coming soon

Project Fierce: Preorder

projectfierce

I combed through my recent entries and realized I’ve neglected to unveil Project Fierce here on the blog.

Project Fierce Chicago is up for pre-order here and you can enjoy 15% off on this beautifully large, richly diverse volume through the afternoon of July 15th.

My story, Castle on a Cloud, was inspired by The Little Matchstick Girl but of course I had to go and give it a happy-ending twist … and a bit of a steampunk makeover along with a few other surprises.

The project benefits LGBTQ homeless youth in Chicago, so you’re not only investing in some quality fiction by a number of talented authors, but the entire proceeds go straight to charity. I finished proofing my galley copy this morning (for my story, I wouldn’t be so hubristic as to go through the whole thing) and you all are in for a treat!

More posts to come, so check back tomorrow and Saturday for news and a chance to win a shiny prize.

Signal to Noise audio book giveaway

To honor the upcoming audio book release of Signal to Noise, as well as the upcoming sequel Klaxon at the Core, available for pre-order here, let’s get this party started!

This is an audio book giveaway for Signal to Noise.

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It’s been three years since the Incursion; three long years since Bastian and his twin brother Theo became the sole survivors on the planet Noise. Their distress calls have gone unanswered, and they are running out of supplies. They have no one but each other. And when the long-awaited rescue finally arrives, it brings with it complications that make being alone and forgotten look easy.

The listing for this audio book is available here. It’s 6 hours and 38 minutes long. I will email a ZIP audio file to the winner once I’ve selected and heard back. I choose the winner with random.org.

Entering for this giveaway is a two-part process. I know, I’m making you work for it a little, but a free audio book is pretty awesome, and I’ve been listening to it over the past week–trust me, it’s worth it. Also, I don’t have a marketing team, so having you spread the word is a huge help.

1. Do one (or more) of the following:

– Tweet, or retweet, about Klaxon at the Core’s upcoming release, such as my tweet here.
– Blog, or reblog, about Klaxon at the Core’s upcoming release, such as my tumblr post here.
– Post about Klaxon at the Core’s release on Facebook, or share my update here
– Review Signal to Noise on Goodreads, Amazon, or anywhere on the web. If you’ve already reviewed it, that still counts! It doesn’t have to be a long review, either–a sentence or two letting people know what you thought of the book (and maybe why they should read it) is all that’s needed to qualify.
– Promote the release of Klaxon at the Core in any way I haven’t mentioned and link back to the publisher listing here.

2. Drop a comment here and link me to your reblog, retweet, shared post, review, or any kind of promo that spreads the word. Make sure to include an email address or means of contact. Winners will be chosen Monday, June 23rd, evening Pacific time.

If you haven’t done a promo and a comment, the entry is invalid.

Questions? Ask away! Thank you for your support, and stay tuned for an awesome Klaxon at the Core giveaway yet to come. ♥ May your reading list be long and bring you everything you love!

Up next: Signal to Noise in audio and its sequel

Big news! Everything’s coming up Psionic Frequency.

That’s right, it’s a series now.

I’ve even got a super-secret brand new folder with a working title in the brand new Psionic Frequency folder on my hard drive. Tis a beautiful thing.

Want to know what else is beautiful?

signalaudio400

Sweet, sweet audio books. More specifically, Signal to Noise on audio book. Coming soon to most major audio book etailers! It will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes on or around Friday, June 20th.

You may be able to score a free copy sooner, so mark your calendar and check this space for a giveaway opening this Sunday, the 15th! If I could get my shizz together I’d open it on Friday the 13th because that tickles me, but let me be honest, I’ve been spending the majority of my free time playing Mass Effect lately. I mean writing and incorporating edits. Well, that too. Honest.

Also exciting:

Klaxon at the Core

Klaxon at the Core is up for pre-order! The (mis)adventures of Theo and Bastian continue in this intrigue and action-packed sequel to my first sci-fi horror. And it will be a dual giveaway–you can put in for a chance to win an ebook copy of Klaxon at the Core for double incentive to mark you calendar and check this space Sunday.

More news coming soon, because I’ve been naughty and neglectful and have quite a backlog of things to share.

WIP Wednesday and Thursday giveaway

First and foremost! Less Than Three Press is still running their fabulous FREE BOOKS giveaway tomorrow, so keep an eye on their Tumblr or @LT3Press at the top of each hour.

At some point tomorrow, Signal to Noise will be up for free for a whole hour – so if you haven’t yet nabbed a copy, here comes your chance! It’s a good time to brush up, because its sequel Klaxon at the Core makes the drop in June!

Today’s WIP Wednesday is a teaser for my most recently accepted story, “Castle on a Cloud,” which will be a part of the Project Fierce charity anthology.

    Jant Keed came to the cloudborne city of Skyrill to live out the opportunities that he and his brother Brannant could only dream of from afar. Instead, he finds himself on the street scraping by for each brass bit to make it from one day to the next. As he seeks shelter from the cold, he finds himself trading the tinders he could sell for visions that lure him to a turning point. The choice Jant makes could mean a bright future, or the end of one.

Jant Keed braced himself against the cold slap of wind that rolled in from the far side of the park’s expanse of manicured lawn. He tried to warm his chilled fingers with scant breath and wondered if there was a chance in the Frozen Hells he’d sell enough tinder to rent a cot to stay alive one night longer. The odds for a sale were increasingly small in the affluent upper terrace he’d spent his last brass bit to reach but the locale hadn’t been his choice. Skyrill was packed from lowton to royal tier for Midwinter’s Festival of Turning.

The Festival of Turning was such a pivotal celebration to the Four Aspects faith that Jant wasn’t surprised the cloudborne city of Skyrill was filled to capacity. Even guttersnipes had been evicted from trash bins by those higher on the street pecking order. Tradesmen were crammed in like canned fish in the gear district, grinders and beggars were pushed out of their usual pockets to fend for themselves, and even the tiniest tots had been displaced to seek a mercy shelter or run barefoot until they found a night’s charity. Jant himself had been elbowed out of the plot where he usually sold his pitch—a poor enough place between an alley and a trash heap—by a pair of older air whips with tousled dirty hair and sneers that promised violence.

On a clear, fair weather day the upper terraces like Proudmarch weren’t such a bad place to be. He’d even come more than once to admire the houses as much as to attempt his pitch. Jant shivered as another cold gust cut across his back. He attempted to curl himself into a tighter, more compact ball with his arms looped around his knees and gazed out over the empty walks that criss-crossed the front of the park. The sight summoned fresh misery that made his stoic expression crumble but he could only allow a brief, pained grimace before wiping it clean. He’d taken the steamcar to Proudmarch because he’d figured he wouldn’t have to fight for shill space, but there would be foot traffic enough to keep him in coin for one night more.

Showed how much Jant knew.

Proudmarch was deserted, and likely the other upper terraces as well. Jant had seen exactly two souls since his boots had left the steamcar and both of those had been servant class, proud enough in their finery but pressed for time or money. They didn’t need Jant’s tinder. All the fine houses were closed up tight, none in need of the heat or light Jant could provide with the self-contained globes of fire he could summon up to his palm and sell.

Fire was auspicious and in need in a place like Skyrill that had its share of a plentiful three—air, earth, and water—but was touched by fire only at dawn and dusk. Jant’s Aspect was fire and he thought he’d do well enough on the streets of Skyrill for all that, but he’d learned fast that his command of his Aspect was so slight as to be considered laughable. He could conjure tinder and make flames dance but not much more.

His eyes pricked and he steeled his face to hardness again, lifting a hand to summon up a bit of tinder. Fire burst into red-gold glory for an instant before Jant pulled on the flame with the ease of long practice, twisting it round itself. The surface formed a glassine orb, warm to the touch and etched in the flickering colors of the flame he’d summoned. He cradled the tinder in his hand and bit his lip against a sigh. He could cast it at his feet to release the flame again and it would warm him for a little while. Without a sale, though, it wouldn’t do anything for him; not fill his belly, nor find him shelter for the night. Each tinder used up a bit of his spirit and without the replenishment of food or sleep he’d be done for. Jant had seen his share of wide-eyed corpses over the past few days, left out overnight without any other option. He didn’t want to be one of them.

He straightened and hugged his knees as a tall man strode past with purposeful strides, his back toward Jant as he passed by the park. Jant half-stretched a hand and croaked, but by the time he’d cleared his throat Fehrad was gone.

Why wouldn’t he be? Jant’s doleful thought followed. Fehrad Bezuyt was a kind man, to be sure, having stopped a fair number of times on the street to buy tinder from Jant and share a few words of encouragement or advice. He was also too important to be dallying with the likes of Jant. A butler of House LeVries could have scraped Jant or his peers from the soles of his boots. It still caught Jant by surprise to be addressed by Fehrad on occasion.

If Fehrad was headed for Clairewater, the LeVries’ estate, at such a clip then he had business and no time for dallying. Jant balanced the tinder he’d conjured between his knees and stared with longing at the place where Fehrad’s wool-garbed broad shoulders had disappeared.

Jant had never seen a Kemet, one of the dark-skinned races to the far southeast, before coming to Skyrill. Fehrad had been the first and remained the most handsome to Jant’s eyes. He had a lean, sharp face with a pointed nose and thin lips that parted to reveal a brilliant smile with ready ease. He cut a stunning figure in his wool suits and waistcoats, or light linen when the weather permitted. Even in milder seasons the winds that buffeted Skyrill could be fierce. It was his hands that had truly snared Jant’s attention, though, being sturdy and calloused in a way that denoted he was no stranger to laborious work but well-shaped as fine sculpture for all that.

If he could have garnered Fehrad’s attention for a moment, he might have kindly purchased the tinder—at twice Jant’s asking price, as usual—but offered no further solace than for him to move along. There was no place in lowton, though, and Jant’s shiver wasn’t inspired by the wind when he considered the places he’d already been pushed out that day.

The cold was fierce enough, and the terrace empty enough, that Jant had considered breaking a window and crawling into one of the fine homes to hide for the night. At least the afternoon. Mayhem & Mischief’s patented alarm system would send up a clamor right quick, though, rousting the constables from their comfortable seats in the gastropub by the steam-rail station. They would find him with no great effort and the lockup would await him.

Jant’s thoughts traveled involuntarily to the sight of the great gray slate of the lockup, a terrace set apart from Skyrill’s storied propulsion-suspended levels. The dread that choked him was born of more than the prospect of being jailed. If he were to go there … they would find out. People would discover what he was. And a swift death would be the kindest thing that could await him.

His own parents had turned him out after his older brother Brannant had died—and why wouldn’t they? A boy spirit born into a girl’s body was evil, unlucky, impure. Jant’s spirit was tainted and it had been no great surprise to discover his Aspect was so limited. It had probably been stunted by the twisting of his own spirit from what had been intended in the body where he’d taken root.

He breathed on his chapped hands and turned his thoughts forcibly from the miserable realities that had brought him there. He had to focus on what came next.

Instead of breaking in someplace, Jant would keep watch in the park, alert for some stray worker who wasn’t at a worship center. He’d hide as the constables made their final rounds before turning in for the night to take their ease at the gastropub while they watched the main worship rites on the transmit-tube. At that point he could wedge himself under a bench and hope for the best. It wouldn’t be warm, but he’d make as compact a shape of himself as he could. Theft had never much occurred to him even when he was scraping cobblestones for a bit of brass, but right then Jant would have eagerly taken a blanket from a line if anyone had been amiss to leave it there.

Jant looked down at his hands with numb concern as he realized he could scarcely feel them. He chafed his fingers together, blew on them again, and bitterly considered the impact of each exhalation as his spirit left with it.

He would freeze or his last breath would leave him before the constables made their next round.

Guest Blog at Joyfully Jay, plus giveaway!

Hop on over to Joyfully Jay today, and through Sunday, to read my guest blog “Heavy Metal Lover” extolling the virtues of mecha and how it’s played a surprising role in my creative development.

For today’s WIP Wednesday, I offer an exclusive excerpt of “Body Option” that isn’t available anywhere else.

BODYOP

    For five years, Grant Badu has been part of a solid fighting team with the Gemini Suit called Trefoil Argent. Together, they fly and fight so effectively, their combat record so impressive, that they’ve become informally known as the Infallible Duo.

    When a case containing classified military innovations is stolen and shot down in the foothills of disputed border territory, Grant and Argent are tapped for its swift recovery. But the mission requires pilot Argent to take on the one cybernetic option he’s been avoiding, for reasons even Grant doesn’t know.

***

The heels of Grant’s boots, polished to mirror levels of shine, clicked sharply on the tiled surface as he strode up the hallway that led to the Pegasus Eyrie’s mission room. When the Gemini Suit program had been established, Crestovia’s Air Armed Forces—AAF to everyone—had created stations at strategic points across the country that had been dubbed ‘Eyries’ for the Suits they deployed. Each line, from Raptor to the latest Hawk, was named for birds of prey and the station designations had stuck. He had been summoned back to the Eyrie that morning with a message flagged highest priority. The southern border had been quiet lately, so of course something had come up on Grant’s furlough, because that was his luck. Icarus Eyrie was closer to the southern lines, but when something required a lightning strike and guaranteed success, the AAF always tapped the Infallible Duo.

He reached the mission room and paused on the threshold as always, tossing off a crisp salute and admiring the view, perched as it was over the flight deck that launched the Gemini Suits. Argent’s chirp of greeting was loud in his ear from his position on Grant’s shoulder.

“Captain Badu, please enter.” An older, white-haired man with a silvery moustache was present at the head of the table. A general, Grant noted his insignia with surprise. They were infrequently graced with the presence of someone that high in the ranks.

“And my partner, Trefoil Argent,” Grant said pointedly, gesturing to the silver-metallic bird of prey on his shoulder. The fact that Argent was attending the mission meeting in peripheral form, rather than flesh, was something that shouldn’t go without acknowledgment.

“And the immensely talented Trefoil Argent, of course,” Dr. Badger Prane was quick to add, in the manner of an introduction.

“Ah, yes,” the general said, clasping his hands and bending a stare on Argent, who bobbed his head in a preening motion though his pinions required maintenance rather than grooming. “The other half of our Infallible Duo.”

An auspicious greeting, Grant noted, wishing he could make the comment in aside to Argent, but he hadn’t mastered the skill of sub-vocalization, while Argent could make free with his remarks to Grant without others hearing. “Sir?”

“Please, be seated,” the general said. “I’m General Drake Barcek, I’ve been in weapons development for the past five years since receiving my latest star.”

Grant nodded, seating himself at the table and taking note of those present. Dr. Prane was one of the top minds in the Gemini Suit program, and made the rounds constantly to ensure that the pilots were well-treated and looked after. Across from him was Grant’s own commanding officer, Lieutenant General Jasinder Palova, looking stern. Her dark face shuttered in a considering squint and her uniformed arms were folded across her chest. Typically there was more support staff for a mission briefing; the lack of extra faces around their table had him wondering.

Must be secret weapons development, Argent remarked in his ear. Grant responded with the slightest dip of his chin to indicate agreement.

“A plane went down in the Cressian range this morning,” General Barcek said, lacing his fingers together and sending a formidable pale-blue gaze Grant’s way. “The plane was carrying proprietary technology obtained through espionage. Unfortunately for the Bah’zeth, but fortunately for us, they flew toward Bahazeth without the proper airspace access codes, and were shot down.”

One of Grant’s brows winched upward. “One of our own turned on us, and tried to make off with Crestovian military technology,” he summarized.

“In short.” A flicker of annoyance crossed General Barcek’s face. “This is bad for us, very bad. Our available data indicate the plane crashed in one of those cave-riddled areas. We need to send someone for retrieval, and fast.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Grant said, glancing at his colleagues and noting that Dr. Prane was grimacing and gnawing a knuckle. “That’s the kind of mission we can launch for, as soon as Trefoil Argent is prepped.” At the periphery of his vision, Lieutenant General Palova began to shake her head.

“It’s not that simple,” General Barcek said.

Of course it’s not, Argent said in his ear. Grant ignored him.

Dr. Prane left off gnawing his knuckle and sat forward in his chair, spine upright and eyes wide.

“It’s been brought to my attention, when I reviewed your specs for the mission, that Trefoil Argent does not have a body option,” General Barcek said. There was mild censure in his voice.

“I wasn’t aware that existing as a cybernetic suit required one,” Argent piped up, the fluting tones of his high tenor undercutting the saucy delivery that bordered insubordination. When dawning horror broke over Lieutenant General Palova’s face, he added a sharp, “Sir.”

“Not require, no,” General Barcek said slowly, pushing his fingers upward and steepling them, brows lowered as his eyes swiveled to pin Argent with a long stare. “Unusual. Most pilots your age, racking up hazard pay at the rate you have, can count a body option among the list of their peripherals to walk among us … enjoy the fullest life has to offer, as it were.”

“I quite like this peripheral, and my other cybernetic options. After all, a body option cannot fly.” Argent unfolded one silvery wing and extended it, birdlike head cocking as if to view it. “Sir.”

General Barcek grunted and shifted in his seat. “Couldn’t believe it when they told me,” he said, shaking his head. “A pilot of your considerable skill, long since financially solvent past the cost of cybernetic debt, and you don’t have a body option.”

Argent’s beak opened. Grant reached his hand up and pinched it shut.

“General Barcek, are we making conversation, or is there a point to this line of inquiry?” Grant asked. It was direct to the point of rudeness, and Lieutenant General Palova’s eyes narrowed in a very particular way that let him know he’d be getting his ears dismantled and whacked against his head later, but his question was worlds closer to social acceptability than anything Argent would have delivered.

“Yes.” General Barcek coughed into his fist, began to turn red, and re-settled in his chair, folding his hands beside a tablet display. “This mission will require Trefoil Argent to be assigned a body option.”

Grant removed his fingers in haste as Argent twisted his beak out from thumb and forefinger, head tilting in the way that meant he was going to nip, hard.

“It’s quite a steal for you,” General Barcek was saying. “Haven’t paid the money out for one, already, and now the AAF will foot the bill because we need you to have it for this mission. Works out quite well, when you look at it that way.”

“What if I don’t look at it that way?” Argent said flatly. “I’ve never seen the need for soft and squishy parts. I’m a pilot. I fly, I don’t—” He snapped his beak shut.

Grant huffed and thanked his own lucky star that Argent hadn’t completed that thought in front of the General. We’re fighter pilots, we fly and we fuck. Argent had never gone with the peripheral that would let him follow through on the second. He did plenty of the first, and claimed it was all he needed.

Grant went stone-faced to avoid betraying any expression to General Barcek, Dr. Prane or even their commanding officer. Dr. Prane and Lieutenant General Palova had questioned him repeatedly, right around the time of Argent’s yearly flight-readiness evaluations, on why Argent consistently held off on getting a body option. Grant’s loyalty sealed his lips. In truth, though, he didn’t know. It was one of the few things Argent had never confided in him, and Grant had too much stubborn pride to ask for something not freely given.

“Lieutenant Argent,” Lieutenant General Palova said sharply.

Argent tilted his beak in the air and shut up, but turned his head so one black eye-lens was fixed on those assembled at the table.

“This mission requires it,” General Barcek said, straightening his shoulders. He had a barrel chest that was halfway slid into a gut that strained the seams of his deep green military tunic.

“Any multi-legged cybernetic peripheral worth its weight–”

General Barcek spoke over him, raising his voice and increasing in volume until Argent fell silent again. “For those unfamiliar with the cave system of the Cressian range,” he said, modulating his volume when Argent ceased speaking, “it’s riddled with veins of lead and other heavy metals, those with insulating, signal-dampening effects.”

Grant’s jaw tightened and his nostrils flared. “Metal peripherals won’t do well there,” he re-phrased, to confirm his own understanding.

“Your metal peripherals will not do well there,” General Barcek repeated, fixing Argent with a gimlet stare. “The link for the body option is different, and stronger, based as it is on DNA rather than circuitry. You don’t uplink, you transfer.”

Argent’s metallic pinions rattled together as he shifted on Grant’s shoulder. Grant tried not to frown; existing through cybernetic peripherals as he did, Argent had no need to fidget. He was making his opinion known with that rattle.

“It’s a two-person mission on foot,” General Barcek continued. “Our coordinates can put you in the approximate location where the fighter plane was downed, but gunner and pilot will need to proceed into the caves to track down and retrieve that case.”

“It’s imperative that we deploy our best team immediately in order to recover that technology,” Lieutenant General Palova said, taking up the thread of the mission briefing. “Without question, Captain Badu, Lieutenant Argent, you are that team. Which brings us to this table, here and now.” She rapped her knuckles on the table’s surface.

“Thank you,” Grant said, when it became apparent no one else would speak, especially Argent who only rattled his pinions again. He smoothed a dark-skinned hand down the front of his uniform and tugged. He was still in fighting trim beneath his green tunic, though his days of working up from foot soldier to fighter pilot were long past. He had manned the weapons from Trefoil Argent’s cockpit for eight years once he’d promoted into the Gemini Suit project at twenty-four, and the suspension rig was enough effort that he had to keep up on regular workouts and stamina runs to remain fit for the job. “General. Lieutenant General. I’ll fly wherever Argent takes me, but accepting this mission comes down to his choice.”

It was Dr. Prane who spoke up, manner soft and conciliatory. “Argent?”

Argent replied with several strident clicks and caws more reminiscent of the bird of prey that his current form resembled—a shape he’d chosen for his primary off-duty cybernetic peripheral. At last, following a conclusive sharp click, he settled down, talons squeezing Grant’s shoulder until he grunted. “Not like I have much choice, sir. I guess I’m getting a body option.”

***

Release date: Wednesday, April 2nd.
Pre-order here.

Body Option: Pre-order and giveaway

Happy Sunday, everyone! Do you mecha? My latest, Body Option, is available now for pre-order, and there’s also a lovely giveaway.

BODYOP

For five years, Grant Badu has been part of a solid fighting team with the Gemini Suit called Trefoil Argent. Together, they fly and fight so effectively, their combat record so impressive, that they’ve become informally known as the Infallible Duo.

When a case containing classified military innovations is stolen and shot down in the foothills of disputed border territory, Grant and Argent are tapped for its swift recovery. But the mission requires pilot Argent to take on the one cybernetic option he’s been avoiding, for reasons even Grant doesn’t know.

Preorder here and enjoy 15% off savings up through the afternoon of Tuesday, April 1st.

You can also sign up for the Goodreads giveaway here through Tuesday, March 25th.

Sign up for the giveaway, and if you don’t win, there’s still a week to pre-order at the 15% discounted price. Enjoy!