Progress Report – Kindness of Strangers

Kindness of Strangers is the working title of the third book in the first Strike Force trilogy. It’s the story of the colonel, Rahmsin Singh, and Chandra Ramasamy, and how she solves the mystery of what was the inciting incident that ended with the friendly-fire shelling of the Charlie Company electronic warfare unit (along with most of their behind-the-sharp-end field facilities), while he saves her, the miners who tried to save her, and starts the ball rolling to save the human race. Of course, because I always have people tripping over true love at the most inconvenient times, LOL.

It’s a tricky story, since both of them are, um, well, physically dead for most of it. She’s actually physically dead due to kludged cryogenic freezing (but getting better because Singh gets her into a regen unit where she regains consciousness and can move from her auxiliary brain chips into the Strike Force network), he’s in a hasty version of real cryostasis after the miners hit him on the top of his head and dump him into a cryostasis unit while he’s rebooting.

So it’s almost all inside “The Matrix” (so to speak). And it happens simultaneously with Getting Lucky, which made the timing tricky. And it’s also the climax of the political/industrial intrigue. And it introduces the bridge between this series of stories and the world of the human diaspora books (which start with The Valmont Contingency). It has a lot to do for a 35,000-word novella. Yeah, it might bulge out to 40K. I guess we’ll see.

Back to the progress report — it was supposed to be finished by the end of August, but that didn’t happen.  Then it was supposed to be finished by the end of September, and that didn’t happen either. While I was in Seaside, I stopped in at a palm reader (as one does on vacation), who figured out I’m a writer by looking at my non-writing hand (spooky!), then told me I wouldn’t finish my work in progress by the end of September, and I should forgive myself for it, LOL.

I made progress, I really did. I fixed plot problems, I created 12,000 words of new content that works with the existing content. I straightened out the bits that didn’t mesh with Getting Lucky. If I hadn’t had to fix the gigantic plot hole (which required cutting…a lot of cutting), I would have been finished by the end of September.

But I’m going to get it done this month, because I have a different project lined up for NANO in November. NANO is short for NaNoWriMo, which is short for national novel writing month. It’s an international organization all for the purpose of writing a book in November. That is, writing, from start to finish, a 50,000-word (minimum) story in 30 days. Which means Kindness of Strangers draft 1 has to be finished in October, by Grapthar’s hammer!

 

 

What is ‘too stupid to live?’

I live with a first responder. My husband (known here as Spooky Man), is a veteran living with disability. He has been a caregiver for the developmentally disabled, a correctional officer, a correctional emergency response fireman, and an army medic.

My father was a communications specialist for the Boise National Forest, and he was involved in the original formation of the National Interagency Fire Center (then known as the Boise Interagency Fire Center). He was a first responder, too. My family never took summer vacations, because my father was always on wildfires all over the West.

What does this have to do with the title of this post?

Years ago, a reviewer accused Tasha Ocasek of making a too-stupid-to-live decision at the end of The Valmont Contingency. My response then was laughter, because I knew immediately three things about the reviewer:

  1. He/she was not a first responder
  2. He/she had never lived with a first responder
  3. He/she does not (and might never) understand a first responder’s way of thinking

The recent anniversary of September 11, 2001 made me think about this again, and it took a few days to get my thoughts in order.

Obviously, Tasha Ocasek is a first responder, who becomes a respected trauma surgeon by the time of The Ocasek Opportunity’s main action. But the mindset came long before the training, the residencies, and the board certifications. She’s the kind of person who runs toward danger, because she knows she has the ability and the responsibility to protect others.

I know about this mindset because of the first responders in my life. (Me, I’m a lab rat; I’ll wait for them to bring stuff to me and then I’ll tell them what’s in it, thank-you-very-much. Adrenaline gives me a hangover.)

Tasha refuses to be protected from the space zombies — no, just because the Republic Navy has their best minds working on the problem it doesn’t mean that she’s not going to work on the problem; she gets lucky and find the source of the problem, but she doesn’t find a solution. Then she walks into her worst nightmare because she knows the source of the attack on the ben Khalids and, guhdammit, She. Is. Going. To. Fix. It.

Yes, complications ensue and she nearly dies (a couple of times), but her determination and conviction that she can make a difference never wavers. That’s a first responder.

If she’s too stupid to live, so is every fireman, police officer, EMT, or other hero who runs into a burning building to save a kitten, wades into floodwater full of sewage and pollution to collect a house-bound hurricane survivor, jumps out of a perfectly good airplane with a pulaski and parachute to put out a raging inferno, or charges into a building with an active shooter inside.

Thank heavens there are people out there who are too stupid to live. And if you’re one of them, thank you for everything you do.

Vacation!

It’s close enough now that I’m starting to believe it…Spooky Man and I are going to the Oregon coast for a week at the end of August. This will be our third vacation in nearly 26 years of marriage. The last two times we went on holiday, I was unemployed at the time; this year that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ve got the dog and indoor cats (on their special diet because they are somewhere between heftychonk and megachonk) scheduled for the kennel, a house sitter lined up, and my special login for work. Yes, I will be working for a few hours because I have translations coming back that week, but I’ll be doing it over coffee from our hotel, looking out onto the ocean. I’ll also be working on Kindness of Strangers.

In closing, this is Flynn (formerly Lord Minamoto, Samurai cat), Spooky Man’s latest stray (abandoned by a neighbor’s temporary roommates last year), both deep in contemplation and in mid-yawn:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because cat pictures. And because he is a fluffy beast.

 

Grumpiness

Cutting 10,000 words of a work in progress designed to be 35,000 words long — because you noticed a plot hole the size of…a very large plot hole — is extremely annoying. Plus, the predicted high for today is 104F (40C) and 107F (damn near 42C–42C!) tomorrow.

To quote my cat: Do. Not. Want.

That is all.

Okay, okay, I’ve got one more thing: Kindness of Strangers (see paragraph one, above) might not get finished this month, but it will get close.

That is all.

The Unique Solution is for sale!

Muppet flail! Because it’s no longer a pre-order, it’s out and proud and for sale.

Wanna see the cover? Here it is:

Want to buy an ebook (sorry, trade paperbacks are coming, but not for about a month)? Here are links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple

This is me happy dancing all the way to the day job.

Want to find out when the next book is out?

You can sign up for the new releases mailing list in the upper-right corner of my home page (http://www.valrobertsauthor.com if you’re reading on Twitter or FB).

I don’t spam or send giant newsletters full of “extra content” (good lord, who has the time?) or sell your personal information (squicky).

When I have a new book out, I send you an email with links to purchase, should you be so inclined, No muss, no fuss, and easy to delete if you’re not so inclined.

Okay, my crass commercial message is over, you can go back to your regularly scheduled activity (or, you know, sign up for the new release notices). Should you be so inclined. 🙂

Thanks,
Val

 

Next on the Agenda

Just wanted to drop a note to let you know I’m not resting on my laurels (they’re actually kind of scratchy) now that I’ve finally got Talyn’s story finished and up for preorder.

I’m currently working on the story of Rahmsin Singh and Chandra Ramasamy, the third in the Ganymede Survivors Romances. I’m calling it Kindness of Strangers as a working title.

With a little luck, it will be ready for prime time in September, but every time I’ve given myself a deadline, something happened to completely throw it out the window–so don’t quote me on that.

Back to work….

Coming back from a Major Episode of Life

Life happens. And sometimes a lot of it happens at once.

But first, the important things. I have covers to show you! Blade’s Edge and its sequel The Unique Solution, by the incredibly talented Kanaxa:

 

Okay, back to my major episode of Life. The winter of 2016-2017 was the most severe my town has seen in a long time — in a place where six inches of snow that melts in three days is a lot, we had three feet of snow on the ground for a couple of months.

We lost commercial buildings to roof collapse, including the only grocery store in Oregon-Idaho border town Weiser, Idaho (where my father grew up).

In my own neighborhood, carports and garden sheds succumbed to the snow load, and one of the carports was ours. It collapsed on top of my car, our freezer, the air conditioner, and other stuff we had stored there. Plus the spot where my husband leaves out food for the neighborhood cats. It was an amazing mess.

We got the worst of it cleaned up, repaired and replaced by the end of April, but we’re just now getting the AC motor replaced, and I still have to get the paint on my hood fixed.

We also had the backyard re-landscaped by professionals, because we couldn’t get back there for several months and things went to heck. Also because Spooky Man had wanted to redo it for a decade, and we’re in no shape for that kind of work.

During this time I was also actively looking for a day job, and I found one in a call center where I stayed for four months before I landed a “perfect job” managing localization for commercial printer software.

But enough about Life. I have something important to tell you: I finished the sequel to Blade’s Edge.

Let’s pause and allow that to sink in for a moment, because there have been years when I wasn’t sure I would ever get to The End. I finished it. Happy sigh.

It’s called The Unique Solution, and it’s the redemption of the evil twin, Talyn Penthes. She wasn’t an easy villain to redeem, and this book took nine years from start to finish. Nine. Years. That character fought me every step of the way, but I finally got her story out of my brain.

The second edition (or the Wylde Hare Press edition) of Blade’s Edge will be for sale in ebook as soon as I can get it uploaded to all the retailers. The Unique Solution will be available for pre-order by the end of the week.

Look for paperback versions in a month or so.

Audiobooks are on a longer time horizon. Maybe next year, because there’s a significant learning curve.

 

 

Change in the Air

The evil day job and I have parted company (and it wasn’t evil at all, I quite liked that job) and I’m looking for work in western Oregon and Washington. The reasons are varied and, well, personal. My point is that there is likely an interstate move in my future, after fourteen years in the same house.

So I’m working on that, and I’m editing The Unique Solution (the long-awaited sequel to Blade’s Edge; that heroine has been a pill–a pill, I say) and working on the third novella in the Strike Force series, “Kindness of Strangers.”

Kindness will set up the second trilogy of Strike Force stories, what happens with the ‘ghosts’ — those strikers whose bodies didn’t survive the friendly fire incident: Captain Dressler, Whisper, and Grimtoo and LC. Here’s a hint: they find that special someone.

It also starts the process of connecting the Strike Force Stories to the Human Diaspora universe, which actually was a bit of a surprise. Apparently my subconscious likes connecting storylines. Speaking of the Human Diaspora series, Tetsuo and Akiko’s story is next on my to-do list.

In non-writing, non-day job news, all the furbabies are happy and healthy, and Spooky Man has a new project cat, a completely gray intact male shorthair known as Shadow. As soon as he’s domesticated enough, we’ll get him fixed. He’s still too shy for me to get a decent photo, so stay tuned.

 

The Ocasek Opportunity is Published

Third in the series that started with The Valmont Contingency, The Ocasek Opportunity is the story of Tasha Ocasek’s little brother, Stephan. How he picked up the pieces after his father’s murder and what he did to keep beans on the table and a roof over his–and his younger sister’s–heads.

It was all going according to his plan, until….

Here’s the back cover copy:

Where do you hide in space?

On the courier ship ferrying The Hero of Ararat, the Dragonkiller and their daughter, Ekaterina ‘Kat’ Avondale, from the Saurian homeworld back to human space, newly promoted third-shift commander Stephan Ocasek has found a sneaky ion trail. They are being followed. No, not followed, hunted.

Not by Saurians, since they’re flying an honor escort. Not by humans, because the engine signature is all wrong. When they detect a comm signal that Kat recognizes from Saurian history, they know the Ancient Horror—the species that nearly ended Saurian history a couple of millennia ago—has returned, and it knows where they’re going.

The Saurians sent a suicide ship into a black hole to stop it last time. This time, all they have is Stephan’s reflexes together with Ekaterina’s calculations to save two of the three known sentient species in the galaxy. And even if their plan works, they might not survive long enough for him to finish teaching her how to be human.

And here’s the cover:

ocasekcover-kobo_600x900

Wanna read it?  Here are the Buy links — if you don’t see the format you want, email me at valmroberts@gmail.com or leave a comment.

At Amazon (Kindle)
At Barnes & Noble (Nook)
At Kobo
At iBooks

 

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