boot

I could not believe how tired I was! The first week it was all I could do to get through the day just for work. Writing? Not happening.

I finished work, and then I went to sleep for two hours (in hindsight, I should have done half-days for the first few weeks, but really, I’d never broken any bone before so I didn’t know what to expect).

But every day, I missed the habit of going to my computer and writing something. So when my foot came out of the boot for good, I allowed for about two weeks of being tired, and then I started writing again.

Writing in Public: Story 4 (Novella), Chapter 1


Cover for 49er PlanetCHAPTER 1

Deep inside the S.C. Kangjun’s belly, Hope Delgado glared at the weapons training room and thought about sticking voodoo pins into a certain skipper. Never mind that she needed this training. Never mind that there was a ghost on the world that they were heading to. Never mind that the ghost was misbehaving.

No, this thing the military called a confidence course was a ‘see-how-much-pain-we can-cause-Hope’ course.

The room was normally empty for weapons practice with computer generated targets. But for Hope, it had been converted into the confidence course because it was the only room on the entire ship that could adjust gravity to match the planet’s. The course was arranged in a U shape, with a giant tube she had to crawl through (bruises on her knees), the high wall which required her to jump (fall, more bruises) over two consecutive walls that were taller than she was, and the elevated balance run (more falling, more bruises). It was so early in the morning that first bells had just gone off to warn the crew of the next shift. The computer started its cycle, shifting the lighting gradually to daylight operations.

Hope pulled her gray-streaked hair back in a pony tail, wincing at the big bruise she’d gotten yesterday on her upper arm. She was GALCOM’s only ghost subject matter expert, recruited originally to deal with an alien ghost overpopulation that threatened a planet. Since then, GALCOM had found more ghostly missions for her, but she was still a civilian. She’d had no military training, other than learning how to fire weapons.

Ghosts weren’t dangerous, but the aliens hiding the ghosts were.

“Hope?” Sergeant Daniel Brooks turned away from the only computer wall panel in the room, giving her a sympathetic look. He was her escort on ghostie missions. He was a big guy with an impressive rack of muscles, dark skin, and hair permed so he could squeak a little longer past the military regulations. His primary job was training the crew on weapons in this room. He was dressed in an old t-shirt, sweat pants, and tennis shoes.

“You ready?” he said.

“No!”

“All things considered, you aren’t doing too bad.”

“Tell that to my bruises.” She’d worn shorts and a tank top, both revealing enough to show off all her bruises. She wanted everyone to know that heavy gravity training was dangerous for Hope-type people.

“But you’ve spent the last few months working out, especially on your arms. You’d be in a lot worse shape if you hadn’t done that.”

Hope grinned, chuffed. She was proud of the muscles that she was starting to get on her arms, and her legs were looking good. And Brooks was right. She’d started working out after she’d been chased up a hill by aliens and had been sore for ages after.

“Okay, go ahead,” she said, resigned to her fate.

A few minutes later, the computer’s neutral female voice said, “Gravity adjustment in progress. Gravity adjustment in progress.”

At first it was like walking uphill, just a bit more work to do everything, even breathe. Then, as the gravity continued to increase, it as if a lead blanket had been draped over her body. Her lower back and both knees and ankles began to ache.

Thankfully, Brooks did not time her on the course. He did that with the military he trained here, pushing them to get through it faster. She wasn’t the only one going through this training. There were two other sessions with additional crew who would be accompanied them.

She eyed the first obstacle, the elevated balance run. Brooks had set it to about a foot off the deck, and there were mats under it. She wasn’t sure what good the mats did, since there was still hard deck underneath. She lifted her right foot up, something that should be normal and without thought and it felt like her foot was encased in lead. Brooks gave her his shoulder, and she used it boost her other foot up. Bully for her. She’d gotten up on the stupid thing.

Balancing…well, that was another story. With the added weight of heavy gravity, her body felt out of alignment. She would think she knew where she was and then her body wasn’t where it was supposed to be. A collection of fresh bruises later, and she was only a third of the way through the course. Sweat ran slick down her skin and she was sure she was all stinky.

The light flashed blue over the door. Someone was trying to get in. They wouldn’t be able to enter until the gravity was adjusted back to the rest of the ship.

Brooks frowned at Hope. “Are you expecting anyone?”

“At this time? Really?” Hope bent over, letting her hair fall forward and cooling her sweaty neck.

“Computer, who wants to come in?”

“Chief Marotta,” the computer said. Marotta was chief of the spaceship and the most senior enlisted on Kangjun.

“We’d better take that, Hope,” Brooks said, though his face showed his puzzlement over the chief’s arrival. It was early and highly unusual for much business beyond physical exercise.

“I’m game for a break,” she said.

She sprawled spread eagled on the deck and closed her eyes. Yes, she could nap right here. The deck was deliciously cool, soaking into her sore muscles.

“You need to stretch,” Brooks said reproachfully.

“I will. Promise.”

The computer chimed, alerting her that gravity was changing again. It receded from her body gradually at first, almost not noticeable, and then it was like the weights of rocks were being lifted off her body one at a time.

“Gravity readjustment complete,” the computer said.

The door whooshed open, and Chief Marotta strode in, impatience driving her into short, purposeful steps. She was already dressed in the combat tech uniform everyone wore on duty, which changed camouflage color based on what the environment looked like. Marotta was tall and thin in a bony sort of way, as if God had forgotten to given her curves. Her hair was cropped short, and might be curly if it was longer, because there were little tufts that stuck out.

Marotta recoiled when she saw Hope. “Sergeant Brooks, you’ve done and gone killed Hope.”

Hope waved languidly. “Not a ghost yet. Maybe later.”

Marotta cut across the room to Hope and stood over, hands on hips. “Colonel Graul wants to see you. Immediately.”

Hope peered up at her, working at ignoring how Marotta was trying to intimidate her. “Isn’t it kind of early?”

“Not for the skipper.”

Hope sighed. She wasn’t even going to have time to change. Graul must have overheard her thinking about sticking pins into skipper-shaped voodoo dolls.

Adventures around the web July 15- 21, 2017


It’s been a hot week in DC.  As I write this, it’s 91 degrees at 5:45 AM.  And it’s supposed to be even hotter.   Even the pool water will be hot!

Rūta Grašytė on Bored Panda

Illustrator Reimagines Fast Food Mascots As Anime Characters And Now Everyone Wants To Read Their Manga

A little fun for Friday.  Colonel Sanders, Ronald McDonald, and Wendy’s all reimagined as anime.  I really liked the Colonel Sanders one.  The Hamburglar appears on page 2–not one that’s been seen in years–and he definitely looks more on the bad guy side.

Kristen Lamb

The Creative Benefits of Being Bored

There’s been a lot of online discussion lately about how people are always on.  The slightest hint of boredom and they head over to play a game or look at email.  Sometimes boredom is where the creativity comes into place and the leaps of intuition take place.  At least take a walk today and look at everything around you.  And keep the cell phone in the pocket.  Hopefully it isn’t too hot outside.

Domagoj Valjak on The Vintage News

Patrick Stewart, prepared to play Data in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was reluctant to audition for the captain

Gene Roddenberry originally wanted an actor more like William Shatner in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It’s amazing how much difference an actor casting makes to an entire series.

Nate Hoffelder on Valiant Chicken Digital

Four Things I Learned at WordCamp DC

WordCamp was a weekend conference on WordPress in DC, which I wish I’d known about–I might have gone.  But it lists a couple of interesting features about WordPress that are worth looking at.

Joanna Penn on Creative Penn

How To Write Fast, Publish Slowly And Focus On Your Author Marketing With Rachel Aaron

This is an interview with a writer who writes full time and takes on the myth of “writing fast means your story is crap.”

Writing in Public: Story 3, Final Scenes


Cover for Dark, From the Sea5
Grace knew the lighthouse was closer, but it looked still too far away, and the sea folk too close. The current was more choppy now and working against them. Samuel rowed for a while and then Alexander took over. Both refused to let Grace row.

She shifted her injured leg to a more comfortable position. The gash wasn’t deep and had stopped bleeding, but it stung.

“Here.” Samuel passed her a canteen of water.

She unscrewed the cap as she glanced behind the boat. The five sea folk followed, popping up above the surface periodically to check for the boat. Two of them were together. Maybe mates. The other three were spread out.

Grace stretched her back, easing the stiffness. They needed more hunters. They weren’t going to get any.

She gulped down the warm water, clearing her dry throat.

The sea folk stayed twenty feet away. Wary. They never got too close to the boat.

But they didn’t leave either.

“What are they waiting for?” Alexander asked. He’d taken off the fussy waistcoat and rolled up his shirt sleeves to above his elbow. Sweat gleamed off his skin as he dug the paddles into the water.

“For us to go ashore, I imagine,” Samuel said. “Be easier to catch us.”

“That’s right,” Grace murmured, suddenly glad that the men were with her. They were making her think beyond what she’d trained for. It had always been about the dive, because the only way to kill them was to catch them off guard, when they were sleeping.

That was probably what got the more experienced hunter killed.

And almost had gotten her killed.

Except the sea folk had been too eager. They’d come up to the surface thinking easy prey.

“They’re afraid of the boat,” Grace said.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Samuel said. “It wouldn’t take much for the five of them to swamp us. Why haven’t they capsized us?”

“Because they live underwater,” Grace said. “They don’t need boats. Probably don’t even understand what one is. Other than it holds us, anyway. Maybe we can use that.”

“What are you thinking, Grace?” Samuel asked.

“We have to kill them. They’re not going to let us off this boat alive. And I have to get close enough to them for the hunter magic to be any good.”

The idea was still swirling around in her head, refusing to come together.
Alexander: “Can the boat be a weapon?”

Yes, yes. Grace went to the stern of the boat to analyze where the sea folk were. There was always at least two on the surface, alternating disappearing under the surface.

But which one? What was going to give them an advantage?

The pair.

If she could get both of them at the same time. If they didn’t kill her.

If…if…if.

“Wait until the pair goes under,” she said. “Then aim at them. As fast as you can.”

Samuel got on one oar and Alexander on the other. They put all the muscles into rowing towards the sea folk pair. The boat began to pick up speed.

Grace counted to herself, doing her deep breathing prep. The hunter magic told her when to go. She slid over the port side of the boat, going under the surface.

The cold water made her body tighten up. The water was murky and hard to see. She could only see dark shapes up ahead.

She dove, going deep enough to be below the shapes.

With great, reaching strokes, she swam for them. The boat blocked the light above her, surging ahead of her.

The shapes scrambled to get out of the way.

Grace pushed it, stretching it out, eating up the distance.

All she need to do was touch them…

She caught a ankle from each. The hunter magic reached.

It began to take.

The sea folk struggled, in sheer panic. Their screams were muffled by the water.

One kicked at Grace, catching her in the ribs.

She lost her grip on one ankle.

No, no, no.

The creature was trying to swim away.

She planted her feet on the first one’s backside and pushed off.

Seized the nearest body part, the foot.

The first one’s struggles weakened.

The second thrashed violently, stirring up the water so she couldn’t see anything.

She could only trust the hunter magic. And pray.

Her breath screamed in her lungs. Black spots crowded in on her vision.
Then the two creatures were both floating, not moving.

Grace surged to the surface. As soon as her head cleared, she took deep breaths.

The boot was only a few feet away. Alexander was watching the other sea folk. Samuel was watching for her.

She gave a thumbs up and swam to the gunwale, looping her arm over it.

“Ready to try it again?” she said, panting.

“We’ll go for the one at eleven o’clock,” Samuel said.

Grace paused to picture where that was, then nodded.

She waited until the men started the boat moving again, then dove. She was shocked at how fast they were going. It plunged ahead of her. She swam after it, her body sure with the purpose of what she was doing.

Crash!

She heard the crash even underwater. The boat came to an abrupt halt. A black cloud exploded out.

Were the men okay?

She surfaced. Samuel and Alexander were both looking over the side. A dead create floated on the surface.

Before she had time to gloat, the remaining two attacked the boat. The grabbed the starboard side and tried to pull it under the water.

Samuel and Alexander lurched starboard, trying not to fall overboard. Alexander grabbed the nearest thing–one of the oars–and began hitting the creatures’ hands.

It wasn’t doing much good. Their grip was strong.

The boat rocked back and forth. If Grace didn’t do something now, the men were going to be thrown into the water and killed.

She took a deep breath and dove under the boat, going deep.

Swift strokes took her directly under the two creatures.

She kicked, propelling herself up, between them, hands, locked around their waists.

The hunter magic began to take.

The two creatures screamed and broke free. They couldn’t get away from her fast enough.

She stayed down long enough to make sure they weren’t coming after her again, then surfaced.

Samuel and Alexander were cheering and roaring.

Samuel slapped the gunwale. “We got them to turn tail and run!”

As Grace climbed back into the boat, she couldn’t help smiling. She’d thought she was not going to make it out alive. Instead, between the three of them, they’d killed four and run off two. Not bad. Not bad at all.

6

It was a week before Grace was able to go back out to the beach to swim. She’d dressed in her bathing attire for the walk down. The early morning sun set off sparkles on the surface of the water. She glanced up at the lighthouse. Samuel stood out in front, just keeping an eye on her.

She waved at him.

The hunter magic stirred, impatient. It had been keeping her up these last few nights, wanting to fulfill the last part of its duty. But she’d had to hold off until the gash on her leg had healed enough.

“Be patient,” she murmured to it.

The waves rolled in to greet her feet, bringing a butterfly shell in for inspection. The sand squished between her toes as she waded further out. The hunter magic drifted up, as if to say, Finally.

She smiled. It was time for the hunter magic to return what it had taken to the sea.

Writing in Public: Story 3, Scene 4


Cover for Dark, From the SeaDawn flared blood red across the horizon. The wind was cold blowing in off the sea when Grace and the two men started out in the rowboat, following along the coast line. The waves were choppy, making the little boat bounce and creak.

But it was the best time. The sea folk would be in the cave, sleeping, less alert.

Grace sat in the front, eyes on the water and trying not to think of the danger she was facing. She was dressed in her diving suit—a black sleeveless blouse and a loin cloth. She’d made it for herself, or she’d have to do the dives nude.

Behind her, Samuel manned the oars and Alexander had brought a pair of binoculars. Both men were silent, a grim cloud hovering over them. Samuel had brought a shotgun, too, down near his feet on the bottom boards.

“What’s the plan?” Alexander finally asked, his voice wavering. He was probably figuring out now how bad it was to volunteer.

Grace sometimes wished she hadn’t been volunteered for this. She’d been born a hunter and had no choice in the matter.

“I dive,” she said. “You pray.”

Her breath caught.

The hunter magic stirred inside her. She imagined it like a dragon, raising its great head. Looking around for prey.

“They’re here,” she said.

Samuel stopped rowing, going still. “Where?”

“Close,” she said. “They know we’re here.”

Silence fell over the little boat. The only sound was the water slopping against the sides.

Grace tried to follow the scent of the hunter magic. But all it knew was that the sea folk were near.

Then—

A hundred feet to the starboard side, a head popped up from under the water. It was gray like a sea gull and looked like it had been molded out of clay. A wide mouth sneered. Huge round eyes that didn’t seem real stared at them.

Water splashed behind Grace. The boat tipped precariously to port, knocking her back against the gunwale. The stink of decay nearly overwhelmed her.

The sea folk had grabbed the gunwale with clawed hands. Lord, it was strong!
“Take that!” Samuel yelled.

He swung his oar at the creature’s head. It contacted with a loud whap…and didn’t do a thing.

The creature opened its mouth, exposing two rows of sharp teeth and additional teeth on its tongue.

Grace launched over the side, plunging into the water. Cold instantly hit her body, snatching her breath.

But she’d done this before.

She kicked off the boat with her feet. Got behind the creature.

Her hunter magic snarled. And reached.

Began drinking in the life force of the sea folk.

The creature jolted up and screamed.

It released the boat and tried to dive.

“Oh, no, you don’t!”

Grace locked her arms around it from behind.

She took a breath right before the creature went under the water. It thrashed, trying to throw her off.

Clawed hands reached blindly behind.

But the hunter magic was cold and impersonal. It didn’t care. It just drank it all.

The creature’s struggles became weaker and weaker.

Stopped.

The hunter magic withdrew.

And flared immediately.

Pain scored down her leg. Dark blood clouded the water.

Another one had come up behind her.

No time to react…

Hands reached down from above and grabbed her arms. Pulled up and out of the water.

She fell into the boat, chest heaving. The air chilled her skin. She had a long gash up her thigh from the sea folk’s claws.

“Move it!” yelled Alexander. “They’re coming!”

Grace scrabbled to the starboard side.

Five heads. All eyeing the boat like it was a meal.

The oars splashed into water. Samuel put muscle into rowing. The tiny boat began to move.

And it wasn’t fast enough.

The shotgun blasted. Grace screamed and ducked her head.

When she looked up again, Alexander was lowering the shotgun. The sea folk scattered, diving under the water.

“That got us some time,” she said. “We have to get to safety.”

If there was any safety.

Writing in Public: Story 3, Scene 3


Cover for Dark, From the Sea

3

Grace had to go outside to be by herself. She didn’t want the two men to see the fear that gripped her. They would think less of her, and she was supposed to be the expert.

But the sunlight did little to warm her up. The cold that had seeped under her skin had gone into bones, burrowing deep.

The door banged and heavy feet thumped down the steps.

“You okay?” Samuel.

Grace stared at her bare feet. “It’s a nest. There were at least three of them. I’ve never gone after that many without help.”

She didn’t say it aloud, but the other hunter had been a lot more experience. She only had seven kills; he’d had more than twenty. How was she supposed to take on this nest when he hadn’t been able to? The sea folk were fast and dangerous on land, and even faster under the water, in their element.

“Do we have any other choices besides killing them?” That was Alexander, standing in the doorway. “Can we drive them away?”

Grace almost snapped at him, but Samuel squeezed her shoulder gently. It wouldn’t do to get angry, not right before she was going to dive. How could the Lighthouse Council, managing all the lighthouses for that last one hundred years, not understand anything about the hunters or the sea folk? It had to be the reason why the lighthouses were slowly being closed down.

“No,” she said when she trusted herself not to get mad. “These have fed on humans. Once they do that, they’re going to continue killing. And they’ll get more aggressive, more bold. There was a nest ten years back that went into a town. Everyone dead.”

“What about if we kill them when they came ashore?” Alexander asked. “I could get you men and rifles.”

This time she couldn’t help it: Her anger flared out at him. “And they would all die.”

“They’re God-awful fast,” Samuel said. “I wouldn’t want to face one, even armed with a rifle. I don’t think I could shoot fast enough.”

From the way Alexander was looking at Grace, she wondered how much he really did know about hunters. There were lots of stories, many of them made up. Most of the Lighthouse Council didn’t like dealing with the messiness. They used to be better, years ago, when the attacks were more frequent. But politics had intervened, and men with different agendas had signed on. Those men thought the lighthouses were too expensive to maintain, and the hunters a story perpetuated by scam artists. Where did Alexander fit?

“I dive down to the caves during the day, while they’re sleeping,” Grace said. “If I’m lucky, I can catch them off guard.”

“You think you know where they are?” Samuel asked.

“There’s cave near where I found the footprints.”

Samuel gave her a smile. “You got me. I’ll go out on the boat with you.”

“And me,” said Alexander.

“Why?” she asked, her voice going stony.

Alexander came down the steps like he was thinking about each step before he took it.

“The last person was killed while I was there. I wasn’t far away. I heard him…it was a horrible sound. I ran…and I was too late. It was someone I knew and he was alive and then he wasn’t. I don’t know if I can do any good, but I’d like to help.”

Maybe it would be enough. Grace wasn’t sure if anything would be enough.

Writing in Public: Story 3, Scene 2


Cover for Dark, From the Sea2

Grace came back to the lighthouse and the smell of brewing coffee, and breakfast. From that smell, Samuel had prepared hot soup, no doubt expecting her to have come back from swimming. The wagon was still parked out front, the metal jingling as the horses shifted around. One of the horses swung its tail to chase away a fly that was being annoying.

She stopped and stared at the wagon, wrapping her arms across her chest. Lighthouse Council or not, this couldn’t wait.

Samuel Freeman would be in the light keeper’s cottage behind the lighthouse. The cottage was a simple one story building with a porch stretching across the front and the left side. The white paint was peeling on the face side to the sea winds. She’d always found the cottage a little primitive for such an important—and dangerous role.

She was halfway up the wooden steps when she realized she’d left her shoes out by the lighthouse door. She debated running back for the shoes, which would take time to put on, or letting the visitor be scandalized. She looked down at her feet and wondered what was wrong with them. Most everyone had a pair.

Thinking of her feet reminded her of those footprints. Before she thought about it, she opened the door and went inside. The wind pulled the door shut behind her with a bang.
Samuel and the man in the waistcoat were seated around the eating table with tin cups of coffee. Two pots on the wood stove against the wall simmered, probably the coffee and the soup.

She recognized the visitor as Alexander Tidwell, from the Lighthouse Council. He was blond, with his hairline receding back like the tide. He had a big bushy beard that looked like he’d taken one of the scrubby chaparral plants on the hills and plopped it on his face. The waistcoat looked new, and expensive.

Both stood up at Grace’s entrance, their chairs scraping the floor. Their faces were grim.

“Grace, I’m glad you’re back,” Samuel said.

Seeing him eased the swirling currents in her belly. Samuel always looked like he had just gotten out of bed. His gray hair was tousled, with a cowlick that vexed him with its persistence. He was dressed in a white homespun shirt, collar half folded under, and suspenders holding up black trousers. He’d missed a spot on his cheek when he’d shaved this morning.

“Grace,” he said. “How was your swim? Mr. Tidwell came from a council meeting with news for us.”

“What’s going on?” Grace asked.

She clasped her hands behind her back to hide the shaking. The Lighthouse Council didn’t come here unless they were making changes.

“It’s okay,” Samuel said. “Sit down. I’ll get you some soup.”

That, she trusted. But Alexander’s presence and that he wanted to talk to her was worrisome.

Samuel poured her a bowl of soup and a tin mug of coffee. The smell won over her nerves and she dug into the soup. It had chunks of potatoes, carrots, onions, and the last bits of venison. He gave her shoulder a light squeeze and sat down.

“I’ve been talking with some of the other council members from down south,” Alexander said. “They’ve…found bodies. On the beaches.”

A cold chill brushed Grace’s shoulders. “How did they die?”

A shrug. “Don’t know. But the head and stomach were gone.”

“Definitely sea folk,” Samuel said.

“Can you show me where?” Grace asked.

There was a map on the wall of the entire shoreline. Alexander whistled when he saw it. Maps had to be made by hand and took a lot of time, so they were quite expensive. This one not only showed where all the towns and ports were, but underwater caves and deep water.

“How did you get this?” he asked.

“We made it,” Samuel said. “I used to make maps for my officers when I was in war.”

They’d gone out in the boat every day. Samuel had sighted off the shore, and then Grace had dove to see what was below. It had taken many months of painstaking work to finish. But she’d wanted to know where every rock and cave was. It was as rugged under the waves as it was on the beaches.

“There’s been five that we know of,” Alexander said. With his pinkie finger, he pointed, being careful not to touch the map itself.

“Is that in the order the deaths happened?” Samuel asked.

“I believe so.”

Samuel shot a glance at Grace. “The sea folk are moving toward us.”

“No,” Grace said with a weary sigh. “They’re already here. I found tracks this morning. Why didn’t the other hunter stop them? There’s a lighthouse down near the first killing.”

“That,” Alexander said, “was the first body.”

Writing in Public: Story #3, Scene 1


Cover for Dark, From the Sea

1

The rumble and bang of a wagon made Grace Carrington glance up at the lighthouse. She was on the beach below the rugged cliff the lighthouse stood sentry on, stark against the morning sky. A wagon pulled by four horses stopped at the base. A tall man in a black waistcoat and stovepipe hat dismounted stiffly like he was filled with sticks. From the Lighthouse Board.

No swimming today.

It was hard enough managing even in the isolation out here. The world kept pressing in on places like this lighthouse, like it was trying to push the old out. Soon there wouldn’t be any place for her either. A hunter had stayed with each generation of light keepers for over two hundred years. It wasn’t the first time she thought she might be the last.

She didn’t look like a hunter. She wasn’t very big or tough, but the daily swims in the ocean had made her arms and legs strong. She wore a plain cotton dress, in violet with broad white stripes. A wooden hairpin held her fine, coffee-colored hair in a bun at the nape of her neck, but the wind always knocked strands loose around her face. Her feet were bare, because she always wanted to connect with the sea. The shoes were back near the lighthouse.

She decided she would continue walking and give the man time to leave.

She went around a clump of seaweed reeking of decay. A small crab picked its way through the tangles, searching for food. Up ahead, the beach broke up into rocks that jutted out of sand, black and sharp.

She waded close to one that was partially submerged in the tide. The waves, almost as if recognizing a kindred soul, rushed in around her feet with a swirl of froth and sand.

Sea life liked these rocks. The tongue lashers in their volcano-shaped shells reached for the water, and a many-armed flower was clogged with sand in a hollow. The waves played with a cone shell near her feet. She knelt to pick it up.

The scent of magic rose, carried by the wind.

Her mouth ran dry. She recognized the scent.

An echo or a trail left behind?

The sea washed up everything, sometimes from many miles away. She always found bits of glass smoothed out by the waves, barrels or crates that had fallen off ships, and even fishing nets carried away by the currents.

That’s what Grace tried to tell herself. The seafolk were more discreet than that. They had to be. To come ashore within spitting distance of a hunter was plain stupid.

Then she spotted the footprints.

Not human.

Adventures around the web July 9-14, 2017


A lot of good links this week.

Brett & Kate McKay from The Art of Manliness

The History of Obstacle Courses for Military Fitness, Sport, and All-Around Toughness

I’m using a military obstacle course for my third GALCOM Universe book, Cursed Planet. What better way to train for heavy gravity? While hunting down resources online for it, I ran across this nifty link about the history. Lots of historic photos.

John Allsopp from A List Apart

A Dao of Web Design

This is a fascinating look at how web design evolved, which starts by using the example of how TV evolved from radio.  The eBook industry is still very early in its own development (only about 10 years–can you believe that?), so it provokes the question about how ebooks might evolve in the future.

Piper Bayard and Jay Homes on Bayard & Holmes

Analyzing News: Considering the Source

With all the inaccurate news getting into major newspapers, it’s hard to navigate through what’s true and what isn’t.  This gives some guidelines for figuring out what’s fact and what might not be.  The guidelines are pretty sensible and allow you to make the decisions.

C. Hope Clark on Funds For Writers

What Attracts Readers to Books?

This was a survey of about 5,000 people on Facebook, and the results are pretty interesting.  Most readers pick a book based on genre.  Which makes sense.  If you walk into a bookstore or a library, you have to go to the right shelf to find the books you want to read and those are categorized as genre.

Margie Lawson

Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More

The lecture description doesn’t do this justice, I think because she’s focusing more on the EDITS system.  This lecture covers writing in depth–five senses, character opinions.  Best coverage I’ve seen of rhetorical devices and how to use them in novels.  And one hidden benefit…it covers an aspect of pacing  (backloading).  Loads of examples from best selling writers.

My version was from 2011, so there may be changes.  It came in a zip file with Word document.  Formatting made it hard to read.

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