Monday, June 18, 2018

Story Bloopers That Make You Go *Headdesk* -- Part II #amwriting #snippet

Last week, I posted a blooper (Part I) from the original manuscript that's the basis for my upcoming release, StarDog. This week I'm posting Blooper Part II.

If the StarDog title sounds familiar, it's probably because this book had a previous life as part of the acclaimed, but no longer available, Pets in Space 1 collection.

My goal is to soon release StarDog as a standalone book in The Inherited Stars Series. But first, I felt the story needed some special attention -- expanded scenes, re-worked passages, all-new material, and an added epilogue to better resolve the ending and tie it into Inherit the Stars, the novel that takes place six months after StarDog. In addition, it will have even stronger ties to the follow-up book, Courting Disaster, which will also be expanded from the original debut as a novella in the 2017 Pets in Space 2 collection (no longer available) to a novel.

But as I was reworking StarDog, I discovered a couple of....well...minor issues. (Gasp!)

I felt a little better when I realized no readers had apparently caught these missteps, either. In fact, readers might find these gaffes just a bit funny. So I decided to do an authors version of a Blooper Reel. Hopefully, you can laugh along with me.

As I mentioned last week, one of the reasons these bloopers are so ironic is that the story went through multiple passes by me, my betas and my editor--and yet, none of us caught these little treasures. I think that shows they weren't enormous blunders--but my goal is to make a great story even better, so they hadda be fixed.

And with that said, may I present...

Blooper #2

To set it up, here's the story blurb and scene description:

Blurb

Navigator Taro Shall’s captain assigns him an unexpected mission–find a way to eradicate deadly vipers that have infested starship Calypso. He never expects to find the solution to his problem in the hands of Adini, a charming street vendor. But the bio-engineered StarDog he acquires turns out to be a galactic hot potato, and both Taro and Adini are soon fugitives on the run.

Adini Kemm can’t deny her fascination for the honor-bound navigator, though his past and her present seem to null any chance of a shared future. Until her father’s capture as a spy catapults both her and Taro into a desperate bid to save him…and straight into the clutches of a brewing insurrection.  

Scene Set-Up: Adini's father has been taken prisoner as a spy by the Ithian Alliance. Adini believes her one chance to save him may lie with a friend of her father's who she can find on planet Banna, and Taro convinces his captain to take her on as a paying passenger. But when Taro's captain learns the name of the man Adini is seeking, things get complicated.
___________________________


“Who is this man?” the skipper began without preamble. “The one who can help your father?”

Adini straightened in her seat and cast a questioning look at Taro, who nodded for her to answer. “His name is Jaeo Gant.”

Captain Jordan stiffened, thrusting out her chin. “Did you say Jaeo…?”

“Gant,” Dini repeated, rushing to add, “He’s with the Network.”

“Yes.” She spat out the word with clear contempt. “He’s no one I care to cross paths with.”

“He’s a good man, Captain Jordan.”

“No.” The skipper’s jaw muscles flared and her eyes went cold and distant. “He gets people killed.”

“Captain, I have nowhere else to turn. No one else would go head-to-head with the Alliance. He may be my only chance to save my father.”

The captain scuffed the heel of her boot against the deck, as if mentally regrouping. “I said I’d take you to Banna, and I always stand by my obligations. But I’m doing it on one condition. I don’t need this man meddling in my life. So the deal is that you never disclose how you got to Banna. Not a word. Me—my ship—we don’t exist. Do I have your promise?”

“You have it, Captain Jordan.”

The skipper’s gaze cut to Taro, and her eyes flashed like pulsebeams. “Her word had better be good, for both your sakes.”

The bite of unease hit Taro in the sternum. Was this a mistake? His instincts had let him down before, and the last thing he wanted was to draw the wrath of Dava Jordan or jeopardize his gig on Calypso. Being navigator of this exceptional ship meant a lot to him.

***
Adini prayed Jaeo Gant would honor his obligations. Lords knew he owed Carbin Kemm more than a few favors. Just last month, her father had secured a Network shipment brought in by Captain Jagger, a hotshot Carduwan officer who’d run afoul of Ithian intelligence. When Jaeo Gant arrived to procure the booty and smuggle it off-planet, he’d been lavish with his praise to her father.

Her dad had always been steadfastly devoted to the cause. Now Adini would find out if the Network would be equally loyal in return.
 
Calypso’s air jets blasted, bringing the ship to hover just above the well-maintained landing pad. Three ground tugs scuttled over to ferry the ship to her assigned bay, which turned out to be at the extreme outer fringes of the spaceport. Clearly, the captain was attempting to slip her remarkable vessel into a quiet berth, unnoticed.

At least Banna was a safe haven from Ithian interference. No Ithian tactical squad would be storming the hangar to arrest Captain Jordan for the non-authorized launch back on Carduwa.

But that stunt might well catch up with her one day…

With the rear atmospheric drive still winding down, Captain Jordan and Taro appeared in the portal room. Adini’s heart fluttered at the sight of him, looking so handsome and capable in the fresh black uniform. His gaze touched hers briefly before dropping to his deck boots. She regretted the shadow of unease she saw in his deep russet eyes.

Katrina chattered a happy greeting, now returned to her familiar spot, balancing on Adini’s left shoulder.

“Package delivered,” the skipper said. “Time to settle up so we can be on our way.”

Captain Jordan seemed more than eager to depart, and nothing about Taro’s expression said he would do anything other than leave with Calypso. And why shouldn’t he? What they’d shared together had been crazy-impetuous, not binding.
 
“Twenty thousand replas, Captain.” Adini transferred the data from her wristchip to the captain’s receiver.

“Pleasure doing business, Miss Kemm,” the skipper replied. “Good luck to you.” Captain Jordan nodded toward the airlock.

“Captain,” Taro interjected. “I’m going with her. I want to be sure she finds this Gant fellow.”

Adini sucked in a silent breath. This she hadn’t expected.

The captain quirked an eyebrow and studied him a full tempa before she looked away and answered, “That’s your call to make, Nav.”

“I’ll be back as soon as I know she’s in good hands.”

Adini eased out her breath when Captain Jordan gave her wave of dismissal. She glanced at Taro, but he’d already turned back toward the airlock.
 
What Went Wrong?

Again, this blunder was subtle but it's clearly there on the page. Captain Jordan makes it painfully clear she wants nothing to do with the man Adini is seeking for help in rescuing her father--she doesn't want her name or her ship so much as mentioned.

"Me--my ship--we don't exist."

Captain Jordan is not happy Taro wants to escort Adini to find the man, but she allows him to go.

And that's where the problem lies.

Why?

Because: "Adini’s heart fluttered at the sight of him, looking so handsome and capable in the fresh black uniform."

Another forehead-smacker.

How invisible is Captain Jordan and her ship going to be if Taro escorts Adini to him wearing his Calypso navigator's uniform?

Whoopsie!

The scene required some editing to have Taro change back into his street clothes, so he wouldn't be identified as belonging to the crew of a captain who obviously knows Jaeo Gant and wants to ensure the man knows nothing about her involvement. Taro showing up in his uniform clearly didn't work.

And here I pause to laugh at myself for not catching that in the original story.

I hope to have more snippets or bloopers soon, but in the meantime, you can catch up on these two previously posted scenes from the coming book if you haven't yet read them:

All New Scene: Nebula Encounter  A newly written scene

Meet the Hero: Star Navigator Taro Shall  Introduction to the hero and his background


Have a great week!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

RELEASE DAY: NOT FADE AWAY!


The wait is finally over! You can officially order your copy of Not Fade Away, Interstellar Rescue Series Book 4 from Amazon TODAY in both Kindle and paperback versions!

Here’s a little taste from early in this story of the challenge “retired” Rescue agent Rafe Gordon faces when he must hide his legendary father Del from alien assassins—in the last place anyone would look, a small town on Earth.

     Rafe stood awkwardly in the kitchen, trying to stay out of the way while Charlie put things on a tray for Del. He didn’t dare leave her to her thoughts about what Del had said about the psoros. But how to approach it? Damn it, he was no freaking diplomat.
     Just before she picked up the tray, Rafe put a hand on her forearm. “I, uh, I heard what Del said as I was coming in—about the things—whatever he calls ’em?” He wouldn’t reinforce the alien word in her mind; he hoped she’d forget it.
     “Yeah, what was that all about?”
     The bright, curious look she got on her face did something to him. The way she held her head slightly to one side, causing her hair to fall over one shoulder. That long, silky hair.
     Shalssit! Focus, asshole. “Don’t pay any attention to him. He gets like that. God knows where he gets half the stuff he says.”
     Her brows came together. “That’s what worries me, Rafe. The usual dementia patient doesn’t just make stuff up. Their delusions are based somewhere in their memories or experience. If he’s truly inventing creatures we’ve never seen before and making up names in his own languages for them, he might have been misdiagnosed.”
     Crap—now he’d opened up a leaky photon tube. Rafe fought to keep his voice level, his demeanor calm. He had to manage this before things got out of hand. Rayna had apparently gone out of her way to find the smartest—and sexiest—nurse on the damn planet.
     Rafe gave her his most disarming grin. “Or it could be all those crazy science fiction shows he used to watch on television. He’d still be watching every space adventure and mad scientist flick he could get his eyes on if I’d let him. I put a stop to it. Gives him ideas.”
     Her mouth opened to reply, then closed, and a blush crept up her neck to her cheeks. Her gaze met his for a moment longer than was strictly appropriate—the blue of her planet’s seas, roiled now with an emotion he didn’t quite understand. Maybe he should try smiling more often.
     “Um, okay, yes, maybe,” she said at last. She picked up the tray and took it out to the little round table between the kitchen and the open living room that served as their dining room. She set Del up there with his food and gave him his meds. Del took them from her without complaint and started in on the sandwich. At his side, the dog sat waiting for anything that might accidentally fall to the floor.
     Rafe’s anxiety dissolved. This was good, better than he could have hoped, and well worth dodging a few questions now and again. The Old Man was calm. Content. Rafe might even get used to the dog—eventually.
     If he could just stop thinking of Charlie that way, things would be perfect.
     He sighed and turned back to the kitchen to make himself some food. But what he found on the counter was not entirely recognizable, even if it had come out of his own refrigerator. The advance team had done the provisioning, and beyond cooking up some eggs this morning he hadn’t examined what was to be had.
     “Need help?” Charlie smiled at him, as if she saw his confusion.
     She was standing too close, putting his body at war with his pride. “I, uh, I don’t spend much time in a kitchen.” He could only hope what was generally true of men in his rough-and-tumble universe was also true of men on Earth. Though he suspected most of them could probably accomplish lunch.
     Her eyebrows shot up. “Um, okay. Why don’t you keep your dad company while I make you a sandwich? Mind if I join you?”
     “What? Oh, sure, help yourself.” It hadn’t occurred to him that she might be hungry. Though her dog was certainly making it clear he was eager for a taste of the Old Man’s lunch.
     Charlie noticed, too. “Happy! Quit begging. Lie down.”
     The dog huffed and lay down. He put his head on his paws and pretended to take no more interest in the human proceedings.
     Rafe smiled. “You spoiled his fun.”
     “He’d eat constantly if I let him.”
     “You seem . . . attached.” The relationship was a mystery. He’d seen people who were fond of their pet cats (or ships, or home planets), but he’d never understood it. It seemed like a waste of emotional energy to him, and he had none to spare.
     “I don’t know what I’d do without him.” Her voice had dropped; he had to lean in to hear her. “He’s a rescue dog—got him from the pound down in Masey—but I always say he’s the one that rescued me.” She lifted her chin and smiled. “And you see how he is with people like your dad. They all love him, and he loves them back. He makes my work so much easier.”
     He caught the attempt to divert him. “He rescued you? From what?”
     She let go a breath. “Huh. Well, that’s a long story for another time.” She handed him a plate with two “sandwiches”—meat and vegetables between two slices of bread, with two kinds of sauce on it, one white, one yellow. He realized again how hungry he was.
     “Thank you.” He met her gaze. “For everything. I guess you’ve decided to take the job.”
     She glanced at the table, where Del was feeding the last of his sandwich meat to the dog, and laughed. “Yes. I don’t think Happy would allow me to say no.”


Cheers, Donna

Monday, June 11, 2018

Story Bloopers that Make You Go *Headdesk* -- Part I #amwriting #snippets

The last couple of weeks I've posted snippets from upcoming release, StarDog, that had a previous life as a popular Pets in Space 1 novelette.

If you're curious to take a peek at those snippets, you can do a quick catch-up here:

All New Scene: Nebula Encounter  Newly written material

Meet the Hero: Star Navigator Taro Shall  Introduction to the hero and his background

My goal is to release StarDog this summer as a standalone book in The Inherited Stars Series. In order to do that, I felt the story needed some special TLC, in particular many expanded scenes, some majorly reworked passages, some spiffy new sections, and a new epilogue to fully flesh out the plot, characters and conflict. These changes will also serve to better dovetail the story into Inherit the Stars, the novel that opens about six months after StarDog.

But as I was reworking the manuscript, it led to a couple of Whoopsie! moments. A.k.a: Bloopers!

Now, these weren't truly monumental, and judging from the previous reviews, no readers caught these...er, little missteps, either. I thought it might be fun to highlight them in a rendition of a movie Blooper Reel. Hopefully, you'll get the same chuckle that I did.

Just to be clear, this story went through multiple passes by me, my betas and my editor--and even under our joint magnifying glasses, none of us caught these little gems, so hopefully that speaks to the subtlety of the errors--but since my goal is to make the story better, I had to address them.

Blooper #1

To set it up, here's the story blurb and scene description:

Blurb

Navigator Taro Shall’s captain assigns him an unexpected mission–find a way to eradicate deadly vipers that have infested starship Calypso. He never expects to find the solution to his problem in the hands of Adini, a charming street vendor. But the bio-engineered StarDog he acquires turns out to be a galactic hot potato, and both Taro and Adini are soon fugitives on the run.

Adini Kemm can’t deny her fascination for the honor-bound navigator, though his past and her present seem to null any chance of a shared future. Until her father’s capture as a spy catapults both her and Taro into a desperate bid to save him…and straight into the clutches of a brewing insurrection.  

Scene Set-Up: Taro is sent by his captain to find an exterminator for the ship and in his search, he's directed to Adini, a street vendor. She convinces Taro that what he really needs is a StarDog--a bio-engineered dog-cat-weasel-mongoose created to serve as vermin-terminators on starships, among other talents. Those "other talents" are about to create some big problems for the two.
___________________________

Adini fell into step beside him as he retraced his route back to Calypso’s hangar. He hadn’t traveled twenty steps when the little StarDog hopped from Adini’s shoulders to his, and made herself at home by coiling her thick tail around his neck.

“Whoa, there. Did I invite you aboard?” Taro laughed, sliding his fingers over the dense, silky fur on her back. The little animal thrust her cool nose against his hand and tried to burrow beneath it.

“She wants you to pet her. StarDogs are friendly by nature. And loyal, being part canine.”

“She’s very cute,” Taro admitted begrudgingly.

Adini threw him a lopsided grin. “She thinks you are, too.”

“Well, that’s not going to hold much sway with Captain Jordan. ‘Cute’ isn’t something she looks for in a resume.”

“You sure about that?” Adini questioned with a subtle side-eye.

Taro pressed his lips together and dropped his gaze. Was she flirting, or was it only his imagination wishing it so?

“How long have you been selling StarDogs?” he asked, channeling the conversation back to business. Good thing his Tectolian complexion hid the evidence of the flush warming his face.

“Since my daddy invented them. He’s a bit of a biohack. LaGuardians seem to have a knack for it.”

“You’re LaGuardian?” Taro cast a questioning glance at Adini’s dark locks.

He enjoyed the sound of her laughter. “Clearly only half. My mother was Purmian.” She tilted her head, smiling at his startled look. “I know. I’m very tall for a Purmian.”

“Tallest Purmie I’ve ever met,” Taro teased.

“Well, I got mom’s hair and eyes, but dad’s stature. I kind of like how things turned out.”

A fleeting smile crossed Taro’s lips when their gazes touched. “So do I.” A little return volley on the flirting seemed like fair play.

It only took a glimpse of the towering men ahead to kill their conversation and good spirits. Taro’s face set in a hard frown, and he slowed his stride. “Palies,” he muttered to Adini.

“I see them,” she responded.

A pair of Ithian officers stood at the entrance to the spaceport hangars, their over-tall, lanky frames and pallid faces an arresting contrast to the blue Carduwan sky. They looked to be engaged in casual conversation except for the sharp, penetrating sweep of their eyes over the surrounding area. They were clearly on the lookout for something. Or someone.

The older of the two cast an assessing look their way, sizing them up. His gaze lingered on Adini a moment before moving on to other pedestrians in the street behind them.

“They’re scouting,” she whispered.

“Yeah, but not for us. Let’s keep moving.”

Moments later, he and Adini passed through the gate and beyond the Ithians, heading for the alley that split the hangs. Taro eased out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

“They’re into everyone’s business these days. And the tributes they demand…” Taro clenched both fists.

“No fan of the Alliance either, I take it,” Adini whispered.

“Let’s just say we try not to attract their attention.”


What Went Wrong?

The error falls into the "not seeing the forest for the trees" scenario. Readers probably didn't catch my little blunder because the full premise hadn't yet been laid out by this point in the story.

But for me? It was one of those forehead-smacking, laughing out loud while uttering mild curse words moments.

Here's the issue. Though the pair are clearly uncomfortable with the Ithian presence, Adini, in particular, has very good reason to steer very clear of the Alliance...and one of those very good reasons is now riding on Taro's shoulder in full view of the Ithian officers they pass by.

Whoopsie!

Nope. Not. Nada. That scene required a fix by way of some careful re-crafting. I'm happy to say the reworked/expanded StarDog scene even allowed me to create a nifty little tie-in to next-to-be-released companion book Courting Disaster. I love how that turned out.

In my June 18th blog, I'll share Blooper #2.

Until then, have a great week!


Friday, June 8, 2018

BOOK LAUNCH HAPPENING EVERYWHERE!



I know--it's so hard to wait! But it's less than a week until the launch of my latest contemporary SFR novel Not Fade Away, Interstellar Rescue Series Book 4 on June 12.

I’ve introduced my hero and heroine, Rafe and Charlie, here on Spacefreighters, as well as a couple of intriguing secondary characters. But there’s a lot more to learn about this tale of a home care nurse whose world is turned upside down when she takes on a mysterious new client and his dangerously attractive son. For more about the book, check out some of my guest posts on other blogs around the SFR galaxy:

--Pauline Baird Jones’ Life Happens. A Lot Blog https://paulinebjones.com/donna-s-frelick-her-world-turned-upside-down/
 

 
 
 
Happy says Sit! Stay! More guest interviews and posts will go live next week! 

Cheers, Donna


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