Read the complete Chapter 1 right now — go here! (Alternately, see the strip at the top of my blog.)
Cover reveal coming soon!
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.”
Hello all, I’m sorry to have been away from my blog for so long. I had a minor health issue in January, then some author stuff (with my alter-ego) and before I knew it, a month had passed without any updates. Here’s the latest. Something Blue should arrive in mid-March. To apologize for the delay, I’m going to hold a couple of giveaways, so watch this space!
In the meantime, I hope to reveal the cover soon, and even the complete chapter one! It’s the least I can do after keeping everyone waiting.
In personal news, I’ll be visiting London in a whirlwind trip from March 3rd-March 6th. My dear friend and fellow author Rosemary O’Malley is coming along, and we can’t wait. While I’m there, I hope to meet up with my “man on the inside,” London resident and author Greg James, and ever-wise, ever witty David Gaughran. I’ve known them for so long through the magic of the internet, and I can’t wait to meet them in person!
We’ll be staying in Mayfair, the home of my fictional detective Lord Hetheridge (though we’ll be at the Holiday Inn, not a gracious townhouse.) And we’ll try to do all the touristy stuff, like the Tower of London, the London Eye, and maybe a pub crawl or two. We also have tickets to see James McAvoy play Macbeth at the Trafalgar theater. Consider this fair warning that my blog will be stuffed with pictures, because I bought a new camera for the occasion!
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.
Once again, since my contribution to the Eclective’s Haunted Collection is a Victorian horror story, here are some Victorian factoids from a post I wrote in 2011…
Cold air and foul smells caused illness. Or so most believed. This was the “miasma” theory. Because disease was carried by bad smells, surgeons felt free to operate while wearing the same coat, growing ever more stiff with blood and body fluids, for years. Joseph Lister, inventor of aseptic technique (the notion surgeons should wash their hands, don gloves, and avoid cross contamination while poking about in peoples’ innards) once famously rebuked a physician who, after each surgery, wiped his scalpel on the bottom on his boot before going on to the next patient. I doubt the offending doctor listened. Many of Lister’s fellow physicians considered him a neat freak, a scold, and a bit of hysteric. But he still got “Listerine” named after him.
That Victorian character described as having a “squint” or a “cast to the eye”? Nowadays, we’d call he or she cross-eyed. In the 1800s, there was no surgical intervention possible, so society was far more accepting of those with an eye that turned in toward the nose or drifted out toward the wall. It wasn’t even a detriment to romance. Once I read a novel which mentioned a pretty blonde girl “with a cast to her eye” dancing with all the eligible young men. Misaligned eyes, like cataracts or sudden blindness (probably from glaucoma or retinal detachment) were just part of life.
The leading cause of death in the nineteenth century was … Tuberculosis. A female between the ages of 15 and 35 had a 50% chance of dying of consumption. (Just like Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!) But around mid-century, Victorians won a huge victory against another scourge, smallpox. In an astonishingly inclusive move, Parliament soon acted to make vaccination free. But human nature being what it is, they eventually had to make not getting vaccinated against the law.
Victorian novels, personal diaries, and letters are filled with complaints of headaches. Some believe those headaches came from all the ARSENIC. Even a gracious home was filled with it — in the carpet, the wallpaper, and the upholstery, not to mention books, paint, cosmetics, and toys. Makes you wonder if two hundred years from now, folks will marvel how we managed to live so long while consuming high fructose corn syrup and walking around with mobile phones pressed to our skulls.
Opium was readily available, legal, and stamped with the British Imperial seal. Which was probably good, considering whatever ailed you wasn’t likely to be cured, only endured. The Victorian Era had an interesting libertarian slant. People felt free to lecture you about vices — tobacco, prostitutes, gin, and the hookah. But all were still legal.
The uterus made females acutely prone to melancholia, mania, and of course — hysteria. “Female hysteria” was a catch-all phrase for almost anything, including sadness, defiance, angry outbursts and disobedience. Eventually some doctor decided the appropriate treatment was — wait for it — south-of-the-border massage. The only problem? Many docs felt the process was extremely time-consuming, not to mention tedious, bringing their patients to that climatic finale. (Is it any wonder some of these ladies kept behaving badly and returning to their physicians for treatment?) By 1870, someone finally invented a vibrating machine, sold only to doctors, to satisfy the female hysterics more quickly and increase patient turnover. Read The Technology of Orgasm for more.
Men never showed weakness. Which probably subtracted as many years off their lives as anemia and overwork combined. The rules for a man were mostly emotional. He could be bright but not smart. He could be neat but not foppish. He couldn’t show too much interest in his children (effeminate) or expect his wife to welcome his attentions in the bedroom. He could never show fear or shed tears, even when injured. And a man who disgraced himself through bad investments or public humiliation had only one recourse: to shoot himself. Remember during the stock market crash of 1929, all those ruined Wall Street executives — mostly middle-aged men — tossing themselves out of windows? They were the sons of Victorians. In general, I hope the idea that financial ruin necessitates suicide died with them. Though I wouldn’t have minded if Bernie Madoff had decided to carry on the tradition.
I’ve been walking the road of self-publishing for quite a few years. Occasionally I will get an invite to attend as a panelist so that I can share what I’ve learned with others. I always keep a pen handy because you never know what you can pick up.
At the LTUE conference in Salt Lake City, UT earlier this year, I came across a new term. It sounded so sweet: companion novel. But what was it? I never heard that term before. A companion novel is a book that is only complete when it is paired with another book in a series. They are never meant to be read by themselves.
Another unique attribute of companion novels is the size. The official term is “novel.” However, their word count is usually between 14,000 and 25,000 words. This length of book is typically called a novella. I suppose if we can call Pluto a planet, we can call these companions “novels.”
You can easily identify a companion novel by their numbering within the series. Most are labeled with a .5 or ½. (i.e. 2.5 or Three and a half) I’ve heard other authors publish them to keep readers entertained between major books in a series. I quickly decided to take advantage of this new piece of information by releasing a companion novel of my own, although not for the typical reasons.
Prophecy of the Flame: Two and a Half – Love’s Reward was created because Book Three in the series was becoming too long. I had several chapters that were flashbacks. A companion novel would be perfect!
It has been 2 years since I released Book Two in the series – that is a long stretch. I hope my fans are still out there. I promise to be timelier with my books in the future: I got distracted with the screenplay for Book One. But, now, the screenplay is complete. Book Three will finally be released this winter.
Love’s Reward is a typical companion novel: A collection of short stories – only 21,000 words. It could never stand on its own. However, it will give more insight into some of the characters from Book Two as well as setting the stage for some of the new characters in Book Three, soon to be released.
If you would like to know more about the movie based on Book One or the storyline for the books, there is tons information at my Official Blog.
Here are a few more links you may find useful:
Led by a series of dreams and encouraged by friends, she began the journey to become an author. Lynn stored her work in a computer file labeled “second job.” Writing began as a passion she could not contain and has become much more than she ever expected.
Prophecy of the Flame – Book One became #1 on Amazon Kindle in 2010, shortly after Book Two released. There has been talk of a movie: Lynn finished the screenplay for Book One in 2012.
Lynn Hardy claims to be just your average stay-at-home mother of two. The road has been longer and more complicated than she would have ever guessed–not always smooth, but filled with wonderful surprises. Like most stories, I am sure that the journey has only just begun for this aspiring author
Many thanks to all who entered! The paperbacks will ship first thing tomorrow morning. Here are the winners:
Josephine from Longueuil, QC
Alyssa from Avon, IN
Lori from Kamloops, BC
Diane from Kingsland, TX
Karen from Pflugerville, TX
Betty from San Francisco, CA
Helena from Salem, OR
Vicky from Ingleside, IL
Merrie from Missouri City, TX
Olga from Williamsburg, OH
I hope you all enjoy Blue Murder!
1. Honor Thy Facebook Friends. Do Not Attack or Embarrass Them Publicly.
2. Remember Thine Real Life and Put it First.
3. Post about Religion, Politics and Social Justice Only Twice Daily.
4.Restrict Game Requests to Like-Minded Neighbors.
5. Thou Shalt Not Spam.
6. Thou Shalt Not Spread False Rumors or Cruel Jokes.
7. Thou Shalt Not Steal Something Really Good Without Crediting the Source.
8. Thou Shalt Not Reveal Personal Details or TMI About Thine Ass, or Thine Neighbor’s Ass.
9. Thou Shalt Not Cut/Paste a Private Message and Reveal It to All
10. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Status Update.
Okay, I almost never do this. But my friend and fellow indie author Arshad Ahsanuddin has just published a guide to formatting your own ebooks if you use Word 2010.
Let me tell you, for non-techies like me, formatting is scary stuff. I tried other guides and it just never quite worked. Enough small errors always persisted (weird indents, random spaces) to court bad reviews. You haven’t had the full indie experience until someone deducts a star from your review for “formatting issues.”
My friend Karin Cox has created a new site for Indie Authors. Go here to check it out — many features are free!
You’ll benefit from: