Star Trek and the Marine Corps

Orange kitten perched on a tree branch, green in the background
We’re not as green as the background yet. The flowering trees are just blooming and the maples are letting loose…soon. Now if it would stop snowing!

I’m in the process of using cycling writing throughout my nearly finished book, Cursed Planet.  In the past, it’s been a pretty routine thing.  Clean up typos and sentences that I thought made sense that now have me scratching my head trying to figure out what I was trying to do.  Or removing what I call stubs–something that my creative side brought into the story and then, like a cat, got bored with it and abandoned it.

But there was an interesting article on Star Trek and how the new Marines Corps Commandant is a fan.

It’s a long ways from what it was when I was growing up, but a good, evolving change.

When I was growing up, fandom was just starting snowball.  Star Trek was in reruns on KTLA (first Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea at 4:00 and Star Trek at 5:00).

We had a gym uniform for PT in school, white shirt, blue shorts.  Some of the other students wrote on the back of their shirts their favorite sports teams.  I did Star Trek.  No one made fun of the sports team, but they did of me.  There was one boy who openly sneered and said Little Rascals was so much better than Star Trek. (Little Rascals was also running on KTLA at the time.  I’d watched it, but I never thought it was particularly good.  I think it was more of a nostalgia thing for the adults who had grown up watching it).

Even my guitar teacher got in on it.  Since this was L.A., it wasn’t hard to run into people who worked in the film industry. Her son had worked on the set of the show.  Did she tell me how they filmed the show?  Did she tell me what it was like for him to work with the various stars?   Did she gossip about the stars?

No!  She told me the sets were fake.

Of course I knew they were fake.  Phhtt!

But it was like all this space stuff was just toooooo fake and really I shouldn’t bother.

Star Trek cons were just starting to really get popular then, too.  I attended several of the ones called Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Conventions (I believe these are what is now Comic-Con, but don’t hold me to that).  I remember walking to the hotel where my first con was held, and there was this man costumed as a a Klingon.  Just…wow!


And reporters would show up at these cons, too, evidently told by their editors to get a story to fill an empty space in the newspapers.  The disdain the reporters had for the cons was pretty evident.  They would look at all the average people standing in line, and home in on either the little boy costumed as Spock or the craziest looking adult fan,  dressed sloppily, and festooned with buttons.

Then the picture would appear in the newspaper, identifying us as Trekkies with the implication that Star Trek was for children or crazy people.

Now it’s gotten a lot of respectability over the last fifty years since it premiered.   Now a Marine senior leader is a fan.

How cool is that?

And for your viewing pleasure, a mashup of MacGyver and Star Trek The Next Generation.

Mystery Blogger Award

Thank you for the nomination from my my regular reader Pearl R. Meaker.  I’ll have the rules for this below, after the questions.

Three things about me…okay, I got five.

1)      Does your blog have a theme? If yes, why did you choose that theme?

The theme is me.  The hardest thing for fiction writers is figuring out something that works.  A lot of writers land in “How to write” craft posts, and often pass along bad advice (and I’ve been guilty of that myself).  Most blogging advice says to blog as an expert, and fiction writers were directed to blog about the topic they had researched for their book.  It’s silly advice to me, because it doesn’t get you the right kind of audience.  I did a book set an alternate world that was Hawaii called Rogue God, but if I blogged about Hawaii, I’d have attracted people wanting to go to Hawaii, not readers.

2)     Where is your favorite place to go for a vacation – or where you would like to go if you could go there.

My favorite place is the beach.  I’m from Southern California, so I grew up seeing beaches pretty regularly.  We used to drive north to Morro Bay, which is in central California.  It has some beautiful–but cold!–beaches at the base of Morro Rock.  There was a cool beach called Montana Del Oro that I really liked.  It had all these rocky black cliffs–and a cave!  Never could go into it, since it was facing out into the water, but I imagined exploring it.

3)     Has your favorite subject in school stayed a part of your life? (As in, if it was art do you still do art things? Music – are still playing or singing?)

-I didn’t really have a favorite subject in school.  I liked creative writing, but the schools only had two classes. I got into one, but the other one I was turned down for–likely because I wasn’t a good student.  I’m a visual spatial learner, which means I learn better by pictures.  Audio learning and nitpicking about details, which was how schools taught then, are the poorest ways for me to learn.

4)     When was the last time you played a board game or a card game using real cards? (FUN QUESTION)

The game was gin, and it was about ten years ago.  That was when I was still writing with a co-writer, and he introduced me to the game.  I was pretty horrible at it.  Takes a while for me to process how to play and figure out strategies.

5)      Do you read to relax? If you do, do you have a genre that is your go-to relaxation genre?

I read all the time.  Someone on a productivity board asked if reading two books a week was too aggressive.  I’d done five…no six.  Hmm.  I bounce around genres a lot.  I just read Tamara Pierce’s new book that just came out (about time!), which was a YA Fantasy, but I was also in progress of reading Dean Wesley Smith’s Thunder Mountain book bundle and there’s a really interesting book called The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy.  Always something new to read…

Guidance for the Mystery Award

The creator of this award: Okoto Enigma has this to say: “I created the award because there are a lot of amazing blogs out there that haven’t been discovered, yet.”

The Rules:

  • Put the award logo/ image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best posts

And questions for the next group:

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
  2. What’s the best way to market your books?
  3. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
  4. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
  5. The weird question: Do you believe in sea monsters?

Bloggers nominated:




Remembering Warriors Available

Remembering Warriors

Read more about it here!

Calling Time Out on Writing in Public

I’m calling time out on my story Broken Notes, because things have been so chaotic it’s been hard to keep up.  Mainly, it’s because of my job, which probably should be done by 2-3 people, and hit the point right before Thanksgiving where I hit mission failure.  The Army soldier in me, where it’s “accomplish the mission,” hated doing the fact I couldn’t do the mission.  But I told people that I couldn’t make the deadlines any more.

After I saw this post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch on indie writers and scheduling, I realized also that I wasn’t being realistic about my time.  If I wasn’t working, I was trying to write something.  What I wasn’t doing was taking a day off–a real day off–each week.

So I’m having to step back and figure out how to rebalance everything to keep from burning out.  I’ll still work on the story, but offline, where I can do it.

“Remembering Warriors” Rabbit Bundle

Remembering Warriors coverMy book, Soldier, Storyteller will be released in the Remembering Warriors on January 1.

One hundred years ago, in 1918, the Great War ended after four terrible years. Never had the world seen such a conflict. All touched by its scythe hoped we would never be thusly reaped again. Their hopes were but desperate dreams. Since that first armistice, there have been many more battles, and thousands have given their lives or their health to preserve freedom and escape from tyranny.

A hundred years after the first armistice we still remember and honour those brave souls. But still the soldiers fall, for the War to End all Wars did not.

10% of the royalties from the Remembering Warriors bundle will go to the Royal British Legion plus another 10% to Help for Heroes, two charities that support wounded and ex-service personnel and their families, in commemoration of the World War I centenary.

Check out all the books in the bundle:

Writing in Public, Story 6, Scene 23


Charles almost refused to come over to Randy’s house, especially after learning “one of those Chandlers” was there.

Randy, frustrated by the stupidity of the feud, blurted, “So you’d the whole town go to hell than deal with a Chandler?”

That had gotten him a stony silence for so long he wondered if his father had hung up.

Then: “Fine.”

Not happy.  But coming.

Randy hung up his iPhone and tossed it on the coffee table.  Nikki started at the sound and glanced up at him with wooden eyes.  She hadn’t moved from the sofa once.  Molly hadn’t moved from her lap either.

“What does he have against Chandlers?” Nikki asked.

Randy sprawled out in the armchair, slouching down.  Maybe he should have paid more attention to the masonry work of his family.  But he’d wanted to stay out of all the petty bickering.

“I have no idea,” he said at last.  “It was like what happened with your family when they just stopped coming to the house.  One day, we were friends with the Chandlers, and then we weren’t.”

“They never tell us anything.”  Nikki managed a smile that brightened up her face.

Randy laughed.  It felt good, releasing some of the bleak tension.  He fished out a dog treat from his secret stash in his jeans back pocket and extended it out to Molly.  She poked at it with her nose, then took it delicately, crunching it down.

He rested his elbow on the arm of the chair, propping his chin his hand.  “Tell me what you do remember about that last summer.  Maybe there’s something kind of connection.”

“I don’t know.  It was so long ago.”

“C’mon.” Randy gave her grin.  “Let’s start with something easy.  What did you always do here?”

Nikki lifted Molly up and set her on the sofa, then stood.  Molly turned in a circle three times and curled up in the warm spot were Nikki had sat.

Randy watched Nikki pace.  Actually he watched the way her hips moved.  The jeans fit her very nicely, though that cat shirt—

Mind back on topic, mind back on topic.

“There was a playground we always went to.”  Her voice warmed with the memory.  “It had a giant rocket ship.  I used to climb all the way to the top and pretend I was going into space.”

Randy knew what she was talking about.  It had been in the days when playgrounds were just a little bit dangerous.  Now everything was all plastic and too safe.  Didn’t prepare you for anything.

“You do the slide?” he asked.

“In shorts.”

He laughed.  “You live for danger, lady.”

He knew well how hot that metal slide got with the summer sun beating down on it.

“I’d come off the end of it and tumble into the sand,” Nikki said.  “Get it all over my knees and on my palms.”

She stopped pacing and stared out the window that overlooked the yard.

“There was someone there that day, watching us,” she said.

Randy stilled.  He wanted to dash out questions, fix this problem.  And he knew it would be a bad idea.  Memories could be fleeting.

“Did you know him?” he finally said.

“No.  But my mother did.  He was an older man. I remember him because I thought I was seeing Santa Claus in summer.  White hair, white beard, rosy cheeks.  He looked like a man who smiled all the time and enjoyed smiling.  He came over and talked to her.”

“Did you hear anything?”

Nikki turned away from the window, arms folded across her chest.  The cat eyes on the shirt watched Randy.

“No,” she said.  “My mother looked upset though.  Maybe angry. I wondered why she was mad at Santa Claus.  I was afraid I wasn’t going to get any presents.”

Who was Santa Claus?  Randy knew everyone in town, and there was no one that he could recall who fit that description.  He would have been still on the sidelines of the family masonry business; the Southworths had still been a powerful voice in the town’s politics.

Yes, he would have known who this man was if he’d been from around from him.

Could he have traveled from the portal?

Writing in Public, Story 6, Scene 22

Sorry for the delay on this.  I’ve been taking the Novel Structure workshop.  It’s a lot more work than the other workshops I’ve taken, and it’s a huge learning curve for me.  Might have another lesson with a lot of work this week, and then the next two weeks, I’ll have two workshops at the same time (Teams, then in February, Secondary Plots).  But a lot of good stuff that I really do need and am ready for.


Bit by bit, Nikki felt better the futher away from the portal they got.  The air seemed to clear, as if it had been fouled.  She still felt like she needed to wash herself.

They arrived at Randy’s house, and all around, it was disturbing to see the portal’s effects.  People here weren’t frozen, but they were moving very slowly.

Maybe the portal was something to do with time?

Her brain felt like it was going to explode.  They were the only ones seemingly unaffected.  How were they going to fix it?

“I have to check on Molly,” Randy said.  His voice was too fast, thinning out.  “She was scared before.”

Nikki followed him into the house, breathing in the smells of dog fur.  A jangle approached.  Molly came through a doorway.  Not her usual energetic self.  She trembled, and her eyes were fearful.

Randy scooped her up, stroking her back.  She flicked out a pink tongue, licking his chin.

Why wasn’t Molly affected by the portal either?

Nikki scratched the little dog behind the ears, finding some of the tension easing.  Dogs were good people.

“You’ve been keeping some things from me,” she said quietly.  “You need to tell me.  Everything.”

Randy glanced up at her, and his eyes were wooden. “I know.”

He gestured to the sagging sofa.  Nikki had to clear off a stack of newspapers.  Randy gave her Molly, and she resettled the dog in her lap.  He went into the kitchen and poured two plastic tumblers of water.

“I’d do something stronger…” Randy handed her one of the tumblers.  “And I think I wouldn’t be able to stop until I passed out.”

Nikki felt the same.  She rested her glass behind Molly’s trembling body and stared at the water.

“All the houses were portals,” she said.  Not a question.  She wanted to hear the confirmation.

Randy parked himself on the coffee table, close enough she could smell the fear rising off him.

“Yes,” he said.  “Each house has a portal in one of the upstairs rooms.  When the houses were built, the masons–my family–did a special mortar mixture that helped focus the portal’s energy.  Each of the houses were built like a giant conductor for the portals.”

Nikki took a moment to digest this, wondering if her aunts had known.  Had her aunts used the portals?

“Where do they go?” she asked.

Randy shrugged.  “Depends.  The piano in the living room is a control device.  You play one tune, and the portal opens up to a particular location.”

Nikki remembered all those times she’d banged the keys, and got an ugly jerk in her stomach.  Had she done something to the portal when she played the piano?

Her hands were trembling.

Randy, as if reading her thoughts, reached across to squeeze her knee. “It has to be a specific tune.  There’s supposed to be a book somewhere with the tunes and the locations.”

“But where does it go?”

Molly, sensing Nikki’s agitation, stood up, claws digging into her legs.  The little puffball tail wagged half-heartedly.

Now Randy was squirming. He glanced away, focusing at a painting on the wall.

“It’s a place where art is reality,” he said.

“What does that mean?”

“Your family and mine…we came from a different place, a different existence.”

Nikki’s stomach jerked, sourness rising in her mouth.   What did that mean?

“I’m sorry.” Randy tickled Mollie’s triangle ears, his eyes flicking up to meet hers.  “I should have told you sooner.”

She wanted to be mad.  She should be mad.  Yet she found herself comforted by the way he looked at her, like he was a dog ready to jump in help, even if he didn’t know what he was helping with.

“I probably wouldn’t have believed you anyway.” Nikki managed a rueful smile.  “Part of me still doesn’t believe it.  I don’t know what to make of that portal.”

Randy shifted his hand from Molly’s ear to her hand, his warmness against her skin.  It did little to ease the icy chill in her heart.

Writing in Public, Story #6, Scene 21


Nikki’s knees gave out.  She would have fallen to the sidewalk, but Randy caught her arm and held her up.  He was a warm, comforting presence.

Which wasn’t much out here.  The portal in the street glared back at her like it was an eye of evil.

But the sliminess had receded.  Now she felt the coldness of satisfaction emanating from the portal.

“What do we do?” she asked.  “How do we fix that?”

Randy’s face was as pale as she thought hers was.  His words were drawn tight.  “I don’t know.  We need to leave.”

“Leave?” Nikki’s voice sharpened.

Randy leaned in close, his breath hot on her ear.  “It might be able to hear us.”

Her mouth turned dry.  “What about Brian?  The others?”

There were at least five people who had come outside, frozen in place.  Why wasn’t she frozen?  Why wasn’t Randy?”

She’d ask that later.  She circled around the front of the truck.  Heat rose from the idling engine. She felt eyes on her from the portal, watching like a cat stalking prey.

The door opened easily enough, so it wasn’t frozen.  She touched Brian’s arm.  Still warm.  But he didn’t respond to the touch.  Not even a twitch.

“Brian, can you hear me?” she asked.


She tried again.  “Brian, if you can hear me, I’m going to try to fix this.  I’ll going to leave, but I’ll be back.”

She reached across his lap to turn off the engine.  He’d be mad if his truck ran out of gas.

A laugh rose in her throat.  It was a wrong kind of laugh.  Not for something funny, but for hysteria bubbling up from her belly.

Randy was right.  They needed to get out of here.

It was all she could do not to run away.

Writing in Public, Story 6, Scene 20


Nikki couldn’t see the hunger.  But she felt it.  Cold and slimy.  Thick with darkness.

It was interested in her.

She could sense its curiousity.  Like she was a piece of food, and the hunger was poking around it, seeing if the food was tasty.

Her body was rigid.  Sweat prickled down the hollow of her back.  Her breathing stuck in her throat.

The music swirled around her, and she thought she heard a voice chiming in with the notes: I want to help.


And then someone was behind her, a warm presense.  Hands touched her shoulders.  Warm breath puffed on the back of her neck.


She allowed the music to pull her in, and Randy came with her.  The music was like an old tapestry with holes in it.  The hunger snuffled along the holes, trying to find the biggest gaps.

To get through.

“Take the lead,” Randy murmured.

To do what?  Fear jabbed at Nikki’s chest.  She didn’t know what she was doing!

The hunger pushed at the music’s barrier again.  Its strength horrified her.   The music wasn’t strong enough to keep it out.

Fear rose up from her belly, coppery and bitter.  She didn’t think.  She just reacted.

Bouncing along in the flow of the music, she found the biggest of the holes.  In her mind, it was gaping, and black.  Dead.

It was from the house on the other end. It had been gutted in a remodel.  Nothing left.

How could she fix this?

She felt the hunger grin.  It could get through here.

It pressed against the gap.  Too big.  But it could work at the hole.  Make it bigger.

“Spackle it,” Randy murmured.  “Like mortar.”

Nikki’s mouth had gone dry.  The need to hurry pressed at her.

She pictured the wall of the house with the lines of bricks, the overlapping rows providing support.  Spreading the mortar in the cracks.

Randy squeezed her shoulders.  She was trembling with exhaustion.

Breathe, breathe, breathe!

The world titled sideways.  Nikki fell away from the music.  The sidewalk bounced up to her face.


Her chest locked up tight.  For a terrifying moment, she couldn’t breathe.

Randy pulled her up into his arms, wrapping them around her.

Better.  She could breathe.

The hunger had receded from the air.  But its satisfaction tinged the air.

Bit by bit, she took in her surroundings again.  Brian was still frozen in his truck, reaching for the passenger lock.  A neighbor across the street was stuck in mid-step.

Randy?  He was moving, alive, resting his chin on her shoulder.  But his eyes were alarmed.

She’d been avoiding that thing in the middle of the street.  Now she looked.

Her breath caught in her throat, souring.  The edges of the portal had solidified.

She’d made it worse.

Writing in Pubic Story #6, Scene 18


Randy took off at a run, headed back to the Chandler house.

Fear pounded in his throat and face and chest. It pushed at him from behind and came at him from all around.

The day had grown distressingly dark.  He could still see the sun through the trees, but it seemed dimmer.

He ran past neighbors coming out of their house, shadows in their eyes.

Was it his imagination, or did they all seem to moving unnaturally slowly?

Up ahead, the sight of a big portal sitting in the street made him gasp.

It looked wrong.  Inside out.  And why were all the houses feeding into it?

None of the other six worked any more.  Too many rennovations.

The music notes wrapped around him, asking, pleading.

What did they want?  The music was part of the portal.

He looked around, casting about for an idea.  Any idea.

Cold chilled him.  His neighbors had come out of their houses to see the portal.  They were motionless.

One man had his foot in the air, about to take a step.  Another was in the middle of a run.

It was eeriely quiet, except for the music.  No lawn mowers.  No cars driving.  No children’s voices.

It was like the world had stopped.

Why was he able to move?

Then he caught a flash of movement up ahead.  Nikki.

Relief flooded through him.

Lights sparked around her.  Yellow, with bits of black and red.

She needed help.