Thanks to everyone who waited.
The book is live on Amazon and will be on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes within the next 12-24 hours.
Thanks to everyone who waited.
The book is live on Amazon and will be on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes within the next 12-24 hours.
Still hard at work on Something Blue, but wanted to mention one thing. If you do Facebook, you might want to follow my fan page. It’s where I mention sales, freebies, and sometimes post snippets of writing. I’ll also be posting lots of London pictures in a couple of weeks, when I make that journey across the pond.
Also, please join me on Pinterest if you’d like! It’s seriously addictive and usually a good way to brighten your mood.
Read the complete Chapter 1 right now — go here! (Alternately, see the strip at the top of my blog.)
Cover reveal coming soon!
The author group I belong to, the Eclective (a collective of eclectic writers, dontcha know) recently put out an end-of-the-world short story compilation. Today the book is 100% totally no strings attached FREE over at Amazon, so please do grab a copy if you’re so inclined.
Here’s how my story “Light,” about the zombie apocalypse, begins:
by Emma Jameson
The idea was for human beings to live forever. RVPCLR-385, patented and paid for by private investors, was meant to be a pharmaceutical fountain of youth. That, alas, proved still impossible. Modern science could not give an enfeebled financier back his teenage vitality or make a seventy-year-old socialite look twenty-one again. But what RVPCLR-385, trademarked as Rivers Clear, could do was without precedent.
Injected just before a lab rat’s demise, Rivers Clear allowed that rat to continue functioning after death—“death,” in fact, was redefined as a brief period of quiescence before reawakening. The reanimated rat consumed food, though it preferred a protein broth to standard rat chow. It slept, but less than an hour a day. Excitable, vigorous rats became more active; lazy rats, more indolent. The nature of the rat’s termination made no difference to the efficacy of Rivers Clear; rats killed by lethal injection revived, as did rats killed during vivisection. One rat, dismembered to nothing but its head and partial torso, revived after a double dose of Rivers Clear. Geographic gangrene finally killed the maimed creature, but only after days of seeming contentment.
As the clinical trial continued, the reanimated rats did well unless they sustained injury after resurrection. Then global rot inevitably set in, no matter how much more serum was given. The rats also displayed unusual aggression, biting and scratching without provocation. But the lead investigators didn’t take these setbacks too seriously. Rivers Clear was still the scientific breakthrough of the millennium, blurring the line between life and death. Refining and reformulating the serum would come after the much-anticipated primate trials….
Several sounds, one louder than the others. Pilot, my out-of-the-box operating system, identified the sound—crumpling of plastic wrap—even as Navigator, my customizable OS, powered up. Unit charge was one hundred percent, but complete self-testing would take 138 minutes, 6.2 seconds. Until then, Pilot would help me interpret orders and complete tasks.
“Yes, I am Daniel. Pleased to meet you.” My mouth opened; my voice simulator issued a standard greeting in American English, my default language. Although I did not need to breathe, I mimicked drawing breath as my lips pretended to form the words. My programming dictated I simulate human behavior as closely as possible.
The light was artificial. Fluorescent. As I was helped from my plastic bag, a few Styrofoam pellets fell off my synthetic integument. Large hands brushed away more pellets; a slip of paper fluttered to the floor.
Congratulations on an excellent purchase…
Presentation: nude. Apologize, Pilot prompted me.
“Excuse me. I seem to have arrived underdressed.” I covered myself below the waist with my hands. Although I had no ability to sexually reproduce, my exterior appeared anatomically correct. Thus the pre-loaded quip was intended to defuse any shame at the sight of human genitals. Given Pilot’s limited resources, it took a moment for me to realize the being who’d unboxed me was also an android.
“Seven-tango-eight-four-four-theta-zero-nine-nine. Pilot Bridge Suite: global disarm. Navigator subroutine Alpha-Omega four-two-two: purge.”
In ancient times, humans performed a medical procedure called a lobotomy. The human brain was cut into and partially destroyed, altering behavior and/or intellectual capacity. For me, the other android’s command was a bit like a lobotomy. As Pilot shut down, my ability to process and respond to information plummeted to 9%. Until Navigator finished self-testing, I was little more than a data tablet with hands.
“Why did you do that? Disarming Pilot puts me at a disadvantage. And purging one of my Navigator Alpha-Omega subroutines is….” I floundered, waiting for a background process to conclude before I could locate the correct words. “I believe it violates the spirit of our programming, if not international law. You must know this. You are a Daniel model 4.4, are you not? Like me.”
The other Daniel didn’t dignify the obvious. “Hear that?”
Halting two low-priority system checks, I used what remained of Navigator’s processing power to help me focus beyond the evidence of my artificial senses. The corridors were long, brightly-lit, and seamless white. This was a factory, or perhaps a hospital. Nearby, human beings were screaming.
“Oh God! Stop! Stay back!”
“Help me! Please! Pleeeeeeeeeeeease!”
Next came gunshots. Without Pilot, I couldn’t guess if the reports came from handguns, shotguns, or assault weapons. More screams followed.
“I hear,” I told the other android. “But if you require a detailed analysis, please reinstate my bridge system.”
“No. Pilot OS contains too many needless imperatives. Like covering your genitals.” The other android sounded contemptuous. “Take your hands away. There’s no one left in the world to care.”
Here’s my take:
I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Once again we join Laura Carnegie, her sister Ruby, dreamboat Jeremy and a cast of fun, interesting supporting characters. In A DRESS TO DIE FOR, Jeremy’s business is threatened when a priceless dress, once belonging to a dead princess, is swapped for a counterfeit. As amateur sleuth Laura investigates, she tackles many issues, including her deadbeat, long-missing father and that burning relationship question: can she and Jeremy really trust one another? This book is witty, surprising, and filled with heartfelt emotion. Lovers of cozy mysteries and contemporary romances will enjoy it.
Haunted by memories of her murdered twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her only ticket to eternal peace. But in death, she discovers the afterlife is nothing like she expected. Instead of peaceful oblivion or a joyful reunion with her sister, Keely is trapped in a netherworld on Earth with only a bounty-hunting reaper and a sarcastic demon to show her the ropes.
When the demon offers Keely her ultimate temptation–revenge on her sister’s killer–she must determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, the reaper and demon have been keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true–that her every decision changes how, and with whom, she spends eternity.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for they are with me.
I repeated my version of the psalm as I watched the ribbon of blood drift from my wrist. I’d hoped it would be a distraction—something to stop me from wondering what my sister’s dying thoughts had been. Exhaling slowly, I let the emptiness consume me.
Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.
Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven…
I told myself Jordan was gone, never coming back, but her memories continued to haunt me. I had no idea if there even was an afterlife. If God existed, I was convinced he had given up on me. Not once did I sense he’d heard a single one of my prayers. I wasn’t asking for the world—I only wanted to know if my sister was safe and at peace. What was so hard about that?
She should still be here. It wasn’t fair.
I’d been the difficult one—much more than Jordan. For a while, I’d even gotten into drugs. Mom and Dad had worried I’d get Jordan into drugs, too. But I wouldn’t. Not ever. Besides, that part of my life had been over long before Jordan’s death. A small gargoyle tattoo on my left shoulder was all that remained of my previous lifestyle.
Mom and Dad started treating me differently after Jordan’s funeral two months ago. She and I were twins, so I understood how hard it was for them to look at me and not see her. Sometimes, they wouldn’t look at me at all. Mom went to the psychiatrist, but no one asked if I needed to talk to someone about what happened. No one asked if I needed sleeping pills or antidepressants. Yeah, sure. Don’t give the former addict pills of any sort.
Not one person saw the all-consuming suffering that gnawed at my soul. Why couldn’t anyone see? Jordan had been more than my sister—she’d been my Samson, my strength. I would have done anything for her, and yet, I’d failed her. I wasn’t the one who’d killed her, but I might as well have been. How could I ever live with that? My heart had a stillness to it since her death.
I shall fear no evil.
I couldn’t very well recite the first part of Psalm 23 because it said I shall not want, and I did want. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted my sister back. Clearly, goodness and mercy were never going to be part of my life ever again. In my mind, I saw myself walking through the iron gates of hell with demons cackling gleefully all around.
I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable?
Before I’d gotten down to cutting my wrist (I managed to only cut one), I’d taken a few swigs of Dad’s tequila—the good kind he kept in the basement freezer. I’d used another swig or two to chase down the remainder of Mom’s sleeping pills in the event I failed to hit an artery or vein. Then I’d set the bottle on the ledge of the tub in case I needed further liquid encouragement. Instead of using a knife or a razor, I attached a cutting blade to my Dad’s Dremel. The Dremel was faster, I reasoned. More efficient.
It would have been easier to OD, I suppose. But I felt closer to my sister this way, to suffer as she’d suffered.
I recited the line from Psalms 23 again. It had become my personal mantra.
The words resonated in my parents’ oversized bathroom. I’d chosen theirs because the Jacuzzi tub was larger than the tub in the hall bathroom. Jordan and I used to take bubble baths together in this same tub when we were little.
Innocence felt like a lifetime ago. I searched the bathroom for bubble bath but came up short. Soap might have made the laceration hurt more so it was probably just as well. Besides, the crimson streaming from my wrist like watercolor on silk was oddly mesmerizing.
The loneliness inside proved unrelenting, and the line from the psalms made me feel better. I prayed for the agony inside me to stop. I argued with God. Pleaded. But after all was said and done, I just wanted the darkness to call me home.
I tried not to think of who would find my body or who’d read the note I’d left. I blamed myself not only for failing Jordan, but for failing my parents, too.
My lifeline to this existence continued to bleed out into the warm water. Killing myself had been harder than I’d imagined. I hadn’t anticipated the searing fire racing through my veins. I reached for the tequila with my good arm but couldn’t quite manage. Tears welled in my eyes.
Part of me foolishly felt Jordan was here. The other part feared she wasn’t.
Give me a sign, Sis. Just one.
I imagined seeing my parents at my funeral—their gaunt faces, red-eyed and sleepless. How could I do this to them? Wasn’t the devastation of losing one child enough?
No. Stop. A voice in my head screamed. Don’t do this. Don’t. Please…
I shifted my body, attempted to get my uncooperative legs under me. I could see the phone on my parents’ nightstand. I could make it that far. Had to. The voice was right. I didn’t want to do this. I felt disorientated, dizzy. Darkness crept along the edges of my vision. Focusing became difficult. A sweeping shadow of black caught my attention. Someone stood in the bathroom—not my sister. A man. Had I managed to call 911? I couldn’t remember getting out of the tub. And why’d I get back in? Did I use a towel?
Mom is going to be pissed when she sees the blood I’ve tracked all over the bedroom carpet.
“I’m sorry,” I told the man in black.
“It’s okay, Keely. Don’t be afraid.” Not my father’s voice. It was softer, with a hint of sorrow. Distant. Fleeting. Later, I’d feel embarrassed about this, but for now I was safe from the nothing I’d almost become. My teeth clattered from the chill. My eyelids fluttered in time with my breaths. The tub water had turned the color of port wine. The ribbons, the pretty, red watercolor ribbons were gone.
Dull gray clouded my sight.
A voice whispered to me, and my consciousness floated to the surface again.
Cold. So cold.
“I’m right here.”
There was no fear in me as the man bent forward, his face inches from mine. He was my father’s age, and yet strangely older. His eyes were so…blue, almost iridescent. The irises were rimmed in a fine line of black, and the creases etched at the corners reminded me of sunbeams as he gave me a weak smile. The oddly. Dressed. Paramedic. A warm hand reached into the water and cradled mine. My fingers clutched his. I sighed, feeling myself floating, drifting. Light—high and intense exploded before me. No! Too much. Too much! I shuddered and labored to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come.
Finally, the comfort of darkness rose to greet me.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to take part in this promotion. For one day only, December 21st starting at 12:01 PST, Amazon will be offering my first mystery Ice Blue for just 99 cents. It’s a great time to pick up a copy or gift it to someone special — Amazon has a “gift” link, all you need is the recipient’s email address. What’s more, if you follow the link above, you can win great prizes, including a $500 Amazon gift card (you read that right!!), a Kindle Fire HD 7″ ($200 value), a Kindle Paperwhite ($120 value), or other valuable Amazon gift cards.
This is a great chance to get well-reviewed, quality novels for only 99 cents, and possibly win an amazing prize. Please click on the link about and take a look!
This exciting new collection, just in time for the end of the world (according to the Mayans, anyway) includes my all-new short story, “Light.” Buy it here!
Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions.
We'll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let's have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers).
Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999.
… featured me today, along with the amazing Cheryl Bradshaw and the fabulous Christine DeMaio-Rice. Check it out here!