Twicebound: Chapter Twenty – Part One

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“Look, we’re not the bad guys here.”

Vančura leveled a cynical gaze at the colonel, then raised his wrists and rattled the handcuffs.

“These restraints would indicate otherwise.

Bosze didn’t look amused.  In fact, he looked more than a little irate.

“You did break into a secure government testing facility and monkey with a highly  sensitive piece of equipment.  The handcuffs are protocol, but I’ll admit, I enjoyed having you put in them.”

The big man studied him, a frown starting to develop, obvious even under the indomitable composure.

“You bribe a crooked judge and prison warden to kidnap us off the street chip us like animals, then force us through an experimental machine.  And you aren’t the ‘bad guy’?”

Bosze’s grin was anything but pleasant.

“Hey, I haven’t done any of that yet.  You can’t blame me for something I’ve done in the past for the future you came from, but that I haven’t gotten around to doing in the future for this present.  Just now, the only criminal here is you.”

There was a quiet pause as Vančura considered that.  Finally, he nodded.

“You’ve got this time travel problem down to a science, I see.  Impressive.  So, since I’m the ‘bad guy’ in this particular iteration of our first meeting, what’s next?”

Surprise bloomed on the colonel’s face, then he laughed.

“Oh, I never said you were the bad guy.  You’re just the guy who broke into the wrong place on some mis-guided…”

He stopped, frowned, then stared at Vančura, eyes widening.

“Wait a minute.  ‘Us’.  You kept saying ‘us’, not ‘me’.   Kidnap us, chip us, force us.  Who is ‘us’?  We sent someone else through the STAd with you, didn’t we?”

It w as Vančura’s turn to grin.

“Slipped out of me on accident, I’m afraid.  The question you really ought to be asking, though, is who went through the knothole without me.  Or, to put it a different way, who did I send through it?”

Bosze paled and he slammed a fist onto the intercom button on his desk.

“Benwright! Get down to the STAd and check it’s logs for the time immediately around the incursion!  Move!”

He leaned back, staring at Vančura like he’d seen a ghost.  The big man just chuckled.

“Makes you wonder who I sent through, doesn’t it, Colonel?  In fact, if I were you, I’d be wondering very, very much.  I might even be worried.  If I were you.”


 

End Chapter  20– Part 1

Ah, Vančura… what are you up to?  I gotta tell you, readers, Vančura is the the single most unpredictable character I’ve ever written.   If I ever figure out what he’s planning, I’ll be sure to tell you about it, but don’t count on it being any time soon.

Also, Merry Christmas, one and all.

Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!

Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten,
  Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen,
Chapter Fourteen  Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen  Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen 
Chapter Nineteen

Twicebound: Chapter Eighteen – Part One

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Header18-1“Get ready to go, now!”

Armelle’s shout startled Eddie, but Vančura was already moving. He grabbed Eddie’s shoulders and hauled him toward the STAd, glancing over his shoulder as they went.

“What’s wrong?”

She didn’t stop typing, but the set of her shoulders looked strained.

“They set an alert on the console.  Start up the knothole and every personal security terminal in the building goes on alert.  Can we bar the door?”

Vančura ignored her and muscled Eddie into the STAd, levelling a finger at the little man.

“Don’t. Move.  Armelle, put him through!!”

The hum of the STAd didn’t change.

“Armelle!”

“It’s not ready yet!! I need another minute. Can’t you bar the door?”

With a snarl, Vančura bounded across the room and leaned over her shoulder.

“We don’t have a minute, Armelle.  There’s no ceiling on this room, remember?  All they have to do is get some guns on the second level to shoot down at us and we’re finished.  Barring the door isn’t going to help.  What’s taking so long?”

She shook her head, still concentrating on the screen.

“It’s a government project, Vančura.  There are safeguards and test programs everywhere.  Even the safeguards have safeguards.”

“You can’t bypass them?”

“I’m a scientist, not a hacker.  This is going to take a second… wait… okay, almost there.”

Pushing him out of the way, she slid her swivel chair towards a different monitor.  It lit up when she hit the first key and the deep hum of the STAd changed in pitch. She threw a grin at Vančura.

“We’re good!  Eddie, hold still.”

The console beeped once, then the harsh crackle and flash of electricity filled the room.  A metallic smell rose, but Eddie was already gone.

“You’re next, Vančura.”

He lifted her out of the chair and set her on her feet.

“Wrong.  Get going.”

“You don’t know how to work the STAd!”

“I hit that button right there, right?”

“Well, yes, but…”

He pointed at the machine adamantly.

“The last one through might not make it; racing to the knothole after hitting the button will be risky enough, let alone dodging bullets. You’re the only one who knows enough about time-travel to be useful in the future.  Get moving.”

She didn’t argue.  A second later, the flash and crackle echoed again and she followed Eddie. Vančura’s finger was hovering over the key that would start the cycle again, when the doors burst open.  A small, black cylinder rolled into the room with a muted clank.

Vančura just closed his eyes.  A flash-grenade.  Colonel Bosze hadn’t wasted any time.


End Chapter  18– Part 1

Late this installment might be, but it made it!  Poor “Twicebound”, sandwiched between Friday evening work and Saturday afternoon work.  Don’t worry, from now on, I’m going to be writing it ahead of time, so this won’t happen again.

Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!

Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten,
  Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen,
Chapter Fourteen  Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen  Chapter Seventeen

Reporting From the Front

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It’s been a while since the last report on the doings behind the scenes, so I decided I’d send one your way.


Possible12#First (and most importantly) “Thundercrest” is in the midst of being edited. The red ink is flowing, but fortunately not as much as I feared.  My editor isn’t pulling any punches, but the hard grind of writing it seems to have paid off. I’ve received very little criticism of the story, as far as major changes go.  Most of the complaints from beta-readers have been about phrasing and not much of that, anyway.

I’m hoping to have a proof paperback sometime in December, with final proof and release-ready editions by January at the latest.  We’ll see; plans rarely survive contact with the enemy.  , Everything seems to be going smoothly so far, though.


The second item is “Hunter – Eye in the Storm“.  It’s coming along swimmingly, assuming I’m swimming in a riptide.  The story is hovering around 90K words or so, but the ending has decided it doesn’t want to be the ending.  It wants to be the middle and I’m having a dickens of a time talking it out of that.  With a little luck and a lot of pure stubborness (got plenty of that), I’ll tack the final paragraph on it sometime this month.


APUMScoverThird on the list is “A Pawn Up My Sleeve“, the new serial. I’ve already got subscribers, but I’m planning a promotion that I hope will boost subscriptions faster.  As it is, it’s already been worth the effort that’s gone into it.  Huey Spencewood is hilarious to write and I’m well ahead of the installment curve, with over 4,000 words to give me some breathing room.  Of course, if you drop by the webpage and buy a subscription, you’ll upgrade that to “breathing room and lunch money”.  Just saying…


HunterpagebuttonThe Hunter short story “Rock the Boat” has been in the works for over a year now, but it’s almost finished.  A huge part of the time has been spent procrastinating over writing the beastie in it, since it’s a pretty unusual one, but I think I’ve finally got it in workable form.  The story ran on longer than usual, so you’ll be getting a novelette rather than an actual short story.  More story won’t be a problem for anyone, right?


Header17-3On the end of the list, of course, is “Twicebound“.  Who DOESN’T want to hear about “Twicebound“?  As you probably know, I’ve been having a little trouble keeping up with it recently, but it’s pulled through.  Getting called in early for Saturday work at the coffee shop gets in the way of the publishing business.  I really should sit down and write half-a-dozen installments in one go so I’ll have them ready and waiting, but I just can’t find the time.  Regardless, “Twicebound” will continue coming out each Saturday, come rain, shine, snow, or piranhas.

Twicebound: Chapter 17 – Part 3

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Header17-3There was a deep whir as the STAd powered up, accompanied by the click of computer keys as Armelle tapped away at the console.

“Do you need to ask?”

“Yup.  You knows ‘ow t’ work this thing?”

She made an exasperated noise, then realized Eddie was deliberately taunting her.

“Yes, I know how to work it.  Now, be quiet and let me run the diagnostics programs.  You wouldn’t want to end up ripped into little pieces and scattered through time, would you?”

He gulped and took a step back.

“Not partic’larly, no, t’anks.”

She smirked and turned back to the console.  The blue-green light of it flickered as the diagnostics ran, testing the massive machine .

Vančura prowled the room while they waited, keeping a wary eye on the door.  Now and again, he’d throw an impatient glance toward Armelle, as if restraining himself from asking how much longer it would take.  During a pause in one of the diagnostics, she looked up, frowning as she watched him pace.

“What’s gotten into you?”

He shook his head, but she pushed.

“Look, Vančura, you’re making me nervous.  Something’s worrying you and I want to know what it is.”

Indecision flickered in his eyes, then he shrugged, but kept his attention on the doors.

“Fine.  We’re playing with the time-line too much for my comfort.  It’s got to be done, but that doesn’t mean something ugly won’t happen.  Look.”

He gestured to the digital time display hung over the console.

“Last time around, we were just about to go through the knothole.  What happens when we don’t go through it this time around?”

Armelle tapped another key, then shook her head.

“I’ve explained this already…”

“No!”

Her eyes widened, instinctively shrinking back from his explosive outburst.  He started pacing again.

“You explained it well enough for me to know you don’t really know what will happen.  I know, I know, we don’t have a choice, but that’s not exactly comforting.  Tell me going through that machine again won’t make the situation worse than it ever was before.”

His razor-sharp gaze locked her down and pinned her.  Finally, she bit her lip and turned back to the console.


End Chapter  17– Part 3

Another installment of “Twicebound”, the last for October.  And guess what?!?!  It’s only three more weeks until it will have been a full YEAR of Twicebound.

Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!

Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten,
  Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen,
Chapter Fourteen  Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen – Part 1
Chapter Seventeen – Part 2

New Serial Novel!!!

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There’s a new serial novel on the block, people.  “A Pawn Up My Sleeve” is the most recent story to hit the bits and bytes of this blog.  With the readership “Twicebound” is enjoying (and with how much I’m enjoying writing it), I decided to take the serial novels a step further.

APUMScoverHere’s the blurb for it:


Imagine you have a problem… a big problem… and that problem won’t go away. No matter what you do. When you have that sort of problem, conventional methods don’t work. You have to resort to unconventional ones. And when you need unconventional methods… you need an unconventional man. You need a man who doesn’t play by the same rules the problem does. You need a man who plays chess when everyone else is playing poker. You need a man who’s playing for keeps when everyone else is playing for little things like power, money, or their lives.

You need a man like Hubert Spencewood.

Huey, for short.


It will be published weekly, but instead of coming out Saturday morning, you’ll be able to take a break from the vicissitudes of Monday with each installment of “A Pawn Up My Sleeve”

The big difference is this; “A Pawn Up My Sleeve” is subscription-based.  Don’t worry, I based the subscription rate around the price-tag you might find on a nice trade-paper back in a bookstore.

The first thousand words, however, are yours for the reading.  Jump in!!

ButtonOr, if you’re the adventurous sort, just go straight to the
A Pawn Up My Sleeve Main Page.

Writing Safari 2#: Starting Out

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Writing Safari 2#
Starting Out

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Once you’ve got all your gear together and you’re ready to get going on your literary safari.  You’re ready for the hunt, ready to face even the fiercest phrase in its natural habitat.

Before you set out, however, your guide gives you some tips to keep you alive and tapping those keys.


Safari Tips

  1. Provisions come first! 
    Your thinking and strength are impaired if you’re hungry.  Struggling to hit the space bar through a pall of starvation is no way to write a novel.
  2. Stay hydrated.
    Plenty of liquid is mandatory, be it water, juice, tea, or coffee.
    Ignore the fools who say coffee will dehydrate you.  Just
    make sure you don’t drink so much your hands are
    shaky and can’t hit the keys accurately.
  3. Writer’s block is in your head.
    Basically, if you think you have writer’s block, you’re going to get writer’s block.
    If you’re badly blocked, get up run around your house three times.
    Your brain will have an allergic reaction to the activity and start
    churning out
    creative ideas in response.
  4. Send regular updates to alpha readers.
    They’re like your compass, sextant, and charts.  If you get
    sidetracked, they can help you get back on the trail.
    And if you take to long to get where you’re going, they’ll
    tell you all about it. For months.
  5. Watch out for Sub-Plot Buffalo.
    You WILL run into them.  And, as every good safari hunter
    knows, a wounded
    Sub-Plot Buffalo is the most
    dangerous prey in the world.  If you must hunt Sub-Plot
    Buffalo, dispose of them in one shot, or they’ll circle around
    and attack you from the rear, just as you’re giving the
    Main Plot its coup-de-gras.


Of course, those aren’t the only tips your safari guide has for you.  They are, however, the ones that he feels you should know before you even reach the trail.  Onward!

Twicebound: Chapter 17 – Part 1

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“You don’t look much like a scientist. Are you sure this will work?”

Armelle gave Vančura a scornful look and finished buttoning her lab coat. It didn’t quite fit, but no-one would notice, unless they looked closely.

“I look a lot more like a scientist than you do, that’s for sure. Stop standing like that!”

He blinked.

“Like what?”

“Like…”  She eyed him for a moment. “Like a big cat.  You look like you’re always waiting to pounce on somebody.  Scientists don’t do that.”

With a shrug, he relaxed slightly, letting his shoulders droop slightly under the lab coat. She made a face, then nodded.

“Now you just look like you’re asleep, but it’ll have to do.  Here, carry this and look subservient.  Eddie, you… just follow me and, for heavens sake, don’t talk.  One word from you and they’ll know we aren’t scientists.”

Eddie looked hurt, but at least his lab-coat fit, so he just looked like an affronted – if slightly scruffy – technician.   Armelle inspected him one last time and adjusted the box she had handed to Vančura.  It was some random piece of heavy equipment that had looked mildly portable, but he didn’t look like he even noticed the weight.

“Okay, let’s go.  And let me do the talking.  I may not be familiar with this place, but at least I won’t ask them if I can ‘do something to that thingy’ or something like that.”

After checking them over critically, she yanked the chair out from under the knob and opened the door.  Peering out into the hall, she glanced both ways, then stepped out.  In an instant, she assumed the attitude of a harried and somewhat annoyed technician. The other two trailed her, trying to keep up, and barely succeeding.

“Could ya slow down a little, mebbe?”

She didn’t look back.

“No.  I’m in a hurry. The head technician wants the main off-shunt capacitors on the STAd checked immediately.  We can’t waste any time.  Besides, you don’t hear Vančura complaining, do you, and he’s carrying that equipment.”

Eddie frowned at her, then glanced at Vančura questioningly. The big man shook his head.

“She’s getting into character.”

Eddie stared at Armelle’s back.

“She’s a character, awright.”

End Chapter  17– Part 1


Just so you guys know, slightly scruffy doesn’t even begin to describe Eddie. Fortunately, for some reason connected with our social memory, the impression created by a white lab-coat is one of credibility, authority, and intelligent concentration.  All things Eddie has nothing to do with, but the lab-coat will distract you from that.

Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!

Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten,
  Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen,
Chapter Fourteen  Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen