Questions for Authors (Like Me) by Dellani

ABC ChallengeWhy do you write?

I dunno. Why do you breathe?

There are a lot of questions authors don’t like being asked. Why? Because we don’t always have a satisfactory answer. At least, it’s not satisfactory for the person asking the question. To us, it makes perfect sense. I’ve been asked the above question and, at the time, couldn’t really see giving the answer I first thought of (my response, also above). It didn’t seem quite the thing. So, I came up with something a little better. Next time I’m asked, I’ll use it.

Why do I write? Because I can’t imagine myself not writing. I can’t even think of giving it up. It’s as much a part of me as breathing. If you can stop breathing and survive, I’ll stop writing.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everything.

Here’s another hard one. I can get an idea from a TV commercial, a movie, a song, a random conversation in the grocery store. I’ve even been inspired by a mud puddle. Sometimes, I get inspiration from a wild thing that happens – for example, the motorcycle convoy in The Ninja Tattoo. That was inspired by something that really happened to me. Inspiration is a tricky beast. It can creep up on an author and leave him/ her scrounging for paper and a pen in order to write it down before it escapes.

How’s your book coming?

Which one?

Some authors, like me, work on more than one book at a time. I have a very schizo muse. She hops around from story to story. Once in awhile, she allows me to finish, but mostly she keeps feeding me new ideas and doesn’t allow me to complete them. I don’t know if she’s crazy or simply sadistic. I have more stories than I know what to do with. Yes, I’ve finished some, but others, no.

So when a well meaning, non-author, friend asks me, “How’s your book coming?” I can’t really formulate a complete reply. I have no idea what book I was working on the last time they asked me. Generally, neither can they. Many times, they are asking simply because they don’t know what else to say. They might genuinely be interested, but that flags when I tell them the plot. Not everyone can follow my rapid fire narrative. I’m more interested in getting back to work, than I am in telling them about what’s already on paper.

Some people can’t follow the plot, and ask so many questions, I lose track of what I’m saying and never finish. I have to keep in mind that they aren’t immersed in the story the way I am. But why ask if they aren’t going to listen? That’s not being polite, it’s wasting my time.

So, are you still writing?

Well—Duuuh!

Of course, I’m still writing. You’re still breathing, aren’t you? Obviously so, because you asked me the dumbest question of all. You’re wasting my time and breathing my air, and I want you to go away. People who ask this question need to go sit in the Zen garden and contemplate how stupid this is. I’m awake, therefore I write.

Statements I Have No Patience For:

I had a great idea for a book once. And they proceed to tell me the worst idea EVER.

I thought about writing a book, but I don’t have time. If you really wanted to, you’d find time.

I think writing a book would be fun. I’m told that bungee jumping is fun, too. I don’t think I want to try that, though.

You work at home. You have plenty of time to do {Insert Annoying Activity Here}. You mean all that fun writing I’m doing is going to miraculously complete itself? Hooray!

Anyone can write a novel. Oh, really? So I guess you could sit down and write a best seller in no time? Go for it.

Are you going to put me in your book? I will if you keep annoying me. I’ll put you in my book—and kill you.

In all fairness, some people generally are interested. They’re trying to understand, but they can’t possibly understand a writer’s mind, unless they are also writers. We don’t think on the same wavelength as non-writers. We aren’t wired the same way at all.

Keep the following in mind:

A conversation with a writer WILL end up in a book some day.

If you do something foolish and tell an author, it WILL end up in a book some day.

You’re a complete tool, you WILL end up in a book one day, probably as the villain. Or a murder victim.

Remember, the next time you speak to your favorite author, ask her/him something and really listen to the response. Don’t just ask to be polite, because it’s not. It’s a waste of their time. Writing isn’t easy, though it may look like it to an outsider. Brain surgery isn’t simple either, but a trained surgeon can make it appear easy because s/he practices. No, I’m not comparing what I do to brain surgery. Obviously, that’s like comparing grapes to knickers. The point I’m making is, it’s not as simple as most authors make it look.

I think I can best sum it up like this: Authors labor and in the end, a book is born.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Pet Peeves by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThis is something I wrote for my Wednesday Fun in Writing Group, several years ago. The weekly prompt was pet peeves and this was born.

The therapist looked around the group steepling his fingers. Smiling ponderously he turned to the newest member. “Everyone, this is Letitia. She’s joining us for the first time. Letitia, why don’t you share with the group some of the things that make you angry.”

Letitia smiled sweetly at him. “You mean like other than smarmy psychologists with ingratiating voices and sissy mannerisms?”

His smile faded slightly as he brought his hands to his lap. “Yes, other than that.”

“Stupid people,” she said tersely.

“Define stupid,” a short, wiry, Hispanic youth across from her said.

Letitia thought for a moment. “Stupid people, hm. Can’t walk, can’t talk, shouldn’t breathe?”

He grinned, nodding for her to go on. The therapist frowned.

“Get behind them in the grocery store – Oops! They forgot something. Okay, we all do that sometimes. Once, I have no problem with. But this one lady I got behind, went back three times! I wanted to choke her.”

“What did you do?” an excitable older woman to her right, said.

“Next time she started to turn around, I blocked the way and told her the only way she was leaving the line again was through me.”

“What did she do?” The youth asked.

“About peed herself,” she looked smug.

He clapped and nodded. “Right on!”

“See here,” the therapist tried to assert himself. “We aren’t encouraging this kind of behavior. What Letitia did was wrong. You can’t intimidate people at he grocery store!”

“Why not?” The man next to him asked. “I think it’s great. Get what you need, and get out. If you forget something, go back after you pay for the rest. Not so hard to do.” He leaned forward toward the group. “My pet peeve is people who can’t make up their minds what they want to order at a fast food place. They’ve been in line ten minutes with that huge menu in front of them. Do they look at it? No. Not until they get to the register.”

“I know what you mean, dude,” the Hispanic young man said. “I worked McDonald’s right? Got myself fired.”

“Manuel, I don’t think this is the time for that story,” the therapist interjected.

“Dude, chill, okay? So this lady, must have weighed like three hundred and change, waddles up with her chubby kids. I’m waiting while the fat broad makes up her mind how many pounds of burgers she’s gonna scarf down, and her six year old starts yelling, ‘Mommy, Mommy! I want a Whopper!'” He snorted, rolling his eyes expressively. “So I said, ‘Kid, we don’t do Whoppers here, that’s Burger King.’ And he starts crying. ‘How about a Big Mac and fries?’ I’m being nice. She starts to argue with me about why can’t I give her dumb kid a Whopper? I sad, ‘Lady, I’d love to give him a Whopper, but we don’t do Whoppers at McDonald’s.’ She’s screaming by this time. So I climbed up on the counter, drop my pants and flash the entire restaurant. ‘Lady, that’s the only Whopper in the store. Okay?’ I got arrested for indecent exposure.” He shrugged, fidgeting like he wanted a cigarette.

“This is getting out of hand, Manuel.”

“Hey, ain’t my fault.” He shrugged, leaning back in his seat.

“I hate bad drivers,” the lady next to Letitia’s right said angrily. “Can’t decide what speed to go! Can’t stay in their lanes! Blinkers going for six blocks and they slow at every cross street!”

“Or tail gate on a four lane road when nobody else is around,” the older man added. “I had some guy follow me back and forth like I had a magnet on my rear. Right on my bumper. Every time I changed lanes, he did.”

“How did you handle that, Frank?” the therapist asked, despite himself.

“Hit my brakes and let him rear end me,” Frank nodded happily, grinning.

He and Manuel did a high five.

“I hate when people turn and think about it,” Letitia added. “Like they start to slow down two blocks away, with the blinker on. Practically stop to turn in at the gas station. Come on, already! Get out of the road! I wish I drove a huge truck or maybe a tank. POW! I’d take ’em out!” She giggled with anticipation.

“Did you ever see that movie, Death Race 2000?” The older lady asked.

“Dude! I love that movie!” Manuel grinned.

“Well, more than once,” she admitted forcefully. “I’ve wanted to hit the accelerator and mow people down!” She put her hands up like she was gripping a steering wheel, mashing her foot to the floor. “VOOOM!”

“Marie!” the therapist was appalled. “That’s it!” He bellowed. “Class dismissed!” He got up and walked out, banging the door behind him.

“Hey, Chica,” Manuel addressed Letitia. “You rock, baby. Want to go out for coffee?”

“Sure!”

“Yes, let’s all go,” Marie said excitedly. “I feel like stirring up trouble.”

“That’s why I love this group so much,” Frank said with a grin. “I feel so much better when it’s over.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Organizationally Impaired by Dellani

ABC ChallengeIf you’re like me, you need an intervention. No, not with drugs, alcohol or gambling. Organization! My desk and files are an organizational nightmare! I’m not the most disorganized person I know, but I’m close. Being an author with O.D.D., (Organization Disability Disorder), I’ve come up with a couple very simple tricks. (See Chaos in a Teacup #1 for more information on this)

Since I work on more than one story at a time, I’m juggling characters and story lines. To keep myself straight, especially with minor characters, I keep a three ring binder with sections and tabs for each story. Using the file name from the computer file, I write it on the tab. On one page, I keep a list of characters, all of them, no matter how small a role they play. On another, I keep a list of chapters and their page numbers. It’s very easy to continue writing until a story is complete, but it’s good to give the story some natural stopping or slowing places.

Every author has to do research at some point. Although I bookmark pages on my browser, it’s a horrible mess. (I know, big surprise) Despite my best efforts to do better, it’s still a mile long and a disaster. To combat that, I print out the pages of research that I need, complete with the web address, in case I have to go back. These, I punch and put in another three ring binder. I keep it within reach so that I can find what I need.

I have in mind to tag the pages per story or at least per subject, but I haven’t gotten that far. That’s my goal – though it may be next year before I get it done. These are very easy things for any writer to accomplish. Even for the clinically O.D.D., there is hope!

Just as an aside, I wrote this article 3 years ago and I still haven’t gotten my research in order.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThe Ninja Tattoo was my NaNoWriMo novel in 2009 and I went on to publish it with Tirgearr Publishing in 2013. Teague meets Vivica by chance—he runs into her with a door as he backs out of the Dunkin’ Donuts. Despite the inauspicious beginning, they fall hard and fast for one another. However, problems arise and Teague decides it’s prudent to head out of town with Vivica, in order to keep her safe.

Vivica and Teague drove silently out of town. He was planning, she could tell his mind was working out how to hide them both and protect her. With decision, he made the turn west on Canal Street, heading to I-95.

“Where are we going?” Vivica asked after he turned north on the interstate.

“About an hour away, a small place called Volusia.”

“We’re in Volusia.”

“We’re in Volusia County. I’m talking about the spot on the road outside Astor. Ain’t much of a place, but it’s mighty handy if you want to go camping.”

“Camping?” Vivica said with alarm. “Seriously?”

“Ocala National Forest is up there,” he said with finality. “And I can get us good and lost in the woods.”

“I don’t want to get lost in the woods,” Vivica said.

“I don’t mean lost, lost,” he explained. “I mean like not found.”

“Can we at least have a cabin?” Vivica didn’t look pleased about roughing it.

“It ain’t campin’ if you’ve got a cabin,” Teague said, letting his Southern accent flavor the words. “But maybe we can borrow the camper and hook it up. Depends on how lost we wanna get. Good and lost means a tent in the middle of BFE.”

“Maybe now is a good time to tell you I’ve never been lost in the woods before and my idea of camping is spending the night on someone’s couch.”

“There’s an advantage to camping in the deep woods.” He raised an eyebrow, grinning at her.

“Oh? Snakes in my sleeping bag and scorpions in my shoes?”

“You’re looking at the downside.”

“There’s an upside?”

“Sure! You can scream all you want during sex—ain’t nobody gonna complain.”

She punched his shoulder, laughing. “Okay, so there’s a little upside.”

“I’m thinkin’ that’s a damn good one. Mm, sex in a tent. Haven’t done that in quite awhile.”

“I don’t even want to know,” Vivica said with a shiver of delight.

“Don’t want to know what?”

“How many girls you talked into doing that.”

“Country girls can be mighty obliging.”

He looked smug. She punched him again.

Vivica eventually curled up, putting her head on Teague’s shoulder and fell asleep. He held her close, the scent of her perfume tickling his nostrils. Thoughts of her body wrapped around his made him a little crazy and he couldn’t wait to get her to the cabin so they could make love again. He couldn’t resist kissing her forehead, wanting to do much more, but not wanting to wake her.

He took State Road 40, pulling off onto a narrow, poorly paved road that quickly changed to dirt. They bounced around quite a bit on the rutted track. Vivica roused when her pillow moved, yawning and stretching.

“We there yet?”

“Almost, sweet darlin’. About 10 more minutes. You okay?”

“I need to pee.”

“No place to go unless you fancy a bush. Don’t worry, Uncle Tack has indoor plumbing.”

“Thank God!”

They pulled up a short time later, in front of a huge, custom designed cabin. The sprawling edifice had a warm and welcoming aspect making Vivica feel at home and safe. Teague got out first, walking toward the house with his hands out, away from his body.

“Be right back. Don’t get out until I tell you.”

“Why? What are you doing?”

“If you lived out in the middle of fucking nowhere, would you be expecting guests at this hour?”

“No, I suppose not.”

The door opened disgorging six hunting dogs. Behind them, the tip of an over & under shotgun emerged. At first, Vivica thought the shotgun was held at waist level, until a man walked out. The gun was jammed to his shoulder, he held it leveled at Teague.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes - 200

The Maker by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThe Maker is book 3 of my Lone Wolf series. Surau is a character we meet in Shakazhan—Lone Wolf Book 2. He’s been horribly disfigured by a mad scientist bent on revenge.

His face still looked semi-human, although huge curved tusks of a wild boar were grafted on his face, contorting his mouth into a perpetual snarl. His long, dark, thick, wavy hair flowed down his back, turning into a mane at his shoulders, which continued well down the middle of his back.

His own arms remained, having the hands replaced with pincers like a crab. Three other sets of appendages had been grafted onto his elongated torso. He had the hairy legs of a giant spider directly under his own arms. These were tipped in vicious talons. Below them, he had a set of spindly, brittle legs like an ant. The final set of appendages could be called neither arms nor legs, but were more like tentacles from a squid. The final touch was a giant scorpion tale. (Description from Shakazhan)

The following excerpt is from The Maker

The Maker front

Surau was hungry and tired of eating his kills raw. The Blue Devils were easy to catch and kill, but tasted far better fried or roasted. His patience neared its end.

Since leaving his prison, he had roamed around the underbelly of Shakazhan, hiding from possible pursuit. It became apparent, fairly early on, that he wasn’t being chased. He was offended because it meant they didn’t consider him important enough to search for.

The truth of it was, they had forgotten about him in the avalanche of events following his escape. The disappearance of Matilda, and Wil’s obsession with finding her, had shoved all thought of Surau from everyone’s minds.

Grumbling, he dressed and prepared his daily meal. He allowed himself one meal a day. It saved time and energy on his part. Although he had both in abundance, he felt more like a fugitive this way, and that pleased him.

His meal complete, Surau cleaned himself as well as he could in his crude surroundings. He had found a place to camp which had water and power. These spots on Shakazhan were rare indeed and he intended to stay here until something better presented itself. Since he had been here several months, the likelihood of his moving on was quite negligible.

The only drawback to his camp was the lack of anything to cook in. He had no fuel for a fire either, so he was reduced to raw meat. It was another reason he had taken to eating only once a day. Facing raw blue meat for three meals held little appeal. He found himself thinking about moving on and had taken to scouting raids, looking for somewhere to go which was better. So far, he had found nothing.

His plan for the day was to examine a set of passages a few kilometers to the east of his position. Having traveled under ground for several decades, he knew to blaze a trail as he went, so that he could find his way back later on. Surau was many things, but he wasn’t a fool.

Picking up the bones from his meal, he detoured long enough to drop them at the head of a passage leading to the Blue Devil territory. What they might do with the bones he didn’t know or care, but they were always gone when he came back. They had given up attacking him several weeks ago when it became apparent that the more raids they sent, the more of them died. Not wishing to make hunting easier for Surau, they had come to the conclusion that hiding was prudent.

After some deliberation on their parts, the Blue Devils decided for the betterment of the clan, they’d allow Surau to catch one of them a day. This individual died bravely, for the benefit of all. Generally, an older person, one who found the burden of life great, would volunteer.

Eventually, they hoped, the monster would tire of his campsite and move on. He had been there many months and still he stayed. The time had come for more overt action and so they Blue Devils, or Chimarria, as they called themselves, prayed to the Goddess of Light for help and guidance. If the Silver Lady couldn’t help them, they feared they’d soon be extinct.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Lone Wolf by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThe following scene is from Lone Wolf, book 1 of my sci-fi series. Wil VanLipsig has recently reunited with his friend, Marc Slatterly, after a long absence. He’s just started dating Matilda Dulac and finds out that some very old friends, the giant cat warriors, The Fellicians, are on planet. He takes Matilda to meet them. These characters are some of my favorites, especially Caprilla and Cavitus. I think after this brief scene, you will understand why. (Some of this scene was edited out in the book)

Wil’s understanding of the Fellician language was limited. He simply didn’t have the capacity to accurately mimic their speech. Their language was very musical in nature and Wil was virtually tone deaf. The same words could have different meanings. Depending on how they were pitched and the clicks and trills accompanying them, dictated the context. It was a very subtle form of communication.

Unfortunately, if one could not properly imitate the sounds and pitch, instead of saying, “I need to use the restroom,” one would say, “I have a black asp for a penis.”

After having said that to the wrong Fellician female, Wil had given up trying to learn the language. It had taken him nearly a month to recover. A normal man would have been crippled for life. He hoped Caprilla had forgotten the incident, but he doubted it.

About five minutes later, Marc and the three Fellician males came down in the elevator. They were singing some rather ribald lyrics to an old Earth tune, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” It was something about fornicating in the mine shaft. Wil had never bothered to learn the words, since he couldn’t carry a tune.

Marc had a clear and booming baritone. Caprilla had a brasslike bass, and the other two cat men had smooth tenors. The effect was rather magical until one heard the lyrics clearly, so Matilda tried not to. She hoped the females didn’t understand. One last chorus and the others declared themselves ready to eat.

Matilda was introduced to Caprilla and his two companions. Errollic Vennistra was of the fighter Liluye. Cavitus Passhaa was Escascia’s right wing man in the Nirvelli. They were as varied as humans in looks, but the most outstanding feature was their fur. Each was a different color and the markings were subtle and unique.

Caprilla was blue-black like midnight, his markings drops of rain on water, concentric circles mottling his fur. Errollic was a tawny brown with feathery wisps scattered about on his coat. A neatly trimmed mane circled his head. Ariella looked like a Siamese, sable on fawn. Cavitus resembled a very large, Old Earth tiger. The prettiest by far was Escascia. She was pure white with silver swirls all over her coat.

Matilda wanted to stare, but felt it would be rude to do so. She didn’t know if the Fellician female would mind being admired. The fur was so soft looking, she wanted to touch it, but thought it would probably be an unforgivable breach of etiquette.

As they walked to the same restaurant on the boardwalk where Matilda and Wil had first lunched together, Caprilla noticed her looks of longing and smiled warmly. Other people would not have considered it so, but after having known Wil for even so short a time, a warm smile had taken a slightly different definition.

“You want to touch? It is all right, Lady Captain. It is something human females often want to do.” He purred softly, trilling his ‘l’. “My team and I have met many humans over the years. We are not offended by such. Please, if it would make you happy, you may touch.”

His musical voice filled her with warmth. He held out his hand, long fingered and velvety. She wondered what sort of claws these folk had, for there were none visible. His hand was warm and soft as down. The feathery fur tickled her fingers like a living thing. He bent his head over her hand, kissing it lightly. His whiskers sent a thrill down her spine. He looked into her face with his clear, blue eyes.

“Friend Wil, this is an amazing lady you have here. Were I an evil fellow, I would fight you for her.” he seemed to purr over the last word, his tongue trilling the ‘r’ seductively.

“Aw, hell, Cap. It’s not polite to kill your friend before dinner. I guess you will just have to leave her with me for now.” He chuckled, taking her by the hand. “Don’t mind him, Romance, he’s always been a joker.” He protectively tugged her closer to him.

Caprilla purred deep in his throat. “I never kid about anything, Captain Romance. I have no sense of humor.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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The Kahlea by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThe Kahlea is book four in my sci-fi series. The people on Shakazhan have decided to explore their planet inside and out. They discovered some time ago that the planet of Shakazhan is an artificial construct, like a living ship—a space age, psychotic Noah’s Ark, full of creatures, which are the results of experiments by The Maker. Knowing they need allies from the folk below, Wil sends an exploratory force. Unfortunately, they run across something that makes them act completely out of character for a bunch of grown men and women, most of whom are Galactic Marines.

Kindred scanner skittered across the stone, sliding out of sight. Kaz started to rise, going slowly toward his device, but Mitch jumped after it, holding it out of Kaz’s reach. Cold fury filled Kaz. Keeping a tenuous rein on his temper, he stood clenching his fists. Above all else, Kaz was a professional Marine recon team member, just like Mitch. They each had a few different specialties, but they held the same rank.

Mitch outweighed Kaz by a good thirty pounds of muscle and he had eleven inches on him as well. Kaz couldn’t help sizing Mitch up as an opponent; training was automatic. Holding out his hand, he kept his voice calm and level, neither of which he truly felt.

“I’d like that back, Mitch.”

Mitch laughed, leaping away, toying with him, his device just out of reach. With a silent decision, Kaz prepared to jump him. The other Marine, so absorbed in his game, didn’t see the small man ready to spring until it was too late. Kaz launched himself at the larger man, rage twisting his features.

Anger didn’t dictate his movements. Calculating coldly, he planned exactly how to take Mitch down with minimal damage to himself and maximum results. Rushing in low, he grabbed Mitch in the mid section, grappling for a hold. Before the taller Marine could react, he was up and over Kaz’s shoulder, dropped on the hard stone floor, flipped onto his face, with Kaz’s boot in the crook of his shoulder and his arm straight up behind him. Mitch knew an Aikido pin like this would dislocate his arm, but he still struggled to get up. A twist reminded him how much damage someone could do with that particular pin.

The Kindred device wavered just before Kaz’s long, pointy nose in the hand he held rigidly before him. Mitch tried to turn over, squirm out of the pin, to get himself free. More pressure applied to the shoulder, a slight twist and shift of weight and Mitch was screaming.

“Up! Screw you, let me up!”

“Tap out, Marine!” Kaz commanded.

Mitch struggled again, giving himself more pain, refusing to tap the floor. “Screw you, Kazinski, I will gut you in your sleep! I’ll cut off your balls and wear them as a necklace while you bleed to death! You scrawny, freckled bastard!” He ended in a scream.

Kaz had nearly dislocated his shoulder, ripping muscle and damaging tendons in the process. “Tap out, you completely, stupid son of a poxed whore! Tap out!”

“What goes on here?” Ray bellowed, picking up Kaz in one huge hand, disengaging him from Mitch in one swift and incredibly painful movement.

Mitch howled as the shoulder finally popped out of the socket. Holding his limp arm carefully, he scuffled out of the way of Ray’s feet.

Kaz grew redder in the face, suspended about eight inches off the floor, held by his shirt collar. The Kindred device had clattered to the floor, forgotten.

“You two boys got a problem, Kazinski? Mitchell, go see the medic about that shoulder. Suck it up, Marine. I’ve had worse and never pissed myself.” He looked disgustedly at the floor between Mitch’s legs as a flurry of copper colored bots came out to clean it up. A jerk of his head dismissed the hulking Marine.

Setting Kaz down with an unnecessarily hard thump, Ray frowned. His handsome face contorted in anger which he fought to control. Kaz couldn’t remember a time in the entire ten years they’d served together when he’d seen the Commander this furious. Ray’s fist shot out, grabbing the front of Kaz’s shirt and a handful of the chest hair beneath it. A tug and the lanky man was face to face with his enraged superior, wincing as the hairs popped free of his skin one by one.

“Talk!” He shook Kaz.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Coming in 2018

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water. . . . by Dellani

ABC ChallengeThis article doesn’t really have anything to do with that at all. I needed a title with a J and ended up with the tag line for Jaws II. Mostly, I want to talk about books in a series.

Some authors like to write books in a series, others abhor the idea of sequels. I stand on the side of those who like books in a series. Not all my books are in series. Most notably, my sci-fi books – The Lone Wolf Series. The first three are out: Lone Wolf, Shakazhan and The Maker, as well as a collection of short stories – The Lone Wolf Companion

I do have books that are loosely grouped and are series-ish. Of these books, I have The Ninja Tattoo and Conduct Unbecoming, to name the two which are published. There are many others, all set in Florida and have a lot of the same people in them.

Another book, associated with Conduct Unbecoming, is my romantic suspense novel, Bad Fall. Though it’s set in Ohio, it is a spin off of Conduct Unbecoming. Couldn’t really call it a series, more a continuation of the story begun therein.

I like writing books in a series, or those that are associated with one another, because I like exploring the characters more in depth. A stand alone book is great, I have quite a few of these, but I don’t feel as if I can fully dive into the background of a character in a stand alone.

The character of Wil VanLipsig, in my sci-fi series, is so complex, I wrote several short stories, in order to look into his history more deeply. Things that are mentioned in passing in the series, are explored in more detail in the short stories. Look for The Lone Wolf Tales on Amazon.

For your reading enjoyment, a short excerpt from A Little White Lie, one of the 9 Lone Wolf Tales.

white lie cover

Greyling sat behind her desk. Ben and Ray sat in front of her, one on either side. Two empty chairs were in the middle. Wil waited for Penny to take one, he took the other.

Glad you could join us so promptly, Colonel.”

Greyling nodded at Penny, but said nothing. Rather, she eyed the two of them expectantly. Getting no response, she cleared her throat and continued.

I’ve gotten the four of you here because I need your help. There is a very important matter I can’t entrust to anyone else.”

The four Marines looked at her expectantly. Folding her hands in front of her on the desk, she took on the pose Wil called her matter-of-fact stance.

If you’ve paid any attention to the news vids, you know about the situation on Starflatz.”

All of them knew that there was a major coup going on. No one knew from one moment to the next who controlled the government, but it was swaying more and more into the hands of a radical leader named Aurous Aurialonus. He was a madman who was anti-establishment, anti-Committee and anti-military, although he controlled the current military in Starflatz’s major city, Gundesburg.

He’s got things in a right mess, I know that,” Ray interjected. “Is he really as nuts as they say?”

Greyling weighed her answer carefully. “No, he’s worse. He’s captured the entire royal family and he plans to kill them off one by one if they don’t acquiesce to his demands.”

Which are?”

She rolled her eyes heavenward as if saying a silent prayer. “Too bizarre to relate. His message was very garbled and not even our psychology experts can interpret it.”

Hard to acquiesce then,” Wil added facetiously.

Greyling gave him a withering look before going on. “Rather.”

So what do you want from the four of us?” Wil wanted information and now. He was a man of immediate and direct action. If there was a job, he wanted to get started on it yesterday.

You will be going in and freeing the royal family, and putting Aurialonus to the sword,” she said dramatically.

Wait a damn second,” Wil stood, leaning over Greyling’s desk. “You want the four of us, one of whom is a semi-invalid, to take out Aurialonus and his band of merry lunatics? Those people are religious fanatics, Elise. They think that Aurialonus is a god and that he and Jesus do lunch! I like playing the odds, baby, but not that long.”

Running a strong hand through his unruly brown, wavy hair, he began to pace. Greyling said nothing, watching him.

I never said it was just you four, Wil. You are making an assumption.”

Maybe it was the way you said it, Admiral, but it sounded like that’s what you were telling us,” Penny tried to smooth over the troubled waters which churned between Wil and Greyling.

An error, I assure you. There will be a team of your choosing, Colonel. Drexel and Schmidt have talents key to an operation of this nature.” The look she gave him was long and full of meaning.

Wil, feeling contrary, broke his own unofficial rule of silence. “You mean, since we’re all genetic freaks, you need us on this mission. Can’t get the normals to do it, huh?”

Greyling’s eyelids fluttered and she blanched. “They would be unable to perform up to standard, Colonel.”

What about Penny?”

Greyling said nothing. Wil felt a cold finger of doubt run up his backbone and linger at the base of his skull. The hackles on his neck began to rise, they were never wrong.

What about Penny?” Greyling said sweetly. Her smile was forced.

Penny was looking at her toes, saying nothing. A loud silence resonated around them like a gong.

You mean?” Wil was flabbergasted.

I’m a genetic freak too, Wil,” Penny said softly, still staring at her toes. “Maybe not as much as you three,” she added, looking at him for the first time. “Yes, I’ve seen some of the files, Admiral Greyling showed me.”

Not even I am able to access everything about you,” Greyling sounded disgusted as if it were a personal affront. “But enough to know you’re the ones I need here. Penny has some talents you’ll find helpful. The files will be made available to you, Colonel. You must know what your team is capable of.”

Wil nodded, still stunned by the news about Penny. He’d had no idea there was anything different about her. He had always thought he’d be able to tell, like he had with Ben and Ray, but realized that was gleaned after having worked closely with them for weeks preparing for their mission. His observation of Penny in action had been of a completely different nature.

How many more do I have at my disposal, Admiral?”

The team must be as unobtrusive as possible, Wil. No more than ten, preferably less.”

Wil spun on his heel, glaring at Greyling. “Have you any idea what you’re asking?”

I am asking the next to impossible task of putting down a rebellion nearly single handedly. I know it won’t be easy…”

There’s an understatement,” Ben contributed sotto voce. The others looked at him inquiringly. “Well, it is. There are hundreds of religious fanatics guarding a royal family who has denigrated and subjugated their people for centuries. And we’re supposed to waltz in there, release them and put down a rebellion? Really, Admiral, we’re good, but are we that good?”

You have to be, Lieutenant Commander.”

Ben blinked, she had just raised his rank from Lieutenant. Noticing his surprise, she smiled.

I have included analysis of Aurialonus done by an expert in aberrant psychological conditions, with an emphasis in megalomaniacal psychosis.”

That’s a mouthful I’d not want to repeat,” Ray quipped, winking at the Admiral.

Greyling smirked, a chuckle escaping her lips. “Well, it took a little practice to get it right.” Her demeanor changed abruptly as she went back to business. “The intel information will be available to you and your team, Colonel. I have taken the liberty of including names of possible team members broken down by specialty. I fear it’s a rather short list,” she added quietly.

They chatted a few minutes more, but Greyling could see Wil was anxious to get started. She dismissed them and ordered them to start right away, as if Wil would wait for her permission. She smiled wistfully. Was it really over forty years that she and Wil had known one another? She could still feel the touch of his lips, his hands caressing her. It had been years since she had felt a lover’s touch, but a woman in her position couldn’t really afford to let anyone too close. Love made one vulnerable.

Maybe, for old time’s sake, just once… but she set the thought aside. He wanted a younger woman than she, still vibrant, buxom, not some washed up old crone whose breasts sagged. Perhaps once this was over, but she knew that was impossible too. If all went as anticipated, this would be Wil’s last mission.

It would be a shame to lose Penny, for she had been the best aid Greyling had ever had. But word had come down from the Council, the unofficial power behind galactic government, that the super soldiers were to be weeded out, gleaned, put to the harrow.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Indian Summer by Dellani

ABC ChallengeIndian Summer is my historical novel. I mention the writing of it in an earlier post. It is written in the voice of Gabriella Deza, the daughter of the Spanish Territorial Governor and is set in 1739, a year before a major siege by the British. Gabriella is 15, but has a lot of intelligence and pluck for a girl her age. By chance, she overhears something that starts a chain of events she has no control over.

I was rounding the corner on my way to the privy when I heard hushed and hurried voices ahead of me. They seemed to be moving in my direction rapidly. It was the sound of men who didn’t want to be overheard. Urgency marked their voices.

I ducked into an alcove, pressing myself against the wall. Secluded and shadowed, I was nearly invisible unless one looked directly at me. Grateful that I wore dark clothing and didn’t carry a candle, I virtually held my breath, seeking to make no noise.

The two men stopped just a few steps past my hiding place. I knew by his voice that one of them was James. The other man I didn’t recognize. James talked earnestly, looking furtively all around him. Not, thankfully, into my hiding place.

“I’m telling yew it mus’ be tonigh’!” The other man was speaking with roughly accented English in harsh undertones.

“Absolutely not! I forbid it!” James’ cultured voice held an authoritative edge. “It’s too soon. If we move now, all will be lost! We must plan this carefully. Tell General Oglethorpe that if this operation is to be a success, he must follow my lead. Tell him I’ll signal when the time is ripe.”

“Jes ‘ow do you pr’pose ta do tha’?” His companion growled. “Ligh’ a bloody sign’l fire?”

James barely held his temper. “In point of fact, I shall. Tell them to look to the south end of the fort and I’ll signal from there, but in my time! Tell him it could be months! Be gone now before we’re seen!”

With that, he rushed off in one direction. The other man, a sailor by his rolling gait, ran in the opposite. When I was sure they were gone, I eased out of the alcove and made my way to the privy.

I puzzled over the conversation I had overheard, not knowing quite what to make of it. The fort was in danger. I had heard something very secret indeed. Admittedly, I had difficulty putting James in the role of spy. Hadn’t he been a guest in our home? Surely James was beyond suspicion?

I didn’t know which way to turn or what to do. Who would ever believe me? They would call it childish, female fantasy and ignore me. I couldn’t tell Papa, he was too ill. I didn’t think the commandant would heed me. I had to say something! But to whom?

I heard a quiet voice call my name from across the hospital room. On his cot, Manuel had woken up and was calling me. Still weak, he managed to partially sit up, but couldn’t rise from his bed. As if a bolt of lightning hit me from above, I realized the obvious one to tell was Manuel. The commandant would believe him, but would Manuel believe me?

I was a child in his eyes, a little girl with big blue eyes and a wild imagination. I had been through much today, surely he would think that this was side effect of that over excitement. I owed him my brother’s life, but he in turn owed his to James. I hadn’t made up my mind when I reached his bed.

He smiled a weak version of his familiar, winsome smile. The twinkle in his eyes he always held for me was dim, but there. He was rapidly coming back to himself. I felt a flutter in my chest that was as pleasing as it was unfamiliar. He was so handsome it fairly took my breath.

His shirt was off and he was left only in his breeches. Having dried on him, they were tight across his powerful thighs. The sun bronzed muscles rippled in his back. I couldn’t help but admire his physique. His form was classic, like a statue of Adonis. Despite his injuries, he appeared virile, powerful, brave. I felt a warm thrill when he said my name yet again.

“Gabriella?”

I walked over to him quickly and quietly, not wishing to rouse anyone in the hospital. Manuel had many cuts and bruises on his arms, neck and back, as well as bruising and rope burns across his abdomen. His head was bound in a neat bandage, his right arm in a sling. A few of his ribs were wrapped. He tried to rise as I approached.

I smiled down at him. “No, Señor Enriques, please you must not try to stand. I’ll sit and then all will be well.” I pulled a stool near him.

He smiled at me again and his twinkle was stronger. “You’ve seen me near death, stripped almost to the bone and yet you call me Señor Enriques. It makes me sound like such an old man.” He sighed, shaking his head sagely. “I hear I owe my life in part to you. I insist you call me Manuel, and I shall call you – Señorita Deza.”

He winked wickedly and I blushed deeply, dropping my head in an effort to break eye contact with him. He was so close I could feel the warmth of his attentions and smell his manly scent. It was musky like sandalwood.

He lifted my chin gently with his uninjured hand. “You helped to pull me out of the sea. For that I thank you.”

I ducked my head again and this time he leaned his head sideways to gaze up into my face.

“So, she has no kind words for Manuel, eh? Well, perhaps one day she will. Perhaps too, she’ll save a dance for him at the next ball?”

I giggled almost hysterically at that. “Señor Enri-Manuel, I fear I can’t save a dance, for I’m not yet allowed to attend the parties.”

I blushed again feeling like a child, but this time I kept my head up and looked him in the eye. A slight frown played across his face.

“Well then, we’ll do this. When you have your fifteenth birthday party, will you allow Manuel to be your escort?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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He Thought He Saw by Dellani

ABC ChallengeA couple years ago, for the NaNoWriMo Challenge, I decided to branch out and try something new. Not only did I decide to do a contemporary fantasy novel, I decided to write it for young adults. For me, this was a double challenge. I’d never written this genre or for this age group before. I found that I liked it, so much so, I wrote a sequel in 2014. This is the opening of the book and, I hope, it appropriately sets the scene.

The full moon seemed to follow him as he walked down the road alone. Wind whispered in the trees and dried leaves clattered in its wake. An owl hooted. The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention.

The wind became voices. The leaves, the dry rattle of old bones. The sighing grew louder and Brian was able to pick out words. At least, he thought they were words, but in a language he couldn’t understand.

Picking up his pace, he glanced over his shoulder. Wispy figures gathered in the tree line around the swamp, moving slowly and steadily toward him. Brian tried to convince himself it was only his imagination, but it felt far too real.

One of the figures approached at a slow, loping run. Brian could hear the heavy, measured footfalls as it lumbered toward him. He completely lost his cool. Roaring loudly, he ran at the figure, dodging away when it grabbed at him. Chilling wind passed as the figure drifted away, dissipating as it headed to the woods on the other side of the road.

Brian ran along the center of the road, frightened by his encounter with the wraith. More of them gathered in the swampy woodland, but no others were bold enough to approach him. Hearing a twig snap to his left, Brian put on a burst of speed. With a cry of fear, he felt a shove at his back and tripped over his own feet. As he fell, he saw the wraiths grow bolder. They moved in unison, swooping toward him. Terrified, Brian lay on his belly, unsure how to combat them.

A solid form burst out of the bushes. A large dog stood over Brian, growling and barking. It took a moment for him to realize that the wraiths halted. Some tried to go a step or two further, but the dog renewed its attack. One by one the ghosts dispersed, melting into the fog once more.

Brian let his breath out slowly. The animal stood over him, but moved aside as he sat up. It was the biggest dog Brian had ever seen, broad through the chest with powerful legs and a ridge of hair down his spine. It looked silver in the moonlight.

Curious, Brian reached slowly toward it, hand out, palm up. The beast’s tongue flicked out, licking his cheek. Her warm breath convinced the boy that the dog was alive and real. She slurped him again, butting his hand so he’d pet her. Laughing, he complied.

“Where did you come from, girl?” Predictably, he got no reply. “Never mind, I’m just glad you’re here.”

He got up, dusting himself off. Leaves stuck to his body, mud caked every inch of him. Twigs and more leaves adorned his closely cropped hair. Getting his bearings, he headed toward home once more. The dog walked with him, her head under his hand. Her tongue lolled and she looked as if she were laughing at his appearance.

“You take a header into a mud puddle and see how good you look.”

The dog barked gleefully. She dashed ahead, sniffed and snorted, before trotting back to his side. She stayed with him until they reached his home. With a yip, she left him, drifting into the woods. The front door banged shut with a comforting thump behind him. Heaving a sigh of relief, Brian locked and bolted the door. He leaned against it, panting. His hands shook and he felt light headed. His heart thumped so hard in his chest, he could hear it in his ears.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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