Monday, December 29, 2014

2015

Coming up on my own New Year's Resolutions... but I am not so great at those.

Instead, I am embarking on something I saw in the NaNoWriMo forums; 52 books in 52 weeks.



The rules.

Join me?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

New Year's Resolutions with Cherbino

Cherabino’s New Year’s Resolutions

A blog post by Alex Hughes


As we approach the holiday season, it’s time to think about friends, family, and the changes we’d like to make in our lives. Specifically, Cherabino and her very ambitious New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. Work less, and spend more time with family. On second thought, just spend more time with family. At least birthdays. And Sunday dinner, once in a while. 
  2. Don’t punch Adam, even if he deserves it. 
  3. Take down Fiske. Settle for helping somebody else take down the bastard. 
  4. Send Michael all my notes and casebooks—copy the ones at the house. Send him the copies. Make sure he has my private number. 
  5. Show up to judo practice on time. 
  6. Try to get along with Adam at the PI office. No punching. Really. 
  7. Pay the water bill on time. 
  8. See about that counselor they recommended. Maybe. If it’s cheap. (Note: can help not to punch Adam?) 
  9. Submit all my expense reports for the last three years to the department. With receipts. I need the money. 
  10. Make fewer New Year’s resolutions. 
What are your resolutions this holiday season, dear readers?

Hmmm. As for me, Alex, I think I need to mull that one over for a few more days.

But happy to share that Vacant is available today....





And I get to give away a copy! Actually an e-book of the winner's choosing from the Mindspace series.






GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21847414-vacant

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Vacant-Mindspace-Investigations-Alex-Hughes-ebook/dp/B00JJXHKLG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1416545603&sr=1-1

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vacant-Mindspace-Investigations-Alex-Hughes-ebook/dp/B00JJXHKLG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416546394&sr=8-1&keywords=vacant%2C+alex+hughes

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Vacant/Alex-Hughes/9780451466945?id=6165477017339

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vacant-alex-hughes/1119133260?ean=9780451466945

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/vacant/id858715154?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/vacant

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451466945







Reading Order:

Rabbit Trick (.5)

Clean (1)

Payoff (1.5)

Sharp (2)

Marked (3)

Vacant (4)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Alex Hughes

will be making a stop here tomorrow for her blog tour.

Be sure to make the rounds, I hear there is a scavenger hunt.

And I will be giving away ONE e-book copy of ANY of the Mindspace novels. 

Stay tuned. 




Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time! For all the latest news and free short stories, join Alex’s email list at http://bit.ly/AlexsList.






Author Links:

Website: http://www.ahugheswriter.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ahugheswriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ahugheswriter



GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6483413.Alex_Hughes





NaNoWriMo

my 5th? official year....



One of my perks is a heavily discounted copy of Scrivener.

Maybe now I can actually get to the doing something about all this writing part of writing.

After I figure out how to use it of course.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Trouble in the Heartland

on the wish list.

Features one of our previous guest authors; James R. Tuck



Watch this site for ordering.

Release date: December 1, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vacant

Mindspace #4.



Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes—especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.

I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”

Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…


I am awaiting my review copy, excited!

 AND Alex Hughes will be here for another guest spot here on December 2...the book's release date.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Isis

Douglas Clegg


I found this one at the Dollar Tree.

New York Times bestselling author Douglas Clegg brings us Isis, a beautifully illustrated, unforgettable novella that is sure to become a classic tale of the supernatural. If you lost someone you loved, what would you pay to bring them back from the dead?........ Old Marsh, the gardener at Belerion Hall, warned the Villiers girl about the old ruins along the seacliffs. "Never go in, miss. Never say a prayer at its door. If you are angry, do not seek revenge by the Laughing Maiden stone, or at the threshold of the Tombs. There be those who listen for oaths and vows.... What may be said in innocence and ire becomes flesh and blood in such places." She was born Iris Catherine Villiers. She became Isis. From childhood until her sixteenth year, Iris Villiers wandered the stone-hedged gardens and the steep cliffs along the coast of Cornwall near her ancestral home. Surrounded by the stern judgments of her grandfather-the Gray Minister-and the taunts of her cruel governess, Iris finds solace in her beloved older brother who has always protected her. But when a tragic accident occurs from the ledge of an open window, Iris discovers that she possesses the ability to speak to the dead... Be careful what you wish for ...it just may find you.

A quick little novella that I devoured in an evening. I didn't know it at the time, but this is the prequel to a series; Harrow House. I also had never read Douglas Clegg before, and was just struck by the cover art.

There are more lovely illustrations inside.

It struck me as heartbreaking yet beautiful; a tale of love, loss and superstition.

Monday, October 6, 2014

MOOCs for Me...A Lot of Reading

I am insane.

I have taken on online college courses in my exploration of further education. This really seems like the only way I will be able to actually "go" to college, so I am testing the water at Coursera.

I am in two literature classes. Between the two of them, I will definitely be expanding my horizons. Reading books I never heard of and classics I keep meaning to read or re-read.




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Doll Bones

Holly Black



From the publisher: Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity...

I have to say that I loved this book. It felt so realistic, while simultaneously maintaining a paranormal tone. 

Holly Black did a great job presenting Zach, Poppy, and Alice as such relatable characters in their move from childhood to the teen years. 

The best part about Doll Bones is that this story is so much deeper than it seems. This story about a group of kids being haunted by a ghost turns more into a coming of age book. As the story progresses, you see the actual hardships haunting these children. 

I would stay with the recommended age group of 10-12. It has a quick pace to keep a younger readers' attention, but it IS 250 pages.








Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Secret 21

Janet Evanovich

I read this one in less than 3 days.

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.
To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.
Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.


Stephanie Plum is one of my favorite hapless characters. I look forward to each new installment of the series with great anticipation.

Janet Evanovich always poses the question Team Ranger or Team Morelli? For 21, I am voting Team Ranger. 

And I have totally cast Peter Dinklage as Randy Briggs in my internal novel-movie. Blame it on all the Game of Thrones.





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal

I applied for the writer's residency on Amtrak.

A few friends I know also applied, and received the news today that they were not chosen.

I don't expect to be, but a tiny little part is still hoping to win.

In other news, I am going radioactive tomorrow and bought a couple of new books to read during seclusion;



Friday, May 30, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green.



I have thyroid cancer. And I bought this book for my Nook.

As I kind of second-guessed my purchase after I bought it and actually read the description, I am sure people could understand my hesitancy in reading it.

Perplexing many I am sure, when I recommend it.

It was a good book. 

And after I read the first chapter (that Barnes and Noble gave me for free) I was hooked. 

You will cry, grab some tissues. 

Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.) But my mom believed I required treatment, so she took me to see my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreed that I was veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression, and that therefore my meds should be adjusted and also I should attend a weekly Support Group.
This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.
The Support Group, of course, was depressing as hell. It met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone-walled Episcopal church shaped like a cross. We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been.
I noticed this because Patrick, the Support Group Leader and only person over eighteen in the room, talked about the heart of Jesus every freaking meeting, all about how we, as young cancer survivors, were sitting right in Christ's very sacred heart and whatever.
So here's how it went in God's heart: The six or seven or ten of us walked/wheeled in, grazed at a decrepit selection of cookies and lemonade, sat down in the Circle of Trust, and listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story—how he had cancer in his balls and they thought he was going to die but he didn't die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past, slowly working his way toward a master's degree that will not improve his career prospects, waiting, as we all do, for the sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago when cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.
AND YOU TOO MIGHT BE SO LUCKY!
Then we introduced ourselves: Name. Age. Diagnosis. And how we're doing today. I'm Hazel, I'd say when they'd get to me. Sixteen. Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs. And I'm doing okay.
Once we got around the circle, Patrick always asked if anyone wanted to share. And then began the circle jerk of support: everyone talking about fighting and battling and winning and shrinking and scanning. To be fair to Patrick, he let us talk about dying, too. But most of them weren't dying. Most would live into adulthood, as Patrick had.
(Which meant there was quite a lot of competitiveness about it, with everybody wanting to beat not only cancer itself, but also the other people in the room. Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that's one in five . . . so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards.)
The only redeeming facet of Support Group was this kid named Isaac, a long-faced, skinny guy with straight blond hair swept over one eye.
And his eyes were the problem. He had some fantastically improbable eye cancer. One eye had been cut out when he was a kid, and now he wore the kind of thick glasses that made his eyes (both the real one and the glass one) preternaturally huge, like his whole head was basically just this fake eye and this real eye staring at you. From what I could gather on the rare occasions when Isaac shared with the group, a recurrence had placed his remaining eye in mortal peril.
Isaac and I communicated almost exclusively through sighs. Each time someone discussed anticancer diets or snorting ground-up shark fin or whatever, he'd glance over at me and sigh ever so slightly. I'd shake my head microscopically and exhale in response.
So Support Group blew, and after a few weeks, I grew to be rather kicking-and-screaming about the whole affair. In fact, on the Wednesday I made the acquaintance of Augustus Waters, I tried my level best to get out of Support Group while sitting on the couch with my mom in the third leg of a twelve-hour marathon of the previous season's America's Next Top Model, which admittedly I had already seen, but still.
Me: "I refuse to attend Support Group."
Mom: "One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities."
Me: "Please just let me watch America's Next Top Model. It's an activity."
Mom: "Television is a passivity."
Me: "Ugh, Mom, please."
Mom: "Hazel, you're a teenager. You're not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get out of the house, and live your life."
Me: "If you want me to be a teenager, don't send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot."
Mom: "You don't take pot, for starters."
Me: "See, that's the kind of thing I'd know if you got me a fake ID."
Mom: "You're going to Support Group."
Me: "UGGGGGGGGGGGGG."
Mom: "Hazel, you deserve a life."
That shut me up, although I failed to see how attendance at Support Group met the definition of life. Still, I agreed to go—after negotiating the right to record the 1.5 episodes of ANTM I'd be missing.
I went to Support Group for the same reason that I'd once allowed nurses with a mere eighteen months of graduate education to poison me with exotically named chemicals: I wanted to make my parents happy. There is only one thing in this world shittier than biting it from cancer when you're sixteen, and that's having a kid who bites it from cancer.
Mom pulled into the circular driveway behind the church at 4:56. I pretended to fiddle with my oxygen tank for a second just to kill time.
"Do you want me to carry it in for you?"
"No, it's fine," I said. The cylindrical green tank only weighed a few pounds, and I had this little steel cart to wheel it around behind me. It delivered two liters of oxygen to me each minute through a cannula, a transparent tube that split just beneath my neck, wrapped behind my ears, and then reunited in my nostrils. The contraption was necessary because my lungs sucked at being lungs.
"I love you," she said as I got out.
"You too, Mom. See you at six."
"Make friends!" she said through the rolled-down window as I walked away.
I didn't want to take the elevator because taking the elevator is a Last Days kind of activity at Support Group, so I took the stairs. I grabbed a cookie and poured some lemonade into a Dixie cup and then turned around.
A boy was staring at me.
I was quite sure I'd never seen him before. Long and leanly muscular, he dwarfed the molded plastic elementary school chair he was sitting in. Mahogany hair, straight and short. He looked my age, maybe a year older, and he sat with his tailbone against the edge of the chair, his posture aggressively poor, one hand half in a pocket of dark jeans.
I looked away, suddenly conscious of my myriad insufficiencies. I was wearing old jeans, which had once been tight but now sagged in weird places, and a yellow T-shirt advertising a band I didn't even like anymore. Also my hair: I had this pageboy haircut, and I hadn't even bothered to, like, brush it. Furthermore, I had ridiculously fat chipmunked cheeks, a side effect of treatment. I looked like a normally proportioned person with a balloon for a head. This was not even to mention the cankle situation. And yet—I cut a glance to him, and his eyes were still on me.
It occurred to me why they call it eye contact.
I walked into the circle and sat down next to Isaac, two seats away from the boy. I glanced again. He was still watching me.
Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy . . . well.
I pulled out my phone and clicked it so it would display the time: 4:59. The circle filled in with the unlucky twelve-to-eighteens, and then Patrick started us out with the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The guy was still staring at me. I felt rather blushy.
Finally, I decided that the proper strategy was to stare back. Boys do not have a monopoly on the Staring Business, after all. So I looked him over as Patrick acknowledged for the thousandth time his ball-lessness etc., and soon it was a staring contest. After a while the boy smiled, and then finally his blue eyes glanced away. When he looked back at me, I flicked my eyebrows up to say, I win.
He shrugged. Patrick continued and then finally it was time for the introductions. "Isaac, perhaps you'd like to go first today. I know you're facing a challenging time."
"Yeah," Isaac said. "I'm Isaac. I'm seventeen. And it's looking like I have to get surgery in a couple weeks, after which I'll be blind. Not to complain or anything because I know a lot of us have it worse, but yeah, I mean, being blind does sort of suck. My girlfriend helps, though. And friends like Augustus." He nodded toward the boy, who now had a name. "So, yeah," Isaac continued. He was looking at his hands, which he'd folded into each other like the top of a tepee. "There's nothing you can do about it."
"We're here for you, Isaac," Patrick said. "Let Isaac hear it, guys." And then we all, in a monotone, said, "We're here for you, Isaac."
Michael was next. He was twelve. He had leukemia. He'd always had leukemia. He was okay. (Or so he said. He'd taken the elevator.)
Lida was sixteen, and pretty enough to be the object of the hot boy's eye. She was a regular—in a long remission from appendiceal cancer, which I had not previously known existed. She said—as she had every other time I'd attended Support Group—that she felt strong, which felt like bragging to me as the oxygen-drizzling nubs tickled my nostrils.
There were five others before they got to him. He smiled a little when his turn came. His voice was low, smoky, and dead sexy. "My name is Augustus Waters," he said. "I'm seventeen. I had a little touch of osteosarcoma a year and a half ago, but I'm just here today at Isaac's request."
"And how are you feeling?" asked Patrick.
"Oh, I'm grand." Augustus Waters smiled with a corner of his mouth. "I'm on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend."
When it was my turn, I said, "My name is Hazel. I'm sixteen. Thyroid with mets in my lungs. I'm okay."
The hour proceeded apace: Fights were recounted, battles won amid wars sure to be lost; hope was clung to; families were both celebrated and denounced; it was agreed that friends just didn't get it; tears were shed; comfort proffered. Neither Augustus Waters nor I spoke again until Patrick said, "Augustus, perhaps you'd like to share your fears with the group."
"My fears?"
"Yes."
"I fear oblivion," he said without a moment's pause. "I fear it like the proverbial blind man who's afraid of the dark."
"Too soon," Isaac said, cracking a smile.
"Was that insensitive?" Augustus asked. "I can be pretty blind to other people's feelings."
Isaac was laughing, but Patrick raised a chastening finger and said, "Augustus, please. Let's return to you and your struggles. You said you fear oblivion?"
"I did," Augustus answered.
Patrick seemed lost. "Would, uh, would anyone like to speak to that?"
I hadn't been in proper school in three years. My parents were my two best friends. My third best friend was an author who did not know I existed. I was a fairly shy person—not the hand-raising type.
And yet, just this once, I decided to speak. I half raised my hand and Patrick, his delight evident, immediately said, "Hazel!" I was, I'm sure he assumed, opening up. Becoming Part Of The Group.
I looked over at Augustus Waters, who looked back at me. You could almost see through his eyes they were so blue. "There will come a time," I said, "when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this"—I gestured encompassingly—"will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that's what everyone else does."
I'd learned this from my aforementioned third best friend, Peter Van Houten, the reclusive author of An Imperial Affliction, the book that was as close a thing as I had to a Bible. Peter Van Houten was the only person I'd ever come across who seemed to (a) understand what it's like to be dying, and (b) not have died.
After I finished, there was quite a long period of silence as I watched a smile spread all the way across Augustus's face—not the little crooked smile of the boy trying to be sexy while he stared at me, but his real smile, too big for his face. "Goddamn," Augustus said quietly. "Aren't you something else."
Neither of us said anything for the rest of Support Group. At the end, we all had to hold hands, and Patrick led us in a prayer. "Lord Jesus Christ, we are gathered here in Your heart, literally in Your heart, as cancer survivors. You and You alone know us as we know ourselves. Guide us to life and the Light through our times of trial. We pray for Isaac's eyes, for Michael's and Jamie's blood, for Augustus's bones, for Hazel's lungs, for James's throat. We pray that You might heal us and that we might feel Your love, and Your peace, which passes all understanding. And we remember in our hearts those whom we knew and loved who have gone home to you: Maria and Kade and Joseph and Haley and Abigail and Angelina and Taylor and Gabriel and . . ."
It was a long list. The world contains a lot of dead people. And while Patrick droned on, reading the list from a sheet of paper because it was too long to memorize, I kept my eyes closed, trying to think prayerfully but mostly imagining the day when my name would find its way onto that list, all the way at the end when everyone had stopped listening.
When Patrick was finished, we said this stupid mantra together—LIVING OUR BEST LIFE TODAY—and it was over. Augustus Waters pushed himself out of his chair and walked over to me. His gait was crooked like his smile. He towered over me, but he kept his distance so I wouldn't have to crane my neck to look him in the eye. "What's your name?" he asked.
"Hazel."
"No, your full name."
"Um, Hazel Grace Lancaster." He was just about to say something else when Isaac walked up. "Hold on," Augustus said, raising a finger, and turned to Isaac. "That was actually worse than you made it out to be."
"I told you it was bleak."
"Why do you bother with it?"
"I don't know. It kind of helps?"
Augustus leaned in so he thought I couldn't hear. "She's a regular?" I couldn't hear Isaac's comment, but Augustus responded, "I'll say." He clasped Isaac by both shoulders and then took a half step away from him. "Tell Hazel about clinic."
Isaac leaned a hand against the snack table and focused his huge eye on me. "Okay, so I went into clinic this morning, and I was telling my surgeon that I'd rather be deaf than blind. And he said, 'It doesn't work that way,' and I was, like, 'Yeah, I realize it doesn't work that way; I'm just saying I'd rather be deaf than blind if I had the choice, which I realize I don't have,' and he said, 'Well, the good news is that you won't be deaf,' and I was like, 'Thank you for explaining that my eye cancer isn't going to make me deaf. I feel so fortunate that an intellectual giant like yourself would deign to operate on me.'"
"He sounds like a winner," I said. "I'm gonna try to get me some eye cancer just so I can make this guy's acquaintance."
"Good luck with that. All right, I should go. Monica's waiting for me. I gotta look at her a lot while I can."
"Counterinsurgence tomorrow?" Augustus asked.
"Definitely." Isaac turned and ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time.
Augustus Waters turned to me. "Literally," he said.
"Literally?" I asked.
"We are literally in the heart of Jesus," he said. "I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literally in the heart of Jesus."
"Someone should tell Jesus," I said. "I mean, it's gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart."
"I would tell Him myself," Augustus said, "but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won't be able to hear me." I laughed. He shook his head, just looking at me.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing," he said.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
Augustus half smiled. "Because you're beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence." A brief awkward silence ensued. Augustus plowed through: "I mean, particularly given that, as you so deliciously pointed out, all of this will end in oblivion and everything."
I kind of scoffed or sighed or exhaled in a way that was vaguely coughy and then said, "I'm not beau—"
"You're like a millennial Natalie Portman. Like V for Vendetta Natalie Portman."
"Never seen it," I said.
"Really?" he asked. "Pixie-haired gorgeous girl dislikes authority and can't help but fall for a boy she knows is trouble. It's your autobiography, so far as I can tell."
His every syllable flirted. Honestly, he kind of turned me on. I didn't even know that guys could turn me on—not, like, in real life.
A younger girl walked past us. "How's it going, Alisa?" he asked. She smiled and mumbled, "Hi, Augustus." "Memorial people," he explained. Memorial was the big research hospital. "Where do you go?"
"Children's," I said, my voice smaller than I expected it to be. He nodded. The conversation seemed over. "Well," I said, nodding vaguely toward the steps that led us out of the Literal Heart of Jesus. I tilted my cart onto its wheels and started walking. He limped beside me. "So, see you next time, maybe?" I asked.
"You should see it," he said. "V for Vendetta, I mean."
"Okay," I said. "I'll look it up."
"No. With me. At my house," he said. "Now."
I stopped walking. "I hardly know you, Augustus Waters. You could be an ax murderer."
He nodded. "True enough, Hazel Grace." He walked past me, his shoulders filling out his green knit polo shirt, his back straight, his steps lilting just slightly to the right as he walked steady and confident on what I had determined was a prosthetic leg. Osteosarcoma sometimes takes a limb to check you out. Then, if it likes you, it takes the rest.
I followed him upstairs, losing ground as I made my way up slowly, stairs not being a field of expertise for my lungs.
And then we were out of Jesus's heart and in the parking lot, the spring air just on the cold side of perfect, the late-afternoon light heavenly in its hurtfulness.
Mom wasn't there yet, which was unusual, because Mom was almost always waiting for me. I glanced around and saw that a tall, curvy brunette girl had Isaac pinned against the stone wall of the church, kissing him rather aggressively. They were close enough to me that I could hear the weird noises of their mouths together, and I could hear him saying, "Always," and her saying, "Always," in return.
Suddenly standing next to me, Augustus half whispered, "They're big believers in PDA."
"What's with the 'always'?" The slurping sounds intensified.
"Always is their thing. They'll always love each other and whatever. I would conservatively estimate they have texted each other the word always four million times in the last year."
A couple more cars drove up, taking Michael and Alisa away. It was just Augustus and me now, watching Isaac and Monica, who proceeded apace as if they were not leaning against a place of worship. His hand reached for her boob over her shirt and pawed at it, his palm still while his fingers moved around. I wondered if that felt good. Didn't seem like it would, but I decided to forgive Isaac on the grounds that he was going blind. The senses must feast while there is yet hunger and whatever.
"Imagine taking that last drive to the hospital," I said quietly. "The last time you'll ever drive a car."
Without looking over at me, Augustus said, "You're killing my vibe here, Hazel Grace. I'm trying to observe young love in its many-splendored awkwardness."
"I think he's hurting her boob," I said.
"Yes, it's difficult to ascertain whether he is trying to arouse her or perform a breast exam." Then Augustus Waters reached into a pocket and pulled out, of all things, a pack of cigarettes. He flipped it open and put a cigarette between his lips.
"Are you serious?" I asked. "You think that's cool? Oh, my God, you just ruined the whole thing."
"Which whole thing?" he asked, turning to me. The cigarette dangled unlit from the unsmiling corner of his mouth.
"The whole thing where a boy who is not unattractive or unintelligent or seemingly in any way unacceptable stares at me and points out incorrect uses of literality and compares me to actresses and asks me to watch a movie at his house. But of course there is always a hamartia and yours is that oh, my God, even though you HAD FREAKING CANCER you give money to a company in exchange for the chance to acquire YET MORE CANCER. Oh, my God. Let me just assure you that not being able to breathe? SUCKS. Totally disappointing. Totally."
"A hamartia?" he asked, the cigarette still in his mouth. It tightened his jaw. He had a hell of a jawline, unfortunately.
"A fatal flaw," I explained, turning away from him. I stepped toward the curb, leaving Augustus Waters behind me, and then I heard a car start down the street. It was Mom. She'd been waiting for me to, like, make friends or whatever.
I felt this weird mix of disappointment and anger welling up inside of me. I don't even know what the feeling was, really, just that there was a lot of it, and I wanted to smack Augustus Waters and also replace my lungs with lungs that didn't suck at being lungs. I was standing with my Chuck Taylors on the very edge of the curb, the oxygen tank ball-and-chaining in the cart by my side, and right as my mom pulled up, I felt a hand grab mine.
I yanked my hand free but turned back to him.
"They don't kill you unless you light them," he said as Mom arrived at the curb. "And I've never lit one. It's a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing."
"It's a metaphor," I said, dubious. Mom was just idling.
"It's a metaphor," he said.
"You choose your behaviors based on their metaphorical resonances . . ." I said.
"Oh, yes." He smiled. The big, goofy, real smile. "I'm a big believer in metaphor, Hazel Grace."
I turned to the car. Tapped the window. It rolled down. "I'm going to a movie with Augustus Waters," I said. "Please record the next several episodes of the ANTM marathon for me."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Guest Blogger: Alex Hughes

Character Interview with Isabella Cherabino (the sequel)
By Alex Hughes


For a lark, I thought I’d run through CareerBuilder’s list of top job interview questions with my character Isabella Cherabino, to see how she would answer. Unfortunately, before I was quite halfway through the list, she was called away to an emergency task force meeting, and I was forced to reschedule. Here’s our second interview, a few days later.


A: Thanks for letting me reschedule the rest of the questions, Detective Cherabino.


C: I’m not certain what you’re getting out of the answers, but I’m always happy to help someone who gives me case-solving clues.


A: I’m doing a psychological study.


C: As long as you change my name and identifying information, that’s fine.


A: (makes non-committal noise) Ready for the questions?


C: Go ahead. I only have a few minutes for this meeting anyway.


A: What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?


C: There’s a certain amount of conflict that’s normal for a police department of our size. We deal with criminals, after all, and with the recent budget cuts, there’s a lot of pressure on everyone. I try to figure out what somebody really wants, and if they’re a peer, figure out how to get that to them in exchange for what I need. Most of the time that works. I take blocks in my way as challenges most of the time.


A: Most of the time?


C: I have a temper when you push me too far, especially when it’s a situation I’m not used to or that disappoints me. I’m working with my sensei, and have been for the last several years, on controlling that temper. He’s happy with my progress so far.


A: What tools or habits do you use to get organized?


C: I keep a pristine murder book. Everything—and I mean everything, from scene impressions to attempted phone calls—goes in that book. I’ve had people be able to take over my cases halfway through with no loss of efficiency. I also keep detailed files on pretty much every criminal I come in contact with. You’d be surprised at how often their worlds overlap, and information on one comes into use with another. I admit, though, that with all my files I can get a little behind on official reports and forms. Adam and now Michael are helpful in that respect.


A: Tell me about a time where you had to go above and beyond to get a job done.


C: There was a time last year where I was volunteering for Electronic Crimes because they were short staffed. Some nasty stuff, that. I won’t even talk about what the sickos were doing when we lifted up rocks and shone lights on them. But I still had a full case load, and this was before Michael. I was working pretty much all the time, between Electronic Crimes and Homicide. I was exhausted. But then I noticed a connection between one of my murder cases and a screen name in one of the chat rooms. It seemed like a coincidence, but the physical location trace came up in the same city block as one of my suspects. He’d been planning a crime against an unnamed woman, and then a woman fitting that description is one of my victims. It took me a week of favors and traces, but we finally proved they were the same guy.  The jury deliberated twenty minutes on that case. He’ll never get parole. It was worth the extra effort, even if I did sleep at the department for a few days.


A: What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome in the last year?


C: Budget cuts have been really hard on the whole department, and everyone has less resources. Even with all my work, I’ve had to wait weeks or longer for basic results. It’s been very frustrating. But I did manage to get Michael Hwang promoted to junior detective after a particularly significant case assist, and he’s been phenomenal. A lot of the time, he can find a clue on his own, or while working with me, that will serve the same purpose as the test I needed, and we can close the case even without the test results. It’s more stress and work, but it gets the job done.


A: In what ways—


Alex is cut off as a knock on the door comes.


A: Really? Another interruption?


C: This is how my life goes, Ms. Hughes. Please feel free to reschedule with Michael.


Adam Ward opens the door and tells Cherabino there’s a murder case that needs urgent attention. They’ve found another body.


Cherabino nods at Alex and leaves. She, cursing, picks up her notes and sees her own way out.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mindspace Novellas




Rabbit Trick


New short story in the Mindspace Investigations universe (with two bonus short stories in other worlds from author Alex Hughes).

Open Mind

When the cops call me in the middle of the night, I know it’s bad. One of their own is dead, strangled in her car by a professional killer, and it’s up to me, telepath consultant extraordinaire, to pull the rabbit out of my hat and solve the case. Only this time I’m not so sure I can.

Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino is breathing down my neck. The dead cop’s partner is too. And now, the worst—there was a five-year-old kid in the car, a kid no one can find.

Note from the author: “Rabbit Trick” takes place before the events of Clean, so the hero intentionally remains nameless.

And the one I missed between Clean and Sharp.




Being a telepath, I should have seen the hell I was getting myself into…

I used to be one of the most powerful telepaths in the guild. That was before my drug addiction and before they kicked me out. But I'm not a bad guy. Now I help the Atlanta PD solve murders. And even though there are only a few people I call friends, I'd do most anything to keep their trust.

So when a judge asks me to help investigate a missing college kid, I'm down for it. No questions asked. No problem. But in this dark world, things are never easy and a favor is never just a favor. Turns out, politicians don’t like being murder suspects. And it's bad to anger someone with more power than you. I thought I had nothing to lose... I was wrong.


Includes a preview of Alex Hughes’s Sharp 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Guest Blogger: James R Tuck

NEWS

The Deacon Chalk series is no longer being published by Kensington. I have decided to take the series over and independently publish it beginning with book four titled SILK AND SCALE (November 2013).

This is a move I am excited to make because I have many, many plans for Deacon Chalk and his wonderful crew of misfit monster hunters. Now I can carry on and remain 100% true to my vision for the characters and the storyline. It's going to be a wild ride!

Also in Deacon Chalk news BLOOD AND BULLETS (book 1) is now available in audio from Audible read by the illustrious Jim Beaver (Bobby Singer from Supernatural and Sheriff Shelby from Justified). All of the series so far has been optioned for audio.

I edited a double anthology of Sword and Sorcery from Seventh Star Press that is available now. If you would like a review copy please contact Seventh Star at:

In 2014 I will have a NEW series coming from Pro Se Press called CHAMPIONS OF HOLLOW EARTH. It will be four short pulp style novels released quarterly and with a companion anthology set in the same world. It's going to be a complete riot and I am very excited about it.

A LOT of short fiction will be available throughout 2014 in various and sundry anthologies from various and sundry publishers.




Author Website: www.jamesrtuck.com

Author Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JamesTuckwriter

Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jamesrtuckwriter

Author Blog: http://jamesrtuck.wordpress.com/

Author Bio: James R. Tuck is a Professional Tattoo Artist, Photographer, and a multi-published author. He lives outside Atlanta with his lovely wife and cool kids.

The DEACON CHALK series (Kensington Books), The CHAMPIONS OF HOLLOW EARTH series (Pro Se Press forthcoming 2014), the editor of the double anthology THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD Volumes 1 and 2 (Seventh Star Press), and his short fiction has appeared and will appear in several anthologies such as: ONE BUCK ZOMBIES (One Buck Horror), THE BIG BAD (Dark Oak Press), HOOKERPUNK (Dark Oak Press forthcoming), ROBOTS UNLEASHED! (Mechanoid Press forthcoming), and BADLANDS:TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND (Zelmer Pulp forthcoming).



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Marked

Alex Hughes



FORESEE NO EVIL.

Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…

Oooh, I was not disappointed in this third Mindspace book. In fact, it may have become my new favorite of the three. 

The story just flowed really well and held me captive until the end.  I was rather anxious during this one, poor Adam and his terrible luck. Once again at odds with the police department, and the Guild, and of course the ongoing anticipation of Adam and Cherabino's tenuous relationship. 

I am looking forward to the next installment. 

And coming next week, a guest spot with Alex Hughes. Anxious to see what goodies she is sending my way for that!