Mage and Mate: Collaberation snippet 1

I have also been working on a collaboration with Taki Drake in her Unfettered Mage universe. It has been a lot of fun, and working with a mentor on something has been an amazing experience. (I just hope it has been as fun for her.) So, Without Further Ado, here is a snippet from the first of several books we will be working on together.

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Of course, she wasn’t alone. Even now, in the protection of Ruth’s private quarters, she had a bodyguard. Jenna was on duty and stood within the room. The former Marine was armed and exuded danger and power.

The Mage glanced at her companion, words flowing through her head,

I think I’m doing pretty well to adjust to Arkken. I’m coping with bodyguards following me everywhere and living in something that looks like a cross between a medieval castle and a modern tech fantasy. Spaceships and swords. Who would’ve thought the reading of my youth would make this seem familiar?

Outside of the people at the castle, and those that had been on the slave ship with her, Ruth did not know many people. For the most part, her schedule was her own, and she told people when she wanted to talk to them.

The alert tone of the communicator on the wall of her room was even more startling because she had expected to be totally undisturbed. The source of the call was hidden, an icon going the equivalent of what on earth would have been an unlisted number notification. With a wide-eyed glance at Jenna, Ruth asked, “Who do you suppose it is? I don’t know that many people.”

Jenna frowned and said, “Even more importantly, how did they get your number?”

“Only one way to find out. Let me answer it.”

The bodyguard moved to be out of the view of the caller but pulled a recording device from her belt. At Jenna’s nod, Ruth tapped the icon to accept the call.

Shocked, the Mage recognized the man whose image now showed. Unsure of why he was calling her, Ruth greeted him by name, “Senior Auditor Rick, what a surprise. To what do I owe the honor of your call?”

The slender, precise man twitched his face into the approximation of a smile. Leaning slightly forward toward the screen, he said, “I wanted to extend my thanks and the gratitude of others in the Auditors Guild for your handling of the misfortunate audit problems. We deeply appreciated your cooperation in this and wanted you to know that nothing like that will ever happen again.”

Ruth knew how mortified the man must feel and how important it was to the Auditors Guild that they were seen as incorruptible and perfect. It had never crossed her mind to trumpet the fact that they had made an error. Any gratitude for her perceived forbearance was simply a plus.

“You are very welcome, and I truly hope that you never have to deal with something like that again.”

When Ruth would’ve ended the call, Auditor Rick raised his hand to stop her, and said, “It occurred to me after we had left our meeting that there might be some information that someone raised in the Alliance would have that you are missing.”

“Yes, I’m finding all sorts of holes in my understanding and patching them as quickly as I can. I just hope that nothing critical is missing. I would hate to have people injured or other accidents happen because of my ignorance.”

“With that in mind, several of us prepared some information packets that we thought you might find useful. I am transmitting them over to your incoming message queue now. Some of them concern local laws and regulations as well as the definition of the powers and responsibility that an Unfettered Mage holds.

“Additional information covers similar topics for anyone wearing the circlet of the Archmage. Since there hasn’t been either a powerful Fettered Mage or any Unfettered Mage in multiple millennia, you might find it difficult to find those guidelines.”

Ruth smiled in gratitude, and said happily, “Thank you! That will be very helpful.”

Looking satisfied, the dignified Auditor added, “Some of the other packets of information cover areas that might actually be dangerous for you and your people. After so long, the existence of an emerging Unfettered Mage may excite some of the more radical organizations throughout the galaxy. While most of these tend to be poorly funded and not particularly powerful, many of them have members that are fanatics and will go to great lengths to cause you harm.”

“That sounds perilous, and frankly wasn’t something I expected to hear. Are there any specific groups that you think would be the most concerning?”

Sighing, the Auditor look suddenly tired. Running a hand across his face, he scrubbed his eyes for a moment and looked deeply into Ruth’s eyes across the electronic interface. “Some of the worst ones go by names that cover their fury at the galaxy in general and twisted logic with labels that proclaim them to be on the side of good. Two of the worst are the Protectorate Cadre and the Order of the Just. Most of the others are just flash and no substance.”

Ruth sighed in dismay and heard a very soft echo from Jenna. Once again trying to look appreciative, the Mage responded, saying, “Thank you again for your consideration, Senior Auditor Rick. I will definitely delve into the information you have sent me. I will also make sure that all the necessary people on my staff see it.”

The man nodded in acknowledgment and ended the call, calling out an ending farewell, “You are very welcome, Mage. The Auditors Guild always balances its transactions.”

More snippets of this book can be found here (Link to Taki Drake’s page)

Note: For those who have read all my works, the main character was first developed in the short story Commander of Mercenaries, found in (insert Anthology Here)

Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences – Release snippet 1

Only one Cathedral I had visited, Yorkminster, had given me a similar feeling. Impressive while you are there, but in many ways a true holy site only after you left it. Different in magnitude to the Wyrm’s cavern, but a similar sense of something beyond my experience. I had to wonder why only one Cathedral felt so different from the others.

I also had an additional issue. I was going to face off against a Drake, another powerful Wyrm. And my choice of wizardly allies had just got an agreement from the bloody Rainbow Serpent to stay in place.

That was not something a wise person did. I was truly fucked.

A cloud hung over me despite the excitement from Fidelma and Isolde. Both were amazed they had seen one of the Wyrms. Many supernaturals did not believe in them, they were seen so rarely. One of the ironies of the world beyond the Veil was many still did not believe in things they could not relate to something they had experience with. This was despite many of them having passed through the Veil. Despite discovering a whole world beyond their previous experience. Wyrms went a step further. The powers they held had to be felt to be understood.

There seemed to be information beyond what I thought was the Veil. As if there were layers to the illusions and knowledge sinks that constructed the mystical curtain that separated the supernatural and normal worlds.

Maybe that was how the Veil worked. No one I had heard of then or now has suffered ill-effects from moving deeper. The initial breakthrough was another matter. Then again, taking the first step into anything life-changing was always the hardest. I knew that. I was still taking the first steps to letting people into my life.

Allies for a specific task were one thing. Working with people regularly was another. You had to divide up tasks and trust their competence at what they agreed to do. I still had trouble passing on long-term responsibility, even with Fidelma and Isolde’s supernatural abilities.

Fidelma and Isolde were both hyped up by their experiences. I, on the other hand, was exhausted. First the visions, the dreams. Then summoning the strange fire. The act of calling that fire had been physically exhausting. The other events had been tiring in a different way. I wasn’t happy about letting the ladies drive my truck home, but from what the Rainbow Serpent had told me, I had weeks, or at most months, before I needed to get the sword or tooth or whatever it was.

RETURN OF THE AUTHOR

So… I have been sick recently. I really did intend to be good and post regular, but for the last 6 weeks I have been up and down and generally unwell. Up to and including a hospitalization.

Funny thing about not being able to breathe properly. All you want is some air. ‘You think,’ gasp, ‘the hospital,’ gasp, ‘might be able to,’ gasp, ‘help me? Well,’ gasp, ‘then, get me there’ gasp, cough, splutter.

It was not fun. And they still don’t know what was wrong. But I feel better now, so am going to run with that and hope whatever the problem/illness/alignment of the planets was, it is now resolved.

I intend to post about the music that inspires me on Mondays, Something or another on Wednesday or Thursday (at least once a month a regular post about being a carer.) and three times a fortnight I plan on posting either snippets or something that expands the universes I write in. Especially MY universe, the Mongrelverse. This last will be on Saturdays, with the third post floating to fill in gaps of other themes or just being jammed in somewhere if I have enough elsewhere.

I hope for the best. I really hope to avoid more relapses. That would be a badness thing.

I have managed to get some work done. Otherwise where would I be pulling the snippets from?

The first of these releases should be sometime within the next fortnight – Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences. I will update everyone with the date as soon as I confirm.

To the next book and beyond!

P.S. Well wishes welcome!

Progress Marches Forward

Exciting news! All Chaos Press has released a formal announcement identifying the start date of Wenebojo and the technology company that will be working with them to bring the Storytelling to everyone. The company that was chosen to be this integral collaborator is IBM. Wenebojo is a story-based streaming service where you can more fully immerse yourself in your favorite genres, from romance to sci-fi. You can read more about the entire project HERE.

Wenebojo has opened for sales, both advanced ones and something called the Pathfinder group. Pathfinders will enjoy earlier access to all future releases and a variety of other perks from February 15th. This is a wonderful opportunity for the addicts out there. (And come on, I know some of you get obsessed by when a new book or story is coming out.) Regular subscribers will gain access on or around the 1st of March this year.

I wanted to update you all on the progress for Wenebojo.com. I am thrilled that we are pushing forward to launch, and I hope it brings many new people to my audience. Feel free to spread the post and the news! And if you have further questions I might be able to answer, don’t hesitate to comment below!

Paul C. Middleton.

P.S. I would appreciate it if when you sign up if you would pick Group Purple. It will give you a discount and me a warm fuzzy feeling.

#Wenebojo #AllChaosPress #Storyteller

Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences: Proofreading snippet

Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences has reached Proofreading, so I thought I would give you all a snippet to celebrate!

Taken from Chapter 4

Then Fidelma’s eyes flashed. “Why didn’t you tell us it was possible people suspected your blood was a… a… source of power for the Gods sake? Isolde may have been a little irresponsible. If people come looking for you and we’re the ones at home, by Rot, then we are all in danger.”

I blinked. She was right. I should have told them. She also had the classic Redhead’s temper, although I wondered how bad the situation would have to be to get her to curse in human terms. To give you an idea, ‘by Rot’ roughly translated in this context as ‘You stumbling drunken ass-jacker.’ I looked them both in the eye and said “It’s a work in progress. I’m not used to living with others, let alone working with others or having to consider people gunning for me might go after them. I’ll try to do better in the future.” I took both of their glares at face value, looking them in the eyes. A useful skill, learned over the years, being able to stare down two people at once.

Eventually, Isode gave a nod and went back to unpacking the camping gear. Once I only had to stare down Fidelma, she gave a grudging nod and said, “Work hard at it.” That was that.

Turning my thoughts back to the problem at hand, I looked at both Isolde and Fidelma and spoke up. “But back to your concept of the plan, if a fifty cal couldn’t bruise your wings like you’re claiming, then I’d have to agree with your assessment. A Drop Bear is unlikely to harm them. So it’s not a bad plan, and far better than anything the SSC would be able to put together. Not without calling in a wizard from either the Southern or Western divisions, at least. The Northeast division just doesn’t have any wizards skilled at manipulating forces in that way. They’ve got plenty of wizards and witches who can manipulate forces, but none of them seem to be able to create physical shields against anything. I guess my reputation for finding creative solutions is what kicked me in the ass this time. Without such notoriety, they probably would’ve called on one of the wizards from the other divisions. Gods dammit.” I sighed and got up to leave the tent.

Fidelma spoke up as I stood. “Aren’t you going to sleep with us tonight? Surely you need some rest before we go out fighting the unknown.” I’d figured that had been their plan when they insisted on only one tent, but part of the reason I had slept on the trip down was that I had no intention of sleeping with either of them. Fidelma was still my client, in a nebulous sort of fashion, and was fast becoming a business partner.

Words complete: Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences

Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences is now in the hands of the editor.

Here is a sample of the work, pre-editor from Chapter 1:

“I’m sorry Thal, but we sent a squad in after an elf and a group of foresters who disappeared in the Belanglo State Forest. They were driven back by a nest of Drop Bears.” There was a pause like he expected me to explode or something. “You’re the best hunter on this side of the continent, hell, probably the entire continent.” His voice held some injured pride as he admitted to the truth, but he continued, “We both know Drop Bears don’t usually congregate. They’re usually solitary ambush hunters. At least five were spotted by the squad, and one of them ‘hamstrung’ a squad member before they pulled back. We need you. If anyone can figure out what the hell is going on it’s you. They also healed bullet wounds rather fast. The squad leader is reasonably sure his people took one down for good, but the situation still leaves four.”

He was probably right. Any atypical behavior from Drop Bears, or other urban legends, could be a problem for all supes. The damned critters were already in the public’s subconscious, as an urban legend (and a bit of a joke, Aussies being Aussies). Drop Bears just didn’t act as pack animals. From what I’d seen of them before and heard about them from other hunters, they are almost always encountered solo. The only exception I’d known of was their breeding season. Now was not their breeding season. Something was affecting them. Hopefully a curse of some kind. I was a fan of any job that was ‘two birds, one stone.’ Breaking a curse while killing the monsters would make this a twofer, monster hunting and curse removal all in one.

I sighed into the phone. There wasn’t much choice involved in the decision. If a squad from the SSC extermination units couldn’t handle, they needed me.

I could hear the bitterness in my voice as I finally gave McGuire my answer, “All right Sergeant. Have the squad stay and handle containment. We’ll leave at noon. should get there sometime early tomorrow I guess. But then I’m taking a week off dammit. Ever since I woke up from breaking Fidelma’s curse, you’ve had me running ragged. Besides, Gran and Elizabita want to spend some time with Isolde and me. Neither of us wants to piss them off.” Fidelma and Isolde giggled in the background as I said that. “You try and keep stuff locked down here, eh? I’ll do my best to deal with the problem you’ve given me. If I can’t figure out anything else, I’ll just wipe out the Drop Bears in the area. And I’ll be careful with them acting like groundhogs too.”

Sorry for the Silence. Update here.

First of all, despite the Kickstarter failure, we are still pushing ahead with Wenebojo. It is just taking longer.
We have a proof of concept very short work available free HERE.

A lot of my time has been taken up in efforts to push that project through to success.

Also, I have just released two works, both short stories.

One is Operation Blowback, a sequel to The Pandora Battalion, is available in ‘Cyberwar 3: Black Ice

The other is a Mongrelverse short, expanding the universe. Oathbreaker’s Blood. Available in ‘The Hand You Were Dealt.

More updates (and releases, at least of short stories in anthologies) coming soon! I will do my best to keep you more up to date.

 

What has been cooking out of sight in the ‘Kitchen’

I promised this information some time ago, and then got caught up in actually working towards the project, and dealing with my personal loss.

The time is now for announcing that the project that the Phoenix Prime Collective has have been working on for over a year is about to become a reality. We are very excited that soon Wenebojo will be bringing something new to the entertainment world by combining an audiobook with streaming imagery and closed captioning. Plans are already in progress to add sign language to the stream. This will make the stories available through a broader spectrum of sight and sound.

In partnership with IBM, and running on their newest generation mainframes in the secure, worldwide Z Cloud, we plan to launch before Christmas. Before that launch, there is a Kickstarter campaign, followed by an early access period (which can be joined through the Kickstarter.)

It is a privilege to be a part of this project, along with my fellow Phoenix Prime authors and members. It is also an honor to be part of the group of fewer than forty people that have pushed this project forward. Our collective skills, hard work, and determination will bring this project and the streaming service it produces to a successful launch. In the process, many works of our authors’ works will also become available for purchase as audiobooks.

We hope that the project makes our stories and worlds more accessible to a wider audience. Many of the people that we hope can now experience our stories have found it challenging or impossible up until now.

To help support us, please share!

Please take the time to visit the Kickstarter page at https://kck.st/2IZiexK

We will also keep updates on the Wenebojo website, found here: www.wenebojo.com. There is a sample of the project ( a flash fiction work) available now!

Grief

Grief is a strange creature. Everyone feels it differently. Nor is there a way of showing grief that is out of the ordinary. It is one of the few examples of human emotion for which there is no baseline.

There are many traditional ways of dealing with it. From the keening in Scotland to the second lines in New Orleans, every culture has an expectation for mourning. The somber Catholic funeral to the celebration of their life in an Irish wake. Some groups of aboriginals ban the use of the deceased’s name for a period of time. No group, no cross-section of any society grieves in the same way.

My personal favorites are the second lines of New Orleans and the Irish Wake.

No one should look down on another for how they grieve. But there are unfortunate expectations in much of my society. For women to weep and for men to be stoic rocks. There are some who sneer at those who act outside expectations.

Ignore these people. They don’t have the empathy appropriate to help you. Strangely, it also might be a manifestation of their grief. Just let their actions go.

Still, I found myself mourning in a different way when my father died. I found solace in remembering all the good he did in it. Even when we did not get along, I could respect what my father did with his life. I could recognize the morality of his deeds.

Dad worked in the Pharmaceutical industry. He had a Masters in Pharmacology and an MBA. Dad was in marketing, but also knew the medications he was selling inside out. He pushed some products for very personal reasons.

He made it a personal crusade to get a vaccine for meningitis on the market. That may seem like an odd thing to make a private cause, but I had almost died of that disease at eight-months-old. Dad never wanted another parent to have to go through the stress and worry, the continued uncertainty of long-term consequences, that my illness caused.

When Dad retired from working for more prominent corporations, he set up a consultancy. He would pick and chose who he took on as a client based on how much good the project could produce.

In a way, my grief comes from how proud I am of the moral man my Father was. He could be rigid and stubborn, even harsh. Still, he acted from a core of right and wrong that I cannot deny, though I saw it as strictly black and white.

In a way, most of my grief comes from losing that rudder of black and white, right or wrong, morality in my life. I am a person who lives in the greys. Not a criminal, but someone who recognizes that crimes can be committed from good intentions.

Did I cry over the loss of my father? Yes. Many around me, however, may have seen me as stoic. I was not. I never kept the grief I felt locked in. It was always there, from when I heard he had advanced lung cancer.

And it will be with me for years to come. What I did do is accept the grief as a part of who I am rather than vocal or public expressions, or rock-faced stoicism.

There is only one wrong way to grieve. That is to deny the grief or lock it away and refuse to face it. When you lose someone, that loss will forever be a part of you.