Saturday, September 26, 2015


10 Questions for Seth Dickinson, author of The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Tor Books, September 2015).


Your debut novel, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, recently hit the bookshelves. Can you tell us a bit about your publishing journey?

I feel like I haven't done anything romantic enough to make it a journey! I began writing short stories with intent to publish in college. For a few years, everything I wrote got rejected, and then one year I guess I'd figured out how to word and everything I wrote started selling.

That was in 2012. In 2013, after polishing prose style with short stories, I decided I'd try a novel. I finished it up and found in agent in late 2013, the book sold in 2014, and a year later here we are!

I guess I had some excitement along the way: I spent 2012-2013 in graduate school studying social neuroscience (specifically racial bias in police shootings), and I took a job at Bungie Studios in 2014 to write lore for Destiny.

And I did drop out of grad school to write the novel! I guess that's pretty romantic.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant delves into many political themes, such as oppression, colonization, and revolution. What inspired you to write about these?

They're the themes that people I cared about were discussing, they were themes that explained how the world got so broken and how we might repair it, and they rhymed with my own work in psychology — a lot of study of prejudice and power.

I guess, from a different angle, I was inspired by the conversation the Internet's been having over the past decade. People would say 'I want more people of color in books, I want more women, I want more queer people,' and others would reply, 'We can't write about those people in fantasy, they'd be too oppressed to be interesting.'

I hate that argument. For a lot of reasons, one of them being that Earth's history was a lot more complicated and crazy than 'white guys did stuff', but just drove me mad, this presumption that someone facing oppression couldn't be a compelling protagonist. People always find a way to push back.

So I decided to write about a protagonist targeted by intersecting homophobia, racism, and sexism, one who refuses to ever be bound — and who always finds a way, no matter how cruel the situation, to fight back.

While your book is a fantasy, in many ways it reads almost like historical fiction set in a different world. Can you tell us a bit about the world-building in your novel? How did you create the rich cultures your story’s set in? What drew you to the fantasy genre?

do think it's fantasy, I think that's really important — because one of the core missions of fantasy is creating secondary worlds, right? And every time we do that, we have a chance to pick up Earth's own history and say, look, see this thing? It didn't have to happen that way. It could've been different. It wasn't a necessary part of human existence.

I had a lot of fun world-building for this book! I guess I was guided by three tensions, each one pulling me away from the others —

I wanted a world that felt as rich, complex, lively, interconnected, and surprising as our own. History's nuts. Civilizations rise and crash, people hit fortune or disaster with incredible schemes, ideas spread and die and live again. I wanted a naturalistic sense of length and breadth.

I wanted a world that you could understand, something with the clean, intuitive logic of a game board. I wanted all the economic intrigue, all the piracy and rebellion, to feel as sharp and powerful as swords or sex. So the world had to be readable. It had to offer the reader affordance.

And I wanted a world where nothing mapped exactly to Earth — no people, no cultures, no languages, no races. I didn't want to suggest that anything was biologically or historically inevitable.

I wanted it to be compelling! I wanted everything to hum with tension.
Baru Cormorant joins the oppressive Empire’s service in hopes of infiltrating their top ranks and using her power to free her people. What was it like developing her character? How did you get into her head?

The first thing I knew about the story was the ending, so I had to have a character with both the means and motivation to make those choices.

I knew she would be pragmatic, driven, ruthless, and very contained. I think her containment and discipline was really the key to writing her: whenever she wanted to feel or say something, I had to make her elide it, or let it out in code, or just pretend she didn't care.

It was tricky to figure out how to use the negative space around what she didn't say to describe her emotions. I hope it worked!

I really treasure the moments when she gets to be an ordinary person — gets drunk, hangs out, laughs at a joke. It's important to see the human being peeking out from the armor.
Your plot is full of unexpected twists and turns. Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that went in unexpected directions?

I was really confident of the book's operating principle — it would be about sacrificing human warmth and connection in the name of a greater good. Because the plot largely plays by that rule, none of the twists really surprised me, exactly.

But I was absolutely startled by the characters! I really love it when a character begins to claim space on the page and drive action. Duke Oathsfire's halting personal growth, Duke Unuxekome's charisma on the page, the man who'd left something down a well, the woman pretending to be an actress — all surprises. Tain Hu's a magnetic force, of course, but I knew she would be.

I was worried all the Dukes and Duchesses would get confusing, so I tried very hard to be sure all of them got a scene that was their own. I hope it worked!

What was the hardest part about writing The Traitor Baru Cormorant? What were the biggest challenges you faced along the way?

It was a fairly smooth book to write, all in all, because the protagonist drove it so ably, and I knew where she was going. One big challenge was teaching all the socioeconomic complexity and intrigue in a way that was thrilling. I really wanted the book to be fast-paced and gripping, which meant no lectures.

I tend to think that if the reader cares about a character, they'll care about what that character cares about. I don't give a damn about Catholic theology, for instance, but Hilary Mantel makes me care about Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, and he cares. So I tried to attach important parts of the world to characters who cared about them.

We're all really good at keeping track of gossip and social relationships, right? I think you can tap into that power when writing.
THIS. COVER. *swoon*
The cover and title of your book really caught my eye. Can you tell us a bit about them? Is there a story behind Baru Cormorant’s distinctive name?

The cover is entirely to the credit of Marco Palmieri, my editor, Irene Gallo, Tor's art director, and Sam Weber, the artist. Marco had an idea and Irene and Sam made it happen. (I'm assuming you mean the US cover — if you're in the UK it was another crew!)

The name was right for the character, it had a good shape and good presence on the page. But it's really hard to say at parties! A lot of time I get 'The Traitor what? Broom cormorant? Like the bird?'
Can you take us behind-the-scenes of what it takes to bring a book from manuscript to published novel? What was the editing process like for you?

So, the first thing you do is try to get an agent. I think that's probably the most nerve-wracking part, because of query letters! You need to write a query letter that sells your book in about three paragraphs. If that letter doesn't sing, the agent will never even look at your manuscript. (I'm sure you know this if you've been through the query process yourself.)

Wrapping up months of work into a couple paragraphs is really tense.

Once an agent offers you representation, you get to do something cool: write to all the other agents who are planning to read your book and tell them 'hey, I have an offer, can you get back to me within two weeks?' And then they all have to scramble to read it (or reject you right there).

The agent you sign with then sends your book out to publishers. Mine went pretty swiftly, since Tor offered a generous pre-emptive deal for Baru Cormorant and two more books (a deal in which you're required to withdraw the book from all other publishers — so hopefully it's a good one). 

The editing process itself went very smoothly. My agent and editor had only a few suggestions, and they weren't hard to implement. Almost all the holdup was on my end, actually! I wanted to restructure the Act 2 — Act 3 bridge and the Act 3 opening, punch up the character work, and revisit a few scenes I thought were weak.

What’s been the most rewarding part of being a published author?

Talking to people who've read the book and who have fascinating, engaging things to say about it! And meeting other authors.
Are you working on anything new? What does the path forward look like for you?

Right now I'm working on a sequel and counterargument to this novel — a story that looks at the things Baru derogated or passed over in this story, like friendship, warmth, and the possibility of trust. 

I've also got a lot of fiction in Bungie's Destiny, and I hope that'll continue through next year and years to come!

Thank you for having me!

Thanks for stopping by!

Find The Traitor Baru Cormorant on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores everywhere.

Visit Seth's website:
Follow Seth on Twitter:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My twisty, turny, loop-de-loop filled publishing road so far

[excerpted from my interview on Lorna Suzuki's blog]

My publishing road has been one twisty-turny loop-de-loop-filled tangle (and I foresee many more twists, turns, and loop-de-loops in the future). It took me something like 81 queries to land my agent (the talented, fierce, and altogether amazing Lana Popovic)—though not all for the same book or at the same time. I first queried agents with Artificial Absolutes back in early 2012. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I read enough agent blogs, etc., to know what a query looked like (even had a friend of mine who was interning at an agency validate that at least I had the idea right), but didn’t know anything about how the publishing industry or book markets worked. I just scattered a bunch of queries to the wind. Around rejection number thirty, I realized there were some small presses out there that took un-agented authors and started querying them too. Miracle of miracles, Red Adept Publishing wanted my book, and I did my happy dance.

While I love RAP, I still wanted a shot at the big houses. So I started working on a new, unrelated book and posted the opening on Authonomy for feedback. Much to my surprise, a staff member from another small press, Glass House Press, stumbled upon it and liked what they saw, so they asked for a full submission. Problem was, I hadn’t finished the book yet. So I scrambled to get the thing done (the most intense three weeks of writing in my life) and sent it to them. While I was excited at the prospect of working with these guys, I figured while I was waiting for a reply, it couldn’t hurt to try querying agents again. I only sent out a handful, but they were all got immediate passes. I became convinced Glass House was going to kick my poor manuscript to the curb. When they said yes—another happy dance!

With contracts from two awesome small presses under my belt, I thought I was done with the whole querying thing for the foreseeable future. Especially since I was working on series. But the thing about inspiration is that it strikes when you least expect it to. Shortly after Artificial Absolutes came out 2013, I had an idea for a YA sci-fi romance that I really had no business writing but couldn’t let go of. I got the first draft down pretty quickly, but between editing and marketing my other books (not to mention writing sequels), I didn’t get a chance to edit it for months.

I decided to do the querying rounds again around September 2014. It was back-to-school season, and I was feeling energized. I’d spent several months—almost a year, actually—obsessing over publishing blogs, reading potential comps, and fine-tuning my query and manuscript. At this point, my efforts to market Artificial Absolutes and my other books had taught me a lot about the book market in general—genres, audiences, trends, etc. And my online agent stalking… I mean, research… had taught me more about what they sought in a query and what individual agents were looking for. I put together a list of agents based not just on what genres they repped (which was what I did for the last two rounds), but also based on what they said in their bios, interviews, and blog posts.

I also decided to query in waves this time—wait for the first 10 or so rejections before sending the next 10, etc. That way I’d have time to tweak my query, synopsis, and opening pages again. There wasn’t any particular order to my list—I just added agents to it as I discovered them (through Writer’s Digest features, for example). I was fully prepared to send out upwards of 100 queries this round. Luckily, I didn’t have to.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Interview with Andrew Joyce, author of Molly Lee, currently on sale for 99 cents through Monday, September 21.


Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

My first book was a 125,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. Those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!
So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. (I had them as adults in the Old West.) Then I sent out query letters to literary agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me telling me that he loved the story and suggested a few changes. They were good suggestions, and I incorporated about 80% of them into the book. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914.

What got you into writing?

One morning I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. It was soon published in a print magazine (remember them?). I’ve been writing ever since.

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what?

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

This is like asking a parent which of their children they love the most. Let me just say that I have a strong attachment to Huck Finn and Molly Lee.

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

It would be easier if I just shared the scene with you.

That was the pinch in the game for me. With a quick look to Tom, I stepped out of the barn. Now, I’ve always been a fair to middling shot with a long gun. And Pap always said there was a devil in us Finns. He said we had an Irish temper that couldn’t be tamed, but I always thought that was a lot of hogwash. However, on that gray morning, I knew without thinking about it that if I pointed that Colt Dragoon at a man, he’d be dead long before he hit the ground.

I stood just outside the barn door, legs spread. The sergeant was so intent on dragging Molly, he didn’t see me. The two privates had their attention in the opposite direction, watching the Lee family. Then I saw Will make a run for the sergeant. The private standing with the family raised his gun and took aim, but he did not fire despite the order to shoot. When the sergeant and Molly got to within a hundred feet of me, and before Will caught up to them, I yelled with hatred in my voice, “Let her be, you pig!”

I didn’t wait for him to answer or to set Molly free; I raised the Colt and shot him right through the heart. Without hesitating, I pulled back the hammer and squeezed the trigger again, shooting the one on the horse in the forehead. He fell off with a thud as he hit the ground. By that time the other one, the one who had sighted Will but did not shoot, had dropped his gun and had his hands in the air. I walked up to him and said, “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you this very minute.” He was shaking from head to foot and didn’t say anything. When I got closer to him, I could see that he couldn’t have been much more than sixteen. It took everything in me not to pull the hammer back and squeeze the trigger a third time. Instead, I clubbed him behind his left ear, and he kissed the dirt.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

I reckon I’d have to say that writing dialogue is my favorite part of the writing process.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

The way I write is that I have the first sentence and the last paragraph in my head before I start a book. Then all I have to do is come up with 100,000 words to fill in the blank space. That’s the easy part.

I don’t write all day long, maybe four hours a day. And when you take into account the editing, it takes me about seven months to produce a finished book.

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

I really don’t know. But I do write in all genres. I have 140 short stories that cover everything from the detective genre to science fiction and everything in between.

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

John Steinbeck. Listen to this:

"The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide."— John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat

Have ever read anything as beautiful? Especially the first sentence.

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

I usually have the next day’s writing in my head by the time I go to bed. When I wake up the next morning and go to work, I start to take my characters where I had intended. But sometimes, they’ll decide they want to go in another direction and that’s where we’ll end up. I’m cool with that. After all, it’s their lives.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you for having me.


From the author of the best-selling novel, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer comes MOLLY LEE. 

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes. 

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life. 

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice. 

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her. 


Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. He wouldn't return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written three books, and a collection of almost one hundred forty short stories that is comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS. He lives on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog, Danny. MOLLY LEE is a followup novel to the best-selling REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter

10 questions for Jacqueline Kyle, author of Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter.

How did you come up with the mash-up idea?

There are a number of really creative books in the mash-up genre. A few have been made into movies, like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the upcoming film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Why A Christmas Carol? What was inspiration?

A few years ago I was wandering around the Dickens Fair that’s held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco every year. There’s a roaming play of A Christmas Carol through the streets of London with Marley’s ghost dragging chains and the Ghost of Christmas Future looking like Death. It’s creepy! It got my brain churning and now here we are!

What authors influence your writing?
Obviously, Charles Dickens is a huge influence in this book. I’d say that 50% of Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter is still comprised with his themes and prose. More recently, author Seth Grahame-Smith has really been the leader in the mash-up genre.

What do you do now?

I work with life coaches, speakers and personal development professionals to get their books ready for publication. It depends on the situation, but that might mean consulting, content editing or ghost writing. If Scrooge read a personal development book, what would it be? Without a doubt, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. Scrooge is in a real emotional crisis at the beginning of Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter. He could use some motivational reading.

I read your author bios. They aren’t exactly standard, are they?

You know, writing about yourself is rather ridiculous. I feel ridiculous doing it. Thus, I write true facts as ridiculously as I can. You’ve got to have a sense of humor about yourself, right?

What is it like running a crowdfunding campaign?

Scary. Like running for class president - only people vote with money. As an introvert and wallflower, this is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Was your crowdfunding campaign successful?

Yes and no. Some people would say it failed because I didn’t hit my financial goal. But two really positive results came out of the experience. First, I raised enough money to finish illustrating and publishing. The second, was that I felt incredibly blessed and humbled by all the support I did receive.

Do you have plans for future books?

Of course I do! I think my next one will be an original work, but I have another Dickens mashup in mind too.

Has anyone expressed interest in turning the book into a movie?

I wish! That is my ultimate dream for this book. However, typically movie studios want to see a bunch of readers before they approach an author for rights. I’ve got to keep working on getting readers for now.

Ebenezer Scrooge: Ghost Hunter expands the original text of Charles Dicken’s classic with all-new scenes of malicious ghosts, soul devouring wraiths, deadly doppelgangers and other terrors from the netherworld. Our story opens seven years after Marley’s violent death. Ebenezer Scrooge has given up ghost hunting and embraced an inevitable slow death by alcohol poisoning. When the spectre of his deceased partner appears to him on Christmas Eve, Scrooge learns that he must face three Ghosts – one who will try to help him, one who will try to harm him and one that cannot be killed. 

In a story that spans a lifetime of torment, Scrooge must face the demons of his past and his failures in the present in order to prevent the horror that is his future. The stakes for Scrooge’s soul have never been higher than in this wicked retelling of the classic, A Christmas Carol.

Jaqueline Kyle once stood on top of an active nuclear reactor. It glowed. She dove the Great Barrier Reef and the fish swarmed to check HER out. On her 16th birthday she flew a plane solo - just to enjoy the view. She once ran a marathon - because it was faster than walking. When she bungee jumps, she always goes first, so her friends can jump off the bridge after her. Jaqueline Kyle is not the most interesting man in the world - because she's a woman.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Self-imposed writing deadlines

Today, over on the Across the Board blog (a writing blog I contribute monthly to), Kimberly G. Giarratano posted about the trouble with self-imposed deadlines and listed a few tips for how to get them to work for you. This got me thinking about my own methods for getting stuff written. How do you hold yourself accountable and get things done?

It's no secret that writers are terrible procrastinators. We faff around online, complain about how hard writing is, chat with each other about all the awesome things we're going to write, but when it comes time to walk the walk... Let's just say there's much staring at screens and whining, "Do I have to?" The funny thing is that we all love storytelling and most of us actively enjoy putting words to paper. But until we get over that hump and actually start typing, it's easy to forget that. There are many reasons for procrastinating... not in the right mind set (oh, I've had an awful day at work and I'm too fried to get anything done), insecurity (do I have any business writing in the first place? what if I'm garbage?), and general fear of screwing up (this idea sounds so good in my head, but what if I can't pull it off?).

Snapshot of my project plan. Crude, but it worked!
Many writers will claim the reason they're not getting things written is lack of time. Trust me, it's not. If you put your mind to something and really want it, you'll carve out the time. Just ask any successful author who started out by writing one hour a day in the morning before their kids got up for school. And when you're sitting there paralyzed by insecurity, all the time in the world won't help (trust me... I once cleared my schedule completely in order to write, only to find myself staring blankly at a blinking cursor and finding every excuse possible to stay on Facebook).

When I first started writing, I was a productivity beast. This was mostly because I didn't know any better. And because writing was this shiny new hobby that I just wanted to binge on. But after that, things slowed. A lot. The more I learned about this whole writing thing, the more scared I got of screwing it up. Which lead to much procrastinating.

Ultimately, the only way I get things done is by self imposing deadlines. And because I have classic Writer ADD, where I'm working on about 7 open projects at any given time (literally - at one point I had 7 project folders, 3 of which were for series), the only way I was going to get myself in line was with a project plan. Like "finish first draft of this book by September" or "complete edits on that book by October". It also helped me realize what a mess I'd gotten myself into, which is why I forbade myself from starting my new WIP until after Brave New Girls and Virtual Shadows (last book in the Jane Colt series) were out. The nice thing about a project plan is that, since any given time, I have multiple books in various stages (some in editing, some I'm still drafting, etc), this way I could actually keep track of where I am at any given time. Also, it kept me accountable because if I missed one deadline, it would throw the rest off, and I really didn't want to deal with that.

Of course, there always has to be room for flexibility, which is why I always gave myself more days than I needed (like giving myself 3 days to write acknowledgements and back cover copy for Brave New Girls when really I just needed to sit down for an evening and hammer them out).

Another method that works for me is announcing my writing goals publicly before diving in. In my case, this is just a tweet: "I'm going to write 2,000 words tonight!" Even if I'm tweeting into the aether and no one actually engages, just having it out there on my profile makes me feel accountable. Like, I said I'd do it. Now I've got to follow through. Last year, when I got really desperate to finish a WIP, I even gave myself reverse incentives: "If I don't write 2,000 words tonight, I'm going to buy Justin Bieber's latest album. *shudder*". 

Ultimately, the best way to keep yourself accountable is to have someone out there who's actually waiting for your book. Whether it's your critique partner, your mom, or your friend who read your first book and is clamoring for the second, knowing that someone's counting on you helps. Right now, I'm drafting a YA contemporary fantasy and my teen sister has promised to be my Youth Consultant (because I'm an old grump and don't know how SnapChat works), but only if I get it to her by fall break, when she'll have time to read it. So here I come, October 31... 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

International Literacy Day!

Despite what people say about the decline of books and all that (which I maintain is false!), our world is more text-driven than ever. The Age of the Internet and Smartphone means people more and more communications are written - emails, text messages, etc. Even games are full of words. Especially games. So today I'm celebrating International Literacy with this infographic courtesy of Grammarly!
Literacy Day
Source: Grammarly 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Something Alien - a flash fic by Jason Parent

Something Alien
Jason Parent

Home. The word evoked peace. Its manifestation conjured more. In a rigid landscape, frozen yet alive, home meant salvation.
The modest clay walls of her adobe were arms held aloft in the promise of a welcoming embrace, baked strong by a hot sun now moons away. Snow cloaked her residence like a cowl, heaping in knee-high drifts on each side of her doorstep.
And there, it stopped. Not an errant flake dared enter. Each withered and died on her threshold along with the burdens of her world. Rayle would permit no sickness to sully her home, no disease of the heart or of the mind to enter her walls.
But today was different. Her mind could not find its balance. The sight of her children, sleeping without care or worry, blood-red reeds piled high and thick to keep them warm—an image tranquil like the lapping tongues and crackling embers of a warm fire pit—made her tremble.
Fear punishes those who cultivate it, she knew, but Rayle couldn’t help being afraid. They were coming tomorrow, they who would recondition her world, leaving only scraps of the old, vanquishing all that she was.
Would her children know her then? The world in which they’d mature would never again be the world in which they were born. Hers were the children of dying ways, too young to understand tradition, too pure to realize deceit. New marvels, shiny and magnetic, garnered more appeal than a natural history they’d barely known. Would they comprehend what made Rayle hope and sing, dance and laugh? Could they feel what made her love?
She listened to the soft breezes slipping in intervals through their pursed lips, a soothing cadence. After tomorrow, would their sleep come so easy? Rayle’s eyes blurred. Would excitement blind them to caution?
 Rayle slid free the beast that was strapped to her back and dropped it near the fire. Her day had been spent hunting game across the sky-soaked tundra, toiling hard for her reward, for their survival. She eyed her kill with pride.
She sat at her clay table and pulled her hide boots from her weary feet. Soon her children would smell the fresh meat. They would need food, but she was unable to eat. Her appetite had been slain by the worry of what lay ahead.
Change comes when strength falters, Rayle thought. I must be strong.
She shook her head, wondering what was really at stake. Preservation of a way of life? Survival in its purest sense? The questions were beyond her ability to answer. She knew that today was good and yesterday was grand and all the days before that were as they should have been. She had everything she needed. Her babies never lacked a thing.
She pounded her fist against the table. Little Kaya stirred. Rayle froze. Her daughter’s eyes drifted slowly open, then closed, another moment of decency spared.
Let them have this. Tomorrow comes too soon.
Barefoot, she tip-toed out of the hut. The snow and mud felt alive beneath her feet, seeking shelter in the curves of her nails. Stars lit up the sky, looking innocent, hiding the masters of time. Hiding them.
She looked at the red grass she had reaped and baled, sprung from land she had cultivated: her land. She admired the fishery she’d made along the stream that ran down from the mountains. Her imagination, her volition, had allowed her to be. It had always been enough.
The stream’s silvery water darted through crags and fissures. Along the shore, among rocks of gold, the night worms were wriggling. The rocks were valueless; the worms were sustenance.
Rayle approached the stream, listening to its racing waters and the calls of the many creatures that called it home. She had taken from it only what she needed—nothing more. She choked back her contempt for what would be a parasitic trespass, intruders who wanted everything, who had no understanding of harmony and balance.
Cupping her hand for a drink, one of her three fingers slid into the snow, leaving an indentation. She stared at the marking, no more than a divot in the snow. Was this all the mark she would make on her world? Was this all that would be left to remember her by? Soon, this land would belong to another, a stranger to her ways. And when the snow melted and the suns returned, how long would it be before she’d be forgotten?
Rayle sighed. Futility, she thought, the notion bringing something short of acceptance. She dug her fingers deep into the mud and laughed. Three trenches to mark my passage. The dirt will know that I once tamed it. And tomorrow, they come to tame me.
She tried to picture it, the dark and light fleshy things and their declarations of goodwill. She saw them landing in their vessels, spreading their dogmas like parents to children, to her children. Coming to craft another’s world in their image, she thought, snorting. To them it was Planet X, a world not unlike only they knew how many others. To Rayle, it was home.
“Civilization” they had called it when they made first contact. “A better way of life” they professed as they told her people how to live. They raped her society of its individuality. They destroyed what made them free.
Rayle cried for tomorrow. Behind smiling masks and false promises, the humans brought extermination.

She glanced down at the carved earth. A smile crept across her face as she thought of her children, their big green eyes always looking to her for nurturing and guidance. Her mark had been made. There, she’d be remembered.


In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook at, on Twitter at, or at his website,, for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.


Fate in plain sight. 
Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide. 
In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. 
When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator? 
Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.