F.M. Meredith on the Old Becoming New Again

I know F. M. Meredith, the author of the Rocky Bluff mystery series, as Marilyn Meredith, virtual friend. She’s re-releasing some of the earlier books in her series through a new publisher and she generously offered to share with us what that was like.

F.M. Meredith, Marylyn MeredithWhen the publisher of my Rocky Bluff P.D. series suffered a series of debilitating strokes, like many of her authors, I hoped and prayed for a complete recovery. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I waited for nearly two years, but knew it was time I moved on.

Aakenbaaken and Kent published the next in the series and contracted with me to publish the rest. Because it had been so long ago when I wrote the first book, Final Respects, a decision had to be made. Since much has changed both in policing and the world since the publishing of this first book, should it be updated? The publisher decided, no, but that each one of the mysteries should be re-edited.

Because there are so many in the series, this was a big task, but one I was ready to take it on. Yes, I found typos, some inconsistencies and errors which I fixed. But I was happy to find that the stories and overall writing held up.

To bring those who don’t know about the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, it is set in a small fictitious town on the California coast between VenturaMystery writing, mystery series, mystery fiction and Santa Barbara. There is an ongoing cast of characters, the members of the RBPD and their families. Though it is a series, each book stands on its own with the mystery solved by the end.

My interest in writing about a police department and those who work there was brought on by my son-in-law, a police officer, who shared what went on at the job. He also took me on a ride-along. I later went on other ride-alongs with officers in another small town police department.

I’ve had a lot of help along the way from my law enforcement friends in the Public Safety Writers Association. http://policewriter.com/.

My new publisher has decided to make a major change in the covers of the books so they reflect the fact that each one belongs to the series.

Needless to say, I am delighted about the resurrection of my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

Marilyn Meredith who also writes as F. M. Meredith is the author of forty published novels, 13 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series and the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest A Cold Death from Mundania Press. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra, a place quite similar to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area. You can find out more about her on her webpage http://fictionforyou.com, or on her blog  https://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/ and you can follow her on Facebook.

The Big Cover Reveal

Yes, it’s time once again for the latest major release. Death of the Zanjero is the start of a  murder mystery series featuring Maddie Franklin Wilcox in Los Angeles, 1870.

In Los Angeles in 1870, water was scarce and the most powerful man in town was the Zanjero, or water overseer. And he was often the most corrupt, as well. When Zanjero Bert Rivers turns up dead in the irrigation ditch, or zanja, leading to young widow Maddie Wilcox’s vineyards, Maddie has the odd feeling he was murdered.

Then the undertaker’s wife, Mrs. Sutton, confirms that Rivers was shot, and not just hit on the head. Maddie finds herself drawn into finding the killer, first to see justice done, and then to save the skin of the one person she knows did not do it – the town’s most infamous madam, Regina Medina.

Maddie quickly discovers that Mr. Rivers was not the kind, upstanding civic benefactor he presented himself as, but a most despicable man who preyed on the weak and vulnerable, and cheated everyone else. With nearly everyone having a reason to kill the zanjero, Maddie stumbles on more than a few secrets and ends up in a chase that will tax her intellect, her soul and her very belief in humanity before she’s done.

The cover was done by my wonderful friend and even more awesome artist, Ginko Lee (who I’m sure is seriously regretting suggesting doing a cover for me). But, dang, this one is gorgeous! And here it is.

The Next Fiction Serial Has Been Delayed

Sigh.

It’s a good thing I re-read the beginning of A Nose for a Niedeman before I posted Chapter One today. After fixing a plot hole later in the book, I found that I’d created an even bigger one in the first two chapters.

Yeah. Exactly.

I’m not sure when I’m going to get the story fixed. Should be by the end of April. In the meantime, here’s the cover:

Missye K. Clarke on Becoming a Writer

Misyye K. Clarke

It’s always interesting to me how many of we writers started in our teens. Missye K. Clarke is yet another one. Here’s how it happened.

My writing life began with my coming into the world a true smartass. That happens when you’re born and raised in old-school New York City. Flushing, Queens to be precise. Strong assessment? Sure. But it got your attention. And, hey, old-school Big Apple residents often use strong anything.

But first, a bit of backstory.

I remember, for as long as could remember—with family stories backing said recollections—I started writing when I was four, that word “Freedom” in a fat green crayon on orange construction paper. Between that moment and when my being that smartass got me suspended for a month from riding the bus one way and in school, I hated writing.

Okay . . . hate’s too strong a word, as my late Granny would say. More like detested and dreaded writing. Book reports, that is (Aha! I see heads nodding in agreement and hands shooting up in solidarity with me!). Don’t get me wrong—reading was my strongest suit, my vocabulary reflecting as such in those school percentile tests and when I read the Macmillan Children’s Dictionary during weekends at my Granny’s whenever I got in trouble or told her I was bored. I loved getting lost in stories of boys watching an independent mouse work his toy motorcycle, or a little shy black cat with a red scarf discovering she had a skating talent to be part of her neighborhood cat club—or a sweet little girl channeling a jealous dead girl similar in age because the girl’s ghost was restless, the connection, a glass globe on a stone pedestal. What I didn’t like was summarizing these stories in writing, jotting my thoughts of said stories in these essays.

It wasn’t so much the writing that bothered me; if that were the case, I’d hate drafting sentences to use my newly-learned vocabulary words in. It was the drafting book reports of someone else’s imagination that, as a teacher discovered, was what I argued hard what the point was to prove I’d read the book. She tried an experiment when I didn’t turn in said detestable assignment: she let me orally summarize the story I’d read, since I was more expressive in this vein than most. And in other aspects, I couldn’t shut up.

The first oral report worked. A dozen others followed. She graded me in her marking book, happy for one less thing to read from a class of twenty-something students, sending my book report writing days to the cartoon graveyard at the ripe old age of eleven.

“And this all has to do you’re being a smart-aleck lead to writing, how, exactly Missye?”

Patience, Grasshopper (**she says sarcastically through a wry smirk**). Every good storyteller has a decent setup before the payoff.

Fast forward five years. I’m sixteen, well ensconced in northern Arizona—another blog post for another day, perhaps—and my younger sister and I are on the bus on a typical school day, which quickly went atypical.

The driver, an angry lumberjack bull lesbian female (which she honestly was, but insensitive to say nowadays), was either tired of trying to antagonize me or fed up with not breaking me with her instigation, began to pick on my sister. Sister started crying, the other kids were laughing at her for the rain, and I got super-pissed from this (only I’m supposed to pick on her, nobody else is! I’m kidding, but you know what I mean). So while “Marie” was still driving, I popped such a hot remark to and about her of her girlfriend dumping her, I think I saw cartoony sparks fly from me that could’ve set her plaid shirt on fire.

“Marie” slammed the brakes, radioed dispatch she’s not moving that bus one more inch until this kid—me—is off her bus IMMEDIATELY! In crocodile tears, too, I’ll add, but hey, I was in the wrong for wising off to somebody in authority. But she’d antagonized me one time too many—and as an afterthought too late to head off, that was her way to antagonize me. Adding insult to injury: not even my sister came to my defense in my defending her. Such was the hell of high school life.

Ironically, my sister got to stay on the bus, but while one of my parents drove me into school that morning, the kids whooped and hollered over so what I’d said, it hit the gossip mill all day plus two more. I was an anti-celebrity of sorts—then tagged a smartass and since—until one of my favorite people in authority—Assistant Principal James MacLarney–really lowered the boom. The impact his truthful statements made while he yelled at me in the first place, and his intoned, truly-giving-a-damn words broke me. I always hated on myself when people I liked and respected a whole lot did that, and I sure did then.

Sigh. I faced a choice: in-house suspension of one of my favorite music classes for a month, since my parents had to work when school let out and they weren’t making an extra stop for my butt to get home—morning bus privileges and weekend babysitting privileges concurrently suspended, too—or hard labor for three hours a day after school for a month on someone’s nearby horse and cattle farm.

I opted for the in-house.

Homework completed the nights before, all the books I had were saved for home, forty-five minutes of the first two days dragged—until I began writing longhand on day three. Something clicked. Now again, don’t get me wrong, I liked writing—loved it, actually. Just not summarizing somebody else’s imaginative results; if that wanted to know about it, as I often wrote at the end of those silly reports, READ THE BOOK! And I wrote two pieces, two long-shorts when I was fourteen and fifteen based on writing prompts from an English teacher at the time (I was the lone one in class taking all three prompts, since they individually weren’t calling out to me).

But the study hall time opened my untapped strange new world in a wardrobe. First person, Le Pen in left hand to spiral-bound notebook, my MC was a guy named Alex “Ponyboy” McCormick, blond, grey-eyed, my age, and he and five other buddies—three dudes, two females, one of which he was interested in, but she was one of his wingdude’s boo—found themselves in a Josie & The Pussycats In Outer Space-type situation in then the Space Shuttle Challenger. Admittedly, I borrowed heavily from everything I’d read, absorbed from Saturday morning cartoons, dreams, and made this rough start of a novel into the gumbo of my imagination. But it was those “But what happens next, Missye?” moments every day and every night that pushed me to keep writing. It made the forty-five prison minutes of daily in-house speed by, my grades improved . . . and I kept writing over the weekends to divert my mind from losing out on extra babysitting cash (my parents relented occasionally when the family needing a sitter didn’t want my sister minding their kids due to her being twelve to my sixteen. She howled a pluperfect fit, but couldn’t do much more past that.).

Find the magic, however you can, if it’s gone wayward or long asleep. It’s inside you, but will surface with the right scent, or touched by the perfect angle of sunlight, or maybe free-writing by full moonlight or firelight to gently coax Mr. Sandman from its eyes. Or, as was my case writing during that in-house of hell, I did to stave off sheer boredom; they wouldn’t let us even sleep then, can you imagine? But even through all this, my mind, imagination, curiosity—alongside Alex, Zak, Little Joe, Allyson, Kris, and Mickey at the time–never quit asking what comes next. Even my present Casebook and Threesome of Magic mysteries, the same “what comes next” drumbeats come from Casper, Logan, Alex, Missye Maroon, and Jay Vincent today. And I don’t believe I, or they, ever will stop asking. They know where the magic truly lies. They and I all know even the snarky smart-alecks have that glow of story-magic, too.

Time to dust a new trail of imagination fairy dust and plumb more magical lands of possibilities.

Did I ever give “Marie” an apology? Sort of. I was wrong for wising off, I told her—and dropped it. Once school authorities realized the technicality I exploited—I never said I’m sorry for what I’d said, because I genuinely wasn’t—there was little they could do to remedy it.

Happy writing, everybody. 🙂

Missye K. Clarke’s novel JERSEY DOGS, the first of the McGuinness/Pedregon Casebooks, is set for release this spring in e-book and print editions.

Taking a Break

We’ll be back next week with a new fiction serial A Nose for a Niedeman. Thank you for your patience.

But World Enough and Time is Now An Ebook!

science fiction, time travelI’m pretty excited about this one. This novel means a lot to me because its genesis was hanging with the girlfriends and I got a lot of research done for me by my dear friend Stephanie Beverage. It’s also turned into quite a fun romp. You can go here to find links to your favorite ebook retailer.

Oh. Why isn’t it available in paperback? That’s the awkward part. You see, But World Enough and Time is the first book in a trilogy of novels. Part two, Time Enough, is being written now. And as I started Time Enough, I realized I needed to make a few tweaks to But World Enough and Time – nothing major – which was already being serialized on the blog. Since it’s a lot less costly to update an ebook as needed, I figure I’ll just wait until the trilogy is complete before releasing the books in paper. Unless sales for But World Enough and Time go viral.

And, speaking of, if you do buy the ebook, please do not forget to leave a review on GoodReads or Amazon or wherever. It really, really helps.

 

Essays, general essay

Why I Choose to Self-Publish

why i choose to self-publishWhen people ask me why I choose to self-publish, the easy answer is that I got tired of chasing agents and traditional publishers. Okay. It wasn’t quite like that. But one of my friends had recently finished a novel (and a darned good one), and she when she looked at the next few steps, she did not like what she saw.

The hassle of querying agents, then maybe getting on with a small press, then having to do all your own publicity, because even if you’re with a larger publisher, you’re not going to get any help there, my friend looked at all of that and what books are selling for these days and did the math. The return for the amount of money she’d be likely to make was just too small, especially after paying the agent’s commission.

That bothered me because she was absolutely right. You sweat your backside off writing a book, then you only get a small percentage of what that book makes. I know because my co-author and I only got less than 10 percent of the selling price of Howdunit: Book of Poisons. Before splitting the earnings between us. It’s done well and I’m still getting royalties even though the book is only available as an ebook now. But when I think of how much I could have made had we done it ourselves, well, such is life.

The one advantage of traditional publishing is that you get much wider reach and a bigger audience, especially if you’re lucky enough to get on with one of the larger publishers out there. If you’re with a small press, as I was for Tyger, Tyger, you lose even that advantage.

It’s worth trying to publish traditionally for the cachet. But that’s the only reason I would do it now. As of this Friday, I’ll have put out 10 books. It’s been an amazing amount of work. Some of them are better than others. But I get what I want and I keep the larger part of the proceeds.

You do need an editor and a cover designer. Fortunately, I have friends and am able to barter for most of the skills I don’t have. So you can do this on a shoestring. You do need to start building your social platform, but you will need a thriving presence on social media to attract an agent or a publisher these days. And you’ll need friends who will be honest with you regarding your book. It’s not always fun, but it does make a difference.

Self-publishing is a lot of work. You don’t always get a lot of respect because it’s assumed that your book isn’t as good as a traditionally published one (never mind that I’ve read some really dreadful traditionally published books and some insanely good self-published ones). But I think it’s worth it.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

This is the last chapter of But World Enough and Time. Come back next week to celebrate the book’s launch. Or pre-order the book here.

science fiction, time travel, science fiction serial, time travel serialThrough half-closed lids, Robin watched the room she was in slowly grow lighter as the daylight outside slipped in through the cracks in the drapes. She would have rather been sleeping, but her mind was far too full, in spite of her exhaustion.

She was home. Sort of. At least, she was back in her own time, although she wasn’t sure she felt like she belonged there. Elizabeth had given birth to Dean’s little girl. Robin’s niece. She was an aunt. She wasn’t sure that made any more sense than time travel. About the only thing Robin knew was that she wanted to do more traveling.

She rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. Robin looked at the little specks of light on the floor and guessed that it was later than early morning, but not midmorning yet. It was odd how she’d come to check the position of the sun rather a clock. Looking around the room again, she saw that there was a clock on the bedside table that appeared to be running. Eight a.m., or more precisely eight twelve a.m.

Fuzzy with sleep, she stumbled out of bed and went to the bathroom. That felt normal, at least. Still wearing her night t-shirt, she went downstairs and headed for the kitchen.

Yes, there was coffee. That felt reassuringly normal, too, even though she had lived over a year without a coffeemaker. But there was comfort in the former routine, and so she made coffee. Coffee in the eighteenth century was strong enough, but not always consistent. And for all she had made fun of pre-ground coffee from cans, the familiar consistent product smelled awfully good.

Mug in hand, she went into the living room. The timetron had somehow landed on the couch in all the rush and turmoil. Robin picked it up and turned it on and then off again a few seconds later. Within minutes, there was a knock on the door.

Robin was not terribly surprised to see Roger on the other side.

“Morning,” she mumbled. “Come on in.”

“Thanks,” said Roger as he followed her into the living room. There was an awkward pause as if Roger wanted to say more.

“Didn’t you say that machine is only accurate, like, days or something?” Robin flopped onto the couch and motioned for Roger to do the same.

He sat across from her on the nearest easy chair. “Plus, minus three days. I’ve actually been here for two. I saw you guys come in last night. I didn’t think Elizabeth was that far along.”

“She wasn’t.” Robin yawned. “Sorry. I just got up. I didn’t think you’d show up so fast when I turned on the machine.”

“It’s easy when you’ve got the time pinned. But she wasn’t that far along?”

Robin chuckled. “Yeah. We had a baby last night. A girl. She’s a little moose, actually. Full-term, as far as I can tell. But Elizabeth swears she counted only six months. We’ll take them to the hospital later. Elizabeth insisted on cutting the cord last night, so I figure there’s no rush.”

“You may not have to go at all,” said Roger. “I’ve got enough training to do an initial scan to make sure she and the baby are all right.”

Robin thought that one over. “Cool. I was trying to figure out how I’d help her get acclimated to this century before the baby came as it was. After last night, I think she could use a little breathing room before forcing an emergency room on her.”

“Good call.”

“I’ve just got to figure out how to get a birth certificate for the baby. I could call the county, I guess.” Robin sighed.

“That reminds me.” Roger shifted and pulled a packet out of his biker jacket. “Elizabeth’s papers. There’s a passport, copy of her birth certificate, a California ID card and a Social Security card.”

Robin opened up the envelope. “These look really good. How did you get them?”

“It’s very simple, actually. We do it all the time to establish a personna in a given time. And they are legitimate, so if Elizabeth loses her ID, or needs to change it, she can get new paperwork.”

“Wow.” Robin yawned and stared moodily at her mug. “Oh. Can I get you some coffee?”

“Sure. I’m guessing you haven’t had breakfast yet.”

“I’m not even sure there’s any food in the place. It doesn’t get used that often, so there’s not usually perishables in the fridge.” Robin lifted herself off the couch and stumbled into the kitchen. “How do you want your coffee?”

“Like I always do.”

Robin, turned, puzzled. “And how am I going to know that?”

He chuckled, guiltily. “That’s right. I’m sorry. I’ll drink it any way I can get it.”

“Oh?”

He shrugged. “Side effect of spending too much time when you can’t get it at all.”

Robin handed him a mug. “Well, you’ve got it black. If you want sugar and creamer, they’re right here.” She pointed to the jars of powdered creamer and sugar next to the coffee maker.

She glared out into the living room, watching him take his first sip through the corner of her eye. He seemed pleasant enough. Light blond hair, hazel eyes that were slightly narrowed. He looked mostly Caucasian, but not entirely. His body was trim enough, not perfect, but no particularly bad rolls, either.

Then there was that calm. On the surface, he didn’t seem to give a damn about anything, but after a while, Robin realized he just didn’t worry. He reminded her of somebody who had lived a very, very long time. An old soul, she thought.

The stairs creaked. Robin looked across the half wall separating the kitchen from the open dining room to the stairway. Dean was slowly stumbling downstairs.

“Is Elizabeth awake?” Robin asked.

Dean looked at her through half-open eyes. “Yeah. Have we got any tea?”

“For you or for her?”

“Both,” Dean grumbled. “Oh. Hi, Roger.” He stopped at the entrance to the kitchen and yawned. “I thought I heard voices.”

“Is the baby awake?” Robin asked.

Dean nodded. “Elizabeth is feeding her. What about that tea?”

Robin began rummaging through the cupboards. There was tea. But Robin’s assumption that there wasn’t much else in the cabin to eat was correct. She volunteered to run get breakfast, and Roger volunteered to join her. The ride out to the nearby town’s small grocery was filled with meaningless chitchat that was, nonetheless, oddly comfortable, Robin thought. And as they waited at the checkstand to buy the Danish and other basic groceries, Roger’s hand slipped into Robin’s. Blushing, she pulled it back.

“Oh,” Roger said, suddenly nervous. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I’d done that.”

As soon as they got back, Roger asked to see Elizabeth and the baby, and Elizabeth agreed to let him up. Robin was astonished to see that even overnight, the baby had grown and matured.

“My lord, she looks like she’s a month old already,” Robin gasped.

“I know,” said Elizabeth, from the bed, where she was propped up by pillows. “Dean assured me, she was smaller last night.”

“I’m sure she was,” said Roger, who was holding up the baby’s hand and pressing it against a small hand-held screen. “Well, preliminary tests indicate she’s healthy. I’ll be able to get a better reading on any genetic pre-dispositions when I run the saliva test. The other good news is that her cells seem to have settled down, so she’ll grow more normally now.”

“Huh?” asked Dean.

“It’s a side effect of being in the drop,” Roger explained. “It excites cell growth. Elizabeth is the first person to go through while pregnant, but it doesn’t seem to have had any negative effects on your baby. It just made her grow faster, is all. Which probably explains why she came so early and yet was a full-term baby.” Roger looked over at Robin. “I wish I’d known about the baby before we got separated.”

“That. Well…” Robin sighed. “Roger, I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but I was going to tell you. Only we got a little side-tracked if you’ll remember.”

“Too true,” Roger said. “And Donald made sure I knew that at least one part of the experiment had worked. That Elizabeth was pregnant.”

“Are we going to be running from this Donald for the rest of our lives?” Elizabeth asked.

Roger shook his head. “No. I can’t say more, but, no, not the rest of your lives.” He smiled as he handed the baby back to Elizabeth. “So what is your baby’s name?”

Elizabeth smiled as she looked up at Dean. “Her name is Robin Mary. Robin for her aunt and Mary for my mother.”

Robin felt her face grow hot. “Oh.” Tears filled her eyes. “Wow. That’s…  That’s….”

She never finished.

Dean laughed. “Aw, come on, Robin. How could we not?”

Smiling, Roger picked up Elizabeth’s free hand and pressed it to his small screen.

“Looks like you’re doing well, also, Elizabeth,” he said, looking over the read-out. “Goodness. You didn’t even get any vaginal tearing pushing that little moose out. Uterus is receding nicely.”

Dean looked at the read-out. “Geez, how can you tell all that from just putting her hand there?”

“It’s neuro-radiopathy,” Roger explained. “It uses modulated x-rays to tap into the nerve impulses and spectrometry to read blood density and things like that to spot problems. It’s reading completely normal on tissue soundness and pain, which it wouldn’t have if there had been any tearing. And the position it notes for the uterus is right in line with where it should be this many hours after childbirth. How are you feeling, Elizabeth?”

“Tired,” she said.

“How about emotionally?” Roger sat down next to her.

“I am fine,” she answered, a little stiffly.

“Really?” Roger asked. “Not feeling overwhelmed or frightened by all the strange things in this world?”

“In this time,” Elizabeth corrected, then fell silent.

Dean gently pushed Roger up from the bed and took his place. “Honey, it’s okay to talk about how you feel. It’d be weird if you weren’t all scared and messed up by things here.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I am here now. I want to accept it and learn to like it.” She sniffed. “It’s not so bad. Being in magic carriages and strange lights and everything. It’s not bad at all now.”

“I’m sure you’re doing very well,” Roger said, reassuringly. “But at the same time, having a baby and having to adjust to this very different time, that’s a lot to handle, Elizabeth.”

Robin smiled. “Roger’s right, Elizabeth. This world is pretty strange compared to what you’ve been used to. If you get scared or something, no one is going to think you don’t want to be here.”

Elizabeth smiled weakly. “I do want to be here. It’s only that if I keep thinking about how much all these strange things frighten me, all I’ll be is frightened all the time. You accept them as normal, so I’m trying to look at them the same way.”

Roger nodded. “That’s very brave, Elizabeth, and not a bad way to look at things. But if it gets to be too much, you do need to talk about it.”

Robin Mary squawked suddenly.

“I’m tired, now,” said Elizabeth, “and my baby needs to be fed.”

“Well, then we’d better leave,” Roger said.

He followed Robin out of the room.

“Isn’t that great,” he said, sliding his hand onto Robin’s seat.

“Roger!” Robin slipped away and glared.

“Damn.” Roger’s sigh was genuine and a little tortured.

“What’s wrong?” Robin asked.

“I can’t stay.” Roger hurried down the stairs. “I thought I was going to be able to, but it’s clear I can’t. Where’s your timetron?”

Robin walked over to the sofa. “I suppose hiding it from you wouldn’t work.”

Roger paused. “No. And you don’t really want to do that.” He held his hand out.

“A lot you know about it.” Sourly, Robin put the machine in his hand.

“You don’t understand, Robin.” He reached his hand out to her then self-consciously pulled it back. He used his finger to trace something on the top of the machine. “Things were…  Will be going badly. In my natal time. I can’t tell you right now. You just need to trust me.” He stopped and looked at her, his eyes penetrating, yet warm. “I need you to promise me two things. One is that before you do anything else, you’ll see to it that Dean and Elizabeth are well settled in.”

“What the hell else am I going to do?” Robin grumbled. She glared at him. “I’m not going anywhere or anywhen.”

“Yes, you are.”

“What?” Robin gaped, too afraid to believe that it could be true.

“Robin, this is serious. Things are very bad when I’m sending you. I wouldn’t do it, except that it was the best plan I could think of. I can’t tell you more.” Roger handed her the timetron. “But when Dean and Elizabeth are settled, I need you to go to the coordinates I entered.”

“You mean I get to time travel again?”

“Of course.” Roger smiled. “Robin, I wasn’t going to stop you. I just needed to get you trained. You’re good, but there are things you didn’t know and you needed to learn them. I mean, need.”

“Roger. That’s…”

His face became serious again. “I just don’t want you rushing off from here. It doesn’t matter when you leave, you’ll be right where you need to be, whenever you leave here. So make sure Dean and Elizabeth are okay, first.”

“They’re not in any danger, are they?”

“They’ll be fine. I promise.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Roger grimaced. “I can’t tell you. Just trust me.”

Robin folded her arms. “And what makes you so sure you can trust me?”

“I can’t tell you.” Roger smiled again and started to reach out to her. “Yeah, I’ve got to go. This a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Robin’s heart lurched. “Am I going to see you again?”

“I can’t…” He stopped and moved close to her. “What the hell. You’ll see me when you land. In fact, you’ll see me for a really long time. Many times.”

He put his hand on her cheek and kissed her long and deep and passionately. Robin almost felt her legs giving way.

“Now,” he sighed as he pulled away. “I’ve got to get the hell out of here before I cause any more trouble.”

He pulled out his own timetron, closed his eyes and vanished.

Robin stared at the empty space for several minutes.

“Robin?” called Dean from the landing. “We saw the lights go. Did Roger leave or something?”

“Yeah. He left.” Robin pulled herself together. “Everything okay up there?”

“Everything’s fine.”

“Good.” Robin took a deep breath. “Great. I’ve got some laundry to finish and if Elizabeth’s up to it, we’ll make some plans.”

“Great. We’ve already talked some things over.”

Robin nodded. She looked at the time machine in her hands, then slowly laid it back down on the couch. She would be time traveling again, very soon. But first, she had Dean and Elizabeth to take care of. There would be time enough for that.

Chapter Twenty-Six

We’re coming close to the end of But World Enough and Time. In two weeks, we’ll launch the book version (which, by the way, already has a few tweaks from the version here – very minor, but still tweaks). If you’d like to pre-order it or get your friends to, check out this link from Books2Read.com. And now, back to our story.

 

science fiction serial, time travel serial, serial science fictionIt was hard to tell which was worse, the bone-crushing sensation of the machine or the roar of noise that greeted Robin, Dean, and Elizabeth as they landed.

“Where are we?” Dean hollered over the sound of a jet engine taking off.

“Los Angeles International,” Robin yelled back. They were in the parking lot. “Lots of places we could go from here, just in case Donald finds a way to follow us. There’s the shuttle to the airport. Let’s get on. I’ve got to get to an ATM.”

The driver stared at the three as they boarded the bus.

“It’s a joke,” Robin said, nervously. “We belong to this living history club, and we’ve got this friend that’s coming in, and, well, he’s supposed to freak when he sees us, figuring he got the wrong era, and…  It’ll be funny. Really.”

The driver chuckled. “Sounds like a good one.”

Elizabeth kept her head down during the short ride. At the terminal, Robin found an ATM readily enough, got the money she wanted, then got change.

“Why?” asked Dean.

“We’ll need it for the trains so we can get back to Pasadena,” Robin told him. “Elizabeth, you okay?”

“I am all right,” she sighed. “It’s noisy and things move so strangely. But I’ll get used to it.”

“Trains?” asked Dean. “What trains?”

“Wake up, Dean,” Robin snarled. “Los Angeles has public transportation now. We’ll take the bus to the Green Line to the Blue Line to the Red Line to the Gold Line. There’s a stop about half a mile from my house.”

They got more stares from people as they waited on the various platforms for the electric trains. Robin got a fix almost immediately on the date and time – late morning, one day before the date she’d programmed. It was almost mid-afternoon when they finally got to the porch of Robin’s house. Robin unlocked the door quickly and jammed everyone inside.

“We’re not safe yet,” she told them. “How are you doing, Elizabeth?”

She smiled softly. “You keep asking me. I said I am fine.”

“Okay. Good.” Robin looked at Elizabeth again. “Geez, Elizabeth, your stays are really straining.”

“I know. My dress feels very tight.”

“I should have something upstairs that you can throw on until I can get you those clothes we bought before we took you back to your time.” Robin looked around. “I’m going to shower first, then head over to my office. That’s where I sent our luggage. Dean, you’d better start combing that flour out of your hair. If you try washing it out, it’ll turn into big sticky globs.”

Robin found an old t-shirt and athletic shorts for Elizabeth and then set to work combing out flour and getting showered. The worst part was that she knew she shouldn’t linger. But she couldn’t resist the glory of hot water running down her back after so many months without any running water at all. She also paused while toweling off, enjoying the scent of a clean towel. After getting dressed in jeans and another shirt, she stuffed her hair under her hat, then headed out.

“Robin!” proclaimed the receptionist, a young man named Alex. “I thought you weren’t going to be back for another couple weeks, at least.”

“I’m not and I’m not here,” Robin said, genially. “Would you get on the P.A. and let everyone else know I’m not here? I am merely a figment of everyone’s imagination.”

“Hey, Robin,” said Steve Wasserman, her partner. “How was England?”

“Great, and I’m not here.”

“Can we pretend you are and will you look at this little glitch that—”

“No! I am not here.” She looked over at Alex. “Make that announcement. Now.”

“Seriously, Robin,” Steve continued as Alex started the announcement.

“No way, Steve.” Robin moved quickly toward her office. “I’m just here to pick up some stuff that I had sent here from my trip and I am out of here.”

“But when are you coming back?” Steve remained hot on her heels.

Robin paused. It was a better question than she’d anticipated. “Uh, in a couple weeks or so, according to plan. I got back early from Europe to deal with…  To deal with some family stuff. I’m just going to pick up my boxes and get out. Okay?”

In the end, Robin needed Steve to help with the boxes, so she looked at the glitch, had a much longer conversation than she wanted over how to fix it, and then left, feeling slightly unnerved by the whole experience.

Back at the house, Robin gave Elizabeth her clothes. When Elizabeth had changed, Robin could have sworn that Elizabeth’s tummy had grown even since she had left an hour before.

“So what do we do now?” asked Dean, after he had changed into his modern clothes.

“We hide,” said Robin. “I’ve just called Dad and he said we could use his cabin for a while.”

“Yeah, but won’t what’s-his-name be able to find us through Dad’s name?” Dean said.

“Not really. Dad bought it under some corporation deal with that company that owns the patents on his inventions. It’ll be pretty hard to trace it to him. We can use it for free, which means we won’t have to use credit cards, which are traceable. And it’s pretty secluded, which means we’ll be able to help Elizabeth adjust more slowly.”

“We can’t stay here?” Elizabeth asked, grimacing slightly.

Robin shook her head. “Too easy for Donald to trace. But the car trip shouldn’t take that long.”

“I will be all right,” Elizabeth said, resolutely, although her face betrayed her fear.

They left shortly afterward. Robin was less than thrilled that their first meal back in their own time had to be fast food, but Dean wasn’t complaining.

“Aw, come on, Robin, these are the best burgers on the planet,” he proclaimed as they ate in the car.

Robin didn’t answer. She knew she should concentrate on driving, but all she could think about was what to do after they got to the cabin. And how they would explain Elizabeth to their mother. And whether time travel would be forever denied her. And when would Roger come?

The drive was not the most pleasant or easy. Rush hour traffic was in full force and while Elizabeth was amazed by the huge number of cars also on the freeway with them, at least, she wasn’t frightened by high speeds simply because Robin couldn’t get going any faster than twenty-five miles per hour. By the time the traffic had eased, Elizabeth was a little more accustomed to moving quickly, even twenty-five miles an hour being exceedingly fast for her experience. She even managed to watch out the window as the suburbs of Southern California flew past.

It was closing in on dark when they finally arrived at the cabin in Big Bear. Dean got Elizabeth inside and warned her about the lights, as Robin brought in the luggage. The cabin was more of a large house decorated in rustic mountain style, with a huge vaulted ceiling in the living room and a second story with three bedrooms.

“Woh, this place is pretty cool,” said Dean, looking around.

“Haven’t you been here before?” Robin asked.

Elizabeth suddenly grabbed the back of a sofa and groaned.

“What’s the matter?” Dean yelped.

“Nothing,” she gasped. “I’ve got to go to bed though. It’s too soon, but I’ve gotten so big suddenly. Maybe the baby will be big enough.”

“You’re in labor.” Robin looked at her in shock.

“Yes.” Elizabeth nodded, as the contraction subsided.

Robin swallowed. “How long?”

“Since before we left your home.”

“In labor?” Dean squeaked. “Why didn’t you say anything?’

“Because I knew I had time and we couldn’t stay there, anyway,” said Elizabeth.

“Great,” Robin grumbled. “How fast are the pains coming?”

“Fast. Oh, no. Here it comes again.” Elizabeth doubled over.

Robin checked her watch. “Hell, that’s less than two minutes. We’ve got to get you to a hospital!”

“I’m not going anywhere!” Elizabeth snapped. “Except to bed.”

“We can’t deliver a baby here,” groaned Dean.

“It looks like we’re going to have to.” Robin looked around. “Oh, hell, how do you do this?”

“You don’t do anything,” laughed Elizabeth. She grimaced as another pain took over. “Except catch it. I’ve got all the work to do. We’ll need something to wrap the baby in, some water to clean it with, and a good sharp knife.”

“A knife? For what?” Dean’s panic grew.

“To cut the cord.”

“No. We won’t do that,” said Robin. “But you’re right about the other things. Let’s get you upstairs. The master bedroom has a bathroom there. We’ll have all the water we need. Dean, give me a hand.”

Dean helped Elizabeth into the room while Robin turned down the bed and laid out some towels to protect the sheets.

“Dean, you’d best fetch that water,” Elizabeth said through clenched teeth as she sat down on the bed.

“We’ve got water in there.” Robin pointed. “And he’s staying right here. I can’t do this alone.”

“But he’s a man!” Elizabeth protested.

“So do I stay or go?” Dean asked frantically.

“Do you want to see your kid born?” Robin demanded.

“Well, yeah, but I figured I’d get to go to class first.”

“Class?” Elizabeth looked at them bewildered. “You have to learn how to have a baby?”

“I know it sounds ridiculous,” Robin said. “But you learn how to relax with the contractions, breathing and all that. And he learns how to coach you. I’ve heard it works really well. Anyway, fathers are always in the delivery room with the mothers. Let’s get you undressed.”

Elizabeth gulped. “In front of Dean?”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Elizabeth, that’s how he got you this way!”

“Um, Robin, it wasn’t,” Dean said.

“Huh? Oh, never mind. Dean, go get some more towels. They should be in the bathroom closet.”

He left.

“All I need to remove are my drawers,” Elizabeth said.

She groaned, then pulled the underpants off. Dean reappeared, then grimaced with her as the next contraction took hold.

The pains came fast and hard. Elizabeth cried out again and again. Beads of sweat broke out on her forehead.

“When the head comes,” she gasped when she could. “Check that the cord isn’t around the neck. Oh, no!”

“Keep talking, Elizabeth.” Robin coaxed, although she already knew what to do from her first aid classes. Anything to keep Elizabeth’s mind off the pain. “Tell me everything I have to do.”

“Turn the head. Turn it to… to… the shoulders are right.” Elizabeth broke down in sobs.

Dean squeezed her hand. “Hey, it’s alright, honey. You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna be okay.”

It was almost as hard on him as it was on Elizabeth. The pain was terrible, and he was helpless to relieve it. Yet, even so, as the labor progressed, he got calmer and focused on reassuring Elizabeth.

Elizabeth grunted, straining all of a sudden.

“Don’t push yet,” Robin ordered.

“But—”

“Don’t push until you absolutely must. Whatever you do, try not to.”

“That’s right,” said Dean. “We’ve got to make sure you’re completely ready to have this kid.”

Elizabeth nodded and cried out as the contraction hit yet again. Dean mopped her brow with a damp washcloth, then gave her another to suck on. Robin went and washed her hands to the elbows.

Ten minutes later, Elizabeth strained again.

“Don’t push,” Robin ordered.

“I have to!” Elizabeth shrieked.

Robin helped her bend her legs, then swung a bright reading lamp around. She aimed it right where the baby would be coming. The contractions slowed down a little but remained just as hard.

“Okay,” Robin said. “Push with the next contraction and push for all you’re worth. Dean, you’d better start cheering her on. She’s bushed.”

“Help me sit,” Elizabeth ordered.

Dean pushed her up from behind as she strained even harder.

“Enough,” she gasped as the contraction died.

“That’s a good idea,” Robin said. “Try and rest where you can, Elizabeth.”

“I’ve no choice,” she murmured. Her breath caught. “Help up!”

Dean shoved her into place. “Come on, Elizabeth, push that baby out.”

Robin helped spread her legs. “Hot damn, Dean! I can see the head!”

“Yeah?” Holding Elizabeth up with one arm, Dean reached and looked. “I can see it, too. Won’t be much longer now.”

Elizabeth nodded and sank backward. As tears slipped from her eyes, Dean gently let her down. Seconds later, he helped her up again.

“It’s coming.” Robin encouraged. “Just a few more pushes, Elizabeth. Just a few more.”

Elizabeth sank back again. “Water.”

Dean handed her the washcloth. She sucked greedily, then yelped. Dean heaved her back up.

The head came fast. Robin watched, transfixed in wonder as it emerged. Dean peered anxiously over Elizabeth’s shoulder. Poor Elizabeth was almost too tired to know what was going on.

As the chin cleared, Robin checked to make sure the cord was not around the neck. It wasn’t.

“Okay, we’ve got a chin and there’s no cord,” she announced.

Elizabeth sobbed and nodded. Robin gently held the head, then jostled out the top shoulder, then the bottom. Elizabeth gave one more push, and the rest slipped out.

The tiny purple body was covered with blood and a light white mucus-like substance. Robin pinched the bottom, and the baby sprang to life with a loud, coughing wail.

“It’s a girl,” Robin muttered, then louder, “It’s a girl. We did it!” Her tears flowed. “You guys have a girl and she’s all right.”

Elizabeth sank back onto the pillows, half laughing and half sobbing.

“And I’m alive,” she whispered.

“Of course, you are.” Dean sniffed and wiped his eyes.

Robin wrapped the still crying infant in a towel and handed her to Dean.

“Dean, no.” Elizabeth gasped.

“It’s okay,” Dean said, grinning. “I know how to hold a baby. See?”

Elizabeth smiled and nodded. “She’s hungry.”

“Are you sure you’re up to feeding her?” Robin asked as she held Elizabeth’s legs and waited for the placenta.

“I don’t think she’ll go that far,” said Dean. “She’s still hooked up.”

“Get the knife and cut the cord,” Elizabeth said.

“Nope,” said Robin. “There’s a better way to handle it. Here comes the placenta.” She caught it in a towel. “Yuck. What a mess. We’ll wrap it up with the baby, then take you to the hospital and get the cord cut there.”

“But why?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because of germs, Elizabeth. We don’t want to take a chance on infecting the baby, or you, for that matter.” Robin laid the placenta on top of the baby and wrapped them both together in another towel.

“She’s so small.” Dean gazed at her in wonder.

“Let me nurse.” Elizabeth pulled herself up on the pillows and reached for the baby.

Dean handed her over. Robin watched for a minute, then began clean up operations. Dean laid his hand on the baby’s back and lovingly kissed Elizabeth.

“She’s beautiful,” he whispered.

Robin turned away. Something in her ached with loneliness. She tried telling herself that she wouldn’t have to deal with diapers and two o’clock feedings and other such nonsense. Even that proved to be small consolation. She quickly collected all the soiled linens and hurried out to the garage where the washer and dryer were.

While Robin was gone, Elizabeth prevailed upon Dean to get a knife.

“She does have a point about those germs, you know,” Dean said, bringing the knife in.

“But it’s not good to keep the cord on.”

“True.” Dean went into the bathroom and came back with a bottle of rubbing alcohol. “This’ll take care of Robin’s problem.”

He poured the alcohol over the knife, then handed it to Elizabeth. She made short professional work of the cord, then handed the bundle with the placenta to Dean.

“It should be burnt.”

“Hm.” Dean looked around. “Good thing there’s a fireplace in here, especially one with gas logs.”

Elizabeth looked at him, puzzled, then jumped as he turned on the gas and touched a match to it. The little bundle crackled merrily but sent a rather nasty scent into the room.

“What smells?” asked Robin, coming in. She saw the towel in the flames. “Terrific. I did know what I was doing, you know.”

“So does Elizabeth,” said Dean. “And she was worried. I thought it would be better if she could relax.”

Robin couldn’t argue. Exhausted, she pulled out a dresser drawer and lined it with the last two towels.

“This’ll do for a crib until we can get something better,” she said. “We’re going to have a hell of a time taking showers tomorrow, though. We’ve used every last towel in the place.”

She took the drawer over to the bed.

“Thank you,” said Elizabeth. “For everything.”

“No sweat,” said Robin. “You take it easy and rest up. I figure there’s no rush to get to the hospital now. We’ll go in the morning.”

“Okay,” said Dean. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Robin left the room elated and down, both at the same time.

Suzanne Adair and The American Revolution From the Other Side

Suzanne Adair

Ever since I read Suzanne Adair’s first book in her Michael Stoddard series, Deadly Occupation, set during the American Revolution, I’ve been wondering why she made the insanely interesting choice to have her hero be a Redcoat. Yeah, that’s right. The good guys in her books are the folks we’re used to thinking of as the bad guys. So I put that and a couple other questions to her, and we’ve got the answers below.

1) So why did you make Michael Stoddard a Redcoat rather than a rebel?

The rebel point of view has been explored so often in film, novels, and non-fiction that I’m not sure what more I could contribute to it. But step into the “enemy’s” boots, and your perspective shifts. You see the history from an angle that doesn’t involve tired clichés, and you gain new insights. You also realize that this character who wears the enemy’s colors is faced with the same dilemmas that you’ve faced and is making the same decisions (sometimes errors) that you make. Finally, you get around to asking yourself, “How different are we, really?” Which is the question I’d hoped you’d ask, since you’re curious about a redcoat protagonist.

2) How “religious” do people get about the American Revolution? I mean, it is our American myth and there are those who get fussy when folks mess with it.

Some people get very fussy over those myths about the American Revolution. The irony is that by the time the Centennial celebration in 1876 rolled around, the majority of our Great American Myth had been hammered out in the form of anecdotal “stories” that weren’t grounded historically. Across the generations, many teachers and scholars have accepted these anecdotes as fact, and that’s why most Americans believe that Paul Revere completed his midnight ride, and that just about everybody in America during the Revolution was Protestant, and that all British soldiers were “recruited” from prison.

People who have believed the wrong version of history for most of their lives don’t easily change their minds. They’re also more inclined to believe cinematic balderdash like that scene in “The Patriot” where the British barricaded civilians in a church and set fire to the church. Such a thing never happened. Don’t you think the soldiers and civilians who hated the Crown would have reported it if it had? However Nazis—yeah, burning civilians in a church was quite their style.

The Relevant History feature on my blog, created in 2011, is a place in cyberspace where writers of historical fiction and non-fiction can trot those myths out and discuss the real history behind them, and inquisitive readers can learn. Come on over and discover history that’s relevant to events in the 21st century.

3) Part of the fun of writing historical fiction is that you know when the stock market is going to crash or what’s going to happen in the future. How fun (or not) is it to play with the reality that Stoddard’s cause is going to lose?

It’s a lot of fun! And since my series follows the actual history of the British occupation in Wilmington in 1781, the path for the series background is laid out for me.

However, after researching the American Revolution for almost two decades, I’m not sure that “lose” is the correct term here. When the last of the British sailed for home in 1783, Britain was still the most powerful country on the earth. If that weren’t so, in the conflict with France in the following generation, Napoleon would have emerged the victor.

You see, Britain was fighting on multiple fronts, making our American Revolution one part of a world war. It wasn’t a popular war across the pond. American Revolution, historical fiction, historical mystery, historical mysteries Civilians griped noisily in pubs and coffeehouses about how politicians were wasting their money. (Sound familiar?) Several historians have told me that Britain’s most seasoned soldiers weren’t even in America; we got something like the third string. That Atlantic-wide supply line was an absolute beast to maintain and protect. So a lot of civilians in Britain weren’t exactly heartbroken when the powers-that-be decided to cut the hemorrhage of resources into America and either bring soldiers home or send them elsewhere, where they could be more productive. (That strategy might sound familiar, too.)

I haven’t given redcoat Michael Stoddard any special abilities to predict the future. However, almost a decade in the British Army has definitely stomped out his idealism. Astute and practical, he looks for ways to get as much experience as possible while the King is picking up some of the tab. He’s kept his eyes and ears open, so he knows that his commander (Major Craig) has advised his commander (Lord Cornwallis) to stay in the Carolinas and not go to Virginia. When Michael hears how it goes down at Yorktown, of course, he’ll be disappointed, but he won’t be terribly surprised. And when it’s all over, he’s grateful to have taken part in a campaign in North Carolina that was, for many months, a success—instead of being on that bloody battlefield in Virginia.

Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in North Carolina. Killer Debt is the fourth in her series featuring Michael Stoddard. Here’s the fun part – it will be available for pre-order on March 1, through her Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign. And because this is going (has gone) live two days before the campaign starts, please click through to her website to find out more. You can also find her on Facebook at Suzanne.Adair.Author or on Twitter @Suzanne_Adair.

You can also find links to buy the rest of the Michael Stoddard series from your preferred retailer on her site: www.suzanneadair.net/books/michael-stoddard-american-revolution-thrillers/.